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Everything You Need to Know About Freedom on the Tyne – THIS SUNDAY!

If you live in or around Newcastle, chances are you’ve already heard about ‘Freedom City 2017’, the city-wide programme marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University.

The anniversay falls on the 13th November but many celebratory events inspired by Dr King’s legacy have already taken place and there are plenty more to come, including the hugely anticiapted ‘Freedom on the Tyne’!

martin luther king artwork

Image Credit: NGI

What is Freedom on the Tyne?

It’s a tricky one to describe because there has never been anything like this in Newcastle before. Think of the city as a huge stage where performers will act out the drama of civil rights struggles from across the globe. Theatre, music, dance, circus and art will bring to life the dramatic stories of the courageous people who have led the long march for civil rights.

You could be walking down the Bigg Market and catch an outdoor perfomance that potrays the Haunting of General Dyer in 1919 in India. Or you could be wandering along the Quayside and suddenly find yourself in the midst of a demonstration against the infamous pass laws in the 1960’s in South Africa.

Full details of all the performances can be found here:

Image Credit: NGI

When is it all Happening?

Freedom on the Tyne will take over the city on Sunday 29th October, 2017 from 3pm to 6pm. The best way to enjoy it would be to follow the story from start to finish across the various locations but it can also be experienced at any stage for any duration.

An epic finale will take place on the Tyne Bridge at around 5.15pm and you will definitely want to be there for that!

Image Credit: NGI

When and Why will the Tyne Bridge Closed on Sunday?

To round off a day of captivating performances and passionate celebrations, Freedom on the Tyne will culminate in a jaw dropping display of performance, sound and light on NewcastleGateshead’s most iconic landmark!

The Tyne Bridge will be closed to traffic from 1pm until 8.30pm for this unforgettable event, the first of it’s kind to ever to take place on the bridge.

It’s probably best to wrap up warm because no doubt you’ll be covered in goosebumps as the North East unites to celebrate Dr King’s unshakeable message of peace, justice and equality. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end just thinking about how emotive it will be to see the night sky above the Tyne lit up in honour of all those cvil rights heroes.

Do You Need a Ticket?

The simple answer to that is no!

The whole event is free to enjoy. It’s been conceived and directed by acclaimed international director Tim Supple and scripted by award-winning writer Roy Williams, all you need to do is turn up and experience it.

Where Can You Find Out More?

This is the website for the whole programme of events: and for everything that’s happening on Sunday 29th October check out

If you’re on Twitter you should follow @freedomcity2017 and use the hastags #FreedomCity2017 and #FreedomontheTyne

*This is a collaborative post with NewcastleGateshead Initiative

About Author

Rachel Kershaw

I'm a proud ambassador for all that's great about Geordieland and love sharing the best of what NewcastleGateshead has to offer. I may not be a Geordie born and bred but I've lived here for a over a decade and am proud to call this fabulous region my home!


  1. Anonymous Reply

    Exactly where when and who decided to rename the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the town of Gateshead, NewcastleGateshead. There is no NewcastleGateshead no one wants or asked for this redicilous rebranding excercise.
    Presumably during this civil rights fest there will be at least one event celebrating, Charles Earl Grey, (He of the monument and street) a local man, & former prime minister who’s government abolished slavery and brought in the great reform act?

    • I’m afraid I can’t answer your question about where and when the ‘NewcastleGateshead’ brand was created. As our local toursit board is ‘NewcastleGateshead Initiative’ I suspect the term was coined at the time this was established. Personally I think it’s good idea to promote Gateshead alongside Newcastle, especially to tourists visiting Newcastle as there is a lot to appreciate and enjoy south of the Tyne. Hope you enjoyed Freedom on the Tyne.

  2. Julia Reply

    Terrible idea closing the Tyne bridge and all the road closures. The person who dreamt up this showed total disregard for those who had to work on Sunday in the city or traveling through causing a traffic nightmare! Love the message of this great man MLK “I have a dream” speech I wish it had of been more tastefully remembered.

    • Sorry you feel that way Julie, I thought the bridge provided the perfect backdrop to this unique event and it seemed very well organised with plenty of notice for people to make alternative arrangements for crossing the Tyne while the bridge was closed.

      • JULIA Reply

        My name is Julia not Julie which just goes to prove your lack of detail. I work in the city of Newcastle almost every day of the week traveling from the Bigg market around the north east. There were no signs posted or literature about all the road closures or for that matter the event itself. That’s probably why it was poorly attended. No matter what you report I witnessed hardly anyone there. You obviously did not see the traffic gridlock nor the lines of people waiting for busses to go home after work because of all the road closures. I felt really sorry for them. The Tyne Bridge is the major thoroughfare to get from one side to the other timely so there really is no alternative route. As for “perfect backdrop” there are plenty of other fantastic areas such as the Millenium Bridge, Quay side, Sage, Exhiibition Park etc etc that could have held the small shows. Also the person above is correct please don’t lump Newcastle and Gateshead together as one, there is a river between us!

        • Apologies for mis-spelling your name. I also work in the city centre every day and I saw lots of road signs about the closures in advance of the event. I didn’t see the lines of people waiting for buses but as the metro was off that day due to a technical failure I think that may also have been a contributing factor to the queues. I suppose as with all events of this nature there will be some people that enjoy them more than others. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. maureen guy Reply

    What if any entitlements does one aquire when they have freedom of Tyne and Wear.?

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