As I scrolled through my Twitter feed on Saturday morning a smug grin spread across my face as I realised that Newcastle had been voted the UK’s favourite city at the Guardian Travel Awards. It made male feel really rather proud of my adopted home!
Hopefully the award will attract lots of new visitors to Geordieland and if you’ve stumbled across this blog because you’re planning your own trip, or you’re simply wondering what all the fuss is about, then it seems the perfect time to share with you my favourite local attractions.
I was recently asked by Smart, the motor brand inspired by city life, to write a guide to Newcastle that sums up what Newcastle is For. It’s part of a social media campaign called #WhatAreYouFor so I told them that ‘Newcastle is For: Party People, Culture Vultures and Shopaholics’.
Here are some of the highlights from the guide with links to more of my blog posts to help you plan the perfect visit…
I never bore of wandering along the quayside to admire the iconic bridges and soak up the atmosphere. Every Sunday there’s a fantastic food and craft market and if you wander across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge you’ll come to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; housed in a former flour mill and with stunning views of the magnificent quayside, BALTIC is a great place to spend a few hours. Also on this side of the river is the Sage Gateshead, a truly unique music venue and one of my favourite places to hear live music.
Newcastle city centre is really compact with plenty of high street shops and popular department stores, including my favourite shop, Fenwick, which sells everything from designer handbags to Pease pudding (it’s a local delicacy, give it a try!) At this time of year, people queue outside Fenwick just to take a peek at the magical Christmas window! Monument Mall is where you’ll find upmarket stores like Hugo Boss, Michael Kors and Reiss, but I’m more likely to be found scouring the Grade I listed Grainger Market for bargain buys and independent shops in the High Bridge Quarter like Retro and Deep for unique finds. Oh, and did I mention that Gateshead is home to Europe’s largest shopping centre, MetroCentre? It’s not been unknown for me to lose a whole day in there!
People are always surprised when I urge them to visit a cinema during their stay in Newcastle, but believe me, the Tyneside is not your average cinema! It’s the UK’s last surviving Newsreel theatre still operating as a full time independent picture house and the Grade II listed building is a must see piece of heritage! Every day at 11.30am visitors are transported back in time with free archive newsreel footage and guided tours of the magnificent art deco building. There’s also a brand new bar cafe which means you’ll never want to leave!
There’s never an excuse to be bored in Newcastle thanks to a jam packed calendar of cultural events. From the epic ‘EAT! Festival’ which takes you on an adventure through food and drink to ‘Juice’ the festival specifically for children and young people. In May there’s a whole week devoted to fashion for Newcastle Fashion Week, plus we have Restaurant Week and Cocktail Week too! Also, not forgetting the magical line up of events like Enchanted Parks and New Year’s Eve Carnival that take place during the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival – there really is ALWAYS something going on!
Like most people in Newcastle, I love a good night out in the Toon and our nightlife is pretty legendary. Whether you prefer a quiet pint or fancy cocktails you’ll be spoilt for choice, new bars and clubs seem to be springing up all over the place at the moment! I particularly love the monthly Boiler Shop Steamer! Wherever you end up dancing the night away, be sure to pre-book a nice city centre hotel so you awake the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on another action packed day!
I could go on forever (I haven’t even mentioned Newcastle’s proximity to amazing beaches!) So to read the full guide head to http://uk.smart.com/uk/en/index/smart-campaigns/whatareyoufor/newcastle.html and for more itinerary ideas check out www.newcastlegateshead.com
You can also add your own suggestions or ask any questions in the comments box below!
By Rachel Kershaw