Enchanting events in Saltwell Park and community celebrations through the streets of Newcastle upon Tyne on New Year’s Eve are just two of the highlights at this year’s NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival which began on Saturday 23 November and continues until Tuesday 31 December 2013.
Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, and producer of the event, said: “There’s a fantastic festive offer in NewcastleGateshead and we’re expecting lots of visitors from across the region and beyond during the Winter Festival. We have programmed events that the whole family can enjoy and they are all unique to us, you won’t find them anywhere else in the country.”
The NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival fun begins with a weekend of shopping and the chance to buy some unique items produced right here in the region.
The studios in the Ouseburn Valley are home to a wide range of creative people including artists, jewellery and furniture makers, graphic designers and printmakers. Ouseburn Open Studios (Sat 23 & Sun 24 November) sees the artists open up their studios giving visitors the chance to glimpse into the working world of over 200 artists and designer-makers. There’s a huge variety of affordable and original work to buy including: paintings, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, furniture and prints. www.ouseburnopenstudios.org
Enchanted Parks, NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s popular after-dark arts adventure, returns to Gateshead’s famous Victorian park, Saltwell Park, on Wednesday 11 – Sunday 15 December. Following the appointment of a new creative producer, Katy Fuller of outdoor arts company Pinwheel, this year’s event centres around the story of the Saltwell Park Keeper and enchantment that takes over the park once night has fallen.
Katy Fuller, creative producer of Enchanted Parks said: “Visitors are being invited into Saltwell Park to see the enchanted world it becomes once the gates are locked and night has fallen. They will journey through the Park uncovering the tale of the Park Keeper, who has protected this secret for many years. Now it’s time for him to retire and pass on the keys, and the secrets, to the People’s Park.”
Newcastle city centre hosts The Christmas Market from Wednesday 4 December to Sunday 8 December 2012, which welcomes stall holders from across the North East. Expect beers from local microbreweries, home-made jams, delicious cakes and handmade fudges. With scarves, leather bags, hand thrown pottery and jewellery also available, there’s no excuse for not getting the Christmas shopping finished.
Life Science Centre recently unveiled Newcastle’s only open-air ice rink. Skating @ Life runs until Sunday 23 February 2014 so there’s plenty of time to get your skates on. www.life.org.uk
Screenings of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ return to Tyneside Cinema from Friday 20 – Tuesday 24 December. Enjoy this timeless masterpiece in the beautiful art deco cinema, the last surviving newsreel cinema in the UK, and if you book tickets for the evening screenings on Saturday 21, Sunday 22 or Monday 23 December, you can enjoy live festive music from The Cornshed Sisters and jazz group, The Maine Street Trio.
New Year’s Eve always signals a time to celebrate and the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival presents one of the biggest free events across the country in the New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival (Tuesday 31 December, from 17.00 in Newcastle city centre).
Drawing on Norse mythologies and Viking folklore, with a sprinkle of North East traditions, hundreds of local residents will take part in the carnival parade as it makes its way from Monument, up Northumberland Street to Newcastle Civic Centre for the traditional early evening firework display at 18.00.
The free, family-friendly festivities begin at 17.00 at Monument as Odin’s wolves start prowling the streets with Thor and the Dark Elves looking on. The mythical World Serpent will slither through the streets accompanied by a shoal of fearsome flying fish. Mighty mythical Gods will bring live music and performance as night draws in.
Carol said: “We’re looking for more community groups, businesses and volunteers to help make the event extra special this year. We are recruiting 100 torchbearers to join the parade and a team of volunteers to bring the famous World Serpent to life. I’d encourage anyone who wants to play a part in the carnival celebrations to visit the website, www.NewcastleGateshead.com/winterfestival, to register their interest. It’s first come, first served, so be quick.”
Thor’s Hammers will add some percussive strength to proceedings whilst the Dark Elves lead a flaming Viking Longship up Northumberland Street from 17.15. Listen out for the World Beaters’ Spark drummers and King Bee whose rhythms will summon the carnival parade to Newcastle Civic Centre for the firework finale.
For night owls heading to the NewcastleGateshead quayside to celebrate the stroke of midnight in restaurants, bars and attractions along the River Tyne, there will be a special New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks display, adding to this year’s festivities in NewcastleGateshead.
The New Year festivities don’t stop there! Friday 31 January 2014 marks the arrival of Chinese New Year and NewcastleGateshead is celebrating in style with a free event on Sunday 9 February. Join in the festivities as we usher in the Year of the Horse with Chinese-inspired events, performances and activities for all the family.
The NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival, created and produced by NewcastleGateshead Initiative, takes place from Saturday 23 November to Monday 31 December 2013 (with additional events taking place into 2014). For information about all the events taking place as part of the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival, please visit www.NewcastleGateshead.com/winterfestival