NewcastleGateshead has an enviable line-up of festivals and events this year, with a summer of celebrations and London 2012 Olympic Games activity combining to make it one of the UK’s stand-out city break destinations.
Highlights include Olympic Football at St James’ Park; an exciting line-up at unique, urban music festival Evolution; EAT! NewcastleGateshead – one of the country’s most acclaimed food festivals, and the Bridges Festival – a free, two day celebration on the banks of the River Tyne.
And that’s just June to August – it’s going to be a busy year in what Lonely Planet recently described as, ‘the hipster capital of the North East’.
Welcoming Olympic Football at St James’ Park (July 26 – August 4), NewcastleGateshead will play its part in the biggest sporting event in the world as the home of Newcastle United Football Club hosts one of the first events in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic calendar.
Long before the London 2012 Games begin, NewcastleGateshead’s summer season will kick off with The Late Shows (May 18 – 19), an after-dark programme of events and exhibitions across NewcastleGateshead’s cultural venues. Whetting appetites before and during Games time is EAT! NewcastleGateshead, (July 13 – 29) one of the UK’s leading and award-winning food festivals.
As Olympic Football hangs up its boots, NewcastleGateshead’s Bridges Festival returns following its inaugural year in 2011. The festival celebrates the destination’s historic Quayside and world-famous bridges with two days of events and activities animating both banks of the Tyne (August 4 – 5).
Following the success of Turner Prize 2011, where almost 150,000 visitors flocked to the gallery in just three months, BALTIC will celebrate 10 years of bringing the best international contemporary artists to NewcastleGateshead.
Other landmark celebrations in 2012 include the Theatre Royal’s 175th Anniversary. The Grade I listed theatre on Newcastle’s elegant Grey Street underwent a stunning refurbishment in 2011, dramatically transforming the theatre’s interior and restoring its original 1901 Frank Matcham design.
From February 16 – 19, the magic of the theatre will spill out onto the street in The Birthday Blaze: a spectacular outdoor show will unfold with flames, fireworks and performances by characters from the theatre’s 175 year history.
As well as this packed programme of cultural events, visitors can enjoy top quality hotels from a range of new accommodation providers in NewcastleGateshead. Sleeperz Hotel, the design-led budget provider, opened on January 23 2012; Hotel Indigo, complete with a Marco Pierre White restaurant, is set to open in March and Ramada Encore Newcastle-Gateshead will also open next month.
Stay in style, experience the warmth of the Geordie welcome and enjoy a weekend break in one of the UK’s most exciting cities. NewcastleGateshead’s Top 12 for 2012 are:
1. Theatre Royal 175th Anniversary
Theatre Royal, Grey Street, Newcastle, 16 – 19 February
Bringing together visual installations, performance, music, special effects, story-telling and interactive experiences, The Birthday Blaze will be the flagship event in the Theatre Royal’s birthday programme, an extraordinary large-scale public celebration which will transform the atmosphere of Newcastle’s Grey Street from sedate to spectacular, on February 18-19. www.theatreroyal.co.uk/175-birthday
2. Hotel Indigo Newcastle feat restaurant by Marco Pierre White
The four star boutique inspired hotel offers 48 luxurious, upscale rooms and is situated in the heart of the city centre. Opening in March 2012, the property also brings with it a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, the celebrity chef’s first outing in North East England. Offering a total culinary experience with affordable glamour, the menu mixes traditional steakhouse dining combined with the superior quality of Marco Pierre White. www.sanguinehospitality.com
3. London 2012 Olympic Host City: Newcastle
March – September
As host city to Olympic Football during the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Olympic Torch Relay takes an overnight stop in Newcastle on June 15. Featuring an evening of celebrations, it will see the torch transported via zip wire from the Tyne Bridge to the iconic Quayside. One of only nine locations to host Olympic sport outside London, Newcastle’s St James’ Park will host six days of thrilling Olympic Football between July 26 – August 4. www.NewcastleGateshead.com
4. London 2012 Cultural Olympiad: ~Flow
The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. One outstanding project is Flow, opening on March 25 and running until September, the work is a floating self-powered waterwheel that harnesses energy from the River Tyne to power a number of electro-acoustic musical instruments that combine mechanical automation and digital technology to produce sounds that respond to the river. www.NewcastleGateshead.com
The Cultural Olympiad opens on the same day that the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile takes in NewcastleGateshead with a new city centre route. Flow will form part of a host of attractions and entertainment along the Quayside Mile. www.sportrelief.com
5. Evolution Weekender
Various locations across NewcastleGateshead, June 3-4
Having hosted the likes of Tinie Tempah and Plan B, Evolution is now firmly established as one of the key events in the national calendar, opening the annual summer music festival season. Taking place on the north bank of the Quayside, Evolution was described by Clash Magazine as ‘the UKs model City Festival’ www.evolutionfestival.co.uk
6. World Shakespeare Festival 2012
Northern Stage, The Sage Gateshead and Theatre Royal Newcastle, June – July
Thousands of artists from around the world will take part in almost 70 productions as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. In NewcastleGateshead Northern Stage hosts two stunning new pieces, The Rest Is Silence and Macbeth: Leïla and Ben – A Bloody History. Theatre Royal Newcastle hosts The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar and The Sage Gateshead will stage Westside Story and host an education conference, Re-Making Shakespeare. www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk
7. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art 10th Birthday
BALTIC first opened its doors at midnight on July 13, 2002, and what a decade it has been. The theme for the Birthday year will be ‘dreams and aspirations’ echoing the Olympic 2012 message. The Birthday weekend celebrations will see every corner of the building, including all five gallery spaces, animated with art activity for visitors to get involved with, including specially commissioned artist led workshops and performance art. www.balticmill.com
8. EAT! NewcastleGateshead 2012
Various locations across NewcastleGateshead, July 13 – 29
NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s acclaimed food festival EAT! returns for a sixth year in 2012. Championing local food producers, restaurants and culinary talent in NewcastleGateshead and North East England, its eclectic and imaginative events programme helps people to see food in a brand new way. Opening with Cakebook Britain, an ambitious plan to create a scale model of Great Britain using only cake on July 14, what follows is a fortnight of foodie delight before the festival comes to a close on the weekend of July 28-29 with The Big EAT!, a free weekend of food discovery www.eatnewcastlegateshead.com
9. NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival
NewcastleGateshead Quayside, August 4-5
The world famous cityscape of NewcastleGateshead, recognised all over the globe by its iconic seven bridges, is brought to life with a free festival celebrating the twin cities’ riverside icons. NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival celebrates the history, heritage and contemporary culture of the NewcastleGateshead quayside, the River Tyne and the seven bridges which connect the two. www.BridgesFestival.com.
10. Great North Run Weekend – including Junior and Mini Great North Run and Great North Street Games
The most iconic half marathon in the world will in 2012 be the first international athletics event after the Olympics and provides an unmissable opportunity to see some of the Olympic stars in action. A series of professional and junior athletics activities on the Saturday of the Great North Run weekend has been developed over the last few years, using NewcastleGateshead Quaysides as a ‘virtual arena’. www.greatrun.org.
11. Juice – NewcastleGateshead’s Festival for Children and Young People
Various locations across NewcastleGateshead, October 24– November 4
October half term in NewcastleGateshead signals the arrival of Juice Festival. The 12 day festival showcases outstanding work created by children and young people as well as a family friendly programme delivered by regional, national and international artists. www.juicefestival.co.uk.
12. NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival
Various locations across NewcastleGateshead, November 24–December 31
Featuring the award-winning Enchanted Parks where innovative and atmospheric installations bring Saltwell Park in Gateshead to life, and the annual New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival with Newcastle’s Ice Queen and her entourage of local community participants parading through the city streets – the Winter Festival brings magic and mystery to the festive season. www.NewcastleGateshead.com/winterfestival.
- How to get here
Direct rail services run from many UK cities to Newcastle Central Station. East Coast operate the East Coast mainline from London King’s Cross to Scotland via Newcastle and the CrossCountry route links the region with Scotland, the Midlands and the South West. Northern Rail operate from Carlisle, Teesside and beyond, while TransPennine Express services run from Manchester, Liverpool and stations across Yorkshire.
Read more about shopping and mini breaks in Newcastle Gateshead.