It may be a brand new year but when it comes to the Newcastle social and events calendar some things are just guaranteed year after year. Seeing that an event is sold out or making plans that overlap is the worst, so to help you get organised I’ve put together this list of some of my favorite things to do in Newcastle in 2018. In addition to the fixed events for your diary, I’ve also thrown in some general ideas too.
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Newcastle made the Rough Guides worldwide list of cities to visit in 2018, so it’s set to be a good year for showing off the city and all it has to offer.
It’s also the top destination for stag do’s, and second for hen do’s according to local based company Last Night of Freedom. Don’t assume this means our fabulous city is purely for party goers, of course it is, and Newcastle offers some of the best nightlife in the country, but there’s so much more available at your fingertips than this for people of all ages, with a huge variety of interests. With so many cultural events, beautiful architecture, a passion for the football team like no other, top class hotels and spas, and some of the best Northern shopping you’ll find, Newcastle has everything for however you choose to spend your stag and hen celebrations – whether you’re a party goer or not.
Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration for throughout the year!
Go ice skating on one of the regions outdoor ice rinks
Christmas is over but it’s still going to be pretty baltic over the next couple of months, so take advantage of some winter fun. The Centre for Life outdoor ice rink is there until 18th February, so head along for a whizz around followed by a hot chocolate. There’s also an ice rink at Beamish until 25th February if you want to go a bit further afield.
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Not long to go now! Newcastle's very own Denise Welch, soon to be starring in Times Square Pantomime's Jack and the Beanstalk, will be launching the rink next Friday (10 Nov) and YOU'RE invited to be part of the audience. We even have free skating tickets up for grabs. ❄️⛸ The rink will officially open to the public at 10.00am on Saturday 11 November. Ts and Cs apply. See the link in our bio for more details. #launch #skating #Life #Newcastle #NE1 #freebies #denisewelch
Take part in NE1 Restaurant Week
I’m so excited for this, as I am every year. Newcastle Restaurant Week runs twice a year, once in January and once in August and lots of city centre restaurants have two and three course options from £10. It’s a great way to enjoy the more expensive places for cheaper, or to try somewhere new. I’ve currently got two lined up, but have a look at the full guide here.
Celebrate Chinese new year in Chinatown
Head to Stowell Street on 18th February to see the Chinese New Year celebrations, including the parade, colourful banners and performances, and of course a lot of food. It’s the year of the dog this year. If you miss the New Year celebrations, head there at any point this year to enjoy the Chinese cuisine on offer. Landmark is my favorite!
Date night in Newcastle
Head somewhere special for Valentine’s Day, or any other date night throughout the year. Try SIX at the Baltic for lovely views of the city from the top floor, a meal and stay at the Malmaison overlooking the bridges, or push the boat out at the award winning House of Tides.
Newcastle Vintage and Street Food Market
I’d not heard of this event before the past week, but it’s on at The Boiler Shop on 4th February.
Watch the Newcastle Falcons
The cities rugby team are playing on new territory in March this year when they host Northampton Saints at St James Park. The two universities, Newcastle and Northumbria are also playing beforehand on the same day, so it’s been given the title of ‘The Big One’ for local rugby fans.
World Book Day book show
For World Book Day on Saturday 3rd March, Newcastle Theatre Royal is hosting ‘The Biggest Book Show on Earth’. A literary celebration with authors and bookworms alike. For more info see here.
Celebrate Mother’s Day with afternoon tea
This year Mother’s Day is 11th March and Newcastle has some of the loveliest places to take your mum’s, mam’s and any other important women in your life. Some of my favourites are the Great British Cupcakery, The Vermont, Browns and further out on the coast The Grand in Tynemouth. This year we are heading to Jesmond Dene House for the first time.
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day
Join the regions Irish community in celebrating St Patrick’s Day. Watch the parade, head to an Irish pub, or why not go to the St Patrick’s Raceday experience at Newcastle Racecourse. I went last year with Ladbrokes and had a great time.
Try the best pies in Newcastle as part of British Pie Week
Every year I see so many local pubs tweeting photos of their pies for British Pie week. Some of my favourites can be found at the RedHouse on the quayside, the Botanist and of course – Greggs! This year it’s the week of 6th-12th March.
Newcastle Film Festival
I can’t find too much info on this yet, but at the end of March and start of April Newcastle film festival is running 4 days of film celebrations from around the world.
Enjoy the seasonal colours around the city
I always think Newcastle looks pretty, even in the rain, but it always looks even better in Spring and Autumn. Find the pockets of seasonal color and enjoy a walk in the fresh air.
Be a tourist and go on a Newcastle Guided Walk
The Newcastle Gateshead tourist board offer daily and unique walks around the city, including specific areas, heritage and sightseeing. Have a look on their website if you’re interested.
Play the Geordie Jackpot
I used to play this at the match, but it’s now something anyone in the region can take part in. Tickets are £1, the draw is weekly and the top prize is £25,000. Money from each ticket purchased goes towards local initiatives like Cash for Kids. Visit the Geordie Jackpot website for details.
Join nearly everyone in Newcastle at the bars and pubs for Bank Holiday
Without fail, the bars and pubs of Newcastle will be spilling out onto the streets every Bank Holiday. From Easter, to the two in May and the August summer bank holiday places like Osborne Road, the quayside, and central Newcastle are heaving. This was Pitcher and Piano on August Bank Holiday last year.
Visit the Newcastle Quayside market
Every Sunday the market comes to Newcastle quayside, and is hugely popular. With food stalls, crafts, beautiful photography, or just a nice walk out with the dog the Quayside market is one of my favorite places to spend a Sunday morning. Followed by lunch at the Broad Chare!
In the summer go to the Seaside on the Quayside
Get Into Newcastle set up the little beach huts, the fish shack and deck chairs on a makeshift sandy beach on the quayside.
Get cultured at one of the cities museums or art galleries
Pay a visit to the Laing Art Gallery, the Baltic, the Biscuit Factory, the Hancock Museum, the Life Centre or the Discovery Museum to name just a few. Their individual sites will give you full details of whats on and when. The Baltic is my favourite and it’s free.
Have a laugh at a comedy event
Comedians like John Bishop, Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican and Jason Manford are all doing gigs in Newcastle this year, but if you’ve missed out on tickets try one of the comedy clubs as a different night out.
Find one of the many outdoor and rooftop terraces
There’s plenty about, and they’re so popular in summer there’s often a queue or waiting list. A few off the top of my head include The Botanist, Bar Luga, Pleased to Meet You, Tokyo, The Vermont, Livello, Aveika and YOLO Townhouse. For a full review of all types of bars and pubs with outdoor spots, take a look here.
See your favourite artists perform
This year the arena, city hall and St James Park are hosting Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Little Mix, Katy Perry and LOADS more. A lot are sold out but you never know if you keep an eye on the Facebook events people change plans and often resell at face value.
Celebrate Father’s Day with a cracking Sunday dinner
With so many mouth watering places for Sunday dinner in Newcastle you have plenty choice. My go to’s are Broad Chare, The Bridge Tavern or the Town Wall.
Run the Blaydon Race
I can’t really preach about this because I have no plans to ever do it, but if I was ever going to do a run it would probably be this one. The locally famous Blaydon Race on the 9th June, otherwise known as Geordie Day.
Run or support the Great North Run
Again, no plans to ever do it, but I do love the Great North Run weekend in September. The ballot just opened for this years entries, but even if you aren’t running it’s an event the whole region gets involved in to support. It’s a great atmosphere and you can see the Red Arrows flying over the Tyne Bridge. For runners needing some other inspiration and local runs, have a look at Katie Jane Online’s list of the ones she did last year.
Go to the races
I love both of the biggest race days at Newcastle Racecourse, Northumberland Plate Day which is 30th June this year, and Ladies Day which is 28th July this year. Both are great excuses to get all dolled up and try your luck on the gee gee’s. For the full years racing program and tickets visit the Newcastle Racecourse website.
For a whole week in June you have to visit the famous Hoppings funfair. Even if you don’t want to go on any rides, go for the sights and the food. And because it’s tradition. Have a look at my past blog post here.
Do the Ouseburn pub crawl
A good one for the summer my family used to do this every year for a different charity. With plenty of pubs serving real ale, pubs include the Cluny, Tyne Bar, the Ship, The Cumberland and the Free Trade. You’ll get some good views of the city too…
Go to the Great Exhibition of the North
From 22nd June until the Great North Run weekend in September the Great Exhibition of the North is coming to Newcastle. You might have seen the artists impression of what the fountain over the river Tyne will look like, (I can’t share it for copyright reasons but you can see it here). The exhibition is a collaboration of technology, events, performances and culture throughout the city. I’m really looking forward to seeing what sorts of things will be included.
Newcastle Motor Show
The open air motorshow in Newcastle city center is returning in 2018 the weekend of 7th July. Last year it was a boiling hot day and there were so many people out enjoying the different cars on display. Have a look at my photos from the 2017 motor show here.
Watch a film at Screen on the Green
The outdoor cinema screen returns to old Eldon Square every summer showing a big variety of family friendly films free of charge. On a nice day pull up a deck chair and enjoy.
See the Millennium Bridge blink!
For passing ships, including the party boat the bridge is cleared of pedestrians for it to tip upwards, or blink.
Dine over the Tyne
After being fortunate enough to do a Dine in the Sky press event last summer I am without a doubt keeping an eye open for it returning this year. I haven’t seen any info just yet, but it was in August and was such an amazing experience. You’re strapped in to a rollercoaster style seat at a big table, whinched up over the city and served a meal of your choice from all the participating restaurants. I would totally recommend it and you can read more on it here.
There’s not much info on this just yet but the date has been set as Monday 24th July. It’s also the 40th anniversary of the rainbow flag this year so celebrations are bound to be colourful!
Sing along with the Ladyboys of Bangkok
The touring cabaret show will glitter it’s way back into Newcastle in September 2018. Always a laugh.
Battle of the Burger
Held at Wylam Brewery the Battle of the Burger sees local restaurants submitting their entries for the best burger in toon. Burgers are £3 each, and the event itself is free. Lola Jeans is the current title holder, but from what I’ve been hearing Bar 28 makes a decent burger and if they enter this year there might be a new winner.
Get tipsy at a Gin Festival
Alcohol festivals have gained popularity over the past few years, especially gin festivals. The first one in Newcastle is a Gin and Prosecco festival which will be held the weekend of 6th April at the Civic Centre. I think there’s usually one in September too but details haven’t been announced yet. I’m also a big fan of Tynedale Beer festival at Tynedale Rugby Club which is held in June.
Try Newcastle’s own gin
Or if you want to just try Newcastle’s own gin then pay Bealim House a visit.
A lot of pubs get involved in the Oktoberfest spirit, the Broad Chare for one pushes German beers, and puts on a full Oktoberfest menu. Then there’s also Newcastle Oktoberfest festival itself in Times Square, which sells out every year. Beer steins, live music, dancing and German sausage galore!
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Get into the Halloween spirit with a Newcastle Ghost Walk
I’ve done one of these once, around the Castle Keep and despite not believing a single thing about it, it was actually hilarious and very spooky in the dark! Round off a funny evening with a drink in the pub to warm up afterwards because it’s freezing.
Escape from an Escape Room
This was something I did for the first time with my team at work, and it was really good! There are others in Newcastle but we went to EXIT Newcastle on Westgate Road. One team had to find the antidote to a contagious disease (hello Mission Impossible II), and my team had to escape from a horror murder mystery scene. It was a lot of fun and very competitive. A great thing to do in a group.
Indulge on the local seafood
Being a coastal city there are some unbelievable seafood options available, from fresh fish and chips to the finest catch of the day, prawns and oysters. My favourite place is the Saltwater Company at Fenwick’s food hall. Unreal.
Enjoy a night out at the Theatre Royal
The last time I went to the theatre was to see Mary Poppins which was fabulous. Shows confirmed for this year include Peter Pan, the ballet, Cinderella, Sherlock Holmes and The Jungle Book.
Go to a Newcastle United football match
I go to as many as possible, and always have, but even if you aren’t a massive football fan or all that interested, if you’re in Newcastle you really should experience a match day. Get a Mag-pie at half time, if what you’re witnessing on the pitch is a load of crap then it will cheer you up. There’s no place like it. Can’t guarantee they’ll win though…
Go to a Bonfire night firework display
Get wrapped up in November and go watch a public firework display. The Chronicle publish a full list at the time of all the places that put one on, but the usual ones include Saltwell Park, Blue Flames, The Links seafront and Newcastle Gateshead. They’re free and best to leave fireworks to the professionals isn’t it.
Huddle by the fire at Hadrian’s Tipi
Can you believe I’ve still not been to the tipi even though it’s been there now for two years running? I was so busy in the run up to Christmas 2017 and I think it’s definitely something to do in the festive season, not in January, so I’m waiting until it returns later this year. Some of the food and hot chocolates looked pretty good.
Support the traders at the Grainger Market
I can never go here as often as I would but the market has some great food places. The Pet Lamb Patisserie is one, and the Spanish food shop is another, as well as the French Oven. At Christmas they host a night market with Christmas carols, and historical tours. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn from it as well, have a look at my post on the event here.
See Fenwick’s Window
The Newcastle Fenwick store is the flagship, and at the end of November the Christmas window is unveiled. This year was Paddington Bear, last year was Beatrix Potter. Who knows what this year will be – but they start planning in January so who someone does! Like many others, this is one of my favourite things to do in Newcastle at Christmas.
Get in the festive spirit with the Christmas market
Every winter from the lights being switched on by Steve and Karen, the Christmas market comes to Newcastle. It may have just been and gone but don’t miss it when it returns for 2018.
Hopefully you’ve got some inspiration, and can see how varied a weekend in Newcastle really can be. If you’re planning a city break here, or if you’re visiting for an occasion or stag/hen celebration take a look at Last Night of Freedom to help you plan and get the utmost out of your weekend.
Take a look at some of my other Newcastle posts:
This post has been sponsored by Last Night of Freedom.
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