All the Fun Things to Do in the North East for a Sensational Summer Holiday
Get out and about this summer with our list of things to do including fun for the whole family
We’ve rounded up some must-not-miss events and activities you can book now for a spectacular summer.
GAIA – EARTH
Life Science Centre, Newcastle
On your next visit to the North East’s biggest science centre, don’t miss Gaia – a seven-metre-diameter recreation of the Earth. Created by UK artist Luke Jerram, the installation uses detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface and if you stand 211m away from it, you’ll see the Earth as it appears from the moon. It’s the perfect photo opportunity.
OUTDOOR CINEMA NIGHTS
Billy Elliott, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again or The Blues Brothers – take your pick! Outdoor cinemas are back at Bamburgh Castle. Grab your picnic blanket and enjoy.
30TH AUGUST–10TH SEPTEMBER
Theatre Royal, Newcastle
The internationally-acclaimed stage sensation Jersey Boys is back in the North East, starring Sunderland-born Michael Pickering as Frankie Valli alongside Lewis Griffiths as Nick Massi, Blair Gibson as Bob Gaudio and Dalton Wood as Tommy DeVito. The smash-hit musical goes behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons – four guys from New Jersey, who had a sound nobody had ever heard before.
0191 232 7010
A NORTHUMBERLAND MENAGERIE
UNTIL 30TH OCTOBER
Woodhorn Museum, Hexham Old Gaol, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum
Discover stories of Northumberland’s animals – past and present, real and imagined – through Bethan Maddocks’ magical paper-cut installations in these four spaces. To find out more about Bethan and her artwork, visit livingnorth.com.
DANIEL KITSON: OUTSIDE
The Amphitheatre at Wharton Park
0300 026 6600
It’s been more than two years since talented comedian and writer Daniel Kitson has been on stage. Embracing the unpredictable British weather, he’s planned himself a summer’s worth of outdoor shows – including one at Wharton Park. Pray for good weather and look forward to plenty of laughs.
Rainton Arena, Houghton
0191 584 8630
Dubbed ‘the UK’s most feared comedian’, we’re not sure whether you should prepare to laugh or cry if you see Frankie Allen live. He pulls no punches and no two shows are the same, so look forward to this unique evening of comedy.
BEYOND VISUAL: SOLO EXHIBITION BY THIAGO PONSANCINI
28TH JULY–2ND AUGUST
0191 716 5098
Brazilian-born (but now very much an adopted Geordie), Thiago Ponsancini presents his first unique abstract art exhibition. Using acrylics, metallics and other mixed media on canvas, his multilayered creations use contrasting and complementary colours and textures – inviting you to interpret them however you please, limited only by your own imagination. As a design professional and teacher, Thiago understands that form follows function. However in art he uses his creative expression to celebrate beauty and artistic connection as their own goal and reward. He invites you to join him in doing the same.
BESIDE THE SEASIDE
UNTIL 30TH AUGUST
Bailiffgate Museum & Gallery, Alnwick
Holidays by the seaside grew in popularity in the 18th century, and the railway boom in the 19th century and Bank Holidays in the 20th century meant being by the sea was a go-to for many. Now, it’s a much-loved part of the British way of life. In this summer exhibition, see a fascinating collection of seaside postcards dating back to the Victorian era, go back in time to the dreaded knitted swimsuit, and your children will love the puppet show. Plus, the Bailiffgate Museum Mice are back. They’re handmade and you can adopt and keep them. This, year they’ve taken on the Beside the Seaside theme. Grab one before they’re gone.
LOGOS & LEMON TOPS
UNTIL 4TH SEPTEMBER
Head of Steam, Darlington
The railways opened up the seaside to the masses – and this new exhibition will tell you all about that. You’ll explore the history of our seaside towns in this fun summer exhibition made for the whole family.
BRIDGET RILEY: ART IN MOTION
UNTIL 4 SEPTEMBER
Preston Park Museum & Grounds, Eaglescliffe
Celebrating Bridget Riley’s career (which has spanned an impressive 70 years), this exhibition will include 13 pieces – some of which have never been seen before in our region. You’ll learn more about her life, the inspirations behind her art and how she became one of Britain’s most celebrated artists inspiring the next generation.
UNTIL 11TH SEPTEMBER
National Glass Centre, Sunderland
0191 515 5555
Bringing together ground-breaking contemporary artists, Glass Exchange showcases four new works across the North East, from Durham Cathedral to a disused shop in Sunderland. Pascale Marthine Tayou, Katie Paterson, Monster Chetwynd and Ryan Gander have been working with specialist teams at the National Glass Centre and have been collaborating with Sunderland-based artists who are experts in working with glass to exchange their skills. This exchange is documented in this brand-new exhibition.
Aydon Castle, Corbridge
Just one mile outside Corbridge, Aydon Castle is the perfect place for a family day out. The new exhibition here is a collaboration between English Heritage and skilled lecturers from Northumbria University School of Design. They’ve created objects inspired by the castle and its history using wood, metal, fabric and glass. Head to the top floor of the castle to see them.
THIS SHOW IS RUBBISH
FROM 28TH JULY
Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle
Wave is only 10 years old, but the planet only has 10 years left. Not every child saves up for a litter picker and decides to clean every beach in the world (starting with Newcastle), but Wave is different. This musical is the story of a mother and daughter, and how the things that divide them could also unite them, told with original new music, eco-puppetry and original storytelling.
FABLES AT THE KITCHEN TABLE
30TH & 31ST JULY
Live Theatre, Newcastle
0191 232 1232
A storyteller has travelled all over the world collecting exciting stories, but while spending a lot more time at home, she discovered a book of fables to help her pass the time. Join her on an imaginative adventure from the kitchen table, as she brings some of Aesop’s best-loved animal characters to life with puppetry and a little bit of theatre magic.
WOW! SAID THE OWL: INTERACTIVE EXHIBITION
Theatre Hullabaloo, Darlington
A fantastic, interactive play exhibition based on the award-winning book by Tim Hopgood, which follows a little owl on a daytime adventure to appreciate just how colourful the world really is. This bright and bold exhibition offers younger children a rich, sensory experience inspired by this much-loved picture book.
THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE
ARC, Stockton Arts Centre
Who will win this race – the slow and the steady or the fast and the furious? This interactive story for under sixes and their families features live music and puppetry. On your marks…
THE SEE-SAW TREE STORYTIME WITH AUTHOR DAVID WOOD
Seven Stories, Newcastle
0300 330 1095
An ancient oak tree is about to be felled. But can the creatures who live in it save it from destruction? Award-winning writer David Wood will introduce you to his poignant new book The See-Saw Tree. He’ll read excerpts from the dramatic story and you’ll watch a short video demonstrating how Joanna Padfield created her accompanying linocut illustrations.
0191 230 6300
From Robin Hood to The Lord of The Rings, our city’s castle is screening classic films this summer in the Castle Keep. Stock up on snacks and chill out in front of the big screen.
SPACE KIDS: SOLAR QUEST
0191 265 5510
Head to Kielder Observatory to learn more about our sun. Explore different types of light and how it affects our lives in this interactive and engaging event with hands on experiments. You could even hold a piece of rock that’s 4.5 billion years old!
The Ealing Comedies of the 1950s and 60s brought us The Ladykillers and now the story has been crafted into a comedy theatre show you won’t want to miss. A hapless band of criminals are planning a heist – and their unlikely cover is that they are a quartet of professional musicians. What could be more entertaining?
THE SUGGESTIBLES: IMPROV COMEDY JOYRIDE
The Stand, Newcastle
0191 232 0707
You make this show as funny as you want it to be – because you provide the suggestions; there’s no script. Games, skits, sketches and songs are all improvised, so it’s all down to you, and the hilarious The Suggestibles.
The Witham, Barnard Castle
There aren’t many stages multi-award winning comedian Billy Pearce hasn’t appeared on, but this is a great chance to see him close to home. His stand-up routines are always a must-see for a good laugh.
ADAM KAY: THIS IS GOING TO HURT… MORE
Utilita Arena, Newcastle
This Is Going to Hurt…More is Adam Kay’s biggest UK tour to date. He’ll be sharing entries from his popular diaries as a junior doctor in an evening of stand-up and music. Plus, there’ll be brand-new stories from his forthcoming book Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients.
Northern Stage, Newcastle
0191 230 5151
Experience brand-new performances by emerging LGBTQIA+ artists, supported as part of QueerChange and QueerCore, this summer. From performances about clichés and representation, to exploring the obstacles of transitioning, these shows and exhibitions are both exciting and educational.
10TH & 11TH AUGUST
Gala Theatre, Durham
0300 026 6600
A family favourite, Horrible Histories is back on stage and this time the Terrible Tudors are bringing us laughs and facts. Find out the fate of Henry’s headless wives, meet Bloody Mary and see if you can survive the Spanish Armada.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
13TH & 14TH AUGUST
Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle
0844 249 1000
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re coming to Tyne Theatre & Opera House – they’re The Addams Family. Wednesday Addams has grown up and fallen in love with a smart young man from a respectable family… that doesn’t sound good? Wednesday begs her father not to tell her mother, but can Gomez really keep a secret from Morticia?
DREAMBOATS & PETTICOATS
Following the latest release in the series of smash-hit, multimillion selling Dreamboats & Petticoats albums, join Bobby, Laura, Sue, Norman and the gang and dance the night away to songs from the golden era of Rock ’n’ Roll.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
26TH AUGUST–3RD SEPTEMBER
The Customs House, South Shields
0191 454 1234
One of the most popular musicals of all time, The Sound of Music is coming to The Customs House (for a limited time only). The story of the Von Trapp family will never get old, and you won’t want to miss out on performances of the classic tracks Do-Re-Mi and My Favourite Things.
IRELAND: THE SHOW
Playhouse Whitley Bay
Hilarious stories and jokes from award-winning comedian Gary Gamble combine with some of the most talented singers and performers to bring you this unmissable show which takes you on a journey through the decades. Expect singalongs to Dirty Old Town, The Town I Loved So Well, Tell Me Ma and The Irish Rover.
ROCK OF AGES
This hilarious musical comedy brings more than 25 classic rock anthems to the stage, including Don’t Stop Believin’ and We Built This City. It’s a global smash hit with shows on Broadway, London’s West End and in Las Vegas, so you certainly won’t want to miss this one.
BUGSY MALONE THE MUSICAL
Theatre Royal, Newcastle
0191 232 7010
Bugsy Malone, a penniless one-time boxer, is thrust into the gangster limelight when he becomes the last resort for Fat Sam. But all Bugsy really wants to do is spend time with his new love, Blousey. Alan Parker’s world-famous movie, which brought Jodie Foster to fame, has been revived and transformed into a spectacular theatrical experience with fabulous costumes and even better music.
O2 City Hall, Newcastle
Multi award-winning and global chart-topping Sean Paul is bringing a ‘Scorcha’ of a show to Newcastle this summer. Get your dancing shoes on.
Get amongst the crowd in Newcastle as Summertime Live returns. Classic Ibiza are the reason you’ll want to book your tickets but the DJs, bars, street food and an unbeatable atmosphere (as well as glitter makeup, if you fancy it) mean you’ll have an unforgettable time at this open-air concert.
Lowther Deer Park, Lake District
Not in the North East but we know many people from our region enjoy travelling for this popular music festival. With more than 250 acts across 13 stages, you’ll want to plan out your weekend before heading to Kendal Calling so you don’t miss your favourite artists, whether that’s Bastille, The Kooks and Tom Grennan or Sea Girls, Gabrielle and Eurovision hero Sam Ryder. Treat yourself to a luxury stay in the Deer Lodge (boutique glamping with a pamper parlour) and don’t miss the mini events and workshops as well as Oktoberfest and a cinema.
EVERY SATURDAY FROM 6TH AUGUST–10TH SEPTEMBER
Flatts Farm, Bishop Auckland
Kynren – An Epic Tale of England returns to its spectacular outdoor stage this summer and invites you to embark on a thrilling journey through 2,000 years of history, myth and legend. From Boudicca’s battles with the Romans to two World Wars, our history is told through stunning stunts, equestrianism and pyrotechnics. This family-friendly, multi award-winning live action show is a not-to-be-missed North East cultural highlight each year. Find out more at livingnorth.com.
Raby Castle, Staindrop
In this adaptation of David Walliams’ tale, the new playground at the Saxby Hall Orphanage is finally complete. It was founded by Stella Saxby, whose parents were killed in a car crash in 1933, leaving her with her ‘Awful Auntie’. Aunt Alberta tried everything she could to get Stella to sign over the deed to Saxby Hall – but Stella was having none of that, and saved the hall to turn it into an orphanage. Join Raby for a spectacular open-air adaptation.
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Let’s do the Time Warp again… but this time al fresco, and with the stunning backdrop of Bamburgh Castle. The cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show is always a hit, and what better way to enjoy it than on the big screen? Bring chairs and blankets, but food and drink will be available. They’re screening Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia and Blues Brothers throughout the summer too.