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Great Days Out For The Family Across The North East Clockwise from top left: Farne Islands, Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre and Nature Reserve, Roman Vindolanda Fort and Museum, Forbidden Corner, Durham, South Tynedale Railway,
Places to go
March 2024
Reading time 5 Minutes

The essential guide to where to go, what to see and what to do this Easter and beyond

Whether you're looking for some real outdoor adventure or want to catch up on some culture, we've gathered together the very best of the North East for you to explore.

Butterfly World

Preston Park is home to its own tropical rainforest with beautiful trees and flowers, and more than 100 species of butterfly! If you stand still for long enough, some of them will land on you – always an Instagrammable moment. Enjoy the tranquility of gentle waterfalls, beautiful plantlife and vibrant koi-filled ponds. It’s also home to an adorable family of meerkats you can watch as they scurry about their business – what’s not to love?
Preston Park, Stockton TS18 3RH
01642 791414

Annandale Distillery

This is one for the grown-ups! Head to Annan just across the Scottish border to visit one of Scotland’s oldest operating distilleries and its first ever single cask, single malt distillery. Established in 1836, the distillery ran for three generations before it was transformed and was used for porridge production amongst other things. Efforts to restore the distillery began in the early 2000s and in 2014 the whisky began to flow once more. Learn about the fascinating process on a distillery tour (and maybe sneak a few tastings in there for good measure). Make sure to stop by their café for some tasty treats to soak up the whisky too.
Northfield, Annan DG12 5LL
01461 207817

Alnwick Castle Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Boasting more than 950 years of history, this is the second largest inhabited castle in the UK and has been home to the Percy family since 1309. The castle has had a long and turbulent history of valiant fights and shocking betrayals and there are still plenty of exciting things going on here. Why not take part in have-a-go archery, join a tour of the castle and grounds or try the brilliant Dragon Quest (if you’re feeling brave enough). For fans of Harry Potter, take a turn at broomstick training and see where Harry had his first ever flying lesson. Keep your eyes peeled for other recognisable parts of the castle used as filming locations, including the Inner Bailey where the Weasley car crash-landed, and the Lion Arch which led to Hagrid’s cabin.
Alnwick NE66 1NQ
01665 511100

Whitehouse Farm Centre

This is the largest, family-run farm attraction in Northumberland and covers a whopping 40 acres. Grab a bag of animal food at the entrance and explore the farm to see which furry friends you can say hello to – keep your eyes peeled for sheep, ponies, emus, alpacas, donkeys and pigs. Have a need for speed? Have a go on the indoor racing cars (suitable for children and grown-ups and a perfect option for gloomier days), feel the rush on The Castle Catapult (the centre’s enormous toboggan ride), and make sure to stop in at Hoglets’ Adventure Playground, complete with its fantastic three-slide tower.
Morpeth NE61 6AW
01670 789998

Tynemouth Priory Theatre

In the the picturesque seaside town of Tynemouth and just a stone’s throw from the historic Priory from which it takes its name, there’s nothing better than taking in a show at this family-friendly theatre. A popular spot for the local community and visitors alike, Tynemouth Priory Theatre has been running for more than 50 years and prides itself on hosting high-quality performances. Look out for Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, based on the short story by Oscar Wilde. This hilarious tale of criminal gaffes and hopeless heroes is running from 29th April–4th May.
Tynemouth NE30 4HA
0191 292 9292

Beamish: The Living Museum of The North

Inspired by the open-air museums of Scandinavia, Beamish was the brainchild of Frank Atkinson who moved to the region in the late 1950s. He saw a unique way of life here which he felt was at risk of disappearing, so he set about collecting and preserving culture in as many ways as he could. This open-air museum has been built using objects, images and stories donated by local people to create an archive of North East life covering the past two centuries. Remaking Beamish is a new project bringing a new era to the museum – the biggest development in the museum’s history. This includes 25 new exhibits and attractions with a 1950s Town and Farm. There’s so much to see and do here: head to the recreation ground for a spot of miniature golf, take a ride on a tram or pop into the replica home of famous North East artist Norman Cornish – and don’t miss a trip to the iconic sweetshop in The 1900s Town.
Beamish DH9 0RG
0191 370 4000

Ford & Etal Estates Ford & Etal Estates

Ford & Etal Estates

One of rural Northumberland’s best kept secrets, there’s plenty to see and do here. Just a few miles inland from the coast and close to the Scottish border, Ford & Etal Estates is full of history, with acres of land to explore. Make sure to visit Lady Waterford Hall, one of the estate’s most spectacular attractions, boasting vast pre-Raphaelite murals to admire. Enjoy a return journey on the Heatherslaw Light Railway, the most northernly steam railway in England, or visit the spectacular horses at Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre, as seen on Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes.
Cornhill-on-Tweed TD12 4TJ
01890 820338

Wild Deer Events

This business offers running, cycling and multipart events for all fitness levels in stunning locations across the region and the UK. Originally started in the North East, the team have more than 30 Wild Deer Events planned for 2024 so far including a half marathon at Alnwick Castle on 17th March, duathlons at Bamburgh Castle on 14th April and a corporate sports day at Slaley Hall on 7th June. Try something new and enjoy the friendly atmosphere – with the aim of being as inclusive as possible, these events are ideal for those who are just starting out.
Events regionwide
07843 484675

Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre and Nature Reserve

One of the best wildlife watching spots in the North East, run by Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre is a great place to spot birds and butterflies and probably the easiest place in Northumberland to see red squirrels and tree sparrows. It has fantastic views across Druridge Bay and is internationally renowned for its birds. Visitors can enjoy the walks and nature trails around the reserve, the tranquillity of the hides, and of course a tasty treat from The Lookout Café. There is an interactive wildlife-rubbing disc trail available for children through the woodland adjacent to the eco-friendly visitor centre, and they also have a natural play area perfect for under-10s. Check out Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre’s packed programme of activities and events which run throughout the year, including nature walks and talks.
Low Hauxley, Northumberland NE65 0JR
0191 284 6884

Auckland Castle

Once home to the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham, this is one of the best preserved castles of its kind in Europe and is at the centre of The Auckland Project, with a history spanning almost 1,000 years. In recent years it has undergone major renovations to restore its state rooms to their full Georgian splendour. At the height of their power, the Prince Bishops were second only to the King and were able to raise their own armies and mint their own coins – learn more about their fascinating history as you explore the castle together.
Bishop Auckland DL14 7NR
01388 743750

Lilidorei  Lilidorei


Explore the enchanted lands of Lilidorei with the whole family. Nine invisible clans live in this kingdom (some more troublesome than others) and all are ruled over by Lord Elfwin who lives above them in the tower at the top of Elfwin Drin – the largest play structure in the world! Let your imagination run wild in this breathtaking wonderland with immersive soundscapes, interactive actors and enchanted woodland walks. Refuel at the Magic Muffin with a hot drink and a sweet treat. For something more filling, head to the Groggery and choose from a range of sweet and savoury options including mac and cheese, fried potatoes and churros.
Alnwick NE66 1HB
01665 511350

Roman Vindolanda Fort and Museum

Lying next to a sweeping section of Hadrian’s Wall, this Roman fort is an authentic and dramatic tribute to Rome’s extraordinary military legacy. Get interactive with reconstructions and explore the remains of this ancient fort, then discover artefacts in the on-site museum to learn more about one of the most defining periods in our history. The excavations are back for 2024 and archaeologists and their teams of volunteers will be out uncovering history – so feel free to test their knowledge on all things Roman.
Bardon Mill NE47 7JN
01434 344277

The Glasshouse International Centre for Music

The perfect way to spend the day for all music-lovers, Glasshouse is internationally renowned for celebrating musicians, from nurturing newcomers to showcasing platinum-selling performers. We can’t think of another place where you can hear rock legends and pop stars on the same night as opera singers and folk ensembles. They have a full schedule coming up for you to enjoy including Lulu’s 60-year anniversary tour on 12th April and a live screening of Charlie Chaplin’s iconic film Modern Times accompanied by Royal Northern Sinfonia on Sunday 21st April, plus the legendary Dionne Warwick on 5th May.
Gateshead NE8 2JR
0191 443 4461


Open primarily at weekends, this theme park has become a firm favourite. If you’re looking for a thrill, give Spindizzy a try – you’ll be spun around in a super-sized digger bucket, so hold on tight! You can also enjoy a digger-themed merry-go-round, dig for buried treasure and drive some mini Landrovers.
Durham DH7 9TT
01634 711711

Cragside Cragside

The National Museum of the Royal Navy

The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool will take you on a voyage through the Navy’s tumultuous history, including the spectacular HMS Trincomalee – the last remaining Royal Navy ship to be built in India and the oldest floating British warship. This museum tells a fascinating story and there’s plenty to discover – journey to a recreated 18th century seaport to discover what life was really like over the sound of cannon and musket fire.
Hartlepool TS24 0XZ
023 9289 1370


Perfect for bright, curious minds, this house has a strong history of pioneering technological advancement. Dubbed the UK’s original smart home, Cragside was packed full of Victorian gadgets by inventor and arms manufacturer Lord Armstrong–including a hydraulic lift, a water- powered spit and electric light and hydro-electric power is used to this day in the home. Pioneering feats of engineering can be found throughout the home including hot and cold running water in the Owl Suite, the rotating water-powered spit in the kitchen and the gallery which houses Lord and Lady Armstrong’s extensive collection of art with pieces from Turner and Rossettini.
Rothbury NE65 7PX
01669 620333

Woodhorn Museum

On the site of what was once the largest pit village in the world, this former colliery now explores the lives of the pitmen who worked there and the enduring legacy of the pits in the area. Woodhorn is known for its fun and interactive exhibitions as well as its collection of artwork from the Ashington Group. Explore Coal Town, one of the museum’s permanent exhibitions and explore life through the decades as a coal miner. Running until 6th May, the annual Northumberland Open exhibition is being showcased at Woodhorn, featuring the art of The Ashington Group (more commonly known as the Pitmen Painters) who documented life in Northumberland over decades. You can read more about it at
Ashington NE63 9YF
01670 624455

Life Science Centre

A science village in the heart of the city, Life Science Centre is not only an award-winning attraction but also engages, educates and inspires visitors. Marvel at scientific wonders, with interactive exhibitions and fun games which will see you conducting experiments, gazing up at the planetarium’s starry sky and having fun in the Space Zone. While you’re there make sure not to 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.
Newcastle NE1 4EP
0191 243 8210

Go Ape Matfen Go Ape Matfen

Raby Castle

One of England’s finest medieval castles, there’s plenty to get stuck into at Raby. Built in the 14th century as a palace fortress, it was home to Cecily Neville, mother of two kings of England, and played a prominent part in the Rising of the North. Inside you’ll find a mix of medieval, Regency and Victorian interiors. Outside you can stroll in 200 acres of deer park and gardens, where you’ll meet herds of resident red and fallow deer. Children will love The Plotters’ Forest – an immersive outdoor playground with sky-high turrets and treetop tunnels, and there’s a dedicated toddler area too. Tours, events and exhibitions take place at Raby throughout the year with this spring’s highlights including stargazing suppers, Easter activities and seasonal markets.
Staindrop DL2 3AH
01833 660202

Go Ape Matfen

Push yourself to your limits at the Go Ape Treetop Challenge. Climb 30 feet into the treetops where swings, rope ladders, zip wires and a range of obstacles will have your heart racing – not to mention a replica Tyne Bridge and a few other local landmarks which await you between the branches. Once you’ve challenged yourself in the treetops and have your feet firmly back on the ground, why not channel your inner warrior with an hour of axe-throwing?
Matfen NE20 0RH
01603 895500

Chillingham Castle

This 13th century, Grade I-listed stronghold in Northumberland is famous for its ghosts and is Britain’s most haunted historic castle. The torture chamber and evening ghost tours will entertain anyone who’s up for a fright, but the castle’s majestic rooms, gardens, lakes, fountains and tearoom mean it’s the perfect day out for all the family. Throughout the centuries the castle’s architectural details and walls have remained unchanged, so it’s full of character. Marvel at the Great Hall, see the impressive weapons in the Armoury and find fascinating family memorabilia and furnishings in The Plaque Room Library, before refuelling in the tearoom and taking a stroll in the gardens.
Chillingham NE66 5NJ
01668 215359

Infinite Air

Infinite Air is a great day out for the whole family, whether you’ve got toddlers just finding their feet or teenagers who need to let off some steam. Enjoy top of the range inflatable assault courses, slides and plenty of trampolines. They also have an Infinite Tots area, suitable for babies and toddlers (ages six months to six years) so everyone can get in on the fun. Need to refuel? The on-site Lickety Split ice cream parlour and food court are an added bonus.
Belmont, Durham DH1 1GG
03333 442220

Tees Barrage International White Water Centre Tees Barrage International White Water Centre

Tees Barrage International White Water Centre

Have a wet, wild and wonderful day out at Tees Barrage International White Water Centre. There is so much on offer here for the adventurous including white water rafting, stand up paddleboarding and canoeing – plenty of fun for the whole family. From navigating twists and drops on the white water course to skimming across the river on a sleek powerboat, this is a thrill-seekers paradise, and if you prefer to stay dry there’s also an Air Trail, cycling routes and nature reserve nearby.
Tees Barrage Way, Stockton TS18 2QW
01642 678000

South Tynedale Railway

Opening for the season from 29th March, this is England’s highest narrow-gauge railway and offers a stunning ride through some of the best scenery in the North of England, including the Tyne Valley and North Pennines. The line originally opened in 1852 and operated for more than a century. In recent decades it has becoming a visitor attraction, with plenty of events run throughout the year. From Sunday 31st March to Monday 1st April, head along for their Easter weekend extravaganza where a standard ticket will include an Easter egg for children and an Easter activity sheet to complete during the ride.
The Railway Station, Alston CA9 3JB
01434 338214

Farne Islands

Midway between the fishing village of Seahouses and the magnificent Bamburgh Castle, the rocky Farne Islands are the most famous sea bird sanctuary in the British Isles. Divided into the Inner and Outer Farnes, they are home to a huge colony of adorable grey seals, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might even catch sight of a dolphin or porpoise. Inner Farne is set to open to visitor boat landings from 25th March after a two year closure following a bird flu outbreak (although Staple Island is to remain closed). Take a Serenity Farne Islands Boat Tour to see the spring breeding season and watch as the wildlife of the islands comes to life.
01665 721667

Laser Quest

Great the adrenaline pumping at Laser Quest, the ultimate sci-fi action adventure for the family. Each player is kitted out with a futuristic body pack and carries a laser gun for hunting down enemy opponents. Explore the labyrinth as you compete to win with twists and turns, catwalks, swirling fog and neon lights.
Sunderland SR1 1JG
0330 122 2205

North East Land, Sea and Air Museum North East Land, Sea and Air Museum

North East Land, Sea and Air Museum

Based on the former site of RAF Usworth and Sunderland Airport, this museum explores the extensive military history of the area. Explore Hangar Three, the museum's largest display space which includes a World War Two street scene, a display on the 602 Squadron and plenty of fascinating military and civilian aircraft.
Sunderland SR5 3HZ
0191 519 0662

The Word

The National Centre for the Written Word is a state-of-the-art cultural venue in the heart of South Shields, offering a whole host of amazing exhibitions, interactive experiences and activities. It’s home to StoryWorld, which combines magical storytelling with immersive projections; FabLab, which encourages creativity and design (learn how to laser cut and 3D print); and don’t miss the Gaming Zone if you want to challenge your friends on one of the classic Sega or Nintendo games.
Market Place, South Shields NE33 1JF
0191 427 1818

Adventure Sunderland

Dive into an exhilarating day on the water – whether that’s catching your first wave, sea kayaking, coasteering or powerboating, every activity on offer is guided by a trained instructor. Not a fan of water? There’s also a whole host of land-based activities to have a go at from fencing to archery, indoor climbing, rifle shooting and problem solving.
Roker SR6 0PL
0191 514 4721

Berwick-Upon-Tweed Barracks and Main Guard

Head north with the family for a fun-filled day of history and exploration. Built in the early 18th century following the unrest and violence of the Jacobite rising of 1715, the Barracks were the largest in England at the time and the structure was built with the purpose of stopping future uprisings in the North. Discover what life was like for the British infantry from the Civil War to the First World War.
Parade, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 1DF
01289 304493

Kielder Observatory Kielder Observatory

Ocean Beach and Pleasure Park

A one-stop shop for family fun, with great indoor and outdoor options so you can enjoy it whatever the weather. From March, the rides and attractions begin to open again including fairground classics like bumper cars, a heater skelter and carousel. For the more adventurous, why not try the dizzying waltzer? On days when the rides are not available, head inside for some good old-fashioned arcade fun and, if you get hungry, there are plenty of food stands on site to choose from.
South Shields NE33 2LD
0191 456 1617

The Forbidden Corner

A weird and wonderful place, with a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers, strange statues, surprising follies and plenty of dead ends just to confuse you. Originally designed as a private garden and folly (but opened to the public due to popular demand), one of the newest additions to The Forbidden Corner is the castle tower, with a beautiful stained-glass window which was originally housed in the Carlton Church.
Tupgill Park Estate, Leyburn DL8 4TJ
01969 640638

Kielder Observatory

This unique visitor attraction in the wilds of Northumberland is under some of the finest dark skies in England. Opened in 2008, the Observatory has a world-class reputation for astronomical outreach and now hosts more than 700 events every year. The Observatory is situated in one of the largest protected areas of night sky in Europe, and events are run most evenings with experts presenting themed talks around the night sky. There are also activities which are aimed specifically at families with younger children, including Space Kids – Searching For Aliens which takes kids on an interactive exploration of planets outside our solar system.
Northumberland NE48 1EJ
0191 265 5510

RNLI Grace Darling Museum

In September 1838, 22-year-old Grace Darling and her father rowed a mile out to sea in the middle of a storm to rescue survivors from the stricken steamship SS Forfarshire in a rickety-looking wooden boat. Grace kept the coble steady as her father helped rescue four men and a woman. Although Grace sadly died of tuberculosis aged just 26 and is buried in a modest grave in the churchyard of St Aidan’s Church, this museum celebrates the heroic and historic rescue, and her life and legacy.
Radcliffe Road, Bamburgh NE69 7AE
01668 214910

Walkabout Durham

Explore Durham as if for the first time with Walkabout Durham. Journey through Durham’s tumultuous 1,000-year history from its Anglo Saxon founding and years of Norman and Scottish conflict to the birth of the world-famous university. There are a number of walking tours to choose from including The Full City Tour which allows for a deep-dive into all things Durham, or for those more morbidly-inclined, take The Dark Durham Tour and learn all about Durham’s sordid past, full of crime, executions, hauntings and rebellions.
Durham DH1 3NB

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