Having done its shift in the shipyards and pits, the city is all glammed up and ready for a night on the ‘toon’.
The centre is packed with all kinds of nightspots, from traditional pubs and comedy venues to trendy bars and nightclubs. If you’re a party animal, the main migration routes are from ‘The Gate’ in the city centre, down through the Bigg Market and the high-end ‘Diamond Strip’ to the watering holes of the Quayside.
If your idea of a night out is a little more sedate, Newcastle has been acquiring something of a reputation as a centre for culinary excellence. You’ll also find a huge variety of international cuisine, including European, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Chinese.
If shopping is more your thing, this city has it in the bag. From Europe’s largest indoor shopping and leisure complex, the Metrocentre, to designer boutiques and some fascinating vintage and retro stores, you’ll find something to suit your tastes.
South of the river, in Gateshead, you’ll find the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Housed in a landmark industrial building, it is the largest art space of its kind anywhere in the world and has a dynamic programme of exhibitions and events.
The emergence of this city as a major cultural centre began with arguably one of the world’s finest examples of public art: Antony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’. Standing 66 feet tall, and with the wingspan of a Jumbo Jet, it watches over Tyneside from its hilltop perch, 7 miles south of the city centre.
The city itself has a rich visual heritage, from the Georgian and Victorian architecture known as ‘Tyneside Classical’ to the eclectic mix of bridges on the Tyne, including the stunning new Millennium Bridge.
Festivals, events and day trips on Tyneside
Newcastle is home to one of only five ‘Chinatowns’ in England, which means there are always noisy and colourful celebrations for the Chinese New Year in late January or early February.
The Spring bank holiday in May sees the latest edition of the Evolution music festival. The largest urban music festival in Britain, it includes pop, indie and contemporary urban acts.
The Hoppings, held on the Town Moor during the last week in June, is Europe’s largest travelling fun fair. There are more laughs to be had at the end of July with the Newcastle Gateshead Comedy Festival.
Throughout the year, you’ll find a diverse programme of world-class music at the Norman Foster-designed Sage Gateshead Music and Arts Centre.
The Theatre Royal is the regional home of the Royal Shakespeare Company and an architectural masterpiece in its own right. For more alternative productions, try the Live Theatre or Northern Stage.
Every other Saturday from August to May, you’ll find a different kind of drama, complete with audience participation, at another major icon of Tyneside culture: Newcastle United FC. Dominating the city skyline, St James’ Park stadium is a symbol of the local passion for football.
Just a few minutes from the city, you can enjoy sand, sea and maybe even a little sun on some of Britain’s finest Blue Flag beaches. The stunning North East coastline has wonderful surf and some fabulous coastal walks.
Other out-of-town attractions include the 13th century Tynemouth Priory and Castle and the nearby Blue Reef Aquarium. South of the river is the Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields and Bede’s World in Jarrow – a trip back in time to the age of saints and kings.
For a little natural tranquillity, try the Birkheads Secret Garden and Nursery in Sunniside, the huge Gibside forest garden and landscape park, or the WWT Washington Wetland Centre. All three locations are about 20 minutes’ drive south of the city centre.