Newcastle is FOR: party people, culture vultures and shopaholics. We asked Rachel, the author behind Newcastle's based blog ‘Life in Geordieland’ to tell us the best places she has discovered since she moved to Newcastle 10 years ago.
Gateshead Quayside: When most people think of Geordieland they probably picture one of the seven iconic bridges across the cross the River Tyne such as the colourful Gateshead Millennium Bridge or the world famous Tyne Bridge. I'm lucky enough to see these impressive architectural marvels nearly everyday and never bore of wandering along the quayside to soak up the atmosphere. Every Sunday there's a food and craft market here where you can pick up anything from a framed photo of the local landscape to some of the region's tastiest food. Wander across the Millennium Bridge and you'll come to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; housed in a former flour mill and with stunning views of the magnificent quayside, BALTIC is a great place to spend a few hours. There's an ever changing programme of inspiring world-class exhibitions, regular free events for families and an exceptional restaurant on the top floor called Six. Also on this side of the river is the Sage Gateshead, a truly unique music venue and one of my favourite places to hear live music. Even if you don't have tickets for a gig it's worth popping in as the building itself is spectacular!
Shop till you drop: I work in the Newcastle city centre which is really compact and easy to get around so I can often be found doing damage to my credit card on my lunch break. As well as plenty of high street shops, the city centre also boasts Eldon Square with loads of great restaurants and popular department stores, including my favourite shop, Fenwick, which sells everything from designer handbags to Pease pudding (it's a local delicacy, give it a try!) Monument Mall is where you'll find upmarket stores like Hugo Boss and Reiss. I also love scouring the Grade I listed Grainger Market for bargain buys and independent shops in the High Bridge Quarter like Retro and Deep for unique finds. Oh, and did I mention that Gateshead is home to Europe's largest shopping centre, MetroCentre? It's not been unknown for me to lose a whole day in there!
Tyneside Cinema: People are always surprised when I urge them to visit a cinema during their stay in Newcastle, but believe me, the Tyneside is not your average cinema! It's the UK's last surviving Newsreel theatre still operating as a full time independent picture house and the Grade II listed building is a must see piece of heritage! Every day at 11.30am visitors are transported back in time with free archive newsreel footage and guided tours of the magnificent art deco building. There are four screens (The Classic is my fave) and the screenings can vary from cult classics to experimental films and world cinema plus the occasional blockbuster (only the really good ones!) A fantastic coffee rooms, plus a brand new bar cafe means you'll never want to leave!
Check the calendar: One of thing's I love most about living in Geordieland is there's never an excuse to be bored thanks to a jam packed calendar of cultural events. From the epic 'EAT! Festival' which takes you on an adventure through food and drink to 'Juice' a festival specifically for children and young people plus not forgetting the magical line up of events like Enchanted Parks that take place during the NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival - there really is always something going on!
Bring your dancing shoes: Like most people in Newcastle, I love a good night out in the Toon and our nightlife is pretty legendary. Whether you prefer a quiet pint or fancy cocktails you'll be spoilt for choice, new bars and clubs seem to be springing up all over the place at the moment with the quayside in particular seeing a bit of a resurgence! Grey Street is home to the splendid Theatre Royal plus some of the city's most stylish restaurants. Pilgrim Street is where you'll usually find me though; most of the bars here also serve great quality food but in a more casual setting and the music is usually pretty soulful. If dance music is more your thing then Digital is where you can expect the super club experience with world famous DJ's regularly flying in from across the globe. Wherever you end up dancing the night away, be sure to pre-book a nice city centre hotel such as Hotel Indigo or Sandman Signature so you awake the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on another action packed day!