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NE1 Creates a New Christmas Tradition for Newcastle - Festive Windows

Decorative Christmas windows play a huge part in a traditional Geordie Christmas with Fenwick’s window a world-wide attraction and a symbol that holidays are coming. This year NE1 is launching a new Christmas window tradition bringing life, light and colour into the city centre on a huge scale with the help of some of the North East’s finest illustrators and budding artists.

NE1 commissioned some of the region’s award-winning illustrators and artists to come up with festive window designs to take pride of place across 9 prominent sites throughout the city. 

Knowing the region has a wealth of creative talent, NE1 also set a design competition for the public, and the city’s university and college students to submit designs to win a slot to be part of the festive window installation.

The results have been outstanding with NE1 overwhelmed by the number and quality of entries, so much so in fact that they had to increase the number of prizes. Four winners have been chosen and their work transformed into window vinyls. When Newcastle’s retailers reopen this week people returning to the city will be greeted by colourful window displays that will be on show for the public to enjoy throughout the festive season. 

27 windows at 9 iconic sites across the city will be decorated in different sizes, scale and Christmas themes from Northumberland street to Grey’s Monument, and from the Bigg Market to inside Eldon Square. 

One of the headline commissions was from award-winning local illustrator, Yvette Earl, who has produced a custom-drawn festive illustration of Newcastle’s iconic landmarks. The work is exquisite with hand-drawn detail of instantly recognisable buildings and street scenes. The work will take pride of place spanning three windows on the site of the former Byron restaurant with windows overlooking Grey Street and Hood Street. 

As well as commissioned pieces from Yvette Earl, two other local artists,Lines Behind and Creative Ginger, and local Creative agency, The Traveller and the Bear, there will be four winning designs chosen from a wealth of hugely talented entries. Two Northumbria University graphic design students, Kristina Staykova and Aurelia Lonsdale will see their winning window designs displayed alongside winning designs from two members of the public, Vivian Choi and Brooke Hornsby, and from three local primary schools – St Cuthbert’s Primary school; Mountfield Primary; and West Denton Primary School (WDPS). As well as seeing their ideas brought to life, the competition winners each receive £250 in prize money.

Yvette Earl’s installation will provide a colourful centralpoint for the festive windows with limited edition prints of the full window artwork available to buy at: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/yvetteeaillustration
A window at Byron, near the Monument, will also map out the window locations giving details of the designers to allow people to follow the trail around the city.

Yvette Earl said:
It is a huge honour to help bring the city to life this Christmas and to spread some festive cheer. I loved designing the custom-window and like most of my work it is hugely detailed and colourful – I can’t wait to see it installed and for people to enjoy Newcastle’s Christmas windows.

Adrian Waddell, Chief Executive of NE1 Ltd said:
2020 has been a difficult year. We wanted to bring some festive fun into the city and to deliver some cheer as people return to the city post-national lockdown. We hope the windows will put a smile on people’s faces and help get them into the Christmas spirit. We have had to adapt our usual Christmas offer and hope Newcastle’s Christmas windows will show that Christmas may be different this year but it is definitely not cancelled.” 

Michelle Benwell, from JLL, managing agents for Central Exchange Building, has donated their windows for the festive fun said:
We were delighted to play our part in bringing festive cheer into the city. It is wonderful to see our windows used in this way and we are already enjoying watching people’s reactions to the clever, creative Christmas themed illustrations." 

Things may be different this year, but Newcastle's Christmas is still happening, and Newcastle City Council, NE1 and NGI are working together to bring Christmas spirit to the city during these difficult times.

We need to support each other and local businesses and celebrate the festive period safely. So please remember when you are in the city centre or any other busy outside area - hands, face, space.

Yvette Earl is an award-winning North-East illustrator. Her work has been commissioned by many businesses and cities in the UK and internationally. Copies of her illustrations are available to buy at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/yvetteeaillustration and updates of her work can be found on Instagram @YvetteEarlIllustration