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Spellbinding arts festival delights thousands in Newcastle City Centre

Visitors to Newcastle City Centre enjoyed spellbinding illuminated installations last weekend as free art festival North of the Tyne, Under the Stars, curated and delivered by North Tyneside based cultural organisations Pinwheel and DAT events, came to town.

Inspired by the legends and landscapes of the North of Tyne region, the six installations took visitors on a journey through the history and culture of the North East. From an enormous zoetrope powered by the inventiveness of our region, to a collection of ethereal, ghostly creatures and an ever-changing magic carpet of intricate patterns inspired by Geordie culture, these enchanting works played out across the city’s iconic buildings and streets.

The festival proved popular with visitors, within the region of 40,000 people enjoying the event over four nights, from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 March. Audiences took to social media to share their delight at the experience:

"Beautiful light installations and more at North of Tyne Under the Stars festival @NTUnderStars. Highlight for me was seeing so many families enjoying a free, accessible cultural event in #Newcastle city centre.”

Incredible night at @NTUnderStars Newcastle city centre has never looked so beautiful! The city was lite"rally buzzing with excitement! what a treat!

Quite emotional being in town for Under the Stars @NTUnderStars tonight, such a fantastic atmosphere, lovely to see bright eyed children, emotive stories, a cultural delight.”

The festival followed a series of neighbourhood events in February and March, which visited areas across the North of Tyne, including Blyth, North Shields, Wallsend, Byker, Fenham and Hexham and reached 16,000 people. These events introduced local audiences to the Story-Weaver, a mysterious and magical visitor, called down from the stars to travel the region and draw together stories, characters and histories to spin new mythology for the North of Tyne area, which was then reflected in the installations featured in the festival. The whole series of events was commissioned with funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority and additional support from Newcastle City Council.

Katy Fuller, Creative Director at Pinwheel says: “North of the Tyne, Under the Stars has been a real passion project and I’m thrilled by the public’s response. We wanted to captivate the imaginations of our audiences and send them home with their spirits lifted and with love and pride in their hearts for this amazing region.  Thanks to the brilliant work of the artists, the production team, the stewards and the volunteers we achieved that – the streets were fizzing with excitement and delight. Thanks also to North of Tyne Combined Authority and Newcastle City Council for understanding the value of investing in culture at this time.” 

Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Under the Stars made the place buzz with excitement. At a time when everything seems to cost money, I’m glad we were able to bring a free event everyone could enjoy. 

Stories give us a sense of who we are and where we belong. Culture and art are for everyone.

North of the Tyne, Under the Stars brought people together to enjoy a tour of everything that makes the North of Tyne such a unique and amazing place to live.

North of Tyne Cabinet Member for Culture Creative and Rural, Cllr Glen Sanderson, the Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “North of the Tyne, Under the Stars was exactly what we feel culture is all about.

“It is about people getting together and enjoying themselves, appreciating where they live and being part of an adventure. It was wonderful to see so many people be part of it.”

Cllr John-Paul Stephenson, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Public Health and Culture, said: “It was fantastic to see the success of North of Tyne, Under the Stars. From the opening events around our region to the spectacular finale in the centre of Newcastle, this programme really captured the imagination, was able to bring people together, and showed the best of our region.

“We hope to take the overwhelming feedback and love people showed for this and build on it in the coming years.”

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