Spending Christmas in Newcastle means a calendar packed with spectacular seasonal events - some traditional, some more recent (or even brand new), and all guaranteed to get you in the festive mood.
We’ve gathered together a few of the most exciting and notable happenings for you, to make sure you don’t miss a thing as the festive season arrives.
Fenwick’s Christmas Window, Northumberland Street
There’s a great deal of excited anticipation each year ahead of the big reveal of the Fenwick’s Christmas window (it even gets streamed online these days). But even if you missed the reveal last weekend, the display is still a wonderful thing to take your kids too (or even for adults to enjoy!). In case you didn’t know, this year the theme is… <drum roll>… The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, from the hugely popular kids book by CS Lewis, and the window is being described as one of the best yet in a run of displays going back more than fifty years. So head to Northumberland Street and make your way along the display, making sure you take in all the fine detail.
Christmas Lights Switch On, Grey Street
Another certain indicator that the festive season is upon us has to be the Christmas lights switch on. Hosted as ever by Steve and Karen from the Metro Radio Breakfast Show and taking place around Grey Street, this year the big flip of the switch will be on November 14th. There’ll be live music, Christmas favourites, games and festive nonsense and the word has it that this year’s lights are going to be better than ever. Even if you miss the big switch on, there's nothing quite so festive as a meander under all those twinkling lights while you're shopping or strolling the city streets!
Newcastle’s Christmas Market, Grainger Street
Something else that’s going to be better than ever is the Christmas Market, which will open on November 18th and run right through to the day before Christmas Eve. As ever, the market will take over Grey Street, the east section of Grainger Street and this year extends into Old Eldon Square. The stalls will focus on seasonal gifts, food and drink – often from local suppliers and traders – and the whole thing will be crowned by a 10-metre Christmas tree in Old Eldon Square. There’s a new performance area planned and to help get you in the Christmas spirit and pop-up bar Moosenwirt will be back too... but more on that below!
Moosenwirt, Grey Street
Also opening on November 18th is the aforementioned Moosenwirt, a cosy Alpine-style pop-up bar that’s proved a big hit in recent years. Open until New Year’s Day, the bar is housed in a huge yurt (made in Hexham of all places) and an igloo dome with a log wood bar, fire pits and outdoor seating areas. There’ll be live acoustic music from local acts from 3pm-9pm and the igloo is available for private hire for groups of up to ten people. The bar is open from 10am – 11pm every day and both kids and dogs are welcome!
Life Science Centre’s Ice Rink, Times Square
It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding ice dance champion or as unsteady as a newborn-calf, the ice rink at the Life Science Centre is a big part of a Tyneside Christmas. The rink opens on November 11th and stays in place until January 7th, opening at 9.30am each day (although check the website for any group bookings). In fact, booking is essential. And if you want to make it super-Christmassy, why not book a session for Christmas Eve itself? The rink will be open till 4.30pm and is bound to be magical.
Lazy Bear Tipi Bar, Central Station
With Moosenwirt representing pop-up bars at one end of Grainger Street, at the other end, outside Central Station, you’ll find the Lazy Bear Tipi Bar, back for its second year. Open now and running throughout the festive season, the bar is open every day till midnight and has a lot to offer: there’s an Irish-themed drinks menu (Guinness of course, but also whiskeys and Irish coffees), hot drinks like mulled cider and wine and hot chocolate, and a full range of beers and cocktails. Scream For Pizza will be on hand to provide you with some of their excellent pies and every night there will be live performances from some fine local musicians.
Northern Lights, Leazes Park
Leazes Park is already one of the city’s loveliest green spaces but from November 23rd it’s turning into something very special – and very festive – indeed. The Northern Lights trail uses a heady mixture of state-of-the-art technology, projections, lights and original music to create a magical experience right in the heart of the city. Running for a whole mile through the trees, you’ll see light sculptures, special FX and whole areas bathed in stunning light. And to make sure you have a really excellent evening there’s even a Christmas village at the start / end of the circular trail. There’ll be street food from popular Newcastle caterers like Acropolis and Fat Hippo, with plenty of options for kids and those with special dietary needs. Tickets for the trail are £19 for adults and £13.50 for kids (under 2s are free) and booking is essential (with slots selling fast!).
NE1's 24 Doors of Christmas, Newcastle
NE1’s magnificent contribution to the seasonal calendar is 24 Doors, a stunning event which turns the city into a giant advent calendar. Each day in December up to Christmas Eve, a different cultural or historical venue in the city opens its doors to welcome visitors for a special tour, often allowing access to rarely visited places. It's completely free too, but places must be reserved - check out which venues are taking part in this year's 24 Doors of Christmas here.
Winter Wonderland, Utilita Arena
Event organisers The Big Wish are throwing a big party and you’re all invited! From December 15th till January 7th, they’ll be staging a huge outdoor festive funfair in the Utilita Arena car park. Open till 9pm every day (except Christmas Day), you’ll find rides, attractions, stalls and refreshments. There’s a Santa’s Grotto of course, and even a huge Ferris Wheel, while an Alpine bar will serve hot and cold drinks for the grown-ups. Admission is £2.50 although rides cost extra.
Laser Light City, Quayside
One of the most spectacular events of the festive season will again be Laser Light City, a show that proved a huge hit last year. This kaleidoscope of light and music has once again been created by visual artist Seb Lee-Delisle and will be bigger and better than last year’s remarkable production. Best viewed and experienced in the Quayside area, there will be lasers lighting up the New Year’s Eve sky and the buildings along the river, with three special shows that allow the public to play their part in controlling the lasers using a special link on the website. A stunning way to say goodbye to 2023, indeed.
Whether you want to skate in the moonlight, gasp at light sculptures in the park, shop for gifts under a 10-metre Christmas tree or explore a rarely-accessible building, Newcastle's festive calendar has something for literally everyone with unmissable events from now until 2024. So wrap up warm and head out to do something fun and festive in the city!