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Things To Do

Everything You Need To Know About… The Late Shows

Our guide to getting the most out of Newcastle's annual culture crawl

Last updated:
Newcastle City Library

The Late Shows is something of a jewel in Newcastle's cultural crown, a free "culture crawl" that sees over 60 venues across the city and into Gateshead open their doors to the public during the evening to host fun events.

With the 2024 edition nearly upon us, we wanted to give you all the information you need to make the most of this unique event so you don't need to miss a thing.

Newcastle Arts Centre Newcastle Arts Centre

What are The Late Shows?

The Late Shows has been described as a ‘late-night culture crawl’, which sums it up nicely. For two nights a myriad of art studios, galleries, museums, cultural spaces and other venues open their doors in the evening and stage a host of special events to celebrate the vibrant and unique cultural scene in Newcastle and Gateshead. This year marks the 16th edition of The Late Shows and the line-up is as exciting as even with more than 60 venues involved across the city.

When are The Late Shows taking place?

The Late Shows take place across two evenings: on Friday 17th May, activity is focused on the Ouseburn area, while on Saturday 18th May, things spread out to include venues across Newcastle and Gateshead. Timings for each event will vary, so check out the listings on The Late Shows website or with individual participating venues. Please note that none of the venues will be open both nights, so it’s best to do a little research before planning your Late Shows adventures.

Newcastle Castle Newcastle Castle

Who is taking part?

On Friday evening, things are focused on the area around the thriving creative hub of Ouseburn to the east of the city. Galleries like The Biscuit Factory, Shieldfield Arts Works and Northern Print, cultural spaces like Star and Shadow Cinema, Seven Stories and The New Bridge Project will all be taking part alongside many others.

On Saturday, venues in the city centre and Gateshead take over so you can visit big attractions and landmarks like BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Bessie Surtees House, Newcastle Castle, Laing Art Gallery and The Common Room as well as smaller but equally wonderful venues including the likes of Mosaic Tap, Gallagher & Turner and D6: Culture in Transit.

What can I expect?

It’s easy to say ‘expect the unexpected’ but with all these creative hubs pulling out all the stops for The Late Shows, it really is true.

You could dance the night away with a silent disco at Newcastle City Library, explore the artworks of comedian Billy Connolly at Castle Fine Art, indulge in a spot of retro gaming at Four Quarters or embrace your inner kid at Great North Museum: Hancock which is being taken over by giant inflatables for the occasion – think bouncy castles, ball pools, slides and the like.

So, from tours and exhibitions to performances and hands-on fun, there really is something for everyone!

The Ballad of Blackfriars (c) Tim Dalling, Jeremy Bradfield and Faye MacCalman The Ballad of Blackfriars (c) Tim Dalling, Jeremy Bradfield and Faye MacCalman

What are the new artist commissions I’ve been hearing about?

This year, The Late Shows organisers Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums have worked with sponsors Creative Central NCL to commission five brand-new works/performances from locally based artists which will be in situ at four participating venues.

The Common Room is being transformed by an augmented reality art trail by multimedia artist Emma Tominey that highlights the stories of 12 pioneering women, while over at Grainger Market a collaboration between digital artists Multiminded and illustrator Deborah Snell will use projection mapping to animate the market and imagine what happens when everyone has gone home for the day.

A large-scale painting by Theresa Poulton celebrating the life of pioneering choreographer Pearl Primus will be in place at Dance City and Blackfriars boasts two commissions – on-the-spot micro poetry from Dearest Haley and “The Ballad of Blackfriars”, a performance curated by a trio of artists (Tim Dalling, Jeremy Bradfield and Faye MacCalman) that recounts the colourful history of the friary-turned-restaurant.

Discovery Museum Discovery Museum

How do I get involved?

This couldn’t be easier: you just show up. Everything is free and un-ticketed, but with so many exciting events happening – especially on the Saturday where things are more spread out – the best thing would be to sit down with The Late Show website line-up and plan a route for the evening. It should be noted that some activities do need to be booked in advance due to limited venue capacity.

The Late Shows team will also be handing out cute button badges as souvenirs for participants, with each Late Shows zone having a different coloured version – pink for Ouseburn, orange for Gateshead, blue for the Creative Central NCL zone, yellow for Central Station/Quayside and green for the City Centre/Haymarket zone. Why not make a weekend of it and collect them all?

Is it family-friendly? 

Obviously, some events are more family-friendly than others but there’s plenty aimed at kids and families. There’s craft activities for all ages at Bensham Grove Community Centre and over at Discovery Museum, they’re hosting a game of lazer tag. And which family wouldn’t love all the fun inflatable activities going on at Great North Museum: Hancock?

The Late Shows really is one of the highlights of Newcastle's cultural calendar, allowing people to explore venues and activities they might not usually consider. Whether you want to have a dance, get crafty or do something silly and fun like hop on a bouncy castle, this is the time of the year to do it - so check out the listings and get involved!

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