Newcastle Christmas Lights

Every part of the world has their own unique traditions and rituals around Christmas time, but a Christmas in the Toon is truly special.

Whether you’re a born and bred Geordie, an adopted Northerner or visiting for a city break over the festive holidays, there are a number of well-known traditions that those who grew up in NewcastleGateshead will be very familiar with.

From the must-visit locations to the favourite festive foods, below are 10 unique traditions that it wouldn’t be Christmas in Newcastle without!

You don't need us to remind you that 2020 has been a particularly strange year which means that Christmas isn't quite how we would like it to be or certainly, it will be different from in previous years. We hope this articles spreads a little Christmas cheer. 

Visiting the Fenwick Newcastle Christmas Window

Newcastle’s iconic department store is famous for its festive window display, and it simply wouldn’t be a Geordie Christmas without a visit to Fenwick Newcastle Christmas Window. Whether you’re a die-hard fan who will queue up for the grand reveal every November, or you simply make a stop with your kids during a busy afternoon of Christmas shopping on Northumberland Street, it’s an eagerly-anticipated Christmas attraction - which began in 1971.

Fenwick Newcastle Christmas Window takes on a new theme every year, and each year’s display is more elaborate than the last. Previous themes have been inspired by festive traditions as well as literature, pop culture and local icons – from Beatrix Potter and Peter Pan to fairytales and fantasy, Fenwick Newcastle Christmas Window is always worth waiting for.

A Christmas trip to Beamish Museum

Every year, you can take a trip back in time to Christmases past at Beamish Museum, the North East’s amazing ‘living museum’. In previous years, Christmas at Beamish Museum might include a visit to Father Christmas in his Grotto, a chance to meet his reindeer too and plenty of time to perfect your figure of eight on the outdoor ice rink. A festive visit to the award-winning attraction is a North East tradition to share with the whole family.  

Then there are the magical Christmas lights and decorations that light up the night to make this place feel even more special. As regular visitors to Christmas at Beamish will know, you need to wrap up warm. 

In August this year, Beamish Museum announced they were Good to Go and reopened following their enforced coronavirus closure. The attraction have yet to announce any Christmas events or specific activities for 2020 but it is still open to visit seven-days a week. 

A coat-less Christmas night oot

If you’re not from Newcastle, you might find the stereotype that Geordies don’t wear coats on a night out hard to believe. Well, a trip into the city centre in December will soon put that to bed.

Tough Northerners that we are, not even inches of snow can persuade many locals to put on a coat for their festive evening out – well, it’s warm in the bars and pubs, isn’t it? 

Ooh! Remember those night out? Coronavirus has certainly put a halt to the more traditional night out on the Toon but we are sure that you will find a way to celebrate the festivities safely and within the government guidelines this Christmas at bars, pubs and restaurants that are serving up seasonal menus and festive cocktails.

Panto at the Theatre Royal

Did you go to the panto at the Theatre Royal when you were a child? Oh yes you did! The Theatre Royal is Newcastle’s home of the Christmas pantomime, and theatre-goers young and old can’t fail to be entertained by the annual festive tradition which always has a clever (and often cheeky) Geordie twist.

Local panto lovers have enjoyed watching the record-breaking trio of Clive, Danny and Chris, who have ‘trodden the boards’ in the Newcastle Christmas panto for well over a decade! It is a great sadness that the traditional Theatre Royal panto has been postponed this year and we wish the city's fantastic theatres and performance venues much love for 2021.

Find out what pantos are taking place in Newcastle and Gateshead this year.

Awaiting the return of Greggs’ Festive Bake

Fenwick’s window isn’t the only big Christmas countdown in Newcastle. So well-loved is the Greggs’ Festive Bake that it has now become a national phenomenon. Fortunately, this year - the Festive Bake is also one of the Christmas traditions we can (almost) guarantee! 

For those who aren’t familiar, the Greggs’ Festive Bake is a classic Greggs’ pastry filled with chunks of chicken breast, bacon and sage and onion stuffing, in a creamy sage sauce with dried cranberries and cranberry and onion relish. Just why has the Festive Bake become such a local institution? Well when you’re on your Christmas night out in Newcastle and you’re absolutely clamming, nothing else will do.

The last Newcastle United match of the year

Whether you’re a season ticket holder or just a keen follower, Newcastle United fans hold on to the bitter end – of the year, that is.

Not even sub-zero temperatures (and most certainly no last-minute Christmas shopping) can keep the Toon Army from venturing out to St. James’ Park to watch the last fixture of the year, with a celebratory – or commiseratory – pint in one of the local pubs to warm up after

Obviously - football fans in 2020 will at least have the benefit of watching from home in the warmth of their own homes. Every cloud! 

A Boxing Day Dip at the coast

Nothing blows off the cobwebs after a Newcastle Christmas like a Boxing Day Dip at your nearest beach! From Berwick to Whitley Bay, and Tynemouth Longsands to Seaham, Boxing Day Dips take place up and down the North East coast every year and are usually held in aid of a local charity.

The braver swimmers among us will strip to their smalls and take the plunge into the North Sea on Boxing Day morning, and some even wear fancy dress. Prefer to stay warm and dry? Bring a flask of hot chocolate and watch the action from the sand – it’s always a good laugh before you head home for turkey sandwiches.

Social distancing is an absolute must in 2020 so please be safe and responsible.

‘First-footing’ after midnight on New Year’s Eve

One of the most historic customs on this list is ‘first-footing’, which is a Northern English and Scottish folklore tradition in which the whole family vacates the house after midnight on New Year’s Eve. A designated person then takes the first step, or ‘first-foot’ into the house, bringing good fortune for the coming year – along with gifts that can be enjoyed and shared after all other residents have re-entered. This might include bread, silver or more traditionally, a lump of coal which nods to the regions’ coal mining heritage.

Each region has their own stipulations on who can be the first-foot, and in and around Newcastle and Gateshead, the preferred first-footer is a tall, dark-haired man! So if you’re not familiar with this tradition, and are wondering why you’ve often seen adult men left out in the cold after the strike of midnight, this could be why – or perhaps they’ve just had too many celebratory glasses of Champagne!

New Year’s Eve fireworks on the Newcastle Quayside

For many years now, thousands of Geordies ring in the New Year by packing out Newcastle Quayside on New Year’s Eve for the annual firework display at midnight.

Whether you’re on a night out in Newcastle or making the trip into town just for the display, this spectacular show is really worth venturing out for. Revellers pack in tightly with their eyes to the skies, counting down to midnight to bring in January with a ‘bang’ – and lots of hugs, even from perfect strangers!

Sadly - there are no plans at the minute to host a New Year's Eve firework display in Newcastle. We'll update you with any new information as we get closer to the end of the year and coronavirus restrictions continue to change.

Whatever your favourite festive traditions may be, NewcastleGateshead have an array of experiences to offer throughout the Christmas season. We hope you make some new Christmas traditions of your own this year too. Did your most-loved Newcastle Christmas tradition not make our list? Send us a tweet at @altweet_pet to tell us all about it!

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