Tyne Bridge C Newcastle Gateshead Initiative

Discover the NewcastleGateshead What's On Highlights in 2022 here. 

Each January, we take a look ahead to the upcoming highlights and reasons to visit NewcastleGateshead in the new year. This year feels exciting and tentative in equal measure.

Welcome to 2021! As we slam the door on 2020, we can begin to explore with some hope what events will take place across the new year and pull together a guide to things to do in NewcastleGateshead. Picking out the highlights for a new year is always exciting as we get out our diaries and plan ahead but this year, there is a quickening of our heart at the thought of a return to levels of normality and the welcome return of art, culture, experiences, time together, travel and exploration – we can begin to look ahead to the possibility of plenty of positivity in 2021 here in NewcastleGateshead!

There is undoubtedly still a great need for safety and caution in order to continue to fight the spread of coronavirus and navigate life with covid-19; NewcastleGateshead remains in tight restrictions. But with the arrival of a new year brings hope for a slow return to a more normal way of life and as 2021 progresses, we will add more events and highlights as they are announced and more opportunities open up.

What we DO know is that our region’s fabulous attractions, cultural venues, pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops have shown great resilience and ingenuity during 2020. We will be ready to welcome them back and can’t wait to find out more details of new programmes of events, innovations and creativity. Let’s get behind them as NewcastleGateshead emerges from a difficult year and gets ready to start welcoming locals and visitors alike to enjoy, explore and experience our region once again.

Follow us on social media, subscribe to read our monthly What’s On emails and we will keep you in the loop for 2021.

Read on for your guide of 21 things to do and reasons to celebrate in NewcastleGateshead in 2021. From major sporting events to live music, theatre productions and art exhibitions to new hotels, restaurants and a chance to rediscover our region.

1. Gateshead Millennium Bridge celebrates its 20th anniversary

Gateshead Millennium Bridge View from Gateshead Millennium Bridge

One of the region’s most iconic landmarks – Gateshead Millennium Bridge - celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. The innovative footbridge, which crosses the River Tyne in the centre of NewcastleGateshead Quayside, first tilted on 28 June 2001 and was open for public use later that year in September 2001.

2. Innside Melia Hotel opens on Quayside

INNSIDE Melia Hotel Newcastle

A brand new hotel will open its doors in early 2021. Innside Melia Hotel on Newcastle’s Quayside is a stylish riverside hotel perfect for visitors who look want to explore the art, culture and heritage of NewcastleGateshead. Treat yourself to a riverside staycation in the new year!

3. Must See Stories, capturing stories from six LGBTQIA+ artists from the North East

Must See Stories TWAM Curious Arts

A new digital channel launched in February 2021 thanks to a collaborative project between Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and Curious Arts. Six LGBTQIA+ artists from the North East have shared their response to the theme 'What does Pride mean to you?' as part of a new editorial programme Must-see Stories. These commissions explore both individuals and communities’ journeys and experiences of what pride means to them - how they celebrate their identity and show pride in who they are. The collaboration will pave the way for more oral histories to be collected from the region.

4. BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art announce 2021 programme

Lumen Sutapa Biswas at BALTIC Gateshead Lumen, Sutapa Biswas at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art from May 2021.

It is great to have new art exhibitions to look forward and be able to plan ahead to a time we can wander the unique BALTIC on Gateshead Quayside once again. The contemporary art centre has announced a packed programme for 2021 including a major solo exhibition, Lumen by Sutapa Biswas (8 May – 31 October 2021) who was, amongst other accolades, a vital contributor to the Black Arts Movement in Britain.

5. UK Pride 2021

The creative exchange Unsplash free Pride

As with most events, festivals and activities in 2020 - UK Pride was postponed by a year until 24 - 25 July 2021. The national celebration was due to be hosted in Newcastle in 2020 but understandably couldn't go ahead due to the impact of the pandemic. Unfortunately, ongoing coronavirus restrictions means that organisers Northern Pride have decided to postpone the event once again. There will be an online event on 25 July 2021 but fans of Pride will have to wait until 2022 to celebrate in Newcastle in person. However, we have no doubt that the LGBTQ+ festival will be even more fabulous in July 2022! We can't wait to welcome people back for a vibrant weekend of celebration in summer 2022 and in the meantime, we'll see you online in 2021!

6. Bedknobs and Broomsticks: The Magical Musical at Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Bedknobs and broomsticks

Fans of a cracking musical and theatre-lovers across the North East brace yourselves. Theatre Royal Newcastle promises to return with a bang in 2021 and making their theatrical line-up is the world premier of Bedknobs and Broomsticks: The Magical Musical. Tickets are currently on sale for the family-friendly, feel-good show which will be running from Saturday 14 – Saturday 21 August 2021. What a joyous return to the live performance!

7. Kynren: An Epic Tale of England 2021


Outdoor theatre spectacular, Kynren had to be postponed in 2020 but returns in the summer of 2021 with an electrifying new show and engaging new attractions including an exhilarating Horse Stunt show like no other. Visitors to Kynren can watch thrilling stunts, chariot races, jousting and be on the lookout, as dragons are about! Explore the maze, enchanting mini explorers adventure playground and lakeside live music experience.

8. Newcastle Film Festival 2021

North East Film Festival

Celebrate the joy, diversity and creativity of film at Newcastle Film Festival from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 November 2021.

The festival has already announced some of the excellent independent venues -such as Star & Shadow Cinema, The Biscuit Factory and The Cluny 2 - who will be hosting events, screenings and workshops during the 3-day event.

9. The curtain will rise on theatre once again!

Sunderland Empire Sunderland Empire Theatre

There will be a return to theatre and performance and we can't wait! The curtain will rise on musicals at Sunderland Empire including West End hits Waitresses, Heathers The Musical and Chicago as well as SIX at Theatre Royal Newcastle. Maximo Park will perform at Tyne Theatre and Opera House while Northern Stage and Live Theatre will wow audiences once again with original and innovative performances.

10. It will be a MAGIC Weekend

The postponed 2020 Dacia Magic Weekend will take place at Newcastle’s St James’ Park in 2021 and the major sporting event has been confirmed for an autumn return over the weekend of Saturday 4 - Sunday 5 September 2021.

The showpiece rugby league tournament promises to give you a sporting weekend of unforgettable family entertainment once again. Be part of the action in 2021 and soak up the electric atmosphere in the Toon.

11. International Cricket at Durham: England v Sri Lanka

International cricket

Sports fans continue to be entertained in the North East during 2021. International cricket returns to the region when men’s World Champions England face Sri Lanka at Durham Emirates Riverside. The game, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 29 June 2021, is set to be the first opportunity for fans to see England’s 2019 World Cup winning team on home soil following a year of fixtures played behind closed doors in 2020.

12. Oggy Oggy Oggy… Great North Run returns

GNR (C) Simplyhealth Great North Run

There were many postponed events and cancelled plans in 2020 but one of the major sadnesses was the postponement of NewcastleGateshead’s iconic Great North Run which was due to celebrate its 40th race. Understandably, the world-famous half marathon could not go ahead and tens of thousands of runners safely took on their own solo races to mark the occasion instead. The sporting event is set to return on Sunday 12 September 2021 and however it will look, Great North Run weekend will be full of celebration in the North East.

13. Rugby League World Cup 2021

RLWC Newcastle

* Rugby League World Cup 2021 has been postponed by 12 months until 2022 - read the full statement here *

We are so excited to welcome yet more world-class sport to Newcastle in 2021! Newcastle will be one of the host cities for the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and matches including the men’s opening event when England take on Samoa, will be hosted at St James’ Park and Kingston Park (home of Newcastle Falcons and Newcastle Thunder). Choose from four matches hosted in Newcastle from Saturday 23 October – Saturday 6 November 2021.

14. Pete Tong live at Northumberland Plate Day

Pete Tong at Newcastle Racecourse

In July, experience a day of horse racing at the most famous race meet of the year – Northumberland Plate Day – followed by a chance to really let your hair down when legendary, international DJ Pete Tong takes to the decks at Newcastle Racecourse for a live set. That’s not the only live event at Newcastle Racecourse in 2021, join chart-topping singer Jess Glynne for a live performance after Ladies’ Day on Saturday 24 July 2021.

15. New Urban Green Café will open in Exhibition Park, Newcastle

Urban green newcastle Exhibition Park Cafe

During 2020, we all became more familiar with the great outdoors as we found safe ways to socialise with friends and escape our four walls. Newcastle’s Exhibition Park will have a brand new café area - Urban Green Café – which will open in Spring 2021. The new botanical-themed café has been created with covid-measures in mind and will feature a larger outdoor seating area so you can watch the world go by in the beautiful surroundings of Exhibition Park. The new café space will also be a fabulous community hub for people to enjoy.

16. New Indian restaurant Khai Khai opens on Newcastle Quayside

Khai Khai indian restaurant Newcastle

We’re sure you can probably count the times you had a meal out in an actual restaurant during 2020 on one hand. To say it was a difficult year for hospitality businesses is an understatement and many of us really missed the chance to catch up with friends inside a restaurant. It’s not all doom and gloom though as there have been some new arrivals on the restaurant scene in NewcastleGateshead including Khai Khai on Newcastle Quayside which serves up heritage Indian comfort food expertly prepared with fire and smoke.

17. Hard Rock Café Newcastle WILL open!

Hard Rock Cafe Newcastle Hard Rock Café, Newcastle (C) The Social Co.

Work has been underway throughout 2020 to transform the Guildhall on Newcastle’s famous Quayside into the region’s first Hard Rock Café Newcastle. The official opening was understandably postponed due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns which plagued 2020. Hard Rock Café is a world-wide sensation and a powerhouse of restaurants. THIS year, Hard Rock Café Newcastle will open its doors as soon as it is possible to do so!

18. Rediscover NewcastleGateshead

Newcastle Castle Newcastle Castle

From free museums and art galleries, to world-class and award-winning attractions - families and city-breakers alike will have the joy of rediscovering the best things to do in NewcastleGateshead when venues across the region reopen their doors. Laing Art Gallery will reopen after lockdown with a portrait of acclaimed film director Sir Ridley Scott on loan from London's National Portrait Gallery. The hotels, attractions, heritage venues, restaurants and leisure hot spots look forward to welcoming first timers and returning daytrippers!

19. Have a night on the toon!

ABOVE rooftop bar and restaurant Newcastle ABOVE rooftop bar and restaurant, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

We will meet friends again in a bar or pub wearing real clothes and sampling a fresh beer or fruity cocktail. Bars, pubs and restaurants in NewcastleGateshead will be buzzing again and there will be fun to be had at new venues as well as revisiting popular nightlife hot spots. Vermont Hotel are teasing us with the unveiling of ABOVE, an all-weather rooftop bar which will launch early 2021. Prepare for a perfect panorama as we unveil ABOVE - a dazzling, all-new, all-weather rooftop bar and restaurant coming early 2021. Newcastle's Bigg Market continues to undergo impressive regeneration.

20. Welcome to The Common Room

The Common Room The Common Room, Newcastle

Newcastle is full of historic and spectacular architecture which adds to the region's rich heritage. Grade II* listed Neville Hall not far from Newcastle Central Station, was built between 1869 and 1872 to provide a headquarters for The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. The building (formerly dubbed The Mining Institute) is currently undergoing renovation work and is due to reopen in spring 2021 as The Common Room; a new hub for innovation and engineering in the North East. Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

21. Festival season

Festival season will be something else in 2021! Let’s hope the sun shines on Newcastle this summer as live music and events reappear. We're looking forward to what will happen. 

And a little look further ahead...

... because why not! In autumn 2022, Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle will welcome the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels on loan from the British Library. The Lindisfarne Gospels are the most spectacular surviving manuscript from Anglo-Saxon England and a phenomenal snapshot of North East heritage. There will be an accompanying exhibition at nearby Newcastle City Library as well as events and activities to support the display. 

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Blackfriars Restaurant
Blackfriars Restaurant

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