From breathtaking bridges to one of the best-looking streets in the UK – Newcastle is a handsome place for a weekend break
When is the best time to visit Newcastle for a weekend break?
Newcastle is known for its brilliant nightlife – it has a huge variety of world-renowned clubs and bars. The weekend has traditionally attracted lots of revellers, so those after a quieter stay might prefer a mid-week break. As for the best time of year, there are myriad festivals and events to give you an excuse to visit for a short break any time.
When most cities are hunkering down post-Christmas, Newcastle starts its preparations to host a large-scale carnival for the Chinese New Year – the biggest celebration of its kind in the north-east. It’s a great family event, with traditional dragon parades, lots of street food and fairground rides, all focused around the city’s lively Chinatown.
There are many festivals taking place around Newcastle in the springtime, from the Newcastle Beer & Cider Festival to the AV Festival – a city-wide celebration of contemporary art, film and music. It’s an extremely well-produced and prestigious festival, the only downside being that it’s only every two years, so plan your city break well in advance if you’d like to be there for it.
Newcastle is near enough to some brilliant beaches to make a summer trip worthwhile. Longsands and Whitley Bay are both under ten miles away, and while the sea is never what you’d call warm, the beach itself is a glorious stretch of golden sand. If you’re foodie, look out for Eat!, a large-scale food fair held in June or July. Every June, crowds gather for The Hoppings, the largest travelling funfair in Europe, on Town Moor. The event dates back to the 1880s.
October and November regularly see artisanal events – including the Gin Festival, Craft Beer Calling and Oktoberfest – a celebration of German wining (or rather, beering) and dining, complete with lederhosen and Tyrolean music.
What are the best attractions in Newcastle?
Newcastle is famous for its bridges along the River Tyne. From the Tyne Bridge, the precursor to Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge, to the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, completed in 2001, they really are a sight to behold. Newcastle Castle has been on the same site since 1080 (in fact, it was built by Robert Curthose, William the Conqueror’s eldest son, and gave the city its name). The castle itself reopened in 2015 after a £1.67m renovation, and it has a great programme of events for families. St James’ Park stadium is home to Newcastle United FC. Visit on a match day (if you can get tickets – don’t wait until the day) to experience the electric atmosphere of a live game. Go for a stadium tour on non-match days and see the players’ changing rooms, the dugouts, pitch and catch the splendid view from the stadium roof. The tour also covers the history of the club and ground, and will be a real treat for any Magpies fan.
Newcastle’s Grey Street is regarded as one of finest high streets in Britain, in architectural terms, and sits in the centre of Grainger Town – a Neo-Classical area designed by Victorian architect Richard Grainger. The most cosmopolitan and stylish part of town is the Quayside development – as well as stunning views of the bridges, the area boasts the glimmering Sage Gateshead – a concert venue and centre for musical education. Also at the Quayside is the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, housed in a striking converted flour mill. It has its own cool rooftop bar and restaurant – taking a drink here is one of the chicest ways to introduce yourself to the city.
How do I get to, and around, Newcastle?
Trains run from across Britain to Newcastle Central Station, including Virgin’s East Coast service from London. It’s a small city, which you can cross by foot or bicycle, so if you arrive by train you shouldn’t need to hire a car. If you are taking your car, the A69 or A1 takes you to the doorstep of the city.
Why not take a look at our affordable hotels in Newcastle and see this amazing northern city for yourself.