Newcastle and Gateshead are famous for the thriving nightlife filled with many clubs, bars and restaurants. And here’s our insider guide on where to go.
A city that can do both
Famous the world over as a party city, Newcastle is home to myriad pubs, clubs and bars. But there is also a more sober, cultural side to this corner of Tyneside that emerges after dark thanks to Gateshead’s growing reputation as a creative and artistic hub. Being hailed a party city has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand Newcastle’s reputation as a lively, fun, buzzing place to be after dark, has given the city a much needed economic boost. On the other, the wild behaviour of out of town hen and stag parties alongside that of Geordie clubbers – who think nothing of going out in sub-zero temperatures as if dressed for the height of summer – has at times done little to bolster Newcastle’s corporate reputation as local politicians, business groups and Government quangos have striven to bring investment and jobs to the north bank of the Tyne.
Wylam Brewery has a fantastic calendar of fun, themed events throughout the year
Thankfully, much work has been done to downplay Newcastle’s high-spirited status since the area was voted the world’s eighth best party destination in the mid-1990s alongside Rio and New Orleans by the influential American firm, Weissman Travel Reports. Geordie revellers still persist in leaving their coats at home in the depths of winter. And there are still plenty of places in which to enjoy a hedonistic night out until the wee small hours. But a welcome dose of after-hours culture has now been added to the Tyneside party mix, offering a social lifeline to those who have neither the desire to paint the town red, nor the constitution to fight off a raging hangover. This change, in part, has been down to Gateshead’s success in utilising the power of art, music and literature to reinvent and reinvigorate itself.
Since the turn of the century, Gateshead has given Tyneside the aesthetically pleasing double arched Millennium Bridge, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and the dramatically curvaceous Sage Gateshead music centre. In collaboration with Newcastle, it only just missed being chosen as the 2008 European Capital of Culture – an ambition that two decades ago would have been unthinkable. Together, this unique city partnership did successfully bring the Great Exhibition of the North to Tyneside in 2018. A free summer long celebration of the pioneering spirit of not just the North East, but the whole of the North from the east to the west coasts and from the Scottish border into Yorkshire, there were exhibitions, events, trails, live performances, new artworks and amazing displays of innovation. It helped cement Newcastle-Gateshead’s reputation as a more refined and grown-up party city, where cheap lager and Jägerbombs can happily co-exist alongside a relaxed night at the theatre, cinema or concert hall.
Newcastle is home to myriad pubs, clubs and bars. But there is also a more sober, cultural side to this corner of Tyneside that emerges after dark thanks to Gateshead’s growing reputation as a creative and artistic hub
The Diamond Strip
That’s not to say Newcastle has lost its famous (or should that be infamous) after dark vibrancy. With two top-rated universities in the city, the bars and clubs pulsate every night of the week. But somehow Geordies always find the energy to move up a gear at the weekend and really let their hair down. From Newcastle’s dazzling Diamond Strip to the notoriously rowdy Bigg Market, upmarket Quayside, sophisticated Grey Street, stylish Gate entertainment complex, happy hour haven of Jesmond’s Osborne Road, and the arty real ale haunt that is the Ouseburn Valley, there are no shortage of places catering to drinkers’ whims or character bias. Monday is traditionally student night, with most heading to Powerhouse and Digital to start the week with a bang.
Drink and dance until late in Perdu
Blackie Boy is next door to Perdu and also highly popular
Head to MSA for late night dancing and music
Things really start to ratchet up in Newcastle from Thursday night onwards, however. Thursday and Friday nights are traditionally when lads’ and lasses’ head out to have a good time, while Saturday is more about couples. The so-called Diamond Strip on Collingwood Street has come to prominence in the last eight or nine years, its name giving a hint as to what to expect: trendy, achingly-cool and upmarket bars and clubs with exotic cocktail menus and lavish interiors that attract a more mature, affluent crowd. Here you will find the Florita’s Miami bar with its VIP suite, sexy art deco interior, and huge tropical outdoor garden; the opulent Revolution vodka bar housed in a former bank that has 30ft high ceilings and marble pillars; the boutique Perdu with its alfresco drinks area and access to the iconic Blackie Boy pub and the All Seeing Eye cocktail lounge; and Madame Koo, boasting an alluring Oriental interior that’s tucked away underground. The strip is also home to the speakeasy-inspired House of Smith, the lavish Tup Tup Palace with its waterfalls, mosaic lamps and booths, and Bijoux, which as the name suggests, is a small but perfectly formed bar that starred on reality TV show Geordie Shore.
Just a stone’s throw from the Diamond Strip is the infamous Bigg Market. Once THE place to be seen, its star has waned in recent years as Newcastle’s nightlife has spread out across the city. Now it’s a place of low booze prices and high spirits where inhibitions are abandoned as clubbers get into the party spirit. The triumvirate of Grey, Pilgrim and Dean Streets is a Mecca for real ale lovers. The streets are lined with traditional pubs, trendy craft beer saloons, and chic bars. Real ale enthusiasts will love the Bierrex Smoke and Tap House on Pilgrim Street with its 31 custom-made numbered taps delivering an ever changing roster of cask and keg beers. Also on Pilgrim Street is Alvino’s with its Tardis like interior. Small from the outside, inside it has three floors, an outdoor terrace and two bars serving a wide selection of craft and draught beers and lagers, as well as guest ales.
The so-called Diamond Strip on Collingwood Street has come to prominence in the last eight or nine years, its name giving a hint as to what to expect: trendy, achingly-cool and upmarket bars and clubs with exotic cocktail menus and lavish interiors
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The Gate on Newgate Street is a purpose built indoor leisure complex with a cinema, restaurants, casino and bars and clubs. Popular with groups, here you will find among others 1 Keel Row – part of the Wetherspoons chain – the Players sports bar, and the Opera piano bar and lounge with its Martini Mondays and Flirtini Fridays. The Quayside is the most picturesque of Newcastle’s night haunts, with the River Tyne and its bridges forming the perfect backdrop for an evening out. Away from the city centre hubbub, sophisticated cocktail bars sit happily alongside trendy gastropubs with their own microbreweries. The Bridge Tavern, nestled between the stanchions of the Tyne Bridge, brews its own craft keg and cask ales, and has a stylish outdoor terrace.
The Bridge Tavern Brews its own craft beer and ales
The Tyne Bar, as to be expected, boasts fantastic views over the River Tyne and Quayside
At the other end of the Quayside stands the Pitcher and Piano, with its swanky glass walls offering an unrivalled view of the Millennium Bridge, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and the Sage Gateshead. As the sun sets you can sit on the terrace, drink in hand, and watch as the coloured lights illuminating the Millennium Bridge change hue, the glow playing over the gently flowing waters of the Tyne. On the outskirts of Newcastle city centre is Wylam Brewery’s Palace of the Arts in Exhibition Park. Housed in what was the Museum of Science and Engineering, there’s a micro-brewery, tap room, beer garden and live music all waiting to be enjoyed. Just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of the Arts you will find yourself on Osborne Road in Jesmond. A popular place to start a night out in Newcastle, it is lined with swanky bars and trees festooned with fairy lights. The aptly named Osborne’s is the biggest bar on the strip and the centre of Jesmond’s nightlife. Its three bars serve everything from cocktails to world beers, draught lager and real ales.
The Ouseburn Valley is Tyneside’s creative quarter. Once an area blighted by abandoned warehouses and derelict buildings, now it is home to Seven Stories – the National Centre for Children’s Books, artists’ workshops, live music venues, and some of Tyneside’s finest pubs. Hunt out The Free Trade with its fine selection of real ales and stunning views of Gateshead Quayside and the Tyne bridges; the Cumberland Arms with its session beers, roaring fire, and regular folk, theatre and comedy nights; the Cluny, nestled under Byker Bridge, a former whisky bottling plant transformed into a bar and live music venue; and The Ship Inn with its extensive vegan menu. Not everyone wants to drink the night away, though. Newcastle thankfully serves up plenty of other after dark entertainment, from theatre productions to live music and cinema.
The Quayside is the most picturesque of Newcastle’s night haunts, with the River Tyne and its bridges forming the perfect backdrop for an evening out
Theatre, comedy and music
Sage Gateshead is home to the Royal Northern Sinfonia and three world-class concert halls welcoming performers from every genre. It also hosts regular special events, like the Classic season with visiting symphony orchestras and an international jazz festival. Newcastle-Gateshead is well endowed with stage venues. The Theatre Royal on Grey Street boasts one of the finest facades of its kind in the UK and has played host to everyone from Orson Wells to Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir Ian McKellen. It’s year round programme features everything from West End musicals to world-leading drama, ballet, opera, family shows and the always acclaimed panto. Tyne Theatre and Opera House, meanwhile, offers a top class programme of theatre, comedy, music and family entertainment.
The Theatre Royal is a Grade I listed building and a stunning example of neo-classical architecture
If comedy is your thing, The Stand on High Bridge, attracts all the big names, while Live Theatre just off the Quayside has built an enviable reputation for nurturing new talent as well as embracing touring shows. Northern Stage is part of Newcastle University and is known for its often cutting-edge productions. The Boulevard is Newcastle’s top cabaret venue, while the Alphabetti Theatre creates, produces and shows new and original works from emerging artistes across all mediums. The legendary Newcastle City Hall opened in 1927 and its stage has been graced by everyone from Bob Dylan and the Animals to David Bowie, The Beatles, Queen and local favourites, Lindisfarne. The venue continues to run a packed programme of comedy and concerts.
Newcastle is also home to the Utilita Arena, where you can watch the world’s top acts and spectacles, as well as the O2 Academy hosting everything from indie to rock bands and live sport. And for a really laid-back evening, there is the beautiful Art Deco-style Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle with its three screens where you can catch the best indie and quirky arthouse films, alongside classic movies, the latest blockbusters, and even special cult nights. All the screens are licensed, so you can enjoy a wine, beer or themed cocktail while you watch. The chic way to enjoy an alcoholic drink on a night out on The Toon.
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Image credits: ©Jack Cameron Media; Niklas Rose/Unsplash; NUFC; Vaulkhard Group