Dark Sky Park
If you want to literally enjoy nightlife then look no further than Northumberland. In this case we’re not talking about clubs, bars and theatres – although there’s those in abundance – but a unique visitor attraction. Thanks to the exceptionally low levels of light pollution, this most unspoilt area of Northumberland boasts the largest expanse of dark night sky in the whole of Europe – lit up by the largest, brightest, sparkling stars you may ever see.
If this appeals then head to Kielder Observatory, at the heart of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, which holds events all year round, from open days and interactive shows to observing nights and lectures. In fact, evenings offer the chance to see much of the Northumbrian countryside at its best – and, of course it’s free. After all, what could be nicer than watching the sun go down over Dunstanburgh Castle, walking along Alnmouth beach in the moonlight or experiencing dusk fall over the ancient stones of Hadrian’s Wall?
When it comes to planning your evenings in Northumberland the fun isn’t just in deciding where to go, it’s deciding what to do. This is simply because the choice of activities is as varied as the county itself, with everything from art galleries and theatres to pubs and nightclubs…if you know where to look. Planning is the key to enjoying a great night out as the choice of activities varies from week to week and from town to town.
Much also depends on how far you are prepared to travel. If you are staying off the beaten track, your hotel, local pub or village noticeboard will be able to give you notice of anything happening on your doorstep. Generally, however, as you might expect, you will find most choice in the larger towns, all of which have a variety of venues, from traditional country pubs to stylish and sophisticated wine bars.
Head to Kielder Observatory, at the heart of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, which holds events all year round, from open days and interactive shows to observing nights and lectures
Those looking for a lively night out might want to head to Charlie’s, or Bedrocks, at Berwick-upon-Tweed, while lovers of live bands would enjoy The Tavern at Blyth which offers a packed programme of live music, showcasing some well-known bands as well as local aspiring artists.
Alternatively, try The Quay at Blyth which regularly hosts nights dedicated to acoustic buskers, party anthems and the classic push the button bar games and pool. And party-goers can look forward to the weekend events at Dejavu at Blyth, with two floors offering a variety of music for clubbers.
At Hexham, Donnies Bar offers the best sports coverage, with a lively venue that will make you want to stay out late. And for anyone who is partial to craft alcohol, The Tannery at Hexham is an award-winning beer and whiskey house, stocking craft brewers from around the region, with a great atmosphere and a bustling events calendar.
Those looking for more structured evening entertainment can look to the larger towns, where many have thriving community arts centres and theatres, hosting a varied range of events year-round.
Lovers of live bands will enjoy The Tavern at Blyth which offers a packed programme of live music, showcasing some well-known bands as well as local aspiring artists
For live performance ranging from theatre, dance, music and comedy, as well as event broadcasts, classes and visual arts exhibitions, the Malting’s at Berwick ticks all the boxes. As well as its Main House Theatre and Henry Travers Studio it has a very popular Stage Door Bar and Maltings Kitchen restaurant, which are ideal for a pre-show drink and bite to eat.
Alnwick Playhouse and Arts Centre is definitely worth checking out as it is a well-known and loved venue for many of the UK’s touring shows and offers a pretty impressive programme of film, comedy, theatre, dance and music. It’s also home to the Bondgate Gallery, which attracts art lovers from across the county to exhibitions throughout the year.
There are plenty of opportunities, too, for film buffs to catch the latest releases and, while multiplex cinemas may be thin on the ground in rural Northumberland, the county does boast some great, independent venues – and what they lack in size, they certainly make up for in character.
There are plenty of opportunities, too, for film buffs to catch the latest releases and, while multiplex cinemas may be thin on the ground in rural Northumberland, the county does boast some great, independent venues
Live theatrical and musical performances
People travel from far and wide to visit the Forum Cinema in Hexham, as, along with films, it also hosts live theatrical and musical performances and exhibitions. Tiny and wonderfully intimate, it offers a wonderful combination of old world charm, and up-to-the-minute art. Also in Hexham is the Queen’s Hall Arts Centre which routinely offers varied and packed programmes of live shows, while the Phoenix Theatre, Blyth, specialises in bringing both amateur and professional practitioners together to develop work for the community.
And, speaking of theatre, the impressive Northumberland landscape often takes centre stage thanks to the number of open air productions which take place throughout the summer months. The grounds of both Wallington, near Rothbury and Alnwick Castle, play host, respectively, to everything from open air Shakespeare to bands, such as Madness and Il Divo although tickets sell fast so it always best to plan as far in advance as possible.
It is also often the case that the show goes on whatever the weather, so if you’re planning to go to an outdoor production then you would be well advised to take a waterproof rug or groundsheet (seating is generally limited). It’s also a good idea – and fun – to take a picnic and, of course, to make sure you have everything from sun lotion to umbrellas and cagoules, just to be on the safe side.
Everything you need to know about Northumberland
Where to eat in Northumberland
The best things to do in Northumberland
The best shopping in Northumberland
Your guide to arts and culture in Northumberland