Fun things to do in Newcastle and the North East this July

With plans for summer events gathering pace around the region, we are being spoiled for choice when it comes to picking days out, events or shows to enjoy in our spare time.

While there is a summer of sporting action to contend with, which this weekend alone includes England's next big Euros game; the Silverstone grand prix and Wimbledon action live on TV (and showing on big screens in the city at Times Square; NX Newcastle and Screen on the Green), the wider region offers plenty temptation to get out and about to explore what's on our doorstep. As the school holidays approach, trips to local beaches and countryside no doubt will be on many families' lists but there are also lots of special events being planned in the region for the summer.

And July has an extra-busy schedule. This Sunday, July 7 alone the Great North 10k will be adding to the sporting action in Newcastle while the day also marks the last chance to visit the Spanish Galleon on the quayside before it sails off on the next leg of its tour.

Here we've rounded up just some events and shows which will be happening over the rest of the month. From annual favourites such as Ladies Day to small community family festivals, these ideas will hopefully offer something to suit everyone.

Newcastle Fringe Festival

Comedy at The Cumberland will kick off this 10-day festival which is out to showcase the best of the UK's touring performing arts scene. Comedian Diane Spencer will get the fun started with a stand-up show at The Cumberland Arms pub in Newcastle on July 16.

This, she says, will be is her 10th show - adding that the last of her previous shows on YouTube attracted 83,000 views - and topics will range from her fudge-making obsession to Amsterdam, moles and crystal healing - "so it's quite eclectic" says Diane who describes herself a a "working club comic".

See here for show details and read more about the July 16-27 festival here.

Hullabaloo in the Park

The family-friendly festival makes a return to Darlington from July 26-28 with a free programme aimed at under-10s and their grown-ups. Described as a summer staple since 2021, it will see Theatre Hullabaloo host all sorts of attractions - performances, music, dance, storytelling, 'messy play', crafts, workshops and food - in the town's South Park.

Last year's event attracted more than 10,000 people and this time around it expects around 15,000, with even more for families to see, make and do. And, with sponsorship from Darlington Building Society, it says it is the "only arts festival in England that families with young children can enjoy without paying a penny". Find its programme here.

Music festivals

Summer is the time for music and lots of it, with July seeing the peak of festival fever. Across the country organisers of outdoor events are keeping fingers crossed that conditions stay dry but a bit of mud and rain certainly won't deter music fans.

Around the North East, upcoming July festivals include Sunderland's Kubix Festival, with the likes of Sam Ryder and Busted, on July 13 - followed by its Monument Festival on July 20 - and Mouth of the Tyne, including Heather Small, Rick Astley, Ocean Colour Scene and Andrew Cushin, from July 11-14 while the three-month South Tyneside Festival gets under way on July 14.

Durham Brass runs from July 5-13 and - also in County Durham - Scoop Music Festival follows on July 25-28 then Little Lindi in on July 26-28.

Sunderland Arts and Culture Trail

Newly-announced for Sunderland, this free summer self-guided trail is to be 'a celebration of all things creative' and will display the work of around 60 local artists at 40 locations across the city. And it will feature a range of painting, sculpture and performance art, with pop-ups and exhibitions.

The idea follows the success of last year's trail which made its debut last year at eight university venues and now host locations will range from bowling centre Sunderland Bowl to the Harrison & Brown furniture shop and the city's Winter Gardens where a community art exhibition will show off 30 works by people aged from three years to 80.

Following an official opening on Friday, the trail, created by artists Dale Hardy and Su Devine, will run from July 6-21. For a downloadable trail map see here.

New Planetarium show at Life

A new Earth Defenders show created in-house at Life Science Centre in Newcastle promises an immersive experience with its animated tale of 'superhero satellites' defending the Earth. Made up of a quarter-of-a-million individual frames, the retro eighties-style show - projected across the 360-degree domed Planetarium - will immerse audiences in images and sound as it journeys through space.

The show, part-funded by the UK Space Agency, features characters based on real satellites orbiting the Earth - which are used in the likes of weather forecasting, global communications and environmental monitoring - and will see the 'defenders' tackle threats such as asteroids and climate change. See here to find out the full range of what's on offer at Life.

Going country at Tyne Theatre

Audiences are invited to don cowboy hats and ride out some Rodeo Rhythms at Tyne Theatre & Opera House in Newcastle on July 17 for The Country Music Experience. The show promises a 'country experience like no other', with a chance to dance the night away to some of the biggest country anthems from across the decades - think the contemporary sounds of Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Carrie Underwood alongside classic hits of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Shania Twain. Buy tickets here.

Peace Dove at Durham Cathedral

A unique chance to take part in creating giant installation in the city landmark is on offer until July 20. Artist Peter Walker's Peace Dove will be comprised of 15,000 individually-handmade paper birds which will be suspended above the cathedral’s historic nave.

Visitors can take part by writing a message of peace, hope, love and friendship on a paper Peace Dove by the font in the cathedral and then can return later in the month to see the finished piece. Peace Dove will be on show there from July 26 until September 4. Find out more here.

On July 13, the cathedral also will be opening up its Deanery Garden - around the back of the building - during its first-ever Hospitality Week. This garden, normally out of bounds, will be hosting games on the lawn on the day - such as bean bag toss and giant Connect 4 - alongside a marquee selling hot drinks and snacks.

Ouseburn Festival

Lime Street in the Ouseburn Valley will be pedestrianised from July 13-14 for the return of this free community arts event which will play out both outdoors and indoors with a mix of markets, events, performances and activities. Lime Street itself will host a food market and there will be circus performers, roaming musicians, choirs and interactive art.

Ouseburn Market, off Stepney Bank, also will be running with more than 80 stalls while mini-markets will be set up at Ouseburn Garden and the Toffee Factory will host a vintage and record fair. Family events will run from noon until 6pm on both days - including children's comedy at Ouseburn Farm - and, for adults, live music and parties will continue into the evening.

On the Saturday, a NARC. Fest addition will bring 26 musical acts to the stage in a range of venues, with free, un-ticketed performances in The Cumberland Arms, The Old Coal Yard, Cluny 2, Little Buildings, The Grove and The Tyne Bar between 2pm and 11pm. The Cluny will host live music on the Sunday too, when there also will be a community parade from 1pm.

Anyone keen to take part will have a chance to create parade outfits for it the previous day at a crafting workshop at 36 Lime Street. Free boat trips will be available from Spillers Quay and other attractions will include pony grooming at Stepney Bank Stables; a dog agility competition in the riding arena and a treasure hunt at Flea Circus. The full programme will be available here from July 6.

Peter Plan flies into Durham

Gala Theatre in Durham will be hosting its newest production Peter Pan & Wendy, from July 16-27 - save for July 21-22 - when it will bring By J.M. Barrie's tale to life through an adaptation by Laura Turner that features Wendy, aged 13, who is fed up with everything.

Her desire for adventure is then more than satisfied when she meets Peter and the fairy Tinker Bell and finds herself amid pirates and chased by Captain Hook before realising what's really important to her might be waiting back home. Book tickets here.

Blyth Town Carnival

Swashbuckling pirates are also the theme of this Saturday's carnival in Blyth, Northumberland and school children will dress the part for a, 11.30am parade which will feature a 30-ft pirate ship. Organised by local charity Leading Link, the event will get under way at noon on July 6 in the Keel Row car park in Blyth, Northumberland, where there will be a range of food vendors, an activity zone, creative zone, carnival rides and a stage for the afternoon's entertainment. Follow its Facebook page here.

Ladies Day

This annual highlight of the year - along with June's Plate Day - at Newcastle Racecourse will turn Gosforth Park into a sea of colour on July 27 as crowds turn out dressed to impress. This year's event is gearing up to be every bit as glamorous and the annual Style Awards competition has already announced what prizes will be up for grabs for the best-dressed racegoers.

Find out all about the £8,000 of prizes here and to buy tickets for Ladies Day here.

Step back in time at Beamish Museum

Opening on July 6 are new attractions at the County Durham museum which include its eagerly-awaited fifties cinema, toy shop and electrical shop. The new additions to the 1950s Town mean that families could pretty much fill their whole day there, exploring the film world of the picture-house, the likes of a dolls' hospital and retro records alongside the town's existing play park, chippy, hair salon and cafe.

But of course there's so much more to see over the museum's vast site, including the newly-open Georgian Drovers Tavern in its 1820s Landscape which serves a specially-brewed ale and Georgian-inspired food such as potted ham, rarebit, soup, stew and salmagundi which is a Georgian salad. Here's a first look at the new attractions and for tickets see here.

Gruffalo Olympics at Hamsterley Forest

The County Durham forest will be branching out to host a new adventure in celebration of 2024 being the 25-year anniversary of the Gruffalo. Under way from July 23, will be a family trail which also includes some Olympic-theme extras.

Visitors are invited to track down missing Gruffalo party items such as balloons, pine cones and apples while learning about life in the forest and there also will be sporty challenges to try along the way. Find out more here.

Miners Gala

Durham streets will be brought alive by the 138th outing of the annual Miners' Gala on July 13 with around 200,000 people expected to attend. And it's quite some spectacle with colourful banners being paraded through the streets and brass band music adding to the atmosphere.

This year's event, which recently announced its speakers, marks the 40-year anniversary of the Miners' Strike. Find out more about the plans here.