NEWCASTLE has, for many years, been known nationally and internationally as one of the great party cities.
Affectionately titled the ‘Toon’, it’s been famous (or infamous) for stag and hen parties, its nightlife and the ability of revellers to be without a coat in any season.
Who can forget those images that appeared in the national Press of revellers out in the snow of 2010 in their killer heels, short skirts and skimpy tops!
However, those familiar with the area will know that there is so much more to the Newcastle Gateshead experience.
Recently, the prestigious Turner Prize was hosted at our own Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, attracting almost 150,000 people to step through its doors from October 21 to January 8.
Let’s not forget also, that the Laing Art Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of 18th and 19th Century watercolours including paintings by JMW Turner, Cox and Girtin.
The £26m refurbishment to create the Great North Museum: Hancock, unveiled a first-class experience for visitors, combining the historic collections with modern interactive elements, resulting in multiple awards for the museum.
Refurbishment has also recently been completed at the Theatre Royal which celebrates its 175th birthday this year.
Annually, more than 300,000 theatregoers enjoy performances as varied as Shakespeare, the ballet and, of course, the traditional pantomime.
The restoration has taken the theatre back to the majesty of Matcham’s 1901 design, but with 21st Century comfort and facilities, creating perhaps one of the greatest examples of an Edwardian theatre in the UK.
If we mention the historic Theatre Royal, we can’t ignore the other end of the scale, the undoubtedly 21st Century The Sage Gateshead.
Home to the Northern Sinfonia and arguably one of the finest state-of- the-art concert halls in Britain, the Sage is a shining light in the North East’s cultural heritage.
Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema has also had a thorough refurbishment in the past few years to create a building which has both the character of the heyday of cinema and the amenities required by the modern-day consumer.
If after all that entertainment you’ve worked up an appetite, there are some great eateries which offer creative, fresh and high-quality menus to choose from.
I suppose you could argue that the lack of Michelin-starred restaurants or five-star hotels are the only things missing as the nearest of these to Newcastle are outside Tyne and Wear.
However, it wouldn’t be a surprise for that situation to change soon as the discerning customer continues to flock to this area to enjoy a different type of leisure experience.
So, while Newcastle Gateshead still provides a great nightlife selection, its cultural credentials are certainly continuing to attract a wider variety of leisure operators and visitors from afar to take a closer look at what’s on offer.
:: David Downing, partner, leisure, for and on behalf of Sanderson Weatherall LLP, 0191 269 0151.