Passionate about art, shopping and history

As the summer holidays begin to draw to a close, there are still plenty of attractions and summer days to enjoy right across the North-East.

As the summer holidays begin to draw to a close, there are still plenty of attractions and summer days to enjoy right across the North-East.

Maybe you'd like to explore some of the great art on show at the many galleries. We've got some suggestions of some original art exhibitions that are well worth visiting.

Or perhaps you want to show the children some stimulating history before they go back to school. Here are some suggestions of great places to visit in the North-East.

Biscuit Factory, Newcastle

Britain's biggest original art store has two floors of exhibition spaces full of fantastic art to enjoy. Everything is for sale - choose from a range of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photography, ceramics and glass by artists from all over the world. Have a coffee and cake in the gallery's Byker Vista Café. Entrance is free.

www.thebiscuitfactory.com

Cragside House, Gardens and Estate, Rothbury

Wander through this wonderful Victorian estate with dramatic and varied gardens, home to the largest rock garden in Europe, a water cascade and a rhododendron maze. Look out for red squirrels and enjoy a fantastic woodland adventure playground.

There is much to enjoy in the estate and gardens while the house is closed for re-wiring as part of a £6m regeneration project. Artists have been commissioned to draw on the wonder of the house and gardens to create works that provide hidden gems throughout the grounds. Look for the bed in an unusual place.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Dalton Park, Murton, Seaham

Dalton Park is a spectacular outlet shopping destination offering big brand names at discounts of up to 50% off high-street prices.

Key brands include Marks & Spencer outlet, NEXT clearance, Joseph, Oasis, Levi's, Adidas, Kurt Muller, Crabtree & Evelyn and Austin Reed. There are also some fun events to enjoy between shopping:

August 26: Come and meet Bob the Builder and Wendy - they'll be out and about to meet you in the Dalton Park mall from 10am-2.30pm.

September 9-10 Farmers' and Craft market - featuring local produce from around the Durham area

To check times of opening and details of events visit the Dalton Park website.

www.dalton-park.com

Barnard Castle, County Durham

A busy market town, with the impressive castle ruins towering above the town. See the octagonal Market Cross that was a market but also the town lock-up and courthouse. There are plenty of shops to browse, with a farmers' market on the first Saturday of every month.

Wallington House, Walled Garden and Grounds, Cambo, Morpeth

Visit this magnificent mansion with fine interiors and collections. See the 18th and 19th Century interior, rococo plasterwork, fine ceramics, huge Pre-Raphaelite paintings, dolls houses and 3,800 lead soldiers. Escape to the beautiful walled garden and its conservatory or enjoy a walk in the woods and along by the river.

Event: This Bank holiday weekend sees the annual Northumbrian Proms tonight. Take a picnic and enjoy stirring classical music favourites and a fireworks finale.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk

* For more ideas of things to do visit www.visitnortheastengland.co.uk

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