A fun-packed summer in store for Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 15:12 06 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:28 20 February 2013
Get some sleep while you can, advises Chris Titley, because Newcastle is about to embark on non-stop summer party
The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of North East Life
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If a Martian were to crash to earth tomorrow, it wouldnt take him long to discover Britains good-time capital. In fact, once hed had a blast in the Bigg Market and moshed it up at the Metro Radio Arena, hed probably decide to move from Mars to Newcastle for good.
But even by this saturnalian citys standards, 2012 looks to be a supreme summer for partying. With all manner of festivals, revelries, gigs and celebrations planned, Newcastle has surpassed itself.
The regular attractions are back. Europes largest travelling funfair, the Town Moor Hoppings, returns for the 130th time from June 22nd. This year organisers are challenging visitors to ride all five waltzers in a row. Good luck with that.
A more recent tradition, the Newcastle Green Festival, arrives in Leazes Park on June 2nd and 3rd, complete with music, circus acts and workshops, helping to highlight the importance of protecting the environment.
And the Evolution weekender, now considered one of the finest city music festivals around, takes over Spillers Wharf on June 3rd and 4th. Dizzee Rascal, deadmau5, Rizzle Kicks, Noah & The Whale and Maxmo Park are among the huge names taking to the stage.
Meanwhile music with decidedly more Latin rhythms returns with the Vamos! Festival, celebrating the vibrancy of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking cultures for six weeks starting on June 1.
Should those events not be enough, this year theyre joined by some spectacular one-offs. For theatregoers, theres the North Easts contribution to the World Shakespeare Festival, including a new production of Julius Caesar at the Theatre Royal Newcastle in its 175th anniversary year.
Yet for Geordies, all the above and even Newcastles contribution to the Olympic and Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations might pall next to another very particular celebration.
This year is the 150th anniversary of a certain song. Aw went to Blaydon Races, twas on the ninth of Joon/ Eiteen hundred an sixty-two, on a summers efternoon
So begins the unofficial Tyneside anthem, Blaydon Races. Essentially its in the heart of every Geordie, said Tony Pearson.
Its sung at the football matches, 27the Northumberland Fusiliers used to march into battle with the song, its a song that fathers teach their children my father certainly did that to me.
So its an incredibly important part of the cultural heritage of the North East.
The song was composed by Geordie Ridley and first performed at Balmbras Music Hall on June 5, 1862 and it was basically an advert for his concert that he was doing after the Blaydon Races, Tony said.
It then disappeared from public consciousness before being revived by a North East comedian at the start of the century. Thats when it really took off, in the early 1900s and then William Irving painted a picture of the Blaydon Races.
It was unveiled in Newcastle and almost caused a riot because so many people wanted to see it.
With a few fellow volunteers Tony set about marking the birthday, and Blaydon Races 150 was born. St Nicholas Cathedral is hosting a special concert on the evening of Friday June 8th, and during the following day there will be a programme of entertainment at the Monument.
Tony is also hopeful of reopening Balmbras in the Cloth Market for one-night only, to put on an evening of comedy. Were working with the Grinning Idiot Comedy Club in Newcastle and theyve secured four Geordie comedians.
Theyve had to ship them in from London and Manchester, because thats where all the work is!
Special Blaydon Races ice cream, coffee and beers are being created, and theres a Geordie Oompah Beer Hall at the Ware Rooms on Grey Street that same night. And he promised fun for all the family, with trips on the Beamish charabanc for kids.
For more information go to www.blaydonraces150.co.uk where youll also find a range of voices singing the song, and the words so you can sing along.
Tony was quick to pay tribute to the council for their support, and praised the organisers of the annual festival in Blaydon and the road race of the same name organised by the Blaydon Harriers.
Id love to see thousands of people on the streets of Newcastle and in Blaydon on June 9th. It would be fantastic for the city and hopefully something we could build on in subsequent years, he said.
Theres been a lot of reality TV shows which I dont think have done the area any favours whatsoever. People just want to show a bit of pride, a bit of Geordie culture and heritage, and everyones really on board with this.
Tony, who works for BT, thinks the city is ready for a special summer.
June is going to be absolutely mega. Because weve got the Evolution Festival the week before, weve got the Diamond Jubilee the week before, and weve got both the Green Festival and the cathedral doing a flower festival, all happening on the long Bank Holiday weekend.
Ged Bell is in charge of the culture and leisure portfolio at Newcastle City Council. He says the whole mood of the city is lifted by these big summer events.
Im a Newcastle lad, born and bred, and Ill be enjoying as many of the entertainments as I can, in the parks, on the streets, in the football stadium, in the theatres, on the banks of the river Ill be enjoying them all.
What is he looking forward to most? The Olympics. The torch relay is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people in this area to get involved and feel that its more than just your London Olympics.
Everybody will be able to see the torch, see the celebrations around the town theres a full procession planned on the afternoon of Friday June 15th.
Ged is sure that Newcastle leads the world in throwing a party. Its my rather biased point of view, but obviously I think we do it the best. Its because we have a good track record of putting big events on in the city, and we get a good response from the public.
There is an attitude there. Whatever the weather wants to hoy at Newcastle and its residents, we always tend to get through it and enjoy ourselves. And hopefully that will continue.