Over the past few years the North East and in particular Newcastle has played host to some fabulous sporting events including hosting qualifying matches for the 2012 Olympics, the spectacle that was the Rugby World Cup in 2014, and of course we can’t forget Brendon Foster’s greatest half marathon in the world, which sees over 50,000 professionals such as Mo Farrah and novices like myself descending on the city to take part in the Great North Run every single year.
With a summer of sport hurtling towards us there’s no secret that 2017 is shaping up to be a great year already and this May sees the return of Rugby League’s Dacia Magic Weekend to the hallowed ground of St James’ Park.
With over 65,000 excited Rugby fans expected to descend on the City it’ll be an experience to remember. Newcastle, famed for it’s nightlife, Ant & Dec, Alan Shearer and girls not wearing coats, it is sure to capture your heart over this magic weekend.
With 12 teams, 6 matches, over 2 days. Are you in? If you’ve not already you can get your tickets for the weekend here.
For now though, the Magic Geordie guide to one truly Magic Weekend.
Where to Stay.
If you’re looking for luxury settings in the city centre the first port of call is the iconic Malmaison. As you awaken and draw back the curtains let the views of the Tyne, the Baltic and the Millenium Bridge (known affectionately by locals as the Whey Eye) greet you with a big Geordie Good Morning.
Head down to the restaurant situated in the hotel for a big hearty breakfast to set you up for the day before a 15 minute stroll will take you along the historic quayside, see Bessie Surtees’ house and the Monument of Earl Great as you make your way up to the 52,000 capacity stadium which is home to the Magpies.
Alternatively, hop on the Quaylink yellow bus which serves the Quayside and city centre and will have you at the ground in less than 5 minutes.
Upon your return back from a busy day cheering and winning, relax in Chez Mal with a cocktail or two made by the in-house mixologists.
Stay at the Sandman if you’re wanting to be in amongst all of the action. The hotel is situated directly opposite the ground and is home to the Shark Bar, serving up American-style burgers and wings from their hostesses in little referee uniforms. Probably more a place for the men, rather than a family affair.
With simple and basic rooms, this mid-range hotel will serve you well as a great base for hopping between the stadium and the fan zone. A walk into the centre of the city will take you less than 5 minutes and with China Town in view from your hotel we recommend a trip to the all you can eat buffets and Chinese supermarket with their wonderful array of alternative products
If you’re looking for budget hotels in the city centre then Sleeperz is your hotel of choice. Situated next to Central Station and opposite a vodka lover’s favourite Revolution, this budget hotel offers rooms from £46.
Extremely basic, yet in a great location, you can be on Northumberland Street (the main shopping street and hub of the city) within minutes. Alternatively hop on the excellent metro system from Central Station and in 1 stop arrive at Monument Station, the bottom of Northumberland Street where there are bars and restaurants galore or in two stops arrive at Haymarket Station which is the top of the shopping street (ladies head to my favourite nail bar Levoi which is served by Haymarket).
If you’re using the Metro system there’s a stop at St James’ which brings you out at the ground. Come up from under the city to be greeted by this impressive, towering stadium.
The Metro allows you travel all across the North East on the easy to use, hop-on, hop-off system. If you get a chance we highly recommend a trip to Tynemouth, which was recently featured in The Times’ best places to live. Enjoy food on front street and award winning blue flag beaches. A day saver will cost you £5 and from Central Newcastle stations you can be at the coast within 25 minutes.
Where to Eat
With the Stadium right in the centre of the city you don’t have far to walk to come across some great food and drink. Luckily, every week Newcastle seems to have a new restaurant or bar opening, especially with the Greys Quarter redevelopment so you’ll not be short of places to eat. Some of our recommendations include:
For fast food try Smashburger, American Diner Style burgers and fried chicken served on fabulous egg buns. The coke machine mixes up a combination of 250 different types of sodas and the Haagen-Dazs milkshakes are terrific.
Step out of the back door of Grey’s Quarter and you will find The Grind serving great burgers at No.28 located on Nelson Street, download the flok app and get a discount on your drinks.
Below No.28 is Billy Bootleggers a brilliant underground dive bar serving Snappy’s Frankfurter Hot Dogs, Fries and Wings. Newly opened Billy Bootleggers on Nelson Street is a great place for live music. An eclectic mix of anything goes, no judgements made kind of feel. Ideal for people of all ages – we highly recommend that you try the Apple Pie Moonshine it’s totally out of this world.
Looking for a TGI Fridays? The Greys Quarter is where you’ll find this American favourite. Another smokehouse and American style food is Rub, you’ll find this located in The Gate Complex where you’ll also be able to enjoy 2-4-1 all day, every day on their cocktails.
Close to the Fanzone on Pitt Street is a great pub The Earl of Pitt Street, booking is recommended. Serving up a selection of steaks, chicken, wild mushroom rigatoni to full Sunday Roasts (including nut roasts for the vegetarians)
Check out George’s British Kitchen, situated in the heart of the city where you can listen to British classics whilst enjoying traditional British favourites from Fish & Chips, Chicken in a Basket to Steak & Red Wine Pie. The eclectic decor but good food and friendly service will have you feeling very patriotic.
Just below the Stadium, you will see the magnificent red and gold Chinese gate this takes you into Stowell Street, home to several Chinese restaurants and buffets. If you head into ‘The Gate’ complex you will find a cinema, Aspers Casino and a number of bars and restaurant chains including Nando’s.
Looking for something more civilised then Chaophraya comes highly recommended. Serving wonderful Thai food with sensational views of the city and a rooftop bar this newly opened restaurant is great for a full meal or for cocktails overlooking the city.
If tapas is your thing then be sure to try Asian tapas at River Beat which is just over the Swing Bridge in Gateshead. An award winner at the most recent Made in Tyne & Wear Lifestyle Awards you won’t be disappointed with a trip here, the food and views are fantastic.
With Newcastle home to some of the biggest restaurant chains the likes of Carluccios and Jamie’s Italian are always popular choices. Head down Grey’s Street (you’ll find the Theatre Royal here) and discover a succession of global cuisines. Pizza Express, and Zizzi are a couple of the chains located on this popular and bustling street.
At the cross road which Mosley Street intersects you’ll find Miller & Carter who serve up great steaks.
Looking for a Pizza Hut? Head to The Gate Complex. You’ll also find ZaZa Bazzar here if you’re looking for buffet style food with global offerings. Ideal for if you’re visiting with kids – look out for offers on City Guides as this place always has deals on.
Without a doubt the BEST seafood in the city can be found in Fenwick’s Food Hall. A Terry Laybourne creation this fishmongers is home to the freshest dishes. With passionate chefs who cook to order it is simply the best place for a little bit of fruits de mer. With Lindesfarne Oysters available by the dozen, seared halibut and veg, the most delicious bowl of fresh mussels or my personal favourite the fish soup, which is to die for we really recommend a meal at the Saltwater Fish Company.
If you’re in Tynemouth, Rileys Fish Shack actually down on King Edwards’ Bay Beach was recently a feature on a recent Michel Roux Jr. programme. With fresh fish brought off the boats on the Fish Quay less than a mile down the road, you’re in for the tastiest fish treats the North Sea can offer.
No tournament is complete without a little Fiesta and who does it better than the Spanish? Vamos down to Tapas Revolution to share laughs, dishes and enjoy their fine traction alone offerings. Owned by celebrity chef and cook to the stars (and royalty) Omar Allibhoy, the octopus and potatoes, croquettes and tortilla all come with our approval if you’re down for sharing tapas. With Omar making a global name for himself through his traditional paella it would be rude for you not to try it! We assure you, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to drink
Anywhere else in the world you go you’d get a funny look asking for a treble vodka and mixer. First thing to learn about us Geordies we like our drink, second thing, trebles are always cheaper than singles. Especially in Bijoux where you’ll find their famous ‘3 trebles for £5.50’ deal. Don’t blame us for your hangover!
If you’re looking for a sophisticated cocktail or two the Alchemist is all about the show, located in the Greys Quarter by Monument Metro Station this newly opened bar promises cocktails that smoke, pop and awe. Be prepared to wait a little while for your drink as it’s all about the visuals.
If you are staying around the Quayside area then you can take in some great views of the Tyne and the fabulous Tyne Bridge. Take a stroll across the Millennium Bridge to the Gateshead Quays home of the Baltic Art Gallery and the armadillo-shaped Sage music hall. Grab a coffee or a glass of your favourite tipple and sit outside the Pitcher and Piano and watch the Bridge tilt open. Opening times can be found online.
Another great cocktail bar to try is Tokyo situated nearby the station. If the weather is great this terrace bar serves up delicious cocktails outside, it’s great in the sunshine but even more perfect under the stars!
If you know anything about Newcastle nightlife you’ll have probably heard of Jalou, famed for their Cookie Monster you’ll want to order one just for the photos! With creative cocktails the name of the game there’s going to be something for everybody. Again find Jalou right next to the station.
Home of the greatest ale there is Newcastle Brown (or a bottle of dog to locals) will be found in every bar in the city. Think Brown Ale to Geordies what Irn Bru is to the Scots.
Brewdog is a Tyneside favourite and is your go to for beer lovers. They serve up beer flights for trying out your favourites. If you spot anything from the Wylam Brewery, it really is worth trying as it’s brewed locally (about 10-15 miles up the road). You can find Brewdog past Miller & Carter heading down to the Quayside nearby Livello – a great bar/club which hosts great DJs on a weekend.
The Gate Complex
With three floors you are going to find something for everybody. The top floor hosts a 16 screen cinema, the the middles floor is home to restaurants and of course the casino (which does a great breakfast at 6am when you stumble out of the clubs….I mean or so I’ve heard?) and the bottom floor showcases restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for cheesy tunes, karaoke and cheap, cheap drinks the infamous Big Market is the place to go. Not the most sophisticated of bars, this Street which leads from The Gate Complex to Tup Tup Palace is always great for a laugh and good fun. A place where anything goes and no holds barred you’re sure to create interesting memories down the Big Market. Pop World for your cheesy classics and Cosy Joes for karaoke. You have been warned!
If you’ve ever watched Geordie Shore you’ll know that Tup Tup Palace is the place to be seen. With famous faces like Drake, Rihanna, 50 Cent and Kanye partying at the Palace you’ll want to add your name to that list too! Guest list is essential for Friday and Saturday nights (you can get your name down here) – think high octane rap, vodka with fireworks and a whole lot of Vegas-style showmanship. If you like the high life you’ll be in the right place. Situated just off The Big Market and Mosley Street ask any local and they’ll direct you to the Palace.
Looking for music to rival that of Ibiza? Head along to Digital which has been voted 35th top club in the world, where you’ll catch world class DJs making an appearance in this techno, trance and house club. Catch world-famous DJ Patrick Topping every now and again returning to his roots and his home club for the legendary Motion event.
For the colourful and wild Powerhouse is open until 6am. A short stumble from St James’ Park this club welcomes everybody and anybody looking for a good time. Flying the rainbow flag for the city, this club is without a doubt one of the best nights out in Newcastle. Regardless if you’re gay or straight, bisexual or transgender everybody will enjoy the show of Powerhouse.
Where to go
Newcastle is steeped in rich history and famous exports. There’s lots to do and places to go when you’re wanting a break from the Rugby.
The Baltic Art Gallery is situated over the Millennium Bridge and has showcased exhibitions by Anthony Gormley and Yoko Ono to name a few. This impressive gallery is mostly free to attend (certain exhibitions cost) and has a fantastic restaurant, Six within the building.
The Coast, as previously mentioned a trip to Tynemouth is a must, especially if you don’t live nearby to the coast. These award winning beaches are a spectre and the ruins of the Priory will have you transported back to the Roman times. In the Metro station on both Saturdays and Sundays the Tynemouth Market is home to over 200 stalls from bric-a-brac to candle stalls, French macaroons to locally made sausages you can lose hours exploring.
Intu Eldon Square, the central shopping centre of the city shop Fenwicks, John Lewis, Debenhams, Apple, Hollister and more under one roof.
Newcastle is home to the Centre for Life, Discovery Museum and the Great NorthMuseum all which have totally different exhibitions and are worth viewing if you like rich history. The Centre for Life, however is a science museum and is great for families and those interested in how things work. You can find this next to Central Station.
The red hop on/hop off open top bus which you’ll see all over the world is great here. Find out all about the history of the city whilst taking in the gorgeous sights of my favourite UK city.
The Tyneside cinema is the only cinema in the country with the original film reel, head to TTC at 11:30 everyday free of charge to enjoy a classic. Looking for a new release, back to The Gate to the Empire Cinema. If you’re looking for a show the Theatre Royal has a great selection of different genres of show. Top tip: if you’re back here between December and January you must go and see the Pantomime as it simply is the most hilarious and well-produced performance I’ve seen. Check out the Metro Radio Arena they have just hosted Ed Sheeran and we’re heading to see Diversity perform at the weekend.
Whatever you do, remember you’re in the land of the Gods, the city of those with the best accent in the world (actually a real accolade), the home of greats like Ant & Dec, Alan Shearer, George Stephenson and of course Wor Cheryl. I hope you enjoy the city I’ve been blessed to have been brought up in, the city I’m proud to call my home and the city I know that you’re about to fall in love with this Dacia Magic Weekend.