Newcastle is famous for its lively nightlife, brown ale and football culture. Amy Moore explores the cultural aspects of the city and its neighbour Gateshead, and finds a generous selection of museums, galleries and more
GTW recommends groups begin their tour at the Centre For Life near to Newcastle Central Station. There is a coach station adjacent to the attraction. Why not combine your tour with a visit to the Discovery Museum next door?
Life Science Centre
The international Centre For Life opened in 2000, creating a unique and self-sustaining science village in the heart of Newcastle.
Here, the Life Science Centre offers plenty of educational activities for groups at no additional cost. Ticket prices include access to the hands-on Curiosity Zone where visitors can immerse themselves in live 3D events in the planetarium, enjoy live shows and demonstrations in the Science Theatre, or embark on the region’s only 4D Motion Ride. Themed workshops take place on a range of different topics.
Alternatively, visit between November and February to take to the ice at Newcastle’s only outdoor ice rink.
Discounted rates are available for groups of 10 or more, with benefits including priority entry, free coach parking, tailored meal packages and a free familiarisation visit.
To book call 0191 243 8223 or for more information visit www.life.org.uk.
Housed in the old Co-operative Wholesale Society building, Newcastle’s Discovery Museum (formerly Blandford House) relaunched in 1993 after officially becoming a museum in 1978.
The museum presents the history of Newcastle and Tyneside through permanent displays and temporary exhibitions spanning three floors. Here, visitors can come face to face with Turbinia; Charles Parsons’ 34-metre steam turbine-powered ship that was once the fastest ship in the world.
Pre-booked groups of 10-plus receive a £5 refreshment voucher for the driver, a designated drop-off point for coaches, with parking available at Ord Street car park near the Metro Radio Arena, a free familiarisation visit for the group travel organiser, free introduction, and guided tours can be arranged.
To book call 0191 261 4503 or visit www.discoverymuseum.org.uk.
A short walk from the Discovery Museum will take you to the centre of Old Newcastle, which is home to the city’s Castle.
Newcastle Castle has a prominent position overlooking the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside. With four floors to explore, visitors enter the imposing building via the 13th century Black Gate, which was built during the reign of King Henry III.
At the Castle Keep, audio-visual displays describe the history of the building. Find out how it has evolved from royal fortress to border stronghold and from grim dungeon to teeming slum.
Combine your visit with a tour to St Nicholas Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, and houses such artefacts as a 15th century brass shrine and an oak segment of Hadrian’s Roman Tyne Bridge.
Discounted entry to Newcastle Castle is available for groups of 15-plus, with a free guided tour included. The Black Gate is wheelchair accessible, but the Castle Keep has limited access.
To book call 0191 230 6300 or visit www.newcastlecastle.co.uk
Head north to the Theatre Royal Newcastle (www.theatreroyal.co.uk) or observe the iconic Grey’s Monument near Grainger Town. Coach parking is available at Eldon Square Bus Station.
The vibrant Chinese arch is unmissable. Built in 2004 by Shanghai craftsmen, the monument stands 11-metres tall and faces St James Park Football Stadium, home to Newcastle United Football Club.
St James Park Football Stadium
St James Park Football Stadium boasts the sixth largest football stadium in the UK, and its white cantilever roof is the largest in Europe.
Open since 1892, St James Park offers bespoke stadium tours, where visitors are given a magnificent Magpies’ eye view of the pitch. Tours also include a visit to the Home Dressing Room, Media Suite and the Dugouts, amongst others. The attraction is the first UK football club to use technology to enhance the tour experience.
Discounts are available depending on group size, tours operate daily and special packages can be provided. The nearest coach station is located on St James’ Boulevard.
To book call 0844 372 1892 or for more information visit www.nufc.co.uk.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
Laing Art Gallery
The Laing Art Gallery was founded in 1901, and was built with funding provided by Alexander Laing, a Newcastle businessman who made his fortune from his wine and spirit shop and beer bottling business.
Today, the gallery is home to an internationally important collection of art, including British oil paintings, watercolours, ceramics, silver and glassware. Entry to the Laing Art Gallery is free, but admission charges may apply at some exhibitions.
Organised groups of 10-plus receive a £5 refreshment voucher for the driver, and a designated drop-off point for coaches, with parking available on John Dobson Street. Pre-booked catering is also available.
To book call 0191 211 2100 or for more information visit www.laingartgallery.org.uk.
Great North Museum: Hancock
The Great North Museum: Hancock was purpose-built in 1884 as a natural history museum to house the growing collections of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.
Formerly the New Museum of Natural History, the Great North Museum: Hancock was named after ornithologist and taxidermist John Hancock, who was instrumental in securing funds for the museum.
Organised groups of 10-plus receive free admission, a £5 refreshment voucher for the driver, drop-off point for coaches, free introduction, free familiarisation visit for the group travel organiser and a pre-booked guided tour.
To book call 0191 208 5121 or visit www.greatnorthmuseum.org.uk.
The Biscuit Factory
The Biscuit Factory boasts an art, craft and design gallery located in the heart of Newcastle’s cultural quarter.
Housed in a former Victorian warehouse, its gallery spaces span two floors and display a range of contemporary fine art and sculpture.
The Biscuit Factory hosts four major exhibitions a year, and boasts free admission. Five-minutes’ walk from Newcastle city centre; groups of up to 20 people can enjoy guided tours at an additional cost. Larger groups can be accommodated.
For more information visit www.thebiscuitfactory.com.
In August 2015, Seven Stories celebrated 10 years since opening to the public. During this time, the specially converted Victorian warehouse founded a national children’s literature archive, which represents the work of over 200 authors.
Visitors enter the building on Level Three. The building used to be a Victorian mill, with some of the original architecture still on show. From Level One, Two and Three, visitors can overlook the Ouseburn River.
A designated coach drop-off point is available on Lime Street. Discounted admission is awarded to groups of 10 or more. To book call 0845 271 0777 or for more information visit www.sevenstories.org.uk.
The famous Gateshead Millennium Bridge (aka ‘the Blinking Eye’) straddles 126-metres across the River Tyne and contains enough steel to make 64 Double Decker buses. Use it to cross from the Newcastle Quayside for the BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art, Sage Gateshead and St Mary’s Heritage Centre.
BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art
The BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art is housed in a magnificent former flourmill on the south bank of the River Tyne.
Opened in July 2002, the site is now a major international centre for contemporary art. There are no permanent collections, instead the BALTIC provides a changing calendar of contemporary exhibitions and events throughout the year.
The BALTIC consists of four galleries and an open performance space, in addition to artists’ studios, a cinema/lecture space, shop, library and Rooftop Restaurant. The two-storey Riverside Building attached to the west side of the main building looks out across Baltic Square and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Groups are welcome, with perks including talks, guided tours and artist-led studio sessions. Coach drop-off is available next to the BALTIC on South Shore Road.
To book call 0191 478 1810 or visit www.balticmill.com.
The spectacular Sage Gateshead boasts an international home for music, hosting live performances and festivals in the north east of England.
For groups, bespoke tours help visitors learn more about the contemporary architecture of the building, see examples of state of the art technology used, in addition to the history of the site. Tours cost £5 per person.
Groups of 10 people or more receive savings on select concert tickets, refreshments can be arranged within a private area, or members could participate in a music session. Additionally, benefits for group travel organisers include discounts on concerts and tours, accessible coach parking and convenient drop-off, with the opportunity to pre-order ice cream, programmes, drinks and food.
To book call 0191 443 4661 or visit www.sagegateshead.com.
St Mary’s Heritage Centre
Juxtaposing the modern exterior of the Sage Gateshead is St Mary’s Heritage Centre, which combines libraries, arts and heritage.
Opened December 2008, St Mary’s Heritage Centre is a Grade I-listed church that still maintains most of its attractive antique features. It hosts a packed programme of exhibitions and activities, including a family history section that focuses on the church and nearby area.
St Mary’s Heritage Centre invites visitors to learn more about the history of Gateshead, from Roman settlement to the modern day. Historical records, documents, photographs and maps are displayed, alongside local history talks, guided heritage walks and concert events taking place throughout the year.
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 1000hrs to 1600hrs, you can book by calling 0191 433 4699 or email email@example.com.
Conclude your tour to Gateshead with a trek into Trinity Square with its shops, restaurants and cinema – coach parking is available at Gateshead Interchange. For more information or to plan your group trip visit www.northernsecrets.co.uk.