Things to do in the North East

Polly Checkland Harding

Industrial heritage, medieval architecture, stunning landscapes and world-class culture: the North East of England has it all. Stretching along the North Sea coast, the area encompasses Northumberland in the north, with the cities of Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham dotted beneath. Newcastle is the unofficial capital, a vibrant, historic and cultural city on the banks of the River Tyne. Here, medieval buildings signal the city’s military and mercantile standing in the middle ages, including the castle after which it was named. Today, Newcastle is a creative destination, the centre filled with outstanding Georgian architecture, internationally significant art galleries and renowned theatres.

Dominated by its cathedral and castle, Durham also boasts medieval streets – alongside a rich mining heritage and contemporary cultural attractions that include the recently renovated Assembly Rooms Theatre. The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle is a combination of the above, marrying art, fashion and design with a truly magnificent historic building. Over in Sunderland, industrial heritage sits shoulder to shoulder with modern art: home to the National Glass Centre, the city has seen its 1907 fire station transformed into an arts hub and restaurant, with the Sunderland Museum, Library and Winter Garden charting the area’s long and varied history.

Read on to discover more of the best things to do in the North East.

Discover our top picks

ignite at gibside
Families 1 December 2022–1 January 2023, FREE

Christmas at Gibside

Get away from it all at Christmas at Gibside, a fantastical fire and lantern trail. We all love a stroll in the countryside, but this is a brand new way to experience the stunning eighteenth-century house and gardens.

Exhibitions Until 3 September 2023, FREE

Sahej Rahal: Mythmachine at BALTIC Gateshead

Sahej Rahal and his new exhibition ‘Mythmachine’ continues BALTIC’s season of exhibitions with the leading theme of ‘play’.

Exhibitions Until 30 April 2023, FREE

Jala Wahid: Conflagration at BALTIC Gateshead

Visit the BALTIC to experience Jala Wahid’s ‘inferno’, an exploration of Kurdish identity, Britishness and diaspora through the lens of oil.

Exhibitions Until 30 April 2023, FREE

Hinterlands at BALTIC Gateshead

Experience the folklore, mythologies and history of the landscape of the North East in Baltic’s new group exhibition ‘Hinterlands’.

Exhibitions Until 3 December 2022, from £0.00

The Lindisfarne Gospels at the Laing Art Gallery

See the most spectacular medieval manuscript currently on display in the North East, the area where it was created back in the 8th century – don’t miss this chance to see the incredible Lindisfarne Gospels at Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery.

North East District Guides

Sunderland

Things to do in Sunderland

A guide catering to the rich experiences on offer in Sunderland, from fine-dining and brunch spots to historic properties and museums.

Raby Castle

Things to do in Durham

A selection of attractions, restaurants, cafes and hot-spots on offer in the historic and aesthetic scenery of County Durham.

Newcastle Castle

Things to do in Newcastle

Newcastle is the capital of England’s North East, a vibrant historic and cultural city on the banks of the River Tyne.