Our guide to the best attractions in the North East of England includes no fewer than three galleries with collections of Designated national importance. Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, the Bowes Museum in Durham and The Shipley all hold this prestigious status: here you’ll find an incredible selection of Victorian art, a truly magnificent building and one of the most ambitious collections of contemporary craft outside of the capital. Not to be outdone, Durham’s cathedral and castle both form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the National Glass Centre shines a fascinating light on the history of this craft and its significance for the city of Sunderland. To discover the North East’s historic link to George Washington, and where to go for an immersive experience of life in the North over the last century, read on.
Newcastle Castle, The Black Gate, Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ - Visit now
This is the edifice from which the city of Newcastle (‘new castle’) got its name. A 12th century defensive fortress, added to over the centuries, Newcastle Castle is steeped in history and grandeur, with a 43 foot high Great Hall and stunning views across the city.
The National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, SR6 0GL - Visit now
Explore the history of glassmaking in Britain, and Sunderland’s rich glassblowing heritage in particular, at the National Glass Centre, as well as enjoying demonstrations from the skilled team and exhibited work from some of the world’s best glass and ceramic artists.
Seven Stories, 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ - Visit now
Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle, is dedicated to bringing stories for children to life through exhibitions and events. There’s an on site bookshop and cafe, as well as an extraordinary archive of children’s literature.
Durham Cathedral, The College, Durham, DH1 3EH - Visit now
Part of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral has been in daily use for 900 years, contains the remains of two saints and was dubbed ‘the best cathedral on Planet Earth’ by Bill Bryson. Climb the 325 steps up the cathedral tower for incredible views across the city.
Laing Art Gallery, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AG - Visit now
Founded by the owner of a thriving wine shop and beer bottling company, important gifts and bequests from prominent public figures and successful industrialists helped to build a collection at Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle that’s now of Designated status, with Victorian art particularly well represented.
Assembly Rooms Theatre, 40 North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3ET - Visit now
This historic theatre in Durham was built in the 18th century and formerly used as a ballroom. The Assembly Rooms now hosts touring productions and work by its resident theatre companies, and was extensively refurbished in 2019.
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Monkwearmouth, Sunderland, SR6 0GL - Visit now
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021, the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is one of the oldest contemporary art galleries in Britain. Occupying 3,000 square feet inside the National Glass Centre, the gallery showcases work from both new and established artists in its changing exhibition programme.
Tyneside Cinema, 10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QG - Visit now
The leading independent cinema in the North East, Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle screens the best new releases from the UK and internationally in historic Art Deco surrounds, as well as hosting a programme of regular live events.
Durham Castle, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RW - Visit now
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle has been continually occupied since the 11th century and is now a part of Durham University. Discover the fascinating history and collections of this historic building.
Beamish – The Living History Museum of the North, Regional Resource Centre, Beamish, DH9 0RG - Visit now
Beamish is an open air, living museum that tells the story of life in the North of England through a 1900s town, colliery and pit cottages, 1940s farm and Pockerley Old Hall, which dates back to the 1820s. There are even traditional shopping and dining options, as well as a railway station and tramway.
Shipley Art Gallery, Prince Consort Road, Gateshead, NE8 4JB - Visit now
The North’s leading gallery of craft and design, The Shipley holds a collection of Designated national importance, including 800 paintings and works on paper, as well as one of the best contemporary craft holdings outside of London.