Summer activities

Here are some ideas for things to do on your own, with a partner or friend, as a group, with children or grandchildren.

These articles on InformationNOW can help you discover what’s on your doorstep and a little further afield:

Getting out and about

Summer is the perfect time to get out and about and InformationNOW has an article on day trips and visits that may help you plan your activities.

The Elders Council publish an annual EC RIder leaflet with ideas for outings with a concessionary bus pass. It’s surprising how far you can travel for free with a concessionary travel pass. Day trip ideas include journeys from Newcastle to: Warkworth Castle, Morpeth, Rothbury, Richmond and Whitby.  Most journeys from Newcastle are by Arriva or Go North East and start from Eldon Square bus station. Times are to Monday to Saturday unless otherwise stated. Some journeys use trains and a senior railcard.

If you are travelling around with your children or grandchildren this summer under 15 using buses, ferries and metro, they could apply for a Junior Blue pop card from Nexus to make life a little easier. For young people aged 16 to 21 years old there is the Pop Blue card.

Up to 3 children aged 11 and under can travel for free on Metro and the Shields Ferry, all day, every day when accompanied by a fare paying adult.

Why not keep young ones occupied on journeys and download Metro’s Little Book of things to do 

Explore the North East coast with the Crab and Compass trails.  The trails are accessible for all, including wheelchair and pushchair friendly. Each trail costs over £10 including activity sheets, map and colourful character pin.

Take the Belsay bus to Belsay Hall, Castle and gardens on weekends during July and August including the bank holiday.  At the moment, all visits to Belsay must be pre booked. Online bookings can be made by visiting the Belsay website.

Forestry England blog lists 15 of the best picnic spots to visit in the North East.

Our Place – Toon Trails takes participants on journeys through the city that will have them jumping, posing, and exploring many of its hidden gems.

Aln Valley Railway The dream of the Aln Valley Railway trust is to link castle to coast, through to restoration of the railway line between Alnwick and Alnmouth. This heritage railway attraction offers both pacer and steam train services, and although the whole length of track is not yet finished visitors can enjoy from Lionheart Station to Greenrigg Bridge. It has traditional locomotives, a cafe, shop and playground.  0300 030 3311


Baltic Centre for contemporary art has lots of family friendly free activities available during the summer. See their events page for free events such as Kittiwake tours, childrens art sessions and more

Chesters Roman Fort have a summer programme of family friendly events with roman soliders and falconry at Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland.

Life Science Centre book online to enjoy a live show full of exciting bangs and explosions. Explore what Tomorrow’s World could look like, with green-themed activities that include making windmills and wind-powered toys. They also have a LEGO Creations exhibition.

Newcastle Cathedral will begin some activities in August. Explore the exciting changes and discover brand new features including family trails and activity stations.

Seven Stories Story Catchers conjure the spirits of the wood on a nature ramble with a difference. With a special map to keep you on track you’ll explore the Ouseburn Valley and ‘craft on the go’ with interactive nature activities along the way. Booking required. Ages 5+ Inspired by The Lost Spells book.

Northumberlandia has a range of summer events, plays, performances, music and more in the summer.

Leazes Park host a travelling outdoor stage with a free line up of local and national performances by Northern Stage offering you a taster of the kinds of show you can expect to see when they re-open later in August. 30th July to 1st August.

City Stadium park host Tyne Rising as part of the puppetry festival on 21st and 22nd August and live stream 31st August.

Kielder Observatory events find out more about astronomy. Booking essential.

Grassholme Observatory has a number of events including family astronomy and late night dark skies. Booking essential.

Museums, libraries and Galleries

See our information for further museums and galleries to visit.

Some venues still require pre-booking, but for most venues a ticket is no longer needed. Details about what to expect at each of the venues can be found at the links below.

Bowes Museum offers textiles and dressing up. garden games, a play area, picnic areas, woodland walks, nature and fairy trails in 20 acres of parkland and textiles dressing up

Discovery Museum hosts family fun including: Wonky Olympics, Crazy Golf

Great North Museum: Hancock hosts Other Worlds: The Art of Atomhawk exhibition which looks at art and video games

Hatton Gallery hosts Expanded interiors re-staged

Laing Art Gallery hosts the Challenging Convention exhibition

Shipley Art Gallery Family arts festival on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Stephenson Steam Railway heritage train rides  Suits all ages (with adults)  Sunday 4th July, Sunday 18th July, Thursday 22nd July, Sunday 25th July, Thursday 29th July
From £4, entry to the Museum only is free.

Woodhorn discover some of Northumberland’s strangest stories, folklore and curious characters at Jonny Hannah’s exhibition ‘Northumberland Folk’.

Newcastle Libraries have many activities, events and groups during the summer for all the family.

For children there is a summer reading challenge every year. In 2023 the theme is ‘Ready Set Read!’  from 10th July, where you need to join your local library, then borrow and read 6 books over the summer holidays. As you read more books, you will collect rewards. There is also many fun and sporty activities at the libraries. You can see the full Newcastle libraries event list here

Music, Arts and culture

St James and St Basil’s Sunday afternoon jazz sessions at 3pm in the garden. Book if you want the option to be seated in the church if there is bad weather.  Peter and the Wolf on 25th July

The Sage’s own Royal Northern Symphonia offer free live stream performances. The Sage has a summer programme of guest artists, BBC Proms and more

The Globe hold a summer festival or summer programme of music. You can visit their website to see whats on

Northern Pride festival is a celebration every year in July for the LGBTQI+ community and allies with music, activities, arts and culture.

Newcastle Mela is a two day event every year in August at Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. The festival celebrates Pakistani, Bengali, Indian and other South Asian cultures and this is your chance to experience the music, food and entertainment associated with these cultures. It’s free, family friendly and everyone is welcome.

Novum  is a festival based around Newcastle Civic centre for 2 days with art, music, performances and installations.


Keeping Active

InformationNOW has a number of articles that may help you plan your keeping active routines:

Yoga on the Quayside this summer.  Booking essential.

There are lots of regular cycling sessions run by British Cycling Let’s Ride Scheme. Whether you want to learn, take a short or a long ride; ride as a family, as a female or male group, options are available.

Look out for family and children’s tennis at Gosforth Lawn Tennis Club and the Northumberland Club.  You don’t have to be a member to take part, but there is a cost for their programmes.

Best Summer Ever

Holiday Activities run the ‘Newcastle Best Summer / Spring / Winter Ever’  schemes. The free school holiday activity scheme in Newcastle for 4 to 16 year olds. This support is for families who receive free school meals. Community organisations across Newcastle provide free activity sessions and a meal for your child. You can choose from a range of fun, educational and sociable activities such as:

  • sport
  • art
  • culture

Visit Newcastle support directory and look for their Best summer ever page for more information about the activities available, where they’re taking place and how to book.

Best Summer Ever Leisure Centres Activities

Leisure Centres offer a range of activities during the Summer.  (Check back here for 2022 partner information)

Venue Telephone
Newcastle Trampoline Park and Gym
Jesmond Pool 0191 281 2482
Gosforth Pool 07792 888762
East End Pool 07483 018726
Elswick Community Leisure Centre 0191 481 4101
Eagles Basketball 0191 245 3880
Tyneside Badminton Centre 0191 241 5385
Kenton Park Sports Centre 07592 363131
West Denton Gym 074830 16278
Newburn Activity Centre 0191 264 0014
Walker Activity Dome 07800 813584


What’s on guides for Newcastle and the North East

Get into Newcastle will be screening Northern Pride, the Olympic Opening ceremony, films and much more at the Screen on the Green, Old Eldon square, over the next 6 weeks. There’ll be free 2 screenings a day.

The Northumberland Guide includes: coastal guide, attractions, castles and accommodation and places to eat.

The Northumbrian Magazine gives ideas on heritage and coastal walks and gardens and houses that are open in the Summer.

What’s on North East provide an event’s listing for the North East, ranging from cultural activities, to comedy, and children’s activities

Family Explorers North East is a free service helping families to plan their days out and save money.

Newcastle Support Directory produces a summer activities page each year.

Useful Information

Keeping cool in the summer

Last updated: July 18, 2023