FEATURE: The Late Shows | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There’s plenty of things to like about this time of year – the sunny days, the warm nights, the summer that’s still stretching out ahead of you. For the culture vultures of the North East though, there’s another big reason to get excited at the end of spring: the return of The Late Shows.

The roots of The Late Shows lie in the European initiative La Nuit de Musées, which began in 2001 with the aim to attract a younger audience and those less likely to visit museums by running special late openings and exciting events. The Late Shows forms part of the wider UK-wide event Museums At Night, and the Newcastle and Gateshead contingent has become one of the biggest and most exciting since its first event in 2007. Where fourteen venues opened up late in the first year, this year The Late Shows sprawls across over sixty venues in Newcastle and Gateshead.

On Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May, a whole host of galleries, museums, heritage spaces and more will be opening their doors in the evening and playing host to a wide range of exhibitions, displays and performances. There’s interactive art, behind the scenes tours, live music and DJs, one-off exhibitions, plays and much more.

Read on for our guide to some of the venues not to miss across the weekend, as we delve into the treats that The Late Shows have in store for 2015.

Friday 15th May

As is usual, the first day of The Late Shows takes place solely within the Ouseburn Valley. But this doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do: instead, it’s the perfect chance to explore the numerous goings-on within this dense, culturally vibrant part of the city and to ‘event-hop’ from door to door, with most of the venues being barely minutes from each other.

Maybe you’d like to start your night off by the Ouseburn at The Cycle HUB, where there’s a pop-up bar to toast the opening of The Late Shows in style, alongside a special new photography exhibition celebrating cycling in the North East.

Over in the Toffee Factory, the team there have joined forces with the curators of the annual ¡VAMOS! Festival to bring a fiesta feel to the Ouseburn. There’s a host of food, drink and other surprises, as well as a performance from the only female mariachi band in the country, Mariachi Las Adelitas.

Over at Mushroom Works, there’s a special celebration of the 150th anniversary of the classic children’s book Alice In Wonderland, with a chance to meet characters from the book, in collaboration with Seven Stories. At Northern Print meanwhile, you can undertake special print-making sessions beneath the stars with their studio members, whilst 36 Lime Street is offering up a market of local arts and goods with a creative, artisan feel.

Ouseburn perennials like the ever-popular Ouseburn Farm are open as well, alongside hourly tours of the Victoria Tunnels. There’s a special foodie celebration going on at The Biscuit Factory (including, naturally, biscuits), whilst their sister venue The Holy Biscuit is holding an intriguing solar-themed exhibition, alongside DJs and treats.

Look out for performances from the Labyrinth circus crew and the Time Bandits team, who on Friday will be leading a special tour starting at The Cluny as the Ouseburn is turned into Victorian Whitechapel and Sherlock Holmes finds himself in pursuit of a dastardly criminal…

Saturday 16th May

As well as all the Ouseburn venues, the Saturday evening sees venues across Newcastle and Gateshead opening the doors for a remarkable night of culture on both sides of the Tyne.

On the Gateshead side of things, there’s an open-mic music night at Gateshead Old Town Hall; a special production from Lawnmowers Theatre Company starting at Swinburne House; a chance to explore your musical talents at The Academy of Music & Sound and a rare late-evening opening at BALTIC, where you can see their current exhibitions whilst watching the sunset over the Tyne from their viewing platform.

Back in Newcastle, there’s a plethora of events to entice you. You can explore Newcastle Castle to the unique soundtrack of the ‘hang’, a steel instrument unlike anything else; watch cabaret and fire eaters inside the beautiful architecture of the Mining Institute or enjoy live poetry and literary exhibitions at Newcastle City Library.

Amongst the wide range of things to see and do, we’re especially excited by the chance to experience the thrill of performing on the stage at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House’s showcase In The Spotlight, as well as an open night being held at B&D Studios in Commercial Union House, showcasing the work of their painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers, designers and instrument makers, alongside a disco with a difference.

For those of a musical bent, there’s also a special exhibition on nineties rave favourites Altern8 in the Sanctuary Artspace in Gateshead, plus a celebration of cassette tape culture and a wide range of music at NewBridgeBooks, complete with DJs and sound system. There’s also a special interactive sound sculpture upstairs at Bar Loco, as well as live bands and the usual bohemian delights to be found there.

If that’s still not enough for you, you can join in the fun at The People’s Playlist at The Cumberland Arms until 1am, or even swing yourself discounted entry to World Headquarters with your Late Shows glowstick to party until the early hours.

And do you know what? This isn’t even everything…once again, there’s something for all tastes at this year’s edition of The Late Shows.

The Late Shows take place across various venues in Newcastle and Gateshead on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th May.

Across the next week we’ll be presenting A Week Of Late Shows, showcasing the best that the event has to offer.

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