FEATURE: ¡VAMOS! FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Voodoo Love Orchestra

Now in its eleventh year, ¡VAMOS! Festival has become a staple of the North East’s summer calendar. The five day festival will once again be celebrating Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures with a series of events across the region, with this year’s line-up looking to be just as colourful and vibrant as ever.

The festival runs from Wednesday 8th until Sunday 12th June, with a host of arts, music and educational cultural experiences on offer in various venues. Most of this year’s action will take place at the festival’s very own Latino-themed Newcastle city centre hub ¡VAMOS! Social, where there will be opportunities to take dancing lessons, sample some tasty Mexican and Peruvian cuisine, watch some great live music and even learn a new language.

A highlight of ¡VAMOS! Social’s packed programme sees a performance from street music ensemble Voodoo Love Orchestra on Friday 10th, whose diverse repertoire of sounds range from Nigerian Afrobeat to New Orleans jazz.

There’ll be plenty of eye-catching spectacles over the course of the festival, including pieces of art that will be created especially for the event by internationally renowned talent. Mural artists Derlon and Ananda Nahu return with a celebration of this year’s Brazilian Olympics and will be creating various commissions on display throughout the North East. Plus, Spanish artist Nuria Guell will be marking her first solo UK show with an exhibition exploring questions of national identity and migration at Middlesbrough’s mima from Saturday 11th June.

There’ll be plenty of eye-catching spectacles over the course of the festival

One of the major headline events will feature the return of Dominican-born Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz, who impressed at the first ¡VAMOS! Festival back in 2006. On Wednesday 8th, Diaz will be hosting a public lecture after a day-long conference titled New Perspectives on Hispaniola, Past & Present at Newcastle University, whilst also appearing as a guest of honour at a Caribbean food and literature event and participating in an informal talk and Q&A at Breeze Creatives’ Abject Gallery on Thursday 9th.

Saturday 11th is a packed day – alongside a Day of the Dead party (where there’ll be a chance to dig out that Halloween face paint), hundreds of people will take to the streets of Newcastle in a Brazilian-themed celebration of vibrant culture at the Mardi Gras carnival parade. From mid-afternoon Summerhill Bowling Club welcome Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, Simon Taylor & The Sundowners and a host of other performers to the family friendly ¡VAMOS! Picnic, which features as its headline act Cuba’s masterful purveyors of urban and Latin beats, La Dame Blanche.

There’s an important filmic addition to this year’s festival too, as Tyneside Cinema host a range of screenings as an homage to one of Spain’s most important directors, Bigas Luna from Friday 10th until Sunday 12th. This will include film screenings, video artworks, a themed party and also a Q&A session with Luna’s daughter and casting director, who is responsible for launching the careers of Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

There’s plenty on offer at this year’s ¡VAMOS!, so join in and channel your Latin side.

¡VAMOS! Festival takes place at various locations from Wednesday 8th until Sunday 12th June.

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