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

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After what feels like a lifetime of tediously chilly mornings, the time has finally come for us to shake off those winter blues and get into the party spirit, as the uniquely vibrant ¡VAMOS! returns. Over the last decade, the festival has held more wildly eccentric events than you can shake a maraca at, from live music and erratic fiestas to deeply innovative art exhibitions. Yet, it is immediately set apart from others of its kind, as at the heart of each and every event lies the noble and simplistic goal to educate audiences on Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures; all whilst continuing to support local resources.

The satisfyingly energetic celebration is set to sweep through venues in Newcastle and beyond this June, promising to deliver something for all tastes over the course of its 10 day lifespan. There’s a huge range of events to choose from, fear not – we’ve created a handy guide of the most vivacious highlights ¡VAMOS! has to offer in its triumphant tenth year.


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Pablo Helguera, Pai Camil & Pedro Reyes @ MIMA, Middlesbrough
Thursday 4th June until Thursday 6th August

An exhibition of brilliant depth, endeavouring to investigate concepts of society, communities and politics. The selected artists will be showcasing their work throughout the coming months as an extended event in the festival’s calendar.

Humberto Valdez @ Northern Print, Newcastle
Wednesday 10th June

As part of the UK-Mexico cultural exchange, the festival are bringing the founder of TIR – a community print project based in Mexico City – to Tyneside. Humberto Valdez might not be a household name, but his dedication to his craft is nothing short of staggering. He’s even made a fully mobile print bike! As part of the festival, the famous bike has been recreated and will be on display for anyone curious to see how it works…

Elliot Tupac & Bayrol Jimenéz @ Ernest Café Bar and North Shields Metro
Sunday 14th June

Support of up and coming artists is central to the ¡VAMOS! aims, and this glorious ethic is demonstrated perfectly with the showcase of two brilliant street artists. Elliot Tupac and Bayrol Jimenez – Peruvian and Mexican respectively – both exhibit examples of their colourful and unique works, as well as their native cultures. For a chance to see this exclusive slice of authentic street art in the North East, head down to Ernest Café Bar in Newcastle or North Shields Metro station.


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¡VAMOS! & Screenage Kicks Present: Holy Mountain @ St Mary’s Heritage Centre, Gateshead
Friday 5th June

After the vast success of 2014’s eccentric Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down screening, the illustrious duo have united once again to present an evening of psychedelic entertainment, featuring a screening of Alexandro Jodorowsky’s celebrated film Holy Mountain. The other-worldly night will include ‘far out’ live music, themed food and more, all located within an aptly rustic setting.

A History of Mexploitation & We Love Isabel Sarli @ Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
Monday 8th June & weekday afternoons

The sublime Tyneside Cinema plays host to not just one, but two cult film events throughout the festival period. As an homage to the rare gems of Mexican cinema, scenes from the obscure Mexploitation film movement of the 60s and 70s will be screened at the Tyneside Bar Café every weekday afternoon, complete with a Latin-inspired menu and a vintage playlist from Lady Koo. Monday 8th June will also see the atmospheric digital lounge paying tribute to the Argentinian actress and sex icon Isabel Sarli, with a screening of Armando Bo’s 1962 film The Female: a cult classic in which Sarli stars as a woman caught in a controversial love triangle.

Transnational Fiesta: Twenty Years Later @ Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
Thursday 11th June

Transnational Fiesta: Twenty Years Later is a Peruvian ethnographic film from directors Wilton Martinez and Paul H. Gelles The first film portrayed the traditional fiesta for the Virgen del Carmen in an indigenous Andean community, with the participation of migrants from Maryland in the USA. This second film shows off the influence of the migrants in the same community twenty years later. It’s set to be fascinating viewing for anyone interested in the culture or documentary filmmaking.


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Chocolate Noche! @ The Lifestyle Academy, Newcastle
Wednesday 10th June

Talented students from Newcastle College will be teaming up with Mexican food specialists to craft a delectable chocolate-centred menu at this pop-up restaurant, complete with Mexican music to accompany the meal. If a single night of chocolate themed dishes and live music doesn’t tempt you, nothing will.

Daytime Picnic @ Summerhill Bowling Club, Newcastle
Saturday 13th June

Tickle your tastebuds with zingy Mexican street food stalls plus a whole host of entertainment including Brazilian folkloric tales told through music, costumes and drumming, live Zumba classes, family entertainment and music from top classical Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanski, acoustic Andean grooves from Alx Alfaro, continental jazz by Simon Taylor & The Sundowners and North Eastern flamenco courtesy of Cliff Blakey’s Nomads.


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Joe Bataan @ Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle
Friday 5th June

Joe Bataan scored his first hit with Gypsy Woman back in 1967. 1967. That’s the sign of a legend there. The Godfather of the Latin Soul Sound has produced numerous hit albums over the years, as well as launching his own label, Salsoul Records (where he launched Gil Scott-Heron’s classic The Bottle into the pantheon of musical greatness). His Hoochie Coochie set will contain all of Bataan’s hits from an impressively extensive back catalogue and is one not to miss.

Mardi Gras @ Northumberland Street, Newcastle
Saturday 6th June

The streets of central Newcastle will be transformed into a hive of colourful activity and sound, as ¡VAMOS! once again hosts the famously jubilant Mardi Gras parade. Alongside the hordes of marching feet, this free family event will feature a special workshop from guest artist Mariana Pinho, as well as numerous bands and musicians – all helping to craft a uniquely joyous atmosphere. The parade is open to all, so dance away the afternoon and get stuck in!

Mexican Wrestling @ Boiler Shop, Newcastle
Sunday 7th June

The infamous Boiler Shop turns ¡VAMOS! for one night only with family friendly Mexican Wrestling, Latino street food and great music on offer. Accompanied by the Voodoo Love Orchestra and various DJs, Mexican wrestling hero Cassandro will be making an exclusive appearance as he does battle with novice UK wrestling stars.

ZIK’R @ Sage Gateshead
Sunday 7th June

From the celebrated mind of musician and producer Youth – along with artist Fabrice Hyber and Flamenco dancer Karen Ruimy – comes ZIK’R: an entrancing performance of music and dance. With a vast range of influences, the poignant event is sure to excite any culture connoisseurs present within the apt confines of Sage Gateshead.

Kid Creole & The Coconuts @ Summerhill Bowling Club, Newcastle
Saturday 13th June

Headlined by none other than nostalgic hit-makers Kid Creole & The Coconuts, ¡VAMOS! returns once again to the picturesque Summerhill Bowling Club for what is certain to be their biggest party yet! Located in a blissfully quiet street at the heart of Newcastle, this sizeable fiesta will also feature a host of traditional and electronic Latino music acts, authentic street food and a well-stocked bar, proving to be a euphoric climax to this year’s events.

¡VAMOS! Festival takes place across various locations from Thursday 4th until Sunday 14th June.

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