Here in Newcastle, we wave goodbye to Autumn at the flick of a Christmas light switch, welcoming the winter months ahead. The temperature is dropping, big coats are appearing, and Northumberland Street is teeming with Christmas shoppers. Festive preparation is well underway, but there are a few things unique to this city well worth knowing a thing or two about.
Firstly, the Fenwick window
An annual display since 1971, the Fenwick window is the unofficial starting point of the North-East Christmas calendar. Crowds flock to its exhibition, so if you haven’t already seen hoards of people queuing to take a glimpse, you definitely will next time you pass.
The window was revealed to the public on Friday 3rd November, and the theme for Christmas 2017 is ‘Love from Paddington’. Take a walk through the display to see excerpts from Michael Bond’s well loved children’s stories, or stand back and take in the atmosphere. Whether you love it, or you don’t see what the fuss is all about, this Christmas window is a festive tradition that continues year after year. Its a nice thing to show family too.
Festivities at the Tyneside Cinema
A well-loved student spot, the Christmas season starts in December at the Tyneside Cinema, and they’re pulling out all of the stops to make it an all-round festive experience. Student prices are reduced, and childhood classics like Home Alone and The Polar Express will grace the big screen.
To top things off, they’re offering a festive-sing-a-long screening of Its a Wonderful Life with the Northern Proud Voices Community Choir, equipped with lyric sheets and christmassy canapés. If it is the food you’re interested in, Tyneside’s cafe-bar are offering a whole new menu, and a Festive-themed Afternoon Tea. Check their website to book any tickets.
Food, mulled wine and log fires - the golden trio
This time of year is all about indulgence. Put it this way - when you’ve sat in the library all week, the last thing you want to do is eat a bowl of pasta in your student kitchen. A cheap Sainsbury’s rosé will transform into mulled wine, and portions will grow into hearty, homely food. There are plenty of places in and around town offering the comforts that come with Christmas time.
The first place coming to mind is Hadrian’s Tipi on Pilgrim Street, an 8-week winter pop-up open everyday from 8am-1am, although it has a slightly later opening time on a Sunday. Its warm log fires and cosy snug seating areas are the epitome of festivity, and there’s also a street food village, live music and entertainment. A few other spots for seasonal drinks, and/ or Christmassy food include: The Forth Hotel, Bar Loco and The Botanist.
Ice skating after a lecture
A winter tradition all over the world, Newcastle has no Central Park, but it does have a Times Square. Located just outside of the Centre for Life, Denise Welch opened the outdoor ice rink to the public on 11th November, and it will stay open until 18th February next year. With no need to pre-book your tickets, head to the main desk to rent out your skates. One ticket permits one hour on the ice - maybe try to avoid busy weekends and after-school trips.
And finally, Christmas shopping
With student loans dwindling away, try to set aside an amount for Christmas gift-buying. You can’t leave it all until you get home, so why not look for something in Newcastle to let your loved ones know you’ve thought of them?
The International Christmas Market at Grey’s Monument is open until December 10th, and Sage Gateshead are holding ‘Christmas Cracker 2017’ on Saturday 2nd December with independent vendors, craft fairs and food stalls. Look to local companies to find unique gifts.