Do you know about The Late Shows? It's a FREE late-night culture crawl in Newcastle and Gateshead on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May 2017. Museums, galleries and other spaces in the North East are open after hours. There are loads of events on for families. Now some of them do start at 7pm so they won't be for all parents! If your kids turn into gremlins from 6:45pm then perhaps wait a couple years down the line, but I've been to the Late Shows for a few years, and they are a fab atmosphere for kids. You need to open your mind for some of them, I'm no Tracy Enim (even my art references are outdated!) so I can't claim that I always understand the events that I've been to, but loads of are pretty mainstream and even the wackier ones have been random but good fun.
The full itinerary can be found on The Late Show's website, but here are my picks for families and adults:
19th May 7pm-11pm
Seven Stories is always a great place to visit with kids, with interactive exhibitions and loads of toys, it's brilliant for toddlers and primary school aged children. For the Late Shows they are going space crazy with with alien story times and crafts all celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Aliens Love Underpants. Newcastle Uni students are visiting and promise produce an exciting and interactive experience with creative technologies. I love the sound of this one, and whilst I do think Seven Stories is good value (mainly if you get the annual passes), it is not cheap to visit, so it's a great opportunity to visit for FREE. Whilst you are in that area why not call next door into Ouseburn Farm where you can buy food and drink, feed the farm animals and pet some of the smaller ones? Ouseburn Farm is open both the Friday and Saturday, but closes at 10pm so the animals can get to bed.
19th May performances as 8, 9, 10pm
Labyrinth is found very close to Ouseburn farm and their offering sounds like a treat for kids and their grown ups. Cabaret style shows are held on the hour, showcasing circus, fire, danger and comedy. Shows are held outside so are weather dependant. Between shows the experts are on hand to let you try out circus skill such as juggling and hula hooping.
20th May 6pm-11pm
A party for the whole family at Caedmon Hall which is attached to Gateshead Library. Drop into the 80s themed evening throughout the night for retro games, arts workshops, day glow decorations and Bowie-esque body art. The soundtrack for the night promises to be full of 80s classics, so don't forget your power ballad strut.
20th May 7pm-11pm
There is so much going on at the Discovery Museum. There is live action role-play games in the huge Great Hall or get all of the family creating with the PLAY+INVENT space. Learn about history with a difference with performances at 7.30, 8.30 and 9.30pm by the Streetwise Opera who deliver information through song. Or learn about traditional photography with demonstrations showing how it used to be done in the days before iPhones.
20th May Performances at 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10pm
The information about this Gateshead based theatre company, who work with people with learning disabilities is not giving much away. Titled The Mechanics of Music, its described as 'Creative people experiment, and play in weird, wonderful and wacky ways. Come in, take a seat, see our latest creations.
Kick back, relax and soak up the vibrations.' Heralded as family friendly I think this looks like a one not to be missed as part of the beauty of the Late Shows is going to see things you probably wouldn't get the chance to the rest of the time.
There are more family friendly options on the Saturday, and the Late Shows website groups them by location so it helps to plan a route around the ones you might be interested in.
For Grown Ups Only
If the idea of taking the kids out, in public, at night is your idea of hell, then call in the babysitters as there are loads of events for adults. Here are my favourites.
19th May walking tour at 6:30pm and 8pm
I have been to the Late Shows for a few years running now, but I've never managed to catch the Time Bandits. Their shows look fab. This year it's all about Jack the Ripper. They have transformed Ouseburn into Victorian Whitechapel where the first and most notorious of serial killers stalks the streets. Join the tour by the Cluny Inn and follow it through the dark, winding passages, witnessing crime recreations.
20th May - 7pm until late
Take part in a large-scale interactive drawing activity. With a 20m giant roll of paper and coloured pencils suspended at different heights along its length. Its up to you, and your co-drawers to decide what to draw and there is plenty of time to relax and try out the large selection of locally-brewed beers as the artwork evolves before you.
20th May - 7pm-11pm
My wild card option. You are invited to play a giant dice throwing game whilst wearing colourful love heart balaclavas at this interactive event. Winning combinations give everyone a chance to win a pair of limited edition love heart decorated dolls. It sounds totally random, and therefore surely a must visit for fun and to be part of a live piece of video art.
20th May 7-11pm
As I was at a hen do last weekend maybe I've gone life drawing mad? But I think this sounds fab. Drop in to this framers and art gallery in Newcastle to try out life drawing. The tutor, materials and all important subject are provided for you. They even give you a glass of wine. I'm sold.
As with the kids options, there really are loads more to choose from, so do check out the Late Shows website, and if you're overwhelmed by the choice then just head into Newcastle or Gateshead and wander from place to place. The atmosphere has been brilliant in previous years, and we've often stumbled upon some random and entertaining shows.