Spring is here, we can mingle with friends – in groups of six anyway – and lookdown life is finally on the up.
As we start out on our journey back to some kind of normality, families can begin to plan ahead and look forward to a summer of fun.
As restrictions begin to ease and the country follows Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown, preparations are under way for the return of big events which we missed out on last year due to the pandemic.
It’s fingers crossed that the road map timetable goes according to plan as the gradual lifting of restrictions is set to see outdoor events and festivals back on the calendar by early summer.
And following a year of confined living we’re all set to make the most of whatever we’re offered.
Live events are scheduled to return from May 17, with social distancing measures in place and music festivals, which like with Lindisfarne Festival can include camping, can plan around June 21 when – all being well – all restrictions are due to be lifted.
We’ve included just a few music festivals – but we’ll be bringing a full list soon – in our round-up here, just to whet the appetite, of 15 outdoor celebrations we can look forward to over the rest of the year.
England v Sri Lanka match
Let’s hope sports lovers already have their tickets as international cricket makes a return to Durham Emirates Riverside on June 29 with a chance to see world champions England play Sri Lanka and it’s already a sell-out.
The game at the Chester-Le-Street ground will be the first opportunity for cricket fans to see England’s 2019 World Cup-winning team on home soil following a year of fixtures played behind closed doors last year. It marks the first one-day international in the Royal London Series.
Something of a Newcastle institution, and a staple in the region’s sporting calender, its cancellation last year underlined for many just how the pandemic had affected the very fabric of local life.
So it’s good to hear that Newcastle Racecourse is planning a Plate Day return in style on June 26 when it will mark the culmination of three days’ racing with a performance by top DJ Pete Tong who is set to take to the decks to whip up some Ibiza atmosphere whatever the weather.
Sunderland International Airshow
It’s fingers crossed for this one as it has yet to be confirmed but the dates to look out for are July 23-25.
If all goes well, the 32nd annual event will combine eye-boggling aerial displays with military gatherings of RAF, Army and Navy personnel.
Dig out those heels and dust off the fascinators, the time is coming ladies to dress up and join the parade at Newcastle Racecourse as the race day – otherwise known as the social event of the year – is welcomed back with open arms this summer.
The day for the diary is July 24 and the day’s racing action will be topped off with a live performance by Jess Glynne. Bring it on.
The outdoor spectacular has announced it will be back, following last year’s cancellation, on Saturdays between August 7 and September 11 and this time the epic tale of England will boast some fabulous new attractions: see here.
Tickets are due to go on sale in April for the evening performances which will feature a huge cast of human and animal stars plus showpiece action pieces and a spectaclar firework finale.
Expect the Kaiser Chiefs and Deacon Blue to get Sunderland rocking when this music festival gets the chance to make its postponed debut this summer.
Live music will be warmly welcomed back by fans who can kick up their heels in Mowbray Park from August 7-8. Read more about it here.
The thought of taking a spin on the waltzer or being propelled into the air on the Mach 5 seems a million miles away from anything we have done over this past year.
But, under new managers, the funfair is promising it will be back on the Town Moor this year, for a later than usual – but slightly longer – run.
Instead of June, it will be setting up the stalls and rides and bringing some high-octane thrills from August 19 until August 30 . See here.
Promising the ultimate end-of-summer party, the festival is set to return for its sixth year to Beale Farm on the Northumberland coast where it will play out from September 2-5 against the stunning backdrop of Holy Island.
Expect hundreds of acts over eight stages, including Groove Armada, From The Jam and Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club.
Great North Run
There have been plenty concerns over whether last year’s planned 40-year anniversary of the world-famous half-marathon would go ahead this year, with founder Brendan Foster himself calling on the Government to help address the reluctance of Covid-wary companies to insure major events.
But along with the advancement of Boris Johnson’s road map timetable comes growing confidence over the country’s sporting calendar and the region now has a number of its usual running events back on track, all leading up to the big daddy of all runs which will be storming back to the city on September 12.
Hit the North
The day-long music festival headined by the DMA’s will be spreading the sound of music across Newcastle on October 23 – a change from its originally planned date of April 4 but it promises to be worth the wait.
Rugby League World Cup
Expect that familar buzz back in the city when Newcastle takes up its role as a host city for this year’s much-anticipated tournament.
Four matches will be played out here between October 23 and November 6 – and they will include the men’s opening event, with England taking on Samoa – at St James’s Park and the Kingston Park home of Newcastle Falcons and Newcastle Thunder.
Dacia Magic Weekend
In a switch from the original date of May, more sporting highlights come to Newcastle on September 4-5 in the shape of this bumper weekend of rugby action.
The fixtures now have been confirmed and will kick-off St James’ Park on the Saturday with Castleford Tigers taking on Salford Red Devils followed by reigning Betfred Super League Champions, St Helens, facing Catalans Dragons, then Leeds Rhinos taking on Hull FC.
Sunday sees Huddersfield Giants play Wakefield Trinity then Wigan Warriors take on Warrington Wolves before Leigh Centurions make a return to Magic and to St James’ – which hosted their only other appearance in 2017. The newly-promoted Centurions will take on Hull KR in the final game of the weekend.
The action will all be live on Sky Sports – but who wouldn’t rather be there in person.
Blasting away a year of darkness will be the original Durham light festival which – celebrating a 10-year anniversary – will bring colour and sparkling art installations to the city streets and buildings from November 18-21.
An invitation for bright sparks to submit new ideas for the event, via its Brilliant commissions strand, will guarantee some spectacular additions to the festival whose past highlights have see the front of Durham Cathedral turned into a rolling canvas of pictures and the Marquess of Londonderry statue in Market Square encompassed by a giant snowglobe.
North East International Film Festival
This debut festival will bring some movie magic to Newcastle and the wider region from November 19-21 with a programme showcasing chosen submissions and premieres as well as some Oscar and Bafta-shortlisted films.
Its director Lisa-Marie Tonelli is out to show the region in an international light after the year of Covid obscurity and the festival’s big ambitions are attracting widespread attention. See here.
It is committed to diversity and will be inclusive of all, with a programme also featuring workshops and some open-air screenings at Segedunum and Arbeia Roman forts.
This is Tomorrow Festival
Cancelled last year, like most festivals, and then postponed from May this year, Newcastle’s popular music showcase – set to be headlined by Sam Fender, Gerry Cinnamon and Royal Blood – has announced it definitely will go ahead later this year.
Organisers have yet to announce a date but say the majority of its line-up will remain the same and they said: “We are excited to announce some amazing new additions.”