Play Hard

What’s on in May across the North East

From an influx of West End musicals to special anniversary celebrations, a late-night culture crawl to a music festival that’s all about how mint women are, and a… Swiftogeddon?! We’ve Taylored this list just for you…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 29.04.2022


Pillow Queens

7.30pm, Saturday 7th May

The Cluny, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Pillow Queens are one of our new favourite bands. Hailing from Dublin, their lyrics expertly blend and Irish Catholic upbringing with their own experiences as being open members of the LGBTQ+ community – all set against infectious pop-punk hooks. 



Women Are Mint

7.30pm, Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd May

Cobalt Studios, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Good Habits, Ceitidh Mac, Naomi Carole, Sound System, Nadedja, Northering… in a world where international music festivals are dominated by male headliners, Women Are Mint is like a balm to the soul.

Sam Fender

7pm, Tuesday 24th May

O2 City Hall, Newcastle Upon Tyne  

He’s gone from local lad to local hero in record time, thanks to his ‘music that punches the air and the gut’ (The Guardian). But now we’ve got the chance to see Sam Fender up close and personal in this intimate hometown gig, where all proceeds will go directly to North East Homeless.



Singin’ In The Rain

7.30pm, Tuesday 3rd May – Saturday 7th May

Theatre Royal, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Join Steps’ Faye Tozer and journey back to the glamour of Hollywood during the roaring ‘20s with this critically acclaimed production of Singin’ in the Rain.

Silent movie star Don Lockwood has it all: a string of hit films and a studio-engineered romance with the most beautiful actress in town. But what Don doesn’t know is that the silver screen is about to find its voice – and a chance meeting with a talented young chorus girl promises to change both Don, and Hollywood, forever…




We Are The Best!

7pm, Thursday 26th May – Saturday 18th June

Live Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Live Theatre launches its new season with an explosive world premiere stage adaptation of a film described by the New York Times as ‘a joyous heart-swelling story of youthful rebellion’.

It’s Stockholm, 1982. Three friends decide to change the world. Or at least change their world. And their hair. They start a band…



7.30pm, Tuesday 31st May – Saturday 4th June

Sunderland Empire

‘Murder, greed, corruption, exploitation, adultery and treachery…all those things we hold near and dear to our hearts…’ – so begins the international, multi-award-winning musical, Chicago.

Starring TV personality Gemma ‘The GC’ Collins, Coronation Street’s Faye Brookes and West End star Djalenga Scott, this epic musical is still as sexy, sassy and sophisticated as ever.


Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals

8pm, Thursday 5th May

Utilita Arena, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Featuring Dianne Buswell, Nadiya Bychkova, Graziano Di Prima, Karen Hauer, Katya Jones, Neil Jones, Gorka Marquez, Luba Mushtuk and Kai Widdrington, enjoy the inspiring talent of the world-class, Strictly professional dancers as they perform stunningly choreographed ballroom and latin routines – with all the glitz, glamour, sequins and sparkle of the smash hit BBC One TV show, live on stage.



25 Years of Lord Of The Dance

8pm, Monday 23rd May – Wednesday 25th May

Sunderland Empire

Since its premiere, Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance has visited over 1000 venues worldwide and been seen by over 60 million people in 60 different countries – making it one of the most successful dance productions in the world.

For its 25th year, Michael has updated the original show for a new generation of fans – promising to transport audiences to a mythical time and place and capture hearts in a swirl of movement, precision dancing, artistic lighting and pyrotechnics.


Macromancy: Britain and the North East of England, 1986 – 2022

10am, Saturday 7th May – Saturday 9th July

Hartlepool Art Gallery

British documentary and editorial photojournalist Mark Pinder has been at the forefront of breaking news for over three decades – capturing the events that have shaped recent British history.

Alongside his work for major national and international publications, Mark has chronicled social, political and economic changes and how they have impacted the North East in this captivating new exhibition.

A Platinum Jubilee Celebration

10am, Sunday 8th May – Sunday 5th June

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

HRH Queen Elizabeth II has already made history for many reasons – not least by cementing her status as Britain’s longest-reigning monarch with her Platinum Jubilee at the beginning of June.

This special exhibition celebrates Teesdale’s links with the Royal Family, including The Bowes Museum’s royal connections, memorabilia and memories of street parties, as well as previously unseen footage of the Queen as a child.



Spring Fling by Uplands

10am, Friday 13th May

The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle Upon Tyne

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ambitious, Dumfries-based art and craft development organisation, Upland.

To celebrate, they’re bringing a bold and diverse range of fine art and contemporary craft to The Biscuit Factory, from a cohort of exceptional artists and craftspeople – all available for us to add to our own collections.


Joe Lycett: More, More, More! How Do You Lycett? How Do You Lycett?

8pm, Friday 6th May – Saturday 7th May 

Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Join Joe Lycett (the artist formerly known as Hugo Boss) doing what he does best: talking at a room of people in a queer and comedic fashion.

His first tour in years promises to be packed with more jokes, more comedy anecdotes and more inappropriate and, arguably, disturbing paintings – all in the hope of answering the age-old question: How do you Lycett?

Flo & Joan’s Sweet Release Tour

8pm, Friday 20th May

Alnwick Playhouse

Multi-award winning musical comedy duo (and sisters) Flo & Joan are climbing out of their pits – armed with a piano and percussion section – to bring us a brand new show of their unique, sharp-tongued songs and comedy, which pokes around all the classic topics of the day: over-thinking, alien lovers and fringes.



Sarah Millican: Bobby Dazzler

8pm, Wednesday 25th May

Durham Gala Theatre

The hilarious Sarah Millican is back on tour with a Bobby Dazzler of a new stand-up show.

In this, her sixth international tour, you’ll learn about what happens when your mouth seals shut, how to throw poo over a wall, trying to lose weight but only losing the tip of your finger, a surprisingly funny smear test, and how truly awful a floatation tank can be…


Newcastle Poetry Festival 2022

1pm, Thursday 5th May – Saturday 7th May

Northern Stage, Newcastle Upon Tyne  

A highlight in the local literary calendar, Newcastle’s esteemed Poetry Festival is back and promises to be bigger than ever – with everything from student open mic nights, readings and talks from some of the most exciting poets on the circuit, and a special appearance from Poet Laureate Simon Armitage on the programme.



The Late Shows

Friday 13th – Saturday 14th May

Venues across the Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Our favourite free, late-night culture crawl is back!

During The Late Shows, museums, galleries, studio collectives and landmark historical buildings come together to offer visitors one-off events – including hands-on workshops, behind-the-scenes tours, performances and parties – to encourage us to do something cultural with our evening.


9pm, Saturday 21st May – Sunday 22nd May

Boiler Shop, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A night dedicated to worshipping at the altar of Taylor Swift: non-stop Swifty all night: deep cuts, extended mixes, fan favourites and all the hits.

Do you have a Blank Space in your diary? Then this night is Taylor-made for you.




A Stone’s Throw Festival 2022

12pm, Saturday 28th May

Venues across Tynemouth and North Shields, Newcastle Upon Tyne

With more than 60 of ‘the hottest new music acts’ in the industry right now promising to descend on Newcastle’s coastline, there’s lots to look forward to. Us? We’ll definitely catch local acts Heidi Curtis, Lizzie Esau, Lyras and Zela.

For more events listings across the North East, check out High Life North’s What’s On calendar
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