Play Hard

What’s on in the North East this August

It’s still very much festival season here in the North East. Plus, an open-air theatre show, an Oppenheimer-inspired art exhibition and the return of the Invisible Mam…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 05.08.2023


Newcastle Jazz Festival

16th – 20th August

Venues across Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle’s city-wide celebration of the local jazz scene is back for another year and promises to be bigger and better than ever before – showcasing everything from smooth to bebop and boogie-woogie to swing.

Tickets: from £12.00


Hardwick Festival 2023

18th – 20th August

Hardwick Hall, Sedgefield

Big hitters at this popular music festival include The Kooks, Freya Ridings, Mel C, The Vaccines, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Johnny Marr. Keep your ears out for Lizzie Esau, Andrew Cushin and Beth Macari, too. 

Tickets: from £40.95


Future Collaborations Festival 2023

26th August

The Cluny, Newcastle upon Tyne

Born from a vision of inclusivity and collaboration, this festival invites you to celebrate diversity in music by weaving together the extraordinary talents of neurodivergent and neurotypical musicians – including the likes of Archipelago, Me Lost Me and Hollow Hand.

Tickets: from £12.00


Noughty ‘90s Festival

26th – 27th August

Leazes Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

Anyone born in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s is going to LOVE this throwback festival Newcastle style. Big hitters on this year’s line-up include Five, Basshunter, Tinchy Stryder, DJ Sammy, Sonique and Blazin’ Squad, to name but a few.

Tickets: from £38.75



Lindisfarne Festival 2023

31st August – 3rd September

Beal Farm, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Pendulum and Primal Scream are the two huge headliners heading up to Northumberland’s magnificent coastline for this popular annual festival, along with the likes of Pigsx7 and local lasses Komparrison and Nadedja.

Tickets: from £60.96



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical

Until 13th August

Sunderland Empire

Based on Roald Dahl’s iconic story, this spectacular stage show combines the memorable songs from the original 1970s motion picture with all new numbers from the award-winning songwriters of Hairspray.

Tickets: from £13.00

Wind in the Willows The Alnwick Garden Alnwick Playhouse

Wind in the Willows

Until 26th August

The Alnwick Garden

This summer sees the opening of a brand-new outdoor theatre space at The Alnwick Garden – and what better way to celebrate than with all the joy, mystery and music of Kenneth Grahame’s beloved classic?

Tickets: from £20.00


The Bodyguard

15th – 19th August

Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne

This breathtakingly romantic thriller made famous by Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner features a whole host of irresistible classics, including Queen of the Night, Saving All My Love, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and, of course, I Will Always Love You.

Tickets: from £33.00

Raven Alphabetti Theatre Newcastle upon Tyne


15th August – 2nd September

Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

Raven Varmint has a wild heart. It allows her to roar, explore, cry, get twigs stuck in her hair… but it also makes her complicated. And forbidden. This beautiful and mischievous show for children and their adults focuses on children’s mental health and is filled with live music, puppetry, and a talking gargoyle.

Tickets: from £3.00



The HandleBards Maltings Berwick upon Tweed Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's Dream

The HandleBards: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

16th August

Maltings, Berwick-upon-Tweed

If you’ve never seen Shakespeare before, there’s no better introduction than a production by this talented troupe. And if you’re a buff of the Bard, we promise you’ll have never seen his plays done like this… Expect a high-octane performance where humans and fairies collide with hilarious consequences.

Tickets: from £12.50

Hayley Ellis Comedy The Forum Darlington

Hayley Ellis

24th August

The Forum, Darlington

After the sell-out success of her The Invisible Mam show in 2022, Hayley Ellis is back with Hayley’s Comic: a show full of silly stories and observations about body confidence when ageing, family holidays and dinosaurs.

Tickets: from £12.00

Bruce Fummey Stories of Scotland The Stand Newcastle upon Tyne

Bruce Fummey: Stories of Scotland

31st August

The Stand, Newcastle upon Tyne

Having spent the last 15 years creating Scottish history-themed comedy shows (and amassing a cool 170,000 YouTube subscribers in the process), former Scottish Comedian of the Year Bruce Fummey uses his characteristic, self-deprecating style of stand up to spice up more stories from Scotland’s past.

Tickets: from £15.00



Creative Arts Exhibition Washington Arts Centre

Creative Age Exhibition

Until 19th August

Washington Arts Centre

This moving exhibition displays art created by people living with dementia and their carers – and its run at Washington Arts Centre has been extended by popular demand.

Entry: Free

Shattered Art Exhibition Bishop Auckland Town Hall


Until 2nd September

Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Stuart Langley presents an immersive experience of colour, light and geometric form, inspired by the beautiful and delicate yet fractured state of our current climate – hinting at its potential for incredible renewal or catastrophic destruction.

Entry: Free


Remembering Hiroshima And Nagasaki

Until 10th September

Oriental Museum, Durham

The runaway success of Oppenheimer right now may have inspired you to find out more about the physicist’s catastrophic legacy. This harrowing exhibition looks at the devastation caused by the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through photos and objects donated by families of the victims.

Entry: Free

A Stitch in North Shields Time Old Low Light Heritage Centre

A Stitch in North Shields Time

Until 23rd September

Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Northern Threads have turned to textiles to portray life in and around North Shields for this exhibition. Founded with the ambition to bring people together to create textile art, the group is a great example of how a community can come together and create in homage to their hometown.

Entry: £4.00

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