Play Hard

What’s on in the North East this September

More music festivals, huge West End theatre shows, Europe’s biggest sneaker event and the chance to see World Cup Finalists in Sunderland. Oh, and it might just be time to find your running shoes…

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 02.09.2023


Television Personalities Pop Recs Sunderland

Television Personalities

9th September

Pop Recs, Sunderland

Led by the alternately whimsical and devastating songwriting of Dan Treacy, Television Personalities have a career in music that has encompassed post-punk, neo-psychedelia and indie-pop.

Tickets: from £22.00


Generator Live

16th September

Boiler Shop, Newcastle upon Tyne

Featuring a stellar line up made up exclusively of North East talent – including North East indie legends Little Comets and Lizzie Esau – Generator Live 2023 will be an unforgettable day of live music in the heart of Newcastle.

Tickets: from £15.00


Natalie Imbruglia

23rd September

Durham Cathedral

Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia is set to perform an extra-special set in the magnificent Durham Cathedral this September. Best known for her chart-topping ‘Torn’Natalie became a favourite for her indie-pop style. Her debut album, Left of the Middle, sold an impressive seven million copies worldwide.

Tickets: from £35.00

The Breakfast Club Music from the 80s The Forum Darlington

The Breakfast Club: Music from the ‘80s

30th September

The Forum, Darlington

This electronic live band from the North East have been selling out venues across the country with their authentic take on ‘80s classics by the likes of A-ha, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Simple Minds. You don’t need us to tell you it’s gonna be a good night. 

Tickets: £10.00  

The Gathering Sounds Festival 2023 Stockton on Tees Georgian Theatre KU ARC

The Gathering Sounds

30th September

Venues across Stockton

Andrew Cushin, Komparrison, Zuzu and The Skinner Brothers are just some of the acts confirmed for this popular music festival in Stockton, with venues ranging from ARC and The Georgian Theatre to indie grassroots venue KU.

Tickets: from £21.00



I Daniel Blake Gala Theatre Durham

I, Daniel Blake

12th – 16th September

Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne

Billed as ‘one of the most important stories of a generation’, Ken Loach’s moving film has been adapted for the stage to give us a glimpse behind the headlines at the stark reality of what happens when a political system is stacked against you.

Tickets: from £12.00


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

19th – 23rd September

Sunderland Empire

Jamie is 16 and lives on a council estate in Sheffield. Jamie doesn’t quite fit in. Jamie is terrified about the future. Jamie is going to be a sensation. Supported by his brilliant loving mum and surrounded by his friends, Jamie overcomes prejudice, beats the bullies and steps out of the darkness, into the spotlight.

Tickets: from £13.00

Heathers the Musical Darlington Hippodrome

Heathers The Musical

3rd – 7th October

Darlington Hippodrome

Veronica Sawyer is just another nobody. But when she joins the beautiful and impossibly cruel Heathers and her dreams of popularity may finally come true, mysterious teen rebel JD teaches her that it might kill to be a nobody, but it’s murder being a somebody.

Tickets: from £15.50



Life Drawing Late Classes Newcastle Arts Centre Newcastle upon Tyne

Life Drawing Late

13th, 20th and 27th September

Newcastle Arts Centre

Led by award-winning artist Mark Bletcher, these evening life drawing courses are back by popular demand at Newcastle Arts Centre this September – with a wide range of life models, so every session is different.

Tickets: from £15.00



Matt Rugg Connecting Form Hatton Gallery Newcastle upon Tyne

Matt Rugg: Connecting Form

23rd September – 13th January

Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

Matt Rugg: Connecting Form will be the first major retrospective of the work of the British abstract artist and teacher Matt Rugg (1935-2020). The exhibition will display previously unshown work alongside well-known pieces and provide a platform for an outreach and learning programme exploring radical shifts in art education.

Tickets: Free



Suzi Ruffell Snappy Northern Stage Newcastle upon Tyne

Suzi Ruffell

13th September

Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne

Suzi Ruffell likes things snappy: her stand up, her decisions and her suits. Suzi’s brand new show is all about settling down (but not settling), becoming a mother (without becoming mumsy), and still worrying about everything.

Tickets: from £18.50

Tim Vine Breeep! Maltings Theatre Berwick upon Tweed

Tim Vine

16th September

Maltings Theatre, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Go and enjoy a mountain of nonsense, daft one-liners, joyful songs, wobbly props and ridiculous humour, (plus utter drivel) of Tim Vine at Maltings Theatre this September. Witness the stupidity. Then leave.

Tickets: from £25.00



Andy Parsons Durham Gala Theatre

Andy Parsons

21st September

Durham Gala Theatre

The Live at the Apollo, QI, They Think It’s All Over and Saturday Live stalwart is back on the UK touring scene for what promises to be another stellar stand up show. In the words of The i, ‘for those who worry that we are going to hell in a handcart, Parsons will at least make you enjoy the ride.’

Tickets: from £15.00



Crepe City Sneaker Festival Utilita Arena Newcastle upon Tyne

Crepe City

9th September

Utilita Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne

Crepe City is the leading sneaker event in Europe. And, on its return to Newcastle, the festival will have an even greater choice of sellers and more fun activations during the day. On top of the shoes, expect to see games and giveaways, DJs and delicious street food vendors. One for the sneakerheads and streetwear fans. 

Tickets: from £11.00

AJ Bell Great North Run 2023 Newcastle upon Tyne South Shields Sir Mo Farah

Great North Run

10th September

Newcastle to South Shields

As well as cheering on around 60,000 dedicated runners in all manner of colourful garb and fancy-dress costumes for a variety of great causes, if you find a good spot along the route of this year’s AJ Bell Great North Run, you’ll also witness Sir Mo Farah’s final ever competitive race.

Free to spectate

England Women v Scotland Women UEFA Nations League Stadium of Light Sunderland

England Women v Scotland Women

22nd September

Stadium of Light, Sunderland  

An unbeatable chance to see World Cup Finalists in the flesh, England’s Lionesses return to the North East for their UEFA Women’s Nations League opener against Scotland this September.

Tickets: from £10.00  

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