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NewcastleGateshead to host first ever Bridges Festival

29th July 2011

Categories: Latest News

THE world famous cityscape of NewcastleGateshead, recognised all over the globe by its iconic seven bridges, will be brought to life in August with a brand new free festival celebrating the twin cities’ riverside icons.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival, which takes place on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 August, celebrates the history, heritage and contemporary culture of the NewcastleGateshead quayside, the River Tyne and the seven bridges which connect the two.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival is sponsored by NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District Company, as part of its Alive After Five initiative and by the Port of Tyne as part of its commitment to the arts, business and communities.Carol Bell, head of culture & major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “We will use the natural amphitheatre of the quayside to create an exciting two days of free performance, exploration, art installations, workshops and a truly spectacular evening event on Saturday 13 August.

“NewcastleGateshead’s bridges have helped define the city over the past 160 years and through this festival we want people to reconnect with these icons and celebrate the distinctive riverside location of NewcastleGateshead.”

Sean Bullick, chief executive of NE1 Ltd said; “We’re delighted to be sponsoring the Bridges Festival which is a great way to celebrate all that we have to offer.  The

Festival will attract more visitors to the Quayside, helping to boost businesses and deliver a great experience for visitors.”

Andrew Moffat, chief executive officer, Port of Tyne says: “The Port of Tyne is delighted to be sponsoring the Bridges Festival. It is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the rich culture of the River Tyne, its history and its place at the heart of Tyneside community. Jam-packed with top class entertainment the festival will be a great fun-filled weekend for people to enjoy and I hope everyone will take the opportunity to come along.”

Experience life on the high seas with ‘Tyne of Our Lives’ and step inside the Nautical Photo Booth and Tattoo Parlour.  Choose your characters, props and set to create your very own snapshot of your adventures at sea!  And no sea faring scallywag is ready to set sail without his/her own tattoo.  Pull up a pew, meet Inky Jenny and design your very own seaworthy tattoo, to remind you of those loved and lost.

Before you set sail on your adventure there’s still time to leave a message in a bottle for friends and family you are leaving behind.  Quick! Grab the captain’s quill whilst his back is turned and scribble down your message for the future of the Tyne. The messages will be posted inside a giant glass bottle.

Watch in awe as NewcastleGateshead’s Swing Bridge, Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the River Tyne burst into to life with fire and breathtaking special effects on the evening of Saturday 13 August.  A decorated Showboat pontoon will make its way down the River Tyne as the carnival atmosphere takes hold. Showboat is a twilight spectacle between the Bridges as the architecture of the river, and the vessels that work on it, are celebrated with fire and special effects choreographed to a musical score featuring sounds from the Port of Tyne.  Stroll along the quayside as the Swing Bridge lights up, the Show Boat fires up, and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge gives its tenth birthday greeting to the city.

What’s that noise coming from under the Swing Bridge, who’s that looking at you through the darkness?  Artists Shanaz Gulzar and Steve Manthorp of Adept create a magical installation underneath the Swing Bridge depicting the history and experiences of the people that have lived and worked along the River Tyne.  ‘Banks of the Seen’ allows people to look into the eyes of NewcastleGateshead’s industrial past.

An unusual restaurant will pop up in different locations on the NewcastleGateshead quayside on Saturday 13 (Guildhall) and Sunday 14 August (BALTIC Square).  Named, ‘The 7 Bridges’, this open-air experience serves up a tasting menu that changes every half an hour, as if with the tide.   Like the Tyne, flowing through the city and out towards the North Sea, one menu will feature chefs and food carried down from the upstream river banks.  As the imaginary tide comes in, the alternative menu will focus on ideas and ingredients washed in from coast.  A single, communal table will welcome the diners, as will the Captain, who will entertain guests with tales of food and life along the river.

Newcastle quayside will play host to its very own miniature regatta.  Up to 100 model boats will be moored on the Newcastle quayside for the NewcastleGateshead Mini Model Boat Regatta.  Complete with bunting, straw boaters and the obligatory strawberries and cream, there will be a series of model boat races and demonstrations including a special challenge which will see someone crowned NewcastleGateshead Model Boat Regatta champion 2011.  Visitors will be able to have a go at racing the boats themselves and learn more about the legacy of this popular hobby.

Take time out from the busy festival schedule and just sit back and enjoy the splendour of the bridges.  Where better to do this, than to grab a deck chair on NE1 Ltd’s newly created, Quayside Seaside.  Nestled between two of the most recognisable bridges, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the Tyne Bridge, is NE1’s Quayside Seaside.  800 square metres of beautiful sandy beach, equipped with palm trees, deckchairs, buckets and spades and a volleyball court – the seaside provides a summertime oasis on the banks of the Tyne.

Other festival highlights include the transformation of the The Swing Bridge.  First opened in 1876, NewcastleGateshead’s first and only swing bridge will be transformed into Armstrong’s ‘lost garden’, with Lost and Found by Julia Barton with Beacon North East. Stroll across the Swing Bridge during the NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival and you’ll stumble across Lord Armstrong’s long lost formal garden, discovered floating over the Tyne. Artist Julia Barton has worked with community groups from across the region to transform this usually busy urban crossing into a tranquil green space. The greening will bring the classical formal paths and planting of a garden fit for Armstrong’s rural retreat, Cragside, to the busy urban centre, take time to enjoy this unusual space created on the bridge.

NewcastleGateshead’s cultural venues  will also be taking part in the weekend’s bridges-themed festivities.  BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead will be programming special events to coincide with the festival, as will Live Theatre’s Youth Theatre participants.  Words on the Street, presented by Live Youth Theatre, is a series of fun and lively outdoor performances around the quayside using old and new architecture as its inspiration.  Live Theatre’s young stand-up comedians will also be preparing their own new comedy material as part of the festival.  Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives will be transporting its exhibition about Newcastle’s ‘Invisible Bridge’ to the Guildhall on the quayside and tours of the Swing Bridge and Victoria Tunnel will take place across the weekend.

Place your bets the on Metro Radio Duck Race as 5000 pink plastic ducks race along the River Tyne to raise money for Cash for Kids, a charity which delivers initiatives for sick and underprivileged children in the community.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival will also celebrate the birthday of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which will be ten years old on 17 September 2011.

The first ever NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival takes place on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 August 2011.  Details of the full weekend programme are available on the NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival website –


For further information, interview requests, images etc, please contact David Brookbanks, Media & PR Manager for NewcastleGateshead Initiative on 0191 440 5740 / 07946 581 417 or email


NewcastleGatshead Bridges Festival is developed and produced by NewcastleGateshead Initiative as part of its innovative and distinctive festivals and events programme.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival is sponsored by NE1 Ltd, the Business Improvement District Company, as part of its Alive After Five initiative ( and by the Port of Tyne ( as part of its commitment to the arts, business and communities.

NewcastleGateshead Bridges Festival is funded by Gateshead Council, Newcastle City Council and Northern Rock Foundation

NewcastleGateshead Initiative thanks our partners, EasyJet and media partners Metro Radio and ncjMedia

The Port of Tyne in North East England is one of the UK's major deep sea ports - a vital trading gateway to Europe and beyond

Investment of over £100m in the past 10 years has created the infrastructure to deliver continued growth of the Port's diverse businesses. These include conventional and bulk cargoes, car terminals, cruise and ferries, logistics and commercial property

In 2010 the Port of Tyne contributed £427million to the regional economy and supported 9,000 jobs

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