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Winter Carnival welcomes the New Year in NewcastleGateshead

11th December 2013

Categories: Latest News

Community groups, artists and members of the public will come together on Tuesday 31 December for one of the biggest New Year’s Eve Celebrations in the country.

Comissioned by NewcastleGateshead Initiative and produced by outdoor arts experts Walk the Plank, the New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival draws audiences of over 40,000 year on year  and brings together 250 participants from across NewcastleGateshead and the North East to flood the streets of the city with a wonderful wintry twist on traditional carnival celebration.

Combining Norse myths and legends, Viking folklore and a fiery pinch of North East traditions - the free, family-friendly festivities begin at 5pm at Monument, Newcastle, where crowds can expect to be greeted by a prowling pack of Odin’s wolves, mighty god of thunder Thor and a band of mischievous Dark Elves.

An enormous World Serpent is set to encircle the crowds as it slithers through the city streets accompanied by a frenzied shoal of fearsome flying fish.  Meanwhile Thor’s Hammers beat out rhythms that lead a spectacular flaming Longship through the crowds towards and up Northumberland Street.

As well as incredible creations, costumes and performances, crowds can listen out for the sounds of Winter Carnival in the shape of local talent including Drumdin’s Samba beats, funky instrumentalists King Bee and the ever popular illuminated spectacle of the Spark! drummers.

Get in the festive groove and follow the beat to Newcastle Civic Centre where the parade meets a dazzling firework finale set to get New Year started with a bang from 6pm.  Metro Radio will also be on hand to keep the crowds entertained.

The Winter Carnival features hundreds of community participants - ensuring that the people of the North East not only get to watch but be a part of the celebrations. The parade sees people from all backgrounds return year on year to develop skills, perform and join in behind the scenes preparations.

This year a series of masterclasses, supported by Arts Council England, gave local artists and creatives the opportunity to come and learn skills in design, costume, choreography, puppetry and lighting for carnival. And now, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, organiser of the New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival, is calling for people to get involved as a torchbearer or puppeteer.

Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative said: “We’re looking for more community groups, local people and visitors to the region to help make the event extra special this year.  We are recruiting 100 torchbearers to join the parade and a team of volunteers to bring the famous World Serpent to life.  I’d encourage anyone who wants to play a part in the carnival celebrations to visit the website,, to register their interest. It’s first come, first served, so be quick.”

For night owls heading to the NewcastleGateshead quayside to celebrate the stroke of midnight in restaurants, bars and attractions along the River Tyne, there will be an additional New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks display, to welcome in 2014 in spectacular style.

Approximate timings for the New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival Parade:

From 5:00pm:            Music and carnival performance in the streets around Monument.

From 5:15pm:            Parade leaves for Newcastle Civic Centre via Northumberland Street.

6pm:                            Fireworks finale at Newcastle Civic Centre.

Spectators can share their pictures and tweets from the Winter Carnival using #NYECarnival

The New Year festivities don’t stop there.  Friday 31 January 2014 marks the arrival of Chinese New Year and NewcastleGateshead is celebrating in style with a free event on Sunday 9 February.  Join in the festivities as we usher in the Year of the Horse with Chinese-inspired events, performances and activities for all the family.  Please visit for more information

For more information about the New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival, New Year’s Eve Midnight Fireworks and the wider NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival, please visit:

Check out this short film for a participant’s eye view of last year’s Winter Carnival.

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