Today the program for the second Newcastle Writers Festival was launched. Hurrah! Opening on Friday April 4, and featuring a packed program on Saturday and Sunday, lovers of literature from Newcastle and beyond will hit Newcastle for a literary fix.
For those who are new to Newcastle I thought I'd write a bit of a guide to getting around and grabbing some food or coffee in our fabulous city. To make things easier, I'll divide the city into sections: West End, East End, City Centre or Honeysuckle. Ready?
West EndThere's been a lot of action in the West End of late, with fab coffee shops popping up in the most unexpected places. The latest launch is festival venue The Edwards - open from 7am till midnight is a must-visit. A gorgeous space with great food, drinks and atmosphere. While you're in the West End check out Bank Corner in Bellevue Street Newcastle West (open late with a secret courtyard that makes for a fabulous Deco winebar), or take a short stroll around the corner to The Social for fab coffee and food with a cuban influence.
City CentreThere's always action on Darby Street - a hub of cafés, restaurants and funky shops filled with bespoke beauty. If you fancy a cider or cocktail between sessions check out 5 Sawyers or The Hop Factory - both on Darby Street. Don't miss festival venue Agosti Espresso with their divine Art Deco reno and, as the name suggests - coffee! (and food and more). Or just around the corner back in Hunter Street try The Clarendon Hotel - pub food with a fancy twist as the kitchen's now held by hatted Chef Lesley Taylor.
One must-not-miss venue is The Press Book House - a café combined with second hand bookstore - any reader's dream. They have a delicious range of tea, great coffee and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves groaning with vintage fabulousness. I swoon.
Now, hopefully Coal & Cedar will be opening soon. However, it's a speakeasy so keep its location hush-hush...
HoneysuckleDown on the harbour is Honeysuckle, and if there's one thing I'm proud of, it's our beautiful working harbour. My fave spots down here are MoneyPenny with their ever-changing bespoke cocktail menu and The Landing and their truffled fries (oh my!)
If you have time, go for a wander along the foreshore. If you're lucky you might see a couple of cute tugboats guiding in a majestic bulk carrier. Take your phone - it's very Instagramable down there.
East EndHello fancy pants. The East End is where Newcastle gets really swish. There are bars-a-plenty and plenty of cafés to get your caffeine fix. For bars, check out:
- Casa de Loco - hello tequila and mezcal bar with brilliant *real* mexican food
- Name the Lane - cool cocktails and tapas
- Le Passe Temps - authentic French wine bar, with French staff. Le swoon
- Reserve Wine Bar - high end wines and divine whiskeys in a gorgeous location
- Grain Store - beers-a-plenty of tap, the good stuff, not the average.
When it comes to food, well, you can get food at all the bars mentioned above - or you can have a Spanish feast at Bocados, German delights at Oma's Kitchen, fab coffee, breaky or lunch at One Penny Black or Sprocket or Good Brother or fab Japanese at Asa Don. Oh, and cupcakes, coffee and drinks next door at Hello Naomi.
Phew, it's too much for one weekend isn't it? And I haven't even mentioned the awesomeness that is Maitland Road Islington, the vintage shopping delights all over town, or Maryville and Baked Uprising.
However, I will insist that you allow yourself a moment to check out our wonderful Newcastle Art Gallery (where the beautiful Lucas Grogan mural above features).
Actually, you can't possibly do all this in one weekend.
You'd best come back again - we haven't even spoken about our beautiful beaches...