The nightlife in Newcastle is nothing short of legendary. Geordies love to have a good time, and they like to dress up when they go out “on the toon”. That was the case when I was a teenager enjoying Newcastle’s bars, pubs and clubs, and its still true today. If you’re visiting the city – or are a new resident (great taste, by the way), here’s all you need to know about Newcastle nightlife.
I grew up under 15 miles from Newcastle, in Northumberland. During my teens I spent a lot of time with my cousin and her friends in the city, as well as heading there for big nights out – or even ‘Bigg’ nights out (but more on that later). For me, it remains one of the best places in the world – let alone the UK – for nightlife. Here are the places to go in Newcastle on a night out.
Newcastle nightlife areas
Where do you want to go? Which Newcastle nightlife area is best? The basis of any good night out in Newcastle is deciding which part of this sizeable city to paint red. (Strictly speaking that should be black and white for Newcastle United – Geordies tend not to be fans of Sunderland, and red is their team colour.) Most people stay in one area for the evening, although bar-hopping among neighbouring venues is common practice. If you’re planning to stay in the city for the weekend, where you want to go may also influence your decision regarding where to stay in Newcastle. Wherever you go, expect to meet fun, down-to-earth types that love to party…
The Pink Triangle
Despite its previous macho male image, Newcastle nightlife now includes a lively gay scene in the form of the Pink Triangle or Gay Village. It’s a handy location for those travelling into the city by train, as the area sits between the Metro Radio arena and Newcastle Central Station. The latter has a Metro station as well as the mainline one.
This part of the city thrives by night, as all the bars, pubs and clubs are quickly filled with a mixed crowd. Powerhouse is a large gay venue and one of the most popular nightclubs in Newcastle, with three bars on two levels and cosy booth seating. Other popular pubs in nearby Times Square include Rusty’s, a gay bar that’s popular with a mixed crowd who love the Club Tropicana style palm trees, live cabaret and the stage – which has had protective glass added to prevent enthusiastic revellers from taking a tumble.
Blonde Barrel and Digital are also on Times Square. The latter can be found within the Centre for Life, and is a large club with impressive lighting and sound systems and a variety of weekly club nights.
Switch, on Scotswood Road, markets itself as Powerhouse’s ‘official’ pre-club bar, and it’s the place to party every night of the week with a live DJ playing all the best dance tunes. Upstairs is The Loft, which plays progressive, electro, dubstep, EDM, DnB and more.
On Scotswood Road there’s also Bank Bar, while on Churchill Street Boulevard features impressive live shows with spectacular costumes, clever choreography and humour. Resident leading ladies Miss Rory and Danni Dee lead the cast.
During the approach to Christmas Times Square also has a Bier garden, festive market and an ice rink, making this area even more of a destination for nights out in Newcastle.
Where to stay in the Pink Triangle, Newcastle
The best of the hotels in this area is the Crowne Plaza Newcastle, which is convenient for the mainline and Metro station as well as the Times Square and Scotswood Road areas that comprise the Pink Triangle. This property is an upmarket contemporary hotel within walking distance of many of Newcastle’s nightlife and daytime attractions. There’s a brassiere on site as well as The Gin Bar for a cocktail or two before hitting the toon. A paid car park is available next door too.
The Bigg Market
The Bigg Market, Newcastle is hen and stag party central, although it’s actually an area of historical importance. At the lower end is St Nicholas cathedral, just across a busy road (so don’t be tempted to head there after one too many). Newcastle’s oldest pub, the Old George, can be found here and dates back to the 16th century. Beneath that is a new addition to Newcastle nightlife – Mother Mercy. This is a welcoming and intimate cellar bar that boasts impressive wine and cocktail lists.
Being generally more mainstream, Bigg Market venues are aimed at revellers who aren’t ashamed to party hard – to classic pop from the 80s to the noughties. Popworld is a hugely popular Bigg Market spot with colourful cocktails, neon lights, glitter balls and a DJ playing lively pop tunes. Of all Newcastle bars and clubs, this one attracts absolutely everyone. Especially after a few drinks. Anything goes here – although you may well be ticked off for dancing on the table.
Cosy Joe’s karaoke bar in the nearby Groat Market is also popular, and after several cocktails everyone suddenly begins to sing as if auditioning in front of Simon Cowell and co. There are all sorts of bars clustered around Bigg Market itself, as well as the Cloth and Groat Markets close by. There are a few on the delightfuilly named Pudding Chare too. (A chare is a north-east term for a narrow thoroughfare.)
On High Bridge, just off the Bigg Market itself and near Grey Street, you’ll find Pleased to Meet You, a stylish and sophisticated gin bar for the more discerning among you party people. Housed in a Grade II listed building, this modern place offers over 50 kinds of gin. Then there’s the tonic and the garnish… If you’re not keen on gin fear not; this Bigg Market bar also offers cask and craft beers and cocktails, which you can enjoy in a cosy booth if you like.
Where to stay in the Bigg Market, Newcastle
The Maldron Hotel is my top pick for the Bigg Market area. It’s on Newgate Street, just above where all the mayhem starts, so all you need to do is head straight down the road to find some of the UK’s best nightlife. This four star property only opened its doors in late 2018, and occupies a prime spot in Newcastle city centre location. For pre night out dinner and drinks there’s the Grain and Grill Restaurant Bar. The shops of Eldon Square and central Newcastle are really close at hand, and it’s just five minutes’ walk from Newcastle Central station too.
You can’t miss visiting the Quayside when in Newcastle. The sight of the Tyne and Millennium Bridges over the Tyne, which joins Newcastle to Gateshead, is iconic. There are more bridges over the Tyne – Sven in fact. The others are the High Level Bridge, Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge, Swing Bridge and King Edward VII bridge. By night, Newcastle’s Quayside area thrums with life, and is where you’ll find some of Newcastle’s most fashionable bars, pubs and clubs. It is, without doubt, one of the best places to go out in Newcastle. Not least for those riverside views.
One place not to miss is the legendary Colonel Porter’s on Dean Street, which is just up the road from the Quayside. Interior decor is eclectic to say the least and the bar specialises in vintage cocktails and rums. The venue also offers regular live music and other events. The Pitcher and Piano is also a busy spot – not least because of its unrivalled position that affords drinkers magnificent views over the Millennium Bridge and Baltic.
If it’s fine food you’re after, head to gastropub the Broad Chare on the street of the same name. This cosy pub offers fabulous, freshly-prepared dishes and a great selection of real ales in a convivial and authentic atmosphere. When you want a quieter night out rather than hitting all the busy Newcastle bars and clubs, this is a good yet central place to be.
Where to stay on the Quayside, Newcastle
Newcastle Malmaison is one of the city’s hottest properties, and also boasts that coveted Quayside address. Newcastle Mal has its own bar for pre-dinner or party cocktails, while the Mal Brasserie ensures you don’t have to go out on an empty stomach (that’s not a good idea, trust me). This deluxe hotel has a shipbuilding theme in a nod to this area’s past, and offers splendid views over the landmark Tyne Bridge.
The Diamond Strip
Fans of Geordie Shore will be all too familiar with the Diamond Strip. This area was upmarket Newcastle at its finest, known for exclusive, stylish nightlife and spotting famous faces. The clientele were always young and gorgeous – and often, true to form, came out with their coats even during colder weather. Males typically sported freshly-pressed chinos teamed with a designer polo shirt, while for the ladies anything less than dressing up to the nines just didn’t do. Unfortunately the future of this area now hangs in the balance, as three of Collingwood Street’s major venues closed for good in late 2019. Florita’s, House of Smith and Madame Koo – formerly some of the most famous bars and clubs in Newcastle – are sadly no more. There are plans to redevelop, but at the time of writing nothing was yet set in stone.
The Jesmond area has long had a reputation as one of Newcastle’s most upmarket residential areas, and it’s also big news in terms of the Newcastle going out scene. Not only among city residents, but also those from neighbouring Northumbrian towns like Morpeth and even other cities such as Carlisle or Durham. Smart bars and eateries are found on or around leafy, well-heeled Osborne Road on the fringes of the city centre, close to the University.
97 & Social is one popular choice, having a varied cocktail menu and down-to-earth vibe. The signature ‘Tipsy’ afternoon tea is much-loved during daytime, when you can sip your colourful alcoholic concoction from a fine china tea cup.
Where to stay in Jesmond, Newcastle
If you fancy staying in Jesmond, then I recommend a (minor )splurge on a stay at Jesmond Dene House. This grand old house occupies a a leafy position near Osborne Road and not far fro the heart of Newcastle. The historic building contains 40 deluxe rooms and suites that overlooking Jesmond Dene, a peaceful, wooded valley.
If your visit to Newcastle happens to fall during the final week of June, then you could spend one of your nights out at Europe’s biggest travelling funfair instead of at a pub or club. The Hoppings stays open until around 11pm, giving thrill-seekers the chance to experience an entirely different kind of Toon night out. Each year the fair is set up at held at the Town Moor, a large green expanse where Newcastle’s edges begin to blur into the suburbs of Fenham, Kenton, Gosforth and Jesmond.
It’s worth venturing to Gosforth just to visit The Brandling Arms – a pub that’s quite rightly applauded for its great food and comprehensive wine list. If frenetic nights out aren’t your thing or you have children (or even dogs) in tow, hop on a Metro or bus to Gosforth High Street and see what’s on the menu and the stage. Live performances and pub quizzes are often going on in this proper Newcastle pub. It’s a far cry from nightclubs in Newcastle city centre, but maybe that’s what you want. Especially if last night was a heavy one.
Where to stay in Gosforth, Newcastle
Gosforth Park Hotel is a local icon, well known all over Northumberland and within the city. The property occupies a 12.5 acre woodland site right next to Newcastle Racecourse. Being a large hotel, this has all the mod cons you need. While you’re not right in the city, all the action is just a short drive or taxi ride away, and its perfect for anyone planning a day at the races during their stay.
You can’t visit Newcastle and not at least see ‘the coast’, as it’s locally and fondly known. The North East has incredible beaches, and Whitley Bay is one of the best-loved of them all. It’s also not far from Newcastle. Seeing the restored Spanish City there is also a must. By night, Whitley Bay is no longer the brash revellers’ paradise it once was, but now offers more couple and family friendly bars, some of which offer sea views or at least glimpses. Other local coastal areas that are growing in popularity include the Fish Quay in North Shields and Tynemouth Front Street. For a night out with a breath of fresh sea air, hop on a Metro to find your own beach bar near the big coastal city. This Newcastle night out guide simply had to include the seaside somewhere.
Where to stay in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle
For a longer sojourn by the sea why not book into a posh Whitley Bay guest house? The Metropolitan Guest House is in the centre of Whitley Bay, offering high quality, modern bed & breakfast accommodation. The property is on a quiet street, yet just a few minutes on foot from the blue flag beaches as well as Whitley Bay town centre. There are a couple of free car parking spaces, as well as free on-street parking. The Metro station is just two minutes’ walk, from which you can reach Newcastle city centre in around 25 minutes.
Before we begin I’ll admit I’m totally biased on this one – Morpeth is my home town. I know it’s not strictly included under places to go in Newcastle. Nightlife, you say? Why head almost 15 miles north for a night out? Well may I say that even Toon residents often do so. Morpeth is pub crawl heaven – Newgate and Bridge Streets are lined with pub after cafe after bar after restaurant. Locals love a good night – Fridays being the most popular. Sundays are also busy, and nurses’ pay night can be epic.
Where to stay in Morpeth, Northumberland
It’s worth the short taxi ride to the tiny village of Felton to stay at Birchwood House – and room rates can be a bargain too. It also attracts rave reviews – and is in a peaceful yet convenient spot close to the A1.
Top tips for enjoying Newcastle nightlife
Make the most of your big night out in the Toon with these top insider tips…
Post pub munchies
Stay near – or head to – Grainger Street if you tend to get the late-night munchies. The McDonald’s branch on Grainger Street is open until midnight five days of the week, and stays open until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights (times correct at time of writing). Share boxes of McNuggets are very popular, although rarely does anyone actually do anything but keep them all to themselves…
I don’t think this is just a Newcastle thing – I’ve seen the same in a South Australian cricket club, for instance. But everyone goes crazy when Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ comes on. Don’t ask me why. That sweet song is always guaranteed to get the crowd going in a big way.
Yes, it’s true that Newcastle lasses like to go out without their coats on. Even in winter. They don’t want to cover up that carefully chosen outfit, you see – even though there might not be too much of it. No skirt is too short and no aftershave too strong. Think fake tan, glossy, coiffed hair and as much make up as you like if you’re going out in central Newcastle. That pretty much sums up the Newcastle nightlife dress code.
Be prepared – you might not understand everything said to you. That’s OK – as a native Northumbrian I sometimes struggle to understand someone from Newcastle too. Several drinks down on both sides doesn’t help. If in doubt, nod, smile and cross your fingers that you haven’t agreed to anything too unsavoury. It’s unlikely, really – for all their noise many Geordies are pretty traditional when it comes down to it. Whatever ‘it’ may be.
The end of the line
Newcastle’s Metro underground train system is a great way to travel. If you’re planning to catch one back to your hotel or home, however, do check the times. Most lines and stations see their last train depart somewhere between 11pm and midnight, although you might get one a little after that. Many a Geordie has ended up forking out for a taxi after their intention to catch the last Metro went disappeared along with their seventh drink…
Enjoy Newcastle nightlife
Above all – have fun. Wherever you choose to go. This is a city that truly comes alive after dark, so grab your high heels and get ready to sample the legendary nightlife of Newcastle upon Tyne.
If you want to discover more coastal destinations, check out my post on UK seaside breaks.
You can also read about the Newcastle of the 1980s and 1990s as I saw it.
It’s worth heading up to Edinburgh before or after sampling Newcastle nightlife if you can – it only takes around an hour-and-a-half by train.
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