May bank holiday ideas in north-east England

Thursday, 12 March 2009 12:00 AM

Hadrian's Wall in north-east England

Hadrian's Wall in north-east England

The north-east of England is packed with exciting holiday ideas for the whole family this May Bank Holiday. From vintage cars, mountain bike races, historic houses and countryside walks there is sure to be something for everything this May.

Here takes a quick look at what is on offer for family holidays this spring.

Events in the north-east in May

Moving into spring there are any number of fantastic events taking place across the north-east of England - perfect for fun family days out. For example, how about the Haltwhistle Walking Festival which takes place between May 4th-9th.

The festival gives walkers the opportunity to explore the highest point of Hadrian's Wall - which is located in Haltwhistle, Northumberland.

Tired after all the walking, then head to Eat! in Newcastle. Now in its third year, the food festival showcases the very best north-east food and drink, restaurants and local produce.

Scheduled for May 2nd-17th, exciting and unique events are to be announced soon.

On May 2nd a challenging day out for the 4x4 drivers of standard or lightly modified road legal 4x4 vehicles is on offer. With route choices to suit all, this is a full day of ranger led trails in Kielder that take in some of the rougher routes the forest has to offer.

Head over to Grand Tour of Northumberland for more information.

Slightly more sedate is the Tees Valley Garden Show, taking place between May 2nd-4th and Preston Park, Stockton on Tees.

After the success of last year's show another mouth watering experience awaits holidaymakers at the show, which is now even bigger and better - packed with lots of new gardening ideas and attractions ensuring something to suit all tastes.

For a great family holiday idea, how about the Fairy Trail for Children - at Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens on May 2nd-4th? Concealed within these enchanting gardens are the mini model Victorian fairies who promise a fun sticker to those who can find them.

Roman soldiers are also wanted at Chester's Roman Fort, which is also offering youngsters the chance to join the Roman Army - with the fully armoured Legionary, who will put them through their paces.

Again the even it taking place between May 2nd-5th at Chollerford, Northumberland.

On May 4th a Dragonboat Festival River Tees Watersports Centre, Stockton-on-Tees, giving visitors a chance to try something new and exhilarating - as well as and helping to raise money for Grace House North East Children's Hospice Appeal. There will be activities and stalls for all the family so go along and join in the thrills and spills!

Barnard Castle, Durham Dales, will also celebrate its Spring Festival May 9th, offering crafts, foods, classic cars and entertainment in the beautiful grounds of museum.

The Toy Tales Exhibition will also take place throughout the summer at the same location, presenting entertainment for all ages. Exploring nearly 60 years of BBC children's television programmes, the exhibition is set to feature original animation, puppets, props and stage sets until November 1st.

A special on off family fun day - Creating Toys - will take place on May 26th, while there will also be a chance to learn about how historical toys move and what they are made from by handling replica toys and studying the Museum's permanent collection on May 28th.

For the sports fanatics, England have a chance to avenge their recent series defeat with the return of the West Indies. The deciding npower Test Match will take place at Durham County Cricket Club between May 14th-18th - with the home side sure to be favourites despite a recent slump in form.

For a special one off, how about the Stockton Infinity Bridge opening on May 15th?

Festivities to celebrate the opening of Stockton's £15 million iconic new footbridge, will include a bold and spectacular one-off display of innovative light, sound and pyrotechnics.

Some of the dazzling effects include a 200ft-high curtain of fireworks shooting out of a high-speed, flaming motorboat; daredevil climbers scaling the bridge; aerialists dancing, abseiling and creating sails of silk from the bridge's main arch, and smoke pulsing from the centre of the bridge across the river.

The more gentile Tees Regatta is just down stream at the River Tees Watersports Centre, Stockton-on-Tees, on May 16th. One of the six biggest single day rowing events in the country, competitors will be raced over 850m on a four lane buoyed course from Tees Barrage upstream to the River Tees Watersports Centre, with the regatta venue providing a grandstand view.

On the same day, and still with a sports theme, the Border Raid will take place at the Bike Palace. The second of four mountain bike races this season run by 'The Bike Place at Kielder', the course leads bikers along a route into Scotland on a cross border 'raid'.

Later in the month Northern Rocks - The North Pennines Festival of Geology and Landscape - runs from May 23rd until June 7th. The festival includes over 30 events and activities with a geology and landscape theme.

Over at Tynedale Park, Corbridge the Northumberland County Show will take place on May 25th. The region's single most successful agricultural show places a strong emphasis on tradition. Intermingled with this are some spectacular acts to thrill and entertain all the family.

Evolution the north-east's premier music festival so planned for May 24th-25th. A key date in the national music calendar, Evolution returns for its eighth year and will witness performances from Dizzee Rascal, The Wombats, Mystery Jets, The View and The Maccabees.

This year is bigger than ever, with a wide range of exciting live music taking place across a number of different venues and going out with a bang over the Bank Holiday weekend with a huge two-day, outdoor event on Newcastle Quayside. With a first class and ground-breaking line-up expected, this top urban music festival also promises a host of indoor performances and music industry seminars, along with showcases from local talent, unsigned bands and top name DJs.

With an historical bent, Hadrian's Wall: The Living Frontier will take place between May 28th-31st - an ambitious and exciting project taking place right across the wall.

Hadrian's Wall has marked a frontier from Roman times to the present day, and this programme of events - taking place at various locations along the wall - will bring the frontier story to life through dramatic re-enactments. Exploring everything from Romans, Border Reivers, civil war troopers and the modern day, the event will culminate in a large scale pageant which will see how life along Hadrian's Wall has changed over 1,600 years.

There will also be a chance to celebrate the grace, pace and horsepower of Vintage Motorbikes, with a display of to inspire nostalgia for the open road and dreams on two wheels at Belsay Hall on May 31st.

Finally, there will be a chance to celebrate the opening of the Great North Museum, scheduled to open in May.

Among the highlights of the new £26 million museum will be a large-scale, interactive model of Hadrian's Wall - northern England's spectacular Roman frontier. There will be major new displays showing the wonder and diversity of the natural world, spectacular objects from Ancient Greece and mummies from Ancient Egypt, a planetarium and a life-size T-rex dinosaur skeleton.

The Great Outdoors

With a wealth of wildlife events hot on the heels of the opening of the Saltholme - The Wildlife Reserve and Discovery Park - north-east England is the place to get wild this May. There are also a host of events taking place in Kielder Forest, with details below.

On May 3rd, for example, a Dawn Chorus Walk, will see bird expert Martin Davison joined by a host of twitterers on International Dawn Chorus Day, all hoping to experience our native birds in full song between 05:00 and 08:00.

Late in the month Owl Night will gives guests a chance to meet some of Kielder's Owls and learn more about their ecology. Booking is essential with events on May 8th and 17th.

May 9th will see Badger Watch will tour deep into the heart of Kielder Forest for a glimpse in the secret nocturnal world of the badger. Meet a Stonehaugh Picnic Site, with guests advised to bring a torch. Again booking is essential.

Morning Deer Safari will see forest rangers out to Stalk deep into the heart of the forest to seek out the elusive and elegant roe deer. Breakfast provided afterwards with events on both May 16th & 30th.

The night time world of the bat is revealed with the help of trained bat workers and ultra sound detectors. So what better chance than Bat Night on May 23rd?

More information at Forestry and Visit Kielder.

Chris O'Toole

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