Free Family Events and Activities In North East England During Spring May Bank Holiday Week

Just one week to go until it's the school holidays next week. Let's hope for a bit of sunshine so we can get out and about in North East England. There are some great free family events happening right across the region in Northumberland, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham. What are you looking forward to most?

Free Family Events and Activities In North East England During Spring May Bank Holiday Week


Saturday 27 – Monday 29 May – 10 am to 5 pm

Bents Park, South Tyneside

Over sixty of the region's finest artisan food producers will be returning to Bents Park for this year's Proper Food and Drink Festival over the Spring Bank Holiday. They will be selling a wide selection of food from around the world. Pick up some unusual spices, delicious cakes, homemade cheese and lots more! There will be a wide array of hot food to buy and enjoy in the huge outdoor picnic area, and there is a licensed bar selling real ales & ciders from Wylam Brewery and others, plus a wine and cocktail bar. Throughout the weekend there will be a live entertainment too. Hugely popular in previous years be sure not to miss this great event!


Friday 26 – Monday 29 May


Look to the skies as the Durham horizon lights up with hot air balloons galore. A brand new festival, Balloons InDurham will be like nothing you have seen before. There will be events across the City spread over four days, providing you with plenty of reasons to come in and explore the City; to shop, to dine and to see the incredible, hot air balloons.

Friday 26th May
  • 6.30-7.30 pm - Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus

Saturday 27th May
  • 6.30-7.30 am - Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 1-3 pm - Balloon Tethers, Palace Green, Durham City
  • 1-4 pm - Balloon Tethers, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 6.30-7.30 pm - Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 9.30-10.15 pm - Night Glow, East Durham College Houghall Campus

Sunday 28th May
  • 6.30-7.30 am - Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 1-3 pm - Balloon Tethers, Palace Green, Durham City
  • 1-4 pm - Balloon Tethers, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 6.30-7.30 pm - Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus
  • 8.30-10 pm - Illuminated Tethers, Palace Green, Durham City

Monday 29th May
  • 6.30-7.30 am Mass Balloon Launch, East Durham College Houghall Campus

Read our blog post for everything you need to know!

All activities are subject to weather conditions. Visit the website and social media channels for up-to-date information.


Saturday 27th May - Sunday 4th June, 11am-3.30pm

Woodhorn Colliery, Ashington Northumberland

Create and hatch your own baby dinosaur to celebrate the end of our egg-cellent Brick Dinos exhibition! 


From May 25 until January 2018

The Word, South Tyneside

Batten down the hatches and hoist up The Jolly Roger for a new exhibition – Shiver Me Timbers – Pirates on Page, Stage and Screen anchored at The Word from Thursday 25 May. If you think you know about pirates, think again. Sponsored by Port of Tyne, this immersive exhibition is something the whole family will enjoy. Not only will it celebrate pirates and their iconic seafaring adventures, but will transport budding crew mates back into the golden age of piracy.
More info:


Saturday 27 May from 11 am

Whitley Bay, North Tyneside

Whitley Bay Carnival is back on the late May Bank Holiday weekend bringing live music, crafts, street theatre, food & family fun to the Spanish City Plaza. Celebrating the natural environment in 2017 the carnival parade sets off from the metro for the Spanish City at 11 am Saturday 27th via Station Road, Whitley Road and Park View. The Carnival brings local artists and the community together to showcase the best of the seaside town. The walking parade features beautifully crafted structures and extravagant costumes.


Saturday 27 May - 3pm to 7pm 

Durham City

The 2017 Tour Series’ penultimate round will take place on Saturday 27 May in Durham. A firm favourite with cycling fans from across the North of England, supporters will be able to cheer on Britain’s fastest teams as they tackle this fearsome circuit, including the infamous cobbled climb of South Street. Men's Race is 5.30pm - 6.45pm


Sat 27 May - Sun 4 Jun, 11 am - 2 pm

Sage Gateshead

Join in the fun on the Concourse for some free crafty fun this May Half Term to keep little fingers busy!


Saturday 27 May – 4 June

Durham Heritage Coast

Reach For the Beach is an outdoor festival featuring a wide range of activities to help families make the most of the school holiday and to encourage more local people and visitors to appreciate this beautiful coastline – both on and off-shore! There is a whole week of activities to celebrate the amazing coastline in Durham.


Saturday 27 May – 4 June

Dalton Park, County Durham

A week of creative fun, learning about sea creatures, magic, workshops, spot prizes and a special competition to win the BIG half term prize.
  • Saturday 27th May: 12noon – 4 pm
Celebrating our Coast with experts from the Heritage Coast Partnership. Come along and find out about our amazing coastline and learn about the fascinating sea creatures that live there. You’ll also enjoy things to make and do, face painting, touch and feel sea critters and lots more fun and information.
  • Sunday 28th – Sunday 4th June (excluding Thursday 1st June)
A family trail through the centre. Find 6 Disney characters hidden in store windows and claim your reward. Plus all participants are entered into a prize draw to win a family ticket to ‘Disney on Ice’ at the Metro Radio Arena.
  • Tuesday 30th May: 11 am – 3 pm
JUNGLE ANIMAL CRAFTS. Join in some creative animal fun in the garden next door to Marks & Spencer outlet. No need to book in advance, just drop in
  • Thursday 1st June: 11 am – 4 pm
FUN DAY WITH ‘DISNEY ON ICE’. A magical day of fun, activities and your chance to win the BIG half term prize. A whole fun-filled day of activities including magic, craft workshops and some special friends from your favourite stories to meet.



Saturday 27 May – Saturday 3 June
Amble, Northumberland

Amble Puffin Festival celebrates everything Puffin! Fun and activities in the Friendliest Port at the best time of year to see the Coquet Island Puffins, as they prepare to take care for their newly hatched pufflings. The festival will include guided nature walks, bird watching, local history talks, photo exhibitions, arts and crafts, watersports and live music. There will be events to interest all age groups. Events will be held in a variety of locations throughout the town.

Main Puffin Festival: Sat 27 - Mon 29 May
Fringe events: Tues 30 May - Fri 2 June
The Colony music festival: Sat 3 June

To see the colony of over 20,000 Puffins, you can take a boat cruise from Amble Harbour. These family-run boat trips take visitors around historic Coquet Island, about a mile offshore. Weather permitting you will be able to see the Puffins and all the other wildlife who make this RSPB managed nature reserve, their home. Coquet Island is famous for being home to the UK’s sole colony of Roseate Terns as well as providing a safe haven for Sandwich Terns, Arctic Terns, Common Terns, Kittiwakes, Fulmar, Eider Ducks and Grey Seals. Please note, no landing is allowed on the island.


Sunday 28 May

Ashington, Northumberland

Celebrate the fabulous county and history with a visit to Woodhorn! Discover the coal-mining heritage and learn about the stuff that made Ashington the largest pit village in the world. Don't forget Woodhorn is home to the world famous Pitmen Painters. Discover an amazing exhibition with over 80 paintings recording life in and around Ashington from 1934 - 1984.


Monday 29 MayRothbury, Northumberland

The Rothbury Street fair is a much-loved event in the North East's event calendar. It takes place every year on Whitsun Bank Holiday Monday in the lovely traditional stone market town of Rothbury under the town's famous avenue of horse chestnuts - which flower just in time for the event every year! There will be plenty to see, do and eat and all in the lovely surroundings of one of Northumberland's oldest and prettiest villages.


29 May - Intu Metrocentre, Exhibition Square, outside of Primark

This half term fast forward to the future and join in a week of robot-themed adventures and enjoy an exciting, robotic themed Metrognome show – The Metrognomes in Robot Rhythm. Herbert, Sherbet, Maggot and Rusty are literally making a new friend as they hit the workshop to create a robot buddy for the crazy inventor Percy Veer. With electronic escapades, rocking robots and droid dances – it's an adventure guaranteed to capture the imagination of any tiny-techies and mini-mechanics during the school holidays.
  • Monday 29 May (Bank Holiday): 12pm, 2pm, 4pm
  • Tuesday 30 May – Friday 2 June: 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6.30pm
  • Saturday 3 June: 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm
  • Sunday 4 June: 12pm, 2pm, 4pm


30 May - 01 Jun
intu Eldon Square, near Debenhams, St Andrew's Way

Join in a week of robot-themed adventures at the futuristic workshop on the mall near Debenhams...
  • Tuesday 30 May – 11am to 4pm - Robot repair station
Children can experiment and refine their mechanical skills with a variety of sized nuts, bolts and washers. Screw, ball, dent and crack the parts together to make your very own robot!

  • Wednesday 31 May – 11am to 4pm - Robot cookies & cupcakes
Join us at our totally robotic kitchen, grab a chef’s hat and let’s get ready to make some crazy robot cookies & cupcakes.

  • Thursday 1 June – 11am to 4pm - Robot racing & face painting
Come along and meet our robotic friend, MIP! Wave your hands in front of his eyes to make him race forwards, the faster you wave, the faster he moves. He can even carry blocks! Who can move the most blocks in the quickest time to cross the finish line first? We'll also have face painting so the little ones can look just look their robotic friends.



Tues 30 May & Thurs June 1 - 11am to 3pm (drop-in sessions)Discovery Museum, Newcastle

These school holiday drop-ins use everyday materials as a basis for visitors to create models and tools to explore the world around us. These activities are designed to encourage and facilitate learning through crafts, play, invention and tinkering.


Tuesday 30 May 11am - 3pm (drop-in)
Great North Museum, Newcastle

What is mummification and why did Egyptians practise it? Find out with experts this half term. The ancient Egyptians are famous for their mummies, but what is mummification and why did Egyptians practise it? Drop into the Egypt gallery this half term and find out. Look at some fascinating research carried out on mummy Baket-en-Hor as well examining animal mummies, amulets and shabtis. Will you unlock the secrets of the mummies?


Wednesday 31 May - 10am-12.30pm & 1-3.30pm
Gateshead Central Library

Join Karen Underhill, a Digital Makings artists in residence for this free drop-in workshop. Karen is collecting drawings, photographs and stories to capture all the great things that happen in Gateshead libraries. Come and share your love of reading, tell her about your family history research or get your family to draw their favourite storybook character. Karen will turn all your ideas into a large artwork that will be created at the end of the project in September 2017.
Suitable for all ages. Free – Just turn up.

Whatever you do hope you have lots of free family fun!

Deb x