Free family fun in North East England in July 2018

Looking for free family fun in July? I can't believe I'm going to say this but just in case you are getting bored of the sunshine and the beach there are lots of other places offering free family fun and activities during July across North East England.

Don't forget to check out our A-Z Free family days out across North East England and our A-Z of Family Attraction Annual Passes both with a handy location map!

These events are running every day throughout July

Great Exhibition Of The North


Discovery Museum, Newcastle

Stephenson's iconic locomotive - Rocket - is home in Newcastle for the summer as part of Great Exhibition of the North 2018. One of the UK's most famous accomplishments in engineering 'Stephenson's Rocket' is on loan from Science Museum, London and is on display at Discovery Museum during Great Exhibition of the North. Find out how this historic engine’s ground-breaking design heralded the birth of passenger railways and celebrate the region’s world-famous industrial heritage.

Rocket Reimagined - Don’t just admire Rocket from afar - climb aboard using this brand new Virtual Reality experience created by Hedgehog Lab especially for Great Exhibition of the North. Using a mix of virtual and augmented reality, be fully immersed in the wonder of travelling on the original Rocket as it journey's through time.

Get North Water Sculpture: Quayside   

Throughout Great Exhibition of the North 2018, be wowed by the UK's largest water sculpture which will perform hourly. Download three specially commissioned soundtracks and experience this impressive spectacle to three different pieces of music. The Water Sculpture is 80m long and reaches the height of the Tyne Bridge. Performed daily on the hour from 10am - 11pm

LEGO Timeline of Northern Innovation 

The Mining Institute, Newcastle

Part of Great Exhibition of the North 2018. Discover the brilliant and innovative creations that the North of England have designed and built through the wonder of LEGO! North East LEGO artist Steve Mayes tells the story of Northern innovation in over 40 intricate models, using 50,000 plastic bricks. From the Great North Run to the iPod and Stephenson's Rocket - you will be amazed at the detail of Steve's brilliant creations.

Which Way North

Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle 

Which Way North is a visually bold, theatrical exhibition taking over the Great North Museum: Hancock this summer as part of Great Exhibition of the North 2018. A major hub venue for Great Exhibition, start your journey at this brilliant museum as it takes you on a memorable journey. Along the way you will discover Northern pioneers – our inventors, engineers, scientists, designers and artists who are influencing the way we live now and in to the future.

Featuring an imaginary world reached via a gateway at the North Pole it reveals a fantastical realm which embraces the possibilities of invention, art, travel and science.

Exhibits will include Helen Sharman's spacesuit - the very same which she wore as the first Briton in space; John Lennon's piano and George Stubb's world famous portrait of the Yorkshire horse Whistlejacket.

Great North Museum is a Great Exhibition of the North hub venue and is also the perfect starting point to pick up any one of the Get North Design, Art or Innovation Trails.

For more on Great Exhibition of the North

Monsters - 'the Good, the Bad and the Cuddly’

The Word, South Shields

Monsters come in all shapes and sizes and you can find out about them all at this monster-tastic new exhibition at The Word in South Shields.  Whatever ‘monster’ means to you, from those written about in early mythology to the creatures digitally created by Pixar and Disney, you will be amazed by their ability to capture our imagination throughout the ages. Meet Boris Karloff’s classic movie monster in Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, see what it feels like to be held by King Kong and take a selfie with Sulley from Monsters Inc. You can read about children’s favourites such as the Gruffalo and Shrek and be reminded of the monsters from Hollywood’s golden age: Dracula, Wolf Man and the Mummy. There are also clips from monster movies and monster-themed interactive games.  

Quayside Seaside


One of Newcastle’s most iconic spaces is transformed into a seaside paradise complete with deckchairs, palm trees, candy-striped beach huts, golden sand and a kids' climbing wall. A new addition to the Quayside Seaside for 2018 is a playground area equipped with a slide and a fireman’s pole, which is sure to be a big hit with children aged between 3-7 years. Kick back, relax and while away a summer’s day in this city centre oasis. This year - sun-worshippers and hardy Quayside Seaside beachgoers will be able to enjoy first-class fish and chips from local pop-up Little Fishy which will take pride of place in the popular onsite container restaurant.

These events are running on certain dates in July

Ouseburn Festival - Tales of the Riverbank

Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 JulyOuseburn Newcastle

Saturday 7 July - NARC Fest 18, Live music and comedy, arts and crafts, food and drink

Sunday 8 July - family day, children's activities, music, arts and crafts, food market & stalls, boat trips and pony rides and the festival parade

Full programme here:

Mouth of the Tyne Festival

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th July
Front Street and Tynemouth Station, Tynemouth

Enjoy an exciting programme of dance, music, and entertainment at Tynemouth Station over the weekend. Full programme here

Queer on the Quay

Saturday 7 July – Sunday 8 July 2018
BALTIC Square, Gateshead

Join Curious Arts on Gateshead Quayside for a fantastic weekend of activities in and around Baltic Square. Curious Arts have programmed a jam-packed weekend including The inflatable Church of Love! A funky, colourful, inflatable 'Church of Love' lands in Baltic Square. Curious knows that love is for everyone so bring your lover, best friend, dog or anyone that you want to commit to a lifetime of love with (or just an afternoon).

Saturday Only - Watch out for our Tea Ladies; Sisters Jean and Morag, ladies of a certain age, will happily invade any public space on their touring tricycle. They won’t hesitate to get interactive with the public and all are invited to their impromptu tea parties. Tea is poured, gossip is dished and there’s always a sponge finger or two to be enjoyed.

Sunday is Baltic is Curious, Head down to Baltic Square for the Inflatable Church of love and 'Our Difference is what we have in common' - A chance to celebrate what makes you unique, and share it with the world. Join the Baltic band of flag-wavers, celebrating Raising the Flag on 8th July in Baltic Square at 11am.

Raising the Flag is a weekly programme of events linked to the exhibition Our Kisses are Petals by Turner Prize Winner Lubaina Himid at Baltic. Lubaina has made a flag that will flutter above Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, throughout the Great Exhibition of the North.

Sunday Afternoon will see a programme of female-led queer arts produced by guest 2018 Curious Festival programmer Gem Andrews. More details to follow.

Sunday evening is the festival closing event, a performance of Slap and Tickle by Liz Aggiss.

South Tyneside Festival - Pixie Lott

Sunday 8 July

Bents Park, South Shields

South Tyneside Festival sees a host of events taking place in and around South Shields. From live music at the Sandhaven Amphitheatre to those huge free concerts at Bents Park, there's something for everyone as local and well-known acts put on shows to remember. South Tyneside Festival offers three months of summer fun on South Shields Seafront including free open-air concerts headlined by Pixie Lott on Sunday 8 July

Tall Ships Sunderland

Tuesday July 10 to Saturday July 14


As the start host port for The Tall Ships Races 2018, Sunderland will welcome a spectacular fleet of 53 Tall Ships that will travel from all corners of the globe to reach the city and share in the celebrations. The beautiful vessels take centre stage at this breathtaking event, opening to allow free public access at set times throughout the event. A full programme of entertainment and cultural activity will be delivered across the city over four days, including music, dance, heritage and children's activities. The key event zones are the Port of Sunderland, a hidden gem at the heart of maritime activity in the city, the North banks of the River Wear, close to the National Glass Centre, and the seafront at Roker and Seaburn, which will be spectacular viewing points as the ships arrive and depart.

Durham Miners Gala

Saturday 14 July from 8.30am

Market Place to Racecourse, Durham City

The Durham Miners’ Gala returns for its 134th annual event - it is a highly attended event and one of the worlds the biggest and most colourful celebrations of trade union and community spirit, with an atmosphere making the occasion more a fiesta than a march. 

Brass Festival - Stockton and Darlington Railway – Train Suite Gig

Saturday 14 July 1.30pm

Locomotion National Rail Museum at Shildon

On the 27 September 1825, large crowds saw Locomotion No 1 slowly move forward, with George Stephenson at the controls, pulling 12 wagons of coal and flour, 14 wagons full of workmen and six wagons of guests, and symbolically pulled the world into the mass transport era of the railway age.
Durham Alumni Big Band will present a program of music that will include a world premier of ‘The Train Suite’. The performance will also involve children from the various schools in the Shildon and Darlington area that took part in Durham Music Service workshops to help celebrate the anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in the run up to its 200th anniversary in 2025.

Out There

Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th July- 11:45 AM, 1:45 PM, 3:45 PM & 5:45 PM
Prudhoe Riverside – Tyne Riverside Country Park in Prudhoe

Join theatre company, Mortal Fools, for a one-off outdoor theatre production set against the backdrop of the lush Northumberland countryside. Wearing silent disco headphones, you'll go on an outdoor theatre walk to hear stories and see performances about what it’s like to be out there; young and living in Northumberland today. Aimed at tweens and teens.
Tickets are free but audience capacity is limited, so pre-bookable spaces are available online.
Please note a £3 refundable deposit is taken at the time of booking.

Read our preview of Out There - unique outdoor theatre in Prudhoe here

South Tyneside Festival – The Vamps

Sunday 15 July

Bents Park, South Shields

South Tyneside Festival offers three months of summer fun on South Shields Seafront including free open-air concerts headlined by The Vamps on Sunday 15 July

Party in the Park

Sunday 15 July

Blackhill, Consett

This family-focused event promises to be a great day with live music, children's rides, activities and entertainment for all.  This year will include WW1 centenary celebrations in partnership with the Royal British Legion, Consett & District Branch. Party in the Park is a free entry outdoor family event providing musical entertainment throughout the afternoon including String Edition, Kirsty Forster Duo, and Komparrison, as well as Consett Junior Brass, Consett Brass, a Steel Band and more.  There will be family activities for all ages including face painting, inflatables, children's rides and outdoor games (charges may apply). A free shuttle bus service will operate from Derwentside College to the park on the day of the event.  Free parking is available in Derwentside College car park. Come along and bring a picnic or alternatively refreshments will be available to purchase at the event.

Streets of Brass

21 July – 22 July 11.00am - 5.00pm

Durham City

Durham’s World Heritage Site City Centre resounds to the sound of Brass with the ever-popular Streets of Brass. Street bands from Spain, Serbia, and France will be joined by leading UK bands for two days of high energy and brilliant music making.

Street Bands in the Park

21 July 6.00pm-9.00pm

Wharton Park, Durham City

Festival Finale

22 July 6.00pm

Wharton Park, Durham City

The Durham BRASS Festival Chorus is joined by the Reg Vardy Band for a rousing rendition of Carl Orf’s brilliant Carmina Burana.  One of the most widely heard pieces of classical music it has featured in movies such as the Omen, on aftershave adverts, as the tension builder for X Factor and even as the entrance music for Newcastle United.

Classic Car Rally

Sunday 22 July

Locomotion, National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham

See a wonderful array of vehicles from past decades against the backdrop of our spectacular Collection Building. Classic car owners from the local area will be presenting their vehicles as part of the event. After enjoying this great opportunity for photography, explore the museum and take in the impressive locomotives and surprising historic objects on display.

South Tyneside Festival – Scouting for Girls

Sunday 22 July

Bents Park, South Shields

South Tyneside Festival offers three months of summer fun on South Shields Seafront including free open-air concerts headlined by Scouting for Girls on Sunday 22 July

Masala Festival Finale

Sunday 22 July

Live Theatre, Newcastle

The finale of Masala Festival culminates once again with an outdoor spectacular in Live Garden! Delve into an enthralling mix and blend of South Asian flavours for all the family. Take part in colourful and vibrant arts, crafts, interactive storytelling, dhol drumming and lively performances. Dance to the Bollywood and Bhangra beat, create a beautiful silk painting or get intricate henna designs, as well as lots of other fun activities...a real feasts from the East, including delicious Indian street food, from Dabbawal. Presented by GemArts with Live Theatre. See the full programme GemArts Masala Festival 2018 Brochure

Derwent Waterside Park: Discovery Nature Trail

23 July onwards

Edmundbyers, County Durham

This activity is free to take part in every day at Derwent Waterside Park. Collect a map from the café and shop, answer the questions along the trail and hunt for eight letters to spell a word linked to the surroundings. Then hand in your sheet at the café to claim your nature prize.

The Angel of the North BioBlitz - Meet the Angel mammals

24 July at various times

Angel of the North, Gateshead

Become a wildlife explorer and join us with your family to discover everything that lives at the Angel. From plants, to beasts, to bugs, to moths, mammals & bats, the Angel site is full of life; but how many types of living things will you find?! You will then record your findings digitally and help with future nature conservation. Free but do book a slot online in advance

Sunderland Airshow 2018

Friday 27 July to Sunday 29 July


Sunderland is celebrating the 30th Airshow - one of the UK’s largest outdoor events. What began as a small-scale community event in 1989 has grown in size and popularity to become a landmark event, attracting visitors and exhibitors from around the world. This year's event (July 27, 28 and 29) will see some crowd favourites set to return along with some new aerial and ground displays and attractions and a weekend of musical entertainment adding to the mix of attractions and events. A full programme of ground and stage activity and flying displays will be available at

South Tyneside Festival - Heather Small & Atomic Kitten

Sunday 8 July

Bents Park, South Shields

South Tyneside Festival offers three months of summer fun on South Shields Seafront including free open-air concerts with Heater Small and Atomic Kitten on Sunday 8 July

Derwent Waterside Park Wildlife Day

Wednesday 31 July

Derwent Reservoir, County Durham

Children can go on a nature adventure every day and learn about the wildlife and environment of Derwent Waterside Park by taking part in a range of events including building a bug hotel, learning how to fish and climbing through the Cave Bus.

Families can also explore Derwent Waterside Park by foot or bike and take part in the Derwent Discovery Nature Trail. Children can then let their imagination run wild in the play park before enjoying a well-earned rest at the café.

Help build a bug hotel and learn about our creepy crawly neighbours. You can also sign up to the My Tyne citizen science project and hear about Riverfly ID. Please note there are a limited number of tickets for each of the three sessions, so please book your free place  

Enjoy July!

Deb x

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