Game On 2.0
Science-based event space The International Centre for Life always scores highly with visitors. And until January 2016, it’s hosting the biggest collection of playable videogames in the world. Game On 2.0 is a trip down memory lane with classic arcade machines such as Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man providing retro thrills.
There’s something to suit players of almost every taste and age here. The retrospective spans the Sega Mega Drive era and Sony PlayStation-driven home console boom of the 1990s to stir the nostalgic centres of your brain. It even includes titles from recent generations such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Plus you can try out virtual reality headsets for a taste of the future of home entertainment.
Now a multi-billion dollar industry, videogame development has had significant cultural as well as commercial impact. The exhibition offers visitors unique insight into the making of great titles such as Tomb Raider, Pokemon and The Sims. You can also learn how games have influenced one another and colonised different media, as well as sample seminal music from the genre and discover new gaming technologies.
The collection is organised by London’s Barbican Art Gallery and is touring the world after stops at Australia, Canada and in Scandinavia. It’s a great opportunity to catch it before it moves on.
Baltic and Quayside
Towering on the south side of the Tyne is the Baltic, a symbol of an industrial city’s reinvention as a thriving cultural hub. Once a working flour mill, the venue is now an internationally renowned home for contemporary art. It’s also a great place for swanky cocktails, panoramic views and fine dining at the sixth-floor restaurant Six. See what they did there?
Cross the Millennium Bridge and you’re onto Newcastle’s bustling Quayside. Considered one of the more upmarket - of many - nightlife hotspots, this riverside quarter is home to an eclectic mix of public houses and is teeming with restaurants. The Crown Posada - Newcastle’s second oldest alehouse - is worth a visit for a very traditional pub experience. And you’re never far from a slider, slick barman or proper pint here.
On Sundays, Quayside comes into its own with an excellent market offering a fine array of fortifying street food. Everything from Brazilian dumplings to epic German sausages will have your tummy rumbling. And there’s even a pop-up beach, the ‘Quayside Seaside’, so you can sit back on a deckchair and soak up some rays.
Image credit: © scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy
Beautiful Grey Street, arcing down from Grey’s Monument towards Quayside in Newcastle, is worth a visit even when your tummy isn’t rumbling. Lined with stunning buildings and home to the city’s splendid Theatre Royal, it’s also a great place to eat and drink and caters for a wide range of tastes.
At the route’s highest point you are near the shopping heart of this vibrant city and can expect to find the usual big-name chains - such as Jamie’s Italian and The Botanist, both of which enjoy stunning views of the city from their loftier floors.
As you make your way down the road, there are more familiar logos on show, but also plenty of hidden gems off the side streets. A local favourite, tucked down an alley near the excellent independent Tyneside Cinema, is Panis - an Italian with a difference. No pizzas, but great food and probably the friendliest waiting staff in the city will welcome you here.
For a lighter lunch, Blake’s jazz-themed coffee shop is another longstanding local hero. And as Grey Street turns into Dean Street you’ll pass steakhouses, pizza places, tapas joints and watering holes galore. Question is, what will you chose?
Home to Manchester’s alternative and cultural scenes, the Northern Quarter is a place where an eclectic mix of shops, cafés, bars, restaurants, galleries and nightclubs rub along together. Featuring networks of small streets dotted with public art and packed with indie boutiques, curry houses and bars, it’s a hodge-podge of creativity. You can do a lot worse than get yourself lost in the Northern Quarter.
For independent clothing and record shops - plus Manchester’s own cereal café in case you’re hungry or just curious - there’s alt-shopping emporium, Afflecks. Also worth a visit, Manchester Craft & Design Centre is a combined studio, exhibition space and shop showing off the wares of the city’s artists and craftspeople. The café offers a great selection of world foods for when you need to sit down and refuel.
Manchester being The North, it inevitably does tea very well too. Check out North Tea Power and Teacup for a proper brew and irresistible cakes.
At night there are more bars than you can shake a stick at. Bakerie serves freshly baked bread, hearty stews and delicious sharing platters plus an impressive wine list and an equally chilled out vibe. Cain & Grain, set over 3 floors, is all about Rum, ribs, Bourbon and beer and each floor has them in abundance. The third floor features The Liars Lounge where you can expect a lot of rum, Zombies and lots of fire!
Coronation Street The Tour
For a limited time only Coronation Street isn’t simply host to Barlows and Websters - not to mention that ginger cat - it’s running a new guided tour of the long-lived soap site that takes you backstage and on set. Yes, you too can walk the famous cobbles, prop up the bar at the Rovers and inspect the papers at The Kabin.
To get there simply take the free Metroshuttle 3, which leaves at ten-minute intervals from Manchester Piccadilly rail station. The tour only runs until the end of this year, so time is limited; however there are twilight tours throughout August if you can’t make it during the day.
You can expect a 50-minute guided tour behind the scenes and on the seven open sets - including the Duckworth and Platt houses, famous pub and newsagents of this enduring soap opera. There’s also a 20-minute guided tour of the exterior, after which you can explore Weatherfield at your leisure.
Guides will be on-hand with facts and anecdotes from Corrie’s 50-year history – and don’t forget the gift shop. You’ll want to pick up that souvenir snap of you behind the bar at the Rovers Return. Fridays offer the opportunity to enjoy a BBQ and pint on the cobbles.
Manchester’s Gay Village, famous for its hedonistic nightlife and popularised beyond Manchester in Russell T Davies’ ground-breaking drama Queer as Folk, is a safe bet for an extravagant night out. But Canal Street is gaining a reputation among foodies too, with everything from street food to afternoon tea to fine dining - plus it’s just ten minutes from Piccadilly Station.
Why not start the day with a filling breakfast or dainty lunch at the Richmond Tea Room? The afternoon tea platters are something else, with a wide selection of delightful cakes and sandwiches. There’s a definite Alice in Wonderland ambiance about the place, which adds to the impression of a huge treat - great for celebrating birthdays or anniversaries.
If you’re a Med food lover you’re bound to enjoy Delicatezze, an inexpensive and laid-back restaurant serving good Italian food. To get to Velvet Restaurant, you’ll need to traverse the fishtank staircase, but it’s not just about show - this is another dependable, affordable eatery.
Taurus Bar & Kitchen offers a diverse menu of modern British classics and is one of the most popular hangouts on Canal Street, while The Molly House has Spanish and South American tapas - great for sharing. For something different head to Sackville Street and try Habesha - where you’ll eat delicious Ethiopian cuisine with your hands. It’s a little hidden gem amid the hubbub of Canal Street.
Leeds Owl Trail
There’s a huge amount to explore in Leeds, the city with the highest amount of listed buildings in the UK outside London, so what better way to see the sights than finding 25 owls perched on Leeds monuments and architectural landmarks?
The Leeds Owl Trail shows off some of the city’s most impressive structures. Some are new to the city, some are ancient, some art deco and some romanesque - but all have tales to tell of Yorkshire’s biggest city, its history, heritage and buildings.
Many of those landmarks on the trail deserve rather more attention too – stop by at the Henry Moore Institute, housing some of the country’s best sculpture, and Leeds City Museum on the way round for some of the city’s best attractions. The incredible tiled hall at Leeds Art Gallery makes a great refuelling stop too and if you need refreshments there are even owls to be found on several public houses!
Why owls? Well, we’ll leave you to find that out for yourself. Wing it if you like, but if you need some help - or you want to know more about the owl connection - you can download a map from the website or buy one from the Visitor’s Centre in the railway station.
Image credit: © UK City Images / Alamy
Date night at Hyde Park Picture House
Going to the flicks needn’t just be about blockbusters, hot dogs and popcorn - there is another way. Seeing a film at Leeds’ Hyde Park Picture House evokes an older world of ushers, gas light and brief encounters.
This Edwardian cinema is one of only a handful of its kind in the country and still features original lighting fixtures and a period balcony. It’s so small you’d be forgiven for not realising it’s a working movie theatre from the outside – no wonder it’s called the cosiest cinema in Leeds.
And if you’re a serious film buff, look no further. There’s a season of Polish film playing throughout the summer, plus some classics that were first on the big screen decades ago. Don’t let the old-fashioned looks put you off though, the Hyde Park Picture House is a an up-to-date art-house destination – with diversions into big mainstream crowd-pleasers and classic flicks.
You’d be hard pressed to find a more intimate venue than this 100-year-old picture house - a reminder than a visit to the cinema can be a beautiful thing.
Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen
The Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, as the name suggests, is an historic venue in Leeds, now a multi-purpose space hosting live music, film and art exhibitions. It also has two kitchens that offer a rotating roster of visiting caterers. Oh, did we mention it also has a roof terrace that’s perfect for enjoying an al fresco drink in the summer?
There’s always a full range of of entertainment throughout the day, but this is one of the best places to visit in Leeds for foodies including pizza-dispensing kitchen, Dough Boys who use the best local ingredients to create mouth-watering food by the slice.
The Canteen’s second kitchen is currently host to Patty Smith’s, serving up fresh burgers made with local meat, accompanied by all the trimmings. Stokely Webster’s Incredible Chips - served with rosemary salt - are an absolute must too. There are occasional visits from some of the best street food vendors in the North, so check out the website to see who’s on when you plan your visit.
It’s also great for craft beers and cocktails, making it popular with younger crowds and a hotspot at night. Pick a warm evening, a spot on the roof terrace and enjoy...