Seven Stories Is Now FREE To Visit | An Updated Guide To Visiting

This is an advert based on a visit in February Half Term 2022. Any future shares of this post have not been asked or paid for. 

As always, please double check information with Seven Stories direct before visiting as the information in this post may have changed. Please pay particular attention to opening hours. 

I visited with Harry (Yr 10), Dee (Yr 8) and Jack (Yr 6). 

Seven Stories Is Now FREE To Visit  | An Updated Guide To Visiting

Seven Stories is now FREE to visit 

It is now FREE to visit the galleries (levels 4, 5 & 6) plus coffee shop, book shop and cafe at Seven Stories. You do not need to book ahead - simply turn up during normal opening hours. There is a fair bit to see and do and something for all ages. I would recommend setting aside 60-90 minutes to visit the free areas (although someone in our FB group recommended 4 hours for a visit today so perhaps we are just quick - I do think if you visit with younger children you are likely to spend a little longer at attractions). 

Seven Stories is an indoor attraction so do keep in mind that it can get busy on rainy days/school holidays/weekends.  

Seven Stories is a registerd charity. They have removed the general admission fee and added more from their collections to the Visitor Centre so that more children and adults can visit and get creative and inspired with their family, friends and schools. I love this and really do think that more people will be able to visit now which is great. 

If you can donate, there are donation points across the building, you can donate at reception on arrival or donate online at any time. Find out more about donating here. 

Top tip - Bring some coins for the kids to 'feed the frog' at reception. Dee found some spare change at the bottom of their bag and wanted to donate. 

At the moment, opening hours are as follows: 
  • Open daily six days a week from 10am-5pm in term time (closed Wednesdays) 
  • Open seven days a week from 10am-5pm during school holidays 
  • Coffee shop & book shop (ground level 3) are open during centre opening hours 
  • Riverside cafe (basement level 2) is open 12noon-3pm during school holidays but may close due to private bookings / birthday parties 
  • Check opening hours here before you visit 

Seven Stories is the National Centre for Children's Books and we are so lucky to have such a wonderful place to enjoy on our doorstep. The main themes are magic and nature. Seven Stories is inclusive and open to everyone to enjoy. 

What to expect from the FREE Galleries (Levels 4, 5 & 6)

As of 19 February 2022, all of the public galleries are FREE to visit at any time during opening hours. It's easy to remember which spaces are free as it is levels 3 (ground level coffee shop & book shop), 4, 5 & 6. These photos were taken in our visit on opening weekend in February 2022 and obviously, may change over time. 

You are free to enter and leave the exhibitions as many times as you like and there is no time limit (other than centre opening and closing hours).

Seven Stories is suitable for all ages from babies right up to grandparents. In the past, I do feel like they have focussed more on younger children but moving forward, they plan on being more inclusive to all ages including older children and adults and I would say this was starting to be reflected in our visit today.

Level 4 - Where Stories Come From 

This permanent exhibition has been given a fresh look for 2022 with new additions from Tony Ross, one of the world's most popular illustrators, which have never been seen before. 

I loved this artwork at the entrance to this exhibition. We tried our hardest to think of a story that did not fit into one of these categories but couldn't manage it. Let me know if you do. A good initial talking point we thought. 

This gallery is the one I would say was probably most suited to younger children as there are lots of make believe and dress up elements. We still enjoyed a walk around though. 

We discoverd Enid Blyton's original typewriter and the kids all had a try on a replica next to it. I found out they want a typewriter of their own. Who knew? 

This gallery includes original art work from much-loved stories including the Gruffalo. For us, this was a real trip down memory lane. I think the Gruffalo will always have a place in our hearts! 

This gallery includes various interactive elements and activities including dress up and chalk boards as well as lots of books (for all ages - from picture books up to young adult). 

There is a shadow puppet area which delighted Dee as they retold a rather sinister version of The Gruffalo. 

We enjoyed looking at some of the original illustrations displayed, even the ones from stories we hadn't read ourselves. We want to read 'Don't Cook Cinderella' after spotting this illustration. We wondered why the Fairy Godmother was dangling Cinders over the cooking pot? Hmmm....... 

That's the thing I love about Seven Stories the most. We are always inspired to read something new after our visits. This element is more present than ever. 

We also enjoyed this 'make your own story' wall which is simple enough for non-readers to follow too. We all designed our own 'Happily Ever After' and lets just say they were all unique. 

There is a free craft activity in this room too. At the moment it is the chance to design a pair of knickers for the Queen based on the book 'The Queen's Knickers'. Lots of previous designs were hanging around the gallery which was nice to see. 

Plenty of photo opportunities in this gallery too. It's not a place to take yourselves too seriously. 

Harry spotted this book he had covered in this English class during lockdown and reminded me that I was going to read it. As mentioned earlier, there are lots of books to pick up and read here for all ages. It is a lovely area to discover a new read. 

Just across from this gallery is a smaller room with a giant chalk board and seating for adults. More suited for younger children but Dee couldn't resist leaving a little drawing of Fozzy. 

I will say, every area of Seven Stories was immaculately clean and there was plenty of chalk around the chalk boards and equipment in the craft areas. Sometimes areas like this seem to run out of supplies but it didn't seem to be the case here. 

Level 5 - Wildwoods Gallery 

A refreshed gallery following on from the popular Once There Was Magic experience which ran last year. Explore some of the world's most fictional magical worlds including Narnia, Harry Potter and DiscWorld through original artwork and manuscripts.  

Sorry to ruin the surprise for you but I loved opening the door into this gallery. It feels like you are stepping into a magical glowing kingdom. 

I would say this gallery has a more grown up feel and there is more to read and less hands on fun but it is still suitable for all ages. I mean who wouldn't want to toddle around amongst the trees, lights and story pods? 

Like the other galleries, there are lots of books in here for you to pick up and enjoy. This book caught my eye and I was intrigued. Turns out it is a book that invites readers to imagine life without sight through raised lines and descriptive colours based on imagery and braille. It was really interesting and I'm so pleased I was able to experience it. 

This gallery features a range of story pods which are based around fictional magical worlds from Harry Potter to Nania. As you step inside each one it is like you are immersed in that world with gorgeous illustrations, stories and quotes. 

You can also travel into the Multiverse which is something my kids are forever talking about. We were invited to create our very own spell and write it in the spell book in the middle of the table. 

How fun! We used the various illustrations of witches and mythical creatures on the walls around us as inspiration. I was so pleased to see the Grand High Witch there. She has to be THE best Witch around. 

Not one to resist another show, Dee treated us to a little story of their own using the snake-dragon in the gallery. Apparantly the dragon is a mis-understood creature and just wants to be loved but never gets the chance. Ahhhh. 

Level 6 - Shifter of Shapes : Celebrating Nature (& Judith Kerr's Tiger Kitchen) 

Celebrating nature writing and artwork from The Lost Spells book, with new additions from North East writer Abbey Scott, inspired by the woods of Northumberland, coming soon. 

The fox is my spirit animal and as a family, we love foxes so we were delighted to see them take centre stage in this gallery and it was a lovely surprise. 

The gallery shares stories from nature and how they can encourage us to see animals from stories in our local area. We read how foxes are depicted in story books and the wild. There are foxes living in Ouseburn. It will probably never happen but I'd love to see one some time. 

"I am Red Fox. 
 I am bold and I am shy.
 I stare you out; I run and hide." 

Honestly a gallery dedicated to foxes (and other local wildlife) is my dream and we read every single word in here together. 

There is a chance to create some words which we feel descibe foxes which was fun. Cold wasn't our word by the way. 

There is also a gorgeous digital story book which magically brings stories to life. The picture doesn't do it justice, it was lovely. 

Next door to the gallery is a very special room dedicated to Judith Kerr. It is open daily across half term but then moves to two days per week during term time (check the Seven Stories website or give them a ring to check). 

This room has actual units from Judith Kerr's kitchen which was said to inspire the kitchen in 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea'. We certainly spotted the similarities and as a family who loves this story, it was so nice to see a piece like this up close. 

This area also shares artwork from the book, information about Judith Kerr's life and there are seats and books to read too. Of course including copies of 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea' and it was lovely to see parents snuggled up reading this story together with their little ones. I honestly think it's such a timeless classic. 

In the centre of the room you will find free crafts based on the story. There were other children enjoying these while we were there hence why there are no photos. Such a lovely thing for younger children to get involved with and all completely free. 

Oh and the views over Ouseburn from Level 6 are stunning, even in the rain. 

Coffee Shop & Book Shop

The main coffee shop and book shop is now on Level 3 (ground level) and this area is the first place you will walk through to access the galleries and the last place you will visit before you leave. It is such a lovely space. 

We visited on a rainy Sunday lunch time in school holidays on the first weekend where all of the galleries were open to the public free of charge. So of course it was busy. There sadly weren't any spare tables so we skipped trying anything from the coffee shop this time. We will be back at some point though. The kids did treat themselves to something from the book shop. I mean it's super hard to resist as they have such a lovely collection of books and gifts. 

The menu is a little limited but there is something for everyone. A reader messaged me to say that they are excellent with dietary requirements and allergies here which is always reassuring to hear. You can find out more here. 

There is outdoor seating for the days when it isn't quite so rainy and the riverside cafe on level 2 is open from 12-3pm during school holidays too (although it may be closed for a private function like it was on the day of our visit). 

As Harry said, it would have been nice to try the food here but it's not like you're restricted for places to eat in Ouseburn and it's easy to find somewhere else if it's too busy. I do expect it will quieten down and staff mentioned that after 1:30pm or before 11am is generally when you will avoid the rush during school holidays and weekends. We could have ordered to take away too so that is always an option. 

What about story time in the Attic? 

Photo from 2015 

I received a few DMs asking about the Attic and what was happening with storytime here? It was always a popular event at Seven Stories (if a little manic when they'd make the announcements). 

Level 7 is now no longer somewhere that is free to access for the public and it is a space that is used exclusively for events. This makes sense to me as it means they don't have to keep closing and opening areas every time there is an event on and that events are held in a dedicated space. The attic is the best place for events and the most suitable space. 

You can still enjoy the Story Catchers in the Attic but these events are now chargeable and ticketed. There are loads of events to choose from including story telling for under 5s and various interactive story sessions and workshops. Take a look at what's on here.  

Remember, you are free to explore the rest of Seven Stories as you please before / after any events you book (subject to opening hours). 

Alternatively, there are now regular free storytelling sessions with the Story Catchers in the book shop. Ask reception for details and timings. 

What age is Seven Stories for? 

I would say Seven Stories definitely has aspects which are more appropriate for older children as well as younger children now and it is a place that is good to visit for all ages. We have visited many times over the years but if I was a tourist and visiting Newcastle for the first time, I would definitely recommend to anyone - those with toddlers, babies, tweens and even grown ups without kids if you are interested in children's literature and want a little hit of nostalgia. 

This is reflected in the event offering too and there are events for all ages. 

With teens, it's always tricky and I think it really depends on what they like. Dee adores reading and aspires to open a bookshop in France one day. They really had a lush time and got involved with everything but I know not every 13 year old will be the same. 

Harry (15) also loves reading but is more into his non-fiction and comics than more traditional stories. It was nice having him there with us and he did enjoy visiting Seven Stories with us but that is more because we were visiting as a family and he was getting involved / reminiscing with his siblings. Would I visit with Harry by himself? I don't think so. I think he would rather go to Forbidden Planet. 

Jack (11) doesn't particularly enjoy books or reading but did say he enjoyed his visit and that he would go again. He enjoyed the galleries and connected with them. It was a thumbs up from him. 

During our visit there were adults without children, lots of little ones toddling about or sharing stories plus older children like ours enjoying the galleries. It's a good option for a day out if you have children of multiple ages too. 

Seven Stories is free to visit so if you're not sure, you have nothing to lose by popping in and taking a look. I think it's worth it even just to discover your next read (children's books aren't just for kids!). It's easy to combine with the other Ouseburn attractions if you wish to make a day of it too (more on that later). 

Is Seven Stories accessible? 

Yes, Seven Stories is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs and aims to be inclusive. There is a lift to all floors and there may be a little wait during peak periods but it's certainly doable. Level 5 does feature low lighting. There are accessible toilets and baby change facilities. Ear defenders are available to hire from reception and should you require a quieter area, just ask at reception. Induction loops facilities are available. Find out more about accessibilty here. 

Events at Seven Stories 

Seven Stories run a huge programme of events for all ages. Events are generally chargeable and need to be booked ahead in advance online, in person at reception or by calling Seven Stories.  You can see what's on here. 

We have attended a number of events at Seven Stories over the years and I will say they have always been excellent with super enthusiastic staff. I would recommend. 

Highlights this Spring include: 

  • Adventure Through Time Interactive Storytime in the Attic 
  • Super Story Explorers for Under 5s 
  • Bookworm Babies 
  • Mog the Forgetful Cat & Friends Storytime & Activities 
  • 'What the Oak Tree Sees' Storytelling & Workshop 
  • Fantastic Beasts and How to Draw Them 
  • Wizards vs Warriors Interactive Storytime 
  • Magical Music Workshop 
  • Into the Wild Woods Creative Workshop 
  • Puppet Workshop 
There are catered events too including: 
  • Peppa Pig Breakfast 
  • Peppa Pig Brunch
  • Pancake Day Party Breakfast 
  • Breakfast with the Tiger 
Check what's on and book events here. 

Where is Seven Stories? 

Seven Stories is in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. It is next door to the Cluny and opposite Ouseburn Farm. It is accessible by public transport and there is parking nearby. I generally drive when visiting and park in Foundry Lane Car Park  (NE6 1LH) which is directly behind Seven Stories. In all my years visiting I've always managed to get a space here.  

You can find out more about parking (+ alternative car parks) plus how to visit by public transport here. 

I would recommend setting aside between 60-90 minutes to visit Seven Stories. It is very easy to combine with a walk along Newcastle Quayside, Ouseburn Farm, Stepney Bank Stables or the Victoria Tunnel which are all within the immediate vicinity. 

This was a fairly long post so well done for making it to the bottom. How fab that all of this is now completely free to enjoy. Seven Stories is definitely somewhere I would recommend as a lovely free day out in Newcastle. 


No comments

Post a Comment

I'd love you to Tweet your thoughts about this post (@nefamilyfun) or leave a comment over on my Facebook page ( - Sam x

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig