Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips

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Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips


Before we jump in, can I ask a quick favour? If you don't already, I'd really appreciate it if you could follow me on Instagram here: FOLLOW NORTH EAST FAMILY FUN ON INSTAGRAM 

You'll find me posting lots of days out reviews, videos and tips as well as 'what's on at the weekend' posts over there. 

I would also be delighted if you can also sign up to my mailing list if you see a sign up form as you're scrolling this post. I send a weekly 'what's on at the weekend' email with lots of ideas for things to do. 

Looking for other things to do in Newcastle this festive season? Check out this post: 50+ festive things to do in Newcastle 



Northern Lights Newcastle takes place in Leazes Park, Newcastle City Centre on most evenings from 23 November 2023 - 1 January 2024. Tickets are still available! Scroll to the bottom of the post for a booking link. Expect to pay around £60 for a family ticket. It's one of the more expensive light trails.


Northern Lights Newcastle - Location & Getting There

You are emailed a map and more info before your visit but I thought I would share some info too as there is only one entrance / exit point to Leazes Park. 

Use postcode NE4 6BB. 

The entrance is not on the same road as the RVI, it's around the other side. 

The best way to find it is to have your back to the Sandman Signature Hotel (starting point on the map below). Then walk along Barrack Road with St James' Park on your right (pass the Sir Bobby Robson Statue). You will see Sintons and then an ESSO garage on your left and pass St James' Park Stadium Multi Story on your right. 

Keep walking until you see the Black and White Bull Pub in front of you and you will see the entrance to the park (it's signposted and you'd struggle to miss it). 

It's basically one straight walk along Barrack Road and isn't complicated.



The best place to park is St James' Park Stadium Car Park. You can see above it's just next to the park entrance. It wasn't full / busy on the evening of our visit but obviously, may be busier at peak times. It has 550+ spaces and is £1.20 an hour. Lots of car parks in the centre are free after 7pm if you are looking for an alternative but I would definitely say this one is best. 

Newcastle can get crazy busy with traffic in December so if you can, I'd recommend taking public transport (esp on weekends and home match days when the car park is closed). 

St James' Metro Station is an easy 10 minute walk to the event entrance and it's what I'd recommend - park+ride Metro would be perfect.

It's around a mile circular walk around the park and pretty flat on surfaced paths. If I was visiting with little ones I'd probably take a pushchair, even if it's just for walking to / from the car park or public transport. 



As a back up choice and if you need to park on match days, Eldon Garden Car Park or The Gate Car Park would be pretty easy to walk from (I reckon around 15 mins). 



The entrance is just across from this pub 

Walk along Barrack Rd with St James' Park on your right and Sintons on your left





What to Expect / Our Review 


Your tickets are scanned on arrival and you're asked to follow the one way system. You aren't given a map but you don't really need one either as it's all self-explanatory where to go.



However if you would like one / it would be useful to know which areas are coming up, you can take a snap of this big map at the entrance or download the map below to your phone. 




Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips  - map


They ask that you arrive within around 20 mins of your time slot but if you're running late, don't worry - they'll accommodate you (as long as it's before last entry time of course). 


Our visit was not sold out and tickets were available to buy on the gate. Personally, I would book ahead online just to guarantee entry as some slots have already sold out. 



On arrival, you can turn left and make a quick diversion to the food village before then walking anti-clockwise around the park. We did this and picked up hot chocolates from the Tribe coffee van. The hot chocolates from here were LUSH and we thought worth the £3.80 (20p cheaper than the main bar). 




The first thing you will see on arrival is the ferris wheel (£5pp) and one flashy light stall. I don't think it's overkill with the flashy light sales as there is just one stall - you pass it on arrival and as you leave. Prices are £8-£12. You can take your own if you have one lying about at home. There weren't any bag searches during our visit either. 


Everything is card/contactless payment. 


You can stay as long as you like (event closes around 9:30pm-10pm). You could even walk around twice if you wanted to - nobody was there stopping people from doing this. 






There is plenty of seating the full way around the park - usual park benches and additional seating. The paths are surfaced and pretty flat. There wasn't any mud and you don't need wellies. Some areas were a little bit slippy where there were wet leaves on the ground but it's not too bad. 





The loos we used were at the start / end of the trail. They were the posh portaloo style and clean. There are other toilets as well as accessible toilets as you walk around the trail too. 

Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips  - toilets

Below is an example of what the paths are like. A few people were in pushchairs and there were wheelchair users / mobility scooter users too. The laser garden may be a little tricky, esp as the lighting isn't good in there but if this is a struggle, there is a little detour to avoid it. 



There was a random Holland and Barrett stall towards the start of the trail offering free wellbeing check ups and there are items for sale too. 




Some of the lighting is quite low and the music can feel quite loud if you walk past a speaker so if you're sensitive to noise, I'd recommend ear defenders. If you stick to the centre of the paths it's not too bad.

In the laser garden the smoke machines do suddenly go off and made me jump with the sound (it sounded like a snake and it feels disorientating in there). You can avoid this area though as there is a detour if needed. 

Other than that, there aren't really any loud or unexpected noises. Some of the areas felt really peaceful and others quite dramatic. 


This path below was lovely and kept changing to feature artwork from local children which was cute. 



There are 2/3 places to stop for drinks along the way. The queues weren't bad at all / there wasn't a queue and there were always seats available. If it's raining, maybe bring something to pop on the bench so you don't get a wet bum. 





I do have to be honest and say I found the first few sections to be kind of underwhelming and I was thinking, I've seen this kind of thing before, I was worried there wouldn't be any 'wow' moments. But it kind of builds up and gets better and better as you walk through. 

For me, it really started to get going at will-o-the-wisps around 1/3 of the way around. The picture below doesn't do it justice, as you approach it looks like a sea of glitter and is so pretty. 


The fluff pods were also super sweet, I mean who wouldn't want to walk through a forest of giant pom poms. 




Aurora Rising is a nice place to stop and watch the light show on the lake. It's fab and there is a coffee kiosk here too. 

It was really easy to get a good view of everything and we always felt like we had loads of space / weren't rushed or being jostled around in a crowd. 











There is a marshmallow toasting area around 2/3 of the way around. It's £4 for one stick with three giant marshmallows (buy from the hatch next to the fire pits). There are two firepits. We shared ours with another family and had lots of space. I do think this may be a bit of a bottleneck area on busier nights though. 

The fire pits are quite high so small children will have a bit of a struggle reaching. The fire pits obviously get hot too. If visiting with little ones, I'd recommend an adult does the toasting as the child watches. 

I liked doing this, it's something we haven't done at other light trails and I'd say it was worth the £4. 

Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips  - marshmallow toasting








The absolute highlight for me was the laser garden. It was a real wow moment, I felt like I was walking through some kind of other planet and it felt really cool. It is a little disorientating and the smoke machines can be a bit loud and might give some a fright but if you can, it's worth walking through. I loved it. 

There is an alternative route avoiding the lasers if you need it with staff on hand to point you in the right direction. 




Our North Star near the end is perfectly located with St James' Park in the background. 




I visited with Steve, Dee (14) and Dee's friend (15). We spent just over 90 minutes there including time for food. 

I asked Dee (+ friend) if they'd recommend to other teenagers and they said they would. They said it was really good and they enjoyed it. They also mentioned that they thought it was good for younger kids too and it would feel like a real adventure for them.  They also LOVED the food and drinks and it felt like a nice treat night out with them.

The only negative they said was that they were expecting it to be christmassy and it wasn't christmassy at all - no christmas music for example. They felt like if Mariah Carey was blasting out in the food area, it would have been perfect. 

For me, it's not the best light trail I've ever been to (that is Nightfall at Stewart Park). I didn't really 'get' the concept and it just kind of felt like we were walking through random light installations with no storytelling element which I did feel was missing. I thought the first section was pretty generic and a bit of a filler and I didn't like that there weren't any fun interactive elements that you often get at light trails.

But......from around 1/3 of the way around I really started to get into it, it started to get much better and I did get my wow moments. I ended up having a really good night. 

The event was super professional and I absolutely loved the Christmas village brimming with local traders. It felt SO good to have an event like this in Newcastle! Finally! It felt really high quality and if it's back next year, I would pay to go again. For me, I thought it was worth the ticket price, especially if you managed to get early bird tickets. 

I thought it was much better than Gibside's old light trails - it felt longer and like there was more to see and much more spacious / chilled and not feeling like you were being herded along. 

Steve is indifferent! He had a good night, enjoyed the scran and a beer and the walk but I get the feeling he won't be gushing about it to his mates in the pub. 
 


The Christmas Village at the start / end of the trail is excellent! It made me all warm and fuzzy inside to see lots of my favourite local traders there. Again, our timeslot was not sold out so I can only base my experience off that. If you visit during sold out slots, it may be busier. 

There are several seating areas with some undercover too. Top tip - walk past the first bar you come to, there is a second bar further along which is exactly the same but much less busy. 



When Northern Lights launched, they said that all food traders would have to offer a kids option. This wasn't the case and we only found a few 'kids' meals available. There were a few cheaper options though like waffles and churros (£5 ish) and plain fries (£4 ish). 


Most food was priced between £8 and £13. Vendors include: 

  • Twisted Chick 
  • Churros 
  • Acropolis (don't forget about them as they are tucked next to the ferris wheel) 
  • Parmo-o-Rama 
  • Redheads Mac n Cheese (they had their festive special on the menu too) 
  • Truly Madly Pizza 



We ordered a margarita pizza (£9), buffalo bill chicken & chips (£13), parmo topped fries (£10) and plain fries (£4). We ordered individually and just waited for our food to be cooked. It was all ready in a few minutes and there weren't queues. The only exception was the pizza - we were given a little buzzer and I would say this was ready in around 10-15 minutes. 


Northern Lights Newcastle Review & Tips  - bar prices


Drinks as expected are pricey. It was £19 for a mulled wine, pint of stella and two cans of cokes. Yikes!!

 However, I do have to say, the mulled wine tasted great and was one of the best I've ever had. It tasted like it was higher quality than the usual thimbles of sweet warm wine you usually get at this kind of thing. It stayed hot until the end too. I'd order again. I don't mind paying a little more if it's worth it (the mulled wine was £6.50). 

Just a reminder that while it is good to support these local traders if you can, we are living during a cost of living crisis. Bring water bottles or something for the kids if you want to save a bit of cash. 



We thoroughly enjoyed our food and it really added to the night. If you're planning on grabbing a bite to eat in town, I'd recommend eating here rather than booking a restaurant elsewhere. I think you'd regret it if you didn't. 



There are some fairground rides - £4 for 2 turns on the helter skelter which seems like a normal price to pay these days. 






We didn't take our dog Fozzy but he would have been fine. There was plenty of space and there were a few dogs there who didn't seem stressed. Some of the music is loud in places (but not sudden) and I wouldn't advise taking a dog into the laser garden but other than that, I don't think there would be any issues taking a dog. 

Fancy it? You can find out more and book tickets here: https://northernlightsnewcastle.com/

Northern Lights Newcastle continues until 1 Jan 2024. 

Can I ask a quick favour? If you don't already, I'd really appreciate it if you could follow me on Instagram here: FOLLOW NORTH EAST FAMILY FUN ON INSTAGRAM 

You'll find me posting lots of days out reviews, videos and tips as well as 'what's on at the weekend' posts over there. 

I would also be delighted if you can also share up to my mailing list if you see a sign up form as you're scrolling this post. I send a weekly 'what's on at the weekend' email with lots of ideas for things to do. 

Looking for other things to do in Newcastle this festive season? Check out this post: 50+ festive things to do in Newcastle 
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