Every part of the world has their own unique traditions and rituals around Christmas time, but a Christmas in the Toon is truly special.

Whether you’re a born and bred Geordie, an adopted Northerner or visiting over the holidays, there are a number of well-known traditions that only those who grew up in NewcastleGateshead will understand.

From the must-visit locations to the favourite festive foods, below are 10 unique traditions that it wouldn’t be Christmas in Newcastle without!

Visiting the Fenwick’s window

Newcastle’s iconic department store is famous for its festive window display, and it simply wouldn’t be a Geordie Christmas without a visit to Fenwick’s window. Whether you’re a die-hard fan who will queue up for the reveal every November, or you simply make a stop with your kids during a busy afternoon of Christmas shopping on Northumberland Street, it’s an eagerly-anticipated Christmas attraction - which began in 1971.

The Fenwick’s Christmas window takes on a new theme every year, and each year’s display is more elaborate than the last. Previous themes have been inspired by festive traditions as well as literature, pop culture and local icons – from Beatrix Potter and Peter Pan to fairytales and fantasy, the Fenwick’s window is always worth waiting for.

Watching It’s a Wonderful Life at the Tyneside Cinema

We need no excuse to visit the Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle’s most beautiful movie theatre – but at Christmas, the annual showing of It’s a Wonderful Life cannot be missed. Grab a bag of popcorn, your closest loved ones, and settle back in their delightfully comfy seats to watch everyone’s favourite heart-warming Christmas movie.

Continuing the tradition this year? Before the show, tuck into some fresh scran in the fully-licensed Tyneside Bar Café to really make a night of it.

A Christmas trip to Beamish Museum

Every year, you can take a trip back in time to Christmases past at Beamish, the North East’s amazing ‘living museum’. It’s a really lovely North East tradition to share with the whole family, as the kids love visiting Santa in his Grotto, meeting the reindeer or testing out their skills on the ice rink, whilst the grown-ups can pick up some Christmas gifts in the bazaar and of course, sip a cup or two of mulled wine!

Then there are the magical Christmas lights and decorations that light up the night to make this place feel even more special. As regular visitors to Christmas at Beamish will know, you need to wrap up warm – there’s so much to see and do.

A coat-less Christmas night oot

If you’re not from Newcastle, you might find the stereotype that Geordies don’t wear coats on a night out hard to believe. Well, a trip into the city centre in December will soon put that to bed.

Tough Northerners that we are, not even inches of snow can persuade many locals to put on a coat for their festive evening out – well, it’s warm in the bars and pubs, isn’t it?

Panto at the Theatre Royal

Did you go to the panto at the Theatre Royal when you were a child? Oh yes you did! The Theatre Royal is Newcastle’s home of the Christmas pantomime, and theatre-goers young and old can’t fail to be entertained by the annual festive tradition which always has a clever (and often cheeky) Geordie twist.

Local panto lovers will recognise the record-breaking trio of Clive, Danny and Chris, who have ‘trodden the boards’ in the Newcastle Christmas panto for well over a decade! Get your tickets early to secure the best seats, because this annual event brings families flocking from across the North East.

Awaiting the return of Greggs’ Festive Bake

Fenwick’s window isn’t the only big Christmas countdown in Newcastle. So well-loved is the Greggs’ Festive Bake that a website, www.isthefestivebakeoutyet.com, has been launched to keep Geordies abreast of the launch of their favourite seasonal snack.

For those who aren’t familiar, the Greggs’ Festive Bake is a classic Greggs’ pastry filled with chunks of chicken breast, bacon and sage and onion stuffing, in a creamy sage sauce with dried cranberries and cranberry and onion relish. Just why has the Festive Bake become such a local institution? Well when you’re on your Christmas night out in Newcastle and you’re absolutely clamming, nothing else will do.

The last Newcastle United match of the year

Whether you’re a season ticket holder or just a keen follower, Newcastle United fans hold on to the bitter end – of the year, that is.

Not even sub-zero temperatures (and most certainly no last-minute Christmas shopping) can keep the Toon Army from venturing out to St. James’ Park to watch the last fixture of the year, with a celebratory – or commiseratory – pint in one of the local pubs to warm up after.

A Boxing Day Dip at the coast

Nothing blows off the cobwebs after a Newcastle Christmas like a Boxing Day Dip at your nearest beach! From Berwick to Whitley Bay, and Tynemouth Longsands to Seaham, Boxing Day Dips take place up and down the North East coast every year and are usually held in aid of a local charity.

The braver swimmers among us will strip to their smalls and take the plunge into the North Sea on Boxing Day morning, and some even wear fancy dress. Prefer to stay warm and dry? Bring a flask of hot chocolate and watch the action from the sand – it’s always a good laugh before you head home for turkey sandwiches.

‘First-footing’ after midnight on New Year’s Eve

One of the most historic customs on this list is ‘first-footing’, a Northern English and Scottish folklore tradition in which the whole family vacates the house after midnight on New Year’s Eve. A designated person then takes the first step, or ‘first-foot’ into the house, bringing good fortune for the coming year – along with gifts that can be enjoyed and shared after all other residents have re-entered. This might include bread, silver or more traditionally, a lump of coal which nods to the regions’ coal mining heritage.

Each region has their own stipulations on who can be the first-foot, and in and around Newcastle and Gateshead, the preferred first-footer is a tall, dark-haired man! So if you’re not familiar with this tradition, and are wondering why you’ve often seen adult men left out in the cold after the strike of midnight, this could be why – or perhaps they’ve just had too many celebratory glasses of Champagne!

New Year’s Eve fireworks on the Newcastle Quayside

To bring in the New Year with a warm and fuzzy feeling, join the thousands of Geordies who pack out the Newcastle Quayside on New Year’s Eve for the annual firework display at midnight.

Whether you’re on a night out in Newcastle or making the trip into town just for the display, this spectacular show is really worth venturing out for. Revellers pack in tightly with their eyes to the skies, counting down to midnight to bring in January with a ‘bang’ – and lots of hugs, even from perfect strangers!

Whatever your favourite festive traditions may be, NewcastleGateshead have an array of experiences to offer throughout the Christmas season - check out our guide to Festive Things to do in NewcastleGateshead this Christmas, and maybe you’ll make some new Christmas traditions of your own. Did your most-loved Newcastle Christmas tradition not make our list? Send us a tweet at @altweet_pet to tell us all about it!

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