Now that we've passed the halfway mark in 2013 it's time to set your sights on Spring breaks and Summer getaways. Whether you fancy a quick weekend recharge or a week-long escape, here are 13 (and there are many more….) reasons NEWcastle should be next on your destination hit list.
Art & Culture
Newcastle's creative and cultural scene is hot. A leisurely stroll through the city's funky East End reveals plenty of haunts that are home to emerging artists, such as Curve Gallery, Cooks Hill Galleries and The Lock Up Cultural Centre; while the Newcastle Art Gallery boasts almost 5000 diverse works and a reputation for holding one of the country's finest regional collections. Immerse yourself in the area's indigenous heritage via the hands-on exhibits and interactive demonstrations at the Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre. To see Newcastle's artistic flair in full swing, visit during the This is Not Art (TINA) festival – Australia's premier independent arts and music festival – held each year over the October long weekend (3 to 6 October 2013).
City Evolutions and Watts on Watt
Newcastle's latest free attraction - City Evolutions – is a fabulous series of interactive multimedia displays projected onto the iconic heritage buildings along fascinating Watt St. Don't forget to check out Watts on Watt while you're there - a 12-month jam-packed calendar of the events hitting the street, from night markets and outdoor cinema screenings to free concerts, street entertainment and more.
Burgeoning food and wine scene
Hatted restaurants, waterfront dining, door-in-the-wall eateries, chic cafes, cellar doors, and boutique breweries are all hallmarks of Newcastle's much celebrated culinary scene – which is fast cementing its reputation as one of Australia's must-visit regional foodie destinations. For quirky cafes, hit Darby Street or Hunter Street Mall; enjoy delectable and diverse cuisine along Beaumont Street, or sip a cocktail in the afternoon sunshine at the Honeysuckle waterfront precinct. Why not sample Newcastle's best tastes and tipple in one spot during the Newcastle three day Food & Wine Expo from Friday 2 to Sunday 4 August at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
Simply incredible sporting events
Escape the city crowds – and traffic – and catch an end-of-season NRL game with atmosphere on tap at Hunter Stadium. Newcastle's beloved Knights are facing off against the Roosters, Broncos, Sharks, Melbourne Storm, Cowboys and Eels in coming weeks – take your pick! Soccer fans haven't been forgotten either with showdowns between the Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC, Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix whetting the appetite in Newy throughout October. Seeking something out of the box and inspiring – check out the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games during the first week in December.
Whether you're into alternative, hip-hop, pop, dance, orchestral or even jazz, Newcastle's live music scene has you covered. The Australian Chamber Orchestra's Newcastle City Hall performances will pull at the heart strings of classical music lovers, while jazz aficionados won't want to leave the Dungeon Jazz performance club , or the Newcastle Jazz Festival (August 23 – 25). Pair fantastic food, quality wine and craft beer with top notch cover bands and DJ sets at The Landing Bar and Kitchen, King Street Hotel or Bar Petite (amongst others); or get your tickets for one of the absolute musts on Newy's live music calendar - Fat as Butter – which for the first time this year is planning a full camping event, so keep the weekend of October 26 free!
You can't go past Newcastle's unique East End for chic boutique shopping. Favourites along ultra cool Darby Street include indie boutique Honey Bee and one-of-a-kind Abicus, where you'll find everything from hip gear for guys and girls to retro vinyl and CDs. Around the corner, Hunter Street is home to Studio Melt, home of beautiful jewellery for any occasion, and Make Space, a hub for handcrafted homewares, womenswear, kids clothes and toys.
Whether you want to fill your basket with fresh local produce, original clothing, artisan accessories, local arts and crafts or pre-loved bargains, one of Newcastle's many markets has you covered. For retro finds, try Adamstown or Islington Flea markets, or for artisan wares and organic foods browse through Olive Tree or the City Farmer's and Craft markets. Why not schedule a pre-Christmas shopfest at one of Newcastle's specialist festive season events such as the Summer Art Bazaar or Olive Tree Christmas Market (December 7) to fill your stockings with one-of-a-kind finds.
Theatre and Entertainment
From the stunning 1920's decor of the Newcastle Civic Theatre to the curtained stage and intimate ambience of renowned theatrical restaurant Lizottes, catching a show in Newcastle is an experience not to be missed. Civic Theatre performances fast approaching include the Sydney Comedy Festival Showcase (15 August), Phantom of the Opera (30 August – 7 September) and the Russian Ballet (October 1); while lively Lizottes plays host to country superstar Troy Cassar Daley, pop sensation Toni Childs and rocker Diesel, among others.
Historic hot spots
As Australia's second oldest city, it's little surprise Newcastle has many a historic hot spot waiting to be explored. Take a tunnel tour at Fort Scratchley, the only Australian Fort to have ever fired at an enemy ship in time of war (with panoramic ocean views to boot); get the inside story on the region's iconic steel and coal trades at the engaging Newcastle Museum – which is celebrating its 2nd birthday this year, or delve into stories of wrecks and rescues at the Newcastle Maritime Centre.
Whether you're a walker, biker, nature lover or hiker, a surfer, skater, sporto or adventure seeker, Newcastle's spectrum of outdoor activities will keep you going from dawn until dusk, seven days a week. If you prefer a casual pace, absorb the city's sights and stories on a Newcastle Walking Tour, or cycle along the city's magnificent coastline. For an out of the ordinary view, join a Segway tour of the Hunter Wetlands Centre, or take to the woods after dark on a spotlight tour of the Blackbutt Nature Reserve. Marvel at nature's largess on a whale watching cruise, swing through the trees on a flying fox at Treetop Adventure Park or take your inner adrenaline-junkie for a sand dune spin at Stockton on a quad bike. Tired yet?
From the shores of spectacular Stockton Beach to the much-loved year-round safe swimming beach at Nobbys, to the wave chasers' favourite Bar Beach and Merewether, Newcastle's many miles of pristine sandy beaches have something for everyone - from sun worshippers to surfers to sandcastle builders, and everyone in between.
Relaxation and respite
Relax and revive with a treatment (or many) or retreat at one of Newcastle's alternative health and fitness centres or sumptuous day spas. Combine the best of both worlds at Yoga Loft, which offers a full schedule of yoga classes, plus spa treatments, all with the added benefit of incredible ocean views - or to check out the full menu of options to recharge and get in touch with your inner self, visit during Newcastle's Health Harmony Soul Festival (August 2 – 4) at Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
Located just off the F3 motorway, Newcastle is incredibly easy to visit, whether by car, bus (via Greyhound Buses), train (via New South Wails City Rail and CountryLink) or plane, with Newcastle Airport offering regular services between all Eastern major metro hubs, including Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast, Ballina and Brisbane.