A visit to Sage Gateshead is a treat for all your senses - its dazzling glass windows, gloriously curved shape and wood-panelled interiors make it a feast for the eyes. But your ears won’t be disappointed either, especially if you’re the kind of music-lover who puts sound quality at the very top of their list of concert priorities. The Sage was designed with acoustics in mind, and as such it attracts the world’s best musicians, from Elbow and Morrissey to renowned chamber orchestras. In fact, the grand Sage One was modelled on Vienna's Musikverein concert hall and has a ceiling that can be raised or lowered to change the room’s sound, depending on who’s performing. Even your stomach will be happy! Forget flat pints and bags of crisps - the food here is far better than normal concert venues and there’s even a brasserie for some swanky pre-show dining. So whether you’re here to watch your favourite artist, or you fancied doing a spot of sightseeing by taking a tour, we’ve got all the information you need to know. And to really get your visit off to the best possible start, why not book into one our hotels in Newcastle? There’s a Premier Inn near Sage Gateshead with comfortable beds to collapse into once the curtain has come down on your big night out.
The Sage is the place in Newcastle to see top-name artists who span every conceivable musical genre, from electronic to classical. Past events have included one-off shows where pop artists collaborate with orchestras or brass bands. It’s also the place to catch the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra, performing movie soundtracks in full - past highlights have included Home Alone (at Christmas) and Psycho (at Halloween). But it’s not just music on offer here. You can get tickets to street food festivals and wedding exhibitions. Plus, for a small fee, you can learn all about the building’s fascinating history on a guided tour - worth it if you want to learn more about those fabulous acoustics. Even if you don’t pay for a tour, the building’s open every day and it’s free to look around and enjoy its stunning views of the Quayside, the river and the bridges.
Built in 2004 by prestigious architects Foster and Partners, the facilities at the glitzy Sage Gateshead are second to none. Find out all the information you need to make your visit to the contemporary arts centre run smoothly here.
You’ll find Sage Gateshead at St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR. The building’s open every day from 9am and, because it’s a public building, you’re able to come in and have a look around, even if you’re not going to a concert. There’s a cloakroom on the ground level that’s free of charge and open during performances. Just be sure not to bring in any large bags as these will be searched, holding up the queue of people behind you.
There are two halls in Sage Gateshead. The grand Sage One seats 1,640 while the ten-sided Sage Two seats 330. Both spaces are flexible, meaning the layout changes for different performances. Not sure where to sit before you book tickets? You can choose your seats online - they’ll even provide photos of the view you’ll get of the stage. Just be warned that in the seats on the sides of Levels 2 and 3, you have to lean forwards to get a full view of the stage.
From family tours to music-making and dance events, there’s always plenty going on at Sage Gateshead for younger visitors. Some events are free, but some, such as the ever-popular family ceilidh, do cost money to attend. If you fancied just going along to have a look at the building, there’s a free children’s playspace, lots of places to park your buggy and a range of children’s musical toys on offer at the gift shop, which opens from 11am every day.
In 2010, Sage Gateshead won the silver Visit England award for accessibility. Alongside the usual ramps there are viewing platforms and accessible toilets, and parking for Blue Badge holders is free - just go to the ticket office with your parking ticket and registration details. The venue aims to meet most access needs, as long as you give them prior notice. So, if you’re coming to a concert and have additional requirements, contact the ticket office on 0191 443 4661.
Eating and Drinking
Sage Gateshead has five bars, all offering wines, spirits and local guest real ales and boasting spectacular riverside views from their balconies. But where should you head if you fancied something different? Here are the places to whet your appetite (and wet your whistle).
Whether you’ve come to Sage Gateshead for a concert or just to have a look around this fabulous building, your visit won’t be complete without stopping for a bite to eat at the cafe. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the Sir Michael Straker Cafe boasts one of the best views in Newcastle. Sip one of their fabulous Rington coffees and sit back to enjoy panoramic vistas over the Tyne into the city centre. Food-wise, there are light bites like toasties, quiche, soups and salad or larger meals like burgers and the daily special, all made using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The cafe opens at 9am but closing times vary, depending on what time your performance ends.
For a pre-concert meal, the Brasserie is hard to beat. Reserve a table and you’ll be seated at 5pm by attentive waiting staff who’ll give you a tempting two or three-course menu to pick from. Choose from main dishes that include steak, risotto and turbot on the brasserie menu, or pies and burgers from the gastro pub menu. It’s all delicious and served accompanied by the gentle sounds of the live piano player. After you’ve finished, your table is yours for the evening, so you can keep your drinks at the table and choose to have your dessert served there in the interval too (so you don’t have to rush it down if you’ve lingered a little too long over dinner). It’s a popular place, so booking is essential.
Going to a once-in-a-lifetime concert at the Sage Gateshead? That calls for a special meal to celebrate. And you’re in luck, because one of Newcastle’s best-rated eateries is just a short riverside stroll from the venue. River Beat is a Thai tapas restaurant which lets you sample a variety of delectable dishes, such as curried chiang rai and peanut butter rice balls or teriyaki sirloin, in dainty portions that only cost around £6. How you eat the tapas is up to you - you could share them all, or just order your own to arrive as a starter and main. In a rush - or just not that hungry? You could just sit at the bar, order one tapas to have with a cocktail and admire the riverside views.
The refurbished pub The Broad Chare is just round the corner from the Sage Gateshead and it’s perfect for a drink before your show. With all the warm, friendly atmosphere of a traditional old boozer, attentive staff will serve you a gin and tonic with a slice of cucumber, or you could just choose something off the wine list. Beer lover? You’ll appreciate the perfectly poured Writer’s Block the pub is famous for. Food is also available if you wanted something to soak up the alcohol and it’s excellent, with the ever-changing pie menu one of the most popular options. There’s a restaurant upstairs, but you could just go for a bar snack if you didn’t want to move - try the curried cauliflower or cheese croquettes.
If you’re coming to a performance at the Sage Gateshead, there are plenty of attractions on the venue’s doorstep that would be perfect if you were planning to turn your visit into a day trip. Just half a mile away you’ll find the Victoria Tunnel. Although not for the claustrophobic, this subterranean waggonway takes you on a two and a half hour underground tour of the city centre, and was even used as an air raid shelter in World War II. History lesson over, it’s time for a walk over the wonderfully springy Millennium Bridge. Fun to stroll on and stunning to look at, consider yourself lucky if a boat needs to pass underneath it, because you’ll get to see its unique tilting mechanism in action. For the best photo opportunity, come in the evening when the bridge is lit up in soft colours, casting its reflection into the Tyne. Once you’ve walked across the bridge, make sure your day includes a stroll along the buzzing Quaysidebefore you go to your concert. Its pedestrianised walkways are lined with bar and restaurants - great for a spot of people-watching.
Getting to Sage Gateshead
You’ll find Sage Gateshead nestled on Gateshead Quays between the Tyne and Millennium Bridges - and, with its distinctive shape (which some have likened rather unkindly to a slug), it’s hard to miss. If you’re coming from the city centre, the best way to get there is to walk so you get to take in the Millennium Bridge and the Quayside area at the same time.
Perhaps the best public transport option is the Tyne and Wear Metro. The nearest stop (Gateshead Metro) is just a ten-minute walk from the venue and you can travel for free if you’re coming to watch a concert. Any ticket for a performance at Sage Gateshead lets one person travel free to Gateshead Metro for up to two hours before and after the concert.
If you’re driving, Sage Gateshead has its own car park behind the building. It’s signposted from the city centre - or put NE8 2JR into your sat nav. You can park for free for the first 30 minutes, then you’re charged by the hour. If you wanted to stay for more than three hours, you’ll need to pre-book or you’ll be charged the more expensive hourly rate.
The QuayLink Q1 buses are the only ones that stop right outside the venue. They run every 10 minutes during the day and every 20 in the evening. Some evening classical concerts have a dedicated bus service that serves two routes: Hexham and Corbridge; and Alnwick and Morpeth via Felton. Tickets are under £10 but must be pre-booked.
If you’re arriving by train, the nearest station is Newcastle Central which has trains from both London Kings Cross and Edinburgh. From there you can catch a taxi which should get you there in about eight minutes, or hop on a bright yellow QuayLink Q1 bus which takes about 15 minutes. If you fancied a walk, it should only take you about 15 minutes, too.