Calling all art lovers, art buyers or just the art-curious. A trip to Britain’s biggest commercial art gallery is a must whenever you’re in Newcastle because, for residents and tourists alike, it’s a cultural must-see. The Biscuit Factory boasts 35,000 square feet of exhibition space and artist studios in one photogenic Victorian warehouse. With new exhibitions every season, it’s dynamic and vibrant whenever you visit, crammed to its very stylish rafters with fine art, prints, ceramics and jewellery. And, while everything here has a price tag attached, you won’t feel under any pressure to buy (although some of their design-led homewares are hard to resist). Friendly staff are always on hand to guide you through the maze of contemporary art, while the in-house cafe on the top floor has stunning views over Byker to enjoy with your coffee.
You’ll find this trendy gem right in the heart of Ouseburn and rest assured there’s a Premier Inn near The Biscuit Factory which would make a great base for exploring everything the city’s cultural quarter has to offer.
Hosting four major exhibitions a year, the Biscuit Factory champions local artisans and provides a great platform for those who are just starting out in their careers. Past exhibitions have included solo shows by still-life painter Raquel Alvarez Sardina, landscape artist Stephen Heward and glass-artist Sarah Wiberley. Besides these headline exhibitions, you’ll find events in collaboration with other well-known arts organisations, such as Craft Scotland and the National Glass Centre.
Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself an art aficionado, The Biscuit Factory is still a delightfully serene space to wander around. Besides the contemporary art, the building has bags of character on all four of its floors, with original beams and brickwork, plus a treble-height atrium that floods it with natural light.
Free to get in and open seven days a week, you’ll find The Biscuit Factory at 16 Stoddart St, Newcastle NE2 1AN. You can call them on 0191 261 1103 and opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, Saturdays from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
There are toilets with baby changing facilities but if you need to spend a penny while browsing, the ones that serve the Artisan restaurant are particularly beautiful! Buggies can be stored at reception and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the gallery, café and restaurant.
You’ll find the visitor car park to the front of the building, on Stoddart Street. If that’s full, head across the road to its sister gallery, The Holy Biscuit, or just park on Stoddart Street itself. Its free for two hours on Monday to Saturday and all day on Sunday.
All four floors of the gallery are fully accessible, although the car park only has one Blue Badge space. There’s a ramp up to both the gallery and the Artisan restaurant on Stoddart Street, while the Factory Kitchen Café can be reached by taking a lift from the ground floor.
Warning: you may fall in love with a piece of art, jewellery or ceramics and have to take it home. Luckily, much of the art here is surprisingly affordable, yet if that huge canvas is a little out of your price range you could always take advantage of The Biscuit Factor’s Own Art scheme - basically an interest-free art loan that lets you spread the cost of your chosen masterpiece over ten months.
If browsing the gallery and soaking up all that culture has worked up an appetite, you’re in luck. There are some fantastic places to eat and drink, both inside The Biscuit Factory and out.
Inside The Biscuit Factory
Winning consistently excellent reviews, the gallery’s in-house cafe called The Factory Kitchen Cafe is run by chef Michael Waugh and has a distinctly European vibe to it. With plenty of original, contemporary artwork on the walls, the space is airy and minimalist. Choose a window seat so you can survey the views over Byker, then choose what you’re going to eat. There are hearty, healthy salads served with the cafe’s own delicious sourdough, or have a crispy bacon sandwich if you fancy something heartier. Whatever you choose, leave room for dessert - the nutella torte is popular, as are the homemade ice creams in flavours like lemon curd and rose. It’s also worth looking out to see if your visit coincides with one of the cafe’s quarterly Supper Clubs - these themed nights are very popular.
If you’re looking to push the boat out on a truly memorable meal while you’re in Newcastle, the Artisan restaurant takes some beating. Listed in both the Good Food Guide and the Sunday Times top 25 places to have Sunday lunch, the presentation, taste and service here rivals any Michelin-starred restaurant. Most popular is the chef’s tasting menu, which changes monthly on the first Wednesday of the month (with complimentary arrival drinks to celebrate on the day of its launch). The tasting menu celebrates an ingredient, type of cooking or time of year - recently the theme was British Classics. You need to book the tasting menu in advance, otherwise you’ll have to choose something from either the à la carte or the prix fixe menu.
Outside The Biscuit Factory
Just round the corner from The Biscuit Factory is Ernest. This hidden gem with an arty vibe all of its own. An independent cafe and bistro by day, by night it turns into a cool bar where you can dance and drink the night away, surrounded by some seriously cool Star Wars memorabilia. Open every day from 10am there’s some seriously tasty food on the menu. Check out the delicious chorizo and halloumi hash bowls, served with herby fried potatoes, red onion, spinach topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce from the brunch menu - perfect if you wash it down with a cheeky breakfast mimosa. Come on a Saturday to enjoy free DJ events, but there’s something happening here all week-round, from tango to film nights.
Less than half a mile from The Biscuit Factory is As You LIke It. It's one of Newcastle’s best-rated nights out. A must-see if you’re in the area, it’s set over three floors with four bars, a garden terrace and a beautifully quirky interior (think mismatched antiques and a trapeze hanging from the ceiling). Monday to Thursday, it’s the perfect cosy spot for an intimate meal. But when the weekend comes around, the place comes alive with live bands, music nights and dancing. Cocktails are the order of the day here, from classic mojitos and cosmopolitans to more interesting concoctions, such as the apple smoked gingerbread manhattan.
While you could easily spend a few hours at The Biscuit Factory, why not take a day to see a few of the other attractions in the Ouseburn area? As the city’s cultural quarter, it’s got a lot going for it. Once Newcastle’s industrial centre, the neighbourhood fell into disrepair and was just a ghost town of deserted factories. But now the historic buildings have been renovated and the area buzzes with independent cafes and bars.
Take time out of the urban vibe to visit Ouseburn Farm, a fantastic little community farm that’s free to enter. Spend time petting the cute guinea pigs, watch the animals being fed - or have a go at feeding some of them yourself. Or there’s the Victoria Tunnel, consistently voted Newcastle’s number one tourist attraction. This underground waggonway was used as an air raid shelter in World War II. It’s now become a fantastic attraction that takes two hours to get around. You’re also only half a mile away from the Quayside with its fantastic riverside bars and restaurants, as well as art, music and cultural venues such as the Sage Gateshead, Millennium Bridge and BALTIC.
You’ll find The Biscuit Factory in Stoddart Street, Shieldfield, which is at the top of the Ouseburn valley. If you fancied a walk, it’ll only take you 15 minutes from the city centre - and it’s a great way to see the city, too.
From the city centre, head north until you reach the A167(M). Exit at the A193/B1309 turn off, signposted City Centre/Wallsend. Turn left onto Clarence Street, then right into Stoddart Street.
Take either the 62, 63, 12, 38, 39 or 40 services from Newcastle City Centre. You’ll need to get off at the New Bridge Street stop, but that’s just a two-minute walk from The Biscuit Factory.
If you’re using the Tyne & Wear Metro system, get off at the Manors stop and walk for five minutes to get to the gallery or at Jesmond, which is a ten-minute walk away.
The nearest train station is Newcastle Central.
We have a huge range of fantastic hotels in the North East for the business and leisure traveller. If you're on business, check into our airport hotels. We also have a range of hotels ideally located for a weekend break away. Plus, there are hotels near Newcastle University and a collection of budget hotels for the price conscious Whichever part of Newcastle you’re planning to visit, you’ll find a selection of comfortable Premier Inn hotels nearby.