North Shields kicks off feast of foodie festivals this weekend

North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival. Picture by Callum Thompson
North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival. Picture by Callum Thompson
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Lovers of locally-produced food and drink are set for a special treat this weekend when a popular festival returns to North Shields.

This year, the town’s Proper Food and Drink Festival will be extended to Bank Holiday Monday, allowing an extra day for visitors to sample some of the tasty delights provided by around 60 producers.

Shelley and Mark Deakin, organisers of the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

Shelley and Mark Deakin, organisers of the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival.

The festival has set up its stalls, bars and stages in Northumberland Square since 2012, providing free entertainment for tens of thousands of people.

“It’s the perfect location,” said Mark Deakin, who, along with his wife Shelley, organises the events. “The first Proper Food and Drink Festival was held here and it proved to be a great recipe for success.”

As well as North Shields, festivals will be held throughout the spring and summer in South Shields, Whitley Bay, Cramlington and new locations in Gateshead and Blyth. They are aimed at both foodies and families and couples just wanting a good day out and admission is free.

In 2016, the North Shields Proper Food and Drink Festival was the last one of the year. This year, it is the first, running from 10am to 5pm on all three days.

“We’ll have producers offering the very best, whether that’s inspired by traditional local food and drink or influenced by countries across the globe,” said Mark. Because of their success at the festivals, a number of the producers have been able to turn their passions into careers and even open restaurants and cafés.

Visitors can shop, eat and drink while being entertained by live music.

“It’s a festival, not just a market,” said Shelley. “We want people to come along and enjoy everything there is on offer.”

After North Shields, the festival visits South Shields on May 17, 28 and 29, before returning to North Tyneside on June 17 and 18 for the Whitley Bay Proper Food Festival at the Spanish City Plaza. It stays north of the Tyne for Cramlington on July 29 and 30, before heading to the two new venues: Saltwell Park in Gateshead on August 5 and 6, and Ridley Park in Blyth on August 12 and 13.

In-between times, the Deakins are also busy putting the finishing touches to the highly successful North East Chilli Fest – which has a new look and new location this year – and, for the first time, the Great North Feast.

The Chilli Fest is being held in Seaton Sluice from June 30 to July 2. The Great North Feast takes place in Bents Park, South Shields, from August 25 to 28.