Insider’s Guide: Danny Hughes talks Newcastle

The next focus for our insider’s guide feature is Danny Hughes who regales us with the charm of the Geordie stronghold.

Jimmy Coultas

Date published: 5th Sep 2013

Image: Artist Will Barras painting the walls at Musicslashart

Right at the most northerly point of England, Newcastle is a city with a rare charm. Blessed with a port heritage, the Geordies are arguably the friendliest bunch around and it’s undoubtedly had an impact on the nightlife. Newcastle remains a vibrant, varied and above all fun place to party and live.

Danny Hughes is someone who travelled to the city and has since stayed, falling in love with the quirky charms of the city and its inhabitants. With him behind the helm of an arts focused venue in the city (everything in the city has been artist designed, from pool cues to windows), we pressed him on his North East delights.

Where do you live and why do you live there?

I live in a place called many things, commonly Newcastle or the Toon if you ask a local. More specifically I live on the Newcastle Quayside, which really is something to be seen and experienced, situated amongst beautiful architecture and a wealth of bridges that cross the (fog on the) Tyne.

What makes the city so special?

Hands down the people. Newcastle has an incredibly diverse mixture of young professionals and new wave creatives that pour from the cities Universities. Like myself I came to the city as an outsider and fell in love with the North East. I’ve worked and played in many cities across the country however nothing suits me more than the food hang outs, bars, and clubs that this city boasts. From under ground to pop culture the city provides for the many and the few.

Where’s your favourite places to eat there?

At the moment I hit a few places. For anything breakfast related nothing compares to the Quay Ingredient situated under Newcastle’s most iconic bridge. Best eggs in town. Lunchtime spots consist of Ninety Nine, 9bar, or independent burrito bar Zapatista.

Sushi is always a good shout and newly opened Osaka is an incredible spot any time of the day. Evenings revolve around a huge amount of choice however Electric East is a personal fave.

And the best places to go out?

Bars include Popollos, Alvinos, the Vineyard, and the Town Wall for easy beers and cocktails. As things drift into the more twilight hours venues like theCUT, Hoochie Coochie, and Cosmic Ballroom. And of course our new music venue MusicSlashArt now features heavily.

We’ve had artists from all over the world come and curate unique installations on the inside and out, taking over the bars, booths, entrances and more. We’ve got weekly music events and we’re hoping to keep MSA evolving with new artists making their mark over time. We’ve even created our own signature cocktails. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

For someone about to come to the city for the first time, what are the three things they must do before the year is out in the city?

Oooooh. Firstly one has to see a football game. Love it or loathe it nothing quite compares to Newcastle on match day. With the ground situated at the heart of the city and the best fans in the world it really has to be experienced.

Secondly hit the Baltic, situated on the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside just over the Millennium bridge the space leads the field in contemporary art outside of London. With five floors, an incredible shop, and restaurant on the top floor you should definitely loose a couple of hours.

Finally, get down with the locals at the Boiler Shop Steamer. Taking place every month just behind central station this pop up event features the best food and drink from the region. All the eateries and brewers sit side by side to the back drop of live music and DJ’s. It’s top of the pops.

What’s the city’s greatest hidden secret?

The tunnels underneath the city. They run from top to Tyne, for miles and miles. Well worth a little investigating and they happen to come out in the Ouseburn, one of Newcastle’s best areas for street art, live music, and awesome boozers.

And finally, what one bit of advice would you give someone hitting the city for the first time?

Explore. Newcastle is incredible but it’s also linked to some of the best places I’ve ever been. The surf at Tynemouth, the gardens at Alnwick, the surrounding rural areas feature amazing traditional pubs, and there’s also the fastest hop to Amsterdam.

Danny Hughes is the owner of MusicSlashArt, a brand-new venue and creative concept in Newcastle. For more information visit

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