With Spring in full bloom there is simply no better time of year to visit and enjoy Northumberland at it's most beautiful. As you would expect with the Bank Holiday towards the start of the month their are a huge number of things to do. The various gardens around the County are a particularly spectacular this month and absolutely shoudn't be missed.
You'll find our highlights of what's happening during the month below and a full list of events towards the bottom of the page. There's an in depth listing of what's on in the week ahead on our Events This Week page. It's crammed full with even more ideas for things to do and is updated weekly. If you would like to receive our monthly newsletter which includes an overview of what's on and a few interesting local stories just let us have your email address here.
Gardens in Bloom
Quite simply put, it would be a crime not to explore Northumberland's truly outstanding gardens at this time of year. Towards the end of May the Azaleas give way to the many thousands of Rhodedendrons at Cragside House, Gardens and Estate and continue to bloom well into June (pictured right). It is a quite astounding display of colour and the sheer magnitude of the estate can't fail to impress. Howick Hall Gardens was voted by the Independent as one of the top ten gardens to visit in Spring and it is no wonder! Come May the Rhododendrons take centre stage within the woodland, but it is hard to overlook the striking azure blue of the Himalayan Poppies: Meconopis betonicifolia; those hard to establish little beauties whose plants flower, set seed and then die never to reappear unless the knowledgeable gardener, has provided the perfect moist, cool conditions required for the new seeds to germinate.
The Cherry Orchard at The Alnwick Garden is the largest of its kind in the world and is one of The Garden's most tranquil areas, with winding pathways and over 300 graceful Japanese Tai Haku cherry trees. The trees are underplanted with 600,000 pink 'Mistress' tulips, and pathways meander amongst them, with colourful azalea borders planted at the Orchard’s edge.
Bank Holiday Weekend Highlights
The Bellingham All Accoustic Music Festival takes place from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th May and with around 100 performers taking part there should be something for everyone! The County's National Trust properties all have a range of activities over the weekend including Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Wallington Hall, Cragside House and Gardens, Seaton Delaval Hall and Hadrian's Wall and Houseteads Fort. Visit their websites for more information. The Imperial Roman Army returns to Hadrian's Wall at Chesters Roman Fort on Sunday 6th and monday 7th May. Join the armoured ranks of the world famous Ermine Street Guard in their 40th year of Roman re-enactment. Their soldiers will be depicting the Imperial Roman Army being put through their training.
Monday 7th May sees the fifth annual Rothbury Food and Craft Festival take place. With over 50 stalls and lots going on all around this attractive rural Village it promises to be an exciting and tasty day! Indoor Craft Fair is bringing the Fairies, Pictsies and Green Men to Ashington, along with Mini Pony Hire and other attractions. They have a Bouncy Castle, Animal Antics, Creation Station, Lazer Quest and lots more on Monday 7th May. Its also the Northumberland Coastal Challenge Walk on monday 7th May, this 26 mile linear walk covers the fantastic Northumberland Coastal line from just North of Bamburgh to Alnmouth.
Haltwhistle Walking Festival (18th April - 7th May)
The Festival is a charity that organises walks during their annual Festival between April 28th and May 7th 2012. There are a number of walks for all levels of fitness and experience and places can be booked online, but they do tend to fill up quickly! Walk leaders are all volunteers who love sharing their experience of the area and it goes without saying that the countryside views will be outstanding! Visit the Festival Website for more information.
Hexham Book Festival concludes on the 3rd May and this year will be one of the most vibrant festivals around; they’re celebrating the brightest and best of new fiction; a rich mix of gardening, food, and travel writers; trenchant views on art and politics.
Belsay Hall have a month long Fashion from the Past event with daily costume displays showing the trends of the Tudor nobles and a series of exciting weekend presentations, highlights include a weekend commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s ill-fated journey, fashion with rasions from the 1940s and an evocative journey into the finery and fashions from Edwardian society.
Fenton Spring Fair takes place on Sunday 13th May 2012, enjoy a family day out at The Fenton Centre with something to suit everyone and help support Hospice Care North Northumberland. There will be local entertainment, stalls, a raffle, games and team challenges for all the family. Alongside the main ring attractions, yet to be announced, will be face painting, pony rides, a bouncy castle and a treasure hunt. The gates will open at 10am. Ticket prices are Adult £5, Child £2.50, Family £12.50.
Cinema and the Arts
Northumberland's Arts Centres and Cinemas offer an excellent choice and range of theatre and film. If the weather is bad, or just too cold to tackle, why not stay indoors and enjoy some culture or a film. The Maltings in Berwick, Alnwick Playhouse, Queen's Hall Arts Centre in Hexham, The Forum Cinema in Hexham and The Phoenix Theatre in Blyth. For a list of weekly Markets and Farmer's Markets visit our Markets in Northumberland page.
There is a full list of events for the month of May below, with web links where available for more information. For regular updates and news don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.