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Masala Festival (Newcastle 17th-24th July)

As I’ve said in previous posts, there’s so much going on in Newcastle and Gateshead this summer, we are really spoilt for choice culturally. The inaugural Curious Festival celebrating LGBTQ culture in the North East has just drawn to close, and the first Q Festival kicks off this Friday at Baltic Quays. Masala Festival, curated by GemArts (a dynamic arts development organisation committed to delivering culturally diverse events) celebrates South Asian culture with a diverse programme of dance, storytelling, drama, literature, music, films and workshops in venues across Newcastle and Gateshead. The winner of the Arts Council Award at last year’s The Journal Culture Awards 2017, expect even more great events at this year’s Masala Festival, which runs from Monday 17th July until Monday 24th July. The festival launches at The Sage Gateshead with Sacred Sounds (see below for more information).


Sacred Sounds: Sikh Music Traditions And The First World War (Monday 17th July, Sage Two, Sage Gateshead 7pm, £10)

It’s a little known fact that over one million Indians participated in WW1. 100,000 of them were Sikhs, who represented a tiny percentage of India’s population. Sacred Sounds tells the stories of these courageous Sikh soldiers through Sikh sacred hymns (Shabads), recruitment songs and folk songs.

Gandharva Choir (Tuesday 18th July, Sage Concourse, 6.30pm, FREE)

Don’t miss the Gandharva Choir’s first ever visit to the North East. Wowing audiences for forty years, the choir from India specialises in classical Indian devotional (including Dhrupad, Dhamar, Varnam, Kriti and Tarana) and folk styles.

Sarathy Korwar – Quintet (Thursday 20th July, Black Swan, 7.30pm, £10)

An exceptionally talented percussionist, drummer and producer, Sarathy and his quintet will be showing music from his ‘Day to Day’ album which fuses traditional Sidi folk music with jazz and electronics. Apparently Gilles Peterson is a big fan!


No Dogs, No Indians by Siddharta Bose (Wednesday 19th July and Thursday 20th July, Live Theatre Newcastle, £10-£14)

A powerful and moving play which involves three intertwining stories that explore the legacy of the British in India and identity, marking the 70th anniversary of independence. The story jumps from Bengal in 1932, where young female revolutionary plans to attack a whites-only club, where we meet an aspiring intellectual obsessed with all things British decades later, to the present day – a young successful Indian man is haunted by the ghosts of the past.


Chai, Chaat and Chutney With Chetan Makan (Tuesday 18th July, Food Nation, 1.15pm, £10)

Chetna was on Bake Off in 2014, and has recently written Chai, Chaat and Chutney, a mouth-watering guide through Indian street food). She’ll be cooking three recipes (yes, you’ll get to try them) and sharing her top tips and techniques on South Asian cuisine.

Dalit Nagra: Heritage And Identity (Tuesday 18th July, Culture Lab/Newcastle University, 6.30pm, £6)

Esteemed poet Daljit Nagra will be reading from his third poetry collection, British Museum. Afterwards he will be in discussion with Dr Neelam Srivastava from Newcastle University, followed by a drinks reception.

Dalit Nagra 


Biriyani Club (Saturday 22nd July, Arch 16 Cafe/Gateshead, 7pm, £10/£8)

After a busy week of Masala Festival events, refuel with delicious Indian food courtesy of Ashiyana pop up cafe and Arch 16 – vegetarian biriyani, curries and side dishes (a meat option will be available for those that request it). Share food with old and new friends, and relax to bhangra beats provided by a GemArts DJ.

Masala Festival at Dabbawal Jesmond (17th to 23rd July, Dabbawal Jesmond)

Dabbawal have created a mouth-watering festival menu available for one week only. Soak up the vibes with artwork by GemArts artists.


Aurora by Jayamini de Silva (22nd July to 31st August, Arch Cafe 16/Gateshead)

Make you sure catch this stunning exhibition by the Sri-Lankan born artist, which portrays the agony and the ecstasy in the lives of women. Expect vivid colour (she works with stone colours on silk, ink on rice paper and acrylic on canvas) and haunting scenes.

Family Events

Masala Festival at Q Festival (Tuesday 18th July 9am-4pm, Baltic Square, Gateshead, £4/£3)

Enjoy a variety of events including a fun Bollywood dance class, stories from the Punjab, a chat with Bake Off contestant and author Chetna Makan and storytelling for adults and children with Henna, a story of love, loss, betrayal and Bollywood! Beautify your hands with henna.

Masala Festival:Trinity Square (Saturday 22nd July, 11.30am-2.30pm, Trinity Square Gateshead, FREE)

Finale – by Anna Miller

Fun for all the family with arts workshops, Henna artists and South Asian cooking.

Mini Mela (Monday 23rd July, 11am – 3pm, Live Garden/Live Theatre, FREE)

The Masala Festival finale will feature arts, crafts, interactive storytelling and live performances. Enjoy delicious Indian street food, Henna and face painting.


Changes: Stories On The Edge (Friday 7th July, Baltic, 7pm, £5)

Documenting personal and political conflicts that test the human spirit, these short films from India, the UK and global South Asian diaspora communities are thought-provoking and moving.

Movies at Masala Festival (Saturday 22nd July, Jam Jar Cinema Whitley Bay)

Catch two inspiring yet very different films – The Jungle Book (11.30am, £2,50) and Gandhi (7.30pm, £5).


Get in touch with your spiritual side and boost your health and wellbeing with a diverse variety of workshops. 

Introductory Meditation (Monday 17th July, Newcastle Buddhist Centre, 5.30pm – 6.30pm)

Gentle Post Natal Yoga (Tuesday 18th July, Shipley Art Gallery, 1pm-2pm)

Balancing the Chakras – Ali Shelvin (Wednesday 19th July, Cloud 9 Wellbeing, 11am-1pm)

Bollywood Dance (Wednesday 19th July, Bentham Grove, 5.45pm-6.45pm)

Hatha Yoga – Samantha Coe (Wednesday 19th July, St Mary’s Heritage Centre, 2pm – 3.15pm)

Iyengar Yoga with Nicola (Wednesday 19th July, The Nest Low Fell, 7pm-8.30pm)

Spirit level Yoga with Robyn (various dates, Spiritlevel Boutique Studio)

Free Workshops (Saturday 22nd July, Trinity Square 11.30am – 2.30pm/Saturday 23rd July, Live Garden, 11am, – 3pm)

I’m going to try to get to as many events as I can – really looking forward to Sarathy Korwar and No Dogs, No Indians!

To download the festival brochure click here

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