¡VAMOS! Festival – Newcastle

Do you, like me, feel like you sometimes live in a culture void unless you play some world music, watch a subtitled film or cook something, well, exotic?

Right then, there’s a way to get rid of that emptiness usually filled by throwing a load of money at a European city break. Get hold of your diary (I still like paper) or your phone (they can break, you know). Go to that part where you can see the whole year, and block out June 6th to 22nd. It’s ¡VAMOS! time!!!!!!!!!


Anyone living in or around Newcastle will have heard of the annual celebration of all things Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American – it’s in its 9th year and is offering festival fans a massively diverse calendar of arts, music, dance, culinary and literary events during June – 2014 promises to be its best year yet. Funded by the Arts Council England, and with support as diverse Newcastle University, The Mexican Embassy and Institute Cervantes in Manchester ¡VAMOS! taps into the richness of the Latin community residing in the North East and also sees international talent visiting the city, such is the reputation and draw of the festival.

Back to your diary. Find Saturday 7th June. Imagine that it might be a few degrees warmer. You could even wear shorts– can you picture it? Head to Northumberland Street for 11am – it’s Mardi Gras time! This colourful community event sees school kids, musicians and dancers from across the UK in a celebration of diversity and community. The stunning ¡VAMOS! Pavilion designed by Brazilian artist Flavio Morais will be unveiled before it travels to other key festival locations. Get involved in tango workshops and sample great food during the afternoon against a backdrop of live music from Son Yambu and Duo Norteno before the big Mardi Gras finale performance. The LocoHero photo stall will pop its head up for the first time during the festival to turn you into a Latin inspired character.

Don’t tire yourself out – in the evening head to the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre to experience flamenco at its finest. Sevillian based Jaleo Flamenco will be providing an enchanting performance from 8pm.


At some point you’ll need to sample more Latin American food, so pop down to Newcastle College on Tuesday 10th for Cubano – Cuban communal dining courtesy of the Chef’s Academy’s budding pro chefs from 7pm. A Cuban live band provides the ambience.

I personally love a cinema experience with a difference, like being chased by zombies or something like that. Highlight Friday 13th June at 8pm for a special screening of Spanish film genius Almodovar’s Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down at Summerhill Bowling Club. There’ll be drag queens, live music and tapas to ensure an authentic experience. Other film events include Strawberries and Chocolate and Maestra at the Side Cinema, with Wrinkles and El Secreto de Sus Ojos being shown Newcastle universities Daysh Building (check website for details).


I know for a fact my Brazilian friends will be heading to Bar Loco for the Celebrating Portuguese afternoon on Sunday 15th June from 2pm. How do I know? Because those guys never miss a chance to party. Celebrate the half-way point of the festival with music from Tuga Tribe, traditional food and live performances.

Music lovers need to head back to Bar Loco on Wednesday 18th for World Guitar Night. You’ll be treated to local talent playing the music of flamenco genius Paco de Lucia.

The end of the second week sees more music with Latin American band Burundanga’s album launch at Hoochie Coochie – add Friday 20th June  – 8pm to your diary. Saturday 21st gets high energy and high flying with the ever popular Mexican Wrestling, at the Toffee Factory. Expect acrobatics,crazy moves andthose distinctive outfits while you’re entertained at the Lucha Libre, with shows at 12pm (families) and 3pm (over 16s only). I’ll also be there to smash some piñatas and scoff delicious Latin food.


At this point you’re allowed a quick lie down at home, before you come back into town for the after party. The Cycle Hub welcomes DJ Toy Selectah, Mexico fusion DJ extraordinaire (signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label). The party starts at 8pm; experience ska, soul and funk and Latin Jazz. Yes, there’ll be food with Latin food stalls in abundance.

Latin countries love their traditions, and so does ¡VAMOS!, with the organisers realising that the annual beach party is the only fitting way to close what is sure to be a fabulous fortnight. Share your festival experiences at Crusoes on Longsands Beach, Tynemouth on Sunday 22nd from 7pm and give thanks for the new cultural experiences which have enriched your existence.Que te vaya muy bien!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Also during VAMOS (advance booking may be required)

  • Art – avaf (assume vivid astro focus) at mima, Middlesbrough – Artist duo Eli Sudbrack from Rio and Christopher Hamaide-Pierson from Paris present a brand new commission on display throughout the festival
  • Food – Latin American Pop-Up Dining at Clocktower Café, Hoults Yard –Fridays 6,13,20th
  • Food – Secret Paladares – Argentinian meal and live music at secret home location with chef Gareth Kyle –17th June at 8pm
  • Family – A Brazilian themed Festas Juninas Family Picnic on Saturday 14th from 2pm at Summerhill Bowling Club – costumes, food, dancing and Afro Brazilian band De Lata.
  • Lit – Literary Conference – 20th and 21st June at the Great North Museum – international speakers, authors and performers
  • Lit  – Talks at Newcastle University – Climate Change, Economics – 10th, 11th, 17th June
  • Art – Joan Miro prints exhibition at the Balman Gallery Corbridge until 21st June
  • Music – lunchtime concerts with the Young Sinfonia 1.30 pm on 15th and 22nd June  – Sage Gateshead


Twitter & instagram @VAMOS_festival



(Published in the June issue of Narc magazine)

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