We have rounded up 23 things to do in Northumberland in 2023, so you can scroll through some of the best things to do in Northumberland, add them to your bucket list, and book your next trip for a year filled with endless experiences. From christmas celebrations, magic castles, easter fun and coastal walks filled with wildlife spotting, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Northumberland.
Make sure you tag us in your Northumberland adventures at @visitnland/ @visitnorthumberland and use the hashtag #endlessexperiences.
1) Do something whisky
2023 will see the exciting opening of Ad Gefrin
, a world class Anglo-Saxon Museum and English whisky distillery in Wooler
, Northumberland. Opening in Spring 2023, the distillery will celebrate the unique heritage, ancient hospitality, and contemporary crafts, arts and produce of Northumberland. You will be invited to step back in time to the Royal Court of the 7th century Northumbrian kings and queens to experience the ancient spirit of hospitality. Immerse yourself in the same landscape that shaped ancient royal hospitality and today gives us the finest malting barley and the purest Cheviot water with which Ad Gefrin creates its Single Malt Whisky.
2) Wish it could be Christmas every day
2023 is an exciting year for Northumberland, as it will also see the opening of Lilidorei, a new magical Christmas village at The Alnwick Garden
containing the world's biggest play structure. The fantasy village development, which which will have a Christmassy feel all-year-round, set in a forest clearing where you can find wooden homes of magical creatures like elves and goblins, who are preparing for Christmas throughout the year. With zip wires, slides and climbing walls connecting each area, the idea for the park was dreamt up by the Duchess of Northumberland and will make for the perfect family day out
3) Find ospreys and eat canapes
Hiding amongst the vast forest and tranquil waters of Kielder
lies one of northern England’s most outstanding conservation success stories; the return of the Osprey. Should the ospreys return to Kielder this year, Wild Intrigue
will run a uniquely tailored cruise for the second year running, where you will get the truly special opportunity to watch the Kielder Ospreys as they soar overhead and fish the tranquil water. Your Wild Intrigue guide will share the history and inspiring story of the Osprey while giving you the best chance to see them for yourselves. All the while, Canapés and prosecco will be served on board this 2.5 hour sunset cruise on Kielder Water
4) Go on a safari
Go on an adventure with the special Ingram Valley Farm Safari
, a Northumberland experience launched in 2021. Starting at Ingram Bridge car park, the fantastic Patrick from Footsteps in Northumberland
and a member of the Wilson family will take you on a journey through time, discovering what has shaped this beautiful valley for over a millennia and beyond. Immerse yourself in 6,000 years of farming history as we take you chapter by chapter through myth, legend, nature and the history of England’s largest scheduled ancient monument at Ingram Valley Farm. Half way through, you will pause for a picnic provided by Ingram Cafe, complete with fresh, local ingredients.
5) Find out where the magic happens
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then Alnwick
is the place for you. Visit the cobbled market town of Alnwick and discover the magic at Alnwick Castle
, known for its starring debut as Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for a Harry Potter-themed tour or a broomstick lesson. Try Escape Key
's outdoor adventure 'The Magic Bottles', which uses a Harry Potter-inspired spot to send you in search of clues, tasks and puzzles to solve as a team and (hopefully!) win the game. Then, sleep like a wizard in Alnwick’s exciting and newly renovated hotel Hallow and Crux, which holds four individually designed rooms with a whimsical, witchy twist. Pick from The Common Room, The Dumbledorm, The Marauders and The Chamber and experience the magic for yourself.
6) Car Gaze
There are few places in the UK where you can pull over, turn off your headlights, allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and admire the dazzling sight of Gold Tier Status Dark Skies. In Northumberland, 572 square miles of Gold Tier Dark Skies await your arrival, so fill your boot with a deck chair, flask and binoculars and venture to one of the county’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites. If the conditions are right and the sky is clear, you can gaze at dazzling stars and admire Orion or The Milky Way with the naked eye.
7) DO n’t go chasing waterfalls
Wander into the wilds of Northumberland and you just might find an unexpected opening where a whimsical waterfall tumbles into a bottomless plunge pot. Roughting Linn and Hareshaw Linn all wait at the end of hidden trails and off-the-beaten-track routes, making perfect picnic spots and even somewhere to dip your toes after a long walk.
8) Much Ado about Puffins
Head to Seahouses between March – October and book a Farne Islands boat trip with Billy Shiel Farne Island Tours or Serenity Farne Island Tours. Adorably clumsy puffins and lolloping seals reside at The Farne Islands, where birds rule the roost and humans are in the minority, and seals are regularly spotted lazing on the rocks.
9) Wake up on the bright side of the bed
Watch the sky become emblazoned with oranges, pinks and reds over Northumberland’s staggering coastline and capture it on camera if you can. Northumberland’s sunrises are well worth the early wake up, so just remember that when your alarm disturbs your slumber. While the experience is spectacular year round, people fall for the horizon most in autumn as the colours are simply magical.
10) Whatever floats your goat
Go wild cheviot goat spotting and enjoy an al fresco dinner with Wild Intrigue’s Goats and Gourmet activity. Cheviot Goats are members of one of the oldest herds of wild animals in Britain, and are a rare find roaming in the Cheviots. The trip is followed by an al fresco gourmet meal prepared by local chef Chris from Fells Kitchen while you take in the breath taking College Valley views. If you like the sound of this, you’ve goat to try their other activities too, such as Bats and Pizza, Moths and Muffins and more.
11) Find your Porpoise
The romantic River Tweed is a sight to behold, as Berwick’s three iconic bridges stand proudly over its shimmering water. Hop on board The Border Rose with Berwick Boat Trips and sail out to sea in search of the dolphins that are regularly sighted at the mouth of the river. David and crew will open your eyes to Berwick’s tumultuous history while you keep them peeled for the water’s wildlife.
12) See the Rolling Stones
Northumberland boasts the longest stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, the fascinating Roman remains that delve and dive across the rolling Northumberland National Park landscape. Step into your hiking boots and explore one of the National Park routes where iconic sites such as Sycamore Gap, Roman Forts and ancient temples can all be discovered and the wall is with you every step of the way. Want to walk the length of the wall without being weighed down by your luggage? Let Hadrian's Wall Baggage Transfer do the heavy lifting for you.
This one is a beginner adrenaline-junkie’s dream; Calvert Kielder’s ZipCoaster has you soaring through the air in roller-coaster-esque ups, downs, twists and turns. Securely strapped into a harness, the thrilling ride gives you a free-flying sensation and, like all of Calvert Kielder’s activities, is completely accessible, so users with a disability can enjoy the ride.
14) Get to know a telescope
As well as doing some independent stargazing, you might want a bit of guidance when you’re gazing into the galaxy. Northumberland’s observatories are here to help, offering everything from beginners’ workshops to experienced astronomy events. Kielder Observatory, which sits directly below the International Dark Sky Park, and Battlesteads, the award-winning, sustainable hotel that has its own observatory, are two excellent examples.
15) Be OAR-some
Paddle past Warkworth Castle or into the estuary (depending on tide levels) with a two hour canoe tour along the River Coquet, or kayak over to Coquet Island and drift past puffins on an incredible wildlife excursion with Adventure Northumberland. Stand-up paddle board beside a castle on our coastline, or on breath-taking Kielder reservoir, and kayak over its calm waters.
16) Walk a mile in someone else's shoes
Let Footsteps in Northumberland lead the way along The Pilgrim's Way and follow in the footsteps of 6th century saints across the causeway to Lindisfarne Island. From April to September, hundreds of grey seals gather on the sandbanks, and from October to March thousands of migrating birds fill the bay and make this trip a wildlife lover's paradise. *Always check safe crossing times for Lindisfarne Island ahead of visiting.
17) Have your pick of the bunch
Pick your food straight from the forest and onto the plate with a Northern Wilds Wild Food Forage Feast course. Their emphasis on gut health, wellbeing and the benefits of eating fresh, natural produce will make you come away wanting to escape to the wilderness and live on wild mushrooms and berries. On their full day tour, they prepare the day’s harvest in a wild food wagon and turn it into a delicious feast so you can taste your picks there and then.
18) Give yourself a push
Get on yer’ bike and freewheel through forests, countryside and coast in Northumberland. We have gentle, circular routes for families, off-road adventures for the experienced cyclists, and scenic routes perfect for sight-seeing by bike. Hire everything while you're here with our fantastic bike hire services like Pedal Power, or book a guided cycling trip to Northumberland with Saddle Skedaddle who offer itineraries along our fantastic coastline, on the Sandstone Way and more.
19) Branch out
Feel the magic of sleeping in the treetops in one of Northumberland's awe-inspiring self-catering tree houses. Both Hesleyside Huts and Woodland Chase offer fairytale stays in a mystical woodland setting where you are quite literally immersed in nature, nestled away in the trees.
20) Fifty shades of Earl Grey
Howick Hall was the home of Charles Grey who, in the 1830s, received a tea blend from a Chinese mandarin as a gift. The tea had been specially blended with bergamot to suit the water from the spring at Howick Hall and, after Lady Grey served it to numerous guests, it became so popular that British tea merchants requested permission to replicate it. Today, it is known as Earl Grey, and it is pretty much essential to stop at Howick Hall Tea Room for a pot of the refreshing beverage in what was once the ballroom of the Grey family’s residence.
21) Discover your roots
Get outside and experience the healing powers of nature in Northumberland. Visit the cobbled market town of Alnwick in spring and spend a magical day amongst The Alnwick Garden’s cherry blossoms and Alnwick Castle’s grounds. The Alnwick Garden has a short window between the end of April and the beginning of May where their collection of Taihaku cherry blossoms (the largest in the world) blooms. Relax on one of the swinging benches amongst the fluttering blossom trees before heading to Alnwick Castle, whose surroundings become flooded with daffodils in the springtime. Warkworth Castle also shines brightly in spring due to its host of surrounding daffodils, or visit Cragside at the end of May/ beginning of June to see the staggering rhododendrons that are dotted around the grounds.
22) Love is ale you need
Tucked away in the heart of Ford & Etal Estate sits the only thatched pub in Northumberland, The Black Bull Inn. Managed by the brand new Cheviot Brewery who brew real ale just up the road, you can taste local tipples and enjoy a pint or two in the cosy, stone interior and by a warming open fire. While you're visiting Ford and Etal Estates, you can't miss fascinating historical attractions Etal Castle, Lady Waterford Hall and Heatherslaw Corn Mill.
23) Watch a film that ends in ruins
View this post on Instagram
Staggering, iconic and magnificent no matter when you visit, Bamburgh Castle dominates Northumberland’s coastline as you approach the village of Bamburgh. Stay in the castle grounds after sunset for one of its magical and spell-binding outdoor cinema viewings, where towering turrets are the back-drop and crashing waves are the soundtrack.
Author: Jenni Meikle