Vintage festival beside the sea

A postcard promoting the Vintage Newbiggin Festival.
A postcard promoting the Vintage Newbiggin Festival.

A three-day festival celebrating the heyday of the great British seaside is coming to south east Northumberland this Easter.

Vintage Newbiggin – Easter by the Sea, will celebrate bank holidays as they used to be with activities on the beach, a Saturday night swing ball, pop up beauty salons, swing dance workshops, music, children’s competitions, an Easter bonnet parade, food stalls, a vintage market and car rally, fair rides and more.

Lynn Burns, chairwoman of the Portas Town Team, said: “It’s going to be a fun filled weekend with something for everybody: shopping, entertainment, heritage, activities, sports, lovely old cars and a truly glamorous night out at the vintage ball.

“We want to remind everyone of just how much fun can be gained from a day at the seaside and Newbiggin is the perfect place to do that.

“Visitors are very welcome for a day, an evening or for the whole weekend.”

Northumberland county councillor and town team director, Liz Simpson, said: “We have been amazed at everyone’s enthusiasm for this project.

We want to remind everyone of just how much fun can be gained from a day at the seaside and Newbiggin is the perfect place to do that

Lynn Burns, chairwoman of the Portas Town Team

“Over 50 businesses and community groups have so far got involved and the number rises every day.

“It is a really good example of what makes south east Northumberland so special – good folk pulling together for the benefit of everyone.

“The Portas Team continue to do Newbiggin proud.”

In 2012 when Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps selected Newbiggin along with 11 other UK towns from a list of 371 applicants to become a Portas Pilot Town hopes were high for the reinvigoration of local high streets.

The Portas review in December 2011 had laid out 28 recommendations for the development of high streets many of which were directed at national government.

Other recommendations challenged local people to get involved in the economic success of their own towns and the Portas Pilot Town Teams were formed to meet these challenges.

The Newbiggin Town Team has worked with local traders and landlords to meet Mary Portas’ challenges to keep shops open and, again bucking the national trend occupancy rates in Newbiggin have actually risen from only 63 per cent in 2012 to well over 90 per cent now.

Empty shops have been filled with vibrant local businesses and new ones are arriving all the time to take their place beside long time cafes, shops and services in the town.

And £50,000 worth of grants targeted at improving business premises on the town’s historic Victorian high street have created attractive traditional shop fronts adorning the length of the town’s conservation area.

Visitors have been drawn to the town through a series of events including the annual triathlon, beach festivals, a music festival and Christmas celebrations that have brought many Newbiggin groups together including churches, arts groups, bands and the Traders’ Association.

A full schedule of the weekend’s activities can be found on the event facebook page: Vintage-Newbiggin or follow @NewbigginEaster on Twitter.