When one thinks of the North East of England, many things spring to mind. Stottie bread, for example, or Billy Elliot. Or an abundance of Gregg’s sausage rolls, probably being eaten by people braving sub-zero temperatures without any sort of outerwear. One thing you might not associate with the North is Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures, yet that is exactly what is being celebrated with an annual festival taking place in our region this summer.
The ¡VAMOS! Festival is already into its eighth year. It is principally based in Newcastle, but the festival spans out across the North East with plenty of goings-on in Durham, Gateshead and Tyneside, ensuring that this is a truly regional event. This year’s festival encompasses over forty events, with food, art, music, film, dance, history and, in true Latino style, dusk-til-dawn parties all coming within the scope of ¡VAMOS!, the festival promises something for everyone. Students can enjoy everything from DJ sets to academic lectures, whilst families are also catered for, with many events designed with little ones in mind, such as a children’s flamenco workshop.
¡VAMOS! kicked off last weekend with a range of exciting events encompassing live music, DJs, art workshops and a talk about Spain under Franco. But if you didn’t make it to any of these, fear not – the festival runs until the 14th July and the best is still to come. Here is a (by no means exhaustive) outline of some of highlights of ¡VAMOS! 2013:
Talk Season: For those with a more academic interest in the Latin world, a series of talks delivered by world-renowned experts will help to further your knowledge. Entrance to all is free and it’s a rare chance to hear leading academics talk about their field. Topics range from the impact of social media in the Americas (held on Thursday 27th June) to the Moroccan diaspora in Granada (Thursday 4th July), amongst many others.
Chinese Takeaway: Just one of many cinematic events being held during the festival, the screening of this Argentine comedy starring the country’s most internationally-known actor, Ricardo Darín, is a chance to see an award-winning film for free! It will be shown on Tuesday 25th June at 4.30pm at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle.
Tyne Carnival: Who needs Rio when you’ve got Newcastle? On Saturday 29th June, ¡VAMOS! will take to the streets (Northumberland Street, to be more precise) for music, dancing and, of course, fancy dress. The theme is ‘Kings and Queens’ – all interpretations of the theme are welcome and ‘Best Dressed’ will be announced at Highbridge. There’s an after party at The Stand and it promises to be one of the festival’s most memorable days.
Felipe Mujica: Art is high on the agenda at ¡VAMOS!. On Tuesday 2nd July, Chilean Felipe Mujica will share his artistic offerings at Newcastle’s beautiful Theatre Royal, in the form of large scale banners displayed on the building’s facade. Felipe will be giving a talk about his work after the opening, and entrance to both is free.
Cuban Fusion Night: ¡VAMOS! comes to Durham’s very own Slug & Lettuce with a night of music, dancing and fun. Entrance is free and there will be live percussion music, while salsa will be taught by the X Salsa team. Those of you who can’t make the event on Tuesday 2nd July might be interested to know that salsa lessons are held every Tuesday from 7.30pm at the Slug & Lettuce, with discounted prices for students.
Morgan Szymanski: Musician Morgan Szymanski presents an eclectic event at Newcastle’s award-winning venue The Cluny on Thursday 4th July. The project, entitled ‘Sketches of Mexico’, combines Mexican music from Manuel M. Ponce and Julio César Oliva with the work of twenty visual artists from all corners of the globe. Tickets can be bought in advance here (http://thecluny.seetickets.com/event/vamos-2013-morgan-szymanski/the-cluny2/709782) – prior booking is recommended!
Portuguese Paladares: A true cultural feast will be held on Thursday 11th July at the Summerhill Bowling Club in Newcastle city centre. Homemade Portuguese cuisine will be whipped up using local produce and there will be a live performance of Portuguese music between the three courses. This one-off event has a limited number of tickets available so advance booking is recommended and can be done here (http://www.vamosfestival.com/event/portuguese-paladares/).
Mexican Wrestling: Do something different with your weekend and come down to Boiler Shop in Newcastle on Saturday 13th July for Mexican Wrestling. Characterised by colourful masks and theatrical manoeuvres, it promises to be an entertaining spectacle, accompanied by Latin American food stalls, DJs, piñata workshops, live percussion and much more. Early bird tickets have already sold out but tickets can still be purchased here (http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/6654934087).
If you want to see the full programme, book tickets or find out more about ¡VAMOS!, visit the festival’s official website (www.vamosfestival.com), or the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/VAMOSFestival?fref=ts) for up-to-the-minute information, updates, and photos.