Josh Hollis

Northern Lights Awards 2014 – Venue of the Year

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Despite what some people who have never lived north of Watford would have you believe, the North East is fit to burst with fantastic cultural goings-on, talent and events, and is also chock full of fantastic venues ran by amazing people that make up a crucial part of the region’s cultural fabric.

And with this award we want to celebrate some of our best cultural venues, who stand out from the crowd by not only putting a roof over our heads on a Friday night and supplying us with delicious delicious beverages,  but also by seeking to bring the world’s best talent to our region while remaining fiercely proud of our own communities.

Sadly we couldn’t convince Matthew McConaughey to read them out, so let your imagination do the work as we reveal the nominations for Venue of the Year:


The Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle

In a world of corporate chains and faceless multiplexes the Tyneside Cinema is a fantastic example of how great independent, culturally active and community-focused cinema can still be, with a range of events, screenings and shows encompassing far, far more than simply the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Read our interview with Tyneside Cinema’s Venue Manager Leigh Venus to hear more about the cinema’s exciting future.


The Sunderland Empire

Open for more than 100 years, the Sunderland Empire still stands tall (literally) above the city as one of the best and most iconic theatre venues in the country. But in the past year the Empire has surpassed itself yet again, with huge announcements such as the Lion King and Wicked putting it back in the spotlight. Check out our recent feature on the Empire’s stunning success to see exactly why it’s been nominated.


Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland

By day a brilliant independent record shop; by night an even more brilliant intimate music venue, it seems that whatever Frankie Francis and the boys touch turns to gold, as Pop Recs continues to go from strength to strength. With increasingly notorious bookings dovetailing with great local talent it has swiftly become a superb cultural hotspot in Sunderland. Back in December we interviewed Frankie Francis about the shop’s success and future, it’s well worth a read.


The Witham, Barnard Castle

When you think of Barnard Castle, your mind doesn’t immediately jump to stand-up comedy. But a succession of stellar bookings at Witham Hall in the last twelve months or so has started to change all that, with nationally-renowned funny men such as Russell(s) Howard and Kane as well as local legend Chris Ramsay all taking to the Barnard Castle stage, as it continues to provide the North East with a thriving venue for the biggest comedy gigs around. Check out the news story from when Russell Kane’s Witham Hall show was announced for further info.

Have your say in who wins the award for Venue of the Year by voting in our poll below, tweeting us @North_Lights_, or by letting us know in the comments section.

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