(Above) Revellers take the magic bus to venues across Newcastle for The Late Shows
A themed bash based on the blockbuster Twilight series, the fictional funeral of Darth Vadar, views inside a football ground heading back to the Premier League and tour guides with inimitable Geordie accents can only mean one thing: the return of Newcastle’s The Late Shows, the largest and most colourful Museums at Night event in the UK.
Few cities are as laden with excellent venues as the Tyneside city, galvanized by an imaginative gang from Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums who lay on free buses between each site and hand out glowsticks to explorers on the "culture crawl".
Step inside the changing rooms at Newcastle United's St James' Park
Last year you could have watched comedy in an ancient house, got messy with clay in a pub courtyard or hit the floor at a soulful clubnight, so it's no surprise the edgy festival won an award from marketing leaders in the region.
"The Late Shows was the UK's first Museums at Night event to link venues across the city and it is still the largest," explains Late Shows Project Manager Bill Griffiths, who says this year's sites have "outdone themselves" with a "spectacular array of after-hours entertainment."
World Headquarters, one of the most popular, inclusive nightclubs in the UK, invites culture lovers to get down
"We are rightly proud of the precedent The Late Shows has set and we want people up and down the UK to experience the biggest and the best after-hours culture event first hand."
The 2009 instalment was also notable for the distances some visitors had travelled for their weekend of cultural nights out – a fact that has inspired an even more inventive roster of events this time around.
The £26 million Great North Museum opened last May. Photo © Craig Connor / North News & Pictures Ltd
Seven Stories plumps for an evening dedicated to the Twilight saga, while The Literary and Philosophical Society invites guests to attend fake funerals of famous film and literary characters in a piece of theatre which, it goes without saying, is something of a black comedy.
Other flagship centres such as the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the impressive new Great North Museum join in the fray, but the less well-known spots are always worth their weight in intrigue. Art gallery Vane wants you to take your favourite record to a "nostalgic amateur disco" and The Biscuit Factory heads to the beach for seaside activities.
The glowsticks visitors are given symbolise the vibrant feel of the campaign
Muffled giggles were the soundtrack to period costume wearing last year, and a "fabulous fashion show" rattles through a bygone wardrobe at the futuristic City Library for 2010.
St James' Park, home to Championship leaders Newcastle United, leaves no changing room unturned in behind-the-scenes excursions, and the Discovery Museum seizes on retro chic with oversized 1980s games. Twister alone should be an eye-opener.
Visit The Late Shows online to check out the full programme.