Northumberland festivals and events

Northumberland’s festival and events calendar runs throughout the year. From county shows and sporting spectacles to festivals in celebration of food, music, books and film.

Residents festival 2017

The Northumberland Resident’s Festival is an annual event which encourages local people to visit attractions and then become ambassadors for the county. The event is usually held at the end of March or early April. It involves attractions such as Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle, Housesteads Roman Fort and Cragside opening their doors to Northumberland residents for free or a reduced cost.

Details of the Resident's Festival for 2017 can be found here

Download 2017 vouchers here

Heritage Open Days

The Heritage Open Days Event takes place annually for one weekend in September. The event allows the public to view heritage sites that are not usually open, or not open often. Click here to find out more information on the event

Northumberland Live Music Festival

This annual music festival is a live music event teaming big-name headliners with local talent - giving brilliant Northumberland artists the opportunity to share a stage with some of the industry's biggest names. Some of the past headlines have included The Christians, Toploader and Dr and the Medics.

For more information on the event, please click here

Northumberland Life

Northumberland Life provides opportunitiees for individuals and organisations to promote their event. It's also a great resource for visitors and residents to find out what's going on in the area. It has everything from agricultural charity and community events to major visitor attractions ar some of our historic properties.

For more information about the event, please click here

Planning an Event

Planning an event in Northumberland? Click here to find out more information to help you plan your event including licencing, highway and safety documents.

Waste & Recycling at your Event

Other Considerations for your Event

There are many elements of safety an organiser needs to take into consideration when planning their events. View the HSE’s website here for more information on all the areas, which include:

  • Level of provision required around welfare and sanitary facilities, including special needs toilets, baby changing, etc.

  • Medical cover / facilities

  • Traffic movements within and around the site

  • Lost children policy / procedures

  • Noise management

  • If special effects are to be used (pyrotechnics, lasers, etc)

Contact Details

Health & Safety, Insurance & Risk Assessments

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance on event safety both through their website here and the guidance documents they have produced which can be downloaded for free. Further documents can also be purchased from the HSE publications.

The HSE and the local authority (depending on the type of event) are the national regulator and enforcing body for health and safety in the UK. They have the power to investigate any accidents or dangerous occurrences and can prosecute those believed to have breached health and safety legislations.



Depending on the scale and type of event you are organising, you may wish to consider obtaining insurance. This will cover you if a claim is made against the event organiser.

If your event will be employing other people, contracts in a service or has external organisations involved, copies of their public liability insurances should be obtained along with copies of their employer’s liability insurance.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment is a careful examination of what could cause harm to people at the event so that you can decide whether you have already got appropriate controls to prevent the hazard occurring or whether you need to do more to prevent the potential harm. All event organisers should consider making an assessment.

Risk assessments can take various forms. The HSE provide guidance to carry out your own, click here to visit their website. Organisers will need to obtain copies of risk assessments from any persons, companies or organisations that will be working or providing a service at the event.  

Fire Safety

Event organisers should assess the potential for a serious fire and in some cases, should consider undertaking a fire risk assessment. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, depending on what and where your event is taking place, there is guidance available from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

For more information on the Fire Safety Risk Assessment Guides, please click here.

Examples of areas to consider for your assessment are:

  • Food stands and concessions – assessments here should always be completed and made available for inspection when and if required. The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) has produced templates which you can download here.

  • Equipment

  • Flammable materials and products

  • Poor waste management

  • Arson

  • Safe capacities and the need to prepare an emergency plan and evacuation plan

Bonfire Safety

For help with organising a bonfire, contact the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service who will try to assist with safety procedures, construction, insurance and risk assessment.

If you are having a bonfire at your event you must follow the bonfire code:

  • Only build your bonfire on the 5th November

  • Contact Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service (NFRS) on 01670 627599 to confirm your bonfire location or visit the website here.

  • Site the bonfire at least 18 meters from buildings or trees

  • Do not build beside electricity or telephone lines

  • Have enough helpers and equipment

  • Height must be less than 3 meters and half the width of the base

  • Only burn wood, paper/cardboard and foliage

  • Build to collapse inwards as it burns

  • Check for animals and children before lighting

  • Keep spectators a distance of at least 6m away

  • Ensure fire is out once the bonfire is over

  • Inform NFRS (01670 627599) when it is out

  • Check the fire again later

Firework Safety

The government’s Fireworks Safety Campaign (DTI) provides downloadable guidance leaflets and materials for organisers of fireworks displays whether it’s for the public, retailers selling fireworks, schools and the media, including the Firework Safety Code.

Professionally organised displays are regulated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), visit their website here for more information.

Useful documents:

Follow the Firework Code

  • If you buy fireworks, always make sure they comply with BS 7114 and are clearly marked for their intended use: indoor, garden or display

  • Keep fireworks in a sealed box or tin

  • Use them one at a time, replacing the lid immediately

  • Never put fireworks in your pocket

  • Read the instructions carefully using a torch or hand lamp, never use a naked flame

  • Light the fireworks at arm’s length using a taper or a firework lighter

  • Stand well back and never return to a firework after it has been lit, it could explode in your face

  • Ensure that all children with fireworks are well supervised

  • Never throw fireworks

  • Keep all pets and animals indoors

  • Take care when using sparklers, wear gloves to hold them and dispose of sparklers in a bucket of water as soon as they are finished

Fireworks can provide fun and entertainment, but only if everyone follows the right safety procedures and remembers that fireworks can be very dangerous if misused. Remember Fireworks are explosives - get wise or get hurt!

For more information please contact: Community Safety

Food Safety

If you want to store, prepare, distribute or sell food on premises you need to be registered with the local authority. Premises include:

  • Restaurants

  • Cafes

  • Hotels

  • Shops

  • Canteens

  • Market stalls

  • Mobile catering vans

  • Food delivery vans

Registration must be made at least 28 days before operating as a food business and the local authority cannot refuse the application. For more information and to apply for registration, please click here.

Trade events

Food and drink trade
We have created a toolkit for hospitality, local produce and retail businesses to share some of the ideas of how local food and drink can add to the bottom line. For more information on the toolkit and directory, please click here. If you would like a free listing in this directory contact:
Arts & Crafts and Food & Drink
Active Northumberland, together with Design Network North have created a comprehensive directory of arts, crafts and retail food and drink suppliers in the North East.
The directory is a varied list of suppliers from artwork to jewellery, candles to mugs and chocolate to cheese and all suppliers produce their goods locally.
Using local produce can add value to your business, giving customers an authentic Northumbrian experience and potentially increasing spending.
You can meet the suppliers in our directory face-to-face at the annual Meet the Maker, Meet the Buyer event.
For more information about the directory and the Meet the Maker event, contact Dawn Goodwill-Evans at

Water Safety

There are many events that can be organised on or near water, such as leisure based or a sporting and competitive event.

Please contact your relevant National Governing Body (NGB) for advice on running a safe water based sports event.

Your must obtain permission from the land owner, whether they are a private land owner or public body. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides advice and guidance regarding water-based events as well as other aspects of safety.

The Outdoor Swimming Society provides guidance over safety but event organisers need to ensure their event is planned and managed properly based on the whole event, not just the water side of it.

For more information please contact

Events on the Highway


To hold an event on the public highway*, you must obtain the approval of the relevant licensing authority. You will need to carry out a risk assessment to demonstrate that you have considered and minimised any potential risks on the public highway. This includes identifying the need for any changes to normal traffic routes such as a road closure or change to a one way street.

*Please note, a ‘highway’ is a road or street, verge, footway or pavement, public footpath or bridleway.


Events ON the highway

After completing a full risk assessment, you will need to register your event through the event notification process. Click here to view the Event Notification Form.

On the event notification form, you must provide details of any road closures. Any traffic management required for your event will need to be arranged separately although you can state your requirements on the form.

If your event is going to be on the public highway and it is a large scale commercial event, a different type of road closure order is required. You will need to apply to Northumberland County Council no less than 6 weeks in advance in order for us to process your application in time.


Events OFF the highway

If your event is off the highway but likely to generate a lot of traffic you should:

  • Involve Northumberland County Council at the earliest possible stage in order to ensure that an acceptable traffic management plan is prepared

  • Register your event through the event notification process at least 3 months in advance in order to allow sufficient time to coordinate your event with other activities in the immediate area

  • Some examples of events off the highway include Race for Life, music concerts, sporting matches, Beautiful Days festival and the Motorcycle Rally

Major events are typically those hosting over 500 people. If the type of event requires a road closure to hold the event or to simply manage traffic it is likely you will need to attend a Safety Advisory Group. This is especially true if the event:

  • Has a major impact on traffic

  • Disrupts traffic over a wide area or on a main road

  • Requires multi agency planning including the police and emergency services (Safety Advisory Group)

  • Requires a details traffic management plan

  • Attracts an entrance fee or is a commercial event

If this is the case, please prepare a traffic management plan and complete the full application form at least three months in advance.

Road Closures

The majority of requested road closures for events will be covered by Section 21 of the Town & Police Clauses act 1847. To apply for a road closure under this act, please complete the Event Notification form as soon as possible by downloading it here and our Highways Department will be in touch. There is currently no charge for this type of road closure. The cost of Traffic Management such as diversion signing will have to be met by the person requesting the closure and arranged separately with the appropriate Northumberland County Council area office.

In certain circumstances, it will be necessary to apply for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order using Section 16a of the legislation known as the special events act. There is a charge applied for the creation of a road closure order under the above act. These costs and any associated traffic management charges have to be met by the person requesting the closure.

There is a legal process to complete and advertising is required for these types of orders, therefore at least 6 weeks’ notice of an intended closure is required.

A request for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order under Section 16a should be submitted to the Northumberland County Council Streetworks Team using the documentation below.

You can email the application to

For any queries or further information please contact Carolyn Woodhouse on the email address above or call 0845 600 6400.

Traffic Management for Events

Northumberland County Council can provide assistance with traffic management for events. Following your application, you will be advised if charges are applicable.

We can provide:

  • Cones

  • Barriers

  • Diversion signage

  • Variable message boards

  • Trained personnel

For further information and to discuss your requirements, please contact the appropriate area office to where your event is taking place:

There are also a number of companies who provide traffic management on a commercial basis.

Street parties, arts, carnivals and processions

There is a long tradition of street parties, street arts and processions in the UK and further information can be found by clicking on the following:

The HSE website. For general information as well as dispelling some of the myths behind health and safety being used to stop such events.

Licensing your Event

Licensing Act 2003

There are a wide range of activities and entertainment licences under the Licensing Act 2003. If you are involved in conducting any licensable activities, you will require the relevant licence or authorisation.

Licensable activities are defined as the:

  • sale by retail of alcohol

  • supply of alcohol by or on behalf of a club, to a member of the club

  • provision of *regulated entertainment

  • late-night refreshment – as defined as providing hot food or drink between the hours of 11pm and 5am to members of the public on or from any premises, for consumption on or off the premises. Hotels, clubs and other places providing overnight accommodation are exempt from late night refreshment controls.

*Regulated entertainment can be:

  • play performances

  • film showings

  • indoor sporting events

  • boxing or wrestling

  • live music

  • recorded music

  • dance performance

  • entertainment of a similar character to live music, recorded music or dancing

  • the provision of facilities for making music, dancing or entertainment of a similar description

For more information about licensing your event, please see the Northumberland County Council webpage here.


Premise Licence

A premises licence can authorise any or all of the licensable activities defined in the Act.


Temporary Event Notice

If you are planning to hold an event in England or Wales, you must give a temporary event notice (TEN) to the local licensing authority and police no later than 10 working days before the event.

However, we recommend allowing as much time as possible between submitting the notice and the date of the proposed event.

Late notices can be given no later than 5 working days but not earlier than 9 working days before the event in relation to which the notice is given.  A late notice given later than 5 working days before the event to which it relates will be returned as void and the activities described in it will not be authorised.

If the location of the event stretches over two or more local authorities, please make applications to each.

In order for us to grant a temporary event notice you must:

  • be 18 years or older

  • not give more than five notices per year – unless you are a personal licence holder in which you can give a maximum of 50 per year

  • not have more than 499 people at any one time at your event

  • not run your event for longer than 96 hours, with a minimum of 24 hours between events

For more information, and to apply for a Temporary Event Notice, please click here.