Newcastle Arts & Culture

Not only a place of beautiful beaches, Newcastle also offers plenty for the art lover, cultural enthusiast and anyone who enjoys a good show. In this creative hub on the NSW North Coast, there’s theatre, comedy and live music to enjoy, as well as street art, events and one of Australia’s top regional art galleries.

Friends enjoying a night out at The Civic Theatre, Newcastle

Many creative success stories began here in NSW’s second-largest city, from great painters to international music stars. Painter/sculptor William Dobell, Tap Dogs creator and choreographer Dein Perry, and world famous rock band Silverchair, are just some of Newcastle’s born-and-bred stars.

Friends enjoying a visit to the Newcastle Art Gallery in Cooks Hill, Newcastle

Art galleries & museums

Appreciate the town’s artistic flair at the impressive Newcastle Art Gallery, home to the second-largest collection of art in the State. Among the more than 7,000 works on permanent display include those by Brett Whitley, Emily Kame Kngwarreye and John Olsen. Entry is free and free guided tours run on weekends at 11am.

Vicki West and Nicole Monks, installation view of works at The Lock-Up in Newcastle, North Coast

The city’s heritage-listed former police station houses The Lock-Up, a cultural centre of art, music and ideas that offers a diverse program of exhibitions, events, installations and workshops. Other small art galleries to add to your itinerary include Cooks Hill Gallery, Gallery 139 and CStudios.

Family enjoying a visit to Newcastle Museum, Newcastle

Walk around Newcastle and there’s amazing street art to admire, as well as interesting architectural sculptures, including the James Cook Memorial Fountain in pretty Civic Park and Constance the Camel outside the Newcastle Museum. Don’t miss the striking steel silhouettes of soldiers along the Newcastle Memorial Walk, engraved with the names of people from the region who served in WWI.

Signage outside The Civic Theatre in Newcastle

Theatre & music

The heritage-listed Civic Theatre is right in the centre of the city, and offers a regular program of concerts, theatre and comedy shows. Nearby is the Newcastle City Hall, built in 1929, which hosts many concerts. While here, look out for murals by famous painters. Newcastle local John Olsen’s Climbing Sun Over The Hunter is the star artwork in the foyer.

Relax to live music all day at The Olive Tree Market in Newcastle, North Coast

Festivals & events

Check out Newcastle’s jam-packed events calendar to see what’s on. For avant-garde creations, This is Not Art is held in February. In August, you can catch performances across the city as part of the Newcastle Music Festival and Newcastle Jazz Festival. The monthly Olive Tree Market is worth a browse, specialising in contemporary art and design from local makers.

Explore the Newcastle Arts Scene