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The City of Newcastle is Buzzing with Autumn Alive

This May, the City of Newcastle is on a mission to tempt young and old back into the CBD for a series of 40+ free night-time events designed to help revitalise business, arts and culture after more than two years of pandemic challenges and frustrations.


The eclectic mix of events has been dubbed Autumn Alive and is coordinated by the City of Newcastle, aiming to encourage the community to experience the cultural, retail and hospitality heart of the city from 29 April until 21 May. The program is made possible through the funding support of more than $500,000 from the NSW Government's CBDs Revitalisation Program, which was set up in response to the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality, event and arts and culture sectors.

In collaboration with Civic Theatre, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle Library, and Newcastle Museum, the City of Newcastle is partnering with the CBD's diverse and unique local businesses to celebrate the city with alfresco dining and live performances, curated night-time walking trails and even Disney movies for the kids. All events are free to attend, and there is something for the whole family to enjoy.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the Autumn Alive program would provide a much-needed economic boost to small businesses and the city's arts and cultural sector.

"City of Newcastle is committed to delivering and supporting community programs and events like Autumn Alive, as they are critical to our city's post-pandemic recovery," Cr Nelmes said.

"Newcastle's city centre is our cultural heart, and a thriving CBD is the key to attracting people to help stimulate the economy."

Minister for Enterprise, Investment, and Trade Stuart Ayres said Newcastle has transformed significantly during the past two decades and is now home to cutting-edge industry and has amazing cultural offers with fantastic liveability.

"Initiatives like this one in Newcastle send a clear message that our CBDs are buzzing and back to business," Mr Ayres said.

"We are doing all we can through our $50 million CBDs Revitalisation Program to encourage and entice people back into our CBDs, as this will help create jobs, drive our economy and showcase NSW as a vibrant place to live, work and visit."

Autumn Alive will kick off at Pacific Park on 29 April with electronic music, DJs, a silent disco and performances by Curious Legends and Catapult Dance Artists. New interactive lightbox installations will be unveiled on the night, displaying iconic artworks from Newcastle Art Gallery's collection.

The month-long program also features an outdoor cinema experience at Museum Park, alfresco dining at Civic Theatre, a pop-up drag bar at Newcastle Library, night-time walking trails to highlight the city's restaurants, venues and boutique retailers, culminating with a final night street party on Laman Street.

At the program's launch, Newcastle Councillor and Community and Culture Advisory Committee Chair Carol Duncan highlighted the critical need for the program, speaking about the devastation that the arts, culture and hospitality sectors have suffered and noting that there's still a long way to go.

"The Autumn Alive program has wide appeal and shines a spotlight on the city's cultural venues and local businesses," Cr Duncan said.

"It's exciting that we've partnered with 53 local businesses to help drive people back into the city. We're not just about roads, rates and rubbish – we're about people and jobs too, and I'm proud to be working in a space where we can support creative artists and help drive business for our local community."

"There's been a real effort to reinvent how we use our city's cultural facilities and venues. It's wonderful to see a venue like Newcastle Library remain open at night and transform into a drag bar featuring local performers like Timberlina and Foxxe Faux in what is sure to be a super splendid event!"

Partner businesses are being supported financially through the State Government grant to trade late, engage live performance artists and create special offers to entice customers and complement the programming, including providing food and drink options for the outdoor cinema and Pacific Nights. Businesses on the self-guided experience trails will stay open late and, in some cases, offer live performances.

The trails can be accessed using the City of Newcastle's CN App. To compliment the self-guided walking tours, Newcastle Afoot is offering bookable, guided and curated tours featuring the partner businesses.

At Press Coffee and Book House, for example, they are opening their doors for nighttime offerings on 13 and 14 May with poetry readings, Autumn Alive themed cocktails and live music. Cheralyn Coffey of Press Coffee and Book House says that their business was severely impacted by the pandemic, and she sees Autumn Alive as an excellent opportunity to showcase her business and re-engage with the community.

"Our business was deeply impacted by the pandemic as our customer base practically disappeared overnight. The University of Newcastle directed all students to study online and not attend the city campuses; teaching and administration staff followed as the campus went into lockdown. Also, 80–90% of city-based state and federal government workers were directed to work from home, meaning those customers who relied on us to provide their daily coffee fix were gone."


"It feels like our cultural precinct has been starved of sustenance, and projects like Autumn Alive will contribute to bringing new life back into the city. As a business that nestles itself within Newcastle's cultural cocoon, we can join in unison with other small businesses and venues to let the world know that Newy's spirit is still alive and kicking!!

"During the Autumn Alive project, The Press Coffee and Book House will be keeping its doors open to welcome new and existing customers into our cosy little space. There will be live music performances by Michael Tee (Scattered Order, Ya Ya Choral and A Cloakroom Assembly) and the beginning of a new era for us, as we introduce a selection of Australian wines, espresso martinis, mulled wine and some tasty morsels to nibble on while you chill.

The Kingfish at Honeysuckle are preparing takeaway picnic hampers and hand-crafted gelato for Movies in Museum Park. Jackson Cassidy of The Kingfish says that the pandemic has had a considerable impact on their business and that by partnering with Autumn Alive, they hope to encourage the local community and tourists to come out and enjoy the beautiful city of Newcastle.

"As the season changes, this is a targetted activation to remind everyone how stunning and enjoyable the harbour and the rest of the city is, even in the cooler months. Our waterfront dining room transitions from openair to a cosy and warm, intimate space.

"We are excited to be a part of this amazing project and can't emphasise enough the importance that projects like these have on assisting businesses like ours. We are so grateful to the City of Newcastle and everyone involved for helping make this project happen."


Autumn Alive Program Highlights



Autumn Alive will kick off at Pacific Park with electronic music, DJs, a silent disco and a performance by Curious Legends and Catapult Dance Artists, Newcastle's first and only professional dance company. New interactive lightbox installations will be unveiled on the night, displaying iconic artworks from the Newcastle Art Gallery's collection.



Two major interactive artwork displays will be installed, showcasing some of the fantastic Newcastle Art Gallery collection and overlayed with interactive sounds, lighting and augmented reality. Sure to bedazzle, they are located at Pacific Park, Market Street Steps and Kuwumi Place (666 Hunter Street). Check them all out using the light rail and enjoy a self-guided walking tour of the partner businesses.



Newcastle Libraries and Newcastle Art Gallery present Library After Dark - an eclectic series of evening pop-up events on Thursday and Friday nights. These events are 18+ and include a complimentary drink for each valid ticket holder.

  • 5 MAY – Crime Canapes and Cocktails with Barry Maitland in conversation with Jamie Lewis, presented by BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival and Newcastle Libraries.

  • 6 MAY – Jazz and Murder Party hosted by Timberlina and Fauxe Faux. Be transported to a jazz club in 1920s New York City. It's the age of Prohibition—and of bootleggers and gangsters. It's murder on the dancefloor, and the Drag Queen did it! Plus, DJ Queerio will keep you entertained with a blend of RnB/Hip hop mixed with house electronic music.

  • 12 MAY – Spoken Word collides with music and dance, featuring performances by Georgie Winchester, Angus Sharpe, Sara Crane, Steve Shadlow, Dawn Laird and The Majishans. This is a celebration of the spoken word as it collides with music in a heady mix of soaring piano, freestyle dance and hip hop, powerful slam poetry, raucous saxophone and punchy guitar. Doors open at 5pm.

  • 13 MAY – The Dark Spoken Word Drag Bar hosted by Drag Performers - Abork, Neil E Falik and Orlando and featuring one of Newcastle's most in-demand DJs, Rachel Maria Cox. Black Friday never felt so good!

  • 19 MAY – Bad Art Party is a social art event filled with kitschy craft-making and is a fun celebration of the underrated art forms taking the world by storm. Leave your art skills at the door and see what you can come up with in this artist-led workshop with local artists Jen Denzin and Joanne Back. Make a vibrant collage assemblage or piece of BADdazzled wearable art. Jen and Jo will explain their crafting methods – from sourcing everyday art materials to coming up with unique assemblages. Bookings are essential and for adults only.

  • 20 MAY – Club Kid Rave and Bar hosted by drag performers - Timberlina and Molly Poppinz with music by DJ Queerio. Kitsch may be considered low-brow, but this is all about the high brows, baby! Drag is an art form full of experimentation and questionable outfits mixed in with dance music. Time to rave!



City of Newcastle has partnered with our city's restaurants, galleries, bars and boutique retailers during Autumn Alive to bring to you curated Night-time Walking Trails, including Darby Delights. Download the City of Newcastle App to discover our city's hidden and not so hidden gems.



Produced by Newcastle's best emerging programmers, including Queer and Now, Skux Az, LOVEDAVID and Palace, enjoy live music, spoken word, dance and interactive lighting in Pacific Park each Saturday and Sunday night throughout Autumn Alive. So bring a picnic rug, pick up a takeaway meal from one of our local business partners and celebrate the emerging creative scene.



Newcastle Museum will celebrate their latest exhibition, Alice's Wonderland - A Most Curious Adventure, airing classic Disney movies under the stars in Museum Park. Bring a picnic blanket, grab some popcorn, ice-cream, or enjoy a drink from the bar whilst watching Disney favourites. Newcastle Museum will stay open late (until 9pm) during Autumn Alive for guests to explore after dark and visit the Alice's Wonderland – A Most Curious Adventure exhibition. Movies will begin when it gets dark at around 6.30pm. If it rains, the movies will go ahead inside the Museum. For the full program, visit the website.



The newest part of Newcastle's CBD is open for business, and this is your opportunity to check it out in style. Local businesses invite you to taste and see all that the new East End Stage 1 offers with boutique wine tasting, dumplings,

an alfresco art exhibition, stringed musicians, contemporary dance and operatic vocals.



Come along to Autumn Alive's final night party on Laman Street with live music, dance, an art installation by Newcastle Art Gallery, local food stalls and more. Follow City of Newcastle's social channels for the headline act announcement!


Visit for event details, dates and times.


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