Directly across the Tyne from Newcastle, the residents of Gateshead have long had a friendly rivalry with their Geordie neighbours, but these days it is more of an equal contest as the town blossoms thanks to large injections of government money.
Gateshead's once bustling docks have been transformed by the addition of such architectural masterpieces as the 'The Sage' centre (a music and arts venue designed by the world-renowned Sir Norman Foster), the huge BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (a spectacular conversion of a disused flour mill) and the enchanting Millennium Bridge, whose opening and closing procedure is a feat of engineering unsurpassed in bridge design.
One annual event that is well worth investigating is the town's Winter Festival. Starting at the beginning of December, the festival includes: a number of pyrotechnic shows culminating in the Quayside Firework Spectacular just before Christmas and a new year's eve display, several outdoor ice-rinks to keep kids and adults of all ages happy, and circus performers both juggling and breathing fire.
For those wanting a panoramic view of the town, there are few better spots than from the keep of the 11th century 'New Castle' , founded by the son of William the Conqueror, that gives Gateshead's neighbour its name.
Gateshead has also achieved sporting fame through its international stadium which has, at one time or another, hosted all the big names in the world of athletics, from Carl Lewis to Kelly Holmes (in fact, it was here that she ran her last race before retirement). The stadium sees regular use as a venue for European Cup athletics meetings, when it draws a capacity crowd.