ONE of the North East’s leading cultural centres is celebrating its first birthday with events and activities for all the family.

The Word, National Centre for the Written Word opened 12 months ago at Market Square, South Shields.

And on 21 and 22 October, the venue, which celebrates the written word in all its forms, is holding a jam-packed programme of storytelling, creative craft sessions, FabLab workshops and performances to celebrate its first anniversary.

The fun begins on Saturday 21 October when, in conjunction with Tyneside Irish Festival, storyteller Pat Speight will thrill families with traditional Irish tales of kings and warriors, witches and magicians, pick-pockets and ghosts, fairies and mermaids.

He will hold two sessions, from 11.15am to noon for under sevens and their families and from 12.30pm to 1.15pm for over sevens and tickets, which cost £2.50 must be booked in advance.

In the Atrium, between noon and 2pm, The Word’s Writer in Residence, Celia Bryce, will perform with The Celia Bryce Band and give readings from work produced in her time in residency, which is drawing to a close.

From 1pm to 2pm, The Word Choir and Ukuleles Group will also be performing, while, from 10am to 2pm, the FabLab, in conjunction with BT, will be holding a free drop in session for anyone keen to find out more about 3D printing and laser and vinyl cutting.

Throughout the birthday weekend, The Word is hoping youngsters visiting the venue will dress up as their favourite literary characters, from Harry Potter to Little Red Riding Hood, while costumed characters from this year’s Customs House panto, The Lambton Worm, will be in the building entertaining visitors and posing for photos.

There will also be a treasure hunt and a new exhibition focusing on North East homes and street games launched in The Word’s popular Lost Dialects pod.

Then, on Sunday 22 October, Chloe Daykin will help children create their own adventure pop-up pirate book, starring themselves as a pirate and featuring cannons, treasure chests, barrels and a treasure map, which they can then take home.

The sessions, between 10.30am and 11.30am and 1pm and 2pm, are free but tickets must be booked in advance. Adults are also required to book a ticket for themselves as they will need to stay with their children during the session.

Tania Robinson, Head of Marketing and Culture for The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, said: “Since we opened our doors a year ago, people of all ages have really embraced what we are doing here.

“Our facilities are second to none – from our family archive section which has been a big hit with people researching their family history, to FabLab which houses, literally, cutting edge technology – and it has been fabulous to see the way in which visitors from far and wide have embraced them.

“This special weekend is our way of thanking those who have already discovered the venue and introducing it to those who The Word may not yet have reached. It promises to a fantastic weekend and we hope to welcome as many visitors, new and old, as possible.”

To book tickets visit www.theworduk.org or visit the venue’s gift shop, Shop@The Word.

For more information about The Word, call 0191 427 1818 email enquiries@theworduk.org or visitwww.theworduk.org.

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