Compiled by Lindsay Carr

Civic Bar Beats

Snacks, drinks and free live music.  Civic Theatre foyer.  Friday (from 5pm).  This week: Pikou Panez. 

Richmond Vale Railway Museum

Steam-train rides, model trains, teddy-bear and Christmas-themed displays, the history of Hunter Valley coalmining, and a canteen (or bring a picnic).  262 Leggett’s Drive, Richmond Vale.  Each Sunday throughout January (gates open 9.30am).  No pre-booking required.  Free admission for children under five.   

Christmas Lights Spectacular

The Hunter Valley Gardens’ annual showcase of illuminated displays featuring more than one-million lights.  Includes Santa’s Castle and a giant teddy-bear, plus games and rides.  Broke Road, Pokolbin.  From 6.30pm to 9.30pm until 26 January.  Bookings: 4998 4020 or

Fort Scratchley

Open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) for displays of the fort’s history, the 1pm gun-firings (weather permitting), and modified tunnel and gun-emplacement tours.

You’ll Fest 2020

Annual exhibition featuring the work of more than 40 local artists and including paintings, works on paper, sculpture and photography.  Art Systems, 40 Annie Street, Wickham.  Friday and Saturday (11am-4pm). 

Rod Bathgate: 2020 . . . Who Saw That Coming?

Local artist Rod Bathgate’s new pastels display of Newcastle seascapes, with the content and subject matter highlighted by two distinct stylings.  Cooks Hill Galleries, Bull Street.  Friday and Saturday (11am-6pm), Sunday (2pm-6pm) and Monday (11am-6pm). 

How Do I Know If My Parrot Is Happy?

A surrealistic display of colourful and immersive installations which highlights artist Rosie Deacon’s memories of a country childhood and emphasises wildlife and the environment.  The Lock-Up Gallery, 90 Hunter Street, Newcastle.  Until 31 January. 

The Newcastle Museum

A new exhibition, Colour, allows patrons to see colour as never before by engaging in more than 20 scientific experiments.  Newcastle Museum, Honeysuckle.  Until 31 January. 

Mitch Revs’ All-in-a-Year Art Exhibition

A new exhibition of quirky and colourful images of Newcastle and Hunter landmarks from local artist Mitch Revs.  Includes original paintings, sculptures, and hand-drawn and digital illustrations.  The Mitch Revs Gallery, 451 Hunter Street, Newcastle.  Until 1 February. 

The Lake Art Prize 2020

An exhibition of works from 48 Australian artists with the theme Where There is Water.  The Museum of Art and Culture (MAC), First Street, Booragul.  Until 7 February.

We Can Be Heroes: A Backstage Pass

An exhibition detailing Newcastle’s music scene through the lenses of four leading photographers, who have captured intimate moments of Australian and international musicians from the 1970s to the present.  Features nearly 400 photos, including rare touring images and backstage portraits, plus artworks.  The Newcastle Art Gallery, Laman Street, until 14 February.  

Hello Again: It’s Nice to See Your Face

A display of new and established portraits of well-known Australians, including artists, performers and local identities.  Maitland Regional Art Gallery, High Street, until 14 February. 

Ken Done: Paintings You Probably Haven’t Seen

A selection of Ken Done’s vibrant paintings from 2000 to 2017, as well as his latest studio work, depicting Australia’s natural beauty.  Maitland Regional Art Gallery, High Street, until 21 February. 

Holly McNamee: About Maitland

Local artist Holly McNamee’s artwork homage to the significant structures and rich agriculture of her childhood in 1950s Maitland.  Maitland Regional Art Gallery, High Street, until 21 February. 

Coming Soon

December-February: Maitland’s holiday attractions include mobile food trucks and live entertainment, outdoor cinema screenings, Tiger Moth flyovers, a photo competition and tours of Maitland Gaol.  Details:

23 January: comedian Tommy Little takes a cheeky look at modern life in his new show, I’ll See Myself Out.  Civic Theatre.

6 February: a 24-piece symphony orchestra salutes the David Bowie songbook in We Can Be Heroes: The Music of Bowie Orchestrated.  Civic Theatre.