THE people behind the North-East's largest outdoor music gathering, This is Tomorrow Festival, have confirmed that they will launch an innovative socially distanced outdoor venue this summer.

Taking place at Newcastle Racecourse, Gosforth Park, just a stone’s throw from Newcastle City Centre, Virgin Money Unity Arena – a first of its kind in the UK – will offer people the chance to come together and enjoy live music from household names.

Ticket holders will enjoy a parking to platform experience in full safety while adhering to social distancing rules.

Opening this August, and remaining in situ until the end of the summer, the arena seeks to breathe new life into one of the industries that have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisers hope to make up for the hundreds of festivals and concerts that have been forced to postpone or cancel this year.

Helen Page, group brand and marketing director at Virgin Money, said: “At Virgin Money we are being as innovative as possible during these challenging times, and music is very much at the heart of our new brand direction. We are delighted to play a part in bringing back live music events as we start to emerge from lockdown.

“This feels like a unique opportunity to celebrate music and all the wonderful emotions that come with experiencing it live alongside other music fans. We’re looking forward to partnering with The Unity Arena on this event near to our Virgin Money home in Gosforth.”

The brainchild of event promoter, SSD Concerts, the arena will protect the health and safety of audiences with a drive-in system, allowing people from the same household to arrive at the venue, park and enjoy the event from the comfort of their own personal viewing platform.

All viewing areas will be placed at least two metres apart from one another, with food and drinks available for pre-order. A one-way system will allow for the safe and full use of toilet facilities.

Located on the grounds of Gosforth Park, the home of Newcastle racecourse, Virgin Money Unity Arena will host an eclectic programme of events, from live music and DJ sets to family entertainment and comedy.

As a full-production live music venue, the arena seeks to offer the public a festival experience.

Managing director of SSD, Steve Davis, said: “Since all of our scheduled concerts have been postponed to later in the year and all venues in the city closed, the staff at SSD had a willingness to continue.

“We can’t be without music during these times so our only thought has been how can we bring music back to the British public safely and responsibly.

"We have been hosting loads of live sessions and DJ sets across our social media, supporting local artists and raising money for the NHS. Now, we’re taking it one step further as the UK slowly comes out of Lockdown.

“Working with our brand new partner Virgin Money has been exciting and we think even in these hard times the people of the north east will come out in their thousands to see the artists they love.

“Further announcements will be coming in the coming weeks, but we’re excited to say we already have several high-profile artists signed up.”

Newcastle City Council Cabinet member for employment and culture Ged Bell, added: “The city has a great reputation for hosting music and cultural events.

"While this pandemic has hit the sector particularly hard, the concert planned at the racecourse is a brilliant innovation where people will be able to enjoy top bands in a safe, responsible and socially-distanced way. It is fantastic to see such a creative response to enable us to experience live performances once again.”

SSD Concerts are working alongside production company Engine No. 4 (Parklife Festival and Kendal Calling) to build the arena and put all social distancing procedures and infrastructure in place to ensure it is fully secure and protects the audience’s health and safety.

The line-up for the events this summer will be revealed on Tuesday, July 7.

For more information about Virgin Money Unity Arena, and to learn more about how it all works, visit: