Evolution Festival started life as a multi-venue festival in 2002. This also included a dance event promoted by shindig (The Newcastle based club night) on Baltic Square. In 2003 the full event took place on the Quayside for the first time headlined by Moloko. In 2004, due to funding/finance restrictions, Evolution returned to its multi-venue format, but still managed to produce again with Shindig. A 6000 capacity dance event headlined by Eric Morillo and Deep Dish. It returned to the Quayside in 2005, where it has remained since.
The 2005 Festival consisted of a series of live music performances throughout Newcastle and Gateshead in the month of May. It was sponsored by the UK mobile phone network Orange and culminated on Bank Holiday Monday with a free three-stage event around the Spillers Wharf area of the Newcastle Quayside and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. Over the next two years the number of ancillary events decreased with more focus on the culminating event. In 2008, the festival ended its sponsorship with Orange and rebranded itself as 'Evolution Festival', introducing a charge (of £3.00) for the Bank Holiday Monday festival for the first time. Some of this charge will be passed on to Wateraid, its official charity. In 2009, acts such as The Wombats and Dizzee Rascal headline the event with the festival now being a weekender festival.