Northern towns and cities invited to be ‘Inspired by’ Great Exhibition of the North in 2018

Friday 26 January 2018

Towns and cities across the North of England can get involved in the biggest event in England this year by putting forward events, experiences and performances inspired by Great Exhibition of the North, which takes place from 22 June – 09 September in NewcastleGateshead.

Celebrating great art and culture, design, and innovation from across the North, the Great Exhibition of the North will see 80-days of amazing exhibits, inspired technology, vibrant street performance, cutting edge culture and magical experiences.

Events that meet the criteria will be officially recognised as part of the new ‘Inspired by’ programme. Submissions are welcome from events and performances across the North that are open to the public or the business community and celebrate great art and culture, design, and


Carol Bell, Executive Director of Great Exhibition of the North, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North may be taking place in NewcastleGateshead but we want the whole of Northern England to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.

“Our ‘Inspired by’ programme has been launched to give people the chance to get involved by hosting their own events and experiences that showcase the North’s strengths in art, culture, design or innovation.

“Great Exhibition of the North will demonstrate how the North of England is shaping our present and inspiring our future. Our ‘Inspired by’ programme is for anyone in the North of England that wants to share in the excitement of Great Exhibition of the North and encourage more

people to visit this special part of England.”

Events submitted to be part of the ‘Inspired by’ programme must take place in the North of England between 22 June and 9 September 2018.


Early submissions to the ‘Inspired by’ programme include the city of Bradford and its summer festivals and events programme. The Bradford Literature Festival, The Bradford Science Festival and Emily Brontë‘s Bicentenary will all proudly wear the Great Exhibition of the North

‘Inspired by’ mark, as will a Big Party weekend to mark the end of the Exhibition and the start of a year of creative activity in the city.

Bradford Council Leader, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Bradford is keen to be part of the Great Exhibition of the North. We are proud of what our innovative city and its surrounds have given to the world so far, and see it as a great opportunity to showcase our creative spirit and the

great potential our young and diverse city offers for the future.”

In Lancashire, new visitor trails exploring the three themes of Great Exhibition of the North – art and culture, design and innovation – will also be part of the ‘Inspired by’ programme. The trails will feature museums and heritage sites and well as exhibitions and events.

The Stephenson Railway Museum in Tyne and Wear will capitalise on the return of The Rocket during Great Exhibition with an ‘Inspired by’ exhibition of another Stephenson locomotive, Billy - the third oldest locomotive in existence. Also part of the exhibition will be a section of the

recently rediscovered Willington Waggonway, the best preserved and most complete early wooden railway found anywhere in the world.

People interested in being part of the Great Exhibition of the North’s ‘Inspired by’ programme can submit details of their event at

Successful applicants will be able to download a toolkit complete with images and branding to badge their event as part of the ‘Inspired by’ programme. For more information, visit

Great Exhibition of the North takes place from Friday 22 June to Sunday 9 September 2018. Three walking trails across NewcastleGateshead focussing on arts and culture, design and innovation will showcase exciting ideas from across Northern England.


The free, family-friendly exhibition will feature a stunning opening event that will see the unveiling of an 80m long water fountain in the River Tyne reaching the height of the Tyne Bridge. The dramatic display has been specially commissioned for the Great Exhibition of the North and

showcases the collaboration between industry and art that runs through the entire programme. Inspired by The Angel of the North, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018, three newly commissioned music compositions will provide a soundtrack to the water fountain and each

one will be premiered on the evening of 22 June.


An arrival film – a key piece of programming for anyone visiting the exhibition – will have its world premiere as part of the ‘Get North’ opening event where it will be projected at large scale at the Quayside.

Renowned writer, poet and playwright Lemn Sissay will also unveil a specially commissioned anthem for the North.

Great Exhibition of the North will also feature a display of iconic Northern objects including John Lennon’s Record Plant piano and the spacesuit worn by the first Briton in space, Sheffield-born Helen Sharman.

Stephenson’s iconic Rocket will return to its birthplace in Newcastle upon Tyne and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid will present an exhibition of new work at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

The Exhibition will also highlight the North’s strengths in key sectors, including digital, health innovation and energy, as well as profiling great Northern innovations such as Graphene, which was discovered by scientists working at the University of Manchester in 2004.

The full 80-day Great Exhibition of the North programme will be unveiled at the end of February.


The Great Exhibition of the North is expected to engage an audience of three million people and bring a £184 million boost to the North East, showing how cultural investment can benefit and inspire entire communities.


For more information visit




Notes to editors


Gateshead Council, Leader Martin Gannon said: “This really is about celebrating everything that is great about the North, the fabulous art, culture, design and innovation.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone to come together and be a part of once-in-a-lifetime event that will showcase just how great the North of England is on a global stage.”  


Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for Culture and Communities, Cllr Kim McGuinness, said: “The Great Exhibition of the North is going to be the biggest event in England this year. Newcastle and Gateshead are incredibly proud that we will be on the international stage showing everything that's great about the North. To do this we want to see other great Northern towns and cities featured, promoted and getting involved. One of the major objectives of the Exhibition is to inspire people. We're excited that the 'Inspired by' programme will bring together some fantastic events and experiences in art and culture, innovation and design from across the wider North to be included in the programme alongside all that is going on in Newcastle and Gateshead. Our residents in Newcastle and Gateshead will have front row seats and will welcome national and international visitors this summer.  We hope 'Inspired by' will encourage them to tour the North and see some of the featured events, whilst also taking in the incredible diversity of landscape, towns and cities.”


About the Great Exhibition of the North 2018


  • The Great Exhibition of the North will showcase the incredible creative, cultural and design sectors across the whole of the North. It was first announced by Government in April 2016 and a competition was launched to secure £5m of government funding for a two-month exhibition.


  • In October 2016, NewcastleGateshead was selected to host the Great Exhibition of The North; NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) led the bid and is the lead delivery partner for the Exhibition, working closely with colleagues at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, BALTIC, Sage Gateshead, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and a project board chaired by Sir Gary Verity.
  • The NewcastleGateshead programme for the Great Exhibition of the North 2018 will span 80 days, opening over the weekend of the 22 June 2018. It will celebrate innovation and creativity across Northern England and will help boost investment and tourism, while leaving a lasting cultural and economic legacy.


  • Ambitious plans will use the whole destination as the stage, with a newly commissioned creative programme taking place in a range of venues and outdoor spaces across NewcastleGateshead.


  • Three trails will be created, focusing on arts, design and innovation that will inspire and be inspired by a major exhibition hub at the Great North Museum: Hancock (curated by our partners at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums); major new work commissioned by BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead.


  • Other important elements of The Great Exhibition of the North 2018 include inspiring opening and closing events, an entertaining and informative summer camp for families (part of an extensive learning and engagement programme) and a Business Summit.


  • The Great Exhibition will also be encouraging schools to get involved, with content available on the website from January, with schools able to both download teaching resources and upload their responses. The focus of these resources will be tailored to different Key Stages, and will provide content linked to the North and themes of the Exhibition. Schools will be able to follow up work developed in the classroom by booking a tailored visit to the Exhibition during the final four weeks of the summer term.


  • The Great Exhibition of the North will provide a range of exciting volunteer opportunities for individuals, groups and businesses. A team of over 1,000 volunteers will welcome visitors to NewcastleGateshead, interpreting themes of exhibition, lead school groups and provide event support at special one of occasions. Volunteers will be offered a unique training opportunity provide tools and skills to fulfil roles as well as being invited to exclusive previews, social gatherings and celebration events. Applications are open now, training will be 15 hours between February to June and volunteers must commit to 40 hours from 22nd June to 9th September 2018


  • The Great Exhibition of the North is supported by Premier Partners, Virgin Trains.


  • Funding has also been secured via Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence, Heritage Lottery Fund Grant and Innovate UK.


  • Womble Bond Dickinson and Ward Hadaway are proud partners of Great Exhibition of the North.


  • Newcastle Airport and Reece Foundation are supporting partners of Great Exhibition of the North.


  • NewcastleGateshead Initiative is a destination management and marketing agency; a public-private partnership supported by Gateshead and Newcastle City Councils, working with around 170 private sector partner organisations. Its mission is to inspire people to visit, and to live, learn work and invest in NewcastleGateshead and the wider region.


  • United by seven bridges across a spectacular riverscape, Newcastle (a city on the north bank of the River Tyne) and Gateshead (a town on the south bank) form a single, diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination. World-class culture, vibrant nightlife, award-winning dining, inspiring heritage, fantastic shopping and acclaimed architecture are combined here like nowhere else, by the famous Geordie spirit which is symbolised by Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North as it welcomes travellers to the area.

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

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