Cultural celebrations: What is the Great Exhibition of the North?

Make room in your diary this summer to toast the pioneering spirit of the North of England

By Josephine Price
Published 5 May 2018, 09:00 BST, Updated 23 Jul 2021, 15:13 BST
The Gateshead Millennium Bridge

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Photograph by Getty Images


It's destination Newcastle and Gateshead this summer as a whole host of cultural festivities sweep across the area from 22 June. It's all part of the 80-day Great Exhibition of the North — the country's biggest cultural festival this year. The government-backed programme is a contemporary echo of 1929's North East Coast Exhibition, which also took place in Newcastle, though the packed calendar of events is much more than a trip down memory lane. The exhibition will celebrate the Northern innovators, businesses, artists and designers who haven't only shaped Britain's past and present, but most importantly, its future too. There's a whole mix of things there: whether it's a temporary 260ft water sculpture or astronaut Helen Sharman's space suit. Need some inspiration to get started?

BBC Radio 6 Music DJ and local lass Lauren Laverne is curating the 'Great Northern Soundtrack': a week of gigs celebrating musical talent from across the region. From Sheffield to Sunderland and Newcastle to Manchester, there will be presentations, talks and art exhibitions too, from 22 June to 1 July. 

An iconic locomotive is making its way back home to Newcastle this summer. Stephenson's Rocket heralded the birth of passenger railways and was a major milestone in the Industrial Revolution. See the engine in all its glory at the Discovery Museum from 22 June to 9 September. 

Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid is hosting an exhibition inspired by the colourful east African kanga fabric as part of her wider exploration of the contribution of black visual art to the North's cultural landscape. You can catch her work until 30 September at the BALTIC

Follow one of the trails snaking around the city. Connecting the Exhibition's three hubs — Sage Gateshead, the BALTIC and the Great North Museum — each walk takes a unique angle to commemorate all things creative: the art trail, the design trail and the innovation trail.

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Published in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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