This summer, we’ll see NewcastleGateshead in the cultural spotlight as the Great Exhibition of the North comes to town from 22nd June – 9th September 2018.


Diaries at the ready. The programme has been revealed for this summer’s cultural highlight, the Great Exhibition of the North. This city-wide exhibition celebrates inspiring art, culture, design and innovation from across the North of England.

Highlights from the 80-day programme include: a Great North Soundtrack curated by broadcaster, Lauren Laverne; the return of Stephenson’s Rocket; and a new solo exhibition from Turner Prize 2017 winner, Lubaina Himid.

Millions of exhibition visitors from the North East and beyond will get the chance to see the best in northern creativity; from pop art pioneer, Richard Hamilton, and world-renowned sculptor, Anthony Gormley, to live performances from the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and Roisin Murphy.

It’s set to be the biggest showcase event in England this year, it’s free to attend and it promises to tell the inspiring story of how the North’s innovators, artists, businesses and designers have shaped our present and are building on our future.

Every day is a cultural journey for Wearside-born Lauren Laverne. The broadcaster and 2017 Luxe cover star is perfectly placed to embrace all that the Great Exhibition of the North has to offer this summer.

“I’m thrilled to be curating the Great Northern Soundtrack at Sage Gateshead as part of the Great Exhibition of the North,” she says.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the vast array of talent the North of England produces, across a breadth of styles and genres.

“I’m proud to be representing a series of gigs that highlight the wealth of talent the North has to offer.”

Sir Gary Verity, Chairman of Great Exhibition of the North, says: “As well as being a showcase for some of the best creative and inspiring talent from the North of England, our diverse programme tells a pioneering story and one that will help change the way the world views the North.

“Whether you have a love of arts and design, cutting-edge culture, history and innovation, inspired technology or vibrant street performance – there is something in this programme to intrigue and excite those of all ages and from all backgrounds,” he adds.

Visitors will begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – Great North Museum, BALTIC and Sage Gateshead – before joining three interconnected trails through 30 world-class venues and public spaces on either side of the Tyne. The three culture trails include:



This trail epitomises the inventive spirit of the North, celebrating the Northern innovation stories of today and tomorrow and how it continues to shape the world we live in. Key highlights include:

– The Great North Little Inventors 2030 Challenge (Discovery Museum) – Children aged 4-12 are being challenged to imagine life in the North in 2030 and share their ideas (by 16 March). The most ingenious invention ideas will be turned into reality by Magnificent Makers and exhibited in the Discovery Museum.

– Brick This, Lego® Architects (Mining Institute) – A 3D Innovation Timeline of the North, featuring iconic items such as Stephenson’s Rocket, graphene and the Great North Run.

– Future Homes (Science Central) – Step into the ‘home of the future’ to experience new technologies that will help provide supportive homes for anyone at any life-stage.

– Graphene Lighting (Lit & Phil) – Follow the Northern story of Joseph Swan’s light bulb invention to the innovative use of graphene in modern-age lighting.

– Horse to Hyperloop (Cooper’s Studio – Ryder Architecture) – The story of transport from the birth of railways to the future of travel.



This trail will explore the rich arts landscape of NewcastleGateshead from the Theatre Royal and Laing Art Gallery to the more recent arrivals of BALTIC and Sage Gateshead. Key highlights include:

– Future Everything with the Urban Observatory (outside Theatre Royal) – Cutting-edge technology will meet creative writing, in the form of a poem on display that refreshes every minute, telling the story of the city.

– Opera North’s Aeons (Gateshead Millennium Bridge) – Listeners can travel the route of the River Tyne, listening to the musical landscape of the North which will change and evolve from one section to the next (pre-booking essential).

– Mind the Gap’s Daughter of Fortune (Venue TBC) – Combining art and science to explore real experiences of learning disability and parenthood through exhibitions and performances.

– The New Bridge Project’s Life in a Northern Town (Carliol House and Gateshead High Street) – 10 emerging Northern artists will create unique exhibitions about how the North works, lives and plays.



This trail covers the Northumbria University design campus, Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books, The Biscuit Factory and the Northern Design Centre. Key highlights include:

– The Northern Design Quest (Great North Museum through to Northern Design Centre along the Ouseburn Valley) – A design challenge engaging visitors in idea generation, research, storyboarding and prototyping process.

– Winged Tales of the North (Ouseburn Valley) – A playful and imaginative street art trail inspired by one of the North’s best-loved children’s writers, David Almond.

– design|innovate|craft (The Biscuit Factory) – Get involved in creative workshops, talks and seminars that celebrate contemporary craft and design-makers from across Northern England.


The Exhibition will open on 22 June and will run under the headline theme ‘Get North’. As part of the opening event, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture from the Quayside, a brand new film about a journey across the North of England, performances from Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North. The inaugural evening will also bring together art, design, culture and innovation and will reveal content that will be present throughout the 80-day exhibition.

On 9 September, the world’s largest half marathon, the Great North Run, will form the centrepiece of the closing weekend.

Details of the Great Exhibition of the North programme can be found here:

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