Details announced for Great Exhibition of the North opening ceremony

A giant water fountain will spring to life on the River Tyne to open this year's Great Exhibition of the North.

How the launch event for Great Exhibition of the North will look.
How the launch event for Great Exhibition of the North will look.

Details of the opening day celebrations for the 80-day exhibition, which will run in Newcastle and Gateshead from June 22 to September 9, have been revealed.

The spectacular start will feature an 80metre-long water fountain in the River Tyne that will reach 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 June 22.

An arrival film 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.

Sir Gary Verity, chairman of the Great Exhibition of the North, said: “Our Get North opening event will set the tone for what is going to be an outstanding summer of amazing exhibits, inspired technology, vibrant street performance, cutting edge culture and magical experiences.

“We’ve brought together innovative Northern technologies and world-class artists and performers to showcase the best art and culture, design and innovation from right across the North of England. Perfect for all the family, Great Exhibition of the North will be the event to experience in 2018.”

Lemn Sissay said: “The Exhibition will shine a light on the difference the North is making to the world today and tomorrow. I am proud to be invited to create a new anthem for the North which will sit at the heart of the opening of the exhibition. I am proud of the North. We name the unnamed, we count the invisible, we make change. We make a difference.”

What is Great Exhibition of the North?

Great Exhibition of the North, a free family-friendly event designed to attract people from across the country, takes place from Friday June 22 to Sunday September 9 2018.

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.

Although the full programme will be unveiled in the coming weeks, highlights announced so far include:

•Three walking trails focussing on arts and culture, design and innovation will showcase exciting ideas from across Northern England.

•The exhibition will 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 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.