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The UK’s greatest event of 2018 is here

Press release   •   Jun 22, 2018 09:55 BST

The Great Exhibition of the North begins.

If you thought the Royal Wedding was big then you haven’t seen anything yet! The Great Exhibition of the North launches at 1pm today, Friday 22 June – and Northumbria University is at the heart of the action.

The UK’s biggest cultural extravaganza this year has arrived and officially opens today with a stunning water display on the banks of the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside.

The Great Exhibition tells the story of how the North’s innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present, and how they are inspiring our future. Organised by the Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative (NGI), alongside key partners such as Northumbria, the 80-day-long exhibition will run until 9 September. Three Trails – Get Design, Get Art, and Get Innovation – will take visitors on a spectacular journey through Newcastle-Gateshead, packed with events, exhibitions and activities, with the Great North Run taking place during the closing weekend.

More than 3 million people are expected to take part in Great Exhibition activities, making it the UK’s biggest event this year – and Northumbria has a key role throughout as an official destination of the Get Design Trail.

The University’s programme of events and activities for Get Design highlights Northumbria’s excellence in diverse areas, from art, design and innovation, and healthy eating and nutrition, to computer science and gaming, and the experiences of volunteers in conflicts and emergencies.

“The Great Exhibition is about telling the story of the North,” Professor Steven Kyffin, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Knowledge Exchange) says.

“Rather than presenting our industrial strength through the traditional industries like coal and shipbuilding, the festival will focus on the history of ideas.

“Northumbria is telling its story as a research-rich, professional, business-focused university with a global reputation for academic excellence – and we definitely have a story to tell about how we’re empowering the next generation of innovators, artists and designers of all types and ages – as a creative, innovation engine for the North, the UK, and the world.”

The Great Exhibition is free, although some high-demand events need to be booked in advance. Visitors begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – the Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Sage Gateshead – before joining three interconnected Trails through 30 world-class venues and public spaces, on either side of the River Tyne. The Trails have been designed to celebrate the North’s achievements in art and culture, design, and innovation, and will feature key locations across Newcastle and Gateshead, including Northumbria’s City Campus on Get Design.

The University’s annual REVEAL exhibition is at the heart of Northumbria’s Trail. REVEAL, which takes place at the end of every academic year, showcases the outstanding talents of final year students from a range of creative courses, including Animation, Architecture, Interior Architecture, Fashion, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interactive Media Design, 3D Design, Design for Industry and Interior Design. You can find out more about REVEAL by clicking here.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “The North is a hotbed of creativity, with a proud history of innovators, businesses and artists that have shaped how we live today. Not only will the Exhibition showcase this incredible diversity, it will also boost tourism and deliver growth to the region. It will celebrate what makes the North such a fantastic place to live, visit, and invest in.”

Today’s opening event on the Quayside will include the UK’s largest water sculpture and display, a brand new film about the North, performances from the Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North. On Sunday 9 September, the world’s largest half marathon, the Great North Run, will form the centrepiece of the closing weekend.

The Great Exhibition of the North is expected to bring a £184m boost to the North East, showing how cultural investment can benefit and inspire entire communities. For the latest information about Get North, including a full programme of events and activities and the most up-to-date ticket details go to:

Northumbria is proud to be playing a key part in the Great Exhibition of the North and staff and students have been working hard to bring a programme of inspiring events and exhibitions to the official Design Trail. For the full programme go to:

The University provides a range of award-winning courses in art, design and innovation, computer and information sciences, architecture, health, engineering, international development and many other areas showcased by Get North. To find out more about studying at Northumbria come along to one of our summer Open Days on 29-30 June 2018 or click here to find out more.

Northumbria is a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. To find out more about our courses go to

If you have a media enquiry please contact our Media and Communications team at or call 0191 227 4604.

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