Get North! Opening Event

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The magic began on Friday 22 June with the spectacular Get North! Opening weekend.

Opening day celebrations offered the first chance to explore what’s going on at the Exhibition hubs and along the trails.

The event was streamed live by BBC Arts, including hightlights throughout the day as well as the main event.

Watch now

The Great Exhibition of the North launch on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside this evening
Photo: North News

Launching with the sound of Teesdale-based artist Steve Messam’s Whistle which resounded across the city, our Great Exhibition of the North trails and venues were officially opened to start exploring. Visitor’s experienced for the very first time each of the three hub venues, all 30 locations along the trails and pop-up events and venues remained open until dusk fell.

A whirl of colour, live music from bands and choirs, dance, animation and performances by imaginative entertainers from across the North will spilled onto the streets along the Quayside.

photo Rich Kenworthy

Graham Massey and Mr Wilson’s Second Liners kept the party rolling ahead of the Opening Event at 10pm.

His electro-based spectacle, GIANT glitter ball and the lively Second Liners who were hot-stepping out in uniformed style as they channeled the spirit of the 24-hour party people. Did you know: Second Lining is a quintessential New Orleans art form: following the band to enjoy the music, marching and dancing. It is a full-on street intervention. If we’re lucky enough to be caught up in the commotion, you’re part of the Second Line.

Photo credit: North News

Audiences lined the Quayside to witness the first dramatic display of the UK’s largest water sculptures on the River Tyne which will also perform every day throughout the 80 days of the exhibition.

This 80m long fountain performed to a soundtrack of three specially commissioned music compositions by Maximo Park and Kate Rusby with Royal Northern Sinfonia and Darkstar.

The Great Exhibition of the North launch on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside this evening
Photo credit: North News
Maximo Park
Photo credit: Kevin Gibson

Mercury prize nominated northern rock band, Maximo Park, will be performing live from the River Tyne.

A new anthem for the North was unveiled and performed live by renowned writer, poet and playwright Lemn Sissay.

Poet Lem Sissay pictured at tthe Great Exhibition of the North opening event on the Newcastle Gateshead Quayside.
Photo credit: North News
The Great Exhibition of the North launch on Newcastle Gateshead Quayside this evening
Photo credit: North News

Image credit: Water Sculptures: Imagery by EYELEVEL / Lemn Sissay © Hamish Brown 2017

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Meet the Street Performers

The Flycycle & The Submercycle from Pif-paf (Sheffield)

Come away with us on a journey of your wildest dreams, aboard their famous travelling machines. Under the sea or high in the sky, all ages are welcome – just be ready to weave some unforgettable stories!

Tea Club from Axial Dance (Manchester)

Trixie and Tilly are two eccentric tea ladies, who serve their fine leaf drink from their special musical trolley – dancing to their favourite Gramophone records.

Mirror Mirror from Mind the Gap (Bradford)

Fun, eye-catching and popular with all ages, this strolling performance is created by one of Europe’s leading learning disability theatre companies.

Push from Company Chameleon (Manchester)

Athletic yet sensitive, Push is a powerful and engaging male duet, which looks at the different stances we take as we understand and relate to one another.

BLAST Furness (Cumbria)

This 15-strong street band demonstrates freedom with joyous musical reverberations, creating high octane street music to dance to.  BLAST Furness Street music is world music.

Plucky from Thingumajig Theatre (West Yorkshire)

Plucky is a very big, very friendly and possibly over curious giant chicken puppet. Accompanied by her hen-pecked sidekick, Plucky brings fun, farmyard frolics, music and song to everyone.

The Bees from Artizani (Sheffield)

Explore a collection of bee hives all hiding a surprising interior world. They may all look similar but each one contains a unique and unexpected interior, some with high spec digital technology, others relying on more traditional means.

Fastest One Man band in the World from Pete Moser (Lancashire)

A vision in pink, this one-man band will make you laugh and gasp with amazement.  He plays great dance tunes, sings popular songs and is on the move!

Never Too Old from Frolicked (West Yorkshire)

A long-suffering Grandpa and a stubborn Grandma battle it out for our attention and affections. This octogenarian Yorkshire couple have certainly been around for decades, but they’re no strangers to the 21st century.

The Lost Luggage Porters from Curious Cargo (West Yorkshire)

Encounter a world of monochrome and mime as the Lost Luggage Porters muddle their way through our modern-day metropolis in search of the ever-evasive railway station. Be transported back to the era of silent films; soak-up the soundscape of steam trains; and delight in the porters’ puzzlement and predicaments; but beware, their enthusiasm to assist us with our bags may leave us carrying all the luggage!

Boom Bike Bourée from Sound Intervention (Cumbria)

A 21st century street band.  Medieval dance and traditional folk music meets hip-hop! Featuring hurdy gurdy, accordion, trombone and a beatboxer, all amplified live through the amazing BoomBike sound system with added wireless effects and loops.

The Allotment from Plunge Boom (West Yorkshire)

Plunge Boom specialise in imaginative and interactive street theatre for family audiences, established in 2006 by actor and writer Ben Faulks (CBeebies’ Mr. Bloom). The Vegetable Nannies invite us to join them in their Allotment for a bit of gardening and childcare. They love nothing more than proudly showing off their allotment cherubs. Come and get stuck into the daily duties of feeding, bathing and caring for the baby fruits and vegetables.

Anyone for Tennis? from The Fairly Famous Family (Cumbria)

Wimbledon comes to Great Exhibition of The North with a pristine court, dead posh umpire and highly-strung player looking to take on all comers.

Luckily, we can help out, standing in for ball boys, physiotherapists and even Royalty.

The thrilling ‘one setter’ includes slow motion replays, headed line calls and live comic commentary.

Granny Turismo from West Yorkshire

Meet Granny Turismo, the world’s first and only formation shopping trolley dance display team. With banging tunes and the screech and smell of burning tyres, these ladies will certainly get this party started.

Icarus from Southpaw Dance Co. (Newcastle upon Tyne) – world premiere

A dance theatre interpretation of the Greek myth which explores a universal human story: the tension between our ambition and our capability; between our hopes and dreams and our (perceived) reality.

Combining daring physicality, leaps, jumps, and lifting, we will see Icarus’ obsession with the skies and his quest to achieve flight. Melding dance and the distinctive, highly physical language that Southpaw has become known for, Icarus will leap, flip, and lift, ever raising the stakes in the bid to attain flight, ever looking upwards.

Graham Massey (Manchester) with Mr Wilson's Second Liners (West Yorkshire) developed with Walk the Plank (Manchester)

Hidden inside Walk the Plank’s prismatic machine, swirled in smoke and mirrors, is one of the north’s top music maestros, Mr Graham Massey, mixing the live sounds of one of the best street bands in the north: Mr Wilson’s Second Liners.  As the band lift the spirits with their energetic dance tunes, working the audience in a style reminiscent of the best New Orleans jazz bands, the DJ lifts the tempo to breaking point – we defy you not to dance with us

Maximo Park (c) Steve Gullick
Mesh - Yorkshire Dance

Venue: Quayside

Accessibility Information

Wheelchair friendly