The Great Exhibition of the North 2018
Great Exhibitions only happen once every 50 years, and 2018 is the year of the North. The Great Exhibition of the North 2018 has well and truly arrived to celebrate the pioneering spirit of the North. I was thrilled to be invited to the opening ceremony and to experience some of the inspirational sights and exhibitions, which run right through to early September. As a proud Northerner and former resident of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I want to shout about how great the North is! Read on, and then go and see for yourself...
GetNorth 2018 at The Baltic Flour Mill
I was so thrilled to be invited to the opening ceremony of The Great Exhibition of the North. As the sunny day in late June drew to a close in 'The Toon', the atmosphere was electric. Geordies are proud of their city, as am I. I grew up in the North-East, but moved to London 14 years ago. I lived in Newcastle and have only happy memories, and I do get a little home sick when I come back.
My grandad used to work in The Baltic Flour Mill in the 60s, and today this beautiful landmark building on the Gateshead side of the River Tyne, is an International centre of contemporary art. It's one of the key design hubs of the exhibition, and is free! Take your time to explore this airy centre for art, and don't miss the amazing views from the 4th floor.
There are several exhibitions running throughout GetNorth 2018, but the stand out ones for me, were the 'Idea of the North' and Phil Collins' 'Ceremony'.
The 'Idea of the North' plays an important role of GetNorth, showcasing the tenacity, and the inventive spirit of The North, via a series of design and architecture installations. Tip: Don't miss 'Women by Women', a very real and gritty glimpse of life in the North in the 1970s.
'Ceremony' by Phil Collins, tells the story of how the Russian Revolution impacted the rest of the world. But it was in Manchester, not Russia, with residents Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels, that Communism was born. This is an immersive experience, featuring a short film documenting the journey of a statue of Engels, transported from rural Ukraine, to Manchester last year.
Did you know that The North was responsible for Damien Hirst, the Apple Watch and Britain's first astronaut? With super knowledgable and helpful staff, plus a light an airy cafe, you can easily spend a few happy hours here. Tip: Don't miss John Lennon's piano - the last one he ever played.
The Sage Gateshead at GetNorth 2018
Another hub of the exhibition, Sage Gateshead has been an international centre for music since 2004. This undulating gleaming building, perched on the Gateshead side of the river has hosted Blondie, James Brown and Morrissey in the past, and to kick off the musical side of GetNorth 2018, Lauren Laverne hosted a week of her curated 'Great Northern Soundtrack' - with Northern artists such as Nadine Shah and Nightmares on Wax. The Sage is hosting an incredible line up of northern music throughout the exhibition. It's also a great place to set off, on one of the programmes art, design or innovation trails.
The Great Exhibition of the North celebrates the people, culture and spirit of the North. So take your time to explore the nooks and crannies. Geordies are probably the warmest, and most welcoming people in the world (I am a tiny bit biased but it's true!). I've popped down a few of my firm favourites below. I'm so proud to come from the North-East and may well return permanently one day. Newcastle is an exciting city and now is the time to visit.
Don't miss Ouseburn Valley
Tucked up behind the Newcastle side of the quayside, The Ouseburn Valley should be on your list to visit whilst here. This tiny pocket is an artistic and cultural sweet spot. The Biscuit Factory is exhibiting the best of the North's craft design. This feels like the perfect place to showcase furniture, sculpture and jewellery, and is running thought GetNorth 2018, plus it's free!
Fuel up afterwards at Ernest. This firm favourite in Ouseburn serves up a delicious brunch, and always seems to be buzzing when I go. Comedy, music and open mic nights are a winner too.
Speaking of music, The Cluny has been hosting some of the best up and coming bands for years and often features in the top 100 list of World’s Best Bars. Notable past performers include The Arctic Monkeys, New York Dolls and Maximo Park (who previewed on of their albums here).
Another place I hold close to my heart, is Jesmond. In fact I used to live here amongst the students and young professionals! Jesmond Dene is a peaceful city park and a lovely place to get lost for a couple of hours.
The best local spots in Newcastle
Right opposite Newcastle's Central Station, the area around Pink Lane used to be infamous for prostitution and drug trafficking. These days, the design agencies have moved in and as have the artisan cafes. In fact I used to work here (no, not like that!), in my first ever design job. So The Forth pub holds happy memories for me. Still one the the city's favourites with locals, expect a lively atmosphere and a hip clientele.
In need of a sweet treat? Pink Lane Bakery serve up delicious bagels, toasts, and (my favourite), caramel brownie bites. This tiny spot has a loyal following. Get there early before they sell out!
Follow the gorgeous sweeping architecture of Grey Street, down on to The Quayside for the liveliest area of Newcastle's eating scene. The historical panelled Crown Posada has been there forever, and still attracts a great mixed crowd. Grab a bite to eat next door at Route. My favourite recent offering. Small plates in an intimate space. Get one of the window seats and watch the evening unfold.
Are you planning a trip to The North soon? Have any of your favourite spots to share? L:et me know in the comments below!