How to get hold of free tickets for opening of Great Exhibition of the North

A giant fountain will be installed on the Tyne as part of the exhibitionA giant fountain will be installed on the Tyne as part of the exhibition
A giant fountain will be installed on the Tyne as part of the exhibition
Free tickets for the large-scale opening spectacular for Great Exhibition of the North will be available from Tuesday.

The ticket announcement comes as additional content is revealed for visitors to enjoy during the three-month exhibition, including a performance from rock band Maximo Park - who replace Kaiser Chiefs who had been originally lined up to perform at the opening.

At 1pm on June 22, Great Exhibition of the North’s full programme - including trails and venues across Newcastle and Gateshead - will officially open and the day will culminate in an evening event, which will see the Quayside burst into life.

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Highlights will include a performance from Mercury prize nominated Maximo Park, a brand-new film uncovering the talents of the North, and an appearance by renowned poet, Lemn Sissay introducing his newly-created anthem for the North.

In addition, visitors will witness the UK’s largest water sculpture, measuring 80m in length which will take place in the Tyne.

After dark, the water sculpture will turn on in sync with a light display and specially commissioned musical collaborations by Maximo Park and Kate Rusby with Royal Northern Sinfonia and Darkstar.

Both the afternoon launch and the evening performances are free of charge, but, to manage demand, the evening event is ticketed, with tickets available from 10am on Tuesday, May 22 via:

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There will be a series of one-off performances and surprises to enjoy over the opening weekend including a show about Northern women from stand-up poet Kate Fox; a musical performance of life in the North with Trailblazing, a trio of choirs; MESH – by Vanessa Grasse, a group of 10 professional dancers performing through the streets; and 105+db, a large-scale sonic artwork spilling onto the streets which will capture the North’s passion for football.

The approximate timings for the Great Exhibition of the North evening event are:

•19:00 onwards: Street entertainment commences

•20:00: Gates open on the Newcastle and Gateshead Quaysides for the ticketed event

•21:30: Last entry into the site for all ticket holders

•22:00: Main event

•23:00: Event draws to a close

Carol Bell, executive director of Great Exhibition of the North, said: “We wanted to keep the Opening Event free of charge because that’s what the Exhibition is all about this summer – accessible exhibits, live performances, displays of invention and behind-the-scenes opportunities for all audiences.

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“As the 80-day programme is jam-packed full of incredible experiences, we had to make sure it started in spectacular fashion so after many months of planning we’ve created an event which we hope the whole of the North, and beyond, will be proud of. Though tickets are free, they are limited so make sure you register so you can come and celebrate in true Northern style the start of an amazing summer.”