Great Northumberland is up and running

Crowds in Sele Park for the launch of Great Northumberland
Crowds in Sele Park for the launch of Great Northumberland

Crowds turned out in the sunshine yesterday to celebrate the very best of Northumberland.

Great Northumberland 2018 is a summer-long extravaganza of arts, exhibitions, live performance and culture and heritage events, showcasing the county at its finest.

Spark! performs in Hexham.

Spark! performs in Hexham.

The event was launched in Hexham yesterday where, despite the afternoon draw of England's World Cup quarter-final, big crowds enjoyed a free family-friendly afternoon of street theatre, performances and live music in the Abbey grounds and Sele Park.

The day was anchored around regional talent and sprinkled with some big names from the international performing arts scene. Street theatre performers included Swank – Girl Guides; The Wheel Nuts; Dan Fox’s Boom Bikes and Band; and Bruce Airhead.

Spark! Drummers, a North Shields-based international street theatre show, combining high-impact drumming with dynamic choreography, led a parade of performers and musicians to Sele Park, where the highlight was a spectacular showcase featuring representatives from each Great Northumberland event across the county, giving a taste of what residents and visitors can expect.

Details were animated via a giant screen and a map, highlighting the location of each show.

A huge map gave the location of Great Northumberland events.

A huge map gave the location of Great Northumberland events.

The eight-week extravaganza features more than 40 events all over the county and culminates with a celebration in Berwick, on September 1, of Northumberland's musical traditions, including the debut performance of a newly-commissioned song, The Great Song of the North.

Coun Peter Jackson, the leader of Northumberland County Council, said: "Northumberland's such a fantastic place. From the launch at Hexham to The Great Song of the North at Berwick, there's something for absolutely everyone."

Great Northumberland is designed to encourage those visiting the region for the once-in-a-generation Great Exhibition of the North to venture further afield into England’s most northerly county.

Coun Jackson said: “It’s part of our core proposition that business in the North, and Northumberland specifically, benefit from this season of cultural events.

“We are working with regional organisations to deliver the programme, partnering with as many Northumberland businesses and venues as possible to make sure this county-wide initiative benefits everyone.

Among the summer's events are the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Northern Poetry Library in Morpeth; carnival capers at Seaton Delaval Hall, as part of its 300th anniversary; Alnwick Alive, a day of music in the Market Place; and Blue Flag, an installation of more than 600 handmade blue sail cloth flags at Blyth.

For full details of the Great Northumberland programme, visit