Great Northumberland launches 56 days of Summer

Great Northumberland launched in Hexham this weekend (7 July) in a free, family-friendly, fun-filled-festival putting the spotlight on Northumberland in a year that sees visitors heading northward for the Great Exhibition of the North.

For 56 days from 7 July, Great Northumberland offers a diverse range of arts, culture and heritage events across the county to encourage everyone to experience all that Northumberland has to offer.  Find out more here:  www.greatnorthumberland.co.uk 

To kick-off Great Northumberland street-theatre, artists, musicians and performers descended on Hexham Abbey Grounds and The Sele to entertain hundreds of visitors who brought along their picnics and settled in to celebrate Great Northumberland.

Peter Jackson, Leader of Northumberland County Council: “We were delighted by the turn out for our showcase launch event in Hexham on Saturday.

“There was a real carnival atmosphere in and around the Abbey grounds, as families gathered to enjoy the entertainment. Saturday marked the start of an eight-week long programme of summer events, and we invite everyone to get involved.”

The jam-packed schedule featured local choirs and musicians alongside some well-known talent from the region; North East-based folk-rock band Dansi took to the stage and The Village Band led a mass public ceilidh.

The internationally acclaimed Spark! Drummers, a North Shields-based street theatre show presented by several striking characters led the celebrations in a parade across The Sele, before visitors were treated to a Great Northumberland Showcase in which some of the county’s best-loved and best-known arts and culture organisations gave audiences a taster of things to come this summer.

Cath Homer, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts, Leisure and Tourism, and Councillor for Hexham East added: “It was fantastic to see so many local people support our Great Northumberland launch celebrations at the weekend.

“We believe that arts, culture and heritage should be available to everyone, and the programme we’ve developed offers something for everyone. We’re really looking forward to a summer full of events, and we hope that our launch helped set the scene for what’s to come.

Other performers on the day included: Swank - Girl Guides: the terribly jolly Girl Guide duo Val Keen and ‘abs Eager’, engaged the public in achieving their SWANK GUIDES badges. Dan Fox, Boom Bikes and Band performed live music across The Sele.

Television’s Bruce Airhead performed his astounding 30-minute performance, involving a man climbing inside a huge balloon! One-man musical comedy showman Sid Bowfin - world-class violinist and clown - amused crowds with his hilarious  improvised show. And, world-renowned theatre company Bedlam Oz used giant, life size slinkies to animate spaces in the Abbey Grounds with their compelling street theatre.

Inspired by the Great Exhibition of the North, Great Northumberland is designed to encourage those visiting the North for the once in a generation exhibition to venture further afield into England’s most northerly county. Sign up to the newsletter on the website to find out about all Great Northumberland events across the summer. Find out more at www.greatnorthumberland.co.uk.
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