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After being appointed to provide Public Relations and communications support for the biggest event in England this year, the team at Karol Marketing have taken a look back at the success of Great Exhibition of the North and the impact it’s had on Newcastle, Gateshead, the wider North and beyond.

This blog post was published an article in the October issue of Northern Insight Magazine 

Described as the number one place in the world to visit in 2018 by Rough Guides, NewcastleGateshead had something rather special in store for residents and visitors with the Great Exhibition of the North – an action-packed 80-day programme of Northern culture, innovative technology, live performances and unforgettable experiences for the whole family to enjoy.

The Great Exhibition of the North opened on Friday 22 June, with hubs and venues opening their doors to visitors wanting to discover the very best of Northern art, design and innovation.

The Opening Weekend saw a spectacular event on NewcastleGateshead Quayside with crowds treated to a performance by Maximo Park, playing some of their best-known tracks as they sailed up the River Tyne. There was also the first of over 1,000 displays of the Get North Water Sculpture, which was choreographed to three specially commissioned soundtracks, and renowned Lancashire-born poet Lemn Sissay gave a passionate performance of his Anthem of the North, before a swarm of illuminated drones took flight, and the evening was brought to a glittering end with a dramatic fireworks display.

Over the Opening Weekend alone, we helped to secure 442 pieces of coverage across print, broadcast and online with a combined press reach of 136m.

Over the course of the 80-day Exhibition, NewcastleGateshead welcomed more than four million visitors over the summer with visitor surveys showing that 32% cited the Exhibition as the primary reason for their visit, and 75% engaging with the Exhibition’s content whilst they were here. More than 10,000 contributors were involved, including artists, scientists and inventors, all producing content across 30 core venues and a further 83 locations in NewcastleGateshead.

As well as attracting visitors to the 80-day programme of activity in NewcastleGateshead, Great Exhibition of the North social media and digital platforms had a reach of over 19.7 million. BBC editorial content alone was seen and heard by an audience of more than 15 million right across the UK and there were over 2,200 items of national, local and regional coverage across print, broadcast and online about Great Exhibition of the North. Alongside this, the BBC editorial content alone was seen and heard by an audience of more than 15 million right across the UK.

Great Exhibition of the North also engaged with hundreds of businesses throughout the 80 days. Events such as the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit (4-6 July); the Emerging Tech series of events; and the Great Exhibition of the North: Building a Legacy for North East Businesses (5 September), collectively attracted more than 1,000 business delegate attendees. In addition, corporate partnership opportunities and the innovative GX Project has and will continue to provide businesses with a platform to learn, network and share their innovation capabilities.

In addition, a number of high profile visits contributed to raising awareness of the Exhibition, shining a spotlight on the region. They included a visit from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney (5 July); a meeting of the full Cabinet with Theresa May (23 July); and a visit and reception with HRH Duke of Cambridge (7 September).

It certainly was a Great Exhibition of the North!