The region will play host to Olympic football at St James’ Park in Newcastle. It also has five Pre-Games Training Camps agreements confirmed so far, including the Sri Lankan and Colombian Olympic athletics associations.
UK medal hopefuls from the region include women’s boxer Savannah Marshall, Olympic bronze medallist in rowing Matt Wells, long jumper Chris Tomlinson and wheelchair basketball player Terry Bywater.
More than £12 million worth of Olympic Park contracts were won by businesses based in the North East, with further benefits cascading down the supply chain. Twenty-three local businesses have played a role in the construction of the Olympic Park, including providing:
- roof shutters for the Olympic Stadium;
- roof cladding for the Aquatics Centre; and
- paint for the Aquatics Centre.
There have already been more than 22 locally funded and managed cultural projects inspired by London 2012 in the North East, including Afro Reggae-Newcastle, which will be working with artists from across Newcastle and Gateshead to reach out to disaffected young people.
Among the big cultural highlights planned for 2012 are:
Drawing Inspiration at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, which will deliver a programme of activities and events to inspire over 6,000 families, young people and the wider community to explore their individual dreams and aspirations for the future;
the Hadrian’s Wall Installation, a major art installation designed by New York arts group Yes Yes No spanning the length of the monument; and
~Flow, which mixes traditional craft and digital innovation to create a sound sculpture that uses the currents of the River Tyne in Newcastle to generate music and sound.
The Olympic Torch will be in the region for five days, taking in key landmarks like the Angel of the North in Gateshead, Penshaw Monument in Sunderland and Hadrian’s Wall in Housesteads, as well as travelling by zip wire off the Tyne Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead.
In all, the Torch Relay will visit more than 60 towns, villages and cities across the North East, with major evening celebrations planned in Alnwick (14 June), Newcastle (15 June), Durham (16 June) and Middlesbrough (17 June).
The Torch Relay is recognised as a significant opportunity to showcase different parts of the UK, with the Government working with VisitEngland and the regional tourism organisations to attract more visitors from home and abroad.
- History and heritage – The North East has Durham Cathedral, twice voted Britain’s favourite building; the Anglo-Saxon relics of Wearmouth and Jarrow, including St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, home to the medieval scholar, the Venerable Bede; and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, the source of England’s Christian heritage, where the Lindisfarne Gospels were written. It also has Hadrian’s Wall marking out the border of England and Scotland. The wall was constructed by the Romans and will be a major focus for Jubilee celebrations and for the Torch Relay when it comes to the region.
- Culture – Gateshead has established itself as an international centre for culture and the arts over recent years. It has Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North – one of the most viewed pieces of public art in the world, viewed by 33 million people every year – as well as The Sage Gateshead and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, which hosted last year’s Turner Prize.
- Nature – from grey seals breeding on Farne Island, to the wild, volcanic landscapes of the Cheviot Hill, the North East is home to some of the most breath taking natural landscapes in the UK. The High Force Waterfall in the Durham Dales, with its spectacular 21 metre drop, is the highest unbroken fall of water in England, while the North Pennies is recognised by UNESCO for its world class geology and landscape.
For more information on the North East as a place to visit.