Mayor Jamie Driscoll urged residents to celebrate the North as he helped launch the Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival.
The HW1900 celebrations kicked off on January 24, Emperor Hadrian’s birthday, at The Great North Museum in Newcastle.
The year-long festival will celebrate 1900 years of Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
Mayor Driscoll said: “This will be a huge celebration.
“We’re doing it partly because it will bring visitors here, partly because it’s good for the economy, but also because we want to celebrate our region.
“I love living here and I’m sure all of you do.
“There’s an open call for projects, with hundreds of fantastic ideas submitted already. Use this link to visit the Hadrian’s Wall 1900 website and find out a little more.”
The Hadrian’s Wall Partnership has been rallying the troops to bring together a rolling programme of events and activities including a large scale contemporary artwork, a Japanese manga series, a bunting challenge, various exhibitions, a Roman themed city of light and travelling Saturnalia celebrations – with plenty more to be revealed.
On the eve of the festival Solway Coast Business Group presented Solway Coast: Stories from 1900, a special opening event with a collection of live performances, talks, and videos to showcase snippets from 1900 years of history.
It was only fitting that the opening of the festival started with merriment so throughout the day there were various opportunities to get involved and celebrate.
First up was a birthday brunch at Great North Museum in Newcastle where key stakeholders, activity organisers and partners gathered to mark the start of a memorable year and where a 1.5-meter-long edible replica of a section of Hadrian’s Wall took centre stage. The cake creation, baked and designed by Sticky Sponge Cake Studio served up over 100 pieces of cake and has featured on TV in local papers and National publication Current Archaeology.
Anyone wanting to experience a HW1900 festival activity that day could also catch Obscurum – Lux a new exhibition at Segedunum Roman Fort that shows a modern interpretation of the importance of light and colour in the Roman world or join Catherine Jarvis for a historic guided tour at Birdoswald Fort looking at the history of the Fort from Pre-Roman times and beyond.
Later that day The Friends of Muncaster Castle celebrated the opening of HW1900 when the Emperor Hadrian himself sailed in from Rome to the Ravenglass Estuary and enjoyed a bubble bath within the ancient Roman bathhouse. The bathhouse at Ravenglass is one of the tallest free standing Roman structures in northern England and sits at the start of the Hadrianic Frontier.
In the evening Anna Gray of Discover Lakeland Guided Tours was offering virtual tours covering the Cumbrian section of Hadrian’s Wall between Bowness-on-Solway and Gilsland.
To finish off, HW1900 activity and festival organisers had a virtual zoom party complete with birthday themed back drops , party hats and of course more cake! Attendees also judged the Bake a Cake for Hadrian entries with Helen from Northumberland winning the popular vote, Helen used her famous gluten and dairy free recipes to make the Wall themed cake .
Jane, Lady Gibson, Chair of Hadrian’s Wall Partnership said: “The response to the festival has been fantastic! Since 15th December 2021 when we announced the festival highlights, we have been reaching audiences all over the UK and from across the world. This is just the start of a wonderful year and if you would like to get involved it’s not too late simply visit the website and take it from there.”
The festival has achieved some great publicity attracting both national and regional coverage. Including; The Chronicle, Hexham.tv, The Times, The Journal, Hexham Courant, Radio 4, Guardian, The Daily Express, The Telegraph and BBC News online.
To mark the start of the HW1900 both ITV Tyne Tees and BBC Look North featured the festival on their evening bulletins and the interest continues to mount.
The new festival website has attracted 22,000 unique visits since the December the 15th Launch and has around 65 events and activities listed with another 200 in the pipeline and many more to continue throughout the festival year. The momentum is building and new events and activities are signing up every day as is the interest from visitors and media outlets around the world.