hull city of culture

Hull is re-imagining itself, no longer that place you go to catch a ferry to Zeebrugge but a city that finds itself the winner of the UK City of Culture 2017, fighting off competition from Leicester, Dundee and favourites Swansea Bay. The government picks a new winner every four years, the current holders are Derry-Londonerry and Hull’s new title will expire in 2021. 

Hull council Leader Stephen Brady think this title will help to transform Hull’s image:

“It will give Hull a platform to tell the world what this city has to offer, transform perceptions and accelerate our journey to make Hull a prime visitor destination.

“Thank you to the panel for changing Hull. Never again will Hull have the reputation that some people have put on it in the past.”

The award was created in an effort to bring the winners the success that the European Capital of Culture brought Liverpool back in 2008. Derry-Londonerry has certainly seen the benefits of winning with the city hosting an outdoor theatrical event written by Olympic Opening Ceremony writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, the Turner Prize and BBC Radio 1′s Big Weekend. Although the award doesn’t include any funding from the government the council believes it will bring in £60m in 2017 alone.


Although hailing from Coventry Philip Larkin is arguably Hull’s most famous export. The infamously ill-tempered university librarian found fame as a poet during his thirty years in the city and his work inspired Hull’s bid says the council:

“Inspired by Larkin’s poem Days, the ambition is for each day of Hull 2017 to make a difference to a life in the city, the UK and the world.”

However Hull’s cultural offerings do not stop at the famous poet, the Ferens art gallery attracted a record number of visitors with it’s Da Vinci exhibition last year and the Hull Truck theatre company moved into a new £14.5m home in 2009. 

Chair of the advisory panel, TV writer Philip Redmond said that Hull’s bid, which included a £15m programme delivering a cultural event every day of the year in 2017, was a unanimous success:

“We were particularly impressed with Hull’s evidence of community and creative engagement, their links to the private sector and the focus on a legacy, including a commitment to enhance funding beyond 2017 and I’d like to congratulate all involved.

“It was the unanimous verdict of the panel that Hull put forward the most compelling case based on its theme as a ‘city coming out of the shadows’.”

The opening ceremony is ambitious and continues the theme of  ’a city coming out the shadows’ with ‘streams’ of light as well as people and sound flowing into the city. There will also be a dancing white phone boxes and theatrical elephants!

In addition to this, lighting designer Durham Marenghi will work with 500 dancers in a sound and light concert centring around the theme of illusion and fairs. 

Image credit: Andrew Marvell


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