Hull Kicks Off City of Culture Year in Style

2 January 2017, 10:27 | Updated: 2 January 2017, 10:37


The first day of Hull's year-long tenure as UK City of Culture has been marked with a spectacular fireworks display watched by thousands.

More than 25,000 people packed on to the city's marina and lined the bank of the River Humber as the In With A Bang programme began at 8.17pm with a film about Hull - the start time celebrating the year 2017.

The display - which lasted more than 10 minutes and was larger than the New Year's Eve event in London - featured fireworks set off from barges on the river and was accompanied by music and video.

Organisers gave away 25,000 free tickets to the event, while many more watched from surrounding vantage points.

Crowds waited for several hours beforehand in near-freezing temperatures amid a party atmosphere with music and entertainment.

Throughout Sunday, thousands flocked to the city centre to visit Made In Hull - a city-wide, week-long, free installation by artists, telling the story of Hull and its people over the last 70 years.

Hundreds gathered in Queen Victoria Square to watch the first screening of We Are Hull, a film of Hull's history, which was projected on to surrounding buildings.

Sean McAllister, creative director of Made In Hull, said the city will finally share its cultural secrets with the world during the coming year.

Mr McAllister, a documentary filmmaker from Hull, said: "We're finally going to share our secret.

"If you're from Hull, we always knew we had culture, it's just the world didn't know.''

He added: "It's just for us, we've had it as a sub-culture but, damn it, we've finally had to open the door to the international world and let them in.

"They can come and see what we've been enjoying.''

Mr McAllister described the event as "unique''. He said: "This has never, ever been done before so it's a total first in the world.''

He added that he had worked on a concept that he hoped would be "arresting, interesting and engaging for normal people''.

Hull is the second city to be given UK City of Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

The city was selected in 2013 amid some surprise, from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

The worldwide profile of Hull 2017 was raised in July when US artist Spencer Tunick corralled 3,200 naked people painted blue for his trademark photographs around Hull's landmarks.

Tunick's Sea Of Hull will be featured later next year at the Ferens Art Gallery, which will reopen in January following a £4.5 million refurbishment.

Other highlights at the gallery will include the unveiling of a nationally significant early 14th century panel by Pietro Lorenzetti and five of Francis Bacon's notorious Screaming Popes.

University of Hull alumni, the late Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, will be celebrated with a retrospective of his work and an exhibition in January.

Hull Maritime Museum will begin the year with a look at the city's whaling history with an audiovisual installation of a bowhead whale.

Organisers of Hull 2017 and local politicians have explicitly linked the cultural plans for the year with the economic transformation of the city, symbolised by the £300 million investment by German tech firm Siemens in an offshore wind manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock.

Council leader Stephen Brady has said more than #1 billion of investment has flowed into the city since the UK City of Culture announcement, including £100 million of capital investment in the cultural and visitor infrastructure.