Hull’s year of cultural celebration set to blast off in style

Performers dressed as angels take part in the Place des Anges spectacle in Hull, part of UK City of Culture 2017 and the Yorkshire Festival. PIC: PA
Performers dressed as angels take part in the Place des Anges spectacle in Hull, part of UK City of Culture 2017 and the Yorkshire Festival. PIC: PA
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There’s no doubt it will begin with a bang. A very loud one.

A spectacular fireworks display which will see 8,000 fireworks fired from barges on the Humber tomorrow night (New Year’s Day) will draw to a close Hull’s first day as UK City of Culture 2017.

The city should already be buzzing as crowds pour in for the first official event of the year, a sound and light show, starting in the city centre at 4pm, followed by the waterfront “pyromusical” and then fireworks, blasting off at exactly 8.17pm.

The opening ceremonies will kick-start a year which aims to change perceptions of the city and act as a catalyst for social and economic change. Nearly £106m is going into the largest capital programme Hull has seen in decades. Just short of £25m has been pumped into an upgrade of the city centre and key buildings and £32m has been raised for the City of Culture year, which is expected to bring in at least £60m to the local economy and attract one million visitors.

The main A63 Castle Street closes tomorrow afternoon (New Year’s Day) as people arrive for the start of the £1.5m seven-day Made In Hull event, which celebrates almost 100 years of the city’s history, followed later by the ticketed fireworks event. Made In Hull – which is free – will see local, national and international artists transform public buildings and squares, from Queen Victoria Square to the Deep, with large-scale projections, soundscapes, installations and animation every night until January 7.

Hull writer Rupert Creed said: “We have told the story of Hull, but in a way that has never been done like this before, across archive footage, documentary film, amazing animations and soundscapes. Don’t miss this – it’s a once in a lifetime experience.”

Director Zsolt Balogh, who has made stunning projections retelling Hull’s rollercoaster history, which will be played on the principal buildings in Queen Victoria Square, said: “It’s their (the people of Hull’s) own story and I think it will be very emotional.”

Some 6.5 tonnes of fireworks, including aerial shells nearly the size of a football, will be blasted into the air by the company which does Edinburgh’s Hogmanay. It will accompanied by a film from Hull-based poet Shane Rhodes, filmmaker Dave Lee and musician Steve Cobby to a soundtrack by DJ Cheeba, including music from local bands.

Titanium Fireworks director Darryl Fleming said there would be “some good gags in there which hopefully will put a smile on people’s faces” – including orange fireworks to pay homage to Hull City football club. He added: “Because we are in the middle of the Humber we have the opportunity to fire some of the biggest fireworks in our arsenal. The guys on the barges will be needing extra ear defenders.”

Hull 2017 CEO Martin Green said it was “showtime”. “It’s just the start of an amazing year that will see hundreds of events in every corner of the city to be enjoyed by the people of Hull and visitors alike.”

The hope is 2017 builds on last year’s successes – one of the most positive Hull has had in years.

After years at the receiving end of negative polls, Hull was named one of the top cities in the world to visit by the Rough Guide. Highlights of 2016 include the opening of the Siemens blade factory, a £310m joint investment with Associated British Ports.

Council leader Steve Brady said the city was “reawakening” after years in the doldrums.

He said: “Hull is ready to enjoy its time in the spotlight and showcase exactly why we deserve to be UK City of Culture 2017.”