Organisers of the hundreds of events planned for Hull in 2017 have said they are ready to welcome visitors from around the world as well as include all of the Yorkshire city’s 250,000 residents saying: “The stage is set, we’re ready for showtime”.
Crowds are expected to pack the city’s waterside and every other vantage point for a fireworks display over the Humber accompanied by music and video which organisers say will top the New Year’s Eve show in central London 24 hours earlier.
And visitors will also be able to tour the first of hundreds of planned artistic events - Made In Hull, which is a celebration of more than 70 years of the city’s history told through massive projections on some of its best known buildings.
Hull 2017 chief executive and director Martin Green said the people of the city have been watching the final preparations around major landmarks with “a mixture of surprise and jaws hitting the floor”.
Mr Green said: “We’re all set. All the building work that’s supposed to be finished for today is finished. There’s a real sense of the stage being set and we’re ready for showtime.”
He said: “You can see the whole country talking about this city and that has a chain reaction of pride, which breeds confidence. We’re ready to open the doors and say to everyone ‘Come on in’.”
He said social media has helped spread the word around Hull about what is coming up as the city centre has been transformed by artists from across the UK and the world.
Asked about the reaction so far, Mr Green said: “A mixture of surprise and jaws hitting the floor. I think people had an idea of what we were trying to achieve, which is a very different way to start a year as well as a very Hull way to start a year.
“What we knew from the outset was that we didn’t want to do a one night opening ceremony because it means that so many people can’t come.
“That’s why we designed something that was spread through the city centre over seven days because absolutely everybody is invited.
“And that is absolutely indicative of the attitude to the year. Everyone will find something they will like and it’s for everyone.”
Hull is the second city to be given UK City 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 New Year’s Day events will launch a programme which includes an array of work and artists.
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 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.