The influx, which included visitors from abroad, as well as London, Manchester and Leeds proved a boost to business, with hotels and pubs reporting excellent trade.
The hope is many more will visit the city over the next few days to see Made in Hull, whose centrepiece is a spectacular 15-minute film sequence, projected onto three landmark buildings in Queen Victoria Square, before it ends on Saturday night.
The 136-bedroom Premier Inn, near the Deep, which is being used as a blank canvas for an evocative work about migration, was “absolutely chocker” for the event months ago.
A spokeswoman said a normally quiet New Year’s Day had been like “two New Year’s Eves.” The hotel is already fully booked for four weekends of the year - including the Spiders from Mars gig in March and ELO on July 1.
Pubs in the Old Town were rammed with customers visiting the eight street-based art commissions which make up Made In Hull. Landlord Alan Murphy, who has three pubs, and will be opening a fourth in the former Fretwells printers, said City of Culture “has definitely bought more people to the area. It has been the busiest Christmas I ever had.”
He added: “We’ve had lots of people from outside town. They think it’s fantastic. Lots have had negative views, but have been here for a little bit and have reconsidered. It’s great news for the city. There’s nothing to buy round here now - all the properties have been snapped up. Touch wood if 2017 keeps going like this it will be a bumper year.”
Owner of the Golden Fry takeaway Charles Smith said after “a year of absolute chaos” caused by the city centre upgrade, business was looking up, and he was cautiously optimistic. “There seems to be a big, positive attitude,” he added. “People all seem to think it’s very good.”
The figures were issued by the Hull 2017 team. Chief executive Martin Green urged all 250,000 residents to take a look at Made In Hull before the week is over. He said: “We designed this event so every member of the population who wanted to come could.”