Having promised to come ‘In With a Bang’, organisers behind Hull’s year as the UK City of Culture could not have dreamed of a better start. A staggering 342,000 visited the festival’s opening ceremony: ‘Made in Hull’, the story of a city coming out of the shadows, remembering those we’ve lost and celebrating the area’s leading role models.
The first day of 2017 saw an incredible firework display “bigger than London’s the night before” out on Hull’s stunning Marina, with spectators scrambling for vantage points in car parks and on bridges, lining the streets and making the city busier than ever before.
Shops, restaurants and independent Hull retailers have enjoyed a fantastic start to the year, with a very handily timed pick-up following Christmas, with the remarkable visitor numbers having a fantastic positive effect on local business and the area’s economy - one of the core aims of the UK City of Culture project.
The other key focus - changing the perceptions of cities which were once maligned, has certainly not been neglected in these opening days. The national media have clamoured for the chance to cover Hull’s rise, writing up their reviews of a moving tale in ‘Made in Hull’ and exciting highlights of the year to come. Being negative about Hull is no longer fashionable.
The reaction from inside the city has been similarly staggering. An unbelievable response has seen people of all ages and from all walks of life get behind the events and what they are seeking to achieve. A look around the ‘Made in Hull’ crowd would highlight just how diverse, welcoming and open our fantastic city is.
Just as some thought momentum might have reached its peak after the opening week, a gigantic, 75-metre long wind turbine blade was positioned in Queen Victoria Square. It’ll stay there for two months, where anyone can come down and be lost for words at what they’ll see - and touch.
To City of Culture organisers, we say - thank you. It’s already been the show of a lifetime, and we couldn’t have dreamt of a better response from those who we are challenging to see the city in a different light. Already, very different things come to mind when people hear the word ‘Hull’.
Hull has found its voice again - and, as the 2017 bid video correctly predicted, there’s a resonance again.