Photo courtesy of VisitBritain
Hull is enjoying a cultural and spiritual rebirth this year and is revelling in being the centre of attention for all the right reasons. Gone are the doubters who didn't believe the people of Hull could rise to the challenge and present such a diverse programme, offering something for absolutely everyone.
The year has been split into four quarters, each with a different theme. The opening Spring season was called 'Made in Hull'. It started with a bang! The grandest firework display ever witnessed in the city kicked off at 20:17pm on New Year's Day, and was enjoyed by thousands. Thoughtfully, the timing also allowed the young children of Hull to be part of the festivities.
What's followed has been inspirational. The story of the people of Hull blazed across important buildings and recounted through images, music, lights, and poetry pulled crowds onto Hull's streets in the cold January nights. The surprise installation of the huge wind-turbine blade in the city centre proved to be phenomenally popular with (mostly) everyone, and what little controversy it caused kept Hull in the headlines. The London Philharmonic Orchestra's visit playing John William's music from the movies was simply fantastic.
'The Hypocrite', a newly commissioned and highly acclaimed play for the RSC, written by Hull born Richard Bean played to a sell-out audience throughout its extended season and then transferred to the rest of the UK. It's been a 'must see' production.
Now in the second quarter, we've been treated to the exhibition of the 2017 National Wildlife Photographic Competition finalists and winners in Beverley. The Ferens Art Gallery has Rembrants on loan from the Royal Collection and a much talked about exhibition by contemporary artist, Tunick, called 'Sea of Hull'. It features 3,200 naked Hullensian volunteers, all painted blue and composed to represent Hull's proud maritime connections. A weeping window of commemorative poppies, first seen at the Tower of London is a powerful reminder of the futility of war, whilst on a more positive and bracing note 'A Walking Sound Journey' across the Humber Bridge is drawing large crowds daily.
This is just a snapshot of some of the events that have enriched and enlivened the lives of Hull people and those of the East Riding of Yorkshire. We feel as if we have been 'put on the map' and are finally being noticed. Everyday there is a real buzz in the air, an optimism that looks set to continue all year and far beyond.
Come and see for yourself. It's exciting, gritty, and vibrant.