Live symphonic film scores, street art installations, Shakespearean theatre and the return of The Spiders from Mars are all on the agenda during Hull’s reign as the UK’s cultural capital. Josh Ferry-Woodard reports.

‘Everyone back to ours’ is the fitting slogan for Hull’s 2017 City of Culture campaign.

Thousands of local Hullensians have volunteered to help with an ambitious programme involving a different cultural event every day of the year throughout 2017. Some residents have even signed up to a homestay initiative, offering visitors a place to stay in the city. Everyone back to ours indeed.

Continental Hull
Hull showcasing its continental side…

The sense of pride on the streets of Hull is palpable. Stepping off the train I was greeted by a wave of grinning volunteers in pale blue jackets. Every shopkeeper, barman or waitress I encountered was keen to impress how important the City of Culture badge was to the city.

Even the Lord Mayor, draped in gold chains and medallions, managed to flout the pomp associated with his outfit to regale me with tales of boozy rock concerts from his youth, before listing some of the events that have got him excited about 2017.

Music Events

For many, the Lord Mayor included, the standout act of the year is set to be the return of The Spiders From Mars – yes that’s the backing band to David Bowie’s legendary Ziggy Stardust album.

The remaining Spider, Woody Woodmansey, will be joined by long time Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti and Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory to perform the first ever live rendition of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in its entirety.

The Lord Mayor's domain
The Lord Mayor’s domain

Also on the agenda is an intoxicating show from the London Sinfonietta, who will be recreating the hypnotic sounds of the eerie 2013 sci-fi film Under the Skin. Watch Scarlett Johansson, as an alien impersonating a human female, driving around Scotland enticing unsuspecting men into her van, while Nica Levi conducts a live multi-textured orchestral score.

Mind on the Run is a three-day festival (17th to 19th February) dedicated to the life and works of experimental musical genius Basil Kirchin, whose career evolved from Big Band drummer to rock’n’roll collaborator, before drifting towards dreamy film scores and daring sonic soundscapes. Events as diverse as Kirchin’s discography, featuring a host of his dedicated fans from bands such as The Specials, Sonic Youth and Goldfrapp, will take place throughout the weekend.

Street Installations

In addition to getting local artists and residents involved in the City of Culture programme, there is a strong drive to fill the streets of Hull with creativity. This vision is to be realised through a number of on-site installations, art projects and theatrical performances all over the city.

The Humber River

REDboard will turn 13 Hull billboards into canvasses for local and international artists, the Thornton Estate housing project will be transformed into a sea of colour by Italian artist Silvio Palladino, the iconic 2.2km Humber Bridge will enjoy an otherworldly operatic soundscape composed by Jez Riley French and various locations around the city will play stage to James Phillip’s ambitious and explosive year-long narrative Flood, which looks at what could happen to the city after a deluge.

Art & Theatre

Hull is a city enshrined in traditions, from its unique white phone boxes to the hustle and bustle of Trinity Indoor Market, and as such there is also a full roster of more traditional, less avant-garde, art forms.

Veteran market traders

Hull Truck Theatre will host Shakespeare’s deformed and jealous villain Richard III, as well as The Hypocrite, a riotous comedy based on one of Hull’s proudest historical moments: the day in 1642 when King Charles I was not admitted entry into the town!

Jimmy Carr’s razor-sharp wit (and disturbing barn owl laugh) will grace the stage at Hull City Hall for a night of comedy gold, while the Ferens Gallery will host five of Francis Bacon’s notorious and chilling Screaming Popes.

Permanent Attractions

With 365 different cultural events taking place in 2017, there is plenty to keep you occupied… but that’s not all. The City of Culture celebrations may be temporary, but Hull is no pop-up exhibition. The down-to-earth city is filled with fun activities, historical landmarks and local food and drink options – making Hull a great destination for a short break.

Ubiquitous but unmissable craft ale
Ubiquitous but unmissable craft ale

Harbourside Humber Street, a regenerated fruit market, is the place for homemade jewelry, craft beer, the Museum of Club Culture, live music and, quite-possibly, the tastiest artisan treats in the UK. Humble chocolatier Jon Collins creates delectable flavour combinations such as cherry and sage, strawberry and black pepper and basil chocolate. To preserve the quality, and the prestige, Cocoa chocolates are only available in-store. This makes them an ideal gift for loved ones, who will mostly likely appreciate them substantially more than a destination branded tea towel, a tacky fridge magnet or a small bottle of a paint-strippingly strong local spirit.

Among other attractions, the Museums Quarter features Wilberforce House, the birthplace of Hull MP William Wilberforce who led the movement to abolish slavery, and the Streetlife Museum, a journey through 200 years of Hull’s streets embellished by model trams, buses and walk-in Victorian shops.

Devo's great-great-grandfather
Devo’s great-great-grandfather

Don’t be fooled by The Deep (pictured in feature photo), it may have over 3,000 water creatures, ranging from penguins, sharks, and sawfish to sting rays and that one out of Finding Nemo, but it’s ‘not a zoo for fish’: it tells the story of the Blue Planet from start to finish future.

Fish can also be found on the streets of Hull, in the form of 41 life-size bronze sculptures dotted around the city centre. The Fish Trail is an interesting way to explore the town, as it takes in most of the landmarks, as well as a good number of pubs stocked to the cellar with local beer and ale.

Josh was invited to the official Hull City of Culture 2017 press launch by Visit England in association with partners Visit Hull and East Yorkshire, Marina Hotel and Furleys.

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