We arrived to find the Three Graces beautifully illuminated. A film of the year’s highlights was projected onto huge screens, including one on the half-completed Museum of Liverpool. Another film had animation Liver Birds take flight for Vilnius to make the handover whilst the real Liver Birds (!) were illuminated with searchlights.
Then there was a brilliant firework display, accompanied by a stirring mix of Liverpool musical favourites – The Farm’s All Together Now, Here Comes The Sun, Imagine, and so on.
The celebration was staged in front of the Three Graces, where the new canal extension which will link the Leeds-Liverpool canal to the Albert Dock has transformed the waterfront (photo taken on 1 November):
- Liverpool Transition Celebration: BBC Liverpool photo gallery
- Thousands celebrate end of Capital of Culture year: Daily Post
- Thanks, 08, and here’s to the future… Daily Post
Liverpool’s brilliant year
Here are some facts about the European Capital of Culture 2008 event provided by the Liverpool Culture Company:
- A total of 7,000 events featuring around 10,000 artists were staged in Merseyside to coincide with the European Capital of Culture year. Highlights included the Turner Prize and La Machine – a 20-tonne mechanical spider created by Francois Delaroziere, which crawled through the city centre.
- Average hotel room occupancy in Liverpool during 2008 was around 77% – second only in the UK to London.
- Tate Liverpool saw a 66% increase in visitors throughout the year, with more than one million people passing through the doors.
- The year was launched on January 11, 2008 with a performance by Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart at the city’s St George’s Hall. Around 600 local people, including guitarists, choirs and schoolchildren and 40 aerial performers, were also part of the show, which ended in a fireworks display.
- Sir Paul McCartney performed in front of a sell-out 40,000 crowd at Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium in May along with The Zutons, Kaiser Chiefs and Foo Fighters.
- Other events in the programme included The Stirling Prize, MTV Europe Music Awards and more than 100 Superlambananas – half-lamb, half-banana sculptures with steel frames made out of fibreglass – located across the city.
- The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, hailed the year as one of “the most successful” programmes staged by a city.
- According to market research, 70% of people in Liverpool visited a museum or gallery in 2008. The UK average is 59%.
- More than 3.5 million people visited Liverpool for the first time, spending £176 million, with a total of 14 million flocking to the city during the 12 months.
- The North West Development Agency said the economic benefit of Capital of Culture 2008 status was £800 million, taking into account visitor spend, media value and income from events attributed to Capital of Culture.
- Conde Nast readers placed Liverpool 3rd in a list of their favourite UK cities.
- Every child in Liverpool’s schools – around 67,000 youngsters- took part in a cultural activity during 2008.