As Wirral prepares to handover the title of Borough of Culture for the Liverpool City Region to Sefton, it has been revealed that over 400,000 people have taken part in this year’s ambitious events and creative projects across the borough. Wirral’s Borough of Culture programme has taken residents and visitors on a cultural journey from local stories and legends to the far reaches of the universe.
The year has been inspired by discovery, exploration and the great outdoors and included events in unexpected locations which have showcased Wirral’s spectacular spaces. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to events with 9 out of 10 visitors rating their experience at events as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
Highlights have included Animated Square which started the year with a 3D projection onto Birkenhead Town Hall in March, the outdoor spectacle The Witching Hour in May, and the Wirral Food & Drink Festival weekend in September, combining gastronomic delights with world-class concerts from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Lightning Seeds, The Christians and China Crisis. Meanwhile, international media coverage put Wirral on the map, from the naming ceremony of the RRS Sir David Attenborough at Cammell Laird and standout sporting moments such as first ever Wirral stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
The final chapter of Wirral’s Borough of Culture year has included a cluster of interstellar events featuring the work of world-renowned artists. Following the large-scale mural on the Dips in New Brighton by celebrated artist Saype in September, thousands flocked to West Kirby’s Marine Lake last month for Constellations – Joanie Lemercier’s breath-taking installation on the water.
Luke Jerram’s mesmerising Museum of the Moon attracted 21,000 visitors at Birkenhead Town Hall over three weeks, while tens of thousands turned out for annual fireworks extravaganza River of Light in New Brighton, which proved a dazzling finale for 2019’s events.
The Borough of Culture year was supported by Wirral residents. Over 270 volunteers have provided a fantastic welcome to visitors and helped the events run smoothly.
Lucy Barrow, Assistant Director for Culture & Visitor Economy at Wirral Council, commented: “It’s been an extraordinary year which has created incredible memories for our residents and visitors. We couldn’t have done it without the support of countless partners, supporters, communities and amazing volunteers who have contributed time, resources and really got behind what we set out to achieve as Borough of Culture – which was to bring exceptional experiences to Wirral and celebrate what makes this peninsula such a special place.
“We know the importance of culture in contributing to regeneration and improving perceptions, and the Borough of Culture initiative has played a huge part in that this year. Thousands of new visitors have come to Wirral as a result of our Borough of Culture programme and at the same time we’ve supported culture and creativity to thrive locally. 2019 will be a springboard into even more exciting events for next year and the years to come.”
The Borough of Culture programme has supported community-driven events and given a platform to local artists and creatives, who have contributed new commissions to events during the year. 2019 has also seen the opening of Make Hamilton Square. This new hub for arts, culture and creativity offers affordable workspace for Wirral’s makers and regular creative workshops and events, alongside a community garden.
Wirral Borough of Culture was recently presented with a Special Recognition award at the Wirral Life Awards and also received the Gold Event of the Year award for the inaugural Wirral Food & Drink Festival which transformed Birkenhead Park into a foodie destination over a sunny September weekend. The team behind are also up for the People’s Choice Award at the first Liverpool City Region Culture & Creativity Awards later this week (Thursday 28 November).
The Borough of Culture initiative was introduced by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and is designed to encourage cultural activities across the region. The baton will now be handed over to Sefton, whose year will be a celebration of their place and people, with more memorable moments in store.