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A year of culture, creativity and ideas set to attract thousands to Wirral

WIRRAL COUNCIL has announced ‘Imagine Wirral’, a programme of culture, arts and heritage events, designed to attract thousands of new visitors to the borough.

The return of the Tall Ships to the Wirral waterfront in May, a Wilfred Owen Festival to commemorate the end of WWI, alongside huge music events and arts exhibitions form an unprecedented array of cultural events for families to enjoy throughout the year.

The programme will be constantly evolving throughout the year with many attractions yet to be announced. 

Cllr Christine Spriggs, Wirral’s Cabinet member for delivering differently and culture, said: “It’s incredibly exciting. Imagine Wirral is the most ambitious and well-designed programme of events we’ve ever had in our borough. We’re able to showcase local talent and our cultural assets like never before.

“The programme will place Wirral on a world stage, increasing visitor numbers and capturing the creativity of local people.  We’re really excited about its potential to increase visitor numbers, involve residents and boost our tourism businesses.”

The Imagine Wirral programme includes:

  • Tall Ships Regatta: The return of the international fleet of Tall Ships to the Mersey over the Bank Holiday weekend, May 25-28. Includes full supporting programme of family friendly festivals and entertainment in and around the River Mersey celebrating Celtic connections between Wirral and Liverpool, Dublin and Bordeaux (the three host ports for the Tall Ships Regatta).
  • May Weekender: The May Weekender is set to attract over 50,000 people to Prenton Park, the home of Tranmere Rovers, over the late May bank holiday.  The event is the successor to Wirral Live at the same venue in May 2017.  Taking to the stage will be artists who cannot be found performing anywhere else in the UK this summer.  The May Weekender team will begin announcing the artist line-up for the festival in the coming weeks.
  • New Brighton Revisited:  One of the ‘must see’ photographic exhibitions taking place anywhere in 2018 will show work by internationally renowned photographers Martin Parr, Tom Wood and Ken Grant.  The Northern Narratives exhibition in New Brighton will bring many iconic and influential photographs of the resort together for the very first time and include many previously unseen images.
  • Music highlights also include the International Guitar Festival, now in its 30th year.  The Wirral New Music Collective will encourage new talent by supporting local artists to put on one off performances in unusual and inspiring venues.  Plans are also in place to bring Sound City Satellite to Wirral, the latest adventure from the award winning Sound City team, (info tba).
  • Wilfred Owen Festival: Marking the centenary of the end of WW1, there will be a full week of events in November commemorating the life and death of Wilfred Owen, who lived in Birkenhead before dying in action in the closing days of the war. His work includes some of greatest war poetry ever written including ‘Dulce et Decorum est.’  Wirral’s rich history and cultural heritage will be celebrated throughout the year through local events and new collaborations, providing inspiring insights into the distant and recent past. 
  • Spectacular fireworks will return to the waterfront in November, building on the success of last year’s fantastic event.

The Imagine Wirral launch at Birkenhead Town Hall included a one-off special live performance by Zuzu, newly signed to Virgin Records, and fresh from her BBC6Music live session.  There was also a unique, one-off musical commission for the event from another emerging local musician, St Jude The Obscure.  Both artists were arranged by the Wirral New Music Collective. 

Wirral Council will be working with some of the biggest names on the local cultural scene throughout the year including Festival of Firsts, Love New Brighton Parade, Floral Pavilion, Secret Gardens of Oxton, Wirral Open Studios, The International Guitar Festival of Great Britain, ‘Be In Birkenhead’ festival, Birkenhead Priory, Gladstone Theatre, Port Sunlight Village Trust, Wirral Chamber of Commerce, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery and West Kirby Arts Centre.