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20th January 2017

Hull City of Culture 2017!

So, why visit hull in 2017? Isn't it just another one of those grim towns up North? Well, not this year it aint! Hull is the proud host of the UK 2017 City of Culture. An award that was created to mimic the success of European Capital of Culture which has been awarded to both Liverpool and Glasgow, in the past.

Hull - or Kingston upon Hull, to give it's full title - is only the second city to be awarded the UK title, and the first in England. The basic idea behind the award, is to give a city, that might not normally be in the spotlight, the opportunity to host major events as well as showcase it's own, locally created culture to a larger, national audience. The hope is, this will lead to an upturn in economic fortunes, with an increase in tourism and inward investment but also in an uplift of self confidence and pride, within the local population.

So then, what has Hull to offer? Well actually, Hull has long been a great place to visit, but with a recent £25 million investment in public realm works and all the cultural events this year, it just got a lot better!

With a geographical location on the Humber Estuary Hull has a long maritime history. Wander down to the pier front and take in the sweeping views over the water to Lincolnshire. From here, or very close by, thousands upon thousands of journeys were embarked upon, and thousands of 19th century immigrants, fleeing poverty from all over Europe, disembarked for the onward journey to America and other parts of the new world. A short stroll from here is Hull Marina, a picturesque haven for private yachts, the bobbing boats on the old 18th century dock, are surrounded by lovely new restaurants and bars. The dock was originally built for the import of fruit and vegetables, landed here and then stored and distributed from the warehouses in the adjacent Fruit Market area. The fruit traders are long gone, leaving the warehouses to decay, but yet another recent investment, has seen these old buildings restored and converted to chic restaurant/bars and small local businesses. A contemporary art gallery is soon to open on Humber Street, the main thoroughfare of the area, and there are already signs the street, along with the nearby amphitheatre created from an old dry dock, will become the heart of the new cultural quarter, a centrepiece to many of the upcoming events of 2017.

A short walk across one of the many bridges over the River Hull, is the magnificent submarium "The Deep". Already a hugely successful tourist attraction, this striking building, jutting out in to the Humber, is home to one of the worlds most spectacular aquariums. Sharks, rays and penguins, along with over 3,500 fish are swimming around you while you wander through the maze of tanks that tower above.

Back across the river is the "Old Town" area, with cobbled streets and lovely old pubs. This is the place where the original town was founded by King Edward 1st in 1299 and home to the wonderful "Museums Quarter" housing most of the City's, free to enter, museums. There is the transport museum, as well as local history museum and adjacent to these is Wilberforce House, birthplace and boyhood home to William Wilberforce, The famous anti-slavery campaigner. The 17th century building is now a museum telling the story of slavery and emancipation.

Leaving the old town area, take in the magnificent Queen Victoria Square. This wonderful open space, with Victoria proudly sitting above the Edwardian public toilets, is surrounded by glorious architecture. The old dock offices, in all their Victorian splendour, are now home to a, free to enter, maritime museum. Across the paved square is perhaps the jewel in the cultural crown of the City, the Ferens Art Gallery - also free entry. The gallery has recently re-opened after major refurbishment and has some of the finest examples of Flemish Masterpieces outside of London as well as an renowned collection of many more historic and contemporary paintings and sculpture. The Ferens will this year be the host of the Turner Prize, only the fifth time the event has been held outside of London. The gallery will have a rolling program of events and exhibitions throughout the year including paintings by Francis Bacon and David Hockney.

If you have never been to Hull, this is the year to do it, most people are glad they did! The City has always had much to offer but with it's year in the spotlight, and all of the events that will be taking place. The time has never been better. Major events will be announced as the year goes on so keep an eye on the website www.hull2017.co.uk. And don't miss out!