Jam-packed are the words that best describe 2013’s calendar of events. Kick starting the year was literary festival ‘In Other Words’, which coincided with the reopening of one of the city’s most treasured assets, Liverpool Central Library.

The city commemorated 70 years since the ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ and the popular ‘Mersey River Festival’ and ‘Music on the Waterfront’ made a return. This was also the year that an old favourite ‘Mathew Street Festival’ was replaced by ‘Liverpool International Music Festival’.

In Other Words: Liverpool Central Library Reopening

Throughout April and May and in collaboration with Writing on the Wall, Culture Liverpool played host to the city’s ‘In Other Words’ literary festival, celebrating literature with a series of events.

Frank Cotterill-Boyce, Jeanette Winterson, Philippa Gregory, Jasper Fforde and Patrick Ness were among the household names that took part in the ‘World Book Night’ get-together at St George’s Hall.

Liverpool-based publisher Wordscapes ran a guerrilla book swap, aptly entitled ‘Spreading the Word’, whilst Wallasey-based LT Print Group created special bookplates, offering people the chance to adhere them to books they no longer needed, leaving them for someone else to find and read.

Such endearing activities provided the perfect build-up to the reopening of Liverpool Central Library, which took place on 17 May 2013 following 10 years of planning and a £50million refurbishment. The library on William Brown Street, which first opened in 1860, holds an impressive 4 million books and among its treasures on display is the original 1207 Charter signed by King John, which granted Liverpool city status, a priceless copy of ‘The Birds of America’ book by naturalist and painter John James Audubon and paintings of the 19th Century artist, Edward Lear.

Battle of the Atlantic 70th Anniversary Commemoration

The Battle of the Atlantic (BOA) was the longest continuous military campaign of the Second World War and was pivotal to the overall success of the allied forces. To mark the 70th anniversary, Liverpool was the national focus for the commemorations and hosted a series of events from 24 May to 28 May in a fitting tribute to the courage and fortitude of every man and woman involved.

Liverpool’s waterfront and city centre came alive with a raft of activities including a veterans parade, a special band concert by Her Majesty’s Royal Marines at the Philharmonic Hall, a 1940s themed party at St George’s Hall, a fly past, a fast roping rescue style display on the river involving the Royal Marines and a specially commissioned exhibition to commemorate the veterans. Helicopters, artillery, simulators, underwater divers, dancers and music completed the extensive offering over the late May bank holiday weekend.

All in all, 350,000 visitors and thousands of veterans from all over the world, including Atlantic Star and Arctic Convoy medal holders, attended the BOA commemoration. A light projection beamed from the Royal Liver Building, pulsating the words ‘thank you’ in Morse code to all the men and women who served in the Battle of the Atlantic, and also as a tribute to Alan Turing for his work at Bletchley Park. A cathedral service was broadcast live from BBC1 from the Anglican Cathedral and the waterfront hosted 10 Naval ships, as well as Merchant Navy Ship – Patricia, visiting tall ships and yachts.

lady in a colourful carnival costume

Mersey River Festival and Music on the Waterfront

For the first time, the Mersey River Festival and Music on the Waterfront (including the Smooth Radio ‘Love Live Music’ event) were combined together, welcoming over 125,000 visitors from 7 June to 9 June.

Half a dozen Tall Ships graced the River Mersey as Liverpool became one of the host ports for the Irish Sea Fleet – Maritime Tour 2013. Ships from Ireland and vessels from Denmark, France and Belgium also made an appearance.

Aerobatic displays from Russian aircrafts, stunning live street theatre, wake boarders and a canoe polo tournament thrilled the crowds during the three-day event, whilst a ‘World Music Stage’ at the Pier Head played authentic African, Indian and Arabic music and dance for the visiting masses.

Having teamed up with Smooth Radio the previous year, ‘Love Live Music’ returned as part of the free ‘Music on the Waterfront’ festival, with a line up featuring artists Katie Melua, Nell Bryden, Russell Watson, KT Tunstall and local band, The Christians.

On Sunday 9 June, the festival culminated with Brouhaha International Carnival, Liverpool Arab Arts Festival and Sights and Sounds of India, bringing a splash of colour and music to the Albert Dock and Pier Head.

Rebecca Ferguson singing on stage at LIMF 2013

Liverpool International Music Festival

Replacing the Mathew Street Festival, 2013 welcomed the first ever Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), which took place over five weeks from 18 August to 22 September.

The city’s beloved Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra launched the proceedings at Sefton Park, wowing a 10,000-strong crowd with a free concert.

At the Pier Head, well-known acts such as JLS, Little Mix, Union J and Stooshe had the waterfront bouncing, alongside Liverpool’s own talent, including Esco Williams and The Hummingbirds. In keeping with the spirit of Mathew Street Festival, a variety of cover acts also added to the Pier Head festivities, linking past with present.

Other highlights under the LIMF’s inaugural outing included Summercamp Festival and International Beatle Week.


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