In 2013, we famously commemorated 70 years since the Battle of the Atlantic, with the popular Mersey River Festival combining with Music on the Waterfront in what proved to be a masterstroke. This was also the year that an old favourite in Mathew Street Festival was replaced by Liverpool International Music Festival in a move to reduce costs, encourage safety and produce a more inclusive offering for the visiting crowds. Prior to all of this, to this was the literary festival, In Other Words – at the heart of which was the reopening of one of the city’s most treasured assets, Liverpool Central Library.

In Other Words: Liverpool Central Library Reopening

From Tuesday 23 April – Sunday 19 May 2013, we collaborated with Writing on the Wall to play host to the literary festival, In Other Words, which operated as an umbrella over a series of events celebrating literature.

Frank Cotterill-Boyce, Jeanette Winterson, Philippa Gregory, Jasper Fforde, and Patrick Ness were among the household names that took part in the city’s World Book Night celebrations, which took place at our beloved St George’s Hall.

Liverpool-based publisher Wordscapes ran a guerrilla book swap, entitled “Spreading the Word”, whilst special bookplates were created by Wallasey-based LT Print Group, offering people a chance to collect a bookplate from businesses at the Albert Dock and in the city centre, stick them in a book they want to swap and leave it 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. The library on William Brown Street, which first opened in 1860, was the result of 10 years of planning and a £50million refurbishment. As well as a whopping 4 million books, among the treasures on display are the original 1207 Charter signed by King John, which granted Liverpool city status; an extremely valuable copy  The Birds of America, 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 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 – 28 May 2013 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 a jam-packed offering through the course of 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 (picture above) beamed from the Royal Liver Building, pulsating the words “thank you” in morse code to 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 Marchant Navy Ship – Patricia, visiting tall ships and yachts.

Mersey River Festival and Music on the Waterfront 2013

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 to 9 June 2013.

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. In addition to ships from Ireland, 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 also took part 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 established a successful partnership with Smooth Radio in the previous year, Love Live Music returned as part of the free Music on the Waterfront festival, with a line up featuring artists including Katie Melua, Nell Bryden, Russell Watson, KT Tunstall and local band, The Christians.

On Sunday 9 June 2013, 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.

Liverpool International Music Festival 2013

2013 welcomed the first ever Liverpool International Music Festival, which took place over a five-week period from 18 August to 22 September, replacing the Mathew Street Festival.

The city’s beloved Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off proceedings at Sefton Park, wowing a 10,000-strong crowd in a free event.

At the Pier Head, well-known acts such as JLS, Little MixUnion J and Stooshe had the waterfront bouncing, alongside a raft of 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 umbrella of LIMF’s first offering included Summercamp Festival and International Beatleweek.