Following a hugely successful 2015, we kicked off 2016 with our Chinese New Year (Year of the Monkey) celebrations. The year would go on to produce some of our finest moments to date, with the most successful International Mersey River Festival to date among a calendar of events which also included Out of the Darkness: Liverpool May Blitz Commemoration, Disney Magic on the Mersey and Cunard 100: A Centenary Celebration.
Read on to discover these events in more detail…
Chinese New Year 2016
Celebrating the Year of the Monkey, alongside a number of organisations including groups from the Liverpool Chinese Community, our Chinese New Year 2016 celebrations offered arts and cultural events, street festivities and activities for children and adults including the Chinese New Year Market, a spectacular firecracker display, traditional Chinese cultural performances from Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre, the Pagoda Chinese Community Centre, Tai Chi with Kwong Tam School of Tai Chi (in association with See Yep Association) and sensational Dragon, Lion and Unicorn dance performances. The event on 7 February 2016 attracted an audience of approximately 20,000 people.
Out of the Darkness: Liverpool May Blitz Commemoration
To commemorate 75 years since the Liverpool May Blitz of 1941, which took place during the Second World War, St Luke’s Church (known affectionately as “the bombed out church”) hosted Out of Darkness – a free moving light and sound display, so that the city could pay its respects on 6 May 2016.
Lanterns, decorated by schoolchildren, lit up the church’s gardens, as the story of St Luke’s Church, which was hit on 6 May 1941, leaving just a burnt out shell – was told. The church has since stood as a memorial to the thousands of people who lost their lives during the Liverpool Blitz.
International Mersey River Festival 2016
From Friday 3 to Saturday 5 June 2016, Culture Liverpool hosted a FREE three-day extravaganza of family fun, amazing music and entertainment along the city’s iconic waterfront, with the International Mersey River Festival 2016.
During this spectacular event, we made waves with an incredible musical line up gracing three stages, a host of creative workshops and entertainment for the whole family.
We gave revellers a chance to discover Liverpool’s glorious history, incredible present and dazzling future with an interactive treasure hunt around the UNESCO heritage site, whilst producing a number of activities including the following:
On the Water: Tall ships, Northern Boat Show, Flyboarding, Canoe Polo, Wakeboarding, Watersports.
Shore Side Fun: Eldonian Village Canal Festival, Pavement Art, Model Boat Show, Liverpool Signing Choir, Street Theatre, Drumming, Arts Workshops, Family zones, Events at Open Eye Gallery and Liverpool Museum.
Among the artists to perform were LIMF Academy 2015 graduates, Xam Volo, Jalen N’Gonda, Amique, Hicari and Harlem. In addition to this fresh, new talent, we also brought in already well-established and beloved musicians, including Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin Criminals’ frontman), Shola Ama, Gwen Dickey’s Rose Royce, Soul II Soul, The Real Thing, and the legendary Billy Ocean.
As of 2018, the International Mersey River Festival 2016 has been our most successful River Festival to date, attracting 250,000 festival-goers and bringing in £13.7million to the local economy – which was up by £5.2million on 2015.
Liverpool International Music Festival 2016
The sensational Liverpool International Music Festival returned for its fourth outing in 2016, celebrating the city’s musical pedigree, diversity and heritage on a global scale. Taking place from Thursday 21 – Sunday 24 July 2016, LIMF explored the theme of ‘ReDefinition’ with five commissioned projects and performances that are and have redefined music and popular culture. These included a curated live show by BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson called ‘From The Soul’; a celebration of Liverpool’s counter-culture over the last 40 years with ’76-16: From Eric’s To Evol’; and ‘House Nation’ where renowned Liverpool-based DJ and Producer Yousef explored what defines house music in four international cities.
LIMF Summer Jam returned with a three-day FREE outdoor music celebration featuring its best line-up to date including Sigma, The Wombats, Lianne La Havas, Kwabs, Netsky, Ms Dynamite, Maverick Sabre, a very special Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Friday evening performance and much more.
Disney Magic on the Mersey
Disney Magic – a cruise ship owned and operated by the Disney Cruise Line, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company – first berthed at our very own Cruise Liverpool on Friday 27 May 2016. However, it wasn’t until Sunday 12 June of the same year, that the city pulled out all of the stops.
The Pier Head came alive with music and colour in a free event for all the family, with an outdoor cinema which showed Disney classics in full throughout the day, including Frozen (sing-a-long), Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Mary Poppins.
There was even a bandstand in front of the Cunard Building, as Royal Marines Bands played a Disney medley to spread the spirit of the event among the Magic Garden, which appeared on the Pier Head, complete with potting sheds, toadstools, giant flowers and fairy houses.
The event attracted an estimated 100,000 visitors – some of whom even donned Disney-themed fancy dress! Following an afternoon of fun, the evening culminated in a fireworks display as the vessel sailed away, happily ever after – until she made her return on Friday 14 July 2017, which welcomed back the outdoor cinema and culminated in a Disney sing-song farewell.
See the Liverpool Echo’s galleries below to get a flavour of the Disney Magic events that we have hosted so far:
Cunard 100: A Centenary Celebration
Saturday 2 July 2016 marked the 100th birthday of one of Liverpool’s Three Graces, The Cunard Building.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth sailed in for the day, offering viewers a chance to revel in her majestic beauty before departing later that night among the backdrop of a stunning mid-river fireworks display.
Prior to this finale, Lord Mayor at that time, Cllr Roz Gladden, joined Captain of Queen Elizabeth, Inger Klein Olsen (first ever female captain of Cunard ship) to unveil an impressive, 50metre long stone seat which stretches the full length of the Cunard Building. The granite bench, located on the Strand side of the building, features a specially designed piece of artwork called The Journey which uses bronze illustrations and writing to chart the history of Cunard, from 1839 to the present day.
Two free concerts later took place on the Pier Head in the afternoon and then once again in the evening, with performances from the Royal Marines Band, Liverpool Welsh Choral and opera singer Danielle Thomas entertaining the flag-waving masses. The latter concert proved the perfect build-up to the mid-river fireworks finale, with Danielle Thomas singing classics such as Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory alongside contemporary numbers such as Proud Mary and All You Need is Love.
River of Light 2016
Having marked November 5th’s Bonfire Night fireworks across Sefton Park and Newsham Park for a few years, 2016 saw us move the event to Liverpool waterfront, with a focus on joining forces with Wirral and incorporating pre-display animation activities in the run-up to the main event.
Two Twister airplanes took to the skies to produce a stunning aerobatic display in which sparks of flames flew from their wings as the night drew in, whilst in Liverpool, there was also a stunning pyro-percussion display by drummers, Les Commandos Percu and Deabru Beltzak.
The pre-display animation proved to be a huge success and whilst the display was lauded by many, there was still room for improvement – with many of our post-event surveys calling for a more robust viewing experience and greater atmosphere when it came to the fireworks finale.
Never ones to give up at the first hurdle and shy away from our duties, we used this feedback to shape River of Light 2017, which proved to be a roaring success (see 2017 page for more details).