Get ready for a bumper year as Liverpool celebrates being a cultural capital.
Ten years since the game-changing year as European Capital of Culture, Liverpool is marking the milestone with a programme of exciting, inspirational and thought-provoking projects which will shine an international spotlight onto the incredible cultural hub this city has become.
Bringing together international artists, performers and homegrown talent which has emerged over the last decade, more than 40 events and festivals will take place in and across the city region, including firsts, one-off spectacles and some returning, crowd-pulling favourites.
Alongside this, there are four seasons – China Dream, Brittle Heart, The Art of Football and The Future World of Work which will inspire different ways of thinking about ideas, people and places.
The majority of events will be free.
The announcement taking place today (11 January) – is exactly ten years since The People’s Opening of European Capital of Culture 2008 took place – and brings together music, sport, ships, the best of Chinese art, great food and drink and even some cardboard box sculptures!
Although inspired by the huge success of 2008, Liverpool 2018 is focused on the renaissance which has transformed the region over the past decade, and looks to position culture and creativity at the heart of all aspects of the city.
Some of the highlights of the announcement include:
China Dream Season (February to October)
Against the backdrop of the breath-taking China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors exhibition at World Museum, Liverpool will be embracing its Far East links with a special China season. Throughout this time some of the best artists, musicians and performers from China and the UK will present work in the city. The season is in three chapters themed around Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Moon Festival.
Some events which are part of these chapters are:
Presence: A Window into Contemporary Chinese Art – 9 February to 3 June
This brand new contemporary arts exhibition located in St George’s Hall will showcase some of the best Chinese artists working today including Yan Zing, Cao Fei, Sun Xun and Luke Ching. The artworks belong to the New Collection of Chinese Contemporary Art, part of the University of Salford Art Collection, and is the first time this work has been displayed together.
Jian Wang cello with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – 8 February and 9 February
Famed Chinese-born cellist Jian Wang (born in Xi’an where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered) performs with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Julian Rachlin. He will bring his special brand of poetry to two of Tchaikovsky’s mini-masterpieces, Variations on a Rococco Theme and Andante cantabile, in a concert which includes Beethoven’s revolutionary Eroica symphony. The Orchestra welcomes back Chinese virtuoso pianist Zhang Zuo, and there’s a Liverpool debut for China’s leading conductor Long Yu later in the China Dream season.
Chinese New Year 2018 – 16 to 18 February
Light, projections, firecrackers and sound will take over Chinatown, Berry Street, William Brown Street and Bold Street in a celebration of the relationship between Liverpool and China, using the voices and stories of young Chinese people living in the city.
Artists and organisations including Illuminos, Pagoda Arts, First Take, CooL and Kazimier Productions will use the city scape as their canvas to present a story of modern China in the UK. The city will be dressed for the festival from the 8 – 28 February with traditional Chinese Lanterns, lighting and digital projections with activity taking place across this period with traditional performers from Hung Gar Kung Fu.
The festival will end on Sunday evening with a lumiere showcase followed by a pyrotechnic finale.
Rapid Response Unit (From the end of February)
This major international project will see a specially created ‘newsroom’ open in the city centre, with well-known artists, musicians and performers from across the world taking on the role of reporters. Working with organisations and communities in Liverpool they will create brand new work inspired by what’s making the headlines around the globe each week. The project opens in late February and is being curated by filmmaker and journalist Mark Donne and independent producer Eddie Morgan.
Brittle Heart – Season (November)
A season of work to commemorate both the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One as well as women’s right to vote, will look at the world a century ago and aim to draw comparisons with 2018 and the future. The armistice commemoration will be led by a unique collaboration between the orchestras of two UNESCO Cities of Music in a performance of Britten’s War Requiem.
The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Hannover NDR Philharmonic, under the baton of Andrew Manze, are joining together to mark this significant historical anniversary with their choirs and an international soloist line-up. They will perform Britten’s great work, which uses texts from World War One poet Wilfred Owen. It will take place in the awe-inspiring setting of Liverpool Cathedral on 10 November (the day before Remembrance Sunday), preceded the week before, with a performance in Hannover’s Grosses Sendesaal concert hall.
Lost Castles (August)
Liverpool will welcome French artist Olivier Grossetȇte – renowned for creating extraordinary structures out of cardboard – he will work with communities to recreate some lost castles from across the city region in the exact places they once stood. Across a weekend in August, these structures will become magical venues for performances and events to take place.
Three Festivals Tall Ships Regatta & The Bordeaux Wine Festival (25-28 May)
Linking with Dublin and Bordeaux, Liverpool will play host to the starting leg of the Regatta across the bank holiday weekend. Elegant Tall Ships will line the River Mersey, and areas along the waterfront will pay homage to fellow port hosts – Dublin and Bordeaux. As part of this, the world’s leading wine event Bordeaux Fete le Vin (The Bordeaux Wine Festival) will be located in Liverpool while the Tall Ships are in the city. Perfect for food and wine lovers, this ticketed event will bring the very best of France’s food and drink to the Pier Head and is the first time the prestigious event has ever come to the UK. Renowned artists Faith Bebbington, Lulu Quinn, Wired Ariel and Luke Jerram will be presenting new commissions as part of the Tall Ships festival.
The Feis Liverpool – (7 July)
A brand new annual event celebrating the best of Irish culture is coming to the city, bringing with it some of the biggest names in contemporary and traditional Irish music. The Feis (pronounced ‘fesh’) will be a multi-stage event taking place on the Liverpool Waterfront, and is being organised by Vince Power and Jona Cox. Vince founded the famous Fleadh and Feis Festivals which ran for 21 years in London, Glasgow, New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Tickets will go on sale on 26 January.
Smash the Keys (20 – 30 September)
Throughout 2018, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic will be celebrating piano music with their Art of the Piano programme. This will culminate in a city-wide celebration of all things piano. From 20-30 September, Smash the Keys will be a music festival focused on a single instrument with performances from artists covering the worlds of jazz, pop, classical, grime, swing and hip-hop. Expect unique performances in unexpected places and the re-emergence of pianos in pubs. The festival will launch with the first post-competition public performance from the winner of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition 2018, performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko. It will also showcase the extraordinary talents of Emmy-nominated piano duo, Anderson and Roe.
The Future World of Work Season (May – July)
With studies suggesting that in 20 years’ time, half the jobs in the region may no longer exist. In 2018 the future of work will be the inspiration behind a whole season. FACT will lead on a series of artistic commissions linked to this big question which will take over the city centre and work alongside the International Business Festival and UNIGlobal (who represent 20 million workers worldwide), to bring some of the biggest and best thinkers to the city to tackle this idea.
Kazimier Productions will explore what changes in work will mean for the way we spend our spare time in a new project called Leisureland. Previously announced project RE:WIRE will see FACT and Leeds based Invisible Flock work with local communities to take over Toxteth Reservoir and explore the relationship between technology and the changing climate.
The World Boccia Championships/Rugby League Test match (August and November)
Sport and Liverpool go hand in hand, so it’s fitting that in a year of firsts the city welcomes the hugely popular World Boccia Championships to be hosted at Exhibition Centre Liverpool in August. While in November, Anfield will stage the second test of the England v New Zealand Rugby League series.
The Art of Football Season (14 June – 15 July)
To coincide with the FIFA World Cup, throughout June and July a series of works will be commissioned which have football at their heart. They will explore the concept of ‘fandom’, challenge stereotypes and look at the impact of football on fashion, music, politics and society.
Liverpool has an incredible annual events calendar, and as part of 2018, 14 festivals including Africa Oye, Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival, LEAP and DADA Fest will be given additional resources to enable these cherished events to present some of their most eye-catching and ambitious line ups to date.
All of this builds on the incredible programme already released including China’s First Emperor & the Terracotta Warriors, Feast of Fire at St George’s Hall, Liverpool International Music Festival, the finale of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, 20th Anniversary of Liverpool Biennial, 30th Anniversary of Tate Liverpool and the return of The Clothes Show.
And there’s still more major highlights to come.
In the next few months, expect huge announcements including an epic family festival, a huge sporting spectacle, a massive musical moment, a major public art project with one of the world’s leading artists and a hotly anticipated return…
Mayor Joe Anderson OBE said: “The last ten years have been an amazing success story for this city.
“Capital of Culture marked the start of something special, and 2018 feels like another watershed year in the history of Liverpool.
“Initially this year’s programme was called Eighteen for 18, but it’s grown so much over the past year that there are now well over 40 events taking place which is indicative of the scale of the ambition and creativity which runs through the veins of this region.
“The next twelve months will recognise the extraordinary cultural scene which takes place in this city day in and day out. There will be some incredibly special moments to look forward to and Liverpool will once again be in the spotlight as a national and international cultural exemplar.”
The City Region Combined Authority is supporting Liverpool 2018 with £5 million from the Single Investment Fund.
Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said: ‘Liverpool City Region is proud to support this ambitious plan for Liverpool 2018.
“As Lord Mayor during the most successful ever European Capital of Culture programme, I know how important culture has been to driving our renaissance as a city and city region. I very much look forward to another outstanding year of culture that will hopefully enrich and improve the lives of all who live and visit here.
“So many of these projects will attract audiences, not just from our own city region, but from across the UK and the globe.
“Liverpool 2018 is about showcasing our inexhaustible capacity for creativity and innovation.”
Claire McColgan MBE, Director of Culture said: “As a city we are committed to investing in culture and the arts, and I think that Liverpool 2018 perfectly encapsulates why we have done that.
“What is planned for this year showcases the scale of our innovation and ambition – setting us apart from other cities and helping us continually use culture to attract visitors, investment and create and maintain jobs.
“Without doubt, Liverpool is the most exciting city in the UK and in 2018 it’s the place to be if you want to experience something special.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Arts Council for their support, making a number of the 2018 projects possible.”
The GREAT Britain campaign is an official partner of the Liverpool 2018 programme and will use its impressive reach across the tourism, culture, investment, export, trade and education sectors to promote Liverpool’s programme and position it as a must-visit destination with unforgettable experiences, breath-taking landscapes and iconic attractions.
Other partners and supporters already committed to the project include HSBC, Hotel.Planner.com, Arts Council England in a year when Culture Liverpool will be joining their National Portfolio, University of Liverpool, the Business Improvement District, ACC Liverpool, Liverpool ONE, Albert Dock Liverpool, Merseyrail, Merseytravel, CREART and Global Radio.
For more information on already released projects and to help plan your visit to Liverpool go to www.visitliverpool.com/2018.