A spectacular display of fireworks and giant video projections has launched Hull’s year as UK City of Culture.
More than 25,000 people descended on the city’s waterfront for the display, which organisers claimed to be bigger than London’s New Year’s Eve show.
Historic buildings across the city became backdrops for projections illustrating the history of the area.
Organisers said they hoped to attract more than one million extra visitors to Hull during 2017.
In Queen Victoria Square in Hull, thousands of people watched Made in Hull, which saw images of the city’s maritime and aviation connections beamed onto the walls of several buildings.
Across the city, shops were turned into art spaces and The Deep aquarium carried a giant projection about the people of the port city.
The view from the streets – Ian Youngs, arts & entertainment reporter
Historic buildings came to life with stunning animations and archive footage. Normally empty shop windows became cabinets of curiosities. A paved city yard was filled with the noise of a football crowd. There was a rave in an underpass.
Hull wants and needs to get everybody on board for its City of Culture year from the start, so opening 2017 with a free, open-air extravaganza on the streets was a very good move.
The eight art installations in the city centre were not distant or impenetrable – they tried to connect with the city and the people, whether that was through Invisible Flock bringing the surprisingly compelling crowd noise from a Hull City match to Zebedee’s Yard, or Urban Projections letting people step into their own instant artworks in the shadow of the tidal barrier.
The centrepoint was Zsolt Balogh’s beautiful film weaving together the story of the city, which was projected onto the blank facades of the City Hall, Ferens Art Gallery and Maritime Museum. It ended with the words “We are Hull” writ large – at which point a cheer went up in the crowd.
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The fireworks display, called In With A Bang, included 15,000 fireworks and was accompanied by music from some of the city’s most famous musical exports.
Martin Green, chief executive of City of Culture, said: “I want nationally and internationally people to see that that this is a fantastic city with great stories, great people and a lot to offer.
“Because every city deserves its moment in the limelight and 2017 is ours.”
Hull is the second city to be given UK City Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.
The city was selected in 2013 from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.
More than 30m is being spent on the year’s events and 25m has been invested in revamping the city centre and refurbishing the Ferens Art Gallery and the city’s main theatre.
The city will host the Turner Prize and will see hundreds of concerts and other performances throughout the year.
Former Hull Labour MP Lord Prescott said he hoped the event would be a catalyst for change in Hull.
“It’s lifted up the spirit of people,” he said. “You can rebuild and regenerate and build the confidence of the people by culture.”
Hull City Council said more than 1bn of investment has flowed into the city since the UK City of Culture announcement.
Sean McAllister, creative director of Made In Hull, said the city would finally share its cultural secrets with a wider audience during the coming year.
“If you’re from Hull, we always knew we had culture, it’s just the world didn’t know,” he said.