Each year in Europe, two cities are named to be the continents Capitals of Culture for the year. It gives sometimes little-known cities the chance to make their name on the world scene – like one of this year’s Capitals, the town of Stavanger in Norway – and others the opportunity to recover a reputation. That’s the case for the other 2008 Capital of Culture, Liverpool, which wants to return to its musical roots and get past the industrial and welfare problems that it’s perhaps become more famous for.
Last weekend Liverpool officially kicked off its year as a Capital of Culture by welcoming back some of its most famous citizens: most notably, of course, ex-Beatle Ringo Starr came back to perform in the opening concert. Beatles-related tourism is definitely one of Liverpool’s strong points, with museums, tours and memorabilia all being key attractions.
In preparation for the big year – which is also Liverpool’s 800th birthday – the city built a large new arena, and that was the venue for Saturday’s huge “Liverpool the Musical” performance, where Ringo Starr got involved again.
During the rest of the year, all manner of cultural events from exhibitions and concerts through parades and special festivals will take place, so it is definitely a good year to be in Liverpool.