The Hallmark Hotels Guide to Hull, UK City of Culture 2017
Sitting at the estuary of the mighty Humber- a river that gives its name to one of the UK’s most striking and photogenic suspension bridges- whilst the city of Hull may not shout quite as loud as many other destinations in the great county of Yorkshire, there’s a reason this year sees Hull take the mantle of UK City of Culture. As the famous saying goes, ‘it’s never dull’, but many people don’t fully realise just how much this historic town actually has to offer. Kingston Upon Hull, to use the full name, dates back to the 12th Century, when it quickly grew into a thriving military and commercial centre for the region, and it’s fair to say it hasn’t looked back since. Suffering devastating damage during the Second World War due to its sprawling dockyards, thankfully not all the buildings were lost, so today the city offers a fantastic mix of antique and modern, with its majestic Old Town, an abundance of great shopping, contemporary galleries, and state of the art tourist attractions making the place as unique as the local people.
UK City of Culture - What’s on?
You don’t become a UK City of Culture for nothing, and nowhere deserves this prestigious title more than Hull. As a result of the accolade, the city’s 2017 calendar is chock full of special events designed to amaze, entertain, and inform, making this one of the UK’s must-visit spots over the coming months. Not that it hasn’t always been a top priority- hence the revered Rough Guides Top 10 Cities list recommending a trip here. With so happening this year it’s impossible for us to highlight it all, but a full run down can be found on the official City of Culture website. Having said that, we couldn’t help but select a chosen few events that we think best evidence the variety and scope of this momentous year. Take a look below, and remember this only takes us to the halfway point of this incredible year...
Flood - Online and ongoing
Created by the Slung Low production company, which has a remit to make theatre productions outside traditional spaces, Flood is their most ambitious work to day. Available online for everyone, it tells the story of what happens after the world is destroyed by climate change, focussing on the few survivors now faced with this watery planet. Look out for regular updates, with each episode linking to all others. Click here to watch.
WOW - 11th & 12th March
The Women of the World Festival is a celebration of all things feminine and feminist. Comprising lectures, debates, music events, film screenings, comedy showcases, and opportunities to engage in activism, choice tickets include a retrospective of Hull-born pianist Ethel Leginska at the Ferens Art Gallery Studio, and a special screening of the movie Viceroy’s House, starring Gillian Anderson. John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux - 28th April - 1st May Thanks to its close ties to all things seafaring, Hull has strong links with the Nordic countries of northern Europe, so revered and highly respected singer-songwriter John Grant is putting on a four day experimental music festival that takes inspiration from Scandinavia and Iceland, featuring pioneering sounds and dance from the likes of Lindstrom, GusGus, and Steve Cobby (Fila Brazilia). A truly world class event.
DEPART - 18th - 21st May
Acrobatics in a genuinely atmospheric location? Yes please! The internationally acclaimed circus troupe Circa descend on Hull’s General Cemetery for a performance they describe as ‘an art gallery without walls’. Expect incredible feats of flexibility, jaw-dropping aerial tricks, a full chorus of singers, and video artists.
BBC Radio 1 Academy - 21st - 25th May
The UK’s leading radio station is in town for four days only and aims to inspire the next generation of creatives, helping them kick start their careers. Workshops with established bands and musicians will be on offer, the famed Live Lounge will be broadcasting from the city, meanwhile TV and Film production classes will also take place. A group of 10 young people aged 16+ will be chosen for personalised employability, skills and behind the scenes training, a first for the Academy.
BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2017 - 27th & 28th May
With Little Mix, Kings of Leon, and Stormzy all confirmed in the first release of acts, Radio 1’s Big Weekend really is big, and definitely means business. Having taken to streets, beaches and parks across the country, this year it’s Hull’s turn to get a slice of the pop, rock, grime and electronic pie, and it’s fair to say that the bash looks set to go off in a huge way. More stars will be announced in due course, so watch this space here.
Larkin: New Eyes Each Year - 5th July - 1st October
Not just one of Hull’s most famous sons, but also Britain’s most acclaimed post-war poet, no celebration of the city’s culture would be complete with a major look at the work of Philip Larkin. Set in the Philip Larkin Archive at the University of Hull, located inside the very library the wordsmith worked in, this biographic exhibition offers visitors the chance to understand the man behind some of the most famous literary pieces of the 20th Century.
Look Up - 1st August - 30th September
Whilst the Hull School of Art & Design is on its summer break the building will become a Freedom of Expression centre, hosting installation work by acclaimed artists Bob and Roberta Smith, following recent investigations into the nature of modern protest. At a time when the world is politically splintered, this fascinating project promises both aesthetics and poignancy. It’s also completely free to attend and observe.
Royal Ballet re-opening Hull New Theatre - September
Although not many people are aware, Hull has an unsung history when it comes to creating exceptional, world-class dancers. As such it’s no surprise that the Royal Ballet, with its director, Kevin O’Hare at the helm, is coming to town to help re-open the New Theatre following a £16million overhaul. O’Hare himself is from Hull, and will be offering 24 new pupils a place at the celebrated Royal Ballet school after the visit.
Turner Prize - September to January
Ever controversial, but nevertheless the most prestigious of all UK arts prizes, the Turner is being hosted in Hull’s beautiful Ferens Art Gallery this year. A huge coup for the city, this will be one of the biggest events of the UK City of Culture year, welcoming some of the most innovative and groundbreaking practitioners working today. Better yet, their work will also be on display through to 8th January 2018.
But it’s never dull anyway
The whole UK City of Culture thing is fantastic, but there are so many more reasons to pay a visit to Hull even when special events are not taking place. Here are our favourite attractions in town, all year round:
The country’s premiere sea and marine life address is home to more than 3,500 species of fish, sharks and other aquatic life forms, and allows you to fully submerge yourself in all the flora and fauna found below the surface.
From docks to arctic trawlers, fisheries to ship building, Hull is synonymous with life on the waves, and this spellbinding museum tells the story of how a small village became one of the most important cities in the British Empire.
Once the home of arguably Hull’s most significant son, this refined home is now a museum dedicated to William Wilberforce, a politician and philanthropist who worked tirelessly to help bring about the abolition of the slave trade.
Located in the historic Museums Quarter, which is a sight to behold in itself, the Streetlife Museum of Transport is Hull’s own portal back to days gone by. Climb aboard a tram, walk down a 1940s high street, and take a carriage ride.
Hull & East Riding Museum
Fancy exploring 235million years of history? You’re in the right place. The Hull & East Riding Museum has everything from massive wooly mammoths to Saxon artefacts, explaining both the natural and manmade past of the entire region.
Ferens Art Gallery
The Ferens Art Gallery boasts Hull’s finest collections of art- from European Old Masters to contemporary British works- with pieces from Frans Hals, Antonio Canaletto, Frederick Leighton, and more. Recently re-opened following its stunning £5.2million refurbishment, to miss this priceless gem in its 90th anniversary year would be a tragedy.
The great outdoors
Welcome to East Yorkshire, one of the UK’s most beautiful counties. With so much remarkable countryside on its doorstep, Hull is well situated for those looking to escape the city and explore the surrounding landscapes, although you don’t have to leave town for a really good walk.
Hull Ale Trail
In a region renowned for its ales, it’s no surprise the city of Hull has its very own ale trail, which takes visitors to some of the best free houses in the area, including The George Hotel, Ye Olde White Harte, The Manchester Arms and The Lion and Key. For a full map, click here.
The Larkin Trail
Although born in Coventry, Philip Larkin spent much of his life in and around Hull. Widely considered to be Britain’s foremost post-war poet, not to mention a distinguished jazz and literary critic, he was also a fan of both city and country as places to explore, and this trail takes you from the central streets out to Hessle, home of the Humber Bridge, and on to the quaint market town of Beverley. Click here for details.
Rest your weary head
With so much action to get involved with, it goes without saying you need a great, relaxing, overnight stay at the end of the long, fun-filled days. That’s where we come in. Hallmark Hotels Hull is strikingly located overlooking the Humber Bridge itself, just 10 minutes drive from the city centre. This also means you’re in a great position to dive into the stunning countryside beyond the town, or alternatively simply kick back and make the most of our excellent on-site facilities. As a prestigious 4* property, you’ll obviously find super-fast wi-fi as standard, great choices for food and drink, and 24-hour room service. We go well beyond that, though, with a fitness suite, sauna, beauty and therapy treatment rooms, our very own relaxation suite, and a jogging track, just in case you feel inclined to take a run. You can read more about our hotel here. And finally- 5 facts you might not know about Hull
- Ye Olde White Harte pub on Silver Street, as featured on the Ale Trail, is believed to have lit the spark that led to the English Civil War, when the decision was made to refuse entry to the city for Charles I.
- The Bounty was built in Hull- that’s the famous ship skippered by Captain William Bligh, who would later be cast adrift during his Pacific voyage by that notoriously mutinous crew.
- Robinson Crusoe, the fictional character in Daniel Defoe’s legendary novel, set sail from Queen’s Dock, Hull, on 1st September 1651. “The ship was no sooner out of the Humber than the wind began to blow and the sea to rise in a most frightful manner...”
- Hull is home to arguably Britain’s strangest street name- you’ll find The Land of Green Ginger at the bottom of Whitefriargate in the Old Town.
- The city’s fish and chip shops are well-known for ‘chip spice’, first introduced at the Pioneer Cafe, which in 1979 became the UK’s first homegrown U.S.-style fast food takeaway (McDonald’s had arrived four years prior, but was far from national and, obviously, an import).
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