ALL eyes will be on Liverpool this summer as the UK marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.
Today it is announced that the city has been chosen to host the UK’s biggest cultural event to commemorate the centenery. And as first revealed on Liverpool Confidential last year there will be giants.
Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant confirms the city will stage Memories of August 1914. It will be brought to Liverpool by Nantes street theatre tour de force Royal De Luxe, who captivated crowds of 800,000 people in 2012 with the Giant spectacular Sea Odyssey which commemorated another centenary - that of the sinking of the Titanic. It is estimated by the council that that outing generated £32m for the local economy.
This time, Mayor Joe Anderson estimates 2m people will turn out for the return of two familiar faces – the Little Girl Giant and her playful leg-cocking canine companion, Xolo.
The event is commissioned jointly by Liverpool City Council and 14-18 NOW, the First World War Centenary Cultural Programme.
The event will take place from 23-27 July 2014 and will see the huge marionettes explore the city as part of a "brand new moving and emotional story" recollecting a time when Britain was preparing for war.
The full story, with further surprises, and route will be announced at a later date, but throughout the event the King’s Regiment and the Liverpool PALS will play a prominent role. There will be a focus on recruitment, and how Liverpool’s efforts impacted on the rest of the country.
Memories Of Liverpool 1914
Helen Grant said: “2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of a war which transformed not only this country, but the world forever.
“There will be events taking place across the country throughout the four years of the anniversary, but Liverpool will without a doubt be home to one of the largest cultural commemorations.
“This is sure to be a truly powerful and memorable piece of street theatre which will shine a spotlight on an incredibly important period in our history.”
There have been some criticisms about using street theatre to mark the start of the Great War.
But Mayor Anderson defended the decision. He said: “The Titanic event, using the giants, was most tasteful and respectful and won worldwide approval. The story was so moving people were driven to tears. I made it clear at the very start that in using this same format we again had to respect the issue being commemorated.
“We feel it is important the younger generations are told the story of World War One and the great sacrifices made by those who gave their lives.”
Mayor Anderson said the event could attract up to 2m visitors to Liverpool over the five days.
He added: “For Liverpool to host one of the biggest WW1 commemorative event in 2014 is a huge honour in itself. But to once again be working in partnership with Royal De Luxe, makes this extra special.
“We have been in talks with them for some time about returning to Liverpool – but we always knew the story had to be right."
Jean Luc Courcoult - A Man Who Knows How To Have A Good Time
Founder and Artistic Director of Royal De Luxe, Jean Luc Courcoult, said: “We are excited to return to Liverpool once again – last time we were given such a warm welcome by the people of Liverpool that all of us felt like we were part of the city’s family.
“Liverpool’s streets are the perfect stage for a show of this kind and we look forward to returning and sharing our World War One story which will hopefully touch all who witness it.”
This will only be the third time Royal De Luxe have performed in the UK. The first was in London in 2006 when 1.5million people were wowed by the Sultan’s Elephant.
The show will act as the finale for the 2014 International Festival for Business which will see more than one hundred events taking place in June and July with the aim of accelerating UK economic growth.
Updated 13.35 Jan 7.