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Hull City of Culture 2017: A Guide

Hull City of Culture 2017

Ever since its foundation in the late 12th century, the Northeastern English town of Kingston-Upon-Hull has been mostly known as a port town, serving vessels travelling up the River Hull and basing its economy around the products and goods said ships carried in and out of the city.

As of mid-2013, however, that all changed. At the drop of a hat, the city of Hull became notable for something entirely different to their usual claim to fame, and entered the collective consciousness of thousands of culturally aware citizens across the British Isles.

The event leading to this paradigm shift was, of course, the selection of that Northeastern Yorkshire town as the British City of Culture for 2017. In a selection process which takes place every four years, Hull came out on top due to its perceived commitment to the transformational power of culture, and the steps it has taken to enforce a lively socio-cultural scene among its local population. As a result of this distinction, Hull will therefore have the opportunity to put together a year-long cultural programme, and really showcase all it has to offer where music, art and performance are concerned.

With this in mind, there is no need to explain exactly why 2017 is the perfect year to visit this lively port town. There will be so much to see, do, and experience year-round that any visitor to the city is likely to get their money's worth, regardless of the time of year – and doubly so if they choose to stay at Britannia's recently acquired hotel in Hull, the Royal Hull Hotel!

To celebrate the addition of yet another historic hotel to our portfolio, as well as to celebrate Hull's achievement in being selected British City of Culture for 2017, the lines below will present a brief overview of what to expect from the year ahead when visiting that Northeastern town, as well as a recap of the events leading up to this milestone nomination.

We Are Hull


As noted above, Hull's path towards being elected British City of Culture began in the early 2010s, when it was shortlisted as one of several potential locations to earn that distinction for 2017. In what was only the second-ever selection process for this particular prize, established in 2009 by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, the town ended up edging out its competitors in the final shortlist of four cities – Dundee, Leicester and Swansea – and becoming Derry's successor as the recipient of this prestigious award. The reasoning behind the town's nomination was said to be linked to the appealing proposition it put forth to the judges, as a city 'coming out of shadows' and into its own.

As a result of the nomination, the city had the opportunity to work with Martin Green, formerly the head of ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics and the main organiser of the departing ceremony for the 2014 Tour de France. With Green at the helm, the city then began to put together a year-long plan of action, the first demonstration of which came on January 1, 2017, with the iconic 'Made in Hull' event. This audio-visual display, which consisted of a fireworks show backed up by several light and sound installations, reportedly attracted more than 25.000 visitors, and was the perfect declaration of intentions from Hull with regards to the year ahead, as well as the perfect starting point for it!

In the ensuing months, a more detailed schedule of events has been released, proving said kick-starting ceremony was more than just a flash in the pan; Hull really is taking pride in its nomination as City of Culture, and outsiders planning to visit the city this year will almost certainly find more than a few points of interest among the plentiful cultural activities going on.

Hull 2017 Schedule

The Schedule

The event calendar for Hull's year as British City of Culture stands out for being organised into four parts, or 'seasons', each spanning a different time of year – spring, summer, fall and winter – and devoted to its own unique theme, relating to Hull's cultural history and heritage.

Welcome to Hull

The first of these four parts, for instance, focused on demonstrating, right up front, all that Hull was capable of when it came to culture, art and industry. The aim of this part of the programme, which encompassed the months between January and March, was to shatter preconceptions regarding that Northeastern town, and highlight its contributions towards both national and international culture.

Roots and Routes

The second 'season', taking place until June, is titled 'Roots and Routes', and centres around Hull's role as a gateway to not only Europe, but the world as a whole. Events taking place during this quarter of the year focus on the outside influences shaping Hull at a cultural level, and have a distinctly international and global feel to them.


The third quarter is dedicated to the concept of freedom, namely the freedom of thought and expression represented by the many summer festivals and cultural events taking place in and around Hull. Taking place in the warmer months, from July to September, this part of the programme highlights Hull's pivotal role in the emancipation and social justice movement, while also looking at the concept of freedom itself as a platform for creation, debate and shared experiences.

Tell the World

The fourth and final part of Hull's City of Culture celebrations reflects on both what came before and what lies ahead.. This final part of the celebrations will focus on the qualities which make Hull unique – such as its sense of humour, independence, integrity and individuality – and the way in which these have helped the city redefine its identity in recent years.

Along with this four-part plan, a full refurbishment of the city centre has also been undertaken, with the aim of making Hull into an even more modern and up-to-date city, capable of rivalling any others across the British Isles.

Hull Events

Key Events

Hull's bid to affirm itself as a worthy recipient of the City of Culture award goes, however, far beyond simple planning and aesthetic considerations. The events programme itself offers plenty for even the most demanding of culture enthusiasts to sink their teeth into, and gives more than enough reason for any UK-based culture aficionado to procure a hotel in Hull at some point throughout this year.

Some of the key events to look out for if visiting Hull in 2017 include:

  • production of Shakespeare's Richard III and The Tempest, as well as fan-favourite classics The Wizard of Oz, Jane Eyre and A Christmas Carol later in the year;

  • the Doc'n'Roll festival, also in May, and focusing on music documentaries;

  • the Hull Film Festival;

  • the Hull Folk and Maritime Music Fesival;

  • the Hull Lifestyle Awards, in early June, which reward outstanding contributions to the city on the part of individual or collective persons;

  • the Hull Jazz Festival;

  • the LGBT 50 festival, celebrating 50 years of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK;

  • the Freedom Festival, showcasing the best of art in Hull and beyond;

  • Tribfest 2017, the biggest tribute act festival in Europe;

  • the Cornucopia Festival.

These large-scale events are, in turn, complemented by any number of smaller-scale events, sure not to disappoint any culture enthusiast, and to keep interest in this Northeastern city high all throughout the year.


Taking into account the motivations, plans and events detailed in the lines above, it is not hard to ascertain just what makes Hull a priority destination for UK-based culture enthusiasts this year. The city really has embraced its newly-appointed identity as British City of Culture, and has gone all-out to live up to the expectations brought about by that label. As a result, the year-long events programme for this milestone celebrations is filled to the brim with musical, theatrical and filmic motives of interest, and makes a lively case for Hull as THE destination to visit when looking for cultural fulfilment this year. As the most recent hospitality chain to take over a hotel in Hull, Britannia counts itself lucky to have acquire the Royal Hull Hotel at such an important and significant time in the town's history, and is delighted to contribute towards the celebrations by providing affordable city-centre accommodation for visitors flocking in to join the festivities!

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