The Giants are set to return to the city in 2018 as part of the celebrations.


Director of Culture Liverpool at Liverpool City Council Claire McColgan MBE speaks to GLT about the transformation of the city since it was named European Capital of Culture in 2008 and plans for next year’s celebrations. 

Q. So 2018 is a huge year for the city, marking ten years since it was the European Capital of culture. Why is it so important to celebrate the anniversary?  

A. 2008 was a real moment in time for the city. Being named European Capital of Culture was a time when Liverpool raised its head again. Over the last ten years, it has grown in terms of stature, tourism, every possible way, both physically and emotionally. For us it’s marking the point in time when the city began to roar again. That’s why it’s really important to have a year to show how far we’ve come and where we’re going to as a city. 

Q. Tell us about the growth in tourism over the last decade. 

A. It has been huge, from the cruise liners coming in to the rise in coach travel. The day and night visitors have increased hugely and it feels like we’re opening a hotel every night. The amazing thing about Liverpool is that people are still discovering it for the first time, especially people in the UK. They are blown away by the welcome they get, what’s on offer, everything from the culture, to the food and drink and the beautiful architecture of the city. 2018 is a chance to really shout about all of that. 

Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool at Liverpool City Council

Director of Culture Liverpool at Liverpool City Council Claire McColgan

Q. It must have done so much for the economy as well, tell us about that. 

A. It was interesting because it meant everything had to be done for 2008; while the rest of the country was dipping into recession, Liverpool was celebrating. Because of that it has grown every year. We’ve got the Stirling Prize-winning theatre, the Everyman, the new exhibition centre at the arena, a new museum of Liverpool opened in 2011 and we have a refurbished Royal Court. It really is the most transformed city in Europe over a short space of time. 

Q. So 2018 is clearly going to be a huge year. What are some of the highlights for groups?

A. Definitely Tall Ships in the Mersey. It’s a beautiful event. There are lots of programmes in the evenings and things that people won’t have seen before. There’s the free music festival in Sefton Park. The events will be amazing next year but any weekend in Liverpool is just that. Groups can come at any point and experience the most brilliant time. 

Q. So have you seen an increase in groups visiting the city?

A. Hugely, especially when we have exhibitions on such as the Poppy Display. There will be many Remembrance commemorations in 2018 marking the end of the First World War. The commemorations will be something people are very interested in and they are really significant. The work that we’ll be doing to commemorate the lives lost is beautiful. 

Q. How has the perception of Liverpool changed over the years? 

A. The reputation of Liverpool 15 years ago, nationally, wasn’t fantastic but internationally it has always been great. Since then, the amount of people who experience it and go away glowing about it is phenomenal. 

Visit Liverpool Clipper Race. Credit: Visit Liverpool.

Visit Liverpool Clipper Race. Credit: Visit Liverpool. 

Q. What are you most looking forward to next year?

A. Personally I like the outdoor free events that we put on in the city all the time because you get to be up close to your audience. We’ve done an incredible River Lights display on the Mersey which has been hugely successful this year and I’m looking forward to building on that.  

Q. And tell us about the future legacy for Liverpool. 

A. What people forget is that around Liverpool is the most beautiful region. There are incredible beaches within 15 minutes of the city centre and you’ve got the most stunning coastline in Sefton and in the Wirral. There is so much to do and a huge visitor experience which is longer than a day visit. In 2019 that’s what we’ll start to do, offer a full region experience that people won’t expect. 

Q. Finally, describe your view of Liverpool in three words. 

A. Story-teller. Graceful. Open. 

For information about all the events taking place in 2018 marking a decade since the city was announced as the European Capital of Culture head to

Main image: French puppeteers Royal De Luxe are poised to return in 2018 as part of a series of events to mark ten years since the city’s European Capital of Culture status.