City to host UK’s giant World War One tribute event

Memories of 1914

Liverpool will host the UK’s flagship 2014 World War One (WW1) commemoration event – and it’s going to be big. Well, giant to be precise.

Minister for Sport and Tourism Helen Grant, who is co-ordinating the UK government’s commemorations of the centenary, has confirmed the city will stage 2014’s flagship cultural event, marking 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.  The event is commissioned jointly by Liverpool City Council and 14-18 NOW, the First World War Centenary Cultural Programme.

Memories of August 1914 will be brought to Liverpool by street theatre tour de force Royal De Luxe, who captivated crowds of 800,000 people in 2012 with the Giant spectacular Sea Odyssey, generating £32million for the local economy.

A warm welcome will be given to two familiar faces – the Little Girl Giant and her playful canine companion Xolo – who return to the city.

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.

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.”

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “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.

“I know Royal De Luxe will make Liverpool, along with the whole of the UK, proud with the outdoor magic they create, which is guaranteed to be awe-inspiring.

“Sea Odyssey was a truly unforgettable event, and I regularly get asked when the Giants are coming back. I’m sure the news of their return will see another much-needed boost for our local economy.”

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.”

The full story 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.

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.

To keep up with the latest news ‘like’ the Giant Spectacular page on Facebook, follow @giantspectacular on Twitter or visit www.giantspectacular.com.

The full 14-18 NOW programme launch will take place in spring. In the meantime, the latest information can be found at www.1418now.org.uk.

Liverpool will also have a programme of events taking place to commemorate World War One, which will be organised by various organisations, businesses and community groups across the city. Details will be unveiled in the forthcoming months.

Visitors to the Liverpool City Region spend £3.4billion a year and support 46,000 jobs in the local economy.

Further Information:

Funding Memories of August 1914

Memories of August 1914 is co-commissioned by  Liverpool City Council  and 14-18 NOW as part of the UK’s commemorations of the centenary of the First World War.

Funding for Memories of August 1914 is still being finalised, but support is already in place from central government (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) and the European Regional Development Fund.  Negotiations are currently on-going with Arts Council England and partners and sponsors from the private sector to help bring the event to the city.

More about Royal De Luxe

Royal de Luxe is considered the world’s leading street theatre company. Founded in 1979 by Jean-Luc Courcoult and based in Nantes, the company is seen as a pioneer creating original theatrical forms. His ethos was that theatre should be accessible to all ages and should be free.

The Giants were created in 1993 and have travelled all over the world taking over cities including Berlin, Barcelona, Santiago, Antwerp and Guadalajara.  The Giants are manipulated by dozens of Lilliputians, bringing them to life and telling tales using a universal language.

Reaction to Sea Odyssey

Here are a selection of reviews about Sea Odyssey:

“The result is inclusive theatre where young and old rub shoulders with the giants. We walk together in their footsteps, and we walk taller because they are with us.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

 “So big but so benign, these giant puppets have a transforming effect: you see amazement and amiability spreading across the faces of the crowds that mill to see them. What could have been merely a mechanical splendour is full of intricate expressiveness; this is an event that remaps the city; it expands the idea of what theatre can do and where it can be.” Susannah Clapp, The Observer

“It was a weekend when everyone, including Royal de Luxe, Liverpool City Council and hundreds of thousands of Liverpool people, played their part in creating countless marvellous memories. Well done, Liverpool – you played a blinder.” Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo

“A giant event for the city in every way.” Editorial, Liverpool Post

“We were pretty much blown away by this past weekend’s event. By the sheer scale of the whole thing. By the thousands upon thousands of smiling, happy people from right across the world who came to our city witness it. And, ultimately, by the story itself.” SevenStreets.com

“This French street theatre company has enchanted cities around the world with its giant puppets and now it has enchanted Liverpool.”  BBC Online

More about 14-18NOW

14–18 NOW is commissioning leading artists to create new work as part of the UK’s First World War centenary commemorations.

Musicians, writers, painters, photographers, theatre directors, film-makers, digital designers, composers, poets, choreographers and more will be invited to look afresh at the First World War and what its many stories reveal about the world we live in today.

14–18 NOW will work with arts organisations to give audiences and communities across the UK the chance to see and take part in the programme.

The work will be presented in three distinct seasons: the first of these runs from June to August 2014 and will include a large-scale participatory event on 4 August to commemorate the centenary of Britain entering the First World War.

Further seasons will be presented in summer 2016 (centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July) and autumn 2018 (centenary of the Armistice on 11 November).

14-18 NOW is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For the latest information visit www.1418now.org.uk.

More about the International Festival for Business

The International Festival for Business is a 50-day business festival hosted in Liverpool city region during June-July 2014. It will be an ambitious global showcase for great British industry across multiple sectors and will champion UK businesses to new markets, new products and new partners.

Comprising over 100 world-class events, the festival is a key part of the Government’s ambition to promote economic growth, rebalance the economy and double UK exports by 2020.

Backed by UK Government, IFB 2014 will cast a light on the spheres of commercial endeavour that are transforming the new economies and business landscapes of Britain and beyond.

Key themes of the festival include: manufacturing, science & technology; maritime, logistics & energy; knowledge, professional & financial services; higher & further education & research; low carbon & renewables; cities, enterprise & urban business; knowledge, creative & digital.

For more information, go to www.ifb2014.com. You can follow IFB on twitter @ifb2014.