It’s a bumper events weekend in Liverpool as the city gears up to be the national host of Armed Forces Day AND stages the popular Mersey River Festival at the same time.
The two FREE major events will take place side by side on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June, with the majority of the action being on the waterfront.
Armed Forces Day – Sat 24 June
Liverpool is set to lead the nation in saying thank you to our servicemen and women with the event running from 11am to 5pm on Saturday 24 June. It will be attended by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex representing The Queen, senior political and military representatives, the Mayor of Liverpool and civic representatives, and hundreds of service personnel – both Regular and Reserve – from the Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force. Cadets and veterans will also attend.
A gun salute at the Pier Head will take place at 11am, and at that exact time a RAF Typhoon aircraft will fly over St George’s Hall, signalling the start of a parade which will step off from St George’s Hall plateau.
The parade route will follow Lime Street, St George’s Place, Whitechapel, Lord Street, Castle Street (the veterans will join the parade here), James Street, The Strand, St Nicholas Place and along Princes Parade where a royal salute will take place coinciding with a flypast from the Red Arrows. The parade will disperse on William Jessop Way.
Activities and exciting displays will take place across the waterfront until 5pm and will take place in zones dedicated to all three military services. These include getting up close to assets such as helicopters, diving tanks, rigid inflatable boats, tanks, a field hospital, simulators and seeing marching bands in action. The Royal Navy’s type-23 frigate, HMS Iron Duke will be docked in the city for the celebrations.
A Display Arena will be located next to Liverpool Cruise Liner passenger lounge which will give visitors the chance to see a number of capability demonstrations, ranging from Royal Marines unarmed combat display and military marching bands right through to an Army bridge building demo and a field gun-race between a team from RAF Cosford and the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (the city’s affiliated ship). You can also watch the tri-services battle it out in a number of dragon boat races at Princes Dock from 2.15pm.
Two further air displays will take place which are the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial flypast at 1.50pm and a Royal Navy Wildcat flypast at 4pm.
The day will come to a spectacular close from 4.15pm as bands join together for a special performance which will lead to a Beat Retreat – a colourful pageant of military music and drills. It will end at 5pm.
Military assets will remain on display for Sunday’s Mersey River Festival.
Headline sponsor for the event is Cammell Laird. CEO John Syvret said: “I had no hesitation in taking on the lead sponsor role to support the holding of the 2017 national Armed Forces Day event here on Merseyside. I am certain all the communities of Merseyside will turn out in their thousands to provide their support, and that our great city and region will provide a magnificent venue and spectacle for the nation.”
The Mersey River Festival in partnership with Liverpool ONE takes place across the waterfront on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 June.
This maritime extravaganza will cover Albert Dock, Salthouse Dock, the paved area of The Strand, Mann Island and Dukes Dock with a whole raft of free family friendly activities.
A number of ships will be sailing in to the city and will be open to visitors across both days, including Tall Ships Kaskelot, Pelican of London, Johanes Lucretia, Phoenix, Shtandart, Earl of Pembroke, Maybe and Bessie Ellen. They will be joined by a number of military vessels and research ships.
Thanks to its inaugural success last year, The British ThunderCat Racing Tour will make a welcome return on the Saturday, when boats will be battling it out on the Mersey, reaching speeds of up to 65mph. This is one of the most prominent motor water sports around and audiences can get a taste of the action from 11am-1pm.
Audiences can also expect the usual incredible jet skiing, fly boarding, international canoe polo and wakeboarding displays along with some dry land exhibitions or unarmed combat and weapons displays and the Sea Cadets will be performing their field gun window ladder semaphore and club swinging activities.
The heart-in-the-mouth Yakovlevs will be back with their breath taking aerial acrobatics displays on Sunday at 2pm and again at 4pm.
There will be a number of small, live music stages across the site which are the Ship Stage (on board Tall Ship Kaskelot), the BME Stage (in front of the Cunard Building), Mann Island Stage (in the Mann Island Basin, behind Open Eye Gallery) and the Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
Heritage Great Britain PLC is the official sponsor of the music zones and across the weekend audiences can enjoy acoustic sets, Irish themed music, a Norwegian choir, drumming spectacles from Katumba, brass bands and sets from Liverpool International Music Festival Academy graduates.
Home Bargains, is the sponsor for the family zone which will see family workshops, interactive entertainment, street theatre, face painting and craft activities. Visitors can expect to be transported back to the 1940s, be amazed by mermaids, and surprised by some pop-up performances.
The Northern Boat Show will also return for its third year, running from Friday 23 until Sunday 25 June. It covers all aspects of the leisure marine industry and there will be displays of power boats, cruisers, narrow boats, and sail boats and features some of the biggest brands in the marine world such as Bavaria, Beneteau and Dufour Yachts.
All the military assets from Armed Forces Day will also remain on site across the weekend.
Wirral will also be playing a major role in this year’s festival as a number of events and activities are planned for Woodside and New Brighton. Street theatre, balloon artists, pirates, stalls and workshops will form part of Wirral’s programme.
Chris Bliss, Estate Director at Liverpool ONE, said: “It is a great honour to be headline sponsor for this year’s Mersey River Festival.
“This weekend we look forward to celebrating Liverpool’s natural ability to host world class events with spectacular entertainment planned across both days once again.”
Sue Grindrod, chief executive, Albert Dock Liverpool, said: “Once again Mersey River Festival returns to Liverpool waterfront this weekend, with the stunning Albert Dock playing host to tall ships, music, and much, much more.
“This now iconic festival on Liverpool’s annual event calendar couldn’t be possible without the incredible partnerships between the city council, ourselves and our waterfront neighbours. Albert Dock positively loves being at the heart of this maritime celebration, and people of all ages are guaranteed a fantastic day out!”
Liverpool City Council’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “The spotlight is certainly going to be shining on Liverpool this weekend and I’ve no doubt the city will rise to the occasion.
“When it comes to staging large, outdoor events, we are always ambitious and like to push the boundaries, and having two major events such as Armed Forces Day and Mersey River Festival running side by side isn’t something that happens often.
“It makes me extremely proud that Liverpool is hosting these activities. One sees us thanking servicemen and women for the incredible job they do, and the other sees us celebrating our impressive maritime heritage – both are fantastic, family friendly and showcase our city and the waterfront at its very best.
“I hope as many people as possible come out both on Saturday and Sunday and show their support for the armed forces and the city as a whole.”