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Hull's UK City of Culture organisers declare: We're ready for showtime

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Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Hull during its tenure as UK City of Culture

Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Hull during its tenure as UK City of Culture

People take part in an installation entitled Sea Of Hull by artist Spencer Tunick in the 2017 City of Culture

People take part in an installation entitled Sea Of Hull by artist Spencer Tunick in the 2017 City of Culture

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Thousands of visitors are expected to flock to Hull during its tenure as UK City of Culture

A spectacular start to Hull's tenure as UK City of Culture has been promised by organisers who say: "The stage is set, we're ready for showtime".

Crowds are expected to pack the city's waterside and every other vantage point on New Year's Day for a fireworks display over the Humber which organisers say will top the New Year's Eve show in central London 24 hours earlier.

And visitors will also be able to tour the first of hundreds of planned artistic events - Made In Hull, which is a celebration of more than 70 years of the city's history told through massive projections on some of its best known buildings.

Hull 2017 chief executive and director Martin Green said the people of the city have been watching the final preparations around major landmarks with "a mixture of surprise and jaws hitting the floor."

Mr Green said: "We're all set. All the building work that's supposed to be finished for today is finished. There's a real sense of the stage being set and we're ready for showtime."

He said: "Y ou can see the whole country talking about this city and that has a chain reaction of pride, which breeds confidence. We're ready to open the doors and say to everyone 'Come on in'."

He said social media has helped spread the word around Hull about what is coming up as the city centre has been transformed by artists from across the UK and the world.

Asked about the reaction so far, Mr Green said: "A mixture of surprise and jaws hitting the floor. I think people had an idea of what we were trying to achieve, which is a very different way to start a year as well as a very Hull way to start a year.

"What we knew from the outset was that we didn't want to do a one night opening ceremony because it means that so many people can't come.

"That's why we designed something that was spread through the city centre over seven days because absolutely everybody is invited.

"And that is absolutely indicative of the attitude to the year. Everyone will find something they will like and it's for everyone."

Hull is the second city to be given UK City Culture status, following Derry-Londonderry in 2013.

The city was selected in 2013 amid some surprise, from a shortlist which included Dundee, Leicester and Swansea Bay.

Organisers have been determined to develop a programme aimed at attracting visitors from around the world but also engaging the 250,000 people who live in Hull and Mr Green said the opening day was unashamedly intended to make a loud and bold statement that the event had arrived.

Bafta-nominated documentary-maker Sean McAllister has curated the opening Made in Hull event and has said he thinks the effect will be "euphoric".

The unveiling of Made In Hull will be followed at exactly 8.17pm on January 1 by the fireworks display accompanied by music and video on the Humber.

The events of New Year's Day will launch a programme which includes an array of work and artists.

The worldwide profile of Hull 2017 was raised in July when US artist Spencer Tunick corralled 3,200 naked people painted blue for his trademark photographs around Hull's landmarks.

Tunick's Sea Of Hull will be featured later next year at the Ferens Art Gallery, which will reopen in January following a £4.5 million refurbishment

Other highlights at the gallery will include the unveiling of a nationally significant early 14th century panel by Pietro Lorenzetti and five of Francis Bacon's notorious Screaming Popes.

University of Hull alumni, the late Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, will be celebrated with a retrospective of his work and an exhibition in January.

Hull Maritime Museum will begin the year with a look at the city's whaling history with an audiovisual installation of a Bowhead whale.

Rosie Millard, chairwoman of Hull City of Culture 2017, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: " I think Hull is the least known city in the UK and for outsiders, they will be surprised and amazed by what an extraordinary place Hull is, and for locals, they will be proud of what the city has achieved."

Organisers of Hull 2017 and local politicians have explicitly linked the cultural plans for the year with the economic transformation of the city, symbolised by the £300 million investment by German tech firm Siemens in an offshore wind manufacturing plant at Alexandra Dock.

Council leader Stephen Brady has said more than £1 billion of investment has flowed into the city since the UK City of Culture announcement, including £100 million of capital investment in the cultural and visitor infrastructure.

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