More than a million people packed the streets of Liverpool this summer to watch “Memories of 1914,” a tribute to the centenary of WWI. The story was told in the most unusual way. Three giant marionettes—Grandmother, Little Girl and Xolo the dog—sailed in on the River Mersey tucked away peacefully in beds bigger than semitrucks. Over the course of five days, the Giants traveled and explored some of the city’s most iconic landmarks to the thrill of music and cheering crowds, sharing their own stories of war and triumph along the way.
The French street theatre experts Royal de Luxe designed the Giants, which are attached to a crane and operated by a regal group of Lilliputians who make the marionettes walk, talk, blink, breathe, eat, drink and other lifelike movements. The Giants not only reflect Liverpool’s all-inclusive approach to art and community, but the city’s overall ability to pull off large, citywide events.
“Culture is the rocket fuel that can drive this city forward,” said Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, before Grandmother’s awakening at St. George’s Hall. “The city’s image is built around this culture—it’s built in our DNA.”
The Unsinkable City
Liverpool’s Titanic history runs deep—from the crew and musicians down to the ship’s glass and crockery. The ship took shape in Albion House, the headquarters of the Liverpool-based White Star Line. The building, affectionately called the ‘streaky bacon building’ by locals, has recently been converted into a 153-room Titanic Hotel to pay homage to these connections. Just 5 minutes from Liverpool City Centre, the hotel’s Rum Warehouse boasts on-site catering and 15,000 sf of conference/exhibition space with waterfront views and floor-to-ceiling windows. Guest rooms are warm and earthy, containing the building’s original windows. The Merseyside Maritime Museum along Albert Dock has an entire program dedicated to the Titanic. Most notable is “Titanic and Liverpool: The Untold Story,” which explores the behind-the-scenes events that led up to the ship’s sinking.
Titanic aside, Albert Dock offers tons of opportunities for culture and entertainment. The Beatles Story combines both, with interactive exhibits, rare ‘artifacts’ from the band and plenty of music. Tate Liverpool is one of four major sites for British art from 1500 to the present day. Anchoring the Mersey waterfront is ACC Liverpool, which houses the BT Convention Centre, Echo Arena, and the soon to debut Exhibition Centre Liverpool, which once completed will bring ACC Liverpool’s total exhibition space to 160,000 sf. After a tour of the ACC, groups can take in the stunning panoramic views of of the city’s most iconic landmarks from the Liverpool Wheel. Seeing the UNESCO city from this perspective is a beautiful, not-to-be-missed experience. After an afternoon of shopping and sightseeing around Albert Dock, take a stroll along the Mersey to Princess Dock for afternoon tea at the Malmaison. The 130-room hotel serves traditional tea in either a waterfront setting or within its gothic-inspired purple and black Malbar.