IT’S only since I started writing The Guide that I’ve been fully immersed in the world of ‘What’s On’ and realised just how much of an impact the 2008 Capital of Culture year has had on the city and its people. The monumental year that was 2008, European Capital of Culture, we saw Paul McCartney rock out with Dave Grohl, The Zutons and Kaizer Chiefs for The Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield, we saw giant, mechanical spider, La Princess climb the city office buildings and roam the streets thrilling (or terrifying the life out of) the crowds. We knocked the world’s socks off with the phenomenal firework display at the historic St George’s Hall and we hunted Superlambananas when no one else knew what on earth we were talking about! That was just the start. What our Capital of Culture status has given us over the following nine years is a solid foundation and an inner confidence that we’d been lacking. Confidence and the right people in the right jobs to recognise that in order to make Liverpool a happy, social, more community focused city again, we have to get together more. Chill out, have fun, engage with each other again. And oh, how we’ve partied! Having talked a good game and basically put on a 52 week-long festival in 2008, we’ve gotten bigger and better every year. Hands up if you’ve got some of the best summer memories from dancing around at LIMF, Mersey River Festival, Pride, Africa Oye, Sound City, Reminisce Festival or Creamfields? Admittedly some of those events have a much longer and celebrated history, but we’re attracting some of the biggest, international names on a frequent basis now because, who doesn’t love the Scouse crowd at our festivals? Who hasn’t wandered up and down Bold Street trying to decide which world cuisine to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner? From a tasty vegan breakfast at Leaf to Indian street food at Mowgli and an authentic Turkish sharing platter at Bakchic or a good old bowl of Scouse from The Chancery? I have, regularly! Which other major UK cities can say they’ve regularly hosted priceless, internationally renowned works of art (Manet, Monet, Emin, Blake, Klimt), held talks with literary giants and explored the galaxies with scientists and professors. Speaking of giants, yep we’ve even had them too. Four of them to be exact and they brought not only a stunning spectacle right out to the Liverpool suburbs, but also a heart-warming story that is still talked about to this day. Other high profile visitors to the city arrived via boat……really big boats in fact! Mickey and Minnie Mouse brought Disney Magic ashore and alongside a royal visit from Her Majesty, The Queen, three others Queens also sailed, in formation up the Mersey watched by hundreds of thousands of stunned fans on packed-out beaches and waterfront locations. One of the most important legacies from ’08 is inclusion. Liverpool is now the home of more family-orientated activities and events than ever before. Capital of Culture year helped to breed confidence into our young people too, musicians, performers, chefs, designers, engineers, producers, writers (me included) as the ability to produce and carry out big events that appeal to local people also meant a platform was created for local talent to shine….and in 2017 Liverpool is going full beam! Already this year we’ve been on bear hunts at Liverpool One, chased dragons and unicorns through China Town, seen Craig Charles smash the Pam House to pieces, raved at the Cathedral for Cream Classical and met our new favourite musicians at Threshold and this is all just for starters. Very soon the Sgt Pepper 50 celebrations begins, bringing 13 world premiere events to the city, celebrating that iconic album and legacy it has left. Lace your trainers up for a whole weekend of road races from family 5k events right through 26 miles of Rock ‘N’ Roll marathon course. Prefer dancing shoes to trainers? With LIMF and Sound City there’s going to be a jam for everyone. Liverpool is the style capital of the north and to prove this somewhat bold statement, we’ve only gone and landed the biggest national fashion event ever! British Style Collective, presented by The Clothes Show has upped roots after 27 years in Birmingham and is setting up shop at 5 iconic locations around the city (inc Camp & Furnace, Anglican Cathedral and St George’s Hall). Once again the eyes of the world will focus its style-conscious peepers on our stunning city, and I’ve no doubt we’ll slay! The Albert Dock has announced 5…yes FIVE major festivals including Pirates, Steam, Folk, a huge celebration of our heritage and the infamous River Mersey Festival in 2017, cementing it’s place at the heart of tourism, just like it was during Capital of Culture, 9 years ago. Music has always been the heartbeat of the city and 2017 sees the opening of the British Music Experience at its new permanent home at the Cunard Building. Having also hosted the hugely successful The Jam exhibition, this celebration of all things pop, rock and well, every other genre too, is a fantastic addition to the waterfront offering and is just a short walk from the Echo Arena which is hosting a wealth of international recording artists this year. Our multiple galleries and museums continue to offer free, educational and super fun events and exhibitions and we even built a brand new one! The Museum of Liverpool bursts with pride and fuels the fire that inspires our young minds. Following its multi million pound revamp, our Central Library is now a hub for not only book lovers, but also gamers, mini story fans, business start-ups and those who just adore the view from the roof terrace. If the definition of culture is said to be ‘the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a society’……..come and check out our ideas for yourself, they’re around every corner, in parks, coffee shops and shopping centres you come across. Fall in love with our customs, where giving you the coat off our backs and calling you affectionate terms such as ‘Queen’ or ‘lad’ come as standard. Immerse yourself in the loudest, most vibrant social behaviour and down-to-earth society the UK has to offer. You won’t forget it. Liverpool will always be Capital of Culture.