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Photo credit: Liverpool Football Club

We’ve spent a year planning the River Festival, bringing artwork from across the world to this amazing city and to see thousands stand under the earth dreaming big thoughts or watch the whale late on the Strand or turn up in their thousands to watch performances from around the world and from next door was just amazing.

There was a huge French delegation in from Bordeaux working with the incredible Paul Askew on the Bordeaux Wine Festival and the weather held off…..just, all normal and perfect and then came Saturday night…now we have been here before! Planning parades that never happened and I didn’t do the one in 2005 so it just felt like fate that it may never happen. I’d cancelled the fireworks twice in my head and once out loud and Sue Lee’s, the amazing event manager, had developed the skin of a rhino and the patience of a modern day saint as she led an incredible team planning very quietly over six months an event that might not happen.

No-one ever sees the work behind the scenes from the joint agencies safety advisory group to press liaison and nor should they. A great event is where you don’t see the mechanisms. The calculated risks you take on audience size, weather and basically everything else are huge. So to put the work in and not get to do it……

On Saturday night we left the River Festival. I dropped off family at the Arena to watch the match and drove round a post-apocalyptic Liverpool for an hour with the radio on just waiting. And they did it. The plans the team had made kicked into place from 10pm on Saturday night and walking into work the next day through a city with a momentous hangover who would know what was to come but we have the best events team in the country (officially) and they moved seamlessly from a still busy River Festival into delivering another city memory, another momentous day in our history.

I am really proud to work for a city that values these moments of pure joy, a Council that lets us fly and dream and does not accept parochial. I am even prouder of the whole of Culture Liverpool and its partners who pulled it out of the bag…and of course the team!

Claire McColgan, Director of Culture, Liverpool City Council

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