Forgotten and forlorn no more. The city of Hull has everything it takes to become a favourite destination

Do you remember where you were when the City of Culture was announced for 2017? The surge of anticipation bundled up with a whole load of fear. Hair stood on end, breath quickening and palms sweaty. Me neither. I’m fairly sure I stumbled upon the information scrolling through my twitter feed with a morning coffee. To tell the truth I cared little about the announcement. However, as plans were unveiled and implemented, I became pretty darn excited. So I’m going to explain why Kingston Upon Hull (‘Ull in native tongue) is the place to be in the coming years.

The Department for Media created the program ‘City of Culture’ following the huge success Liverpool saw after being anointed European Capital of Culture in 2008. Liverpool gained a significant and much needed influx of cash and visitors with their tourism industry now estimated at £1.3 billion a year. Whilst it is duly acknowledged that Hull is unlikely to witness parallel growth, it is hoped that the city will still benefit vastly from the title.

Time to address the elephant in the room. As Hull continues to grow and diversify, it becomes apparent that the only true challenge they will face is shifting prejudices. Bar St Stephen’s Shopping Center, Hull has few desirable high street stores. In fact, in the past few years it has witnessed several store closures within Princes Quay. However, it is hoped 2017 will urge brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch, Jack Wills and Hollister to set up shop in Hull.

Some claim the government uses the program simply as a handout to struggling areas, however I believe this to be untrue. Whilst Hull certainly has its rough unrefined edges, the town is teeming with heritage. William Wilberforce, the man who paved the way to the abolishment of slavery, was born and raised in Hull. Also The English Civil War started after King Charles I was refused entry at Beverley Gate, right in Hull’s city center. This skirmish catalysed the journey towards democracy within England and the exact spot is preserved and open to the public daily. Located at the mouth of the Humber Estuary, Hull was a vital port for the fishing and whaling industry. Whilst commercial prerogative shifted towards retail post-1970, Hull’s roots can still be explored through the museum quarter completely free of charge. Fans of all things nautical will also enjoy The Deep, the world’s only submarium. Housing thousands of tropical fish and a handful of penguins, The Deep is an immersive full-day experience.

Despite these attractions within Hull, the town still remains riddled with issues. Being a large city on the Eastern coastline, Hull was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Industry never fully recovered after the destruction. It wasn’t until the recession hit during the early 2000s that spending increased for retail, housing and general redevelopment. The City of Culture funds will now build on this spending and provide Hull with a much needed facelift, a new ferry terminal and a state-of-the-art music arena. It is hoped the development will bring Hull up to speed with current standards set by Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

The extensive redevelopment plan covers the full city center. Humber Street, formerly the market district on the docks, will see boutique shops, independent coffee houses and pop-up art galleries. The area was chosen due to its abundance of character with abandoned warehouses giving industrial vibes. Fruit, a small music venue on Humber Street, has already gained a huge reputation among non-mainstream music forms, such as indie and punk, as an intimate venue with a capacity for only a few hundred.

Across town is the beloved family area Pearson Park. Plans are being drafted to transform the park into a conservation area and to restore some of its period features. Located next to The Avenues, one of Hull’s most desirable housing estates, the park plays host to thousands of visitors who come to admire the diverse wildlife, huge sports fields and several delicatessens. Redevelopment is sure to bring many smiles.

All that’s left to be done is to convince English and foreign tourists that their prejudices are wrong. Hull is an amazing destination whether it be a day-ride out, or a week-long stay. You’ve just got to give it a chance.