Sun, Jan 11, 2009
Liverpool hands over culture capital title to Austria's Linz

LONDON (AFP) - - Liverpool staged a giant fireworks display on Saturday to bring down the curtain on its 12-month reign as European Capital of Culture.

A crowd of around 35,000 gathered to watch the pyrotechnics over the River Mersey in the northwest port city and the ceremony to officially hand over the hand over the Capital of Culture mantle to Linz in Austria.

Among the highlights of the year was a summer concert by one of Liverpool's most famous sons, former Beatle Paul McCartney.

The city also hosted the Turner Prize for contemporary art and MTV Europe Music Awards as well as a host of art exhibitions, concerts and a street theatre festival.

A total of 7,000 events featuring more than 10,000 artists were staged across Liverpool and the surrounding area, while millions of pounds have been poured into new building projects.

The creative director of the year's events, TV producer and scriptwriter Phil Redmond, said they had "changed perceptions of the city" which was blighted by unemployment and economic decline in the 1980s.

Liverpool City council leader Warren Bradley said: "People who thought Liverpool was a downtrodden, godforsaken place have seen Liverpool in a completely different light."

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