Former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr - whose son is also the drummer for rock giants Oasis - and former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart have officially started Liverpool's reign as European Capital of Culture 2008.

Liverpool is famous throughout the world for producing The Beatles and Echo and the Bunnymen, amongst other greats, and its football team is England's most successful.

Ringo Starr and Dave Stewart kicked off a year off cultural events by opening the city's new Echo Arena.

Liverpool will be European Capital of Culture until the end of the year. The city also celebrated its 800th birthday last year.

Culture capital inaugurates arena

Homegrown talent Echo and the Bunnymen took to the stage

Thousands of music lovers turned out to enjoy the second part of the celebrations marking the launch of Liverpool's Capital of Culture year.

Liverpool The Musical, billed as a once-in-a-lifetime show, was staged at the city's brand new 164m Echo Arena at the King's Dock on Saturday.

A cast of 700 people, aged from six to 78, took to the stage at 2008 GMT for the 100-minute musical extravaganza.

About 50,000 people gathered on Friday for the People's Opening Ceremony.

Ringo Starr premiered his new song on the 100ft high roof of St George's Hall, reminiscent of the Fab Four playing on top of the Apple building in London's Savile Row in 1969.

On Saturday, he took centre stage in the proceedings once more, again playing his single Liverpool 8, as well as the Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends, and a cover of John Lennon's Power To The People.

The Beatles: Probably Liverpool's most famous sons. Liverpool holds the Guinness Book of Records title for being the Capital of Pop. More artists with a Liverpool origin have had a number one hit than from any other location in the world.

Other performers included a special collaboration between Vassily Petrenko and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with No Fakin DJs, Valley Brass Band and the Liverpool Welsh Choir.

An eclectic mix of Liverpool talent was showcased, including hotly-tipped new band The Wombats, city legends Echo and the Bunnymen and blues singer Connie Lush.

Also on stage were the former Christians frontman Gary Christian, The Farm, Pete Wylie, and Jenny John and the Sense of Sound choir with 100 local schoolchildren.

Organisers once again presented an audio-visual spectacular, with 90 minutes of specially-commissioned film being played out during the show.

Liverpool's world famous skyline is a UNESCO World Heritage site

Local band Urban Strawberry Lunch, who make instruments from anything they can find, accompanied aerial spinners suspended from the roof on wires.

The design for both the People's Opening and Liverpool the Musical, was drawn up by director Nigel Jamieson, responsible for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games and the closing ceremony for the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

He is also the co-director of both shows, along with co-founder of Liverpool superclub Cream, Jayne Casey.

The two shows used more than 200 moving lights, 600m of trussing and 4km of cable. It took more than 120 people 15,000 hours to put together.

The Liver Building

Saturday's performance was the inaugural event for the new 10,600-steater stadium. This weekend kick-starts a programme of more than 350 events taking place over the year.

Ten facts on Liverpool

The city of Liverpool is European City of Culture 2008. But what are its magic qualities?

Here are 10 facts about the city:

The city of Liverpool was created in 1207 when King John granted a Royal Charter which was written in Latin. Liverpool was once the "Second City of Empire", eclipsing even London for commerce at times.

Liverpool holds the Guinness Book of Records title for being the Capital of Pop. More artists with a Liverpool origin have had a number one hit than from any other location.

And of course, Liverpudlian legends The Beatles changed the face of popular music.

Liverpool is the most successful footballing city in England, home to both Liverpool and Everton. It has won 27 League championships, five European Cups, three Uefa Cups, one Cup Winners cup, 11 FA Cups, and six League Cups.

Liverpool is England's most successful football team.

Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery is the national gallery of the North and houses one of the best collections of European art outside London.

Liverpool has the largest collection of Grade II-listed buildings outside London. The city has 2,500 listed buildings and 250 public monuments.

Liverpool's three graces - the Liver, the Cunard and the Port of Liverpool buildings - are to be joined by a fourth. Designed by Will Alsop, the Cloud is a futuristic, three-tiered structure that will be home to offices, a hotel and community facilities.

Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest in the world. It was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1904. The city has a second cathedral - the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was designed by Frederick Gibberd after the Second World War.

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the first successful passenger-carrying railway in the world. Trials for Stephenson's Rocket were carried out at Rainhill in 1829.

Liverpool has a thriving film industry. Films that have been shot there include The Hunt For Red October, The 51st State, The Parole Officer and Letter To Brezhnev. The city was used as a location for more than 140 films last year and has doubled for Moscow, Dublin, Paris and even Venice.

A person from Liverpool is known as a "Scouser". They are "Scouse". Scouse is a type of stew. It was eaten by Liverpudlians living in poverty before the 1900s. Ingredients include lamb or beef, cabbage, carrot, potatoes and onion.


Symbolic leaves were blown in front of St George's Hall during the opening.

Former Beatle, Ringo Starr, performs on top of St George's Hall.

Fireworks on top of the Walker Art Gallery

Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 13th, 2008 at 12:29 PM..