Leicester’s bid to become the 2017 UK City of Culture took a step closer to reality this morning.
Officials gathered at De Montfort Hall where Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby took the call from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) saying that Leicester had made it to the shortlist of just four cities.
Hull, Dundee and Swansea Bay are now the main competition to take on the title from current City of Culture, Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
Sir Soulsby said he ‘couldn’t believe it’ when he took the call.
He added afterwards: “Obviously I was nervous awaiting that call because nobody had any idea what the outcome would be.
“It was hard to imagine Leicester not making the final four because it has such a strong cultural offer.
“We haven’t won it yet but I am now absolutely convinced Leicester deserves to be UK City of Culture 2017.”
Organisers behind the bid said they wanted to show off Leicester’s huge mix of cultures when they launched their initial bid earlier this year.
The Government has told contenders it should expect to need £10 million of public cash to fund a year-long programme of cultural events, which Leicester City Council has said it will pay.
Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival founder Geoff Rowe is one of the people behind Leicester’s bid.
He said: “We want to do some amazing things in Leicester in 2017 which have a long-term impact on the city.
“We’ll celebrate for a bit, have a drink but then get to work on detailed plans for what we are going to do if we win.
“We have to work out which amazing artists and creative people we want to invite to the city.
“We still haven’t seen the bids of the other cities. They are probably going to be very good indeed and we need to top them.”
Cities and areas which lost out were Hastings & Bexhill, Aberdeen, East Kent, Southampton & Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southend and bookies’ favourite Chester.
There’s been a huge reaction on Twitter, some supporting the bid whilst others saying they’re confused why favourites like Chester lost out.
A final decision will be made in November, with the official festival kicking off in late 2016, if the bid is successful, with the Leicester’s famous Diwali celebrations.
You can find out more about Leicester’s bid by following them on Twitter @Leicester2017 or visit http://www.leicestercityofculture2017.co.uk/cityofculture.aspx