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Eurovision may have left the city, but Liverpool’s European communities are here to stay

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Irish band The Skylarks who helped to launch Liverpool European festival
Irish band The Skylarks who helped to launch Liverpool European festival

While the majority of visitors have returned home following the most successful Eurovision Song Contest ever, for those who have made Liverpool their home, the party has only just begun. 

The inaugural Liverpool European Festival – the brainchild of Founder and Director of Merseyside Polonia Gosia McKane – is hoped to keep the Eurovision spirit alive, not just for a few more weeks but for many years to come. 

Part of EuroStreet – Culture Liverpool’s community programme supported with funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Spirit of 2012 and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – it is hoped the Liverpool European Festival will become an annual event as part of the legacy of Eurovision 2023. 

Bringing together different European communities in the city including Irish, Nordic, Greek, Italian, German, Austrian, Polish, Romanian, French, Albanian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Swiss and Roma, the festival is a celebration of dance, film and heritage.

Following a launch event on Europe Day (9 May), the festival kicks off on Sunday 4 June with a European Dance Spectacular and Parade. Featuring Irish Ceili, Greek Kalamatianos and Polish Krakowiak to name but a few, the parade promises to be a feast for the eyes, ears and soul. 

The Masters of European Cinema series of events is an opportunity to learn about the European contribution to cinematography from the first film projection by the Lumière brothers on 28 December 1895 to avant-garde European film movements including German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism and French, Czechoslovak and Romanian New Wave. 

Six European films will be shown on Thursdays and Fridays in the first three weeks of June at the University of Liverpool. The series kicks off on 1 June with François Truffaut French film ‘400 Blows’ and Fritz Lang’s German film ‘M’. The following week, viewers can watch Federico Fellini’s Italian film ‘8 ½’ and Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Polish film ‘Camera Buff’. The series concludes on 15 and 16 June with Milos Forman’s Czechoslovakian film ‘The Fireman’s Ball’ and Roy Andersson’s Swedish Film ‘Songs from the Second Floor’. 

Throughout the festival, Liverpool European Communities are opening their doors for people to come and find out more about their heritage with a series of open days, heritage walks, poetry events and exhibitions. Take a trip back to the 19th century to find out more about Little Italy; follow stories of The Great Famine and the dramatic journeys of Irish migrants; visit historical places connected with Polish migration; and learn about the most recent Ukrainian resettlement in the city. 

The festival culminates in a special celebration event on 23 June – the anniversary of the EU Referendum. 

For full details of the festival, visit www.liverpooleuropeanfestival.com and to stay up to date on the festival, join the mailing list and follow Liverpool European Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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Gosia McKane, Founder and Director of Merseyside Polonia, said: “From lively folk dances and avant-garde movies to inspiring stories of migrants who have become part of Liverpool and are shaping the city for generations to come, European cultural heritage is colourful, rich and diverse. It’s a link that connects us with the past to help us build a better future and understanding of one another. It’s a beautiful symbol of stability in the ever-changing modern world, that we all need so much, especially now. 

“While Eurovision united us through music, the Liverpool European Festival will connect us through dance, films and history. The festival will culminate with a celebration on the anniversary of the EU Referendum to show the city, the country and the continent, that we are still here and flourishing.” 

The outgoing Lord Mayor of Liverpool Roy Gladden added: “It’s marvellous to see people with confidence come together and act as one, sharing the best they have with the rest of the community. 

“I am proud that Liverpool has become a home to some many different European communities, from the oldest community in Liverpool, which is Irish, through to the youngest, which is Ukrainian. We are all European and with that strong representation I truly believe that Liverpool European Festival will become a part of our city’s culture calendar every year.” 

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “It was wonderful to see Liverpool being the destination bringing Europe together as Eurovision 2023 took place, and we’re thrilled to see that continue in this fantastic city with the Liverpool European Festival. 

“We are delighted that thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are supporting the inaugural Festival to take place and celebrate the rich cultural heritage that Liverpool’s many diverse communities hold.”

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