The UK’s City of Culture 2017 is going all medieval next month to celebrate the first European Union forged way back in the 13th Century.
For 400 years The Hanseatic League thrived as a trading block of seafaring merchants across the North Sea and the Baltic connecting around 200 towns and cities, including Hull, which by the end of the 15th century was second only to London as a trading port.
Stretching from England to Russia, the League played a major role in shaping economies, trade and politics before declining in the mid-seventeenth century. Now re-invented for the modern era as a cultural partnership, the new HANSE brings together 180 towns and cities across Northern Europe that were originally part of the League.
Five years after joining the new partnership, Hull will mark those historic ties by transporting Hull High Street back to the 14th century when the Hanseatic League was at its peak.
High Street is in Hull’s Old Town and still retains its medieval footprint – one of only two such areas still existing in Yorkshire – with a surviving street plan around the original port area, which during the height of the League saw up to a dozen ships arrive daily with imported timber, canvas, furs, iron, flax and pitch.
Following the successful inaugural Hull International Hansa Day staged last year, the city will throw a free, family friendly one-day festival on Saturday 13th May 2017, featuring everything from music and travelling minstrels to medieval market stalls and storytelling.
Re-enactors will line the street, including a baker, a candlestick maker and fishing net weaver, while visitors will also have the chance to hammer their own coin at a medieval Mint – and be entertained by a fire-breathing Jester! Traditional customs from Northern European partners will be on show at The Museums Quarter garden, plus there will be children’s crafts and activities.
This year many of the events will be inspired by religious life in medieval Hull, reflecting the fact that on the same day as the festival, Hull’s 700-year-old Holy Trinity Church will officially become a Minster. Also new for 2017 will be a petting zoo with goats, lambs, pigs and a donkey, offering an insight into how important livestock was in medieval times.
While the historic links to the Hanseatic League go back many centuries, Hull is now the only English city, alongside towns Kings Lynn and Boston, to rejoin the League in a cultural capacity.
For event details and more about the partnership, visit www.hansacityhull.com and follow @hansacityhull on Twitter.
To keep up to date with all Hull UK City of Culture developments, follow @Hull2017 on Twitter and on Facebook (Hull City of Culture), plus keep in touch with its website at http://hull2017.co.uk
For places to stay and visitor information, www.visit-hull.com.