The Royal de Luxe Giants returned to Liverpool this weekend, drawing in hundreds of thousands of people for three days in a row as they hoped to catch a glimpse of the marionettes.
The huge street theatre puppets paraded a total of 30 miles around the city as part of the UK’s flagship event, ‘Memories of August 1914’, to commemorate the centenary of World War I.
The event, which was co-commissioned by Culture Liverpool and 14-18 NOW, returned to Liverpool after its giant success in 2012, courtesy of French street theatre specialists, Royal de Luxe and the writer-director, Jean Luc Courcoult.
An estimated one million visitors were drawn to the spectacle, including Susan Forrester, 38, who was in Newsham Park on Saturday morning with her five-year-old daughter, Heidi, after previously seeing the Giants at their Titanic-themed debut in 2012.
She told JMU Journalism: “We came to see the Giants when Heidi was just three and I didn’t want to miss it this year because it was so good. We haven’t managed to see them since they arrived on Thursday so we’re excited for today.”
The three mechanical puppets, Grandmother Giant, Little Girl Giant and her dog Xolo, were undeniably popular, with over 300,000 attending today’s finale alone.
Grandmother, Little Girl and Xolo the dog have now sailed out of the city on the River Mersey in a special departure ceremony, having spent the weekend exploring various different landmarks, including The Three Graces, St George’s Hall and Newsham Park.
Lillian Jones, a 59-year-old nurse from Netherton, told JMU Journalism: “I didn’t get to see the Giants last time they were here but I saw the Grandmother asleep in St George’s Hall on Thursday and it was amazing – so life-like.
“Seeing the way the puppeteers control them is unbelievable. The atmosphere, the live band, the sunshine – everything is brilliant. We have a great city.”
However, the event caused serious travel delays for train passengers on Friday and Saturday night. Liverpool’s Lime Street station became hugely congested and passengers were advised by Liverpool City Council to find alternative ways home, as they could be waiting up to two hours to get onto the concourse.
Many services were delayed but local bus services accepted train tickets to help passengers reach their destinations.
The marionettes left this morning, after resuming their journey at Clarence Dock, where they were reunited once again last night.