As a new programme update of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 on 2 March revealed how it was preparing to welcome visitors to the city, and with national travel restrictions planned to start easing over the summer – there are many reasons to plan a visit to Coventry this year and experience the best of British tourism.

Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 will kick off on Saturday 15 May 2021, with an engaging and diverse cultural programme and exciting commissions in the city, which will be also welcoming some new properties such as the acclaimed Telegraph Hotel. Also revealed today were some of the major projects being developed by partners, which are transforming the iconic post-war city centre ready to welcome visitors.

Cultural programme

New lighting in Greyfriars Greem, Coventry
New lighting in Greyfriars Greem, Coventry

The 365-day Coventry 2021 cultural programme will reflect Coventry as a diverse, modern city, demonstrating that culture is a force that changes lives, moving Coventry and the region forward. Some of the highlights of the first few months of the UK City of Culture 2021 programme include:

  • Coventry Moves (15 May 2021): While restrictions are still in place, the high profile opening event, Coventry Moves, can be enjoyed from home thanks to a major partnership with the BBC. This event is the perfect way to get to know Coventry UK City of Culture before you visit.
  • Small Bells Ring (July 2021): A specially designed canal boat housing the largest collection of short stories in the UK.
  • Terry Hall Home Sessions (July 2021): Legendary front man of The Specials, Terry Hall returns to Coventry to curate a brand-new three-day music event which will take place in the heart of the city. As the roadmap eases, this is set to be one of the first and most memorable music festivals to take place in the UK since restrictions began.
  • CVX Festival (12-15 August 2021): A three-day arts activism event curated by young people around the themes of community, unity and social change, with UK rapper Jay1 as ambassador.
  • Faith (September 2021): Theatrical production to find out what keeps each of us going in tough times, and how people of faith and of no faith celebrate the chapters of their lives by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Coventry Biennial (October 2021 – January 2022): A four-month event dedicated to visual art and culture, celebrating the incredible arts movements that have been created in and around Coventry.
  • Turner Prize (29 September 2021 – 12 January 2022): The world-famous art prize will take place at the city’s Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, placing Coventry at the heart of the art world this autumn.

All events have been planned in a flexible and responsive way, to allow them to be presented in line with the guidelines at the time they take place.

For more programme information, visit: https://coventry2021.co.uk/

Current developments

The Charterhouse, Coventry
The Charterhouse, Coventry

Over the past 12 months, Coventry has been the centre of extraordinary change. Driven by the city’s status as UK City of Culture, over a dozen building projects have secured £80 million from national funding pots, as well as significant private investment in public realm schemes and commercial developments. Upcoming projects involve:

  • St Mary’s Guildhall: A £1.4m bid to help transform Coventry’s St Mary’s Guildhall into a major visitor attraction has been given the go-ahead by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, meaning that the building will be turned into a first-class heritage venue. The Guildhall work will deliver an improved visitor experience including interpretation, new digital technology, restoration of the original medieval kitchen and an improved showcasing and interpretation of the Tapestry.
  • National Collections Centre: A National Collections Centre is set to be created through a unique partnership between several organisations, including the Coventry City of Culture Trust. The development would see the Council buy and convert the former IKEA building, with Arts Council England relocating its collection to Coventry and making the city home to some of the country’s greatest works of art.
  • Hertford Street: Artwork from world-renowned artist, Morag Myerscough, is set to be installed on Coventry’s Hertford Street in summer 2021, bringing her signature style of bold colours and vibrancy to the famous street. From schools and hospitals to cultural hubs and town centres Morag transforms public spaces by creating engaging experiences for everyone.
  • Coventry Railway Station: A series of local artists’ commissions form part of the enhancement of the existing railway station, which includes a 633-space multi-storey car park and a brand new footbridge. Baker & Borowski have proposed a ‘graphic rewilding’ design for the car park façade mural, inspired by the wild flowers of Coventry and Warwickshire, which will bring the bright colours of nature into the urban landscape of the station.
  • Coventry Cathedral: The Coventry Cathedral will see a host of developments and improvements, thanks to a scheme funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority, due to be completed in 2021. The project will enable the Cathedral to host a more diverse range of events and experiences, with improved accessibility for visitors.

Around the city

Go Ape, Rope Ladder. Credit Visit Coventry
Go Ape, Rope Ladder. Credit Visit Coventry
  • City Hosts will perform a variety of roles in the city, which include providing a friendly welcome and supporting visitors and event spectators to navigate around the city. City Hosts will be present at key transport hubs to provide an initial welcome and a farewell to visitors, while others will provide information on artworks, installations and events.
  • An in-house Public Art Curator is working with Coventry City Council to embed artists in the city centre’s infrastructure programme – from the train station landscape to street furniture. The aim of this project is to put art at the heart of the city’s public realm improvements, so that visitors to Coventry can see how creative, playful and distinctive the post-war city centre has become.
  • A new retail store, ticketing and information centre for Coventry UK City of Culture will open in Coventry city centre, a great place for visitors to get their bearings, book a show and pick up some merchandising to remember their trip.
  • Creative Giants, the wizards behind the legendary Shangri-La stage of Glastonbury, have been working with the Coventry City Council to embed creativity into the fabric of the city centre. They have also designed the unique egg-shaped visitor information points that will guide visitors on arrival.

Main image – Coventry Cathedral. Credit Graeme Peacock

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