Francis Tucker and Adam Keast at the Hope Street Feast. Photograph by Ian D. Hall.

The Hope Street Feast, the urban street festival,  is one of the highlights of the year for the people of Liverpool. It is a chance for people to get together and take in new exotic food, sample the latest beer recommended by C.A.M.R.A, listen to music that they may never have heard before and most of all to learn about the events that go on in one of the most cultural parts of Liverpool.

Hope Street Festival has now celebrated seven years and shows no hint of stopping or slowing down.  It is truly a splendid day out and with lots to take in, watch and enjoy, it takes several hours just to visit every store and sample everything that is going on and taste the artistry of Liverpool life.

This year, visitors arriving at Hope Street would have been greeted by the sight of the on-going building work of the new Everyman Theatre. It is finally poking its head over the top of the hoarding that have obscured the view of its regeneration and the excitement would have been palpable as one of the iconic theatres of Liverpool starts to take shape once more. That wasn’t the only sight from the Playhouse/Everyman theatre team on show for visitors as actors Adam Keast and Francis Tucker made sure the throngs of people got a glimpse of them in two of the costumes from the pantomime season, Francis Tucker proving to the visitors once more why he is one of the best dames in the business.

Further down Hope Street, the smells and aromas of different foods being prepared assailed the taste buds, hog roasts on offer, freshly cooked bread being sold and all manner of tempting food for all sorts of palates on almost every part of Hope Street.

Hope Street Feast is not just about the food, there is the chance to take in some excellent music on offer inside the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, including local music legend Ian Prowse on stage. Outside and on the adjoining Myrtle Street was the newly re-named After 8 stage which was being compared by another of Liverpool’s musical lights, Alun Parry.

Alan Parry said of the Hope Street Festival, “To compare the stage was good fun, it’s great to see and meet all the different acts who have travelled from all over the country to be here. I think the feast is getting better every year. You only have to see the crowds out in force even in today’s weather to see how important it is to the people of Liverpool. Culturally it’s important to. There are people today who will have seen the orchestra for the first time because it’s free. I don’t think that can be underestimated, and there is just so much going on!”

Alun wasn’t joking with that observation; if the abundance of music going on wasn’t enough to sway the visitors then the street theatre which has always been an enjoyable spectacle took on new life as some of Liverpool’s acting fraternity entertained the crowd in performing some of the Lost Games of Liverpool up and down the stretch of road. Alice Bunker-Whitney, who is half of the Idiotsinsync group that brought the excellent play Tales From Under The Counter to the Unity Theatre ,going through the ringer once more in the pursuit of entertainment, with the Young Everyman actors joining in with great spirit and Tim Lynskey and Matt Rutter were as outrageous and comical as normal as they thrilled passers-by with their strong-man act.

The Hope Street Feast continues to go from strength to strength and is one of the great highlights of the year, fun to attend and impossible to ignore. It is by far one of the great Sunday’s out in the Liverpool calendar.

Ian D. Hall