People will remember Pier Head event 'for the rest of their days' as new ship comes to Liverpool

Cunard has previously held a number of celebrations in Liverpool
Cunard has previously held a number of celebrations in Liverpool -Credit:Liverpool Echo

People can expect an event they will "remember for the rest of their lives" when Cunard brings its newest ship to Liverpool for its naming ceremony next month.

Having recently taken her maiden voyage, Cunard's new liner Queen Anne will arrive in Liverpool on June 3 for the naming ceremony - a moment that is signified by the traditional smashing of a bottle of champagne against the 249th ship to carry the Cunard name. It was announced on Wednesday (May 22) that legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform at the ceremony.

The free event will take place at the Pier Head, with Mr Bocelli joined on the bill by performances from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, DJ Lauren Lo Sung, as well as a funk and soul set by Craig Charles. The grand finale of the celebration will see Queen Anne depart from Liverpool against a backdrop of fireworks.

READ MORE: Andrea Bocelli to perform at Liverpool's Pier Head for new Cunard ship's naming ceremony

READ MORE: Inside Cunard's newest cruise ship coming to Liverpool for huge naming ceremony

Katie McAlister, president of Cunard, said: "Liverpool is known the world over as Cunard’s spiritual home, and we are thrilled to announce Maestro Bocelli as part of our incredible line-up of talented artists and performers for this special event. This celebration is a tribute to our rich history and a testament to the enduring bond between Cunard and the city of Liverpool.

"We look forward to honouring this legacy with a celebration of unforgettable performances that reflect the spirit and vibrancy of both our company and this magnificent city."

Speaking to the ECHO at the Liver Building on Wednesday as details of the event were announced, Angie Redhead, Liverpool City Council's head of assets, said: "Every time we have an inaugural visit from a cruise ship - but especially Cunard - it just takes things to another level.

"A ship has not been named in Liverpool for decades. The fact that it’s Queen Anne is extra special.

"This event - not just the concert with Andrea Bocelli and the Philharmonic Orchestra - but the whole event will be amazing. We’ll have Craig Charles doing his funk and soul set - we love Craig Charles - and there will be a fabulous firework finale as the ship sails away. People will just love it.

Ms Redhead added: "Of course there’s been a lot of planning, but that’s our job. We are here to be the invisible wheels that make these events happen. We just want people to come down, enjoy it and be part of the magic.

Michael Eakin (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic) 2nd left, speaking at the Cunard Press Conference, with (left to right) Angie Redhead (Liverpool City Council), Katie McAlister (Cunard) and Dave Wibberley (LIPA)
Michael Eakin (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic) 2nd left, speaking at the Cunard Press Conference, with (left to right) Angie Redhead (Liverpool City Council), Katie McAlister (Cunard) and Dave Wibberley (LIPA) -Credit:Andrew Teebay Liverpool Echo

"We want people to feel safe - which they will be, we want people to feel joy, we want them to feel like this is a real life moment that they will remember for the rest of their days. Because they’ve been part of something that is so uniquely Liverpool and is so uniquely Cunard - that alchemy of Cunard and Liverpool together is so special."

About the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra's role in proceedings, chief executive Michael Eakin told the ECHO: "We're really excited. These (Cunard and the orchestra) are two great Liverpool institutions that developed in 1840 and are still going strong.

"I think it's very important for us to be part of these great civic occasions in Liverpool. We're very much part of Liverpool, we want to serve the city. To be able to perform to a very large audience - which I'm sure it will be - on the Pier Head is a real shop window for us as well.

"It's giving back to the city and shining a light on a major occasion. So it's perfect for us.

"To be able to perform with Andrea Bocelli in the afternoon of the naming ceremony concert is brilliant. In the evening, our brass and percussion will be playing some tunes that people will know and working with DJs. I think our musicians are incredibly flexible.

"They can play with artists right across every genre - huge names like Bocelli, to DJs, to whatever - and enjoy the challenge of it."

Cunard’s transatlantic service – and passenger shipping itself – was launched in Liverpool in 1840. The company's ships have previously attracted more than a million spectators to the banks of the Mersey, first for the maiden call of the QE2 in July 1990, and in 2015 for the Three Queens ‘royal rendezvous’ in front of the Cunard Building, which celebrated the 175th anniversary of cruise line.

Queen Anne departed on her maiden voyage - from Southampton to Lisbon - on May 3. The ship, which can hold 3,000 people, will set off on a 14-night tour of the British Isles on May 24, bringing her to Liverpool for the naming ceremony.

Musician Matt Willis and his wife, TV presenter Emma Willis, will host the event at the Pier Head. They will be joined on stage at the waterfront by special guests and the official godparent (someone who sponsors the ship in a tradition said to provide her with protection) for the naming of Queen Anne before the event will draw to a close with a performance from Mr Bocelli.

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