Alice Burns

The Liverpool Giants: Their Final Goodbye

Originally created by Jean Luc Courcoult, the artistic director for the Royal De Luxe, the Giants descended on the city for the third and final time in an awe-inspiring display of craftsmanship and theatrical ingenuity. This French marionette-come-street-theatre company based in Nantes has founded their ethos on the basis that theatre should be accessible and free for everyone, hence the reason why the Giant Spectacular has always been free. This makes for not only one of Liverpool’s most exciting multicultural events but also one of its most well-attended, and it’s easy to see why.

The giants taking part in the event comprised of the Little Girl Giant, the Giant Uncle, the Little Boy Giant and Xolo the Dog, each starting at different parts of Liverpool and New Brighton before coming together on the Sunday for the final time. In addition to Courcoult himself, the spectacle wouldn’t have been possible without the immensely talented and dedicated team of puppet operators, known as ‘Lilliputians’. The team of 100+ are aptly named after the similar figures found in Johnathon Swift’s 1726 novel, Gulliver’s Travels. These teams worked tirelessly across the three days with boundless energy and enthusiasm, bringing the awe-inspiring (50 feet high) marionettes to life!

With the giants appearing as early as Thursday 4th of October with the snoozing Little Boy Giant asleep in St George’s Hall, the event entitled ‘Liverpool Dreams’ has spanned city-wide, with the giants walking 21 miles starting from the heart of the city itself as well as Fort Perch Rock in the Wirral on Friday the 5th. The festivities continued on the Saturday with the giants waking up at Queen’s Warf, having travelled through Castle Street through to Hanover Street before finishing at Clarence Dock for their evening’s rest.

Amidst all the action on offer, there was also a range of live music accompanying the giants in their party-wagon just behind, as the crowds celebrated this must-see event in their thousands, turning out en masse to witness the spectacle. Liverpool City Council said early estimates are showing that as many as 1.3 million people descended on the city across the three days to soak up the atmosphere and catch a glimpse of the magical events taking place across Liverpool, now for the last time anywhere in the world. The final day on the Sunday saw all the giants leaving from Sefton Street before all coming together along the Strand, including the surprise return of the little girl giant (a much loved favourite from previous years, and in a new dress to celebrate the occasion). The Grandma Giant (appearing in 2014) didn’t make an appearance this year, with the changing story of the Royal De Luxe‘s creations; this time involving the Little Boy Giant to make up this final year’s lineup.

The Grandma Giant in 2014

Before bidding their final and emotional farewell and sailing back out to sea from Canning Dock on the Sunday, creative director Jean- Luc Courcoult explained briefly the endearing story of these gentle giants, simply saying “It was only a story about giants, who were passing through Liverpool to carry the crowd’s dreams above the tides.” His message to Liverpool ended the spectacle on a high, saying: “From the heart of this company I hold you in my giant arms. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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