Looking forward to a memorable year

111872_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Portsmouth Harbour with Spinnaker Tower. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-639)
111872_AERIALS_21/06/11''Aerial view of Portsmouth Harbour with Spinnaker Tower. ' 'Picture: Allan Hutchings (111872-639)
Sailors from aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush played a friendly softball match against a collection of Solent Softball League Players - The US Team PPP-170729-215328006

WATCH: Portsmouth’s softball elite put through their paces by USS George HW Bush sailors

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THE economy maybe struggling, but 2012 promises to be a special year when it comes to celebrating and marking milestones across our area.

With the Olympics taking place just an hour or so down the road, Charles Dickens turning 200 years old, and the Queen reaching an incredible 60 years on the throne, there are reasons to celebrate.

Two long-overlooked areas – Rowner in Gosport and Tipner in Portsmouth – are finally getting the multi-million pound regeneration they deserve.

And there will be iconic architectural marvels that will help to put the area on the map.

The state-of-the-art Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is set to open in the autumn while the University of Portsmouth’s visionary Blade tower hall of residence will begin to rise above the city skyline.

We will be taking to the sea and air in two brand-new events – Portsmouth Air Festival and Ribex 2012 – featuring display teams flying over head and boats gathering at Gunwharf Quays to delight spectators.

Not to mention the return of a host of much-loved festivals.

There will be the Portsmouth Festivities, Portsmouth Kite Festival, Portsmouth BookFest, SouthseaFest music festival, Portsmouth Multicultural Festival and Portsmouth Music Festival.

And there will also be a time to reflect on the past, when sailors and veterans remember those lost during the Falklands War 30 years ago.

The News will also help boost the local economy this year.

Together with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership we have successfully bid for £2.1m of funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.

This money will help small and medium-sized businesses grow and cope with tough financial times when we invite them to submit their bids early this year.

Editor of The News, Mark Waldron, said: ‘There can be no doubt that 2012 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting year for our area.

‘With spectacular new events, huge national occasions and important opportunities for local growth and development, there really will be something for everyone.’

Twelve reasons which will help make 2012 a special year

DICKENS

NEXT year Portsmouth will join the national celebrations marking 200 years since Charles Dickens was born.

The great author’s birthplace is set to take centre stage on February 7 when the city will hold its traditional wreath-laying ceremony in the morning followed by a service of thanksgiving at St Mary’s, the church where Dickens was baptised.

During the day the BBC Big Screen in Guildhall Square will show Dickens films, while in the evening the New Theatre Royal will host a performance by one of the country’s most respected interpreters of the writer’s work, Simon Callow.

At the heart of Dickens 2012 will be A Tale of One City – the Charles Dickens community archive project which was started following a successful Heritage Lottery fund application in autumn 2010.

An exhibition of the collected material will be held at the City Museum starting in February, alongside items from Portsmouth’s collections and pages from the original manuscript of Nicholas Nickleby.

The project will also see new life breathed into the city’s Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum itself, including costumed guides, readers and improved educational facilities.

Actor Al Muir is even working with groups across the city to develop a community play based on Dickens.

FESTIVITIES

PORTSMOUTH’S festival scene has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years and 2012 promises to be the best yet.

From June 22 to July 1 the ever-popular Portsmouth Festivities will stage Great Expectations – a cultural, musical and spectacular tribute to the city’s most famous 200-year-old.

Then in August the Portsmouth Kite Festival will be hoping to build on the huge success of last year’s three-day event on Southsea Common, featuring an amazing range of kite displays, in all shapes and sizes.

Now in its third year, the winter will see the Portsmouth BookFest bring yet more world-famous authors to the city to promote literacy and reading. Those that come will be following in the footsteps of Jaqueline Wilson, Claire Tomalin, Chris Ryan and Mark Billigham.

On Saturday September 12 the city’s popular one-day music festival – SouthseaFest – will return with a host of up-and-coming and established bands that promise to pack Portsmouth’s favourite venues.

September is a busy month when it comes to events, with the Portsmouth Multicultural Festival on Southsea’s Castle Field bringing a massive range of international food, music and art to the city.

The Isle of Wight Festival, which last year featured the Foo Fighters, pictured above, will take place in May.

And last but not least the 2012 Portsmouth Music Festival will be introducing an Olympic theme for their 80th year. Organisers have also decided to mark the occasion by holding their final concert in the Kings Theatre on Sunday March 25.

QUEEN’S DIAMOND JUBILEE

PORTSMOUTH is set to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in spectacular style next year with a host of exciting events.

A lavish public party will be held in Guildhall Square to coincide with television coverage of the national event on the BBC big screen.

The council will provide 60 tables and chairs for 500 people, with capacity for others to sit on the steps of the Guildhall or use their own chairs around the square.

Beacons will also be lit at Southsea Castle and Portsdown Hill as part of a celebratory nationwide chain.

They are among 2,012 beacons which will be lit by communities and individuals from Land’s End to Buckingham Palace.

And roads across the city will have the chance to host their own free street parties like during last year’s royal wedding.

The council has set aside £15,000 to pay for the festivities on Sunday June 3, 2012.

In total 27 street parties were held in Portsmouth on the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, and so far the council has had 19 enquires regarding Diamond Jubilee events.

Anyone who wants to hold a party next year can apply for permission unless they live on a road which is also a main bus route.

MARY ROSE

THIS year will see the opening of the state-of-the-art Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The new £35m museum is set to be ready for autumn 2012 – 30 years after the ship was raised from the sea bed.

It has been designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre – best known for the Millennium Bridge over the River Tyne in Newcastle.

Thousands of Tudor artefacts that sank in 1545 will be on display.

ROWNER

THE regeneration of the Rowner estate is set to continue in 2012.

The £145m project will transform the estate in Gosport, delivering around 700 affordable and private homes.

Phase one of the project is set to reach completion in the summer when around 200 homes are expected to be ready to move into.

The second phase is already underway and features a Tesco supermarket opening during the winter.

TIPNER

PLANS for the long-awaited clean-up and development of the east side of Tipner will become a reality in 2012.

The £130m project will include more than 600 homes, a new motorway junction and the decontamination of a large area of toxic land.

When finished the whole project will also provide 25,000sq ft of business space, 1,500 new jobs, waterside open spaces, a park and ride and a hotel.

THE BLADE

THE striking appearance of the Blade tower will rise above the Portsmouth skyline this year.

Standing more than 300ft tall, with 33 storeys, the new university student hall of residence will dwarf the surrounding buildings and an academic building is planned to be built next to it.

Clearing the Victoria Park site began in September and is due to continue throughout 2012, with the building ready for September 2013

AIR FESTIVAL

PORTSMOUTH’S Air Festival will wow crowds when it hits Southsea this summer.

Seven hours of flying displays will feature the world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking team, the Breitling Wingwalkers, who are lined up to star at the event, along with an old Royal Navy Sea Vixen and Spitfires.

Organisers are also hoping to add the RAF’s Red Arrows and the day is set to end with a pop concert.

FALKLANDS

THIS year will also see events to mark 30 years since the end of the Falklands War.

Hundreds will gather for a special Falklands parade and memorial service in Old Portsmouth on Sunday, June 10.

In Gosport there will be various events including a concert and a veterans freedom of the borough parade through the town, to the Falklands Gardens, for a memorial service on Sunday May 27.

BOAT SHOW

THIS May will see Portsmouth take the plunge and host a prestigious boat show for the first time.

The Ribex show, the world’s only boat show dedicated solely to rigid inflatable boats, is moving to Gunwharf Quays from its current home in Cowes.

It’s been heralded as the first step on a path for Portsmouth to host a major international boat show, more usually seen in Southampton.

OLYMPICS

THE whole region is set to catch Olympic fever this summer and stage a range of events.

Portsmouth will take part in a 12-week nationwide celebration running from June 21 until September 9, which will involve dance, music, theatre, visual arts and film. The Olympic torch will also blaze through Fareham and Gosport on its way to Portsmouth as part of the London 2012 Olympic torch relay route.

CASH BOOST

THE News has teamed up with business leaders and won a £2.1m grant to help create jobs and boost the south Hampshire economy.

The government’s Regional Growth Fund awarded the money following a successful News-backed bid by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Bidding begins in the new year in the hope the money will help create at least 200 jobs.