Culture visitors to break 3m mark

Tate Liverpool has been one of the most popular venues
Liverpool is preparing to break the 3m visitors mark since the start of its Capital of Culture celebrations.

More than 2.75m people attended venues and events in the first four months of 2008 - a 25% rise on 2007.

And with the biggest events of the year yet to take place, culture bosses are estimating that visitor numbers will continue to grow.

The Streets Ahead arts festival and the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Tate are among upcoming highlights.

The Merseyside Maritime Museum, Tate Liverpool and Anglican Cathedral are among the venues experiencing the biggest boosts.

Bryan Gray, chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, said: ''The impact of Capital of Culture is having an impact on our cultural and tourism sectors in a way that few if any previous culture cities have experienced.

"To have these figures at this stage of the year is truly amazing and surpasses all our expectations."

More than 350 events, many of them free, are being staged for the city's celebrations.

Highlights later in the year include the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield on 1 June, the Tall Ships Races which start on 18 July and the MTV Europe Music Awards in November.