Expo 1984 Liverpool, which was the first Horticultural Exhibition to take place in Britain, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 2 May and ran until 14 October. Formally recognised by the BIE on the 24 June 1982 at the 91st General Assembly, it aimed to revitalise the city of Liverpool and its tourism industry. Much of the site, which was situated in the old south docks area, was derelict in the years before the Expo and underwent an extensive renovation project in preparation for the event.

Expo 1984 Liverpool

The 95-hectare apple-shaped site, whose shape paid tribute to The Beatles, was divided into four principal areas. The first was the permanent features, which included the Festival Hall, where the indoor exhibitions were hosted as well as 15 varied horticultural shows throughout the duration of the Expo. This area also featured water features, the marine esplanade, as well as the Pathway of Honour, which celebrated various stars connected to Liverpool.

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The second zone – the national themes area – was dedicated to the best of British horticulture.

The international theme area was the third section, which displayed a variety of horticulture from around the world. Twenty-nine countries participated in the event, of which 18 showcased their own outdoor gardens, presenting their own national horticultural traditions and culture. Most participating countries staged National Weeks, which proved highly popular with visitors.

The final section was the home and garden features, with many show homes alongside their gardens. As well as the 60 individual gardens, the exhibition also displayed a vast array of artwork. A 15-metre-long Yellow Submarine, which featured a replica of a control cabin, a statue of John Lennon and the Kissing Gate by Alain Ayers were amongst the highlights.

In order to improve visitor flow, a miniature railway system was installed, which connected stations all around the site and formed a junction linked to the branch line to the city. A large investment into passenger coaches was also made, which provided visitors with easy access to the Expo site.

Since closing, the site has changed significantly. Part of the site was developed into residential housing and the remained was used as an entertainment and leisure venue for several years. In 2009, it was announced that the site – known as the Festival Gardens – would undergo redevelopment, including the restoration of the Chinese and Japanese gardens, the lakes, pagodas and the woodland sculpture trails. These restored features alongside various new elements were completed in 2012 and have been enjoyed by the people of Liverpool since.

The distinct Yellow Submarine, one of several pieces of art from the Expo which can still be seen in the city today, has been located in Liverpool John Lennon Airport since 2005.