More than 1.4m visitors attended cultural events and activities in Hull during the first three months of City of Culture, a report has revealed.
Hull University's interim findings show a third of this figure included visits to the city's museums and galleries.
UK City of Culture Independent Advisory Panel Chairman Phil Redmond said "it raised the bar" for its 2021 successor.
Hull was awarded City of Culture status in November 2013, beating competition from Swansea, Leicester and Dundee.
The interim report says nine in 10 residents had "attended or experienced a cultural event or activity as part of Hull UK City of Culture".
Director of Hull 2017 Martin Green said the 90% figure was "staggering". He added: "I asked for it to be double checked.
"There is always a danger that these projects feel that they're only for certain people and feel that they're being done to people.
"The emerging big story of this year is how the people of this city have taken ownership of their year."
Of the 1.1m people who saw the Blade installation in Queen Victoria Square, more than 420,000 people had interacted with it while half said the artwork was the main draw for their city centre visit, the report suggested.
It also said 38% of people who booked to see play The Hypocrite were new audience members at Hull Truck Theatre.
Mr Redmond said: "These impressive figures indicate both value and the impact of being the UK City Culture, while vindicating the Panel's decision to award the title to Hull.
"They have done what we asked: raised the bar for whoever follows in 2021."
Researchers also noted Hull Trains reporting a "17% increase in passengers in January 2017" in comparison to the same month last year.
More than 720,000 visitors saw Hull's Weeping Window poppies , part of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red , which was created to mark the World War One centenary and was originally seen at the Tower of London.
Nearly 345,000 people turned out for the Made in Hull giant video projection event, which marked the start of the city hosting the year-long arts festival.
Crowds of up to 25,000 descended on the city's waterfront for a firework display launching the celebrations on New Year's day.