Hey there jet setter. This month we’ve been thinking about home. Turns out a UK trip can be just as exciting (who knew) as a weekend gallivanting around Europe. We’ve got the low-down on Liverpool, as the city gears up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love – one of the defining moments in modern culture and creativity. For an urban escape away from the tourist throng, read on…
Book a Beatles tour
Most visitors make a beeline for the historic Albert Dock on the waterfront which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, truth be told, one must when in Merseyside, take a tour of Beatles’ based attractions in the band’s hometown. The best is arguably The Beatles Story on Albert Dock, currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. See www.beatlestory.com for more.
If you’ve got a head for heights, the Echo Wheel – standing as it does at 60m – showcases panoramic views across the county as far as the Welsh mountains. Positioned on the piazza directly outside the ECHO Arena on Liverpool’s historic waterfront, it includes 42 fully enclosed and air-conditioned capsules and, the icing on the cake, a VIP luxury capsule with leather seating, DVD player and a champagne fridge. Book tickets at www.freijwheels.com.
Fans of the beautiful game will be in seventh heaven for English football’s powerhouse has always been Merseyside – home to both Everton and Liverpool FC, two clubs which best illustrate football’s capacity to divide. A stadium dispute in 1892 lead Everton to leave their home ground Anfield for nearby Goodison Park, prompting Anfield owner John Houlding to form Liverpool in retaliation. The two clubs have been sniping at each other across dividing Stanley Park ever since. www.evertonfc.com; www.liverpoolfc.com
If watching athletic, sweaty men kick a ball about isn’t your thing, sign up for a River Explorer Cruise and see Liverpool’s most iconic sights from the world famous Mersey Ferry (viewing Liverpool from the back of a bus won’t cut it). Guided by expert commentary throughout the 50 minute trip, the River Explorer Cruise offers stunning views of the city’s famous skyline. As you relax and take in the views, you’ll be captivated as the rich and fascinating history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site unfolds before you. Book online (and save) at www.merseyferries.co.uk.
Enjoy a pit stop at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms
Fancy a pint? Make a pit stop at The Philarmonic Dining Rooms. Lovingly referred to by locals as ‘The Phil’, this art-deco drinking den was a favourite haunt of John Lennon before The Beatles hit the big time. The music legend once famously complained that the price of fame was “not being able to have a pint in The Phil”. John’s complaints are justified for The Phil is the kind of place you wished you lived around the corner from. Bartenders call out to you like they know you, and it’s easy to get drawn into conversation here with everybody wanting to know what you’re up-to that day.
Dance your socks off at Cavern Club
No self respecting music lover can come to Liverpool and not spend at least one evening at the Cavern Club. Originally opened by Alan Synter as a jazz club back in 1957, The Beatles made their debut here on 9 February 1961 and played nearly 300 times at the club. The original Beatles may no longer be around, but a rota of top notch tribute acts perform nightly under the world famous club’s burnt brick arches and will ensure that you end the night swaying with strangers to Hey Jude… One caveat: ditch the jeans and dress up. Less is definitely not more in Liverpool. www.cavernclub.org
Hotels shouldn’t just be a place to sleep – important as that is – they should also be part of the travel experience. If you’re looking for style on a shoestring budget, check into the Ibis Styles Liverpool Dale Street Hotel where Beatles vibes prevail. Case in point? The walls in TNT’s spacious room were adorned with lyrics to some of the Fab Four’s legendary songs. All rooms come equipped with complimentary WiFi – not that you’ll be wanting to spend time screen gazing given the property’s enviable locale (the Cavern Quarter is mere minutes away). Complimentary coffee and tea throughout the day and an exquisite breakfast (included in your room rate) are further draws.
Pop fans will want to pay a visit to the northern musical powerhouse if only to visit the new spiritual home of the British Museum Experience which, following a stint in London’s O2, is now based permanently in the Cunard Building on Liverpool’s waterfront. Expect to see exhibits including Noel Gallagher’s Union Jack guitar to David Bowie’s make-up smeared Ziggy Stardust costumes. Then head across the road to check out Tate Liverpool, on Albert Dock, where the excellent Tracey Emin and William Blake in Focus exhibition is running until 3 September 2017.
Give Glastonbury (and its exorbitant prices) a miss this summer and look to Liverpool. The city’s summer festival season kicks off at Clarence Docks with the Liverpool Sound City Festival – the UK’s largest music, digital and film festival. Taking place from the 25-28 May, the four day festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary with shows by acts such as The Human League. www.liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk
Alternatively check out Africa Oye – the UK’s largest celebrations of African music and culture which, this year, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Held at Sefton Park, the free weekend act will welcome the likes of Dizzy Mandjeku and The Odemba OK Allstate. 17-18 June; www.africaoye.com
Last, but by no means least, look to LIM Festival (www.limfestival.com). The annual Liverpool International Music Festival will take place in Sefton Park the weekend of 20-23 July and see Corinne Bailey Rae, Naughty Boy, the Liverpool Philarmonic Orchestra plus local boys done good, Cast, take to the stage.