Although many visitors to the UK flock to the capital to get their culture fix, the North of England has a charm all of its own. Liverpool is home to numerous galleries and museums, as well as staggering architecture, a rich food culture and plenty of musical history – why wouldn’t you visit? Here are some of the most important sights to see on your next trip to this cultural gem.
Get Lost in Art at the Liverpool Biennial
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Many people would assume that London is home to the largest contemporary art festival in the UK, but they’d be wrong – Liverpool is! Each July, the city transforms into an art gallery for fourteen whole weeks to celebrate the Liverpool Biennial. This festival has been taking place since 1998 and continues to grow each year, with almost 300 works of art having been commissioned especially to mark the occasion.
One of the main exhibition spaces for the festival is the Tate Liverpool, which is in and of itself one of the most fantastic galleries in the country. Turner prize nominees frequently exhibit at the Biennial, with this year’s artists including Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and Betty Woodman. Both of these artists will be creating large scale artworks as commissioned by the city, which will likely be exhibited in unusual locations. This arts festival is renowned for making use of atypical art exhibition spaces such as car parks, hotels, pubs, and warehouses.
Liverpool has a long history of celebrating arts & culture, even being awarded the status of European Capital of Culture back in 2008. Drawing on this history, artists have been invited to exhibit works that reference Liverpool’s past, present, and future for the exhibition this year. If you’re visiting over the summer then the Biennial really should be an essential part of your visit – and best of all, it’s free!
Mix with High Society at Aintree
Just outside of Liverpool is a picturesque racecourse called Aintree, which just so happens to be home to one of the most famous horse races in the world: The Grand National.
Now, if you are visiting too early for the Biennial, then fear not. Those who are lucky enough to be visiting in early April will be able to see horses and jockeys tackle famous fences such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair, as they race to see who will lift the trophy for the year.
If you fancy making your day a little more exciting, then consider studying some tips for the race and placing a little bet. Whether your bet comes in or not, it’s always exciting to cheer the winning horse and rider past the post.
Dressing for the occasion is always part of the fun of attending a race day, Grand National day or not. Liverpudlian ladies enjoy nothing more than getting dolled up for the day, so pack your fanciest frock and a fabulous fascinator. Gents can dress up for the occasion too with a slick suit, or a smart shirt and jeans.
Explore Albert Dock
Once you’re finished taking in the artworks at the Tate Liverpool, one of Europe’s most beloved museums, you should take a moment to appreciate its setting. The Albert Dock is arguably Liverpool’s most beautiful attraction. The dock itself is a World Heritage Site and it’s not hard to see why! The buildings here comprise the largest single collection of Grade I listed buildings in the country, owing to their fascinating history.
The dock was designed towards the beginning of the 19th century by Philip Hardwick and Jesse Hartley, who saw their project opened in 1846. The buildings were pioneering feats of architecture for the time, being the first structures in Britain to be built with no structural wood at all, just brick, stone, and cast iron.
The history of the dock is fascinating and best discovered during a visit to one of the multiple museums that call the dock their home. Be sure to arrive early in the day if you want to avoid the crowds though; the dock is the most visited attraction in the United Kingdom (outside of London), being host to some four million visitors each year.
Sample Some Scouse
Scouse is Liverpool’s most famous dish, even being used colloquially as a name for Liverpudlians – Scousers. Naturally then, you’ll want to try some on your visit; but first, what exactly is Scouse? It’s the comfort food you’ve always dreamed of! A meat stew, usually beef or lamb, cooked long and slow with a mixture of root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and beetroots, as well as potatoes, cabbage, and onions. It’s served piping hot, either with crusty bread and butter, or sometimes a pastry lid, depending on where you choose to eat.
Ma Boyle’s Alehouse and Eatery is a great spot to try super traditional Scouse. The dish here is made with slow cooked British beef, and is served with homemade pickled cabbage and hunks of bread and butter. Vegetarians can also try the ‘blind Scouse’, which is the meat free version. Neither dish is delicate or fancy, but on a cold evening, it’s just like getting a warm hug.
Get Engrossed in the Beatles Story
A visit to Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s childhood homes is almost as good as meeting the band.
Once you’ve warmed up and filled up with that delicious dish, you’ll no doubt be wondering how you made it this far through your sightseeing without visiting anything to do with The Beatles. Probably the most famous thing to ever come out of Liverpool, The Beatles are still remembered and adored today for their contribution to music.
The band of four met in Liverpool and came together to create incredible music during the 50’s and 60’s.
If you’re looking for a true blast from the past, then it’s worth going to visit the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Both of the houses are now owned by the National Trust, and have been kept exactly as they would’ve been during the times when
The Beatles were writing music in them. John Lennon’s house can be found at 251 Menlove Avenue, and Paul McCartney’s at 20 Forthlin Road. Stand in the same spot as one of these two talented popstars and feel the nostalgia wash over you; it’s just magical!