1. The Waterfront
From the moment you see it, there’s just something about it. Liverpool’s Waterfront is the city’s calling card, with the spectacular Three Graces (the Royal Liver Building is home to the famous Liver birds) brushing against modern architecture at the Museum of Liverpool and the grade-listed red brick of Albert Dock. It’s the view that welcomes cruise passengers and is the most sought-after photo for tourists – particularly from the Mersey Ferry, recently dazzled by Sir Peter Blake.
But it’s much more than just a pretty face; the Waterfront is home to three national museums, the home of modern art in the north at Tate Liverpool, galleries, one of Europe’s best arenas and convention centres and much more.
2. It’s green
One aspect of Liverpool which surprises a lot of people is its greenery. The city alone has 43 parks and outdoor play areas, with very different characteristics.
Sefton Park is the largest in the city, with 235 acres of green space and jewels such as the majestic Palm House. The park is popular with runners, dog walkers, swan feeders and skaters alike. It comes into its own when hosting large-scale events which it seems the whole city turns up to, like Africa Oye or Liverpool International Music Festival.
North of the city there is Stanley Park, most famous for separating a certain couple of football clubs but also known locally for its lakes, flower beds and Isla Gladstone Conservatory.
3. Visual arts
Where to start? Tate Liverpool is the home of modern art in the North with its internationally-acclaimed programme of exhibitions sitting alongside the impressive collections, the next of which is An Imagined Museum.
Across town is FACT, where ground-breaking exhibitions look at technology, art and our own near futures. You could begin at the beautiful Walker Art Gallery or The Bluecoat, the oldest building in the city centre which will shortly celebrate 300 years.
For photography fans, there is Open Eye Gallery on the Waterfront which has international exhibitions throughout the year. And bringing all of these together is Liverpool Biennial, the UK’s contemporary arts festival, which will run from 9th July – 16th October 2016. As well as the festival, Liverpool Biennial has commissioned various pieces of public works around the city, bringing art out of galleries and into everyday life.
However it’s not all about visual art. Liverpool is a very dramatic city full of storytelling, as manifested in the variety of theatres. The Everyman re-opened in 2014, and promptly won the RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building, alongside critical acclaim for its productions.
The Playhouse, Royal Court and Empire are all wonderful buildings in the St. George’s Quarter of the city which, between them, play host to everything from musicals to drama and comedies to concerts. For one-off pieces, have a look at Unity or Lantern theatres, or some of the student productions from University of Liverpool and LIPA.
You’re never sure what it’s going to be next; a giant spider crawling around the docks, a 30ft-tall ‘little’ girl and her dog looking for a lost relative; or Cunard’s Three Queens meeting on the Mersey in a one-off spectacular salute.
Add this to the annual festivals like Sound City, LIMF and Homotopia and you understand why there’s no such thing as a quiet week here.
6. The architecture
UNESCO declared six locations across the city a World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why. We’ve already mentioned the Waterfront, but other areas like William Brown Street – home to St. George’s Hall, one of the finest neo-classical buildings in Europe – Hope Street, with its two cathedrals and Philharmonic Hall and the fine style of the commercial district mean that you’ll always see something new if you look up from the street.
As you may be aware, Liverpool has something of a reputation for nightlife. So much so that back in July, Rough Guides declared going on a night out in Liverpool as #3 on their worldwide bucket list, squeezed in between going to the Grand Canyon and walking the Great Wall of China. It’s fair enough assessment; whether you’re looking for pubs with as many dogs as cask ale pumps, one-off warehouse parties, bars where you can still order a cocktail at 7am on a Tuesday or superclubs (ideally it’d be a mix of all four), we’ve got what you’re after.
8. It’s not just the city
From a starting point in the city centre, get a train for fifteen minutes and you’ll be on the beach at Crosby. As well as sandcastle builders and beach strollers, you’ll see 100 iron men looking wistfully out to sea. This is Another Place, Antony Gormley’s stunning atmospheric piece which was another one of those Biennial collaborations.
We’re not sure why you’d want to leave, but we accept that you may have to from time to time. When you do, you’re in a good position. Make the most of our fellow grand northern cities like Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, all of which are easily accessible by road or rail. Take the train to London in two hours, drive up to the magnificent Lake District in even less time, or fly across Europe from Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
10. The people
OK, so we may be a bit biased with this one, but the people of Liverpool – both native and adopted – have a reputation for humour, being welcoming and talking (a lot) and are what make the city. Without them, it would just be some (admittedly very nice) buildings. With them, it’s Liverpool.
116 Duke Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 5JW / 0151 709 9638
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