How to have a rocking time in Liverpool
As the UNESCO City of Music celebrates the Eurovision Song Contest, here’s why it is anything but nil points
As Liverpool hosts the Eurovision Song Contest this week, I took a cheeky trip up to the UNESCO City of Music to see what it is all about.
The last time I visited Liverpool was around 30 years ago and for some reason I haven’t been back since. This was a mistake, as in the meantime, both of us have changed – one has aged really well and the other… well, I’ve aged, anyway.
Liverpool however, has well and truly got its groove back and the proud city is full of life, music and laughter. Here’s why it makes for a great weekend:
It is full of music
The home of the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla, Elvis Costello, The Lightning Seeds and many more, the thing that struck me was how much live music was everywhere – bands playing in pubs, buskers, even a bingo rave. There’s a Beatles statue on the riverside, as well as The Beatles Story exhibition. It’s a fun immersive museum taking you through the band’s road to fame. The Cavern Club is still going, down a very loud alleyway in the city centre. You can also visit John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes, on a tour with the National Trust.
It is full of museums
Liverpool has more museums than any other UK city outside of London, so you need a few days if you want to see them. I visited the Tate, in Albert Dock and wandered round the modern art exhibits. Nearby is the Maritime Museum and The Museum of Liverpool and there’s Western Approaches Museum, in the city, telling Liverpool’s role in the war. There’s also The History Whisperer experience, which takes you through the old law courts in the astonishingly-grand St George’s Hall. And special mention goes to the glorious Picton Reading Room, one of the most beautiful libraries you will ever see. To honour Eurovision, I visited the British Music Experience. Dedicated to popular music through the ages, it’s a treasure trove of rock and pop memorabilia, from rock and roll to punk and Britpop.
It’s great to walk around
One of the best ways to get to know a city in a short time is by taking a walking tour and I joined Liverpool Famous Walking Tours, with guide Pam. She entertained me with stories of storytellers who lived and loved Liverpool, including Charles Dickens and Herman Melville. We toured RopeWalks (where they made ropes for ships in its straight, narrow streets) and the old sailors’ town, with its murky history. It was once a thriving port and between 1830 and 1930, nine million emigrants sailed from Liverpool for a new life elsewhere. Now its former grand buildings – shipping line HQs and banks - are coffee shops and museums, topped with its famous Liver bird.
I was only there for a couple of days, but had a great time – or as I kept being wished, a “boss time”. It won’t be another 30 years before I’m back.
How to get there: Liverpool is two and a half hours by train from London Euston, or around 45 minutes from Manchester. Visit nationalrail.co.uk
Where to eat: You have every kind of cuisine to choose from in Liverpool, from street food to gourmet. I enjoyed dinner at Lu Ban restaurant, in the redeveloped Cains Brewery. It’s an Anglo-Chinese restaurant with beautifully-presented dishes, including the most indulgent peanut butter chocolate dome I have ever eaten.
Where to stay: I stayed at INNSiDE by Melia, a four-star hotel in the city centre and a short walk from Albert Dock. It’s central and the room was comfortable and good value. Rooms start at around £100. Visit melia.com
For more information: Head to visitliverpool.com
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