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A Cultural Guide to Liverpool

Image credit: Conor Samuel via Unsplash

Despite tumultuous periods, and a down-at-heel reputation, in recent years Liverpool has transformed to become one of the country’s most exciting cities. A UNESCO world heritage site, and the birthplace of the Beatles, the city also boasts an impressive cultural heritage and thriving arts, music and dining scene. We head north to bring you the best of the gritty and witty city.

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Arts & Culture

Outside of London, Liverpool is home to the largest collection of museums and galleries in the UK. Explore the thriving art scene and head to the Liverpool Empire Theatre. The second largest theatre in the country, Empire showcases the best local, national and international productions, with many shows direct from London’s West End.

The Museum of Liverpool is another must visit. Opened in 2011, the magnificent waterfront museum boasts immersive and interactive exhibitions showcasing the city’s cultural and historic milestones. Highlights include the 360º immersive films about Liverpool and Everton FC and The Beatles.

Alternatively, book a ticket at the Everyman theatre, which launched the careers of Bill Nighy, Julie Walters, Pete Postlethwaite and Antony Sher. The setting is terrific (Everyman was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2014 for architecture after a £27m refurbishment) and with a brilliant line-up of creative, forward-thinking plays showcasing the country’s best talent, you’re guaranteed a night of excellent theatre.
 
Of course, no visit to Liverpool would be complete without visiting The Beatles Story. The hometown of the Fab Four, it is only natural that Liverpool is also the site of the world’s largest permanent exhibition dedicated to The Beatles. The award-winning museum takes visitors on an immersive journey, presenting a unique snapshot of the lives, times, culture and music of one of the biggest and most influential bands in history.

Sport

There is simply no doubt about it. When in Liverpool, the sport of choice is football. Indeed, football is more than just a game, it’s a religion. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the city is home to two of the country’s most historic football clubs - Everton and Liverpool FC. Famously, the clubs have maintained a fierce rivalry - as former Liverpool footballer Emlyn Hughes declared, "Liverpool are magic. Everton are tragic" - which culminates each year in the Merseyside derby. If attending a football match doesn’t take your fancy, the region is also home to England’s Golf Coast, a spectacular stretch of championship golf that has hosted numerous Open Championships and Ryder Cups.


Food & Drink

While Liverpool is brimming with a diverse range of terrific cafes and restaurants, when in the northern city one must try the most famous local dish - scouse. A thick stew of Liverpudlian lamb, similar to a Lancashire hotpot, the popularity of scouse spawned a nickname for the locals and dialect. Try one of the best in the city at family-run Maggie Mays.

In the UK you are never too far from a full English breakfast, and thankfully Liverpool is no exception. So start your day properly, or cure a serious hangover, with a delicious offering at local favourite Tavern Co. The restaurant’s take - which includes two specialist sausages made from the owner’s own recipe, and fresh locally baked bread - has been awarded “Best Breakfast in the UK” two years in a row. Better yet, every breakfast is served with bottomless tea or coffee.
 
Another standout is the much-loved Maray. Named after the bohemian Parisian district ‘La Marais’, the restaurant serves eclectic small plates inspired by Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, all of which are designed to be shared. With an equally impressive cocktail menu, and an atmosphere reminiscent of both European and New York bars, Maray has become one of the city’s hottest dining destinations. Top tip: Order a side of the Hummus and Green Chilli Fries.

For a special occasion, make a reservation at Panoramic 34, one of the UK's highest restaurants. Located on the 34th floor of the Wester Tower skyscraper, the fine-dining restaurant boasts stunning 360° views of Liverpool’s magnificent skyline, the River Mersey and the hills of north Wales. The continually evolving menu features exquisite contemporary European cuisine which, paired with the stunning surrounds, make for a truly breathtaking dining experience.


Nightlife

Order a cocktail (or two) at prohibition themed bar Berry and Rye. Hidden behind an empty shop front, the bar is genuinely difficult to find and clearly takes the prohibition theme very seriously - drinks menus are even hidden away in bibles. With dim lights, candles flickering in old wine bottles, an extensive whisky collection and table service, the bar has skillfully recreated the atmosphere of a 1930s speakeasy. Step back in time and sip on a fantastic cocktail (the bar serves an unbeatable Old Fashioned), while listening to a soundtrack of blues and jazz from Berry and Rye's resident pianist.
 
However, no visit would be complete without a visit to Liverpool institution Cavern Club, which this year marks its 60th anniversary. The Beatles first performed on the Club's stage in the early 1960s, and it remains one of the city’s top music venues. The Club, packed with 1960s memorabilia, hosts a variety of live music in their brick-vaulted cellars, where you will find soloists and tribute acts playing anything from 1950s jazz to 21st Century indie rock.


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