Liverpool exploded into life in the 18th century, rapidly turning from a small town into one of the world’s most important port cities. For 200 years, it eclipsed most of Europe in the trading stakes – nationally and internationally – Liverpool was where it was at.
What does that mean for the visitor today? You’ve only to look up: a skyline that’s part of a World Heritage Site, a waterfront that never fails to impress, and Georgian streets that are as graceful as they are grand. It is these architectural cheekbones that, along with the grand sweep of the River Mersey, make Liverpool such a visual treat. Sure, the city was for years on its uppers, its post-industrial decline as swift as it was comprehensive. But Liverpool has reinvented itself, as the UK Capital of Culture in 2008, as the home of the leading visual arts event Liverpool Biennial, as the place where artists make work and where a new, creative future is being written.
Step straight out of Lime Street Station and you’ll find yourself in the middle of the bustling St George’s Quarter. Together with the World Museum, is the Walker Art Gallery, housing a collection of historic and contemporary art. The Liverpool Empire, Royal Court and the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre are close by too. With two stunning cathedrals that sit on either side of Hope Street in the Georgian Quarter, the arrea is also home to the Everyman Theatre and some of the finest restaurants and bars in the city: The London Carriage Works, Pen Factory and the architecturally marvellous Philharmonic Dining Rooms are among our favourites.
Head to Liverpool Waterfront for a world-class visual arts offering alongside important historic exhibitions. Aside from an abundance of independent shops and eateries, the Dock is home to Tate Liverpool and its collection of contemporary art and changing exhibitions; the Merseyside Maritime Museum exploring Liverpool’s long nautical heritage and the uniquely important International Slavery Museum, examining Liverpool’s part in the Transatlantic slave trade.
Like the Liver Birds sitting atop the city’s most famous building, one turned to the sea, one turned to home, Liverpool is a city with a world view, yet a place with a personal, personable one too.
The Reader’s Spoken Word evenings at the Mansion House in south Liverpool’s Calderstones Park are back inside, with a packed line-up running into the New Year.
Bringing together 11 stunning audio and visual installations, the River of Light trail will mark the first anniversary of the start of lockdown, symbolising light and renewal for the city.
Spanning post-war muralism, fashion, music subcultures, gender politics and more, Lucy McKenzie’s first UK retrospective is not to be missed.
Emily Speed’s new film uses set design, choreography and costume to depict flattened hierarchies and close-knit community structures.
Liverpool’s Zap Graffiti teaches all the basic skills and techniques you need to make a street-style creation you’ll be proud of.
Barbican’s major exhibition, AI: More than Human, comes to Liverpool, offering a tantlising look into the future.
Tate Liverpool presents the first major display of portraits by Lucian Freud in the North West in over 30 years.
The first major UK solo exhibition of work by award-winning artist Deborah Roberts challenges notions of the body, beauty, race and identity.
Rosa-Johan Uddoh’s exhibition ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ at the Bluecoat responds to the lack of Black British history taught in schools.
Walker Art Gallery presents a major retrospective exhibition exploring the life of Walter Richard Sickert and his contribution to British art.