Southport is a large seaside town in the county of Merseyside, which also takes in Formby, West Kirby and Liverpool. Formerly known for genteel ladies of a certain age and crust-less afternoon teas, Southport is subtly and gradually changing from crumbling grandeur and kitsch amusements to an attractive town with a focus on the arts. Take The Atkinson: this determinedly innovative, Grade II-listed arts centre offers a theatre, galleries, museum, deli and an artisan bakery.
There’s also the Waterfront Arts project and excellent architecture, including the wonderful, cathedral-like fernery at the Botanic Gardens and the Belle Epoque colonnades of Lord Street. Legend has it that the graceful boulevards of central Paris were modelled on Southport, after Napoleon spent two years in exile here. Southport does, of course, boast “Britain’s longest overland pier”, a listed structure with its own tramline to carry visitors over a mile between Southport promenade and the pier head.
There’s also Southport Market, a number of good places to eat (if you know where to look) and the Southport Model Railway Village – a pretty unique experience, and yours for only £4.50 entry. Finally, let’s not forget the British Lawnmower Museum, a short walk from the town and everything a specialist museum should be: earnest, interesting and incredibly eccentric.
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.