southport guide
Photo by Ronald Saunders from flickr

Southport

Creative Tourist

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.

Discover our top picks

Fernand Léger: New Times, New Pleasures at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions 23 November 2018–17 March 2019, from £10.50

Fernand Léger: New Times, New Pleasures at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents the first major UK exhibition in 30 years of renowned modern artist Fernand Léger’s work, exploring how the iconic French painter, sculptor and filmmaker redefined the value of art to 20th century society.

Everyman Rock 'n' Roll panto The Snow Queen
Families 24 November 2018–19 January 2019, from £15.00

Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto: The Snow Queen at Liverpool Everyman

The Everyman’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is as much of a festive tradition as matching Christmas jumpers and a trip to Father Christmas’ grotto.

Serena Korda: The Bell Tree at Speke Hall
Exhibitions 8 September 2018–28 July 2019, FREE

Serena Korda: The Bell Tree at Speke Hall

The Bell Tree by award winning contemporary artist Serena Korda responds to England’s alternative history of fairy-tale folklore, the ancient forest at Speke Hall and the legacy of hidden rebellion that surrounds the historic Tudor home.

Exhibitions 19 October 2018–3 March 2019, FREE

Quentin Blake and John Yeoman: 50 Years of Children’s Books at Lady Lever Art Gallery

Bookworms rejoice! The first exhibition to celebrate illustrator Quentin Blake’s decades-long partnership with author and childhood friend John Yeoman promises literary larks and crazy characters for all.

Leo Fitzmaurice: Between You and Me and Everything Else
Exhibitions 29 September 2018–17 March 2019, FREE

Leo Fitzmaurice: Between You and Me and Everything Else at Walker Art Gallery

Curated by Newport-born artist Leo Fitzmaurice, ‘Between You and Me Everything Else’ at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool is an invitation to approach the age-old genre of portraiture through fresh, curious eyes.

Everyman & Playhouse Autumn Season
Theatre 25 September 2018–12 January 2019,

Everyman & Playhouse Autumn Season

Following the announcement of The Lovely Bones, Spymonkey’s A Christmas Carol and the Rock ‘n’ Roll panto The Snow Queen earlier this year, Liverpool’s Everyman & Playhouse has revealed its full programme for Autumn Winter 2018.

Families 15 December 2018, FREE

The Grumpy Snowman (and other seasonal tales) at Bluecoat

Visit Bluecoat’s immersive pop-up space for Christmas tales from Gav Cross.

Spymonkey A Christmas Carol
Comedy 8 December 2018–12 January 2019, from £10.00

Spymonkey’s A Christmas Carol at Liverpool Playhouse

Put on your best Victorian bib-and-tucker as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future whisk you on a brilliantly funny flight of theatrical fancy in Spymonkey’s A Christmas Carol.

Exhibitions 26 September 2018–29 March 2019, FREE

Stability and Survival at Speke Hall

This autumn, learn about the inspiring life of Miss Adelaide Watt – an independent and powerful Victorian woman who fought the forces of modernity to preserve Speke Hall and all its treasures for generations to come.

Broken Symmetries at FACT in Liverpool
Exhibitions 23 November 2018–3 March 2019, FREE

Broken Symmetries at FACT

A new international exhibition premiering at FACT in Liverpool, Broken Symmetries brings together artists who aim to understand and question the physical world by navigating the shifting realities of modern science.

Broken Symmetries encompasses a wide-range of artistic approaches: reflecting the diverse ways in which scientists and artists are collaborating in both tackling and communicating some of the most elaborate concepts of modern physics.

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink

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Things to do right now

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Serena Korda: The Bell Tree at Speke Hall
Exhibitions 8 September 2018–28 July 2019, FREE

Serena Korda: The Bell Tree at Speke Hall

Everyman Rock 'n' Roll panto The Snow Queen
Families 24 November 2018–19 January 2019, from £15.00

Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto: The Snow Queen at Liverpool Everyman

Everyman & Playhouse Autumn Season
Theatre 25 September 2018–12 January 2019,

Everyman & Playhouse Autumn Season

ARTIST ROOMS: Alex Katz at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions 23 November 2018–17 March 2019, FREE

ARTIST ROOMS: Alex Katz at Tate Liverpool

Families 10 November 2018–6 January 2019, from £6

Liverpool Christmas Ice Festival