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

Toria Garbutt
Literature Until 17 February 2022, from £10

Spoken Word at the Mansion House

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.

River of Light Festival – Liverpool
Activity Until 7 November 2021, FREE

River of Light Festival – Liverpool

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.

Lucy McKenzie at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 27 February 2022, from £9

Lucy McKenzie at Tate Liverpool

Spanning post-war muralism, fashion, music subcultures, gender politics and more, Lucy McKenzie’s first UK retrospective is not to be missed.

Emily Speed: Flatland at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 2 January 2022, FREE

Emily Speed: Flatland at Tate Liverpool

Emily Speed’s new film uses set design, choreography and costume to depict flattened hierarchies and close-knit community structures.

Visual Arts Until 1 December 2022, from £20

Graffiti at Zap Graffiti

Liverpool’s Zap Graffiti teaches all the basic skills and techniques you need to make a street-style creation you’ll be proud of.

POSTPONED – AI: More than Human at World Museum Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 31 October 2021, from £5

AI: More than Human at World Museum Liverpool

Barbican’s major exhibition, AI: More than Human, comes to Liverpool, offering a tantlising look into the future.

Lucian Freud: Real Lives at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 16 January 2022, from £5

Lucian Freud: Real Lives at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents the first major display of portraits by Lucian Freud in the North West in over 30 years.

Deborah Roberts: A Look Inside at the Bluecoat, Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 23 January 2022, FREE

Deborah Roberts: A Look Inside at the Bluecoat, Liverpool

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: Practice Makes Perfect at the Bluecoat in Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 23 January 2022, FREE

Rosa-Johan Uddoh: Practice Makes Perfect at the Bluecoat in Liverpool

Rosa-Johan Uddoh’s exhibition ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ at the Bluecoat responds to the lack of Black British history taught in schools.

Sickert: A Life in Art at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
Exhibitions Until 27 February 2022, from £5

Sickert: A Life in Art at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery presents a major retrospective exhibition exploring the life of Walter Richard Sickert and his contribution to British art.

Places to go / stay / shop / eat / drink

Liverpool District Guides

Lark Lane, Liverpool

A little way out of Liverpool City Centre, and a short and leafy walk from…

Art galleries in Liverpool

William Brown Street, Liverpool

As city centre districts go, this one is relatively small: a cluster of buildings along…

The ship in Liverpool Sound City

Waterfront, Liverpool

The waterfront, which takes in the Albert Dock and the Pier Head, is an integral…

Ropewalks and Chinatown, Liverpool

The Ropewalks is a part of Liverpool that combines old and new. Once crowded with…

Hope Street, Liverpool

One of Liverpool’s most graceful quarters can be found along Hope Street. Named after the…

City Centre, Liverpool

Here’s the thing. Liverpool dates back to the 13th century but, in the city centre,…