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

Survey at Bluecoat, Liverpool
Exhibitions 13 April–23 June 2019, FREE

Survey at Bluecoat, Liverpool

Survey at Bluecoat will offer a major study of new work by early career artists from across the UK. The exhibition is the largest review of contemporary art practice in Jerwood Visual Art’s 12 years of programming, spanning a breadth of disciplines including film, performance, and painting.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: making the Glasgow Style at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
Exhibitions 15 March–26 August 2019, from £2

Charles Rennie Mackintosh: making the Glasgow Style at Walker Art Gallery

Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool present one of the blockbuster exhibitions of 2019, dedicated to the life and work of the Glaswegian artist, architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh – father of the UK’s part in the international Art Nouveau movement.

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT, Liverpool
Exhibitions 29 March–16 June 2019, FREE

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT

A duo-exhibition of work by the eminent American filmmaker Ericka Beckman and rising London-based video artist Marianna Simnett marks a strong start to FACT’s year-long season focusing on identity, representation and gender.

Capturing Chambré Hardman – Developing History at the Hardmans' House, Liverpool
Exhibitions 13 March–26 October 2019, FREE

Developing History at the Hardmans’ House

As one of Liverpool’s lesser known gems prepares to reopen its doors for 2019, we look forward to encountering a rare series of photographs only recently discovered by chance in the cluttered darkroom of the Hardmans’ former, perfectly-preserved home.

CBBC Summer Social
Families 3–4 August 2019, from £25

BBC Summer Social at Croxteth Hall and Country Park

Two days of music, live performance and creative and sporting prowess in beautiful, historic parkland.

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.

User Not Found at LEAF
Theatre 22–23 April 2019, from £15.00

Unity Theatre Presents: User Not Found at LEAF

You’ll be handed a smartphone and a pair of headphones to become a fly on the wall during this innovative performance about our digital lives after we die.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Exhibitions 1 February–6 May 2019, FREE

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing at Walker Art Gallery

‘Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing’ at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool explores the diversity of subjects that inspired the Renaisance master’s creativity across 12 drawings, from botanical and anatomical studies to the design of theatrical costumes, hairstyles and ferry-boat plans. 

Sol Calero at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions 14 June–10 November 2019, FREE

Sol Calero at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool presents a new commission by Venezuelan-born, Berlin-based artist Sol Calero, whose brightly coloured, large-scale immersive installations offer a sharply satirical critique of the surreal set of stereotypes and clichés attached to different cultures.

EXPLORERS – Project Art Works at Tate Liverpool
Exhibitions 4–28 April 2019, FREE

EXPLORERS – Project Art Works at Tate Liverpool

Tate Liverpool is collaborating with Project Art Works, the UK’s leading, artist-led organisation working with neuro-diversity, an approach to learning and disability that embraces neurological uniqueness.

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