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Did You Know…?
- The Beatles first performed together at a local horticultural society dance (1962).
- The world’s oldest intercity railway linked Liverpool and Manchester in 1830.
- The local Birkenhead Park influenced Frederick Law Olmstead’s designs for New York’s Central Park.
- The warship Shenandoah surrendered in Liverpool in late 1865, the last Confederate surrender of the U.S. Civil War.
- About 9 million Europeans left Liverpool for the New World (1830 to 1930).
Beatledom and more
Liverpool’s name is most closely associated with its famous sons, the four singers who rocketed to fame as the Beatles. There are several Beatles-related attractions in the city, and Liverpool leans on them as one way to lure tourists to town.
This works well for visitors, too. They do their part, taking guided tours, seeing relevant museums or exhibits and visiting places where one or more of the Fab Four lived or worked. Some even stay in a themed hotel called Hard Day’s Night.
But the city has more to offer based on its location and history. It sits on the River Mersey where the river meets the Irish Sea in the west of England, and it was Britain’s major port in the days of the empire. Millions of Europeans left for North America, Australia and New Zealand from Liverpool. Countless others were considered cargo — the African slaves who passed through en route to the New World.
That background is fodder for museums devoted to the city’s maritime heyday and to the emigrants and slaves who were part of life’s pageant here. The city promotes more than a dozen heritage trails, some with themes related to these topics.
In addition, six areas in Liverpool’s historic center and its dock area comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognizing the city as one of the world’s major trading centers in the 18th and 19th centuries. UNESCO also says the city was a pioneer in the development of modern dock technology. A thoughtful city tour includes some part of the historic site.
Further, Liverpool is a city of many faces — in the movies, it stands in for cities as far flung as Chicago and Moscow.
Yes, it’s worth taking a good look at the place. But, for those who want a larger quotient of physical activity, options include cycling, sailing and other water-based fun on the river and even an outdoor activity center with choices meant to get the adrenaline flowing.
Finally, visitors may mix it up still more by attending soccer or other sports events and by heading to the clubs for lively nighttime entertainment.
Things to do for Venturers
- See Liverpool’s Waterfront Heritage Site by following the sightseeing trail for cyclists.
- Liverpool is known for its lively nightlife. Devote an evening (or more) to making the rounds of pubs, as well as the clubs to see the comedy shows popular here or for dancing. Include the Cavern Club, where the Beatles played when they were starting out.
- Compete in the Rock ’n’ Roll Liverpool Marathon or the companion half marathon in the spring.
- Head to Queen’s Dock on the Mersey for waterskiing or sailing.
- Choose an activity at Active Adventures Liverpool. Options include a high ropes course, the climbing and abseiling wall, a military-style obstacle course and the Powerfan, described as a cross between a bungee jump and a parachute jump. The facility also offers options suitable for the adventurous family.
- Attend a soccer game. Liverpudlians are mad for the sport, which they call football.
Things to do for Centrics
- Slaves sailed to the New World from Liverpool. Today, you can learn more about this on self-guided slavery routes in the city, or join a guided tour.
- Go to the horseraces. There are a couple of handy choices, Aintree Racecourse, as well as Haydock Park in nearby St Helens.
- Be entertained on guided ghost tours, or maybe make that an evening devoted to one of the city’s ale trails.
- If an enthusiastic Beatles fan, stay at the themed hotel called the Hard Day’s Night. Get married at the hotel.
- Take the Tower and Audio Tour at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and from the top of the tower, see across the Mersey River to Wales. Or, time your visit for one of the seasonal Thursday evening tower tours at twilight, timed for watching the city’s lights come on. Also, see the nearby and decidedly unconventional Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.
- Seek out the city’s World War II-related sites such as the Church of St. Luke, bombed to ruins and preserved as is. In another example, take Mersey Ferries to the U-boat Story, an interactive exhibit that reveals much about life aboard a German U-boat during the war.
Things to do for Authentics
- Book a VIP behind-the-scenes tour focused on the Liverpool Football Club, which includes lunch in an executive box at Anfield Stadium and a tour of the facility — also a meeting with a former member of the team.
- Follow the self-guided tourist route highlighting sites associated with the Beatles, or join a motorcoach tour for the same purpose.
- Make a West African mask, or participate in one of several other hands-on workshops at the International Slavery Museum.
- Get serious about Liverpool’s seafaring past at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, with its exhibits that, among other things, highlight the city’s key role as a gateway to the New World, whether for slaves or free men. Features include the Emigrants to a New World gallery.
- Buy tickets to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
- Allot time to the Beatles Story in Albert Dock, a museum-cum-visitor attraction devoted to — as the name makes clear — the story of four hometown boys who made good in a big way.
For more information, consult Visit Liverpool at www.visitliverpool.com