Cheap flights to Liverpool
Impressing people with its stunning and imposing architecture, urban regeneration and lively bars and clubs, Liverpool is once again showing why it is one of England’s most visited cities. The home of The Beatles has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance of late. Liverpool, was not only European Capital of Culture in 2008, but was also awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO four years earlier. The result is an old city that impresses visitors with its grand imposing architecture, fantastic museums and a new modern buzz and pride in its appearance.
This was the second city of the British Empire after all, and walking around Liverpool you get a sense of its historic importance. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries around a harbour that imported cotton and sugar. Liverpool also has the largest museum collection in the UK after London, which includes its own Tate Modern and the World Museum. The city centre is one bustling with trendy bars, designer and boutique stores, cinemas, state of the art offices, and stunning, modern apartment blocks.
It's one event guaranteed to leave you in good spirits: a festival showcasing 100 of the world's finest hard liquors. From Macallan single malt whisky, beloved of collectors, to Del Maguey single village mescal, all are available for sampling (Spirits Festival, March 10-11, entry £22, Constellations, 35-39 Greenland Street, L1 OBS).
The DreamWorks Lights Lantern Experience has its first UK showing in stunning St George's Hall, with memorable scenes and over 100 spectacular figures based on three of the film company's biggest box office hits, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. Until 15 January.
A talk by top British novelist Will Self is in November's diary at the the award-winning Foundation for Art and Technology, the UK's leading media arts centre, with three galleries and four cinema screens (FACT, 88 Wood Street, L1 4DQ, fact.co.uk).
There are regular trains to Southport, home to the UK's biggest independent flower show. With over 50,000 visitors, and featuring stunning show gardens, celebrity guests plus a packed programme of entertainment, it's a lovely place to be. 18-21 August, Victoria Park, Southport, southportflowershow.co.uk.
Celebrated English poet John Betjeman called Liverpool Cathedral one of the great buildings of the world. Climb the tower at twilight, enjoy the thoughtful Tracey Emin sculpture, or take in the awe-inspiring interior they call the Great Space. (www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk)
Liverpool Food, Drink and Lifestyle Spring Festival takes place amid the splendour of Sefton Park, with zones dedicated to everything from the body and mind to handcrafted potato vodka, street food and creative living (April 15-16, www.liverpoolfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk).
Edward Burne-Jones' monumental watercolour Sponsa de Libano, at over three metres high, is one of the highlights of Victorian Treasures. 60 outstanding works (some rarely seen) by leading 19th-century classical artists are on show until May 7 at the Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street. www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/
A Day-Glo Richard Branson, billionaire founder of the first civilian space travel company, soaring rockets, psychedelic colours, a flickering backdrop and ecstatic saxophone combine in KAPUT, artist Benedict Drew's dark and thrilling view of space tourism at the Walker Art Gallery (William Brown Street, until February 26).
Activist and comedian Liz Carr's show Assisted Suicide: The Musical, and Grammy-nominated afro-funk duo, Amadou and Mariam are among acts at DaDaFest International, an annual celebration of deaf and disability arts (November 17-December 3, various venues, dadafest.co.uk).
Celebrating the cultural connection between the city and the Emerald Isle, Liverpool Irish Festival showcases the cutting edge in dance, film, music, art and performance (various venues, October 13-23, www.liverpoolirishfestival.com).
Two of Britain's most celebrated artists are at the heart of a free exhibition at the Tate Liverpool this month. Work from both 19th century painter and poet William Blake and Tracey Emin, whose unflinching and controversial My Bed will be a major draw, will be on show. Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, from 16 September.
Alongside the magnficent neo-classical St George's Hall, St John's Gardens are lovingly maintained, partly by volunteers, and provide a rare tree-filled retreat from the hurly burly of the city centre.
Visits to the Blue Planet Aquarium include a face-to-face with a three-metre sand tiger shark in one of the world's longest underwater tunnels and close encounters with some of the planets deadliest snakes and spiders (30-minutes drive, Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port, CH65 9LF, blueplanetaquarium.com)
The Bluecoat contemporary arts centre, housed in the city's centre's oldest building, includes four galleries, a restful garden and regular cultural happenings. November's programme includes a build your own camera workshop, and a monthly space for musicians to improvise together. School Lane, thebluecoat.org.uk.
With circular trails and a network of paths leading to limestone cliffs, dramatic Devil's Gorge and views across a stunning wooded river valley, Loggerheads Country Park is a sanctuary for the stressed (Ruthin Road, tel. 01352 810614).
An antidote to the high street giants, Bold Street is a lovely place to visit. A profusion of proudly independent shops trade in everything from arts and crafts to exotic herbs and spices, classic vintage clothing and specialist books.
Stocking everything from lovely wholemeal and rye sourdough to bags of classic Italian occhio di bue bicuits, the Italian Club Bakery is a tiny, unassuming little place with a big output of fine Italian breads, cakes and pastries. Dinky and delightful. 22 Newington L1 4ED.
You can be in Kendal, home to the famous hikers' mint cake and southern gateway to the Lake District, in a little over an hour and a half. Keep going and be ever more rewarded by the national park's stunning mountains and lakes (www.golakes.co.uk). Photo: Windermere - England's longest lake, courtesy of www.visitcumbria.com.
Get close up to countless varieties of birds, mammals, amphibians and more at Martin Mere wetland centre's family-friendly wildnerness. February includes the deafening spectacle of thousands of birds at feeding time and the annual puddle jumping championship (about 45 minutes' drive, Fish Lane, Burscough, wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/martin-mere/).
Martin Mere wetland centre's family-friendly wilderness is home to thousands of species of birds, mammals, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mini-beasts. Begin May with the annual plastic duck race and end the month watching the real things hatch out during Downy Duckling Week (www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/martin-mere/).