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.
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)
A tour of five-times European champions Liverpool FC includes a visit to the players' dressing rooms, a seat in manager Jurgen Klopp's dugout, and a touch of the famous This Is Anfield sign, which has chilled visiting teams' hearts down the years (stadiumtours.liverpoolfc.com).
If you're in town and into the Beatles, the Magical Mystery tour (a non-stop nostalgia-fest) is unlikely to disappoint. Stops along the way include the place where Lennon first met McCartney. £16.95 per ticket, tours daily at 11.30am and 2pm. For more information visit cavernclub.org.
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.
An enthralling celebration of Arab culture at venues across the city includes film, dance, music, art, literature, debate and more, and culminates in a family day amid the Victorian splendour of Sefton Park's Palm House. Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, 15-24 July, arabartsfestival.com
An exhibition showcasing one of Britain's greatest modern painters, Francis Bacon, features some of his most powerful creations. Large-scale paintings use the ghostly framing device used in many of Bacon's iconic paintings (until September 18, www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-liverpool).
A major exhibition, in northern England's Victorian art capital, showcases more than 120 paintings by leading Pre-Raphaelite artists including Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Beauty and Rebellion, Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street. Until June 5).
Check out An Imagined Museum, with major artworks by Marcel Duchamp, Bridget Riley, Andy Warhol and others on show until 14 February. If you've missed it, don't worry - see all 60 artworks disappear amid multi-art form live performances on 20 and 21 February. The Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, tate.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.
Outside London, Liverpool has the most protected historic buildings in the UK and Castle Street. The architecture is both diverse and diverting, while sundry restaurants clamour for your custom.
Enjoy light projections, street performance, exhibitions, walks, a science demonstration, dance workshop and more as venues across the city stay open until the early hours for LightNight, the annual, one-night arts and culture festival on May 13.
Home to the city's best known landmark, the Liver Building, and the ultra modern Museum of Liverpool, the Pier Head is also a good starting point for a waterfront walk and the place to catch the boat made famous by Sixties pop hit Ferry Cross the Mersey.
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/).
On a day out in the ancient city of Chester, 40 minutes by car, you can visit the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, browse the unique medieval two-tier galleried shopping rows, and take a cruise up the picturesque River Dee.
Attractions at Blue Planet Aquarium include a 70-metre underwater moving walkway allowing close encounters with Europe's biggest shark collection. If that's not thrilling enough, take a scuba dive right in among them (Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port).
Get in the festive spirit with a glass of mulled wine and a wander through the Manchester Christmas Markets, a truly international event with a Mancunian flavour. For more information visit manchester.gov.uk/info/500241/christmas_markets.