48 Hours in… Liverpool

2018 is an exciting year culturally for Liverpool, as this north-west England city embraces a year-long celebration marking ten years since it was European Capital of Culture 2008. Boasting more museums and galleries than any other UK city outside of the capital, it’s a city that has long enjoyed a world-class reputation for culture, and never more so than musically, as the birthplace of The Beatles. Just two hours by train from London and half an hour from Manchester, Liverpool’s cultural legacy is ever-evolving and, with thrilling events planned for the year ahead, 2018 is a special time to visit.


Time to check in

Liverpool city centre teems with hotels that either embrace a cultural slant or nod to the city’s heritage. Arthouse Hotel encompasses the world of classic cinema, with quirky takes on memorable movie scenes in its rooms; stay in rooms designed as a tribute to films ranging from Grease to The Sound of Music, as well as rooms showcasing how Andy Warhol blended fine art with popular culture. Tributes to the city’s most famous cultural icons can also be found at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, the world’s only Beatles-inspired hotel, whose story is told through specially commissioned art work and memorabilia.

Liverpool’s legacy as a thriving port and industrial giant has also left its mark on its cultural offering and accommodation; stay at the Titanic Hotel, part of the redevelopment of the historic Stanley Dock complex, where each bedroom offers spectacular views over the Port of Liverpool. Back in the city centre, Hope Street Hotel is built within an original warehouse in mid-19th-century style – the Venetian Palazzo – while luxury boutique hotel Nadler Liverpool is set in a restored 1850s industrial building.

There’s also a range of well-known budget hotels in the city, from Ibis to Travelodge, as well as an Easyhotel, located just ten minutes’ walk away from the cultural haven of Albert Dock.




Head down to William Brown Street, in the heart of the city, to the World Museum, a treasure trove of life and earth sciences and human culture worth exploring at any time, but a visit from now until October 2018 means you’ll see the spectacular Terracotta Warriors from the tomb of China’s First Emperor, the first time in more than ten years that they have been brought to Britain. Spanning almost 1,000 years of China’s history, the exhibition will include artefacts dating from 8th century BC to the 2nd century AD.



One of the attractions of Liverpool is how easy it is to travel from one cultural venue to another. You’ll find yourself at the Walker Art Gallery just a couple of minutes’ walk from the World Museum; immerse yourself in sculpture, paintings and decorative art dating from the 13th century to the present day.



Set out on a pleasant 20-minute walk from the gallery, and stop for lunch at one of the many independent eateries in the bohemian RopeWalks district, an area brimming with art, music and culture and home to cultural institutions such as FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). Or stroll on a little further to another of the city’s cultural hotspots, the Georgian Quarter, where The Art School Restaurant is located. Situated in the lantern room of a Victorian building, chef patron Paul Askew has produced tasting and prix fixe menus using seasonal ingredients for omnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans alike.



One of the world’s greatest buildings is arguably Liverpool Cathedral, a breathtaking architectural creation that’s home to the world’s highest and widest Gothic arches, one of the tallest Gothic towers – climb it for sensational panoramic city views – and a sculpture by celebrated contemporary artist Tracey Emin.



Whether your favourite tipple is beer or gin, head to H1780 in the city’s creative and digital quarter – the Baltic Triangle – to sample both; this is a working brewery and distillery producing the prettily named Love Lane beers and The Ginsmiths of Liverpool gins. The bar is soon launching The Ginsmiths Experience, beer tours and gin afternoon teas – be the first to try them!



Head to the heart of cultural Liverpool to Upstairs at the Bluecoat, Liverpool's creative hub that showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. Its restaurant offers fabulous city views, walls adorned with contemporary local art and a menu created with locally sourced produce.



You can’t come to Liverpool and not take in one of its most iconic cultural landmarks for a memorable night out – The Cavern Club. The place where The Beatles started out, it not only showcases their legacy, but also is a hotspot for today’s ace up-and-coming bands.




Head to UNESCO World Heritage site the Albert Dock, home to the outstanding Tate Liverpool, a haven of British and international contemporary and modern art celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Visit before the end of the September to enjoy the works of Gustav Klimt’s radical protégé, Egon Schiele, alongside photography by Francesca Woodman. 

In 2018, the Liverpool Biennial, an internationally renowned festival of contemporary art, returns to the city between 14 July-28 October 2018, this year entitled Beautiful World, Where Are You?. Every two years, the city’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world, making it a must-see on a visit to Liverpool.



The Albert Dock is also home to The Beatles Story, the world's largest permanent exhibition devoted to the Fab Four. This year you’ll also be able to enjoy a special exhibition marking 50 years since The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India.



Feast on delicious fish and chips at the Docklands Fish and Chip Restaurant, while overlooking the city’s waterfront and fabulous skyline. Don’t forget to try that side order of mushy peas!



Just a short train or ferry ride away in Wirral is the charming village of Port Sunlight, once home of Sunlight Soap and the Lever Brothers and a unique cultural feature of Liverpool and its surrounding area. A fun way to get around is by bike – hire them as you arrive and set off to discover differently styled cottages, originally built 130 years ago for the company’s workers,  explore the village via trails and pop into the Village Museum. Leave time to see the Lady Lever Art Gallery, housing the personal collection of fine and decorative art of industrialist and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme.



Described as ‘the most ornate pub in England’ the architecturally stunning Philharmonic Dining Rooms is one of the closest restaurants to Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall and is a great place to grab some traditional British fare – think tasty pies and succulent sausages – before a performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s famed for its elaborately designed, Grade I-listed men’s toilets – women can ask to have a look!



Enjoy the latest plays and musicals? You can catch shows transferred directly from London’s West End at England’s second-largest theatre, the Liverpool Empire, or enjoy comedies and musicals at the city’s Royal Court Theatre. Alternatively, catch thought-provoking works performed at the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, hosting plays such as Othello and A Clockwork Orange.

Six Lake District locations to visit this autumn

Since being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2017, the popularity of the Lake District National Park in north-west England has continued to soar. While the summer is, undoubtedly, a lovely time to visit, savvy travellers will find the Lakes and their towns and villages an equally beautiful destination in the autumn. The scenery is ablaze with colour, the summer crowds have thinned out and there’s plenty to see and do, no matter the weather.

Windermere and Bowness

Right at the heart of the Lake District, the towns of Windermere and Bowness boast picturesque scenery wherever you turn. Catch those bright autumn colours from the water itself and climb aboard Windermere Lake Cruises steamers. This cruise can also take you to the neo-gothic Wray Castle; looming over the shores of Windermere, it’s not your typical castle displaying family heirlooms and portraits… There’s something here for everyone, including the little ones – they’ll love the dressing up, castle building and adventure play area available. For a different class of architecture, head to Blackwell House, a brilliant example of the Arts & Crafts movement from the early 20th century, which retains many of its original features and holds fantastic permanent and visiting exhibitions. 

Children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter was one of the Lakes’ most famous residents and all ages can enjoy the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction – you’ll feel as if you’re stepping into one of her books.



A smart, handsome market town, Kendal is the Lakes’ arts and culture centre and is packed with independent cafés and pubs. Catch a play, exhibition, comedy or music event at the town’s thriving cultural hub, the Brewery Arts Centre or get your fix of art at the hidden gem that is the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, set in the Grade I-listed 18th-century building of Abbot Hall. Alternatively, you can experience a dose of history at Kendal Castle, once the family home ofKatherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Book onto a walking tour to hear more of its dynamic history and admire the excellent views from its hilltop vantage point.

Kendal is also a festival hotspot; in November it welcomes the Kendal Mountain Festival, an award-winning adventure film and speaker festival and a must-visit gathering for outdoor enthusiasts. This September will also see the return of Lakes Alive, which will bring contemporary art, activities and performances to Kendal and the wider Lake District National Park. Also in September is the Kendal Torchlight Carnival, followed by the only comic art festival in the UK, The Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which takes over the whole of the town in October. Another way to experience the rich heritage and culture in the Lakes are the Lakes Culture Signature Experiences; four different routes that celebrate the region's art, music and literature in a variety of ways.


Keswick and Ullswater

Keswick is close to the lakes of Ullswater, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, as well as the mountains of Grizedale Pike, Skiddaw and Catbells, yet it’s not just a walkers’ paradise. Head out onto Ullswater Lake on board Ullswater Steamers for a relaxed view of the beautiful scenery or, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine). Climb the original miners’ route (the Via Ferrata Classic), an exposed adventure climbing course created from cargo nets and wire bridges strung 366 metres above the valley floor. If you’re feeling particularly brave, take the bigger challenge by climbing the Via Ferrata Extreme!

Keswick is also one of the Lakes’ cultural highlights. Professional producing theatre, Theatre on the Lake, close to Derwentwater on the edge of Keswick, is in one of the prettiest theatre settings imaginable and you can catch a play here throughout the year. Travel a little further out to The Lakes Distillery and join an interactive tour to see how its whisky, gin, and vodka are made, which also make an excellent gift to take home. And we mustn’t forget the most niche of museums; the Pencil Museum! It’s more than just pencils (although the collection does include gems such as secret Second World War pencils complete with hidden maps); it also runs art workshops.



Coniston, nestled between Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, has a copper mining and slate quarrying history and the village’s proximity to dramatic landscapes – lakes, mountains, waterfalls, tarns and woods – means walking, sightseeing, water sports, mountaineering and horse riding are all prevalent here.

The most notable feature of Coniston Village is The Old Man of Coniston, an 803-metre-high fell. For a slightly easier walk with incredible views, head to Tarn Hows, set more than 183 metres up in the hills above Coniston. A lovely, easy, 1.5-mile pathway shows off the best of the gorgeous Langdale Pikes.

Another lovely way to see Coniston Water and the Fells is by the steam yacht gondola; the trip takes you past Coniston Hall and then on to Brantwood, the home of celebrated Victorian art critic and artist John Ruskin. You can alight here to explore the house, which is filled with many fine paintings, beautiful furniture and Ruskin’s personal treasures. 



Ambleside is surrounded by magnificent Lakeland fells and is a town with an energetic vibe. Yet it’s also home to one of the oldest standing buildings in the Lakes, the quirky, picturesque Bridge House, which dates back to the 17th century.

A visit to Ambleside also means you’re very close to Hill Top House, the 17th-century farmhouse where Beatrix Potter lived, wrote and based many of her much-loved stories. When she left the house to the National Trust she left instructions about how it should be shown, so it stands exactly as she knew it and lived in it.

Some of Potter’s works can also be viewed at the Armitt Museum, Gallery and Library – she was one of its earliest supporters – which features the history of life, photography and the fine art of the Lake District. Or for a slice of contemporary art, head to the Old Courthouse Gallery, showcasing glassworks, jewellery, wall art and ceramics, which you can also buy. A great way to spend an evening in Ambleside is at the Jazz Bar of Zeffirellis, which hosts modern jazz and world music performances throughout the week. Want to sample local ale? Try the wares created by Ambleside’s Barngates Brewery, served in the Drunken Duck Inn and Restaurant – although the brewery isn’t open for tours, visitors to the Drunken Duck can request to see inside the adjacent brewery buildings.



Ravenglass is the Lake District’s only coastal village and history emanates from every corner, from its Bronze Age settlements, Roman forts and Anglian crosses to its Viking remains, Norman churches and medieval mills. You can even go back to the Victorian era of steam and experience the Ravenglass & Eskdale steam railway, which takes you on a stunning seven-mile journey through the National Park.

A must-visit in the area is Muncaster Castle. Still lived in by the same family after nine centuries, Muncaster is said to be haunted and, this November, will hold a Scientific Ghost Vigil. If that doesn’t sound quite your thing, the castle itself is fascinating to explore and you can enjoy bird of prey displays at its Hawk and Owl Centre throughout the year.

2018’s must-see sporting events and their host destinations

Britain is world-renowned as a host for international sporting events and 2018 welcomes major championships to its shores once again. Cheer on your team or sports idol at these three upcoming events, then enjoy the cultural experiences the host destinations have to offer.


European Championships, Glasgow, Scotland

2 – 12 August

Glasgow 2018 is part of a new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon, plus a new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. Berlin will concurrently host the European Athletics Championships.

What can I do? These championships are spread across a variety of first-class sporting venues in both Glasgow and the surrounding area, which means this fascinating and beautiful part of Scotland is at your fingertips. Host city Glasgow – which has hosted some of the world’s top sporting events, such as the Commonwealth Games in 2014 – is one of Britain’s coolest destinations, and during the championships will be highlighting exactly why that is during Festival 2018. The festival will celebrate the world-class sporting action with cultural events ranging from street art to music, theatre to dance, with the iconic George’s Square as its hub. 2018 also sees the city celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed Glasgow-born architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh with a series of programmes, so there’s plenty to see during your time there.

Rowing and triathlon events will be taking place at Strathclyde Country Park, a 20-minute drive from Glasgow city centre. Don’t let just the athletes have all the fun; visitors to this picturesque countryside spot can also flex their fitness muscles at the huge range of activities on offer, from cycling and rowing to water ski-ing and bracing walks through the woodlands.

Coming to the event for the open swimming? This will mean the chance to visit host location the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, a simply breathtaking part of the country, less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow, with forests and lochs, glens and mountains to explore. If you’re coming over for the golf championships this means the chance to visit one of the most prestigious golf courses – and hotels – in the world; Gleneagles. This five-star luxury hotel, also less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow, boasts three championship golf courses, an award-winning spa and the only restaurant in Scotland to hold two Michelin stars.

Where can I stay? Glasgow’s hotel scene ranges from the five-star to the budget, from cosy B&Bs to the city apartments, so you won’t be short of places to lay your head. If you’re looking for one of the newest properties to hit the accommodation scene, check out Radisson Red, a hotel where cutting-edge art is prevalent throughout, located adjacent to event venue SSE Hydro. Another new hi-tech, contemporary style property is Village Hotel, also close to the Hydro, with great views over the River Clyde. And, due to open in the month of the championships is aparthotel Native Glasgow, located in a gorgeous Art Deco-style building. 

How do I get there? Glasgow has its own international airport and can be reached by train from London in 4.5 hours and from Edinburgh in around an hour.


Women’s Hockey World Cup, London

21 July – 5 August

The world’s best female hockey teams from 15 nations take to the field at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. This will be the first time England has hosted a Hockey Women’s World Cup and will be the biggest stand-alone hockey event the UK has ever seen.

What can I do? As this World Cup takes place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London is your oyster (and make sure you buy an Oyster Card to get you around!). But you can stay put on site and still have plenty to do in between matches. Within the Olympic Park alone you can step into the shoes of top-flight athletes; dive into the waters at the London Aquatics Centre, take a spin on two wheels at the Lee Valley Velo Park or run for glory on the London 2012 trail. Thrillseekers will love the Ride the Slide at the UK’s largest sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit (maybe try your hand at abseiling down it if you’re feeling brave, it’s the UK’s tallest freefall abseil!). Or, if you’re looking for something a little more tranquil, there’s 560 acres of gorgeous parklands to explore by foot or by bike (hire one of the Santander bikes available at eight different stations), follow the Biodiversity Trail to discover all about the Park’s sustainability or head out to Lea River Park for a 1.5-hour hike from the Olympic Park to the Royal Docks and the River Thames.

Head just across the road from the Olympic Park and can spend the day exploring the largest shopping mall in Europe, with its 250 stores and more than 70 places to dine; Westfield Stratford City. Or, for a little culture mixed into your day, book tickets to see a performance at Theatre Royal Stratford East, which has a long history of being at the forefront of new play and musical development.  

Where can I stay? You’ll find affordable hotels on the Olympic Park’s doorstep, ranging from Premier Inns to Holiday Inn Express, but for something a little cooler, venture to the neighbourhood of Hackney (about 15 minutes by taxi) for places such as the boutique Avo Hotel, The Old Ship, where ‘East End cool meets pub charm’ or the ultra-cool Town House Hotel a little further afield in Bethnal Green.

How do I get there? Stratford can be reached from central London on the London Underground’s Central Line in around ten minutes.


Women’s Golf British Open, Lancashire, north-west England

2 – 5 August

One of the premier links golf courses in the world, and one which has seen golfers teeing off since it opened in 1886, Royal Lytham & St Anne’s will host the Ricoh Women’s British Open this summer for the fifth time. The course is no stranger to hosting major international tournaments – two Ryder Cups and 11 Open Championships have also been held here.

What can I do? Royal Lytham & St Anne’s is in an enviable location on the coast of north-west England, on what is known as England’s Golf Coast. If you’re looking to tee off on 18 holes on another prestigious course during the run of the tournament, just over an hour’s drive away is the Royal Birkdale course on the Southport coast, or travel 1.5 hours to the Royal Liverpool golf club.

The golf clubs’ locations means you’re also near to some incredible beaches. Lytham St Anne’s Beach is mile upon mile of golden sands, perfect for long walks, with attractive gardens and a boating lake close by. Further down the coast in the pretty seaside resort of Southport are huge stretches of magnificent beaches, where you can kite surf, climb sand dunes, stroll along its historic pier or follow one of the town’s historic trails. Take a trip to Crosby Beach, which is home to Anthony Gormley’s art installation Another Place, 100 iron men standing looking out to sea. And for some pure, unadulterated, British seaside fun, Lytham St Anne’s is just a 20-minute drive from the town of Blackpool and its array of attractions. Stop by Blackpool Pleasure Beach for exhilarating theme park rides or the iconic Blackpool Tower to enjoy panoramic views over the coast, visit its renowned circus or dance across the floor of its world-famous Tower Ballroom. And, if you’re still in town towards the end of August, you’ll witness the switch-on of the Blackpool Illuminations – a spectacular sight of one million bulbs – which run until early November.

Where can I stay? Befitting of a coastal resort, there are plenty of good-quality B&Bs and guesthouses near Lytham St Anne’s. Four-star hotel The Clifton Arms enjoys fabulous views of the seafront and, for a touch of glamour, head a little further out of town (40 minutes’ drive) to either the Northcote and the Stanley House Hotel & Spa, both elegant boutique country house hotels with superb countryside views.

How do I get there? Reach Lytham by train from London in three hours, and from Liverpool or Manchester in 1.5 hours.

60 minutes from… Manchester

A city of culture, sport, music, history, creativity and diversity, Manchester in north-west England  should be on the must-visit list of any traveller to Britain; plus it’s one of the key gateways into the destination. It’s also in an enviable location, which means that journeying just an hour by train or car outside the city will lead you to a realm of ancient cities and spa towns, beautiful beach resorts, stately homes, unique countryside and bohemian heartlands – all perfect to visit on a day trip from Manchester.


Buxton, Derbyshire
Renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, the stately Crescent, which is being transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel, due to open in 2019, is a must-see. Buxton also boasts an impressive repertoire of festivals. This summer stop by for the open-access arts festival, the Buxton Fringe Festival, plus the Buxton Military Tattoo, and the Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature.


Liverpool, Merseyside
2018 is a huge year for Liverpool as it celebrates ten years since it was named European City of Culture 2008 and welcomes Britain’s largest celebration of contemporary art during the Liverpool Biennial, when artworks by 40 artists from 22 countries will be showcased for free across the city…all just 30 minutes by train direct from Manchester. There are a myriad of attractions to enjoy, from The Beatles Story and The Cavern (why not visit during the International Beatle Week Festival in August?) to contemporary art gallery Tate Liverpool and maybe cheer your football heroes on at a Premiere League football match at either Liverpool FC or Everton FC.


Southport, Merseyside
Miles of magnificent beaches greet you at Southport, a pretty coastal resort where you can kite surf, climb sand dunes, stroll along its historic pier or follow one of the town’s historic trails. Take a trip to Crosby Beach, which is home to Anthony Gormley’s art installation Another Place, 100 iron men standing looking out to sea. The area is also part of the UK’s ‘golfing capital’ – tee off at the prestigious Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport or travel 15 minutes’ from town to several more championship courses.


Chester, Cheshire
Wherever you walk in Chester, you can feel its rich history pulsating through its buildings, its city walls – the most complete city walls remaining in the UK – and its attractions. Here you can visit Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre, walk through 700 years of history while shopping in the Rows galleries, enjoy race days at Britain’s oldest racecourse and visit one of Britain’s largest zoos, Chester Zoo, where you can meet 21,000 animals and experience its passion for conservation.


Peak District, Derbyshire

The nearest part of the picturesque Peak District National Park to Manchester is packed with dramatic landscapes of high moorland plateaus – travel further south in the park to discover a diverse landscape of hills and dales – which makes for great walking territory. The Peak District is also home to charming villages and attractive market towns and, if you travel just 90 minutes from Manchester, you can visit some of the loveliest stately homes in the country, such as the grand Tudor Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House; when the house reopened in March the wraps came off a major long-term, £32.7 million restoration programme.


You might also like:

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, for its creative vibe generated from the influence of writers and artists, cute galleries and independent shops, all set near valleys and heather moorland. Come for the summer’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Tatton Park, Cheshire, for its neo-classical mansion, 1,000 acres of deer park, collection of fine art, as well as walks through the huge gardens, plus the many events held here every year. Come in July for its Food Festival and RHS Flower Show. 

Blackpool, Lancashire, for its traditional English seaside resort attractions, the stunning Blackpool Illuminations and the iconic Blackpool Tower. Come this summer as the town celebrates the 250th anniversary of the circus with a series of special events.

Lake District National Park, Cumbria, for the sheer beauty of its landscapes. Parts are reachable from Manchester within 60-90 minutes so is still manageable for a day trip. Explore the lovely town of Kendal in the south of the Lake District National Park, before heading for a walk on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England and just nine miles from Kendal.