Liverpudlians are fiercely proud of their musical and comedy heritage, and rightly so. Merseyside has produced some of the biggest stars in UK history, from The Beatles to Ken Dodd. The city fizzes with creative talent all year round, playing host to both A-list stars and up-and-coming acts in its top-name venues. When it comes to sport, the entertainment is also dazzling on the pitch. But it’s not all about the beautiful game here, thanks to a certain well-known steeplechase attracting it’s fair share of fans. Not sure what to see? Our guide to the best music, comedy, theatre, sport and events will help you plan what to see and where to go. And wherever you end up, there’ll be a Premier Inn hotel in Liverpool right around the corner with comfy beds that are perfect after a big night out.
Entertainment in Liverpool
A paradise for the young, and the young at heart, Liverpool’s thriving music scene is right at the centre of this exciting city. It’s not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world, either, with UNESCO awarding Liverpool a permanent City of Music status in 2015.
The biggest names in music and comedy flock to the M&S Bank Arena, with everyone from Beyoncé to Billy Connolly appearing on its purpose-built stage. Situated in Liverpool’s Waterfront area and just a stone’s throw from the centre, the arena has built up a reputation for hosting the city’s most prestigious events.
If you like your venues dark, rocking and sweaty, the O2 Academy is the place to be. Forget sitting down – this is the place to mosh ‘til you drop. While it has played host to big hitters like Paul McCartney, this 19th Century warehouse near our Liverpool City Centre (Moorfields) hotel also has a reputation for showcasing indie bands and up-and-coming talent.
No guide to Liverpool worth its salt could fail to mention the Cavern Club. The legendary cellar played host to The Beatles first performance in 1961 yet it’s still at the heart of the city’s music scene, even today. So popular that it’s open every day from 10am, live bands take to the stage from mid-afternoon and everything from rock and roll and tribute acts to soulful acoustic sets goes on well into the evening.
Love to watch actors treading the boards? Liverpool has a great reputation for nurturing new talent, and its theatres launched the career of some of the UK’s best, from Julie Walters to Bill Nighy.
For a theatre experience with a twist, the Royal Court Theatre really is something special. Set in a quirky art deco building every show has a Liverpool theme, cast and crew. And the best thing? You can eat! The audience dines together at cabaret-style tables, then everyone just sits back to enjoy the show.
Step back into Liverpool’s entertainment past and soak up the atmosphere at the Empire Theatre - something this Grade II-listed venue has by the bucketload. Housed in one of Liverpool’s most iconic buildings with an interior to match, it’s easy to imagine what it would have been like when The Beatles performed here at their peak.
After its radical refurbishment in 2014, a visit to the Everyman is a truly accessible experience for all. Excellent facilities and an intimate seating plan that means no one is far from the stage, the people behind the Everyman have a real passion for theatre, something that is obvious from the minute you arrive.
Small, friendly and utterly charming, you’ll find the Epstein Theatre in the heart of the city centre. A cultural gem, it shows a wide variety of shows from dance and live music to comedy and theatre. Named after the late Beatles manager, a portrait of the man himself can be seen while having a pre-show tipple at the aptly named Brian’s Bar.
At the forefront of Merseyside’s theatrical renaissance, the Liverpool Playhouse is a real local landmark. While a recent refurbishment provided a new box office, bar and bistro, the Playhouse has kept many of its original features. Expect high quality productions – this is the oldest repertory theatre in England and the home of classic drama, from ancient to modern.
If classical music and opera are more your musical bag, did you know Liverpool is home to one of the best orchestras in the country? The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have been entertaining the city (and beyond) since 1840 and often performs collaborations with artists from different genres, such as Sir Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and Cast.
The home of this ground-breaking Orchestra is the beautiful art deco Philharmonic Hall. Built in the 1930s, the stunning venue stages about 250 events each year, of which more than 60 are opera or classical music. The rest is made up of music of all genres, from indie to rock, plus you can even watch a film on the famous original Walturdaw screen that rises up from the floor.
St George’s Hall sits opposite Lime Street Station, and it’s a fine sight to welcome you into town. Widely regarded as one of the finest neo-classical buildings in the UK, it’s equally as impressive inside. With its excellent acoustics and intimate atmosphere, it’s no wonder some of the world’s best classical performers clamber to play here, from string quartets to chamber orchestras.
Two big football teams and one Grand National steeplechase add up to one sports-mad city. The people here are so passionate about their sport that it even dictated the colour of their wheelie bins (purple, because it’s a mix of red and blue). That passion is all part of Liverpool’s unmistakable personality – and if you can’t beat them, why not join them at a match or a day at the races?
Home of Liverpool Football Club, Anfield is practically a place of worship in the city (unless you’re an Everton fan). Tickets for an actual game are like gold dust, but ardent Reds can still get their footie fix. There are stadium tours where you can sit in the dugout, an interactive museum that lets you take a penalty at a European Cup Final and even packages that include a three-course meal in an Executive Box overlooking the hallowed turf. Whether you’re in town for a match or a tour, we have a range of hotels near Anfield that are perfect for a footie-mad city break.
For ten minutes each April the eyes of the world are on Aintree when it hosts the most famous steeplechase in horse racing – the Grand National. But you can actually visit this historic racecourse all-year round. Soak up the history at the visitor centre, have a flutter at one of the four other annual race days or come for an evening of food, racing and music at one of the many events held here. It’s worth it just to sample some of Aintree’s hospitality.
Everton fans are a vocal bunch and the match atmosphere at Goodison Park is electrifying. If you aren’t lucky enough to get tickets, a stadium tour is well worth it. Lasting over an hour, you’ll learn about the club’s 120-year history on this behind-the-scenes amble. Knowledgeable guides take you down the tunnel, into the dressing rooms and even where players relax after the game – interesting even if you’re not a die-hard supporter.
Thinking of going to Liverpool to attend an event? It’s no wonder. The city has a year-round calendar full to bursting with big sporting occasions, music festivals and shows. There’s always something going on, and it’s a great way to delve into local culture, too. And while you may need to buy tickets months in advance for events like the Grand National, some (like the Liverpool International Music festival) are free– great if you happen to be in town on a city break.
The Grand National is the UK’s most iconic horse race, watched by an estimated 600 million people worldwide. But the steeplechase is only a small part of the three-day racing festival at Aintree. There’s Grand Opening Day and Ladies’ Day too, each with its own flavour. Whichever day you choose to attend, the basics are the same. You’ll be able to cheer on the horses, have a flutter and indulge in the splendid hospitality the racecourse is famous for. One thing that’s a sure bet is the hotels near Aintree get busy, so if you were thinking of coming, book early!
The Southport Airshow is a two-day event held over the beach at nearby Southport - and it’s a fantastic place to bring the whole family. Just 20 miles from Liverpool, watch the Red Arrows perform their displays, marvel at the skills of the stunt pilots and watch light aircraft land on the shore. When you’re tired of craning your necks, there’s plenty to keep you entertained on land, too. Air Show Village has rides for the kids, aircraft simulators and a fireworks display to round the event off. Our Southport Central hotel is near all the overhead acton.
Get knee-deep in flora and fauna at Southport Flower Show, the UK’s largest independent flower show. Held in Southport’s Victoria Park in late August, there’s plenty on offer to keep everyone entertained, whether you’re a keen gardener or you struggle to keep a houseplant alive. With show gardens, flower sculptures and amateur growers showing off their oversized vegetables, the four-day show attracts 80,000 visitors each year – and a fair amount of celebrity guests, too.
Standing for Liverpool International Music Festival, LIMF is held in Sefton Park in the summer. It replaced the city’s annual Mathew Street festival and has grown to become Europe’s biggest free music event. Featuring some top international artists alongside up-and-coming homegrown talent, there are food stalls and bars aplenty, or you can just take a picnic if you prefer. But don’t forget the kids because there’s a dedicated family zone, too. And it’s not far from our Liverpool North hotel, either.
The locals say that Liverpool is a city full of comedians and, with the sheer number of comedy venues on offer, they might well have a point. The comedy scene is thriving and besides the dedicated venues we’ve listed, many bars, clubs and theatres host their own comedy nights, too.
For all the biggest names in comedy such as Ricky Gervais, Russell Brand and Jack Whitehall, head to the M&S Bank Arena. It’s a huge venue, but there’s a great view from every seat - plus big screens so you won’t miss a single funny line.
The Hot Water Comedy Club is a purpose-built comedy venue on Seel Street in Ropewalks that’s proved so popular, it’s opened up a second venue on Hardman Street. Its Ropewalks venue is open seven nights a week and there’s a bar and restaurant so you can really make a night of it. It plays host to top comedians like Russell Kane, but star of the show is the brutal compere, Paul Smith. Do not even think about heckling.
With its bars and restaurants, Albert Dock has long been the place to go for a great night out. But it also has its own comedy night. Liverpool Comedy Central is held at Baby Blue, and offers great meal deals along with nights of top comedy talent. And all in one of Liverpool’s most stunning locations, too.