Planning a Music Tour of Liverpool: Venues and Festivals
Of all of the cities in the United Kingdom, Liverpool is rivalled only by London when it comes to musical history and landmarks. Merseyside's capital is intimately connected to the overall history of music in the United Kingdom, and has contributed many a prominent artist to the overall panorama of British music.
As such, it hardly comes as a surprise that exploring this history is one of the main motivations for many people to visit Liverpool. A significant number of guests coming through our Liverpool hotel are there to take the tour of the city's music-related haunts or catch one of its many festivals, and this trend appears to be no different across the other hotels in the city.
This is why we here at Britannia have taken it upon ourselves to help guests intending to take the music tour of Liverpool, by dedicating a blog post to that city's extensive musical history and vibrant existing scene. The lines below will go over not only many of the best-known acts emanating from the Merseyside capital, but also most of its must-see venues and yearly festivals. In this way, we hope to help guests staying at our Liverpool hotel better find their way amidst the bevy of music-related locations and activities this Northern English city has to offer!
Part 1: Music Venues
Live music venues and clubs make up a significant portion of Liverpool's tourist attractions and hot spots. Whether closed and converted into a museum or still functioning as normal, there are any number of music rooms in Liverpool no music lover visiting the city should miss. The lines below list but a few.
The Cavern Club
No matter how one tries to approach the subject of Liverpool's musical history, there is no overlooking the Cavern Club, perhaps the venue which single-handedly launched everything to follow. Famously known as the very first stomping ground for an up-and-coming group called The Beatles, this venue was a staple of live music in the Merseyside capital in the 1960s, and a pilgrimage spot for music lovers of all persuasions in the ensuing decades. Today, the Cavern is perhaps best known as a shrine to all things Beatles-related, and a mandatory stop for not only Beatlemaniacs, but any music aficionado passing through Liverpool and wanting to know where its vibrant music scene had its start.
East Village Arts Club
East Village Arts Club is one of the best remaining representatives of what the Liverpool music scene had to offer in decades past. Known over the years by many different names – from the Barfly to the Masque to its current denomination – the space was fully renovated in 2013, but continues to offer the same thing it always did: exciting electronic music, and some of the most iconic club nights in Liverpool. Fans of EDM who would rather see a DJ set than try to manoeuvre inside a sweaty club owe it to themselves to visit this venue!
Parr Street Studios
Functioning as, at once, a recording studio and a live music venue, Parr Street Studios perfectly embody Liverpool's approach to music. The recording room itself is known for generating records by such artists as Coldplay and Barry Manilow, and the in-house live venue certainly helps compound the space's reputation within the Liverpool music scene. Featuring two separate floors, each with their own bar, this space regularly hosts performances by a variety of artists, with particular focus on the jazz, soul, funk and indie genres. Fans of this type of music, or those wishing to experience Liverpool's contemporary music scene first-hand, should therefore be sure to drop into this iconic venue while visiting the city!
Part 2: The Festivals
In addition to its astonishingly high number of live music venues – particularly for a city of its size – Liverpool also boasts a number of yearly music festivals, which make a trip to the Merseyside capital even more appealing for music enthusiasts. The lines below list some of these festivals, and give a brief overview of the styles of music each of them encompasses.
The Liverpool International Music Festival
The Liverpool International Music Festival (henceforth, LIMF) is without a doubt the highlight of the musical year in the Merseyside capital. Taking place each year in August, and lasting for several weeks, this festival is one not to be missed by music fans passing through the area, regardless of their musical preference!
Originally evolving from the Matthew Street Music Festival, the LIMF first operated under that denomination in 2013. That year, over 1000 performers took the stage as part of the festival, which also included smaller, dedicated festivals and events within its scope. Subsequent editions of the festival lost none of its influence and scope, and continue to present a mix of Liverpool's best-known names and its most exciting underground artists, making the event a landmark of the Scouse summer.
The summer music festival is, however, far from the only point of interest for Liverpool-based music fans, or those just visiting the city. Africa Oye!, the yearly festival aimed at celebrating African music, is a smaller but no less significant landmark in the Scouse music calendar, and brings the vibrant sounds and rhythms of the African continent to that Northwestern town.
Having started its life as a small, multi-venue event – similar to London's Camden Rocks – Africa Oye! has since adopted Sefton Park as its home base. It is there that thousands of African music aficionado flock every June, to discover some of the most exciting emerging artists in African and African-inspired music, and engage in all aspects of African culture. Previous editions of the festival have seen such exciting artists as Bedouin representatives Tinariwen and Angolan crooner Bonga take to the stage, which could give potentially interested visitors an idea of what to expect from this festival. Whichever artists happen to be playing, however, one thing is clear: fans of African music staying in our Liverpool hotel during the summer owe it to themselves to attend Africa Oye!
The Liverpool Irish Festival
The third and final music-related landmark of the Liverpool cultural calendar is the Liverpool Irish Festival, which takes place every October and celebrates the heritage of the city's considerable Irish population.
Established in 2003, the festival introduces locals and visitors alike to all aspects of Irish culture, while also giving Irish-born residents a chance to celebrate their roots. From its humble beginnings as a four-day, twenty-act festival the LIF has grown to the point where the 2015 edition welcomed an audience of 20.000 over more than fifty events. As with Africa Oye!, these events spread beyond music to encompass other areas of traditional Irish culture, such as literature, art and social traditions. As such, a visit to the Liverpool Irish Festival might be of interest for visitors interested in the Celtic culture, and passing through Liverpool in October!
The lines above have pointed out only the biggest or most important of the many venues and musical events taking place across Liverpool on a yearly basis. There is, of course, much more going on in the city on a weekly or even daily basis, so we encourage music-loving guests staying at our Liverpool hotel to engage in a little exploration, and find their own hidden musical gems to experience and cherish!