Here at Virgin Atlantic all eyes are on Manchester as we continue our biggest ever route expansion with new direct flights to San Francisco and Boston. Along with a further daily route to New York JFK starting in May, the USA is now more accessible to UK travellers than ever before – and we’re equally thrilled to bring the major cities of northwest England to a new market of US flyers.
Most popularly known as the birthplace of the Beatles, the port city of Liverpool is just under an hour away from Manchester. This year the city will celebrate another landmark anniversary in the life of its most famous export, with a festival marking 50 years since the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But for now we’re delving deeper into Liverpool’s maritime and cultural roots to see how the city ties its past and present together. From its rich nautical origins to one of the biggest soccer rivalries in the UK, discover more of what this magical northern city has to offer.
Down by the river
Granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2004, Liverpool Waterfront is one of the most historic and significant ports in the world. Lining the Mersey riverbank, the area encompasses some of the city’s most famous sights, including the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building – collectively known as the Three Graces – as well as Liverpool Cruise Terminal, the Mersey Ferries, and the meticulously restored Albert Dock. Originally opened in 1846, the dock finally closed in 1972 after a lengthy period of decline. Now a major British heritage site, it’s home to some of Liverpool’s best attractions including the Beatles Story, the Tate Liverpool gallery, and the International Slavery Museum. If you’re looking for a place that sums up the true spirit of Liverpool, the waterfront is where to start.
Water lot of history
Also at Albert Dock is the Merseyside Maritime Museum, where you can submerge yourself in the city’s historic seafaring past. The museum brings Liverpool’s nautical history to life by tracing the development of the world famous port from construction through to its mid-19th century heyday and eventual decline in the early 20th century. Collections and interactive exhibits include more than 70 boats, maritime paintings, model ships, and items from shipwrecked vessels including a Titanic survivor’s lifejacket. There’s also plenty of free fun for all the family including craft sessions, kids’ activities and talks. So what are you waiting for? Prepare to set sail for fun adventures.
Back of the net
Fans of Liverpool and Everton football clubs enjoy one of the most intense rivalries in British sport. Every weekend during football season you’ll see the red-clad fans of Liverpool and the blue-clad devotees of ‘the Toffees’ marching en masse to their respective grounds. And of course, if you’re in town during a Merseyside derby clash, you’ll soon realise why these are two of the most eagerly anticipated games in the Premier League. Even if you’re not a soccer fan, you’re bound to be won over by the electric atmosphere of a game. Don’t forget you can also book a stadium tour of both Liverpool FC’s stadium Anfield and Everton FC’s home at Goodison Park where you can learn more about the history and legends of both clubs.
Did you know Liverpool is home to the largest and oldest Chinatown in Europe? Chinese immigrants first arrived in Liverpool in the late 1860s, establishing a thriving Chinese community full of restaurants, supermarkets, gospel churches, bookshops, takeaways and more. Today, Chinatown is still centered around the Nelson Street, Duke Street and Berry Street area, easily recognised by the ornate Chinese arch adorning the entry which was imported piece by piece from Shanghai. At 15 metres high, it’s the tallest standing arch in any Chinatown outside mainland China.
Holier than holy
If one building dominates Liverpool’s skyline more than any other it’s the Anglican Cathedral; the biggest cathedral in the UK and the fifth largest in Europe. Hike up St James’ Mount where the cathedral sits, and you’ll be treated to sweeping panoramic views of the city. You can also climb to the top of the cathedral tower as part of the Tower Experience, from where you can spot numerous city landmarks. The 10,267-pipe organ also sets this church apart – it’s the largest organ in the United Kingdom and one of the biggest in the world. And that’s not all. The cathedral is also home to the Bartlett Bells; the heaviest and highest set of bells in the world which weigh in at 31.5 tonnes and hang 67 meters above the ground in the cathedral tower. Come see it in all its glory.
Liverpool just got louder
Liverpool is perhaps the only city to rival Manchester’s musical roots. With more number one hits than any other city, come and discover the sheer volume and quality of music produced in the Merseyside area. There’s the Cavern Club on Mathew Street where the Beatles played some of their earliest gigs in the 1960s. For more Beatlemania, visit the childhood homes of John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney on the Magical Mystery Tour. New for this year, you can now soak up the soundtrack to the UK’s musical history at the British Music Experience. Or if you prefer to take your music outside, head to one of the many music festivals happening throughout the year in and around Merseyside. Whether you’re into the big name artists and DJs performing at Liverpool International Music Festival or something a little bit different at Africa Oyé, you’ll have an unforgettable time.