Liverpool has long been so synonymous with the Beatles that some visitors overlook the riches of the city’s cultural scene that lie beyond the Fab Four’s legendary presence. These days, the city enjoys a stellar reputation for its top-notch theaters and museums, which have been key players in reinventing and celebrating its fascinating industrial and maritime heritage. As the evening winds on, however, it’s Liverpool’s homegrown rock and roll scene, once the source of the influential 1960s “Mersey Sound,” that keeps the city’s energy pumping.
It’s been around since 1964, launching UK household names such as actors Julie Walters and Bill Nighy, but everything about the Everyman Theatre feels relentlessly contemporary. Committed to reflecting the community and producing fresh new voices, The Everyman Theatre offers an eclectic mix of everything from political and comic solo shows, rock and roll pantos, 21st century takes on classics by Ibsen and Shakespeare, to the kind of genre-bending shows that headline fringe festivals.
Under the same management as the Everyman, the Liverpool Playhouse was until recently one of the longest running repertory theatres in Britain, and the artistic home of stage legends of the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Robert Donat. These days, you’ll find scintillating touring shows from some of the globe’s most interesting performance companies, such as Cornwall’s Kneehigh Theatre or South Africa’s The Market Theatre.
You’ll find hit new plays and beloved musicals such as “Oliver!” and “Footloose” at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre, an Art Deco gem with cabaret seating. Rather than rushing through a pre-show dinner at a nearby restaurant, the Royal Court Theatre offers the rather luxurious chance to nosh on chef-prepared fish and chips, braised lamb or butternut squash curry before the curtain comes up. (During the interval, enjoy a slice of carrot cake.)
Free Art at Tate Liverpool
Housed in a historic waterfront warehouse that once held spices, tobacco and silk for Liverpool’s booming maritime trade, the free-entry Tate Liverpool‘s wants to get visitors excited about global contemporary art and British art from the 16th century to today. They succeed, with displays and presentations that are inventive and invigorating even for the museum-wary. The Tate Liverpool stands out for having key artworks from 20th century greats such as Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Marcel Duchamp and Piet Mondriaan, and contemporary iconoclasts like Jenny Holzer and Cindy Sherman.
Beatlemania at the Cavern Club
Don’t mistake this for a museum: the Cavern Club remains a working club that’s open seven days a week, replete with the iconic red neon sign and the brick cellar walls where the hypnotic guitar chords, bass riffs and driving percussion of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s early songs once reverberated. Diehard fans will want to check out one of the weekly performances by the club’s resident band, The Cavern Club Beatles. With three stages, the Cavern Club is bound to offer something to pique your fancy.