Liverpool vaulted once again into the global spotlight this month thanks to a single piece of media from its greatest celebrity. Paul McCartney’s marvellously genuine tour of his hometown for James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” series has renewed fascination for the city in northern England.
When The Beatles took over the world stage in the 1960s they propelled Liverpool too. For most people on the planet the band is the only reason to know the city. In the last decade, however, Liverpool has become culturally relevant for reasons beyond the Fab Four. It was named the European City of Culture in 2008 and the legacy of the festival that marked that honour has spawned a vibrant arts scene.
The World Museum, which dates to 1853, has hosted significant exhibitions, including the current Terracotta Warriors show that runs through October 2018. It is the only European stop for the exhibition that features archaeological wonders from the first Chinese empire — including six of the life-size stone statues built to resemble an army. Liverpool is also home to the first Tate Museum — known for its contemporary art collection — built outside of London.
Still, it’s The Beatles with whom people travel to Liverpool to connect. Kevin McManus, curator of the British Music Experience, says a city council report showing the economic impact of the Beatles revealed “ridiculous amounts of dollars coming in and it’s growing every year.”
McCartney’s drive around town with Corden has no doubt inspired many travelers to make it a point to one day sojourn to the streets that John, Paul, Ringo, and George made eternally famous.
Here are 4 Fabulous Places to Experience The Beatles in Liverpool.
Located on the wonderfully revitalized waterfront area called Royal Albert Dock, The Beatles Story is an entertaining compilation of the band’s history, influences, and impact. Whimsical displays include a recreation of the Cavern Club, the venue where the band played its first show, and a yellow submarine that you walk through while the song from the Magical Mystery Tour album plays. Entry: 16.95 British pounds (about $24).
Scheduled to run until mid-2019, this new show focuses on the relationship — artistically and romantically — between John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Developed in conjunction with Ono, the show is immersive and brilliant in its simple touches. Large black type spells out the song titles — “Imagine”, “Power to the People”, “Give Peace a Chance” — that make Lennon’s work have such resonance. A photograph of Lennon culminates the exhibit and fans are prompted to write notes on small pieces of white paper and stick them around the image of the bespectacled icon. Thousands have already covered the wall space. “Double Fantasy” — scheduled to run through mid-2019 — is the most compelling reason for fans to plan a trip to Liverpool now. Entry: free.
Clubs line this street that dubs itself as “the birthplace of The Beatles”. It’s a touristy place but still worth a visit because local musicians take the stages as they have for decades, as do Beatles cover bands. The Cavern Club exists, although its location has moved across the street from where The Beatles would play. When the city was implementing a train system it needed to run through the subterranean club, forcing its change of address. By many accounts, the club remains much the same as it did in 1962. Visitors must descend a spiral staircase down and down until they reach the cavern that seems magical just because of the journey to reach it.
Located at Pier Head near the waterfront, the BME features displays honouring Brit stars from the 1940s until present day. Along with displays featuring The Beatles, there is a drum set by Ringo Starr and a George Harrison guitar; you can try your hand at playing both. Not Fab Four-related but definitely worth seeing is the holographic image of Boy George that appears about twice an hour on the stage erected at the front of the BME. The Culture Club lead singer performs “Karma Chameleon” for your eyes. A statue of the Fab Four is just steps fron the BME. It was unveiled on December 5, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the date when The Beatles last played in Liverpool. As any visitor will quickly learn, though, the city remains their unending stage. Entry: free.