Liverpool

The Beatles Story

The Beatles Story is simply a must for any fan of the Fab Four - or a devotee of the music, culture and style of the swinging sixties. No visit to Liverpool is complete without a visit to the home of the biggest band of all time. 

The Beatles are so deeply entwined with Liverpool that the city has not one Beatles Story, but two. The dark and atmospheric cellars of the stunning World Heritage Site of the Albert Dock hosts the world's largest permanent exhibition devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles with a huge range of memorabilia. Alongside there are new temporary exhibitions, featuring never-before-seen photos, and the perfect gift for the Beatles fans. 

A short walk away on the Pierhead - don’t miss brand new statues of John, Paul, George and Ringo on the way - there’s a brand new Beatles Story featuring a 4D experience - all surround sound, dazzling projections and state-of-the-art visuals.

The journey takes you from the bierkellers of Hamburg to the Palladium and on to those 'troubled' later years with plenty of original artifacts, interactive fun and, yes, even original smells too. But you’ll have to visit to find out about them...

Madame Bovary - The Everyman

If you’ve never seen Peepolykus, forget everything you think you know about a trip to the theatre. The critically acclaimed troupe have made a name for themselves mischievously disrupting beloved text and stories - from The Bible to Conan Doyle - and now take on Flaubert in a new deconstruction of Madame Bovary.

Directed by the Everyman’s Gemma Bodinetz, this brand new production remains true to the original plot, concerning Emma Bovary’s adulterous private life amid a tedious existence in rural France. With 19th-century morals and attitudes to play with it’s not hard to see where the humour will come from.

As well as writing the production, the surprisingly small troupe of Peepolykus play all the parts, lending another layer to the absurdities on stage. Find out answers to questions such as just how many characters can a Spaniard with a moustache realistically play? The theatrical group have a real knack of making a visit to the theatre feel like a riotous - and very silly - celebration.

Book ahead to avoid disappointment - and give yourself permission to be silly for the night and be prepared to laugh. And later on you can give yourself a pat on the back for being so cultured. What more could you ask for?

Miyagi

With a street food revolution thriving in the city it should come as little surprise that there’s now an Asian offering.

Situated on bo-ho Bold Street - a little Alternative Liverpool in contrast to the giant retail and leisure developments - Miyagi has quickly become one of the city’s best-loved restaurants, serving up ‘ghetto Asian soul food’. The concept is homely, simple, bustling and joyous - and the food delicious.

You’ll find plenty to choose from at Miyagi - whether you’re a purist and prefer elegant sushi and sashimi - or you want simmering broths, steaming noodles dishes and fast-food Japanese-style.

Something different? What about Inari Zushi - a slow-poached egg with a runny yolk served with sushi rice and tofu. Comfort food? Then you must try the hot and sticky Korean chicken wings. On a pan-Asian menu that flirts with fusion, there’s something for everyone here - and for all wallets too. Don’t assume that Asian restaurants don’t do pudding either - chocolate brownie spring rolls with coconut ice cream and plum compote are among the delights.

As the name would suggest, Miyagi doesn’t take itself too seriously and there’s a dash of kitsch to the smart exposed bricks over three atmospheric floors. A little bit of Australia, a little of Japan - and a dash of Liverpool. It’s a mouth-watering proposition.

Sheffield

Winter Garden

At the heart of the steel city lies a temperate haven in the form of the impressive Winter Garden. This 70-foot high glass house is home to lush plants and is something of a honeytrap for weird and wonderful street performers.

Tranquility is the main appeal of this compact attraction. You could march through in a matter of minutes, but you’d be missing the point. Stay a while and pause for thought in between your shopping sprees, or before that big night out, and enjoy an ode to the city penned by poet Roger McGough. This is not just a place of quiet solo reflection, but an excellent spot to meet friends and catch up.

There’s a café to keep you watered and, thanks to a great location close to the station and the hub of the city, you’re close to Sheffield’s great food and drink destinations.

The Winter Garden is connected to the Millennium Gallery, another free attraction that shows off the rich cultural heritage of a beautiful, bustling city. Check ahead and you could even book yourself on an art or craft course.

Sheffield Theatres

Sheffield is famous for its cultural output - from musicians to writers, artists to actors. And its range of theatres offer a mix of outstanding performance spaces that attract the best touring shows and some homegrown gems. 

In February, The Crucible - famous for playing host to the World Snooker Championship - is being practically taken over by Waiting for Godot. Performances of Samuel Beckett’s most famous play, in which two vagabonds muse on life, are on nightly with some matinee performances.

The beautiful Lyceum theatre, which underwent a multimillion-pound refurbishment in 2014, has a great mix of shows on this month. February kicks off with the award-winning King Charles III, which imagines life after the death of the Queen. After 10 years in London’s West End, The 39 Steps - a hilarious twist on Alfred Hitchcock’s version of the classic spy thriller -  is in town. Long-running musical Hairspray and Beatles extravaganza Let It Be, which charts the Fab Four’s rise to stardom and features some of their greatest songs, are also wowing audiences this month.

Check out the flexible Studio Theatre and Montgomery Theatre, which is currently running a series of family-friendly shows, for even more options.

San Remo

Love changes everything. It certainly did for Aurelio Ceka, anyway. He almost made it as a footballer in Italy’s version of the Premier League, Serie A. Then he flaunted his good looks on the catwalks as a model for Dolce & Gabbana. He even managed to study for a degree in surveying. But he only discovered his true calling when he fell for a girl from Sheffield... 

Last year he imported his home cuisine from Bergamo, near Milan, to the steel city along with his parents and sister. His restaurant San Remo is earning rave reviews thanks to its authentic approach to classic Italian dishes. The restaurant is walkable from the station, near Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium, but away from the city centre’s chain restaurants. 

It’s a real family affair at San Remo, with everyone mucking in to help. Mum Lucia has arguably the most important role - she creates fabulous cakes for the dessert tray. Dad Rrahim is in charge of the kitchen, which is equipped with a wood-fired oven for a familiar range of great-tasting pizzas. The oven-baked pancakes, ‘crespella’, are definitely worth a try too.

Hull

Fruit Market

Hull’s Fruit Market area is a bustling arts quarter packed with quirky shops, offbeat eateries and a huge range of things to do. Expect live music, art, comedy and art-house cinema at the area’s venues plus plenty of places to eat and drink if you want to make a day of it.

Best of all there’s the monthly Humber Street Market on the third week of every month (21 February next time around) at Fruit on Humber Street and the smokehouse area of Wellington Street. With 40 stalls, it’s an amazing place to pick up a gift with a difference - or find something to deck out your pad. And if you’re not buying, that’s not a problem either - you could easily spend a day just browsing.

Don’t worry if you don’t make the market though - there are indie shops including stone carvers, hand-made prints, vintage furniture and jewellery in the area too. Like to dance the night away? In true, eclectic Fruit Market style there’s a museum based around clubbing culture.

Meanwhile arts and entertainment space Fruit has live comedy from Rob Newman, live music from Graeme Park gigs, film nights and a pub quiz - all in February.

You can actually buy some fruit too, should you fancy a bite to eat. Or you can stop off at one of the many pubs and bars. And did we mention there’s a pocket-sized dinosaur experience? There’s always something just around the corner at the Fruit Market...

Hull Truck

Hull’s very own theatre company made a name for itself in the 70s with a series of radical productions, and it really came of age in the 80s, staging the debut productions of John Godber’s stage favourites Up And Under - which later made it to the big screen starring Sean Bean - and Bouncers.

With a new venue and consistently successful productions, the Truck has a packed schedule for February ranging from theatre and comedy to film nights and dance. Household name Hal Cruttenden will be cracking the funnies on 3 February, while there’s very black humour in the shape of comedy-horror film Nina Forever on 16 February.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s a streamed guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, with work from Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Raphael, Leonardo and Botticelli on 3 February. If your tastes run more to the exotic then try Mongolian singing troupe Anda Union on 4 February.

There are theatrical performance from the Truck Youth Theatre and touring productions into the bargain. Running throughout the month is Martha, Josie and the Chinese Elves - a new Truck co-production that might just make you laugh and cry. And if you want to make a meal of it then go right ahead: dinner and show tickets are available Tuesday to Saturday.

Pave

Should you fancy a stroll away from Hull’s city centre, you might enjoy a detour to Hull’s Avenues - a leafy area packed with independent shops and restaurants that enjoys a flirt with suburbia.

You won’t be short of choice for a tipple or snack here, but do seek out Pave. It’s an airy and colourful bar and restaurant that never quite shakes off the feeling that it’s someone’s rather large living room. During the day it’s buzzy and bright - great for a break to read the papers, take breakfast or catch up with a friend. And at night, it’s a bustling bar with frequent live music and a laidback vibe.

If you’re a beer connoisseur, you’ll be glad to know that Pave has a wide range of local brews on draft and plenty of fridges stocked with amber delight from around the world. No wonder it gets top marks from CAMRA. Pave serves food all day, with a menu of light food that ranges from Mediterranean platters to curries and fishfinger butties. It caters particularly well for veggies and vegans, and they serve homemade bread.

It all makes for a good excuse to take a stroll out to the locals’ little secret. And if Pave doesn’t take your fancy we’re sure Hull Pie, artisan bakery Fudge or board-game cafe Boardroom - all situated among the Avenues - will pique your curiosity.

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