"Fans flock to see the band's first regular gig spot"
It's a city that can lay claim to some of the very best of British, with world-class culture, a long and diverse history and the soundtrack to end all soundtracks, thanks to four Mersey boys called The Beatles. Liverpool has it all, and there's never been a better time to go and discover its living legends for yourself...
Liverpool's most recent development has been one of the biggest in its long history. The Museum of Liverpool officially opened in July 2011, with the second phase being unveiled this winter. After years of planning and an investment of £72 million, the result is a stunning museum that showcases the city's history, its cultural wealth and its phenomenally successful citizens.
This is the world's first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city and the interior is impressive. A sweeping spiral staircase in the atrium leads to the different exhibitions and spaces - from Global City, which charts Liverpool's role in the wider world, both as port and trade capital, to Wondrous Place, which examines the many famous faces to which the city has been home. Among the exhibits is the stage where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met - a sacred space if ever there was one.
There is no escape - and nor should there be - from the fact that this city spawned the biggest band the world has ever seen. It is something the locals are justly proud of, and the Fab Four are still very much a part of Liverpool's cultural landscape. At the hallowed ground of The Cavern on Matthew Street, fans flock to see the band's first regular gig spot while the newer Beatles Story attraction at Albert Dock and Pier Head lets visitors see exhibits of their meteoric rise to fame, and glimpse behind the scenes at their lives beforehand. There's even Fab4D, a state of the art 3D film animation about the band, which is screened in a simulator to really bring the action to life. For true Beatles devotees, you can take a National Trust tour of Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood homes of John and Paul, or jump on the Magical Mystery Tour bus for a guided tour of the band's stomping grounds, which leaves from Albert Dock every day at 2pm.
A bed for the night
Elsewhere, new hotels are popping up across the city, from good value gems to the deluxe five-star Layla Hotel, which opens in spring 2012. Among recent additions is Hotel Indigo, a stylish bolt hole conveniently located just 10 minutes' walk from the train station. It boasts iconic 1960s-inspired interiors and all the luxurious comforts you might expect, not to mention a restaurant run by one of the UK's top celebrity chefs. Marco Pierre White, best known for his fiery temper in Hell's Kitchen, has set up a self-titled bar and grill which promises high quality grub on demand.
He's not the only big name to bag a piece of Liverpool's culinary action; Jamie Oliver has a branch of his Jamie's Italian on Paradise Street and Michelin guru Raymond Blanc is opening Brasserie Blanc as part of the new Mann Island development.
Art and culture are also a big draw. Tate Liverpool at Albert Dock has a world-class collection of art on display, and from 4 November until 29 January will host Alice in Wonderland, an intriguing exhibition on the life of Lewis Carroll, including his original manuscript written in 1864. Nearby, the more traditional Walker Art Gallery boasts works by Turner, Hockney and Rembrant.
Theatre, too, has long been a part of the city's identity, and the Playhouse and Everyman are renowned for producing ground-breaking work. The latter is currently closed for a £28 million redevelopment, which will see it continue at the forefront of the British theatre scene, while the Playhouse continues to thrive.
The Liver way
Liverpool's proximity to water, and the River Mersey's key role in the city's history, means that there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. Whether you're keen to 'Ferry 'cross the Mersey' or are more interested in learning about the devastating slave trade in the International Slavery Museum at Albert Dock, there is a range of options. If you would prefer a more sedate activity, take time to admire the city's UNESCO world heritage sites, from the 'three graces' at Pier Head (a trio of architectural marvels that includes the famous Royal Liver Building) to Albert Dock itself, and beyond.
If shopping is your chosen sport or if you prefer the beautiful game, both activities are alive and well here. Liverpool ONE is a massive shopping centre with all you could dream of in the way of retail, while the city's football dynasty - whether you're red for Liverpool or blue for Everton - needs no introduction. You can tour both stadiums, and Anfield even has a new sports café, The Boot Room, which gets you up close and personal with loads of exclusive memorabilia.
Liverpudlians have always been well known for their love of life, and their home city is no less welcoming. So, why wait? Grab yourself a ticket to ride! Well, you didn't think we'd get through the whole feature without a corny Beatles pun, did you?
Did you know?
It's no great shock that more Liverpool artistes have topped the music charts than from any other town or city in the world. One of them was Lita Roza, who was the first British woman to have a number one in 1953 with pet shop classic, How Much is that Doggie in the Window?
Liverpool is home to Europe's oldest Chinese community, who began settling there in the early 19th century. Today, you can head to Chinatown in the Nelson Street, Duke Street and Berry Street area, for a fantastic oriental feast.
Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, designed in 1904 by Giles Gilbert Scott, is the largest in Britain. The city also has a second, the Metropolitan Cathedral, whose modern iconic design was the brainchild of Frederick Gibberd in 1962.