A buzzing live music scene
Liverpool’s nightlife is legendary and offers something for everyone. From super clubs and dance warehouses to comedy nights, concept bars, theatres and a lively gay scene, Liverpool has it all. Because Liverpool is a compact city, with clubs and bars on every corner, it’s ideal for a night out – whether a pub crawl is your thing, dancing the night away or dinner and the theatre. And the numbers of stag and hen parties that descend on the city every weekend, as well as thousands of students, has helped to enhance Liverpool’s reputation as party central. Having said that, Liverpool’s thriving nightlife is not just reserved for the young. You’ll see people of all ages gathering in the city all with one thing in common – to have a great time.
As Liverpool is renowned for its music scene, this is a perfect place to start. For a city that spawned The Beatles and other great bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, Cast, Space, the Coral and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, you’d expect it to have a buzzing live music scene and you won’t be disappointed. There are many great live music venues in the city doing their bit to keep Liverpool’s musical heritage alive – from tiny pubs and clubs providing a platform for little known and up and coming artists to venues like the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool and the Philharmonic which attract some of the biggest acts from across the globe.
It’s well known that bands like playing in Liverpool and will usually try and make it one of their stopping off points across the country – so there’s always plenty of choice, any night of the week. The Arts Club and Zanzibar, both on Seel Street, Leaf on Bold Street and the o2 Academy on Hotham Street, all host touring acts and home-grown talent, in addition to some great little venues including Maguire’s Pizza Bar on Renshaw Street where you can watch live music while drinking and eating pizza – what could be better?
The Jacaranda, said to be the first club to host The Beatles in 1960, naturally holds some great live music nights, as well as Peter Kavanagh’s on Egerton Street, a firm favourite with blues, jazz, folk and country acts. Another fab venue, tucked away on Hardman Street is The Buyer’s Club, which boasts a lovely beer garden and great olives! The Baltic Social in the thriving Baltic Triangle area on the outskirts of town is also an excellent venue for food, drink and live music in the form of the ‘Baltic Sessions’, as is nearby Camp and Furnace, a huge space which hosts everything from festivals to small, intimate performances in an incredibly diverse range of music styles. Check out its legendary Bongo’s Bingo nights and Eurovision parties.
Bars and clubs
Sound Food and Drink on Duke Street, also holds regular live music gigs, pub quizzes and club nights. As well as live music played at venues across the city seven nights a week, Liverpool is also the location for high-profile festivals including Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool International Music Festival and Africa Oye, a celebration of African culture and featuring live music, DJs, dance and food stalls. There are also lots of smaller festivals held across the city, throughout the year.
If lively bars and clubbing are more your thing, you’ll find venues to suit every music taste. Buzzing Concert Square is home to some of the city’s biggest names such as Revolution, Electrik Warehouse, a Liverpool institution and McCooley’s Bar. For indie, electro and rock nights check out EBGB’s on Slater Street and The Peacock on Seel Street. Level, on Fleet Street, as the name suggests, is a venue over several floors. Inspired by the UK’s earliest super clubs in the 1980s and 1990s, its influences include house, electronic, dance, hip hop and urban music.
For a true tourist experience, particularly if you’re a Beatles fan, don’t miss the iconic Mathew Street. Pop into the Cavern Club for a drink, a dance and some live music. Continuing with the Beatles theme check out Rubber Soul and the Hard Days Night Hotel, all located in this lively area. If you prefer a quiet drink in a pub oozing character, you’ve come to the right city! Head to Hope Street for the wonderful Ye Cracke, a favourite of John and Cynthia Lennon, when they were arts students.
A stone’s throw away is a hidden gem of a pub, the Pilgrim. And while in the area be sure not to miss the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, known locally as the ‘The Phil’ and honoured with the title of ‘most ornate pub in England’ – the men’s toilets have to be seen to be believed! Other highlights include The Caledonia in Catherine Street, a music venue and eatery that’s also dog-friendly (as are many bars in Liverpool) and the Baltic Fleet near the waterfront that has been serving ale for more than 400 years.
Champagne or Guinness?
The award-winning Fly in the Loaf, on Hardman Street, are a must on any pub crawl itinerary. There are lots of great places to sit outside and soak up the atmosphere when the weather is fine. Fazenda Rodizio Bar and Grill boasts a wonderful outside space to sip wine or a beer, while taking in the stunning architecture and rich history of Exchange Flags. The Quarter in the Georgian Quarter is also a great location to people watch amidst the best of Liverpool’s rich heritage.
Liverpool ONE’s Terrace has plenty of places with outdoor seating to sit out and enjoy a drink, food and superb views, while magnificent views of the city’s World Heritage waterfront are thrown in for free when you eat and drink at Matou at the Mersey Ferry Terminal Building, Pier Head. Of course cocktails – shaken and stirred – are always on offer. Sample a Bubblebath or a Key Lime Pie cocktail at the Alchemist in Brunswick Street or try your hand at cocktail shaking at Red Door in St John Street where you can take a masterclass.
Fans of cocktails and Liverpool Football Club can combine their passions at the Bastion at the Shankly Hotel in Victoria Street. Sip cocktails whilst taking in the panoramic views of the city’s docklands at Carpathia Champagne Bar and Restaurant in the Baltic Triangle and marvel at master cocktail makers at Santa Chupitos, home of the Five Dollar Shake and Hurray for Hugo.
For those whose tastes are more Guinness than cocktail, Liverpool is awash with fantastic Irish pubs with a great ‘craic’. The winds of Irish influence have blown through Liverpool for centuries and there are lots of great drinking holes reflecting this including Shenanigans on Tithebarn Street, Flanagan’s Apple on Mathew Street and Pogue Mahone in Seel Street. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Liverpool on St Patrick’s Day you’re in for a real treat as the entire city gets involved in commemorating the patron saint of Ireland with a pint or two.
Comedy clubs, wine bars and a lively LGTBQ+ scene
Liverpool enjoys a lively lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender scene, and while not on the scale of Manchester, there’s still plenty going on. Bars and clubs are mainly located on the fringes of the business district in and around the Dale Street, Cumberland Street and Stanley Street areas. Popular venues include GBar, Superstar Boudoir for some terrific drag acts, the Navy Bar or legendary Liverpool gay clubs Garlands and the Curzon. The Lisbon is a well-known bar with a diverse crowd and a great atmosphere.
If you’re in the mood for a laugh, Liverpool is well served for comedy clubs. The Hot Water Comedy Club in Seel Street is Liverpool’s only purpose-built comedy venue. Also worth a visit is the Laughter House, within the Slaughter House in Fenwick Street while comedians at Liverpool Comedy Central, at the Albert Dock, have been tickling the city’s funny bone for many years. A little further out of the city centre you can also find some great hubs of nightlife – try the bars and restaurants of bohemian Lark Lane, near Sefton Park as well as lively Penny Lane and Allerton Road.
A few miles north of Liverpool lies Waterloo and Crosby which are also very well served for character pubs, wine bars and great restaurants. Highlights include the Volunteer Canteen in Waterloo, known locally as the ‘Volly’ and serving great beer; this pub is tiny but perfectly formed. The Crow’s Nest in nearby Crosby, a community pub, is also compact but has a great atmosphere. Whether you want to dance the night away, sip cocktails and enjoy beautiful views, have a quiet drink and a meal or spend a night at a comedy club or the theatre, Liverpool will have what you’re looking for. You may just need to book another break in the city to recover.
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