This October sees the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles first ever single, Love Me Do. To celebrate, new musical Let It Be opens in London’s West End from 14 September for a limited run at the Prince of Wales Theatre. There have also been various events taking place throughout the summer (22-28 August was international Beatle Week) and on 5th October a world record attempt for the biggest ever sing-a-long is being held at Albert Dock in Liverpool. So it was perfect timing when Visit England invited me to head to the hometown of the fab four to see discover more about Liverpool’s hidden gems.
As they were a bit before my time I’m not really a Beatles fan but when we arrived in Liverpool and boarded a Magical Mystery Tour I was surprised by just how many of The Beatles tracks that were playing that I recognised (Beatles songs are played on the bus on route interspersed with commentary). The tour takes you past various places associated with The Beatles, including their various childhood homes, as well as places that inspired some of their most famous hits including Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields (John Lennon used to live round the corner from them and play in the grounds as a child).
I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about The Beatles before going to Liverpool and our tour was full of hidden gems about the band, and the city in general. I learned, for instance, that Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who designed Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral (the largest in the UK and the 5th largest in the world), also designed the iconic British red phone boxes.
And I was also surprised to find out that The Beatles had been turned down by practically every record label in the country before Brian Epstein finally managed to get them a contract. What’s great about the Magical Mystery Tour is that it also takes you into parts of Liverpool you might otherwise not get the chance to see, driving past Septon Park and Palm House.
We also paid a visit to The Beatles Experience, something ardent fans of the Fab four are sure to love. Even if you’re not that in to The Beatles it’s still quite interesting, and amazing, when you realise just how influential they’ve been. Just make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to check it out as it’s deceptively big, packed full of exhibits and info on the band. The Beatles Experience is spread across two sites, one in the Albert Dock (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the other at Liverpool’s Pier Head. And it was in the later that I came across another hidden gem, quite literally, as we popped into The Beatles Hidden Gem, an exhibition of previously unseen photography of The Beatles taken by photographer Paul Berriff.
It’s hardly a hidden gem, but no day trip to Liverpool would be complete without a visit to the famous Cavern Club, the venue where The Beatles played over 300 times. And it’s not only The Beatles that have performed at The Cavern Club as a staggering who’s who of music’s finest have graced its stage including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Elton john and more recently Adele, The Arctic Monkeys and The Wanted.
If you do fancy visiting Liverpool for longer than a day you could always stay at the only Beatles-inspired hotel in the world, the swanky Hard Days Night, (though at around £750 for the Lennon suite you may want to opt for one of its cheaper rooms). And it goes without saying that while The Beatles have left a lasting legacy on the city there’s plenty of other stuff to do – this year’s MOBOs are being held in Liverpool. All you need now is your Ticket To Ride here.