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Merseyside’s largest seaside town is a great place to visit all year round, for the sand and the sunshine, the ice cream, the attractions, and more.
But at Christmas there are even more reasons to drop in – because it’s still Southport, but with bells on!
It’s had a few facelifts since it first opened its doors in 1881, but this has got to be the best yet. Southport Market has undergone a £1.4million refurbishment and been transformed into a fantastic food and drink market that’s set to rival the best in Europe.
There’s a carousel-themed bar serving ales, cocktails, gin, and hot drinks, and food from around the globe – Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Canada – as well as places a little closer to home like Birkdale! And in the run up to December 25, there’s festive food, impish elves, panto pranks, and more.
The Atkinson is working in partnership with L’Orchestra dell’ Arte to bring high quality classical music to the town and ‘Cake & Classical Music’ takes place on the first Monday of each month with 45-minute lunchtime concerts; and that’s not forgetting all the comedy shows, theatre productions and music gigs it’s set to stage.
And, best of all – there’s panto!! Singer and actress Claire Sweeney stars as the Fairy Godmother in the Atkinson’s production of Cinderella. Joining her are Mia Molloy as Cinderella, Britain’s Got Talents Lewis Pryor as Buttons, Alex Patmore as Prince Charming and Tom Burroughs and Michael Chapman as The Ugly Sisters.
You can light up your Christmas with this spectacular, illuminated light trail set to music at Victoria Park. Everyone in the family will love it and it runs from Thursday, November 25, until Thursday, December 23, from 4.30pm every night.
Tickets – which must be pre-booked online in advance – start from £11 and £48 for a family ticket.
There’ll be a Christmas hub area where mulled wine and festive street food stalls will be cooking up tasty treats and, once they’re on the light trail, visitors can look forward to 3D projections, light tunnels, a wishing tree, interactive shadow play, and a laser light maze.
They don’t come much better than this. Southport’s got 22 miles of coastline and the biggest sandy beach so you can paddle and build sandcastles to your heart’s content – who cares if it’s blowing a gale? You can always warm up with a hot chocolate or mulled wine in one of the many bars and cafes.
It’s perfect for family get togethers and there’s plenty of space for games of cricket, rounders, flying a kite – see the wind comes in handy! or tucking-in to a winter picnic.
Nestled there too is an amazing mix of wildlife and nature and, starting at Southport beach, you also have Marshside RSPB, a haven for bird watchers with two hides, a viewing platform and three viewing screens.
The 1,000-metre Victorian Pier is the second longest in the country, and if you walk to the end you’ll get to see some magnificent views of the North West, Blackpool and, on a clear day, even the North Wales coast.
It’ll blow away the cobwebs on a winter’s day and, if you don’t fancy the walk, you can jump onto the pier tram which will take you straight to the end (and then you can treat yourself to a cuppa and cake in the pier’s pavilion – they might even have a mince pie!).
So very English and unique! The British Lawnmower Museum is now one of the world’s leading authorities in vintage lawnmowers and specialists in antique garden machinery.
Here, you can see the biggest, most expensive, and fastest, as well as those which once belonged to the rich and famous – Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Brian May, Nicolas Parsons and Jean Alexander (aka Hilda Ogden) among them. And, FYI, the Lawnmower was invented by Edwin Beard Budding in 1830, deemed a madman for making such a strange contraption, so he had to test his machine at night so no one would see him!
He’s going to be a busy man, because the man in the red suit has got gorgeous grottoes in Wayfarer’s Arcade and Southport Market, so you can be sure to check that he’s got you on the nice list – and not the naughty one.
He’s got dates galore and he’ll be there with his elves so you can tell him what’s on your wish list – and there might even be an early gift. Ho Ho Ho.
King’s Gardens is a 17-acre garden located in the centre of Southport on the Promenade and a hive of activity all year round.
The Gardens have been restored to their former glory with Victorian shelters and the Venetian Bridge, colourful flowerbeds and displays, and, if there are younger members of your family, a pretty cool play area. (Keep an eye out for events held throughout the year, like outdoor cinema!).
Let’s not forget other green spaces too – like Lord Street Gardens and Victoria Park, the latter having some great pathways cyclists and skaters love. And, there’s Marine Lake. As well as green space here it goes without saying, there’s water! You can hire a rowing boat, a motor boat or even one of the Swan Pedaloes. Or, if you fancy something even more exciting, why not try your hand at the latest sport of paddleboarding?
If you fancy a spot of retail therapy, you’ve got plenty of options from Ocean Plaza stacked with large stores and restaurants, to the Victorian canopied boulevard of Lord Street with its speciality shops, designer boutiques and more. Of course, at Christmas everyone loves Lord Street even more because it’s festooned in decorations and the trees are ablaze with lights!
One street to put on your ‘must visit’ list is Wesley Street, affectionately known as the ‘Village in the Town’ where you’ll find lovely indie shops painted in pastel colours. The traders host family-friendly events throughout the year, such as the Wesley Street Festival and Movember, and there’s everything from a traditional sweet shop, celebration cakes, chiropody, family photographers, wool shop, butchers, antique jewellers, cafes, and gifts.
Just think of all the special pressies you’ll be able to buy.
And, not forgetting, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the Salvation Army Band which will treat visitors to carols on December 8, 15 and 22 – so keep an ear out for them.
There’s no shortage of places for a pit-stop whether you’re looking for a quaint café or tearoom, a chic restaurant, a trendy bar, or anything in between.
If you’re looking for a tearoom or cafe, Nostalgia Tea Rooms above the shops in Lord Street offers soup, snacks, main meals and cream teas and you can enjoy waitress service as you sit ‘with the sounds of yesteryear’.
At the Vincent V-Café and Sushi Bar you can have sushi created in front of you but there’s also a menu offering British classics with a European twist; or you can grab a burger and America fayre at Ocean Plaza or, of course, get fish and chips on the pier.
There are brill bars including Remedy for gin lovers, Peaky Blinders if you fancy tipping your toes into the 20s era, and Punch Tarmey’s if you prefer an Irish vibe.
And almost all the eateries have got great festive menus so you can gift yourself a fabulous feast and fill yourself with food – and Christmas cheer!
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