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London: It has always been the place to be in the UK for creatives, entrepreneurs and businesses alike, with migrating down to the big smoke having an air of ‘making it’ about it. However, as the population of the capital heads towards the 9 million mark, here at The Guide Liverpool we thought we’d show off how well our homely, little (in comparison) city competes with the concrete juggernaut that is London.
As much as London has the reputation for housing the majority of business giants, in recent years, independent businesses have enjoyed a boom throughout the city, and the same can quite easily said about Liverpool. Bold Street has always been the natural habitat of the quirky, independent business, a habitat that has flourished in recent times. Whether it be restaurants, cafés, clothing stores or vinyl stores, to name but a few, Bold Street has become a must visit for any tourist and a top spot for a wander for locals.
The same can be said for areas such as Lark Lane, Castle Street and The Baltic Triangle, as they are now bustling hubs for independent business. So much so, that an Independent Liverpool card is a must have in the city as it helps create and support that community, customers and owners alike. Watch out Camden and Shoreditch, Liverpool is hot on your heels.
Heading down to the West End is perfect for that special occasion, but, when throwing in travel, accommodation and meals to the evening, without taking into consideration the extortionate ticket prices these days, it’s one hell of a costly night out! Why not look closer to home for an affordable alternative? Touring theatres shows are gracing the stages of the Empire and newly refurbished Everyman more than ever, with the same being true of our larger music venues such as The Echo Arena and Olympia.
We’ve seen the West End and Broadway trailblazers that are The Lion King and Wicked come to the Empire, alongside international stars Bruno Mars and Rock legends, The Who, due to take the Echo Arena by storm this year. The Philharmonic Hall has also done an excellent job of bringing some of the best composers, artists and shows to the city, giving the London Phil a run for it’s money.
Take the hard earned cash that you would spend on travelling and a hotel in London, and you could probably fit in another couple of shows in to the year if you did it in your own back yard.
It seems as though whenever you are catching up with anyone in London, you spend a fortune on coffee, floating from hipster café to minimalist coffee shop. Once again, we call your bluff, London! The so-called Coffee Shop Culture is rife in the UK at the moment, and, our previously mentioned independent businesses are not about to miss a trick.
Sitting in the classic Bold Street Coffee, you are immediately transported to Shoreditch High Street, sipping away in Filter & Fox you could be mistaken for thinking that you’re in King’s Cross and, tucking in at the Egg Café you’re teleported to Kentish Town, in Camden.
Coffee and Tea has become almost like Wine, with so many different types and ways to drink it, and Liverpool are keeping on top of the whole thing, so that you can just relax in to warming mug without the fuss.
Much like Brighton, Soho has become synonymous with LGBTQ culture, but, as these cities have their districts, and Manchester has Canal Street, Liverpool has the Stanley Street Quarter, otherwise known as ‘Gay Town’.
Gay Town has become such a popular area for a night out, located just off the famous Mathew’s Street, that the influences of its nightlife and culture can be seen throughout the city, whilst also become popular with those who aren’t members of the LGBTQ community.
I’m sure that we’ve all been on a night out and heard the words, “Right, time for Gay Town”. The famous, or infamous depending on your experiences, nightclub that is Garlands has been a staple of the area for nearly 25 years, with bars such as G-Bar and Heaven also taking up the mantle of challenging the likes of Soho.
The City of Westminster’s Oxford Street is Europe’s busiest shopping strip, with over half a million visitors a day. Now, whether that sounds like hell or heaven, we are here to show you that you can have an amazing shopping trip without having to put up with being one of the cattle.
L1 and the surrounding streets have everything that you need, in a modernist, cosmopolitan environment. Located close to Central and James Street stations, Albert Dock and littered hundreds of chain and independent eateries, the shopping haven has a constant busy atmosphere without suffocating its shoppers. The area is continuously developing, adding restaurants and a wider variety of stores to something that already has you spoilt for choice.
London is constantly growing outwards, engulfing and connecting more and more places. This also means that those areas are developing too, just look at Shoreditch, it was barely a shadow of what it is today 10 years ago. The same is happening on Merseyside. Not only have we seen our city centre under go a jaw-dropping transformation, adding more student accommodation and China Town forming in to its own small community, we have also seen this development reach much further afield.
Toxteth, Norris Green and Croxteth are all Regeneration Zones, ready to deal with the rising influx of students. Lark Lane, Aigburth Road and Smithdown Road are also doing an amazing job of helping the city expand , whilst areas such as Woolton and Aintree are becoming a hit with young families.
Expansion and development are key to maintaining the relevance of any modern city and Merseyside is up there with the best of them.
Many tourists obviously visit the capital for its vast history, with Westminster, London Bridge and Buckingham playing a big part, but here in Liverpool, we have a different kind of history and you don’t have to look far to find it. Did someone say maritime?
You’ve probably seen many an open top bus tour, bursting with snap happy tourists, usually wearing some sort of Beatles merchandise to pledge their allegiance to the Fab Four. The iconic Pop group are responsible for forming popular music as we know it today, and that is something that can’t be matched. The Beatles Museum and the tour of sites such as Penny Lane and the Strawberry Fields are a crowd favourite, but the history of the docks and business district are just as prominent.
Saint Georges Hall, The Central Library and The International Slavery Museum are must see sights for any tourist, and don’t forget our two, yes two, incredible Cathedrals.
London has the most football teams of any city, it’s home to Twickenham, Wembley and Wimbledon and hosted the Olympic Games; how can we compete with that? Well, let me tell you…
Once again, history comes in to play, as Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs are two of the biggest and most historic in the country. The grounds are famous, the rivalry is famous and comradeship through the Hillsborough tragedy is famous. Merseyside may not have the quantity that London does, but it has the quality.
And, if football isn’t your thing, then St. Helens and Warrington Rugby Clubs are just down the road, Aintree Race Course is around the corner and the Echo Arena is a stones throw away, hosting our very own Boxing Champion, Tony Bellew. Oh, and did I mention that we are in contention for hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2022? Oh yes, that too.
Hyde Park, Victoria Park and London Fields all come alive in the capital when the sun pops its head around the corner. The lazy days in the park with a disposable BBQ have become a staple of British summertime, something that we look forward to as soon as spring dawns on us, and yes, you guessed it, we have the parks here in Scouseland to compete.
Sefton Park is the obvious choice, and biggest, with an array festivals being held there every year. However, let us not forget the likes of the more humble Princes Park, the views of the city at Everton Valley and the Oriental Gardens at Otterspoools Festival Gardens; coupled with a lovely walk along the Mersey River. Stanley Park and Croxeth Country Park, and the blueprint for Central Park, NYC, Birkenhead Park out in the suburbs can make you feel like you’re miles away from the city and the kids just love them too.
Bring on the summer!
Now, for the final point, the jewel in our North West crown, and something that London will never have, the coast.
Here on Merseyside we have the iconic Mersey River right on our doorstep, and while it brings fireworks and tall ships and bloody big cruise liners our way, it also comes hand in hand with miles of stunning beaches.
The picturesque Crosby Beach, littered with Antony Gormley’s iron men opens the flood gates to miles of beautiful coastline, including the National Trusts’ Formby beach and nature reserve and Southport. And that’s just one side of the river. Wirral’s beaches offers unrivalled views of North Wales from West Kirby and there’s hours of family fun to be had at New Brighton. How’d you like that London?
London will always have quantity over the other large UK cities, that is something our beloved Liverpool will never be able to compete with despite giving it a damn good go. However, quality is the key and that is what we do best……with a more modest, northern price tag!
So the next time someone says: “Ohhh you need to get yourself to London for that” you can tell them “Nah Liverpool is where it’s at.”
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