My Liverpool: a local’s guide to the city

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Eurovision is here! Can we hear a drumroll please? The epic extravaganza has finally arrived, with the semi-finals hosted all this week in Liverpool on behalf of Ukraine and the grand finale taking place tomorrow night.

If you’re one of the lucky ones to have snatched a ticket (well done), you’ll want to make the most of your time in the city: partying, losing sleep and, probably, a little sanity along the way...

Start the day off right by ambling down to the Baltic Triangle in the very heart of the city. This is the North’s take on Camden Market (only you’re less likely to cough up fifty quid on an aubergine tapenade or bump into an Amy Winehouse look-alike). Once an industrial estate, it is now a newly developed alternative hub where you’ll find warehouses-cum-indie studios, beer gardens and a skatepark daubed with graffiti. While you’re in the area, I must urge you to give Red Brick Vintage a visit, the old Cains Brewery turned jumble sale, where you’ll find knicks and knacks galore.

Have a rummage around 69A, another of Liverpool’s hidden gems— boxes stacked high of well-worn clothes, old anime magazines, postcards stamped, letters sealed, painted portraits of long-lost souls, artefacts from distant lands and a … groggy marmalade cat? That’s Murdock, who sleeps inside the old marine building and is one of the city’s legends (after Salah of course!), making the trip to this Aladdin’s cave all the more worth it.

Quick! Hotfoot it down to Buyers Club - the neighbourhood bar and kitchen on Hardman Street. With conceptual art hanging up on brick walls, books stacked on shelves and pasta served generously, you really can’t go wrong. Try their wild mint chicken tagliolini, with a side of buttery cacio e pepe beans and a fragrant vida paloma cocktail. It’s an all carb diet, ready for the win.

If all else fails, Bold Street is a colourful avenue where independent restaurants, bars and shops are plentiful. A stone’s throw away from the historic Bombed Out Church which was obliterated during the war, some of the city’s best knockout meals can be found along this bustling street. LEAF and Organico for all you plant-based, health-conscious folk, tapas at La Parrilla Bar & Grill (bid the Mexican singer wailing on the way in… another of the city’s unsung heroes) and Pieminister — the casual locale which you absolutely must try in the spirit of #patriotism.

Camp and Furnace and The Botanical are two venues for those who went out for one drink to politely celebrate the occasion, but one will inevitably turn into two and two turn into three and well… you get the picture. Let’s face it, it’s Eurovision. Allow yourself to bask in the glory of the spectacle and order another round of tequila limes. Then grab a tasty tipple at one of the very many speakeasys— Berry and Rye and Abditory are my personal favourites.

Get your scran on at Elif, the Turkish hangout for the best chargrilled meats, sizzling straight off the BBQ, hot and cold messes and baklava studded with pistachios and drizzled in runny honey. For those with an insatiable sweet tooth, Pins Social Club has you covered, with lots of Italian-American delights to be gobbled up in greedy mouthfuls. Scoff on tangy slices of key lime pie, crispy coated pizza doughnuts and bourbon banana ice cream.

If you unwittingly run into a wardrobe malfunction, hotfoot it to Liverpool One, the city’s shopping quarter, or perhaps you’re in the market for something more unique? Give Cow Vintage or Pop Boutique a try, a little independent shop where you will be greeted with rails up rails of handpicked, reworked pieces. Or Cricket, the luxury boutique for more modern, high-end outfits. After you’ve bagged your blingiest, most flamboyant fit, get a big curly blow-dry (à la Scouse-bird) at Voodou hair, one of the longest running salons providing glam to all the lavish ladies of Liverpool.

Many tourist spots can be found along the dockside. Besides lots of exquisite bars and eateries, there’s the Tate Liverpool, the Maritime Museum, The Museum of Liverpool and Three Grace Buildings. If you want to see a 360 view of the city, there’s the Royal Liver Building tour and The Wheel where you can view the stunning cityscape from the sky.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret, here’s the best way to avoid tourist traps. Spy the two classic cathedrals on the rather, momentous, unassuming hill at Everton Brow. Or, clamber up the spiral staircase to The Central Library rooftop platform. Both locations will give you a perfect panoramic vantage point of the city for free!

Big music fan? Look no further, Liverpool has a rich history of birthing some of the most talented of singers— least of all the Beatles. Retrace their steps at Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, The Beatles’ Story, Cavern Club, and see where it all began for the four lads who would soon shake up the world.

Liverpool has a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, thanks to the late Paul O’Grady and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, there are several gay bars and clubs in the city to get your groove on— Heaven, Superstar Boudoir, Masquerade and Kitty’s. A drag dinner cabaret? Go on then.

The night is still young, where else? You may ask. Well, there’s Invisible Wind Factory, the artsy cultural ‘theme-park of the future’ or all-faithful, Concert Square, the one-stop-shop of bars and venues means you won’t have to trek too far or break a heel.

Oh wait, can’t have a guide to Liverpool without mentioning football now can we? It’s true, the city is divided—by colour. Paint the town red (literally) in Anfield, home of Liverpool FC , where you’ll never walk alone. Meanwhile Everton fans kick about Goodison Park— a true blue territory. Expect to hear loud chants and cheers, even when it’s not match day.

If that’s not enough, there’s always the global song contest to fill up your weekend, with lots of events, screenings and the main act taking place at the official Eurovision Village.

Enjoy all the festivities Liverpool has on offer… in your best Scouse-style of course!