At the start of the 19th century, 40% of all the world's trade was passing through Liverpool, and many major buildings reflecting the wealth of the city were built at that time. Liverpool's Custom House was at times the single largest contributor to the British Exchequer. As an important port city, Liverpool has drawn it's population from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, with British ships and those from countries all around the world docking here. Many people came from Ireland, just a short ferry ride away. The city's diverse population includes the oldest Black African community in the UK, and the oldest Chinatown in Europe. After second-world-war bombing destruction and the advent of container-cargo vessels the city was a changed place by the 1970's and, like many such older cities, Liverpool needed to re-invent itself. With more museums and galleries than anywhere outside London in the UK, the city was named a joint European Capital of Culture in 2008.
As a tourist destination, the city has attractions such as the Tate Liverpool Museum, the refurbished Albert Dock area, the Kings Waterfront, and a series of new city-center festivals bringing visitors from all over. Being the birthplace of the four Beatles, who changed cultures on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, remains the biggest draw. Place names like Penny Lane, The Brian Epstein Guesthouse, the John Lennon Airport, the Cavern Club and an Elenor Rigby statue on Stanley Street, are just a few of many reminders from that era, bringing music fans here from all around the world.
Another big attraction of 20 years running, the Mathew Street Festival, has been replaced by the Liverpool International Music Festival, with two weeks of outdoor music concerts at Sefton Park and Pier Head stages, featuring artists of international fame through new local talent, from opera to rock and reggae, and some of the best tribute bands paying homage to iconic acts of the past 50 years. Sefton Park events are free, and now include a concert by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. A Beatle Week at the Cavern Club, and Fringe Festival with over 100 events in pubs and clubs across the city, all take place during this period in in the last half of August. See video clip The New Mersey Beat for a taste.
Liverpool's well-known Gay Quarter is centered around Stanley Street. You’ll find plenty of bars hereabouts. The month-long Homotopia is Liverpool’s celebration of queer culture that takes place throughout November. Liverpool Pride is a big march and festival celebration in early August. The long history of glbt peoples living in this city, until recently ignored and unrecorded, is being investigated and documented in print and on recordings by the Our Story Liverpool project. Their website has information and samples of this work in progress.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport is about 8 miles outside the city. It has mostly flights from around Europe, although there are a few from North America too. Arriva bus routes 80A, 86A and 500 connect the airport with Liverpool City Centre. The Airlink 501 bus to Liverpool South Parkway station has been discontinued. Some travelers also use Manchester Airport - see our Manchester guide.
There is direct train service from Manchester Airport every half hour during peak times on the First TransPennine Express, a trip of 70-90 minutes. Liverpool is only a bit over two hours from London Euston station, with frequent departures on Virgin Trains. For information and bookings of trains and coaches try the Trainline website. For an overview of all UK rail services see National Rail.
National Express coach company has a bus station on Norton Street, not far from Liverpool City Center. Trips from London take 4-5 hours, and from Manchester Airport, about an hour.
The downtown area is fairly compact, so do as the locals do and set to it on foot. Buses and trains can get you around town and to outlying sights. Merseyrail is the local commuter rail system, with Moorfields Station by the Gay Quarter, that connects to both the Northern (blue) and Wirral (green) lines. A third, City Line (red) connects to the Wirral Line at Lime Street Station.
Arriva Bus is one of several companies with service throughout the region. See Mersey Travel for the full scoop on bus, train and ferry routes, schedules and fares, including the City Line trains to Blackpool, a gay-popular seaside resort, about 90 minutes away.
Currency and Money
The pound sterling (£) is the official currency of the United Kingdom, subdivided into 100 pence. ATMs are sprinkled throughout the downtown area, in all the usual places. Contact your local bank for a possible UK bank partner to save on withdrawal fees. Visa, Mastercard and American Express are widely accepted - credit cards with a smart chip and pin number, now required by some ticket machines here and in Continental Europe, can be most useful.
Seen Magazine is Liverpool's only LGBT publication covering lifestyle, art, culture and style, with news, interviews, and opinion columns.
Attitude is another national gay periodical, with information on what’s happening around the country, including Liverpool.
For map locations and website links to area businesses, and entertainment venues, see our gay Liverpool listings pages.
Few Liverpool pubs, clubs or bars have a website, and facebook pages are basic and rarely updated. Even local gay guides tend to be outdated, and the usual web searches yield info from years ago. Also places seem to open and close with little notice. So when in town, get out there and pound the pavement around the Gay Quarter (and let us know). Find below our best guess on what you'll find.
Baa Bar (5-9 Fowlers Bldgs, Victoria St, Gay Quarter), one link in a chain of bars, late night gay-friendly mixed scene, cheap shots. Also at 43 Fleet St, at the Centre.
Cafe Tabac (126 Bold St, Center), bohemian-scene cafe/bar, home-style food, Sunday roasts, DJs, films, live bands. Diverse music includes alternative, folk, electronica, RnB, Soul, Funk, Jazz, Latin, Ska, Hip Hop, Funk, and Reggae.
Cavern Club (10 Mathew St), slick operation, live tribute bands, Beatles memorablilia store/tours, summer Beatles festival.
The Curzon (8 Temple Lane, Gay Quarter), older male crowd, funky/sociable old-school cottage cruising, drag shows, LADs events.
Garlands (8-10 Eberle St, Gay Quarter), big and popular dance club, gay/straight, men/women, all-ages and types.
G-Bar (1-3 Eberle St, Gay Quarter), gay bar/after-hours Thursday through Sunday underground-style dance club in three unique rooms: the Church, the body-throbbing Basement underground, and the Thursday/Saturday Boosh Hip-Hop/RnB. Strict door policy.
Heaven Liverpool (Victoria St, Gay Quarter), nightly gay bar/ dance club open until 5am, Saturdays 7am, Funky House, gay and lesbian, young to older mix.
Lisbon Bar (35 Victoria St, Gay Quarter), one of the oldest gay bars in town, early party pub, holiday specials, entertainment, paninis.
Magnet (45 Hardman St, Center), re-opened April 2014. Cozy booths, great sound, world-class live bands, DJs playing classic soul, funk, disco and soulful house; basement electronic house and techno music.
Masquerade Bar (10 Cumberland St, Gay Quarter), recently re-opened gay bar, popular drag cabaret; karaoke, quiz and card games, WiFi, crusty cob pub sandwiches.
Navy Bar (27-29 Stanley St, Gay Quarter), Thursday-Sunday gay party bar and dance club, DJs, entertainment, go-go boys.
Passion (31/33 Dale St, Gay Quarter), Friday/Saturday afterhours club, midnight to 6 or 7am, mixed dancing, shows.
Pink (4-6 Victoria St, Gay Quarter), nightly gay party bar, young mixed men/women crowd, drag shows.
Poste House (23 Cumberland St, Gay Quarter), small upstairs gay pub, younger mixed crowd, cheap shots.
Splash Sauna Spa (5 Fazakerley St, Gay Quarter), 4-floor men's bathhouse, sauna, steam, Jacuzzi, gym, cabins, maze, porn videos. Open seven days, 24-hours on weekends.
Superstar Boudouir (22-24 Stanley St, Gay Quarter), gay/mixed cocktail lounge and dance bar, DJs, karaoke, drag shows, booth seating.