Laura Wild samples the ice festival and some of the other attractions that the Mersey city has to offer visitors
When people talk about city breaks the mind is drawn to weekends abroad involving cheap flights and budget hotels, but this Christmas there is plenty to do in one of the most beautiful cities right here in the North West.
In fact, I would say there is plenty to do all year round, but my weekend in Liverpool certainly got me in to the festive spirit with its ice festival.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that 24 hours wasn’t enough.
That said, we managed to fit lots in and came back having had a great weekend.
The ice festival is this winter’s big attraction in Liverpool – and there’s plenty to do, making it ideal for couples, families and groups of friends.
Sprawled out next to the Liverpool One, the ice festival is in an ideal location to combine shopping and eating (and drinking).
During the course of our visit we showcased our skills (or lack of) on the ice rink, which is a good size, with good music and well manned with people on hand if you fall on the ice. Young and old were enjoying the rink and people were having a laugh together – it really made it feel like Christmas.
Next to the ice rink is the UK’s only real ice slide. The 30m super speedy ice run seemed to be a hit with the children – and big kids - alike.
There’s also a number of rides for children, food stands and fairground stalls plus a huge snow globe.
Leaving the best until last was the Apres Cafe Bar and Ice bar. It was snug and cosy – and the perfect place to stop for a drink after a day shopping or at the ice festival.
With big relaxing chairs and lots of cocktails to chose from it looked like the place to be.
For those willing to brave it there is also an incredible ice bar. You enter armed with a tinfoil blanket and welcomed with a shot served in a glass made of ice.
At minus 14 it is a bit chilly, but it is absolutely worth being cold for 25 minutes. The tables, chairs, bar and sculptures in the room are all made out of ice.
Of course the ice festival is just part of what is on offer – there are dozens of great shops and even better restaurants in and around Liverpool One.
Speaking of shopping, if you need a helping hand with picking the perfect Christmas outfit stores, including John Lewis, offer a personal shopper experience. It’s not pushy and is a great opportunity to try something you wouldn’t normally go for.
And when it comes to food there’s a real variety. We sampled a few of the places to eat during the weekend and all were spot on. We enjoyed afternoon tea with a choice of cava or cloudy lemonade at The Bluecoat, the most historic building in Liverpool city centre.
The bistro in the Bluecoat is in an ideal location and a great place to start an afternoon out in Liverpool. We tucked into finger sandwiches, delicious cakes and scrumptious scones there.
Our evening meal on the Saturday night was at Smugglers Cove on the Albert Dock.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it is one of the best restaurants I have ever dined in. From the pirate theme decor and live music, to the service, food and cocktails , they had got it absolutely right.
It was incredibly busy, but the service never faltered.
There’s everything you could think of on the menu and a great selection of beers and cocktails. And everything was delicious.
On Sunday we had our lunch at the very trendy Bill’s, next to Liverpool One.
The decor is quirky, with chillies hanging from the ceiling and oversized lamp shades adding a great look.
They do breakfast lunch and dinner, and with a varied menu there’s something for all tastes.
Another of Liverpool’s biggest and most impressive attractions is the award-winning Beatles Story at the Albert Dock. The story takes visitors on a journey through the lives, times, culture and music of The Beatles.
Also running at the moment is a Beatles exhibition at Pier Head curated by the Grammy Museum. This opened in October and is called ‘The British Invasion’. It is all about how 1960s groups conquered America and features artefacts from musical influences it is a must see.
Also at Pier Head is the Beatles Hidden Gallery, a stunning collection of never before seen photographs of The Beatles in 1963, four taken by Paul Berriff when he was 16 and working as an editorial assistant on the Yorkshire Evening Post.
And for a bit of fun there’s a Fab 4D experience bringing The Beatles music to life. A great experience for music lovers.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which is in a central location meaning all attractions were in walking distance.