I feel like I’ve missed out – quite a lot in fact. The first view of the Liver buildings in the bustling city of Liverpool reminded me just how long it had been since I’d visited and I knew from that moment I should’ve been back sooner.
That feeling didn’t fade throughout the weekend, there’s something endearing about Liverpool that drew us in.
With our three children in tow, we were there to tour the city to find out what it has to offer for Christmas.
So what has changed? The Liverpool One – for one. What a shopping centre that is.
It has everything any city centre or retail park has, and much more besides, creating that traditional shopping experience which cannot be replaced. We dipped in and out of shops, avoiding the cold and rain, whilst soaking up a warm festive atmosphere.
It was busy, naturally, but not uncomfortably so and it was easy to navigate with information points dotted around to help.
The tiered complex is spread out through a pedestrianised trail of streets, lined by all the big name retailers (including the Lego Shop, thankfully!) and we enjoyed a couple of hours ambling the time away and grabbing a few gifts en-route, admiring the exquisite Christmas lights and decorations.
The Christmas markets are close by too – outside St George’s Hall.
The area is lined with superb stalls, all decorated with twinkling lights and garlands, selling scrumptious food. And new for this year is the Windmill Bar which serves traditional festive drinks – a must!
As from this weekend, children can visit Father Christmas inside Liverpool Town Hall for a magical storytime with Buddy the Elf before each child shares their special Christmas wishes.
Away from the shopping centre, there is another side to Liverpool, where the old, but beautifully restored Royal Albert Dock perches on the banks of the River Mersey. And its right next to an impressive, state-of-the-art area which is home to the Museum of Liverpool. It is also where the sparkling Christmas Ice Festival at Pier Head is located. But before we sampled the delights of the river bank, we hopped on an open top City Sights tour bus which wound its way through the city.
It takes in all the famous sights – the Cavern Club, Hard Days Night Hotel, both of Liverpool’s stunning cathedrals and the poignant St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. The tour took 50 minutes and was invaluable to learn about Liverpool and its diverse history. And it’s a hop on, hop off bus with a 24-hour ticket.
Our next stop was the Museum of Liverpool. A beautiful, imposing building and is one of a kind. Liverpool certainly has a story to tell and it’s packed with artefacts detailing its past and, of course, The Beatles feature prominently.
The latest exhibition on the top floor is dedicated to John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono and their mission to promote Peace.
It’s called Double Fantasy – John & Yoko and is a free exhibition, whichh runs until April 2019 and is certainly worthy of a look.
Our eldest son was quite fascinated by it and joined in by writing a message of peace to hang on trees displayed inside the exhibition.
As darkness fell it was time to head over to the Ice Festival – an array of brightly lit fairground rides, Christmas stalls and, of course, an ice rink. But first the children had a go on the ice-slide. They zipped along sat inside a donut cushion from one end to the other. I wasn’t sure if our youngest would like it (he’s seven) but he couldn’t get enough of it!
The ice-skating takes place in an outdoor rink, covered over to protect from the elements. It was very professionally run, with friendly staff. The sessions are timed to avoid a rush and so I felt quite happy skating around, or rather clinging to the sides, with the kids.
By then, we had built up an appetite and headed back to Liverpool One for a meal at TGI Fridays on The Terrace. Everything is within walking distance which makes it easy for families.
After such a packed day we were happy to get back to the new Stay City Apartment complex in Drury Lane – complete with working kitchen and two bathrooms, sleeping a family of six. First class accommodation and exceptional service. And you don’t even have to cook, opt for the breakfast, its worth it!
Chris Brown, Director of Marketing Liverpool said: “2018 has been a landmark year for Liverpool as we’ve celebrated 10 years since we were crowned European Capital of Culture and there’s no better way to finish it than with a magical festive season. This year the city has lit up with light installations, Christmas markets, grottos, an ice festival and Christmas trees aplenty. We’ve welcomed visitors from all over the world throughout the year and we can’t wait to welcome even more.”
* Stay City Aparthotel, Corn Exchange, Prices vary 0203 499 0748 www.staycity.com/liverpool
* Q Park – Dale Street, secure parking. They have a new reward scheme www.q-park.co.uk/en-gb/rewards
* Full guide to Christmas events log on to http://www.visitliverpool.com