Christmas in Liverpool: 5 top ways to enjoy the season in the city
Christmas here in Liverpool is magical and much of what makes it so special at this time of year is unique to the city. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Liverpool-only ways to enjoy the festive season.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
Come and meet the big man
For many Liverpudlians growing up, visiting Lewis’s historic Christmas Grotto in the famous old department store was as essential to the festive experience as mince pies and a blazing family row over your roast dinner.
There was something almost mystical about descending into the alternative world inhabited by elves, pixies, fairies and, of course, Old Saint Nick himself. Eagerly waiting in line with your parents and siblings before telling the big man what you wanted for Christmas was indescribably exciting for a seven-year-old.
The sad closure of Lewis’s in 2010 appeared to spell the end for this proud Liverpool tradition but thanks to the store’s former photographer Mike Done, who purchased the grotto, it has been able to continue for the last seven years at Rapid hardware store.
This year it’s the turn of St John’s Market to play host to what’s now known as ‘Liverpool’s Famous Grotto’.
It may no longer take place in the same building, or even bear the same name, but judging by the glowing reviews on social media the grotto has lost none of its illustrious ancestor’s charm.
Ferry ‘cross the merry Mersey
It might look baltic outside but by the time the football’s over on Boxing Day and you’ve demolished your umpteenth tin of Quality Street, a breath of fresh air will do you the world of good.
A trip on one of Liverpool’s famous Mersey Ferries is the perfect way to blow away those cobwebs and enjoy an unrivaled view of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage waterfront at the same time. The River Explorer cruises, which are running daily over the festive period (apart from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and 29 December), also give you the chance, if you haven’t already, to experience a ride on the fabulous Sir Peter Blake-designed Dazzle Ferry.
Climb aboard ‘Snowflake’ as she takes you out on a 50-minute cruise across the River Mersey accompanied by expert audio commentary.
If life on-deck gets too much (or too cold) you can always grab a hot drink from the handy on-board café.
Get your wings
At 9am on 10 August 2017, Liverpool-born geologist-come-artist Paul Curtis began hand painting a pair of wings on a non-descript brick wall in the Baltic Triangle.
Ten hours later and what has become known as the ‘Liver Bird Wings’ mural was complete. Within two days, queues of selfie-seekers eager to get their own personal picture with the interactive artwork had begun to form on Jamaica Street.
The piece has attracted international press attention and even one inquisitive member of the Merseyside Police Mounted Section!
This Christmas take a break from that last-minute shopping and wander down to the Baltic to get your very own set of angel wings.
All together now
The Grade II*-listed St Luke’s Church, which marked its full re-opening and removal from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk list in October, occupies a special place in the hearts of many Scousers.
And this year, the ‘Bombed Out Church’ is marking the festive period with its own special Christmas celebration on 20 December.
Taking place beneath a marquee at St Luke’s, ‘Christmas Melodies Under the Stars’ is a concert of carols, Christmas songs and more modern pieces, including tunes from ‘Frozen’ and ‘La La Land’.
There will also be a mixture of a cappella and piano accompanied songs alongside a smattering of festive readings.
Volunteers from the church, which has undergone a £500,000 refurbishment over the past two years, will be running a bar on the night so expect buckets of warming mulled wine.
Take me to church
There are few better places to soak up some authentic Christmas magic in Liverpool than at its two magnificent cathedrals.
There’s just something about midnight mass at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and likewise the First Eucharist of Christmas at Liverpool Cathedral on Christmas Eve.
Always two of the year’s most popular services, congregations on the night before Christmas are often swelled by a large number of non-regular churchgoers.
This year, BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting live from the Met with Archbishop Malcolm McMahon celebrating mass from 11.30pm.
At the opposite end of Hope Street in the Gothic revival masterpiece that is Liverpool Cathedral, also getting underway at 11.30pm, Canon Ellen Loudon will conduct the First Eucharist of Christmas with audible support from the Cathedral Chamber Choir and Youth Choir.
All are welcome at both services.