17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

I’ve just got back from a magical Liverpool Christmas day out and wanted to share what I got up to. I’ve typed this up as quickly as possible because I’m very aware of how close Christmas is now and for this post to be useful for anyone planning a Liverpool Christmas trip, it has to go up ASAP. So apologies for it being slightly shorter than my usual mammoth essays, but I hope you enjoy it anyway and that it helps you if you’re planning a Liverpool Christmas trip.

Christmas is my favourite time of year. Although I no longer live there, I usually spend Christmas back ‘home’ in a village near Liverpool, where I grew up. I always try to cram a day out in the city centre in if I can, because it’s so good for getting festive and doing some Christmas shopping. But I love it at any time of year. If you want to read more about my general Liverpool recommendations (non-festive!), have a look at my best UK city break post, which has Liverpool at the top.

Anyway, let’s pour a hot chocolate and start planning a Liverpool Christmas trip with these festive things to do…

Disclaimer: The tourist board Visit Liverpool invited me to spend a day in the city. This was unpaid but they kindly gifted me some drinks, lunch, and entrance to the museum and ice skating mentioned in this post. The rest I paid for/chose myself. As ever, all views and recommendations are of course my own. I grew up in Liverpool and although I no longer live there, I still spend time in the city and know it well, especially around Christmas when I go ‘home’.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas

1. Have a cosy festive time at the Christmas market

I know, I know. Every city has Christmas markets (I’m already sick of battling through the Manchester ones after work). You might think you’ve done them to death. But the Liverpool ones have the most gorgeous setting and when I went, they weren’t horrendously busy at all, despite it being a weekend.

The Liverpool Christmas market is at St George’s Plateau (in front of St George’s Hall). I think the location being away from the shops helps to stop them becoming too rammed, which is a welcome change. Also the quality of the stuff they’re selling is much nicer than the Manchester/Birmingham ones. It was also only one type of each stall, so you didn’t end up wandering round saying ‘didn’t we just go past another stall selling cheese?’

They have all the usual things like German bars and a Ferris Wheel, with the priority of course being drinking your own bodyweight in mulled wine.

There’s also a ski lodge with karaoke cable cars. I’m not joking.

The markets are open until 23 December

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

2. Drink your own bodyweight in mulled wine at the Windmill Bar

I was almost tempted away from the mulled wine by the hot gin toddy on offer in the markets, but obviously had to have the obligatory mulled wine or three.

The one I’m having below is in the Windmill Bar at the Liverpool Christmas markets. This bar does indeed have a Bavarian-style windmill on top, so it’s hard to miss. It’s a bar built for people watching. You can go and sit upstairs and spy on everyone down in the markets, which is great.

I loved this view with St George’s hall as the backdrop.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

3. Eat all the festive foodstuffs

Food-wise at the Liverpool Christmas markets, there’s the usual market fare like Bratwurst, crépes, Yorkshire pudding wraps, halloumi fries (well hello there), Belgian loaded chips… I could go on. They also had loads of sweet treats in the shape of various festive thingies, which would make for good presents to take into the office to stop your colleagues asking you to do work over Christmas.

I spotted some slightly more unusual foodie bits too, like Polish dumplings and Scouse pies. If I hadn’t had lunch lined up, I’d definitely have been investigating them in more detail.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

4. Find Liverpool’s answer to Diagon Alley

Queen Avenue in Liverpool looks pretty all year round… but it looks even more enchanting with festoon lighting at this time of year. You’ll have to trust me on that because my photographs all came out so badly that I’m too ashamed to put them on here (people kept getting in the way!).

Queen Avenue is just off Castle Street and is a bit hidden away if you don’t know it’s there. But once you find it, you’ll love it. It’s got a really nice little bistro called Queen’s, an independent wine shop (good for Christmas presents!) an art shop (ditto!) specialising in local Merseyside artists’ work, and a lovely bar called Abditory.  

5. Try not to die skating at Liverpool Christmas Ice Festival 

At the Pier Head, there’s currently an ice festival going on. It involves a massive ice slide (not one for after a few mulled wines), a few food/drink stalls, and an ice rink (again with the mulled wine…).

The ice rink is covered so if the weather is hideous, you can still skate. Unfortunately when we went I had a broken rib so I was cautious in the extreme! But if you’re less of a wet mop than me you’ll love it. Speaking of wet, if you’re going then wear something that you don’t mind getting soaked on the ice because you will fall over and get drenched.

The backdrop of the Liver Building and everything makes this whole area absolutely gorgeous, so it’s definitely worth heading down to that end of the city to take it all in.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

6. Visit the very festive Baltic Market

The Baltic Market is Liverpool’s main street food market in an old warehouse at Cain’s Brewery. If you’re laden with Christmas shopping or wearing heels, it’s wise to get a taxi from the city centre (it’s worth it, don’t worry). The Baltic Market is that popular at Christmas that they extend their opening days to five a week. It’s one of my favourite places in Liverpool and if you’ve not been before, don’t miss it.

This year, they’ve got a winter cocktail menu, gift markets, live music, festive food, hot gin and tonics and of course mulled wine. Loads more info here.

7. Get lit at the Liverpool Light Spectacular

The Liverpool Light Spectacular is new to Liverpool but it’s already done the rounds in a few European cities in Spain and Belgium. I stumbled across it when I was heading to the Bluecoat (see further down this list) and it just happened to be doing its thing. 

It’s an LED tunnel of lights above Church Street. These are synchronised to light up in time with Christmassy and non-Christmassy tunes playing in a musical light display every hour in the evenings (from 16:30 to 19:30).

I’ve not really seen anything like this before and while it wasn’t something you’d write home about, it was a really nice festive touch while we were shopping so if you can time it so you’re there when it’s going, it’s worth having a break from shopping for. It’s on until 26 December.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

8. See a festive film at St George’s Hall

I never blog about stuff I’ve not personally done but I’ve heard so much about this that I think I’d get spammed with comments if I didn’t mention it! Plus I love the idea of it. There’s something called the Luna Winter Cinema on at St. George’s Hall (where the markets are). You can go and see a classic Christmas film inside the hall, which sounds impossibly festive and lovely. They’re serving mulled wine for the occasion too, of course. How many times have I typed the words ‘mulled wine’ in this post…?!

Anyway, go and see a festive film. You can’t beat that for getting into the Christmas mood. I despise Love Actually (soz) but there are some good ones on like Home Alone and Elf. More details here.

9. Wander round the Albert Dock

Liverpool’s iconic Albert Dock is instantly recognisable from the bright red columns all round it. For the festive period, these bad boys are all festooned in fairy lights! It’s absolutely beautiful. Definitely worth trotting down to see it in the early evening light. You can combine this with doing the other waterfront activities to save trekking in and out of the city centre.

All 86 columns at the Albert Dock are fully lit (I didn’t count, but if the internet says so it must be true). 

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

10. Have a photo with one of Liverpool’s famous superlambananas

I’m still into these. I know they’re old news now but I remember them fondly and always have a picture with one if I pass it. There aren’t as many as there used to be around the city, but you can find a few on the waterfront.

If you don’t know about them, they’re models of lambs with banana-shaped tails and they were installed all over the city when Liverpool was Capital of Culture in 2008. That was the year I graduated from uni and moved back home to Liverpool so I remember it vividly and everyone was proper hyped up about them. They’re still so much of an iconic Liverpool symbol that you can buy little ones at the Liverpool Museum shop.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

11. Have a drink/eat on Castle Street

When I grew up near Liverpool, I don’t remember ever going out round here (it was all about Le Bateau on Duke Street, RIP) but now Castle Street is my favourite area for bars.

It’s got the beautiful town hall building at its centre, which is currently looking v festive with a giant Christmas tree on its balcony. All of the buildings are stunning.

My top picks round here are:

  • Rudy’s for pizza: we have two of these in Manchester too but the Liverpool one definitely gets the nicest setting
  • McGuffie & Co for cocktails: set in an old pharmacy, this tiny bar is a cosy Christmas spot
  • Liverpool Gin Distillery for (surprise, surprise) GIN.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

12. Escape to a Christmas wonderland in Miracle on Seel Street

Miracle on Seel Street is a Christmas-themed bar, so it doesn’t get much more festive than this. You have to book to get a seat, which costs a tenner but includes a drink and unlimited mince pies (vom, but I know some people like them).

The whole place is decked out with full-on Christmas cheer, while showing Christmas films throughout December. There are log fires and wingback armchairs galore! If you went last year and enjoyed it, it’s doubled in size this year.

13. Buy your Christmas presents from independent local shops 

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this on the blog before but Bold Street in Liverpool is one of my favourite places for shopping at any time of year. Obviously it’s even better at Christmas when you have more of an excuse to spend.

Here are my top picks for shopping:

  • News from Nowhere: Radical and Community Bookshop: this is the place to go for stocking fillers for the more woke among us. As well as books, they do calendars, t-shirts, totes and general gifts. Highly, highly recommend a rootle in here.
  • COW Vintage: one of my favourite vintage clothing shops.
  • Utility: for unusual homewares.
  • Liv Organic & Natural Food Market: I was so happy when this opened because it means I can stock up on vegan and cruelty free bits when I’m in Liverpool. It does lots of cleaning stuff, beauty stuff, and of course food. There’s a gorgeous café inside too, so it’s a good pit stop while shopping.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

14. Do some carol-oke at Bar Hutte in Liverpool One

You can find Bar Hutte underneath the big Christmas tree in Liverpool One, Liverpool’s main shopping centre. It’s a set of ski-lodge themed huts around a central bar area. The atmosphere is really festive, with lots of festoon lighting and live music.

Each little hut around the bar also has its own karaoke machine! You can book them online for £40 for six to 10 people, so if you’re into murdering classic Christmas songs with your mates this would make a great night out.

15. Avoid the cold in some of Liverpool’s brilliant museums, like the British Music Experience

Okay this isn’t exactly Christmassy, but if you’re planning a trip to Liverpool in December then it makes sense to a) escape the cold with some indoor stuff and b) make the most of the amazing selection of museums Liverpool has.

There’s the Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Museum, Maritime Museum, Beatles Experience, and more. One I’d not been to until recently is the British Music Experience.

This museum tells the story of British music from the 1920s to present day. It has loads of costumes, instruments and memorabilia from famous bands and singers. There were some epic Bowie items, naturally, but I also loved the Dusty Springfield outfits. It’s £14 for a ticket and you really get your money’s worth. Any music fan will love it. 

Keep an eye out for the names of people in the noughties section. I loved the mention of Daniel Bedingfield of all people!

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

16. Wrap up and head to Formby beach

If you’re doing a weekend in Liverpool at Christmas, this will blow the cobwebs away.

I may be biased, but Formby beach is the best in the world and what could be better for clearing a mulled wine hangover than going for a walk? There are plenty of sand dunes to quietly throw up behind.

It’s about 25 minutes on the train from Liverpool city centre to Freshfield and then a straight walk down to the sand via lots of red squirrels (the colour of Christmas too).

17. Visit exhibitions and shop at the Bluecoat

The Bluecoat is one of my favourite things in Liverpool. It’s a gorgeous old building that’s now a centre for art, design, literature and culture. It has a café where you can get a festive afternoon tea during December or just tea and cake while you’re having a break from Christmas shopping. Then have a browse around their current exhibitions.

There are loads of great little independent shops within it too. Some of the best are:

  • Mary Mary Florals and Root Houseplants – At Christmas, Mary Mary does gorgeous handmade wreaths for yourself but Root also does gorgeous houseplants that would make really nice presents for friends. I’d much rather have a new addition to my houseplant family than some boring smellies/chocolates, if anyone’s wondering.
  • Kernaghan Books – Not just books (although books are always the best present), this shop also does lovely gifts.
  • Bluecoat Display Centre – This sells contemporary art, craft and design pieces. Good if you want to splash out on someone hard to buy for!
  • Probe Records – Have a hunt for a rare vinyl to impress your mates.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

Liverpool Christmas things to do – useful information for your trip

Where to stay in Liverpool at Christmas

While I normally stay at my parents’ when I visit Liverpool, I’ve stayed in a few city centre hotels for weddings over the years and so I have some tips.

  • I’d recommend the Lock and Key Hotel (a boutique-style hotel in a beautiful Georgian building with very quirky rooms), Hotel Indigo or The Nadler.
  • If you’re after Christmassy a splurge, the Signature Living Hotel or Hope Street Hotel are good choices (and often not that expensive).
  • For an affordable chain hotel so you can spend more money on Christmas tat, you can’t go wrong with an Ibis Styles, and Liverpool’s one is on Dale Street, which is dead central.

How to get around Liverpool at Christmas

The thing I love about Liverpool is how walkable it is. As long as you plan doing the different areas in sections (say, Bold Street, Baltic Market, waterfront and centre) nothing is too much of a trek. 

Where to eat in Liverpool at Christmas

Obviously, there’s all the festive fare. But if the markets are too busy and/or you’re a bit sick of Christmassy food, here’s an idea.

When I had my Liverpool Christmas day out, I had lunch at the new branch of Pho, a mini chain of Vietnamese pho eateries. It’s on the hip and alternative Bold Street, so it’s ideal for a pit stop if you’re buying some presents from all the independent shops round there.

17 things to do in Liverpool at Christmas | PACK THE SUITCASES

More Liverpool ideas for outside the Christmas period…

I don’t have a dedicated city guide to Liverpool yet, but I’m planning on one in the new year. For now, you can find my Liverpool tips at #1 in my list of 18 of the best UK city breaks for a weekend getaway. It features my favourites places to see, eat and drink around the city.

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  1. It all sounds very festive in Liverpool. We’re planning a shopping day next week and will give some of your recommendations a go. Photos are great.

  2. Me and the girls are going to Liverpool next Saturday. I’ll be using this list! I’ve not been to any of the shops you’ve recommended and Pho looks lush. Proper sick of mince pies already. Jodes x

  3. Beautiful pics! I love to visit this place for next Christmas. Thanks for sharing more Liverpool ideas for outside the Christmas period.

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