In honor of International Beatleweek (and also because I forgot to blog about it in my Liverpool series last year), I’ve got a special Beatles-inspired post for you today. But first, what’s International Beatleweek? It’s the world’s largest 7-day music festival dedicated to the Beatles with over 70 bands performing in various venues around Liverpool, including the infamous Cavern Club where the Beatles’ story began. Fans from all over the world come to discover new bands and pay homage to one of the greatest musical legends of all time. The 2017 International Beatleweek began yesterday and, sadly, this will be the last year that the festival is celebrated on such a large scale. Future Beatleweeks will be much smaller events limited to the clubs on Mathew Street. (I think my hometown of Memphis is facing the same sort of decision regarding Elvis Week.)
But speaking of the Beatles’ story, that’s actually what I’d like to share about today. When we arrived in Liverpool, the first thing we did after dropping our bags at the hotel was head to The Beatles Story museum at Albert Dock. If you’re planning a Beatles-inspired trip to Liverpool, I suggest you make this your first stop, too. Visiting The Beatles Story museum first really set the tone for our trip (which was almost entirely Beatles-inspired), and provided context for all of the other Beatles-related sights we would visit over the course of our trip.
THE BEATLES STORY MUSEUM
The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool is the largest museum in the world dedicated to chronicling the lives and history of the Fab Four. So big it actually spans two locations, the main museum is the one located at Albert Dock, and this is where we started our tour. Starting with the chance meeting between John Lennon and Paul McCartney at a garden fête at St Peter’s Church in 1957 and ending with the band’s official break-up in 1970 and the separate paths they took afterwards, The Beatles Story museum covers it all. Told through personal stories, music, and recreations of significant venues and scenes from the Beatles’ past, The Beatles Story museum will have you killing it at Beatles trivia night by the time you leave. Having been a fan for a very long time, I thought I knew pretty much everything there was to know about the Beatles already, but I was so wrong.
Far from feeling like a history lesson, The Beatles Story museum keeps everything fun and exciting with lots of music, videos, and colorful sets. My favorite part was all the opportunities for photo ops. So many famous locations and scenes have been recreated in the museum, and we took silly selfies with all of them (which I will not be embarrassing myself with by including here – ha!). From recreating your own version of the Abbey Road album cover (without getting run over on the actual Abbey Road) to joining screaming Beatlemania fans and participating in John and Yoko’s famous bed-in, there are so many opportunities for
embarrassing yourself fun memories you can take home.
PHOTOGRAPHS & MEMORABILIA
The Beatles Story museum is not all replicas and recreations, though. There is quite a lot of actual memorabilia to see here, too. Guitars (including George Harrison’s first), John Lennon’s signature glasses, newspaper clippings from the band’s rise to stardom, and rare photographs are just a few things displayed here. My favorite, of course, were the photographs, especially the series taken soon after the Beatles split up. Displayed towards the end of the museum, I thought these photos did an excellent job of capturing the sadness and uncertainty that came after the Beatles’ devastating break-up.
THE EXTRA BEATLES STORY
Included in the price of a ticket into the main museum is admission to the museum’s smaller addition located on the Pier Head. It’s about a 10-minute walk away from Albert Dock along the River Mersey. It’s a lovely walk, and if you’ve got spare time afterwards you can catch a ferry ‘cross the Mersey since they leave from right next door, but if you’re expecting this museum to be as entertaining as the main one, you’ll probably be disappointed. Connections to the Beatles are slim here and mostly included as a part of the British Invasion as a whole. That being said, if you’re like me and love pretty much all of the 60’s British Invasion bands, it’s not a complete waste of time.
Tickets to The Beatles Story museum can be bought online here. We visited the museum on a Saturday in May, expecting it to be packed, but it really wasn’t all that crowded for a weekend. Weekends in the summer may be more popular, though. If you’re planning a visit, I’d recommend allowing around 2 hours for the museum’s main location and half an hour for the smaller site. If you’re a read-all-the-signs kind of museum-goer, maybe tack on an extra hour. Definitely grab an audio guide before starting your tour. They’re included in the ticket price and narrated by John Lennon’s sister, Julia.
For more information about the Beatles in Liverpool, check out 6 Things To Do In Liverpool For Beatles Fans.
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