Our ‘In the spotlight’ series is continuing into 2016, and programme officer Dammy Olatoye is kicking us off. She’s given us her thoughts on Liverpool, the place she describes as ‘the city of firsts’. 

Situated in the North West of England, along the river Mersey, Liverpool is a city steeped in history and I would recommend it as a great location for getting a non-London centric view of UK history and culture. The city’s coastal location gave it huge advantage during the industrial revolution and it quickly gained a worldwide reputation as a port city. It was a major frontier in the American civil war; cotton, tobacco, sugar and slaves were traded at the Liverpool Docks. You can pay a visit to the International Slavery Museum, the only museum of its kind dedicated to exploring issues relating to historical and modern slavery.

Beyond being a major maritime power, Liverpool is also famous for being the birth place of the foremost and world famous rock group, The Beatles. The Beatles Story museum is the world’s largest permanent exhibition devoted to the lives and times of The Beatles. Liverpool’s relationship with good music does not end with The Beatles. For over 20 years, the city hosted the Matthew Street Festival which attracted thousands of music lovers and tourists to the city for a weekend of fun and entertainment. The Festival has since been replaced with the Liverpool International Music Festival which celebrates the city’s diverse and vibrant music scene. The next festival will happen in July 2016 – save the date!

You can imagine that, in its heyday as a port city, a lot of different nationalities and ethnicities would have passed through or settled down in Liverpool, leaving behind a trail of cultural influences. In 2008, Liverpool was chosen as the European Capital of Culture; a year full of celebration and recognition of the diversity which exists in the city.

Things don’t stand still in Liverpool. It is a very dynamic and innovative city known for being ‘first’ at many things. The first underground railway tunnels in the world were constructed in Liverpool, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was the first institution in the world dedicated to researching and teaching Tropical Medicine. Liverpool is also home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the country’s longest surviving professional orchestra and the only UK orchestra that has its own hall!

If that doesn’t sway you, you’ll also find two English Premier League football clubs in Liverpool – Liverpool FC and Everton FC. Although located within a few miles of each other, the rivalry between both clubs runs deep and divides the city along red and blue lines, you are either a ‘Kopite’ or a ‘Toffee’ (if you do go and visit, watch your step!).

There’s something for everyone in Liverpool. Do go and visit, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!