Seriously? Christmas already? Oh yes.
It’s time to start weighing up those gifts that must be ritually exchanged at this year of year, with the firing pistol of John Lewis adverts now signifying the start of the race towards Christmas Day.
But we’re fed up of the boxsets and iPhones and Amazon. So we’ve compiled a list amazing gifts that anyone in Liverpool will appreciate, allowing them to make the most of the best the city has to offer.
Buying a gift membership is the gift that keep on giving (for 12 months anyway) but requires no thought whatsoever – while giving the impression of being the most thoughtful Christmas present in the world.
And think of it as your little gift to Liverpool: your friendly neighbourhood cinema, favoured organisation or treasured art gallery. They may not be around forever – and they’re not just for Christmas.
Give the gift of membership this season. And think of it as a little gesture for someone you like – and for something you like.
National Museums Liverpool
A gift membership for £40 gets you free, unlimited entry into special exhibitions and the Planetarium, members-only events, discounts in the cafes and updates. And considering that include the World Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, Lady Lever Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, Maritime Museum and Slavery Museum… well, that’s a lot of museums and galleries for your wedge.
A perfect treasure in sleepy Woolton, the Picture House may give the impression of kitsch antiquity but it’s a working cinema showing blockbusters and classics alike on every day of the year (OK, not Christmas Day but even usherettes need a day off, eh?). A visit to the Woolton Picture House feels like a treat on any day of the year – go and see It’s A Wonderful Life at Christmas and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip to Bedford Falls. Support it all year round with a gift membership – it offers three free tickets plus discounts on showings and sweets. It arrives in a little black box too. Magical.
Interested in the theatre? Then this might be the membership for you. The starting price for silver membership is £150 but even at the lowest membership you gain access to the likes of Open Rehearsals, the private 1840 Room from 7pm at Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra concerts, accreditation in programmes and more. Memberships go way worth of here – in terms of cost and benefits – depending on how flush you’re feeling. Of course, the nub of it is you get to marvel even more at the art-deco Grade-II listed Philharmonic Hall and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – the UK’s oldest of its kind. Following its stunning new refurb that’s surely music to anyone’s ears.
Films, installations, exhibitions – and (surely) one of the UK’s hardest film quizzes. FACT boasts it all, as well as the rather lovely Garden cafe and the bar upstairs (enjoy your film with a beer? Certainly!). FACT membership might be your choice of present. While standard costs for this membership are £50-£90, a student membership is a mere £20. Benefits include discounted cinema tickets, invitations to members’ screenings, and the FACT brochure delivered to your door. On top of this there are plenty of discounts available at related bars and shops.
Constellations and Op Art continue into 2020 but the coming year has new shows featuring Vivian Suter, Theaster Gates and an eagerly-anticipated exhibition of works by Don McMullin – and that’s just at Tate Liverpool. A membership or gift membership (£78 for one – or £132 gets you and a guest free access to exhibitions) gives you access to all four Tate outposts. Tate membership includes access to special member’s rooms, special Members Events (including talks, tours and extended opening hours), a complimentary subscription to Tate Etc. magazine, regular listings guide and an exclusive welcome pack.
Palm House, Sefton Park
The Palm House is a wonderfully restored Victorian treasure (thanks George Harrison) that showcases an outstanding variety of plants. Go on a bright summer’s day, look up and it’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a tropical forest on an island in the Caribbean; go in the winter and it will be a welcome respite from the chill outside weather. It’s currently run by volunteers but you could play a major part in helping, while enjoying events including film nights, gigs and craft fairs. Membership brings enjoy special brochures and events exclusive to you on top, from the starting price of £20.
Wildlife, says the RSPB, is cornered and the United Kingdom is ‘one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world’. Simply put, wildlife is running out of habitats. More habitats certainly benefit the wildlife, but we don’t do too badly out of it either. Walk through one of the reserves in Merseyside in Spring – Burton Mere Wetlands on the Wirral is closest – and marvel at wading birds and carpets of bluebells. In Autumn the leaves turn to brilliant shades of red and you can watch the wintering birds arrive. Membership – from £5 per month – provides free access to over 170 RSPB nature reserves, quarterly magazine and a raft of local talks from wildlife experts.
When their cinema was closed in 1996 the people of Waterloo didn’t cry into their popcorn, they rallied round to save their local flicks. When it reopened in 1997 to a sold-out screening of Jurassic Park the dinosaurs weren’t the only things that had come back from the dead. Nowadays the art deco cinema shows everything from Hollywood blockbusters and classics to the best of British and World cinema. There’s no gift membership that we can find any more – but you can buy gift vouchers.
The Everyman & Playhouse do things a little differently, with a supporters’ scheme that is about encouraging philanthropic giving rather than offering benefits that incur VAT. E&P says it enables them to develop talent, provide opportunities for young people from modest backgrounds and nurture emerging plays and playwrights. different tiers annually depending on how much people want to participate and commit. Supporters are keep informed of news and given early notification of each new season’s performances and priority booking.
Ness is a beautiful botanic garden right of the western edge of The Wirral. And while there are events throughout the year, such as star-gazing and nature trails, it’s the finery of the flora that takes the breath away, whenever you go. Help them out by getting a membership here and becoming a friend of the gardens from only £28. Extra features include free entry to the gardens (and various other botanic gardens), plenty of member’s events, a subscription to the Gentian magazine, free seeds for your garden and more.
Other Liverpool gifts
Want more? Consider supporting the Unity Theatre or Royal Court by buying a seat; becoming a member or patron at The Bluecoat; becoming a friend of the Metropolitan Cathedral; or buying a brick to go in the people’s Path at Liverpool Cathedral.