The North of England may not garner the same amount of universal attention as the South, which of course is the home of London, but in term of vibrancy and cultural importance it is hugely important – the similarities with Game of Thrones is scary. The North is the home of three great cities: Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, all of which are an hour apart on the train and make for great destinations. There is no denying that London is England’s finest city, alongside New York it is the most important city on the planet, but that’s not to say that the North is not without its benefits. Unlike the South, which is London orientated, the North is an amalgamation of industrial cities which each have their own cultural identity.
So what makes the North so good?
The North is a hotbed for sport; most of the country’s world renowned teams hail from these northern climes.
Football is the sport of England and the North is definitely its home. Manchester has two teams: Manchester United and Manchester City, the former are the most successful domestic team, with 20 titles to their name, while the latter are the current champions. United’s stadium, Old Trafford, is a steel behemoth with a total capacity of 75, 731 it is the ninth largest stadium in Europe. Over in Liverpool you have a further two brilliant teams: Liverpool and Everton, who play at the iconic Anfield and Goodison Park stadiums. Liverpool are England’s finest export with five European Cup successes. As for Leeds, there side has fallen into disarray in recent years, currently plying their trade in the second tier of English football, but attendance figures at Elland Road: 2013 average 25,088 proves just how passionate the support is.
Rugby League is a pillar of northern sporting culture. The game was formed to break away from the bourgeoisie Rugby Union governing body in 1895, and is very much the working man’s game. While their football team may not be offering much for the people of Leeds, they can always take comfort in the brilliance of their Rugby League side, Leeds Rhinos. The Rhinos are the third most successful side in Rugby League, after St. Helens and Wigan, both based in the North, and are among the favourites to win this year’s Super League.
You also have two extremely good cricket sides based in the North: Lancashire and Yorkshire, the latter have recently won the first division.
In terms of passion you can’t beat it. The sporting clubs of the North are an extension of people, they really are part of them. Whilst the age-old rivalries between Lancashire and Yorkshire, something that dates back to the War of the Roses (1487), means that there is a friendly animosity between fans when their respective county representative plays.
For those that love all things sport then the North of England is ideal for you.
You really cannot dispute the importance of the North in the making of modern music; you can try but you’ll lose.
For those who have lived under a rock; Liverpool gave us the Beatles, the godfathers of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The city, as it would be, are proud of their favourite sons. Anybody that claims to be a Beatles connasseur and hasn’t visited Liverpool are false. Not only can one visit the infamous Cavern Club; the place where the Beatles forged their early sound, but you can visit Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the childhood homes of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and the most complete Beatles museum on the planet. It is quite incredible that the world’s biggest band came from the industrial heartland that is Liverpool.
Liverpool was the birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll but Manchester was where it flourished in the years past. You need to take a seriously deep breath before trying to reel off the names of all the Manchester musicians that have come to fruition. Here goes: The Chemical Brothers, Elbow, David Gray, The Happy Mondays, The Hollies, James, Joy Division, Morrissey, New Order, Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, and many more. Manchester is music. To have been around the city in the 1970s, 80s and 90s was a special time. The city still has a culture of underground music and allows it proseper with numerous intimate venues that are always packed to the rafters – it is also the only place in the world to have had a second summer of love: 1988-89 during the height of Madchester. Liverpool may have invented Rock ‘n’ Roll but Manchester supplemented it. Even stateside Manchester has flourished; in 1965 the city managed to produce a unique hat trick of US number ones – a feat that has never been achieved again.
Indie is at the forefront of the music scene in Leeds with bands such as Alt-J, Pulled Apart By Horses and The Sunshine Underground all hailing from there, as to, the Kaiser Chiefs. The city is also home to Leeds Festival; the 2014 edition saw the Arctic Monkeys; who are also from Northern England, Blink-182 and Queens of the Stone Age headline, which is one of the biggest music festivals in the UK, second only to Glastonbury.
Just like sport, the North is a powerhouse of music. England has contributed so much to the music game but if you took away the North then it wouldn’t be anywhere near as special as we like to make out.
For those who love music then you need to visit the North of England. The relics and venues from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s are still there and these cities are still churning out great acts, recent successes like 1975 and Alt-J have worked their way up from the indie scene, so you really could be seeing the next big thing.
Due to the three cities being heavily involved in the industrial revolution of the late 19th Century there was an influx in capital. With these cities thriving money was readily available to invest, and once work was complete on improving infrastructure what better way to spend it than self-beautification.
Liverpool is a fine example of sprucing yourself up; something that continues today, except with women not buildings. At the foremost of its Empirical powers Liverpool set about a mass construction project. Today the city has 27 Grade I listed buildings and 85 Grade II listed buildings, it also has the largest amount of public sculptures in the UK aside Westminster and has more Georgian houses than Bath. English Heritage describes Liverpool as England’s finest Victorian city.
Manchester is much more artistic than the other two. The city was at the forefront of the fabric industry in Britain, something that is now dormant. These massive buildings have now been turned into just about anything: apartments, shopping space, offices, and even skate parks. It is a city that is at ease with itself and one that identifies graffiti as art not vandalism.
Leeds has the greenery provided from the mass that is Yorkshire. There is plenty of parklife around the city, most notable Roundhay Park. The park stands at over 700 acres and is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, housing two lakes, a mansion and a castle. Space is very much the best feature of Leeds, the surrounding area is massive. It really doesn’t take long to leave the hustle and bustle of the metropolis and escape to idyllic countryside.
Hopefully upon reading this you will be inspired to visit the North. The places are brilliant, the people are brilliant, the gastronomy is fantastic, the accent takes some grasping but that is hardly a negative, and if you needed any more inspiration it is extremely cheap.