Mapping musical diversity

A map of Liverpool with coloured lines and the title Liverpool Festivals Map

© Brett Lashua, courtesy of the Institute of Popular Music

A map of music events in any city is likely to show that different areas of the city are connected to different music scenes and sounds. Mapping the history of such events shows how these scenes and sounds move across the city over time. An example of this is the map featured here showing music festivals in Liverpool.

Liverpool has hosted a dizzying variety of music festivals, from the 1947 Lewis's Welsh Eisteddfod to the Wirral Guitar Festival; from the Woolton Festival to the International Sea Shanty Festival; and from the Jewish Youth Music Festival to Larks in the Park, an event that launched local rock bands Echo and the Bunnymen and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Some festivals take their name from the neighbourhoods and streets in which they are located. Others take place in a particular neighbourhood because of their close connection with the kinds of people who live there or because that is where the festival's organisers and key venues are based. But festivals also move from place to place.

This map features just a few of Liverpool's diverse music festivals and presents them in the form of lines (like the London Underground tube map) that connect festival sites and show how they have moved over the years.

Many festivals take festival-goers on a journey from one festival site to another. These sites may be situated very near to each other, or along one particular street, or dotted around the city and wider region. The sites may also shift from one year to another illustrating the migration of festivals across and even beyond the city.

The Summer Pops moved to the Kings Dock in 1993 because of the renovation of the Philharmonic Hall where it was usually held. It later moved to Clarence Dock (2005-6) because of the construction of the Kings Dock Echo Arena, and then back to the Kings Dock (2008) to its new Arena home. Meanwhile in 1996 the festival began to shift in focus from classical to popular music which meant that it required larger premises.

The line or trail of this and other festivals is partly a story of physical change and regeneration and partly a story of musical change.

The festivals featured on the map are:

  • International garden festival (1984-1986) - one of the first major regeneration projects of the Merseyside Development Corporation and home of the Typhoo music festival of 1986. Much of the site has lain derelict since 1986.
  • Chinese New Year festival - festival events have taken place in Liverpool's Chinatown area and elsewhere in the city centre.
  • Africa Oyé (1992-present) - an outdoors festival of African music.
  • Arabic arts festival (2002-present) - established as a partnership between Liverpool Arabic Centre and the Bluecoat Arts Centre and involving a focus on music.
  • Irish festival (2002-present) - celebrating the close links between Liverpool and Ireland, and Irish music and arts traditions within the city.
  • Creamfields (1998-present) - dance and electronic music festival connected to the legendary Liverpool dance club Cream.
  • MILAPfest (1985) - a South Asian music and arts festival that started in Liverpool and now organises regular events around the country.
  • The Mathew Street festival (1993-present) - involving different music styles but closely associated with tribute acts, particularly Beatles tribute bands.
  • Hive (2005-present) - an international festival of new electronic music.
  • Homotopia (2004-present) - a gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender festival.
  • HUB (2002-present) - a youth festival of urban music (hip-hop, r&b, beat-boxing), graffiti arts, BMX cycling, in-line skating, and break-dancing.
  • Liverpool jazz festival (1950-present) - originating at the Liverpool Stadium and moving to the Cavern Club in 1960 and then on to other Liverpool venues.
  • Summer pops (2001-present) - a major music festival hosting internationally known visiting artists.
  • SoundCity! (2008) - celebrating Liverpool's 'alternative' rock music scene.
  • Hope Street festival (1977-present) - celebrating the vibrancy and creativity of Hope Street, with diverse music events and styles.
  • Liverpool Now! (1991-present) - hosting performances of local 'indie rock' bands in venues across the city.