Merseyside

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Merseyside is an area of contrasts dominated of course by the river which gives the conurbation its name. From the industrial setting of St. Helens to the docks of Liverpool and Birkenhead and the Formby sand dunes, few people may disagree.

It is well connected by air, road, rail, sea and narrowboat. Its golf courses, football grounds, hotels, Aintree racecourse and museums make for a number of inspiring conference venues. There is no shortage of activities to suit all tastes.

The centre of Liverpool has a number of noteworthy and historic attractions. No trip to this proud city is complete without visiting Albert Dock, boarding a Mersey ferry, Pier Head, Mathew Street and its two cathedrals. Liverpool ONE has bolstered the city's shopping facilities with name stores and eateries adding to the already vibrant city centre. That's before we mention a rather obscure group which took the Hit Parade by storm!

Merseyside is indelibly linked with the above nondescript quartet, so much so there's a museum devoted to them and Magical Mystery Tours around their former stamping ground. (What were they called again? The Quarrymen? Silver Beatles? O.K. then, we'll leave it at The Beatles.) The Mersey Sound is interwoven in its world famous ferry, immortalised by Gerry and the Pacemakers and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. From Pier Head, you can board the ferry to Woodside or Seacombe. Across the water, Birkenhead is home to the world's first municipal park which inspired Central Park. There is also a tram museum by Woodside terminal and an aquarium by Seacombe.

Further into the Wirral peninsula is Lord Leverhulme's model village of Port Sunlight, which is virtually unspoilt since completion and includes the Lady Lever Art Gallery. To the north is New Brighton, at one time a popular seaside resort for most Liverpudlians. To the west, the Wirral peninsula becomes an oasis of calm. On the banks of the Dee estuary is West Kirby, a popular location for walking and birdwatching, with Hilbre Island and Little Hilbre Island nearby (accessible on foot only in low tide). Heswall and Parkgate, further south east is close to a number of golf courses and country parks whilst being convenient for the M53 motorway for Cheshire and North Wales.

North of the Mersey estuary towards Liverpool Bay, rural tranquility meets the sand dunes as we reach Formby. Along 12 miles of dunes, we see a number of golf courses. The award-winning Royal Birkdale and the Formby Hall courses take us up to Southport. Southport has a lot to offer, with a number of hotels and its theatre being suitable conference venues. A walk along Lord Street for its shops and its pier are unmissable. There's plenty enough to keep you occupied with stylish restaurants and traditional seaside attractions such as the Pleasureland amusement park.

On the south side of Liverpool, Sudley House and Speke Hall are both worth a visit. Ideal if you have time to kill before you board a flight from Liverpool John Lennon Airport. The present airport terminal opened in 1986 and expanded in 2007, adopting its present name. The old airport terminal, of 1930s origin is now the Crowne Plaza hotel, and a unique conference venue at that.

Further inland is St. Helens, a must-visit destination for rugby league fans. Other wonders include The World of Glass and North West Museum of Road Transport. If you wish to leave the corporate jungle behind for a couple of hours, take a trip to Knowsley Safari Park and the neighbouring Knowsley Hall, just off the M57 motorway.

If it's delegates you aim to please, Merseyside ticks all the boxes in terms of variety, accessibility and a wealth of places to visit between conferences.