The United Kingdom’s music scene is nothing short of legendary, so it’s no surprise that its music venues are an attraction in themselves. But where are the quirkiest places to plug into the local music scene? We’ve rounded up the weirdest and most wonderful live music destinations, from boutique jazz boats in the heart of London to 1920s shacks in the Scottish Highlands. Here's our pick of the best quirky music venues in the UK.   

Inside the Tamesis barge, an intimate gig is in progress; the double-bass player in the foreground is obscuring the rest of the band.
The floating Tamesis hosts regular jazz nights © Tamesis

1. Tamesis, London 

The jazz nights on board the Tamesis barge are a fine way to catch some great live music while drinking in London’s stunning skyline. Floating Jazz Club tickets (£19) include a glass of fizz on arrival and a line up of some of the best up-and-coming UK bands to boogie to under the festoon lights.
Address: Albert Embankment, Lambeth, SE1 7TP 

The exterior of the boat Thekla in Bristol; festoon lights are strung from its bow to the main deck.
This former cargo ship in Bristol hosts some of the hottest up-and-coming bands © Thekla

2. Thekla, Bristol 

Loud, grungy and the prime place to spot the UK’s rising stars, this 1958 German cargo ship is the anchor of Bristol’s buzzing music scene. Roni Size, Portishead and Massive Attack have all climbed aboard the Thekla. Nowadays you’ll find everything from indie to punk – and lots of cider. 
Address: The Grove, East Mud Dock, Bristol, BS1 4RB 

Read more: Weekend getaway: music in Manchester

The interior of St Luke's Church in Liverpool; it has no roof or glass in the windows, and grass has grown on the ground inside it.
St Luke's in Liverpool, aka the Bombed Out Church © Joe Dunckley / Shutterstock

3. The Bombed Out Church, Liverpool 

Completed in 1842, St Luke’s Church in Liverpool was bombed during the Blitz in 1941. The roof was obliterated, but the walls were preserved. Now the venue functions as a memorial space, and an off-beat music, arts and community centre. Gigs give you a true taste of local vibes, from drumming circles to choirs. 
Address: Leece St, Liverpool, L1 2TR 

Lilac and pink lighting highlights the industrial styling inside The Vaults in London.
Gig-goers don't have far to walk to catch their train home from The Vaults © The Vaults

4. The Vaults, London

Hidden beneath the train tracks of London’s Waterloo Station, The Vaults is a dimly-lit maze of railway arches that host boundary-pushing performances, from theatre to live music. What’s more, it’s accessed through the Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel – a stretch of vibrant street art founded by the elusive spray-can-wielder, Banksy. 
Address: Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN 

The interior of the converted St Mary's Church in Argyll; it has vaulted ceilings, and is kitted out with soft furnishings and recording equipment.
As well as being a recording studio, St Mary's also hosts intimate gigs © St Mary's

5. St Mary’s, Argyll 

Primarily a boutique recording studio, this deconsecrated church is nestled deep in the wilds of Scotland’s West Highlands, and occasionally welcomes visitors for intimate gigs. The husband and wife team tend to host folksy, acoustic bands, suiting the idyllic backdrop of lochs and mountains.
Address: Fasnacloich, Argyll, Scotland, PA38 4BJ 

Try this: Musical cities: where to go to find your jam

Steps lead down to the open-air Minack Theatre in Penzance; it's sunset, and the Atlantic Ocean can be seen beyond the cliff-top performance.
No matter how good the performance at the Minack Theatre, the view could be a distraction © Minack Theatre

6. Minack Theatre 

Carved into a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Minack Theatre is one of Cornwall’s best known venues to watch a play, but it also hosts gigs throughout the month of May. Concerts are alfresco so be sure to dress accordingly, but with views like this a bit of drizzle won’t dampen the performance.
Address: The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, Penzance, TR19 6JU 

Image of The Band Room, a simple shed on a country road surrounded by the North York Moors.
You'd never guess this simple venue in North Yorkshire draws music lovers from across the globe © The Band Room

7. The Band Room, Low Mill, North Yorkshire

People travel from across the world to see gigs in this picture-perfect Yorkshire hut. The wood-panelled Band Room was originally built as a brass band practice room in the 1920s, and aside from new management and a well curated line-up of bands, little has changed since then. There’s still no bar so don’t forget to bring your own drinks, and enjoy chatting with others who made the journey across the North York Moors.
Address: Low Mill, Farndale, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, YO62 7UY 

Inside Wilton's Music Hall; the image has been taken with a fish-eye lens from a balcony and looks down on chairs set up for a concert.
Stately Wilton's used to be an ale house before becoming a music venue © Wilton's Music Hall

8. Wilton’s Music Hall, London

This Grade II–listed building is bursting with history – not surprising considering it claims to be the oldest grand music hall in the world. Formerly an ale house (1690), Wilton's became a music venue in the 1860s, when it was decorated with ornate mirrors, chandeliers and intricate paintwork. Sadly it fell into disrepair, but thanks to restoration in the '60s many of the original features remain. It’s a decadent space to catch the next big thing. 
Address: 1 Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB 

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