Lonely Planet Writer

Liverpool to hold massive celebrations for 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper

Liverpool is already a pilgrimage for ardent Beatles fans who want to visit spots like Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. But this year, the UK city will take things to another level to celebrate 50 years since the release of the iconic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, launching a festival with events for each track on the 1967 record.

Sgt. Pepper is famous for being one of the most influential records of all time. So to properly mark the half-century since its release, Liverpool will curate a unique festival  that “brings together world renowned artists and Liverpool-based talent, to pay homage to the 50th anniversary of what is widely regarded as the best rock and roll album of all time”. As the hometown of John, Paul, George and Ringo, the city already sees a huge amount of tourism from fans who want to see where one of the greatest bands of all time got their start.

The festival will use each track of the album to create 13 different events, reimagining the original track with music, dance, art, poetry, theatre and more. The events will run between 25 May and 16 June around the city, including at Liverpool’s Royal Court, Hope Street, Woolton Picture House, Camp Hill, Tate Liverpool, St George’s Hall and Aintree Racecourse.

Sgt. Peppter's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Sgt. Peppter’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Image by Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/ Getty Images

For example, “With a Little Help From My Friends” is a citywide public art commission from Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller in response to the track, which examines the nature of friendship. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” has inspired Suspended Time on 1 June, an event which will include “part performance, part storytelling and part pyro display” and “will be unlike any event staged before”. To correspond with “Fixing a Hole”, Judy Chicago, an icon of American art, will create her largest painting yet as a mural on the walls of the Grain Silo in Great Howard Street.

To celebrate the beloved Track “When I’m Sixty-Four”, an event will look at different generations and what age means to them. There will also be a mass sing-along on the radio as 64 choirs of all ages and all around Liverpool perform the song.

 

To top things off, on the actual release date anniversary of 1 June, the city will celebrate the iconic closing track “A Day in the Life” as filmmakers create a film to capture the essence of Liverpool, shot in the 24 hours of the anniversary. The film will them premiere on 16 June at Woolton Picture House. There are also a number of things Beatles fans can do year-round, like head to The Beatles Story, which is displaying new memorabilia for the anniversary, or head to the famous Cavern Club where the band got its start. 

Joe Anderson, mayor of Liverpool, said in a statement that “Sgt. Pepper pushed creative boundaries and we want to do exactly the same – this is a festival which brings high-end art in to the mainstream and gives it a Liverpool twist which is thought-provoking, sometimes cheeky and always entertaining”.

Some events require tickets, while others are free. Find more information at www.sgtpepperat50.com.

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