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Top 12 British Music Experiences —according to Visit Britain

1. British Music Experience – make your own music in the interactive studio at Britain's interactive museum of popular music which combines some of the most coveted music memorabilia of all time with virtual instructors teaching the dances of the different decades. It is located in the O2 which was named as the most popular music venue in the world for four year running. In 2010 it sold 1.7 million tickets and attracted huge gigs by the likes of Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Bon Jovi.

2. Liverpool - Visit the Beatles Story, check out the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, go on a Magical Mystery Tour or stay in a Beatles themed hotel. To check out current bands pay a visit to the Echo Arena or the O2 Academy and for up and coming talent, bars like Zanzibar are worth a visit. And of course no visit to Liverpool would be complete without seeing a gig at the Cavern Bar. Liverpool holds the Guinness Book of Records as Capital of Pop – more Liverpool artistes have had a Number One hit than artistes from any other town or city in the world. A special Wall of Fame in Mathew Street celebrates the achievements of these artistes.

3. Camden is an area of London renowned for the wide variety of music on offer. Music venues such as Dublin Castle and The Bull and Gate have hosted acts such as Oasis, Blur and the late Amy Winehouse, while appearing at Barfly helped launch Coldplay’s career. The Camden Crawl is weekend festival which takes place every year and showcases the best of the up and coming talent in a variety of Camden venues. Recent years have seen performances by Professor Green, Kasabian, The King Blues and many others.

4. Manchester has been the home to many British artists such as The Smiths, Happy Mondays and Oasis and more recently the likes of Elbow and Courteeners. Many of these acts could be found during their early careers playing in smaller live music venues in the Northern Quarter of the city such as Roadhouse, Night and Day Café and The Deaf Institute where new and unsigned acts can still be seen. For a spot of celebrity spotting in Manchester you could try bars such as Lammars, Panacea or Cloud 23 in the Deansgate Hilton.

5. The English Riviera, on the south coast of Devon is one of the more unlikely music hotspots but it has now had an album named after it. Metronomy who released the album earlier this refer to the market town in the English Riviera as a romantic destination where magic happens.

6. Festivals - Glastonbury may be taking a break next year (there is no event in 2012) but with 450 to choose from, Britain is packed with festivals big and small, and for both adults and families. Leeds and Reading are popular with the young rock and Indie crowd while the Isle of Wight festival tends to attract a slightly older crowd with its dance and electronic music. Camp Bestival in Dorset is one of the more child friendly festivals.Cardiff big Weekend and Monmouth Festival are two of the largest free festivals with a mixture of home grown and top international artists. The Glasgow Jazz Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011 and the Bath International Music Fest is a two week period at the end of May when the city’s many venues come alive with the sounds of classical music, international jazz, world and contemporary music.

7. Abbey Road Studios are the oldest purpose built recording studios in the world having celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2011. The studio still a working recording studio which is why you can’t do There are no tours of the actual studio as it is still fully operational but the Zebra crossing just outside the studio where some of Abbey Road’s most famous clients, The Beatles, shot one of their most iconic album covers is a popular tourist attraction. A webcam is positioned just outside the studio to capture all the action on the crossing. It isn’t just the Beatles who recorded successful albums at Abbey road Manic Street Preachers, Spandau Ballet, Kirsty MacColl, Travis and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers are just some of the many acts that have chosen to record at Abbey Road.

8. Glasgow is one of 4 UNESCO International Cities of Music including Seville, Bolonga and Ghent. From the small well-known venues such as Grand Ole Opry where Country and Western music is regularly performed to venues like 13th Note Cafe and King Tuts Wah Wah Hut which was recently voted as the ‘best small venue in the UK’ by NME readers and was where Oasis appeared on stage before being discovered, Glasgow caters for all musical tastes. Larger venues such as the Old Fruitmarket and the O2 ABC host all sorts of music from Rock and Pop to traditional Scottish ceilidhs.

9. Bristol – A study by Performing Right Society this year named Bristol as Britain’s most musical city as it has more musicians relative to population size than any other in the UK with bands such as Massive Attack and Portishead calling the city home. Small Venue The Coronation Tap is an award winning pub which is well known for its live music as well as the local cider. Mr Wolfs is another small venue known for introducing new acts to the stage as well as being a venue for dance and graffiti artists to showcase their art. Bristol’s Lakota nightclub is popular for its rave music but often hosts multi genre events over its 3 floors while Timbuk2 favours the Electro and House styles of music.

10. Musical Theatre - If you prefer to be visually entertained whilst listening to great music in comfortable surroundings then seeing one of the many musicals at some great theatres. Musicals such as Million Dollar Quartet and Jersey Boys feature music from America in the 1950’s and 60’s while Mamma Mia is based on the music of Swedish group Abba. We Will Rock You featuring the music of British band Queen gets audiences tapping their feet on a nightly as does Rock of Ages: the musical which is coming to London’s Shaftesbury Theatre in August.

11. The Notting Hill Carnival is the largest street festival celebration in Europe and every August bank holiday the streets of West London come alive with music. Historically, steel bands, Soca & Calypso Music have been at the heart of Carnival but in recent years these have been overtaken by the static sound systems playing anything from Reggae to R&B, Funk, House, Dub and much more. Live stages also feature local bands, top international artists and sounds from around the world – Eddie Grant, Jamiroquai, Wyclef Jean, Courtney Pine and Burning Spear have been among the line up in previous years.

12. Take the Belfast Music Tour and see the legendary Ulster Hall where Led Zeppelin first performed Stairway to Heaven, visit Van Morrison’s birthplace and Cyprus Avenue (the tree-lined street that features in many of his songs) and learn where punk classics like Alternative Ulster and Teenage Kicks were conceived.


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