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Celebrate Sgt Pepper at 50

Seminal Beatles’ album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 on June 1.

And to celebrate, Liverpool is staging a three-week festival packed with world premiere commissions inspired by each of the tracks on the record.

Sgt Pepper at 50 involves artists, performers and musicians from Liverpool, the UK and beyond, and many of the events are free to enjoy.

Here is a run down of what is happening when, and how you can join the Fab Four fun.

Pepperland by Mark Morris Dance Group

Liverpool’s Royal Court – May 25-27

Acclaimed New York-based choreographer Mark Morris is bringing his dance group to the city to perform a new work based on the ‘overture’ to the album, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band itself.

This original work for 15 dancers features a score by American composer Ethan Iverson with arrangements from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, including With a Little Help from My Friends, A Day in the Life and When I’m Sixty-Four, intermingled with six Pepper-inspired compositions.

Tickets are £15-£28 from the Royal Court website HERE.

With a Little Help From My Friends

May 26 to June 16

Presented by Liverpool-based arts organisation Metal, With A Little Help from My Friends is a new work by Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller.

The work, two public art commissions inspired by the Beatles’ best friend Brian Epstein, is about friendship, loneliness and love.


Suspended Time by Group F

Camp Hill/Woolton Woods – June 1

Part-performance, part-storytelling, part-pyrotechnic display, Suspended Time will be unlike any event staged in Liverpool before.

Pyrotechnic genius Christophe Berthonneau and Groupe F, the French team behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, the Eurovision song contest and Bastille Day, will work with American composer Scott Gibbons, to create a unique and magical evening, celebrating the surreal beauty of John Lennon’s song.


Getting Better?

Philharmonic Hall Music Room – June 5

Washington DC-born composer, artist and author Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, will explore the question through a mixture of performance and an audio-visual installation.

He will take to the stage at the Philharmonic Hall’s Music Room with a live string quartet to remix a number of Beatles’ classics.

Meanwhile he is also involved in a special installation at FACT from June 1-16.

Tickets for the Philharmonic event are £12 from the website HERE.

Fixing a Hole

White Tomkins and Courage Grain Silo, Stanley Dock and Tate Liverpool - May 29 to June 16

American artist Judy Chicago is thinking big for the Sgt Pepper anniversary. Very big.

She is responding to the lyrics of Fixing a Hole with a spectacular mural on the walls of the monumental dockside grain silo.

Renowned for her large-scale collaborative installations, this celebratory work will be her largest painting to date.


She’s Leaving Home

Homes in Toxteth – May 31 to June 18

Liverpool theatre company 20 Stories High is teaming up with Phelim McDermott (Improbable) to present this production about what home means, being staged IN people’s homes in Toxteth.

It has been researched and developed with young adults in Liverpool, and will feature the company’s trademark fusion of performance, speciallycommissioned live music played by Semay Wu and puppetry by Alison Duddle, performed by Zoe Hunter.

Ticket details from the Sgt Pepper at 50 website HERE.


Aintree Racecourse – June 4

This year isn’t just the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper, but also of composer John Cage’s Musicircus.

The two combine in this must-see event at Aintree Racecouse.

Expect an audacious fairground ride of sights and sounds creating an immersive sensory spectacular performance.

This whirligig celebration of Beatles’ music involves thousands of musicians, choirs, soloists, dancers, circus performers, poets and even chess players.


Beatles Ragafest and Indian Festival Village

St George’s Hall – June 11

The Beatles, and particularly George Harrison, were attracted to Indian culture and spirituality.

Milapfest will rekindle and showcase the amazing creative and spiritual connection with India with a festival of music and culture.

A ‘Ragafest’ featuring four specially curated concerts with meals will match the changing mood of the day, along with an Indian Festival Village with food, arts and crafts.

Tickets for each individual Raga are available HERE

When I’m 64

Pier Head – June 8

A celebration of one of the most upbeat Beatles songs, a mass sing-along will be broadcast live on Radio Merseyside from the world heritage Pier Head.


Rita Riot/Rita Dreaming/Rita Requiem

Hope Street area – June 10-11

Lovely Rita and Liverpool’s own traffic wardens are the inspiration for this inventive performance project by international performance artist Meow Meow.

The three parts of the weekend event are a parade from the Metropolitan Cathedral along Hope Street, an installation in the Oratory, and finally a candlelight Requiem on the preciousness of Time in St James’ Gardens.


Good Morning, Good Morning

City centre – June 9

Meet kazoo-wielding cultural cockerels and bands of musicians playing a Good Morning fanfare as you wend your way to work.

Imagine a LightNight early in the day as venues like the Bluecoat, Cavern, Tate and the Athenaeum throw open their doors to stage events.

Then see the fun come to a musical climax with a lunchtime finale in Church Street.

Some events free, some events ticketed. See the Sgt Pepper at 50 website HERE for details.

Let’s Not Be Ourselves, Thank You Beatles

Venue TBC - June 15

The specific details are being kept under wraps.

But to celebrate both the Beatles’ album and the work which has been produced over the previous fortnight, BBC Radio 6 Music will broadcast live from the city on BBC Music Day, with a range of special guests and inspiring music, which celebrates both the album and the music scene in Liverpool ever since.

Ticketed. Details coming soon.

A Day in the Life (24 Zero Hours)

Woolton Picture House – June 16

Starring legendary Liverpool comedian Tom O’Connor as retired river pilot Arthur, and rising star Paislie Reid as Ellie his carer, this specially-commissioned film by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Hurricane Films takes a ride on the city’s famous 86 bus – the route which Paul McCartney took to school – and beyond, through the space-time continuum.

Tickets £5 from the Sgt Pepper at 50 website HERE

For more details on all the events, visit

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