A music lover’s guide to England

A music lover’s guide to England

Salford Lads Club, England
Words and Photography By James Robertson

Planning on taking a trip to England in the near future?

The country famous for tea, royal weddings and Harry Potter is also the birthplace of some of the most influential musicians and bands in music history. Without it, the world would be deprived of musical greats such as Queen, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Smiths and David Bowie. So, if you have England in your sights for your next travel adventure, prepare to soak up its grand musical history with these not to be missed locales.

Festivals in the Countryside

England is famous for its festivals and practically invented the formula we know today. Names like Glastonbury, Isle of Wight and Reading and Leeds are renowned as some of the biggest festivals in the world, headlined by everyone from Radiohead to Stormzy. What better way to experience the idyllic countryside than with a bunch of mates, a slab of beer and a tonne of killer acts. No matter how big or small the event, there’s sure to be a great band on the lineup. Be warned: the weather is never predictable and what might start as a weekend of sunny skies and singlets could transform into a nightmare of flying tents and mud-soaked jumpers, so be sure to bring your boots.

Liverpool’s Beatles Heritage

The birthplace of The Beatles hardly needs any introduction. The city is dotted with inspirational landmarks for the Fab Four, including the grave of Eleanor Rigby, the former children’s home of Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane itself – all of which can be seen on one single bus tour. The Cavern Club, where John, Paul, George and Ringo played some of their first gigs, is open to anyone looking for a place to drink or to immerse themselves in the iconic venue’s atmosphere. Lastly, Liverpool’s The Beatles Story offers one of the largest exhibitions on the legendary band, displaying everything from George Harrison’s first guitar to John Lennon’s spectacles.

London Plaque Tour

Speckled across the English capital are numerous blue plaques attached to buildings, denoting what famous person once lived or worked there. Go on a scavenger hunt and see how many you can find. The abodes of influential figures like Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Winston Churchill and Vladimir Lenin can be found, along with the residencies of musicians including David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon.

The Salford Lads Club

The front entrance of this small club will be familiar to any fan of The Smiths. Appearing in the band’s photoshoot for their 1986 masterpiece The Queen is Dead, the club has since attained mythic status among fans of the Manchester-bred quartet. Past its striking facade, the club houses a Smiths memorial room in celebration of the legendary band. The homage was created by local fans and invites others to leave their own personal post-it notes and photographs in tribute to the alt-rockers.

Camden’s Markets and Venues

Camden is one of the coolest places you could visit. It’s home to a vibrant music culture and alternative shopping scene, with a beautiful market spanning the riverside. Barges bob beside you as you wander the offerings of fantastic street food and vintage clothing. Huge acts like Blur, Amy Winehouse and The Libertines made their break in Camden and their legacies clearly remain. Aside from numerous buskers, Camden contains superb venues such as the Jazz Café, the Roundhouse and Electric Ballroom where live music and DJ sets can be found for a phenomenal night out.

Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival

The Yorkshire metropolis of Sheffield is well-known as the birthplace of music legends including Joe Cocker, Pulp, Def Leppard, Arctic Monkeys and Bring Me the Horizon, but the city is becoming a hot spot for live music outside of London. The annual Tramlines Festival lights up the city centre as venues burst with lineups each night, pumping out any genre you’d like. Stages are even set up in Hillsborough Park, further out of the centre, so that every corner of the city is consumed with tunes. For a festival where you don’t have to spend your nights in a flying tent, go to Tramlines in Sheffield.

Quadrophenia Alleyway in Brighton

For fans of The Who and British cinema, Brighton should be on your list. Situated on the southern coast, this seaside town was used for shooting the 1979 cult film Quadrophenia, inspired by The Who’s album of the same name. The narrow lane featured in the film has been renamed Quadrophenia Alleyway as a nod to its famous appearance and offers a place for fans to strike a pose like the troubled protagonist, Jimmy. What’s more, Brighton has the biggest LGBTQIA+ scene in England and celebrates with massive parties on the beachside in the summer months.