January’s a bit miserable, innit? You’ve barely slept for two weeks, you’re told you’re fat and look terrible (if the deluge of gym and teeth whitening adverts coming through our letterbox is anything to go by), and your front room still stinks of the brandy your auntie Joan split over the rug on Boxing Day. Rubbish. But it doesn’t have to be all bad. In fact, it could be brilliant, and there’s loads of good stuff to improve your month right here in Liverpool. Here’s some of our favourites.


Learn a new thing

Why not put those grim dark winter nights to better use than necking wine in front of Game of Thrones? There are shitloads of evening courses across the city region starting up this January. Ranging from 1 week to 3 months, you could learn Spanish cooking, reflexology, watercolour painting, dog training (above, in case you don’t know what a dog looks like), or all of those at once if you’re a nutter. The Liverpool council website has an extensive list of things on offer – you’ll be genuinely surprised at the scope of stuff going on. Sketch your way to happiness with our favourite Liverpool artist, Josie Jenkins, at the Palm House on 31st Jan. Feeling antisocial? Try one of the online offers at The Great Courses (the Fundamentals of Photography course is under £50 now). Give it a go, yeah?


See some well good art

Local institution Metal has commissioned new work as part of a mini-festival commenting on the ridiculous consumerism meltdown that happens every January. Wirral’s electronica export Forest Swords creates an intense new dance performance at a specially intimate premiere at the Black-E, Alan Dunn takes over Lime Street’s garish big screen with a series of text-based interruptions, and public art supremos Youmeandus run riot on Church Street with a surreal-sounding ‘big mouth’, that’s literally a big mouth. More info over at the Metal website. Over at the Tate, your friend and ours Henri Matisse’s iconic The Snail is on show until the spring. At the Open Eye, the cheery ‘Flat Death’ exhibition opens on the 16th – a photography exhibition exploring death, our bodies, and our relationship with the end. Yay!

Support your local music people

With the Kazimier coming to a euphoric death on New Year’s Eve and Cream shuttering up for the final time, it’s more important than ever to support the region’s promoters and music communities. Though it’s not particularly busy this January, there’s some good little picks – Harvest Sun are bringing the excellently dour Daughter to town, epic folk-pop scousers Silent Sleep play the lovely Oh Me Oh My, and see-them-before-they-get-massive local crew Clean Cut Kid head to Leaf.


Eat loads of nice food

Why not celebrate the fact you’ve eaten your own bodyweight over Christmas and New Year by going out for a nice meal? The region’s buzzing with delicious food places now, and the January period, where restaurants often struggle to fill tables, is a very good time to support them. Our current heroes include Crosby’s Albina (above), Bold Street’s Crust, Allerton Road’s Furrow, and Rock Ferry’s Refreshment Rooms. We passionately hope Free State Kitchen brings its delicious haggis burger back for Burns Night. Then again, the wonderful Lucha Libre offer £5 off your bill if you bring a receipt from another indie restaurant anytime throughout Jan.


Go see some cinema

Hide away from the wind and rain this month and pretend to be Mark Kermode with some big screen brilliance. Metal Liverpool continue their run of free screenings at their Edge Hill station HQ with the Nanook of the North documentary, about arctic circle Inuit, Nanook. At the wonderful Small Cinema project, they’re showing George A Romero and Stephen King’s unmissably bizarre Creepshow from 1982. For something rather more high brow, FACT are screening the Met Opera’s Les Pêcheurs De Perles. Classy.


(Try and) be a good person

Why not start the new year off by volunteering at one of the region’s many wonderful organisations? Age UK volunteers do amazing things for older people across the country, including simple things like giving lifts to hospital appointments or helping out with household chores. There’s also Age Concern Liverpool, on a similar tip. Homeless-helping hub The Whitechapel Centre are also looking for volunteers with all kinds of skills. Or become a volunteer reader for The Reader Organisation’s Off The Page – reading for children in families with literacy issues.

For a more extensive list of ways to help across the region, the Volunteer Centre Liverpool has a range of opportunities from education to animals.


Get off your arse

Then again, you could actually decide to do a Davina, and get in proper buff shape. Like us. Merseyside’s rippling with really excellent personal trainers ready to get you from couch to beach quicker than a Ceefax deal to Tenerife. We can heartily recommend Wirral’s Gym Free Trainers (if trainer Lee Brogan can patiently put up with us moaning our way through a pyramid workout every week, imagine what they can do for people with, like, real stamina.) In South Liverpool, Dan Parry is one of the coolest swingers in town (we’re talking kettle bells here, by the way) – his Limitless Fitness covers all the bases, from food to mood – with lashings of motivation, and in the city, B-Boy superhero Mark Jacob offers his Remarkable Workouts, with remarkable results. Then again, you could join a Saturday morning sociable Park Run , in a park near you, or try some British Military Fitness in Sefton Park.


Get zen

It’s all well and good buying new trainers and pretending you’re now going jogging every week (FYI: you’ll have sacked it off by February), but what about your mental health? Gradually becoming less of a taboo, it’s important to give yourself a mental MOT, particularly in the grim winter. Try mindfulness and meditation for a start: the Kadampa Centre holds a number of classes at venues across the region, which are pretty perfect for beginners. For a different kind of workout, try getting into yoga: Your Yoga in the city centre is a popular go-to. Fancy a hands-off healing session? Reiki, with Jennifer Green at the Allerton Health Centre, will have your energy blockages sorted out in no time.


Failing that, just drink your way through the darkest days of the season. Liverpool Organic Brewery’s Winter Ale Festival kicks off on the 28th, and staggers through to the 30th, with beers from over 100 breweries to slurp. And, this year, there’s a crisp and cool gin lounge; which just so happens to be our definition of the perfect dry January.

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