What street comes to mind when you think of Liverpool’s creative buzz, community bustle and contradictory character? Well, apart from Old Hall Street, that is.
Our favourite semi-pedestrianised, eclectic, multiple-personality thoroughfare, Bold Street anchors the top end of town with that spirit of independence and inspiration you just don’t get on the elevated walkways of South John Street.
Yes, there’s a ruddy big sports bar descending on the upper reaches like some implanted strain. Yes there’s a Tesco. But there’s News From Nowhere. And (close by) Bier. And Leaf. And Maggie Mays. And Rennies (although, really, enough with the Rolf Harris now, people). And Mr Chips. And Oxfam. And Resurrection. And Tabac. And Brew. And Matta’s. And Forbidden Planet. And (drumroll, please) Bold Street Coffee. Etc.
So we’re delighted that the Bold Street Festival is now a regular date on the calendar. And we’re looking forward to this weekend – and its fourth instalment.
There are arguments raging around the Ropewalks right now – should Bold Street be fully pedestrianised or not? We say yes. As would anyone with pram or wheelchair trying to negotiate the street’s upper limits. As, we’ve no doubt, would Leaf (imagine those tables spilling out onto the pavements. Or the sun-dappled light illuminating the creamy head of Sam Tawil’s expertly poured flat white outside Bold Street Coffee). But there are landlords who own most of the street saying ‘no, it’ll kill passing trade’. Passing trade? Have you ever tried casually driving your baby blue Bentley down Bold Street? South Beach this ain’t. This is no cruising lane. Bold Street is for ambling. For browsing. For engaging.
And you’ll be able to do a lot of that this weekend.
The annual Bold Street Festival is one of the year’s main rallying cries for the ‘other’ Liverpool (you know, that bit of our city centre that we still own), and it’s organised by traders and City Central BID. It’s a concoction we approve of.
The 2011 edition will span not just one day but two – on September 24 and 25 – to give everyone more time to take in this street’s many facets. Even St. Luke’s Church is getting involved. For what is Bold Street anyway? It’s a state of mind, not a location. Well, kinda.
Following on from last year’s event, there’ll be masses of stalls as well as an art market and vintage fair at Leaf Tea Shop and yet another Guinness World Record attempt at the world’s smallest nightclub. How can you possibly get any smaller than 2010’s wardrobe with a DJ booth inside? We can but imagine. But we’re guessing it’ll be smaller even than The Sink.
Cafés, restaurants, bars and shops will be doling out discounts and freebies, and there’ll be al fresco a-go-go with live stages and street performances cropping up along the (closed for traffic) street on the Sunday. It’s Sunday, too, that sees return of James Carling’s international pavement art competition.
Mandy Vere, of News from Nowhere Bookshop, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the festival. It’s a chance for the eclectic, creative and vibrant shops and cafes to really put Bold Street on the map. Liverpool is lucky to have a unique street like Bold Street and it’s our way of giving something back to the community, by putting on a bit of razzmatazz as the summer draws to a close.”
Yes, the street’s not as bohemian or as bonkers as it once was. The Mardi Gras is long gone. And we’re moving awfully close to a tipping point in the battle between chain stores and independents. But we still love it. And, if it’s to survive, we gotta give it some love. And hard cash.
Bold Street Festival, 24, 25 September
Main image: Brian Slater