For music lovers, getting to see your favourite artists performing your favourite songs live is a special experience. From intimate venues to enormous arenas, the best music venues can take a special experience and make it truly unforgettable with a fantastic atmosphere, friendly staff, and of course a diverse list of upcoming gigs. Whether you’re looking for the best venues to find up and coming bands or looking for live music in your local area, these are CrossCountry’s picks for the best live music venues in the UK.
Bristol Beacon, Bristol
With a history dating back to 1867, Bristol Beacon has been a central venue in the Bristol music scene for many, many years. Their annual orchestral season speaks to this history and runs from December to June each year offering Bristolians a chance to witness the greatest classical music played by some of the UK’s finest musicians. As well as classical performances, some of the best-known pop acts worldwide have graced the Bristol Beacon’s stage, including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, and Iron Maiden.
The Bristol Beacon has recently undergone an identity change, as it was formerly known as Colston Hall. As part of Bristol’s focus on redressing its colonial past, the Grade II listed building has changed its name and been refurbished, so you can expect better acoustics than ever before.
Getting to Bristol Beacon by train
The Leadmill, Sheffield
Originally opened as a live music venue in 1980 in a former flour mill, The Leadmill is Sheffield’s longest running music venue and nightclub. They have a fantastic reputation for hosting local emerging talent, including the Arctic Monkeys, The Smiths, Pulp, and more. The Leadmill showcases acts with wide-ranging musical backgrounds, so if you’re visiting Sheffield, you’re sure to find a Leadmill gig worth going to. As well as live music, the Leadmill hosts club nights and DJ sets, so don’t be afraid to get up and dance! This intimate venue is definitely a part of the Sheffield furniture, so keep an eye on their upcoming shows.
Getting to the Leadmill by train
King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
This wee venue has a big history. Located in Glasgow, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut has been a favourite venue of the Glaswegian music community for a long time. Over the years, they have hosted fantastic bands and artists, and even played a pivotal role in Oasis being signed by their record label. King Tut’s has a capacity of 300, so this intimate venue is the perfect place to see up and coming artists from a variety of genres. Their annual King Tut's New Year's Revolution festival runs over a few weeks, and has previously featured artists such as Dancing on Tables and Hamish Hawk. The festival showcases a long list of artists from near and far, so be sure to sign up to see your favourites!
Getting to King Tut’s by train
AO Arena, Manchester
On the other side of the spectrum, AO Arena (also known as the Manchester Arena) holds roughly 20,000 people and is a huge part of the Manchester music scene. This fantastic venue is based right in central Manchester and has become a major part of Manchester’s culture. Previous acts that have played there include Madonna, Beyonce, Adele, and many other household names. This venue is at the heart of the Mancunian community, and so you’re guaranteed to feel like a part of the Manchester music scene here.
Getting to Manchester by train
Rock City, Nottingham
Nottingham’s Rock City is a mid-sized venue with over 40 years of rock ‘n’ roll history behind it, having hosted huge acts like David Bowie, Nirvana, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Located in the heart of Nottingham, Rock City has been part of the Nottingham live music scene since it opened in 1980, so it has major reputation! Rock City is uniquely set up with a number of stages, including the main stage, the Basement, and the Black Cherry Lounge – so there is even more to enjoy. Rock City is known for hosting a mixture of emerging talents and well-known artists, so make sure to keep an eye out for your favourites (or your next favourites) playing here.
Getting to Rock City by train
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you’re visiting one of the best historical places in the UK, the best forests in the UK, or the best cinemas in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.
Written by Julia