8 new museums and exhibitions you won’t want to miss

You’re never far from a first-rate museum or art gallery in Britain, many of which are free to visit. Take a look at these hot new openings in 2018 and be the first to see some of the best new exhibitions and galleries in the world.


If you like – art and design

You’ll loveDundee’s V&A, Dundee, Scotland

The V&A – one of London’s best museums – opens a new outpost of the museum in the Scottish city of Dundee this autumn, located 1.5 hours from Edinburgh. Ultra-modern and sleek in design, and architect Kengo Kuma’s first British commission, the museum launches with the spectacular Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition, which will display never-before-seen objects and highlights from the ships that revolutionised travel in the mid-19th to the late 20th centuries. The museum will also showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Open: 15 September


If you like – sculpture

You’ll loveYorkshire Sculpture Park’s new visitor centre, Yorkshire, north England

Be one of the first to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s (YSP) £4million, environmentally friendly visitor centre later this year, which will bring a gallery space exhibiting 20th- and 21st-century art, a restaurant and shop to this leading centre of modern and contemporary sculpture. Set in the 18th-century Bretton Hall Estate in West Yorkshire, 30 minutes from Leeds, it’s also the only place in the world where you can see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety as well as a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore.

Open: Summer 2018


If you like – great feats of engineering

You’ll love – Being Brunel, Bristol, south-west England

New to Bristol this year is Being Brunel, a museum celebrating the life and work of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the celebrated Victorian engineer whose famous designs include SS Great Britain, itself moored next to the new museum, and the city’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It explores everything from the great designs themselves, his celebrity, his ambition to become a leader in engineering, and his home life. Families will love the interactive exhibits, which include talking portraits of his family and friends.

Open: Now


If you like – classic ceramics

You’ll love – the new-look Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcestershire, west England

Receiving a £1.7million refurbishment means the museum of the famed porcelain makers, located an hour from Birmingham, will become a living history of the factory, telling the stories of the people that worked there, as well as exhibiting collections that date back to 1751 when the company was formed.

Open: May 2018


If you like – maritime history

You’ll love – the new galleries at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Taking a lead role in Cook 250 – the 250th anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s first expedition from London to the Pacific and Australia (on 26 August) – the National Maritime Museum is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will each be dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things.
Open: Mid-2018 TBC


If you like – Welsh history

You’ll love – the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, Wales

Later this year, new galleries will open at the open-air history museum around St Fagans Castle to display objects – many never shown before – from the National Museum Wales’ collections. Part of a significant renovation project, there will also be new buildings across the site, one – Gweithdy, a sustainable building boasting a café and a range of craft workshops – that is now open.

Open: Now, and throughout 2018


If you like – WWII history

You’ll love – the new galleries at D-Day Story, Portsmouth, south England

Personal stories of D-Day are told through the museum’s collections and audio-visual presentations in the refurbished galleries of the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, two hours south of London. The new displays feature accounts of the Battle of Normandy and the museum has also put together guides on how you can discover the story of your family members involved in D-Day.

Open: Now


If you like – world-class art

You’ll love – the revamped Royal Academy, London

Marking its 250th anniversary in 2018, the Royal Academy will reveal its new look this summer. It will showcase more major exhibitions focusing on living artists and architects, new free art displays, and the institution’s two buildings – Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens – will be linked for the first time with dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and cafés. There’ll also be an increase in the debates, discussions and workshops the RA is famed for.

Open: May 2018


You might also like:

  • In autumn 2018 the British Museum in London will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery.
  • The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme is transforming its London site as part of the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations in 2018 with new permanent exhibitions, opening in the summer, and the Now & the Future exhibit area will tell the story of the RAF from its earliest years in the First World War to its global role today.
  • The new-look Mackintosh Tearooms, Glasgow, Scotland, a £10million project preserving the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Tea Rooms Building, is scheduled for completion in June, and a shop next door will be transformed into an education and interpretative centre.
  • Westminster Abbey, London, will welcome a new gallery and museum this summer. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey’s medieval triforium, runs 70 ft above the Abbey and has not been seen by the public for more than 700 years. Expect to see treasures from the Abbey’s 1,000-year history.
  • Discover more than 3,000 objects from around the world in south London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens new World Gallery, celebrating what it means to be human. The new £4.6million gallery includes works of art and fun things to touch, play with and smell.

15 incredible ways to celebrate World Gin Day in Britain

Shaken or stirred, with tonic or in a cocktail, the popularity of gin continues to boom and, with more than 160 gin brands across the UK according to the Gin Guild, plus a host of boutique distillers opening, Britain continues to lead the gin revolution. As World Gin Day celebrates its ten-year anniversary on 9 June with a four-day festival in London, make sure these British gin experiences are on your to-do list.



Stay at Britain's first gin hotel, Portobello Road Gin’s Distillery hotel, London

Book into The Distillery on Portobello Road; this gin lovers' paradise is home to two gin bars, stocking a huge range of gins (including the famous Portobello Road Gin) and the Ginstitute, the hotel's gin museum and blending room, which runs masterclasses showing you how to make your own gin blend.


Embark on a Gin Journey tour, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle

The Gin Journey takes its guests in a chauffeur-driven carriage to five bars in your city of choice, including a local gin distillery, with samples of specially selected premium gin in each. Other tours on offer in London include ‘The Gin Masters Masterclass’ for a chance to learn all about the various styles of gin and its manufacturing from a master distiller.


Head for London’s largest collection of gin, London

Featuring more than 500 gins and 30 tonics the Gin Bar at Holborn Dining Room is seriously impressive, offering the discerning gin lover more than 14,000 possible gin and tonic pairings, plus new gin cocktails.


Order gin from a ‘Bath’, Bath

The Canary Gin Bar in the south-west England city of Bath, is a haven for gin-lovers due to its vast collection of the spirit on offer. A micro-distillery has also been launched at the bar and has created its very own type of gin, ‘Bath gin’.


Enrol in gin school, Leicester
Join the Gin Experience at the 45 Gin School in Leicester and tour the home of Burleighs London Dry Gin, before selecting and distilling your choice of botanicals and bottling your own 70cl bottle of gin, under the guidance of a master distiller.


Feast on cake and gin, London

Hayman’s English gin makers and Brigit’s Bakery have joined forces to offer a Gin Lovers Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London. Tours on the charming, vintage Routemaster bus take in some of London’s most iconic landmarks as a bespoke B Bakery Afternoon Tea is served with Hayman’s Gin infused treats and three seasonal Hayman’s Gin cocktails.



Indulge in gin pamperingm, Glasgow

Created by the people behind Glasgow’s first dedicated gin bar – Gin71 – the Gin Spa is the world’s first botanically inspired day spa. Find bespoke treatments using the bar’s passion for gin mixed with natural botanical ingredients and sip on a complimentary gin cocktail that comes with every treatment.


Venture to the far north for gin, Shetland

Take a tasting tour at the UK’s most northerly gin distillery; the Saxa Vord Distillery on the Shetland Isles. Its recipes infuse gin with either locally harvest apple mint or bladderwrack seaweed to give it a unique Shetland twist.


Sail on a gin cruise, Edinburgh

The people behind Edinburgh’s Juniper Festival, Scotland’s first-ever gin festival, now offer special gin tasting events on board its Juniper Cruise. Heading out from Edinburgh on the Lochrin Belle canal boat, its two-hour tasting session teaches guests about gin’s fascinating history while sampling five Scottish gins. Cruises run until November and the Juniper Festival itself takes place at Summerhall, Edinburgh, between 1-3 June.


Gin along the North Coast 500, Caithness

Ask someone else to drive this stunning road trip along 500 miles of the far north of Scotland as you’ll want to stop by these two gin distilleries en route and sample the goods. Head to the new visitor centre of the Dunnet Bay Distillery, in Caithness, to discover tales of illicit distilling and the history of prohibition in the local town of Wick, before sampling its flagship gin Rock Rose. Further along near Inverness is the intriguing Glen Wyvis, 100% owned by the local community with a new distillery that aims to be 100% powered by green, renewable energy.


Mix gin with chocolate, Perth

The Perth Chocolate and Gin Street Festival, an hour north of Edinburgh, is a haven for those with a passion for chocolate and a love for gin. Coming to the city this November (17-18), there’ll be gins to try from all over the UK and a chance to see how well the two products go together in the chocolate and gin pairing event.  



Buy biosphere-inspired gin

Taste and take home the unique Pollination Gin, distilled by the family run Dyfi Distillery, located in the UNESCO World Biosphere of Dyfi in north-west Wales, on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. It’s produced in very limited small batches, made from foraged botanicals from within the biosphere, pure grain spirit and locally drawn spring water, making it a special gift to take home.


Sample sea-inspired gin

Fans of seafood should put this on their must-try list; a small batch gin made with a variety of botanicals infused with seaweed from the Welsh coast, Dà Mhìle Seaweed gin is pretty special. Find out more of how this unusual gin is made with a tour of the distillery near Ceredigion in west Wales, two hours from Cardiff.


Northern Ireland

Take Northern Ireland’s very first gin tour

The Belfast Gin Jaunt launched last year and takes guest to five bars to try seven different gins – including three distilled locally – starting at a Victorian Gin Palace and finishing three hours later at the city’s famous Cathedral Quarter.


Explore Northern Ireland’s first craft gin

Find out the fascinating story of how Northern Ireland’s first craft gin – Shortcross Gin – came about in a tour of its distillery on the Rademon Estate in County Down, one of Ireland’s oldest historic estates located just half an hour from Belfast. And, of course, the essential tutored tasting of the end product.

Celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force

As the Royal Air Force (RAF) marks its 100th anniversary this year, numerous attractions are charting not only the history and people that make up the UK’s prestigious armed service, but also its impact on the history of flight. Here are some stories and events to uncover during RAF100.



Plenty of heroes, heroines and trailblazers made their mark in the RAF, the world’s oldest independent air force, which was formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918. The Royal Air Force Museum, in north west London, documents the stories of many of those who made significant contributions, both to the organisation and to developments in flying.

The museum’s online exhibition delves even deeper into the history. ‘Women of the Airforce’ honours the role of women in the air services, such as the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF), which was established at the same time as the RAF. It was set up following concerns that the highly-skilled female workforce would be lost after the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) merged to form the RAF.

You can also trace the story of Commandant Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, a formidable leader who set the standards for all women’s air services in Britain, and discover how her professional approach changed male attitudes towards women in the air service.

Women continued to play an important role in the Second World War, an aspect that’s highlighted in the Grandma Flew Spitfires’ exhibit at Maidenhead Heritage Centre. The exhibit tells the stories of both men and women’s courage, skill and sacrifice in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). The ATA ferried over 309,000 warplanes of 148 different types between factories and frontline squadrons. There is also a fascinating selection of memorabilia, from log books to uniforms, as well as the opportunity to sample life in the cockpit in a Spitfire simulator.

Another initiative is 14-18 NOW, a five-year arts programme connecting people to the First World War through arts experiences, such as the high-profile, visually striking Wave and Weeping Window exhibit, a sea of ornamental red poppies first displayed at the Tower of London. Currently on tour between now and December 2018, you can catch it in Hereford, Fort Nelson, Carlisle, Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, London, Belfast and Plymouth.


Other events:

North East Salute to the Royal Air Force at 100, Durham: This Thanksgiving service at Durham Cathedral on Saturday 23 June 2018 will be followed by an RAF Air Cadets’ performance and parade.

Centenary Service and Parade, London: The official commemoration of RAF100 will take place on Tuesday 10 July with a service at Westminster Abbey, followed by a reception and fly-past on Horse Guards Parade. You can apply for tickets here.



Mary Ellis is one of the last surviving ATA pilots, who delivered Spitfires and bombers from factories to the frontline, keeping the squadrons replenished during the Second World War. To mark Mary’s 100th birthday last year, she celebrated by taking to the skies in a Spitfire.

Visitors to Britain can also experience the thrill of a Spitfire. Boultbee Flight Academy offers an exhilarating Spitfire flight experience from four UK airports where participants can enjoy aerial views over England’s south west coast, the English Channel, the Scottish Highlands or the iconic Duxford Airfield, the centre of European aviation history, from where Spitfires first took flight in Britain.

Duxford is also home to the Imperial War Museum Duxford, which is worth a visit after touching down. Explore the same hangars as servicemen and women such as the famed RAF fighter pilot, Douglas Bader, discover their stories through original film and artefacts, and get up-close to iconic aircraft such as the Vulcan bomber, B-52 and Concorde.


More experiences:

Flying Lessons: Always wanted to fly a plane? Book an introductory flying lesson in a vintage RAF Tiger Moth for a taster of British aviation during the Second World War. Venues include Staverton Airport in Gloucestershire where you’ll enjoy spectacular views over the Cotswolds.

RAF Falcons Display: Visitors can witness Britain’s premier parachute display team achieve free falls of up to 120mph and see their incredible formations at one of the display days from May to October at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Check their website for event dates and locations.



On Sunday 10 June 2018, the RAF Cosford Airshow will feature a thrilling six-hour flying display in Cosford, Shropshire. Celebrating the evolution of air power, the show will include a selection of planes that have never been seen before.

The show also includes a Vintage Village complete with tearoom, live entertainment and classic cars. Visitors can also meet the RAF Red Arrows flying display team who will be honouring the centenary with their iconic red, white and blue vapour trails as part of their daring Diamond Nine-shape acrobatics.


Other events:

Air Waves Portrush: Northern Ireland’s biggest free air show returns on the weekend of 1/2 September 2018 on Belfast’s Causeway Coast with aircraft displays, a motor village, trade fairs, artisan markets and a fun zone for children.

Duxford Battle of Britain Airshow, Cambridgeshire: Duxford’s airshow on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September 2018 will see the skies above Cambridgeshire filled with one of the biggest collections of aircraft from the era, while on the ground, RAF100 celebrations continue with re-enactments, 1940s dances, and talks and signings with respected authors of wartime history and literature.

Coventry - the capital of cool and culture

After years of regeneration, Coventry is set to become Britain's city of cool after being named the UK’s City of Culture for 2021. In the lead-up to its time in the spotlight, here are some of best places to chart the historical roots and culture of this West Midlands city.


Coventry through the ages

During periods of unrest in Roman Britain, the Lunt Roman Fort was used as headquarters by the Roman army during the fight against Boudica, the tribal queen who led the uprising against the Roman Empire in around AD 60. Now fully excavated and partially reconstructed, the fort is the only example of an early Roman cavalry fort in Britain.


As one of the most celebrated women from Britain in the ‘Dark Ages’, Lady Godiva is best remembered for her naked horseback ride through Coventry. Now a legendary 12th-century tale, it’s said she did this to bargain with her husband, the Earl of Mercia and a ruler of England, to free people from the heavy taxes he had forced on them. Today, the Lady Godiva statue forms the centrepiece of the central square of Broadgate.


Discover how the city’s innovative spirit echoes throughout history at the award-winning Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, which celebrates the city’s history, arts, culture and diversity. Permanent exhibits include a tour of Medieval Coventry, the Victorian era and the beginning of the motor industry, and how the City of Dreams rebuilt itself after World War II. The most severe attack occurred on 14 November 1940, when 515 German bombers set out to destroy Coventry's factories and industrial infrastructure. In just one night, over 4,300 homes were destroyed and around two-thirds of the city's structures damaged, including Coventry Cathedral.


Petrolheads should visit the Coventry Transport Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of British vehicle. Displays include the fastest car on earth, motoring innovations over the last 150 years, and exhibits on how the city has been shaped by the rise and fall of its motoring industries. Visitors can test out the fastest car, ‘Spirit of Speed,’ to feel what it’s like travelling at 763 miles per hour.


Contemporary arts and culture

FarGo Village is Coventry’s answer to Camden in London, its creative quarter packed with independent shops, markets and local food and drink, while workspaces and studios are home to innovative artists. Events here include Vintage in the Village, animation workshops, the Vegan Festival and the Urban Culture Coventry Street Art festival.


The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum also presents a contemporary outlook on the city’s culture; running from 10 March to 10 April 2018 is the Irish Heart, Coventry Home exhibit which looks at the role of the Irish community in Coventry. Meanwhile from 24 February to 13 May 2018, New Art West Midlands presents emerging creative talent in a mixed media exhibition with contemporary themes including Artificial Intelligence, fake news and gender inequality.


City sounds

Coventry is renowned for its Two-Tone ska-punk rock fusion that helped launch bands such as The Specials and The Selecter, offering up infectious rhythms and on-point lyrics to try and address racial tensions in 1980s Britain. Visitors can trace the musical roots of Two-Tone and other genres at the award-winning Coventry Music Museum in the city’s 2-Tone Village. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday10am to 4pm and on Sundays, 10am to 3pm.


2018 also sees numerous music events coming to Coventry. The Godiva Festival is the UK’s biggest, free, family music festival with live music and fairs at the War Memorial Park from 31 August to 2 September 2018. This park will also play host to BBC Music's The Biggest Weekend on 27 and 28 May 2018, an exciting live music event including performances Paloma Faith and Snow Patrol.


See also:

  • Coventry Cathedral: After being bombed during World War 2, the cathedral was rebuilt and the new Cathedral Church of St Michael, still known as Coventry Cathedral, is one of the few post-war listed buildings in the UK.
  • Coventry Watch Museum: During the 18th century, Coventry became one of the main centres of England’s watchmaking industry. This locally run museum displays timekeeping artefacts and visitors can observe specialist watchmakers on the job. Note, it’s only open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 11am to 3pm.
  • Rising Café - From the Rubble: Set in the grounds of Coventry Cathedral, Rising Café is a favourite with locals too, serving hearty lunches and artisan coffees in a 1940s interior that pays homage to the city’s World War II bombing and subsequent regeneration.

Must-See Spots, Less Than An Hour From London

London is one of the most fascinating cities on Earth. However, if you don’t venture just a little further out of the centre of the city you could be seriously missing out, as there are a huge range of activities and attractions, all located less than 60 minutes from central London.


Windsor Castle is the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II, and the venue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming nuptials. Tour the 11th-century castle and grounds, and admire the lavish State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms – faithfully restored after the 1992 fire. Catch a 40-minute mainline train from Paddington Station to Windsor & Eton Central, then walk five minutes to Windsor Castle.


Kew Gardens are just 30 minutes south of central London, on the District line to Richmond. A UNESCO World Heritage site, highlights include the iconic Palm House glasshouse, Kew Palace - where King George III sought refuge during his bouts of ‘madness’ - a treetop walkway and an arboretum containing 14,000 trees.


Jump on a train at London’s Charing Cross and you can be in Royal Tunbridge Wells in just 50 minutes. This Kentish spa town first found fame 400 years ago, when an iron-rich spring was discovered and the gentry flocked to ‘cure’ ailments from infertility to hangovers. Today you can still taste the healing waters, served to you by a traditionally-dressed dipper.


Immerse yourself in the wizarding world with an enchanting visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. When the final Harry Potter movie wrapped, a magical trove of treasures were left behind. Two soundstages and a back lot were reassembled and opened to adoring fans. Catch the train or tube from London Euston to Watford Junction, then a shuttle bus, and you could be knocking at Hogwarts’ door within 40 minutes.


Catch the fast train from Kings Cross and you could be outside Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, in just 20 minutes. The Old Palace was owned by Henry VIII and was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I, while the newer Jacobean Hatfield House was built in 1611. You can tour both homes and the grounds, including the very spot where Elizabeth I discovered she’d become Queen of England.


You might also like:

  • Visit one of the Go Ape outdoor adventure parks for high rope courses, zip wires and Segway safaris.
  • Enjoy a spot of tea in a stately home, such as Strawberry Hill House.
  • Visit the William Morris Gallery, devoted to the life of the famous designer, craftsman and socialist.
  • Travel to Epsom, home to the greatest flat horse race in the world - the Epsom Derby. It is also where suffragette Emily Davison died to further women's rights by throwing herself under the king's horse.
  • Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks and has remained almost unchanged since the 1600's when King Charles I turned it into a nature reserve and deer sanctuary.
  • LEGOLAND lets you bring out your inner child with rides, shows and Miniland - cities and landmarks famously recreated with Lego bricks.
  • Jump on a train and discover the stunning nature reserves and wetlands that ring London, including Surrey Hills, Epping Forest and the Chilterns.

Three great day trips on the Brunel Heritage Trail

The exciting opening of the Being Brunel museum in early 2018 will bring together a collection of never-seen-before possessions of iconic 19th-century British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. One of the most important figures of the Industrial Revolution, he hailed from one of the world’s greatest engineering dynasties and created some of the nation’s finest landmarks.

Here are three fabulous days out to experience the best of Brunel and the cities he made more accessible – and they’re all within two hours of central London.


Day One: London

Start in southeast London at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe to discover the fascinating stories behind Brunel's Thames Tunnel project. The underwater tunnel, which took 18 years to build, was designed for transporting goods, but was also used to host fairgrounds and banquets when it opened in 1843.


After a tour, take the Tube to Paddington to dine alfresco at the urban garden of Pergola Paddington Central, re-opening this spring with tempting dishes from five, independent London restaurants. After lunch, head to Paddington Station, designed by Brunel as part of the Great Western Railway development which was assigned to him in 1833, aged just 27.


The station’s glass and metal structure bears significant resemblance to Crystal Palace in south London – which is believed to have been his inspiration. As well as hunting out the statue of fictional children’s character, Paddington Bear, visitors should aim for platforms eight and nine to see a life-sized (talking) statue of Brunel himself. After a few photo opps, board the train to Bristol, under two hours from the capital.


Day Two: Bristol

Start off at the harbour, home to SS Great Britain designed by Brunel and first launched in 1843. His ship designs marked the beginning of international travel when this marine masterpiece, the longest passenger ship in the world at the time, made its 14-day maiden voyage to New York in 1845.


Elsewhere in Bristol, get a retail fix at Bristol Shopping Quarter for world-class shopping, or hunt for unique souvenirs in the independent boutiques of Clifton Village. Finish the day admiring another one of Brunel’s iconic landmarks and the symbol of Bristol, the Grade 1-listed Clifton Suspension Bridge overlooking Avon Gorge – the terrace of the White Lion Bar at the Avon Gorge Hotel is a prime viewing spot. Next up, board the 20-minute train to Bath Spa.


Day Three: Bath

As part of Brunel’s Great Western Railway project to connect London with the southwest of England by steam train, he quickly set his sights on Sydney Gardens in Bath, Somerset.


The railway runs directly through the park, Bath’s oldest park and one of the finest remaining 18th-century Georgian Pleasure Gardens. Brunel designed two footbridges over the railway line, and they remain in the park today. Trace his footsteps around the grand gardens, once a favourite with royals and even Jane Austen.


Elsewhere, this UNESCO World Heritage Site city is packed with Roman and neoclassical Palladian buildings to explore. For lunch, visit the historic tea house Sally Lunn’s, former home of the young Huguenot baker of the same name, and try the Sally Lunn Bun - the original Bath Bun, a popular sweet and savoury delicacy in Georgian times. Finally, let off some steam at Thermae Bath Spa where people have been taking in the natural, mineral-rich waters since Roman times. Soak it all up in the spa and rooftop pool before catching the train back to London.


Editor’s Notes

Thermae Spa in Bath is closed for renovations from 8 to 23 January 2018 inclusive.

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts

On the trail of British women who changed the world

In March, London’s Southbank Centre hosts its annual Women of the World festival, celebrating the achievements of women around the world. But it’s not the only place with the WOW factor. Here are nine destinations showcasing the highlights and heritage of influential British women.

1. J.K. Rowling

Visitors to Edinburgh can experience Potter magic through some of J.K. Rowling’s favourite haunts. Take a trip to the Elephant House, once a writing refuge for the author and where fans can sit in the seat she vacated, or book the suite at The Balmoral where she wrote the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t miss the Potter Trail, a free walking tour around Edinburgh’s old town, which spills the beans on how He Who Must Not Be Named got his name.

2. Emmeline Pankhurst

In her hometown of Manchester, visitors can explore the legacy of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement that helped women secure the vote. Stay in the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel, once Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which hosted the first public meeting on women’s suffrage, and visit The Pankhurst Centreat 62 Nelson Street, the family home of Emmeline Pankhurst. Currently, Manchester Art Gallery is taking votes on the design of a memorial statue to be unveiled on International Women’s Day 2019.

3. Kelly Holmes

Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes was on the move long before she was crowned double Olympic champion or founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. In her early years, she did paper rounds for a sweetshop in Hildenborough near Tonbridge, Kent – she has since turned the shop into Café 1809 where visitors earn loyalty points for healthy food choices and can chat about sporting endeavours.

4. Mary Quant

Designer Dame Mary Quant made London’s King’s Road world-famous with her Bazaar boutique in the 1950s and is credited with placing the mini skirt on the fashion map; nowadays, the area is packed with high-end stores and restaurants. After a long day’s shopping, get your culture fix at the nearby Saatchi Gallery or take a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with one of the Chelsea Pensioners, the retired soldiers who live here.

5. Diana, Princess of Wales

London’s Kensington Palace and Gardens are a good starting point for exploring the life of Princess Diana and the venue is currently hosting the exhibition; Diana: Her Fashion Story. As well as being a member of the royal family, she was known for raising awareness of causes such as HIV/AIDS and anti-landmine campaigns. Younger visitors can explore the Diana Memorial Playground complete with sensory trail, beach, and pirate ship. Visitors can also dip their toes in Hyde Park’s Diana Memorial Fountain or stretch their legs on a seven-mile Memorial Walk through four London parks.

6. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter left 14 farms and 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust so people could enjoy her beloved Lake District. You can follow the Beatrix Potter trail which includes her former home, the National Trust property of Hill Top, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, set in a 17th-century building once the office of her solicitor husband. Separate to the Trust, the exhibition and character-inspired gardens at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windemere offer an engaging insight into this much-loved author’s life and books. 

Also, you may want to consider these influential women:

  • Amy Winehouse - view street art dedicated to the late singer in Camden, north west London.
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson - discover the inspirational story of Britain’s first female doctor at The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery, London, and The Long Shop Museum near Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
  • Kate Moss – the international supermodel is a big fan of the London Eye – she’s taken it 25 times.

Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival

Jorvik Viking Festival

Jorvik Viking Festival