VisitBritain highlights importance of gardens to tourism at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

VisitBritain is this year supporting the RHS Bridgewater Feature Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, hosting an event to shine the spotlight on the role that gardens play in driving both domestic and inbound tourism.

It comes as latest statistics show that more Brits are visiting gardens as part of a day trip out in England, last year taking 7.4 million more such trips than in 2017, up 16% and making gardens more popular than visiting a stately home, historic house or palace. 

Longer-term, visits to gardens as part of a day trip in England have increased 14% on average each year during the last five years from 2014 to 2018. 

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Britain’s stunning gardens are a proven tourism draw which have inspired visitors for generations, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety and enjoyed by domestic and overseas tourists in growing numbers. With the summer season upon us and Britain’s gardens in bloom, it is the perfect time to be highlighting their importance to tourism at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations.”

Garden attractions in England have also seen higher growth than other types of attractions according to VisitEngland’s latest Annual Attractions Survey. Garden attractions saw a 3% annual increase in domestic and inbound visitors, above the average for all attraction types of 2%. 

When looking at inbound tourism, almost a third of all visits annually to the UK include a trip to a garden or park with those visitors spending a total of £8.9 billion during their stay. The US, France and Germany make up the top three inbound markets respectively for the number of visits to gardens and parks made during trips to the UK. 

Gardens have been a cornerstone of the tourism agency’s promotional activity for decades, from the ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition which it ran for many years to VisitEngland’s year-long themed campaigns promoting English gardens to drive domestic tourism. More recently its focus has been supporting tourism product development for example the ‘Gourmet Garden Trails of England’ which packages up accommodation, and food and drink around English garden attractions.

VisitBritain is hosting an evening reception for its 50th anniversary at the RHS Bridgewater Garden during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, putting the spotlight on regional destinations and visitor attractions. The garden is designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and is the largest at this year’s show, described as a collage of the garden being built around the new Welcome Building at RHS Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. 

Tourism overall is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth across its nations and regions.


Notes to editors: 

• For a link to an online map of some of Britain’s flower shows and content please see:
• For content on flower shows in Britain please see:
• The British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) marks its 50th anniversary this year, 2019. It was established following The Development of Tourism Act 1969.
• Latest statistics show that in 2018 there 54.4 million domestic day trips in England which included a visit to a garden compared to 47 million in 2017, an increase of 16%.
• The third of inbound tourism visits accounted for (32%) of visits to the UK based on 2016 International Passenger Survey statistics from ONS.
• The latest VisitEngland Annual Attractions Survey is for 2017 (and published in August 2018): See link here: 

• For more information on the RHS Bridgewater Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show see:

May Accommodation Update

Secluded rural retreats, 5-star luxury and a planned hotel opening from a well-loved British Brewery, this month Britain welcomes a diverse range of newly opened and soon to open accommodation.

Opening soon:

Set to open its doors in August 2019, the Nhow London is a Shoreditch hotel for the radical and design-focused traveller. With an aim to boldly mix traditional British iconography with even bolder colours and textures, this beyond vibrant style will spread over 8-floors and encompass 190 rooms. Nhow is poised to become a buzzing hub for creatives, mirroring the energy of the surrounding area of east London.

With ever-growing popularity, the craft beer powerhouse Brewdog are expanding into new horizons, as they plan to open their own hotel in London. With quirky additions such as a bespoke beer museum and in-shower mini-fridges, it is sure to widen eyes of Brewdog fans the world over. Work for what will be called The Doghouse is still in development, but the brewers have vowed to begin as soon as a location is confirmed.

A new ‘bistro with beds’ boutique hotel is to open in the Lake District village of Grasmere. Set in a converted 17th century farm outbuilding, The Yan will welcome guests from July 2019. Close to the picturesque Lake District town, this family-run boutique hotel will combine warm welcomes, hearty food and stylish interiors. With 7 en-suite bedrooms, it is surrounded by some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside and will offer seasonal Cumbrian dishes in an attached rustic bistro. Located halfway between the highly visited towns of Windermere and Keswick, The Yan has great links for a Lake District getaway.

Newly opened:

With unspoilt views over the cathedral, aiming to bring together aspects of Manhattan penthouse living in a Downton Abbey-esque setting, 52 Old Elvet is a new development of luxury apartments in the centre of Durham. Breathing new life into what was once the Durham Country Club, each of the Grade II listed serviced apartments, originally built in the 1700s, comes with a fully equipped kitchen and stylish lounge. The high specification development’s central location makes it a great base for exploring the northeast of England.

The latest addition to the Ribby Hall Village near Blackpool, The Farm House offers a slice of British countryside living, boasting a traditional Aga and large roll-top bath. Set in its own private grounds with views of the Lancashire countryside, groups of up to 12 can now enjoy a stay in this new, spacious holiday property. Although promising maximum seclusion, with private gardens, cinema room and hot tub, guests can also enjoy shared spaces, such as the indoor pool, gym and outdoor adventure playgrounds. Introductory prices start from £1,364, based on a four-night, midweek break.

Having just completed the most extensive restoration in the hotel’s 117-year history, the ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, London, is ready to welcome guests into its new rooms, suites and penthouses. Inspired by early 20th century art deco glamour, internationally renowned designer Joyce Wang redesigned the spaces, adding specially selected artworks and bespoke furniture to finish the 5-star feel. A ‘Be the First to Stay’ package on offer until 30 June 2019, includes champagne on arrival and daily credit to spend in the hotel spa or bars.

Earlier this year, with St Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames just a few steps away, Vintry & Mercer hotel welcomed their first guests. In a bustling area of London, historically associated with wine merchants, Vintry & Mercer now offer 92 modern and bespoke rooms. Designed to be chic and crisp, guests’ time here can be enhanced by visiting the stylish roof terrace or indulging in a cocktail in the underground speakeasy. This hotel offers a slice of cool, modern-day London style with a nod to its rich history.

50 years of Pride: Be there for London’s Jubilee Gay Pride Celebrations

London Pride 2019 will be a historic and important moment for the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating 50 years since the first protest for equal rights in the gay community. The ground-breaking Stonewall Uprising in New York will be remembered with a joyous parade through the streets and the capital’s gay village, Soho, becoming a hub for parties and fun as London celebrates half a century of progression and unity.

The Parade

Visitors can witness history in this jubilee year Pride of London parade, happening 6 July. Starting in Portland Place and ending in Whitehall/Trafalgar Square, the parade will consist of over 300 floats and groups who will entertain the crowd with music, dancing and performances, many of which are kept secret until the day! The grand finale of this festival of celebration is a varied line-up of entertainment, including music and speeches in Trafalgar Square, which is free to attend.


Found in the heart of London’s gay village, with views of Old Compton Street, Ku Bar & Club is a great place for a cocktail during Pride. With rich golden interiors covering this 2-floor bar, Ku will have an extra special atmosphere during Pride festival.

Around since the early 1990s, Village Soho is a very well established gay-friendly venue. With an extensive cocktail menu and a late-night license, it will be right at the heart of the Gay Pride party.

A traditional style pub in Soho’s gay village, Comptons of Soho serves everything from real ale to punch bowls and shots, and has become a well-known gay bar in London. Being in the heart of Soho, crowds are sure to gather outside Comptons for a bustling street party along Old Compton Street!

Opening in 1979 and quickly becoming pivotal in the creation of London’s gay scene, nightclub and music venue, Heaven  has been host to many musical legends. From New Order’s first London show, to Nick Cave’s original punk band The Birthday Party and London’s sweetheart Adele, the lively shows at Heaven continue to impress music lovers to this day. It also holds regular club nights on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Known for serving some of the cheapest drinks in Soho to a soundtrack of gay anthems and the best of guilty-pleasure pop, G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late are the places to be for a night of guaranteed fun! G-A-Y late is open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Blending elements of traditional British pub culture with a classic gay bar, Halfway to Heaven is located in Trafalgar Square, a few steps from where the Pride in London parade ends. Sure to be full of people celebrating, there is also a smaller ‘centre-stage’ bar downstairs, known for putting on cabaret acts, drag shows and karaoke.

Where to stay - Soho

With elegant suites and rooms, The London EDITION hotel offers a luxurious space just a stone’s throw from the Pride parties, while the hotel’s Lobby Bar and Punch Room offer sophisticated spots to enjoy wine and cocktails.

Modern, stylish and full of amazing artwork, Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel is a haven in the heart of central London. Boasting a drawing room, library, spa, 1950s style bowling alley imported from America, and even a cosy roof terrace bar, Ham Yard Hotel has a lot to offer its guests. Bowling is £20 per person for one hour.

Located in the centre of the gay village, Z Soho is a super-modern hotel with 85 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. Minutes away from Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road tube stations, the thriving LGBTQ+ community of London is right on their doorstep.

For ‘style on a budget’ hostel accommodation in the midst of all the Pride action, try SoHostel on Dean Street. Prices vary from a very cheap 18-bed mixed dormitory room and increase when fewer people are sharing.


What to wear

Although there is no dress code for Pride in London 2019, the majority of those in attendance – and especially those taking part in the parade – opt for bright and extravagant clothing, often reflecting the LGBTQ+ community’s rainbow flag.


Getting to London

Flights to London airports, as well as regular Eurostar services going from several European cities, are well served by transport links into central London. Tube stations close to Soho include Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road.  

Ainda dá tempo para "Spice Up Your Life" com as Spice Girls na Grã-Bretanha este junho: Conheça as novas viagens com guias da Viaje Entre Iguais

Accommodation Update - March

Whether you crave modern luxury accommodation or a calm country retreat, our round-up of Britain’s latest hotels has something to suit every need. Discover the locations that are new to the nation’s thriving sector, as well as those that are yet to open their doors.


Recently Refurbished

The Impeccable Pig, Sedgefield

To coincide with the Chinese Year of the Pig, the Impeccable Pig in Sedgefield, County Durham, has rebranded its set of 10 carefully crafted rooms. Situated in an old brick Coach House, each room is imaginatively named using piggy inspiration and guests can stay in The Dirty Pig, Three Little Pigs or Pigs Might Fly, taking advantage of 7-foot beds and Duck Island toiletries. Those opting to stay in Globe Trotter, Oinkers, Le Cochon D’or or Pigsty, as well as the premier suite, The Whole Hog, can also access a private hot tub.

Orestone Manor, Devon

Guests at the luxury boutique country hotel, Orestone Manor, can now enjoy a tipple in the new Brunel Bar and Lounge, which draws inspiration from the building’s rich history. The new area has custom features based on Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge – in recognition of the fact that John Callcott Horsley produced the 18th century National Portrait Gallery painting of the great engineer at the site. The family-run manor, overlooking the coastal town of Maidencombe, has 14 beautifully decorated bedrooms and is home to a delightful restaurant offering fine dining from the hotel’s chef owners.

Aria Resorts – The Lakes Rookley

Following a major refurbishment, Aria Resorts opened The Lakes Rookley on the Isle of Wight in February, providing a superb selection of cottages, lake houses and caravan holiday homes. The family-friendly site in leafy parkland in the heart of the island features an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, alongside an impressive entertainment venue and a host of activities for children, including archery, laser tag and paddle boarding on selected dates.


Recently Opened

The Counting House and The Blackbird, London

London brewer and premium pub company Fuller, Smith and Turner has enhanced its room offering at two of its iconic pubs in the capital, meaning more than 800 rooms are now on offer across its estate. Located in the heart of the City, The Counting House now has 15 new rooms – a mix of doubles, twins and family rooms – in what was once the City University Club, a former gentleman’s club established in 1895. The Blackbird in Earl’s Court, now has 9 comfortable, boutique bedrooms of various sizes, and both pubs have an array of food and drink available.

Linthwaite House

Following a year-long refurbishment that saw Linthwaite House transformed into a spectacular country house hotel in 2018, 6 new rooms in buildings located in the hotel gardens have also opened their doors. The Lake Suites offer spacious open plan rooms, with king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms, as well as stunning views of Lake Windermere and the Lake District landscape through floor-to-ceiling windows. The 14 acres of grounds have been carefully re-worked by landscape artist Franchesca Watson, while the 30 elegant bedrooms were renovated by renowned designer Beverley Boswell as part of the main renovation of the 1901 building, part of the Leeu Collection.


Opening Soon

Minster Mill, the Cotswolds

Opening in March

Set in 65 acres of picturesque gardens and wildflower meadows, Minster Mill from Andrew Brownsword Hotels launches in March, offering exceptional luxury in the heart of the Cotswolds. Following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, the hotel in the Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell is now home to 38 individually designed Scandi-style rooms, packed with contemporary fittings and unique furniture. The on-site Minster Mill restaurant will offer traditional and seasonal British food from 2017 Masterchef semi-finalist Tom Moody, while the hotel’s sister property, The Old Swan, is located across the road.

Tom’s Eco Lodge

Opening in May

Five luxury Geodesic Domes will open at multi-award winning Isle of Wight glamping site Tom’s Eco Lodge this May, offering exceptional panoramic views of the island’s rolling countryside. Sleeping up to 6 people, each open plan dome features a king size four poster bed, a small kitchenette and a cosy lounge for stargazing. Alongside separate private shower and toilet facilities, the site at Tapnell Farm also has an area for a BBQ and campfire.

Renaissance Club – The Villas

Opening in late May

Ahead of hosting the 2019 Scottish Open, two new luxurious villas will soon occupy a secluded corner of The Renaissance Club in East Lothian, providing top quality facilities overlooking the golf course’s 14th tee. With space for up to 28 guests across 14 bedrooms, the development also includes conference rooms and access to an array of beautiful surroundings. The additions build on the 24 luxurious lodging rooms that are already available at the club, which offers classic links golf on 300 picturesque acres along the Firth of Forth and cuisine prepared by Great Britain MasterChef Enrico Gusella.

Grantley Hall

Opening in Summer 2019

Set in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, an expansive renovation of the Grade II listed Grantley Hall is due to be completed in the summer. The historic property, part of the Relais & Châteaux brand, will offer 47 exquisite rooms and suites, creating a luxury 5-star hotel and wellness retreat. Complete with an English Heritage listed Japanese garden and lake, 5 state-of-the-art spa treatment rooms as part of the Three Graces Spa and a pioneering ELITE executive gym, featuring innovative technology such as 3D body scanning and performance analysis, Cryotherapy chamber and an underwater treadmill. Acclaimed Michelin-star chef Shaun Rankin will run the 38-cover on-site fine dining restaurant, Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall, featuring a menu packed with sustainably sourced foods from within the hotel grounds.

Discover Queen Victoria’s Britain

2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria, a monarch whose reign defined an era and who oversaw a period of unparalleled industrial, cultural, scientific, political and military change in Britain. On the throne for more than 63 years at a time of great invention and innovation, the anniversary is being marked with events across Britain, and especially at locations with close ties to the monarch. This year is therefore a great chance to discover Queen Victoria’s Britain…


To mark the 200th anniversary, the Ballroom Exhibition at Balmoral Castle includes objects and portraits that detail Queen Victoria’s time at Balmoral. As the only room in the Castle available for viewing – the others are the reigning Queen’s private quarters – visitors can see a number of Victorian items that provide a glimpse into what life was like during the period. The City of Leeds Pipe Band will also perform on the Saturday closest to the anniversary, with the lead piper being a descendant of Queen Victoria’s first piper Angus Mackay.

When? 1 April – 31 July (The grounds, gardens, exhibitions, gift shop and café are open daily from 10am to 5pm). 25 May (Pipe Band between 12pm and 2pm)

Glasgow Museums Resource Centre 

Find out about life as a contemporary of Queen Victoria as part of a tour showcasing the parallel lives of a generation who were born in 1819 at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The Queen Victoria and her contemporaries at 200 tour will focus on objects connected to both Victoria and Price Albert, alongside novelist George Eliot, art and social critic John Ruskin, pioneer war photographer Roger Fenton and painters Gustave Courbet and William Powell Frith, among others. It will raise questions over generational identity and will explore the many ways of living in Victorian Britain.

When? 30 April (from 2.30pm)

Cliveden House

Once enjoyed by Queen Victoria as a relaxing destination for afternoon tea, the Spring Cottage at Cliveden House is one of two experiences on offer to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Guests can tuck into an afternoon tea, including the famous Victoria sponge cake that was named after the Queen herself, and an array of finger sandwiches and savoury treats, all accompanied by an aromatic Cliveden blend tea. Or retrace the footsteps of royalty with a stay at the Spring Cottage on the Banks of the River Thames, accompanied by a 45-minute Champagne river cruise.

When? 24-26 May (Afternoon tea, must be booked in advance) 20 May – 30 September 2019 (Spring Cottage Escape, must be booked in advance)

Kensington Palace

Queen Victoria’s birthplace will celebrate her bicentenary by altering the state rooms at Kensington Palace to reflect what life was like for the young princess growing up, alongside an incredible exhibition of her life. Historic Royal Palaces are creating an evocative and family-friendly display using an array of remarkable objects that relate to Victoria’s early years, including a scrapbook of mementos created by her German Governess Baroness Lehzen, which goes on public display for the first time. The palace’s Pigott Gallery will house an exhibition that delves into her later life and the legacy left behind, providing a unique insight into the private woman behind the public monarch. Featuring rare clothing from Victoria’s private wardrobe and other items that have previously remained out of the public eye, both the exhibition and the new walking route around the state rooms will open on the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birthday.

When? From 24 May (Entry to the exhibitions is included with standard entry to the palace)

Osborne, Isle of Wight

Renowned as Queen Victoria’s seaside retreat, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight will mark the bicentenary with a new trail around the unique collection found within the house and its gardens. The gifts received and exchanged by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert form the focal point of a new display too, highlighting their eclectic tastes and interests. Browse the opulent state rooms, as well as the pair’s bedroom and the royal nursery, before heading into the walled garden or wandering along Queen Victoria’s private beach. English Heritage is hosting The Great Victorian Show at Osborne House, celebrating the many inventions from the era and featuring a display of horsemanship and other entertainment including a traditional Punch and Judy show. Victoria’s Island Trail also includes 14 locations across the Isle of Wight that were popular with Queen Victoria and the royal family.

When? 28-30 May (The Great Victorian Show), Daily opening (Osborne House is open from 10am, and stays open for longer from 1 April)

Buckingham Palace

Discover how a young Queen Victoria transformed Buckingham Palace into a stunning working residence as part of a special exhibition to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Queen Victoria’s Palace focuses on how the Queen, with the support of Prince Albert, reformed the palace into a symbol of the British monarchy and a family home for 9 children.

When? 20 July – 29 September

Celebrate World Art Day with the UK's top literature and art festivals

Celebrated on 15 April each year, marking the birthday of influential artist Leonardo da Vinci, World Art Day promotes awareness of creative activities around the globe. But in Britain celebrations of the arts are not limited to just one day, as there are a wide array of enthralling literature and art festivals taking place throughout the year.


From March 2019, a year-long nationwide arts festival will celebrate refugees that escaped from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. Insiders/ Outsiders will feature exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, lectures, dance and theatre performances, walks and literary events all over Britain. It seeks to showcase the influence of artists, writers, architects, designers, actors, photographers, musicians, publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors, among many others, who have enriched Britain’s culture having fled Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and initiated by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen, the festival recognises the deep, long-lasting and wide-ranging contributions that refugees have made, and continue to make, to society.

When? March 2019 – March 2020


Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

Found within the picturesque grounds and house of Chiddingstone Castle in Kent, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is returning for a fourth year in 2019. Featuring a number of author events, talks, workshops and performances, the festival is carefully tailored to ensure there is something for people of all ages and interests. Alongside clay modelling workshops with Aardman Animations, who are marking 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, they’ll also be a chance to meet the illustrator of children’s classic Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, as well as life drawing and writing workshops for budding artists and writers.

When? 4-7 May

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival

Marking its 12th year in 2019 and welcoming celebrity speakers and best-selling authors, the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival has a varied mix of workshops, panel discussions and other events. A programme of educational events runs alongside the festival, developed to inspire school children with help from authors, poets and illustrators. The festival’s first Writer’s Day will provide guidance for anyone looking to get work published, and while there will be events for families throughout the week, 5 May will be solely dedicated to children’s activities.

When? 27 April – 5 May


Hay Festival Wales

The annual Hay Festival in Wales has progressed significantly across the last three decades and features a host of events set against a glorious countryside backdrop on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Bringing together readers and writers to share stories and ideas, including Nobel-Prize winners, novelists, historians, politicians and scientists, the festival explore the latest thinking and developments in the arts and sciences. Having welcomed key speakers including Bill Clinton, Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen Fry in the past, the line-up for 2019 includes 2018 Man Booker Prize Winner Anna Burns, author and journalist Leila Slimani, and comedian Jimmy Carr, among many others.

When? 23 May – 2 June


Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

A selection of the best international and UK crime fiction writers will venture to the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for the award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Held at Agatha Christie’s former haunt, the festival has achieved international acclaim for its celebration of crime writing and will welcome James Patterson, Jo Newsbo, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin in 2019, alongside many other recognised crime fiction writers.

When? 18-21 July

Port Eliot Festival

Dubbed a celebration of ‘words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world’, the Port Eliot Festival in the parish of St Germans in Cornwall welcomes an eclectic mix of authors and others from the world of art and literature. The Fashion Foundation site has a distinct focus on fashion and art, with workshops, talks and exhibitions all taking place within the Walled Garden at Port Eliot, while award-winning BBC Newsnight and election journalist Emily Maitlis and stand-up comedian Shappi Khorsandi are among those on the bill for the 2019 festival. A huge range of outdoor activities also take place within the grounds.

When? 25-28 July


Edinburgh International Book Festival

Welcoming around 1,000 authors to a specially created tented village in the centre of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival includes more than 900 events for people of all ages. Nobel and Booker prize-winners are among those to feature on past line-ups, alongside sportsmen and women, illustrators, philosophers, scientists, poets, comic creators, biographers, economists and musicians. A full programme of events of the festival is revealed in June.

When? 10-26 August


Curious Arts Festival

Relocating in 2019 from the surroundings of Pylewell Park in the New Forest to Pippingford Park in East Sussex, the Curious Arts Festival is a family-friendly arts and music festival that plays host to plenty of well-known authors, comedians and musicians. Expect talks on challenging topics, an extensive set of workshops and experiences, and an exceptional programme of events for children. Those with tickets to Curious Arts will also be able to access Byline Festival on the same weekend, a festival that promotes independent journalism and free speech.

When? 23-26 August

London Literary Festival

The London Literary Festival returns to London’s South Bank Centre for its 13th year in October, bringing together writers, journalists and creative thinkers for 11 days of readings, talks, poetry and performance. The Southbank Centre’s longest running festival, Poetry International, will kick-start proceedings, having been founded by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in 1967. Past speakers at the festival have included author Phillip Pullman, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy and actor Tom Hanks.

When? 17-27 October

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Established in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the UK’s oldest festival of its type and welcomes more than 600 of the world’s writers, politicians, poets and actors to celebrate the written word. Around 500 events and workshops are packed into the 10-day festival, which also features Book It!, a series of events aimed specifically at families and young children.

When? 4-13 October

Top ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Britain will be awash with green in mid-March as St Patrick’s Day celebrations sweep across the major cities. Marking the death of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, communities in Ireland and across the Irish diaspora come together to celebrate on 17 March – a Sunday in 2019 – with a host of colourful parades, exciting musical performances and a wealth of other events.


London marks St Patrick’s Day with an annual parade through the capital’s streets, featuring striking decorative floats, incredible marching bands and performances from Irish dancing schools and sports clubs. The 1.5-mile procession meanders its way from Piccadilly past some of London’s most iconic landmarks on its ways to Whitehall. As a celebration of London’s diversity and welcome, the theme for 2019’s parade is #LondonIsOpen.

The St Patrick’s Day Festival packs Trafalgar Square from midday and features performances from renowned Irish artists and special guests, alongside an abundance of craft stalls, delicious food and a family friendly area in Pall Mall offering themed workshops and activities.

When? 17 March (St Patrick’s Day Festival, 12pm – 6pm)


A stunning parade from the Irish World Heritage Centre to Albert Square is the focal point for the Manchester Irish Festival, which runs from the start of March and culminates on St Patrick’s Day. Featuring an array of floats and representation from each of the Irish counties, the Manchester Irish Festival Parade is one of many events held in the city. The Manchester Irish Festival Market takes pride of place in front of Manchester Town Hall, offering Irish foods, crafts and souvenirs in abundance, as well as children’s rides and entertainment.

The Castlefield Hotel is also hosting a St Patrick’s night whisky tasting and 3-course supper, featuring a delectable range of Irish themed food and a selection of fine Irish whisky.

When? 1-17 March (Manchester Irish Festival), 7-10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Market), 10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Parade), 15 March (Whisky Tasting)


A week-long festival in the build up to St Patrick’s Day celebrates diversity and multiculturalism in Birmingham. The launch night event, featuring traditional Irish music and dance, a delightful 4-course dinner and a performance from Birmingham Irish band Salt Creek gets proceedings underway, before the festival is completed with a spectacular parade around the Digbeth area of the city – taking place on St Patrick’s Day itself in 2019.

When? 9-17 March (9 March, launch night; 17 March, Parade at 12pm)


Join the Scots Music Group for Café Ceilidh to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, an afternoon session of songs, poems, music and stories that recognise the patron saint. The Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival is another cause for celebration, taking place over 3 days at 5 venues and performance spaces.

When? 19 March (Scots Music Group), 15-17 March (Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival)


Eye-catching floats and performers in magnificent costumes form just part of Belfast’s spectacular carnival parade as it weaves its way from Belfast City Hall to Writers Square. An open air concert in Custom House Square will follow, headlined by the Vengaboys and including an array of Irish artists showcasing traditional music, dance and song. St George’s Market will offer traditional Irish food and music, as well as plenty of handmade crafts.

When? 17 March (Carnival Parade, 12.30pm; Custom House Square, 1.15pm; St George’s Market, 10am – 4pm)


Paddy Fest will return to the heart of Newcastle city centre for St Patrick’s Day 2019, featuring 4 days of events and entertainment. Beginning with Let’s Play Darts, cheese festival Cheesetoon will follow on Friday with 25 stalls offering an array of cheesy concoctions. Saturday of Paddy Fest will feature authentic Irish bands and a handful of DJs, as well as screens showing the final matches of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, before the event is rounded off with the biggest Bongo’s Bingo! to be held in the north-west of England, taking place in Times Square.

When? 14-17 March


Liverpool will march to the sound of drums, flutes and pipe bands on St Patrick’s Day, as the annual parade makes its way from the Old Irish Centre in Mount Pleasant into the centre of the city.

When? 17 March (12pm-3pm)


The Home of Saint Patrick Festival showcases Irish culture, song and dance, and recognises the leading role that St Patrick had in converting Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago. Both the Armagh Robinson Library and Armagh County Museum host an array of artefacts, manuscripts, collections and rare books that relate to the role of the city in early Christian Ireland. An abundance of cultural events take place throughout the festival period, including parades, lectures, concerts and church services.

When? 8-18 March

Things to do in the UK this Easter

With Easter quickly approaching, there is plenty going on in every corner of Britain to mark the occasion. From giant Easter egg hunts to spring fairs, quizzes and spectacular outdoor performances, the Easter weekend from 19-22 April is sure to be packed full of fun for all the family…

Put a medieval twist on Easter

Explore the pageantry, conflict and sport of the late Middle Ages as the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds puts a unique twist on the Easter celebrations. Dive back in time to discover what life was like with how-to-be a knight workshops and other family activities, before taking in spectacular falconry displays.

When? 30 March - 14 April

Go celebrity duck spotting

Join a very different flock of ducks at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre over Easter, as 14 giant Dusty Ducks will brighten the wonderful wetland area. Lovingly designed by a host of different celebrities, including Joanna Lumley and Steve Backshall, each brightly coloured 6-foot-tall duck will form the Celebrity Dusty Duck Trail before they head off to auction after Easter.

When? 30 March - 6 May

Meet Bobtail Bunny and friends at Paultons Park

Come face to face with Bobtail Bunny and his forest friends at Paultons Park over Easter, the home of Peppa Pig World on the edge of the New Forest National Park. Alongside a chance to meet the cute characters, exciting spring activity workshops will include opportunities to create Easter cards, rabbit magnets, pop up bunnies or a daffodil windmill.

When? 5 - 23 April

Discover glow in the dark eggs at Cheddar Gorge and Caves

Venture into Cheddar Gorge and Caves this Easter and be on the lookout for hidden glow in the dark eggs in the many mysterious chambers of Gough’s Cave. After discovering all of the glowing eggs, adults and children over 8 can embark on an exhilarating Black Cat Free Fall experience, leaping into the darkness from 30 feet up. Alternatively, those aged over 12 can test their brain power in a race against the clock to get out of Cheddar’s Escape Rooms: The Vault or Caved In.

When? 6 - 22 April (The Free Fall experience is available all year, dependant on weather conditions)

Let curiosity run wild on the Mount

Follow the curious Easter hunt trail around the harbour and village on St Michael’s Mount to learn more about the people that call the island home. Hunt for answers on the way to be in with a chance of winning a delicious chocolate surprise.

When? 7 - 22 April (except Saturdays)

Don hand-crafted headgear at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Create an extravagant Easter Bonnet at the Palace of Holyroodhouse before donning the headgear to take part in a fantastic Easter parade. Go in search of other weird and wacky headgear that has been worn throughout the ages as part of the Easter trail – wigs, crowns and other wonderful hats will be hidden around the Edinburgh palace.

When? 8 - 21 April (Easter Bonnet making and parade on 21 April)

View the south coast from the top of the tower

Enjoy stunning views of Portsmouth and the south coast from the top of the Emirates Spinnaker Tower before meeting the stars of hit CBeebies show Bing – Bing and Flop. Be brave enough to wander across the glass floor while staring down at a 100-metre drop, or relax in the beautiful sky garden as the first plants of the season start to bloom, all while taking in the breath-taking sights.

When? 13 and 20 April (Meet Bing and Flop at selected times)

Experience all the fun of the fair

Enjoy the thrills of the fair this Easter at the iconic Manchester Central in the heart of the city. Visitors can enjoy a host of rides, try their luck at classic funfair games and tuck into delightful cuisine from an array of food stalls. Open for two sessions each day, tickets for the funfair provide unlimited goes on all of the rides – and best of all, everything is inside!

When? 13 - 22 April (2 daily sessions, 10am and 2pm)

Take part in an Easter Eggstravaganza at Royal Windsor Racecourse

Entertain the kids at Royal Windsor Racecourse’s first Easter Eggstravaganza Raceday, featuring an exhilarating Easter Egg hunt, face painting and a host of other entertainment on top of the racing. Everything is free for children under 18 when accompanied by a paying adult.

When? 15 April

Try your hand at the Lancashire tradition of Pace Egging

Children can bring a boiled egg to decorate and take part in the fine Lancashire tradition of Pace Egging at Gawthorpe Hall, where the many spectacular creations are rolled down the banking to see which goes fastest. Explore the Elizabethan houses and its fantastic grounds, or go hunting round the daffodils for the Pendelfin bunnies on the Easter Bunny Trail.

When? Pace Egging, 17 April. Easter Bunny Trail, 21 - 22 April

Learn about the final days of Jesus in Trafalgar Square, London

Be immersed in a moving portrayal of the final days of Jesus in the heart of Trafalgar Square as 100 Wintershall players put on a free public performance of The Passion of Jesus. The open air 90-minute production uses huge screens to maximise its visual impact and features a striking interpretation of the crucifixion.

When? 19 April (2 performances, 12pm and 3.15pm)

Join the Junk Orchestra at Leeds Castle

Daily musical jamming sessions with the Junk Orchestra, where visitors can create a merry beat using instruments made from bits of old rubbish, will take place on the Pavilion Lawn at Leeds Castle in Kent. Each instrument creation will help to form an incredible litter sculpture, developed by award-winning eco-artist Sarah Turner.

When? 19 - 22 April

Take in the scenery from the Isle of Wight steam railway

Enjoy the Isle of Wight’s spectacular scenery from aboard the island’s steam railway before embarking on the Desmond Duck Treasure Hunt in search of Easter treats. An Easter Bonnet Parade will take place on each day, alongside regular flying displays from Haven Falconry.

When? 19-22 April

Hunt for chocolate at Coughton Court

Embark on an expedition around the picturesque grounds of Coughton Court on a Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt, before enjoying an array of traditional games and family events at the National Trust site. Packwood House, also in Warwickshire, Newark Park in Gloucestershire and A La Ronde in Devon are among many other National Trust sites to host Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts too.

When? 19 - 22 April (A La Ronde, 6-22 April)

Revel in Manchester’s music scene

Experience 3 days of musical mayhem as more than 130 bands play their finest tunes at the Manchester Punk Festival. Spread across eight venues in the city, all within walking distance of each other, the festival also includes a comedy and poetry stage, and a pop-up record store. The When in Manchester Festival also returns for its 5th edition this Easter, featuring 19 of the region’s best up-and-coming artists at 3 venues in the city’s Northern Quarter.

When? 19-21 April (When in Manchester, 20 April)

Roll up for circus and superhero fun

Mark Easter in style at Yorkshire’s Thornton Hall Country Park, with a range of egg-citing activities for all the family. Enjoy circus performances and workshops as part of the Great Show Spectacular on Good Friday, before joining the Easter Rabbit for an enthralling Egg Hunt or capping the weekend off with fancy dress at the Superhero and Princess Party.

When? 19, 21 and 22 April (Great Show Spectacular, 19 April; Easter Egg Hunt, 21 April; Superhero and Princess Party, 22 April)

The best places for a caffeine hit in London

Brits drink an estimated 95 million cups of coffee every day and across London there are a host of exceptional coffee outlets that have perfected the fine art of creating the perfect brew. From using carefully selected seasonal coffee beans from around the world to roasting them in-house, expect speciality coffee experiences that get the senses tingling.

Celebrate all that’s great about coffee

The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane welcomes the London Coffee Festival in late March, bringing together a selection of the best baristas alongside ample opportunities for tastings, demonstrations and workshops. Live music will accompany the festival (28-31 March 2019), which also includes a Latte Art competition and an exciting Coffee Art Project featuring everything from paintings and drawings to film, sculpture and conceptual art.

Watch as baristas go head-to-head across a range of coffee creation disciplines to showcase their skills, in a bid to be crowned Coffee Master. You can also embark on a flavour challenge to test the senses or visit the Tasting Room to discover how coffee can be paired with chocolate, beer, wine and whisky.

Experience London’s coffee collection

Across the capital there are an abundance of specialist coffee houses, small independent cafés and roasters that can provide a much-needed caffeine hit.

Origin Coffee

Having sourced coffee from all over the world, Origin Coffee puts the focus on the unique and incredible stories that accompany every cup. Found occupying spots in Shoreditch, Hammersmith, Southwark and the British Library, a complex roasting process ensures that each cup delivers an abundance of tastes to swell the senses.


Tucked away on Kynaston Road in North London, Esters uses a few select trusted roasters to provide its coffee alongside a brunch menu based on local produce, seasonal fruit and vegetables and delicious baked goods.


Taking its inspiration from New Zealand and Australia, independent coffee café Kaffeine has two locations in Fitzrovia, one on Great Titchfield Street and the other on Eastcastle Street. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2019, the coffee outlet runs fortnightly group art latte classes as well as one-on-ones with the lead barista for those who want to find out more about the art of coffee making.


Combining South American coffee beans with Australian coffee techniques, Abuelo offers a delightful speciality coffee experience in the heart of Covent Garden. Thanks to a partnership with Wogan Coffee Roasters, expect single origin, 100% Arabica beans that are roasted in Britain to be the mainstay of the coffee and cocktail menu. Ethically sourced, organic, farm to table meals can accompany the coffee offering, as the menu takes inspiration from Abuelo’s Australian and Argentinian owners.

Monmouth Coffee Company

With a focus on sustainable processes, the Monmouth Coffee Company sources and roasts coffee from small farms, estates and cooperatives, purchasing small batches from many countries across the world. Alongside sites in Covent Garden and Borough, they have a set of Loring roasters in Bermondsey, a hub of coffee production.

Press Coffee

Having arrived on London’s coffee scene in 2013, Press Coffee has expanded from its initial site on Fleet Street to take in locations on Chancery Lane, Saint Bride and a collaboration with Framestore, as well as more recent additions in Fulham Market Hall and Victoria Market Hall. Press sources and roasts coffee from the world’s most stirring coffee producing regions, and follows specific procedures to get the most out of any individual coffee, resulting in exceptional flavours.

Association Coffee

With a range of coffees that change by season, Association Coffee on Creechurch Lane has something new to experience on a constant basis, serving speciality coffee from London’s leading roasters. Expect guest espressos and single origin coffee, as well as a selection of teas, pastries and other baked goods. They also stock an array of home brewing equipment for those who want to take their love of coffee that step further.

Coleman Coffee Roasters

Serving up specialist coffees on Lower Marsh Street in Lambeth, Coleman Coffee Roasters uses a gas powered roaster originating from post-war Vienna. While predominantly a wholesaler, the shop opens on Saturday morning for taster sessions where visitors can try a selection of south American coffee beans.

The Watch House

The Watch House is a small rustic coffee shop in Bermondsey, set in the surroundings of an old Victorian building designed for men guarding the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church graveyard. Alongside Empire Blend and Single Origin Filter Coffee, the watch serves an array of monthly brews alongside plenty of delicious house-made food. Its other sites near Tower Bridge and Fetter Lane draw inspiration for their surroundings, serving a delightful concoction of coffees, cocktails and small dishes.