The best places for action adventure sports in Britain

From white-water rafting in Snowdonia to sea kayaking in the Highlands or flying high over the rolling hills of Surrey, Britain is home to an array of exciting action adventure sports. Now the UK is set to add a new, state-of-the-art inland surfing destination to its repertoire, with the opening of The Wave in Bristol this October. For those yearning for adventure, it marks another glorious spot to enjoy some adrenaline-fuelled action…

The Wave, Bristol

As the first destination in the northern hemisphere to [SW1] [PW2] use innovative Wavegarden Cove wave-making technology, the surf lake will feature up to 1,000 waves of different sizes and shapes every hour, making it suitable for all levels and abilities. That equates to a wave every 10 seconds, with heights varying from 50cm up to 1.8 metres! Specific parts of the 200-metre-long surfing lake, located in a rural area on the edge of Bristol and close to the M5 Motorway, will be dedicated to beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers.

The launch of The Wave is part of a wider project by founder Nick Hounsfield to bring surfing to more cities across the world, with the experience combining surfing with adventure and nature. High quality coaching can be provided to all guests, along with wetsuits and surfboards, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of surfing all year round. This should help to boost accessibility, as surfing at the site is not restricted by geographic location, the weather, swell conditions or tides. Adaptive surfing opportunities for those with a wide range of physical disabilities will also be available.

With a distinct focus on health and wellbeing, the site will also house a surf shop, an array of gardens and meadowlands, numerous peaceful hideaways and a family-friendly camping area.

The first wave of tickets goes on general sale on 20 August, covering the period from 25 October 2019 through until 4 March 2020. A one-hour surf session costs £40-£45 for adults and £30-£35 for children, depending on the time of year and day of the week. A two-hour surf session with coaching is priced at £55-£60 for adults and £45-£50 for children, with all equipment included.

Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hertfordshire

Developed for the London 2012 Olympic Games to host canoe slalom events and set in the picturesque beauty of the River Lee Country Park in Hertfordshire, the Lee Valley White Water Centre offers an abundance of different water sports. Easily accessible from London, visitors can try their hand at white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking, as well as a number of other activities including hydrospeeding, tubing, hot dogs (inflatable two-man kayaks) and paddleboarding.

Many of the activities need to be booked in advance and prices vary by activity, date and time. A White Water Raft Adventure costs from £50, although it can be purchased at a Super Save rate on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday during March, April, October and November. Peak pricing applies on Saturdays from May to September.

Zip World Velocity 2, North-West Wales

Take in breath-taking views of Snowdonia while soaring over the Penrhyn Quarry at speeds that could top 100mph on Velocity 2. The fastest zip line on the planet, and the longest in Europe at 1,555 metres, can be found at Zip World, near Bethesda in North Wales. The thrilling experience offers spectacular views of some of Wales’ most dramatic scenery.

Pre-booking is highly recommended. Velocity 2 is priced from £65 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; from £75 on Monday and Friday; and from £99 on weekends and Bank Holidays.

Kitesurfing/Kite Buggying, East Sussex

Learn the art of kitesurfing along the expanse of Camber Sands with expert help from The Kitesurf Centre. With its shallow shelving sands, small waves and consistent wind, the beach has ideal conditions and the school offers a range of courses for all abilities between March and September. Based at the eastern end of the beach, the centre offers one to five day courses, as well as coaching sessions and one-to-one private tuition with instructors that have a wealth of local knowledge. As one of three national training centres, guests can also try their hand at the exhilarating extreme sport of Kite Buggying. Involving a kite and a three-wheeled cart, it’s possible to achieve speeds of more than 50mph while racing along the beach.

A two-hour introduction to kite sports session is priced at £49. A one-day kite surfing course costs £99 on weekdays, rising to £119 at weekend. A five-day course costs £469. Kite Buggy sessions cost £59 for two-and-a-half-hours or £89 for four hours.

Sea Kayaking, Scottish Highlands

What better way to explore the striking landscapes of the Scottish coast than from aboard a sea kayak? From its base in a European Special Area of Conservation, Sea Kayak Scotland offers tailored lessons throughout the year for those wanting to give sea kayaking a go. Based on the Isle of Seil, around 30 minutes from Oban, the centre provides all of the equipment needed to take in the scenic beauty of the region. Guided trips and instructional courses are available for beginners, while hire is available for those with more experience. For those wanting a challenge, the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail offers a 500km route around the most scenic parts of the Highlands and Isles.

Tailor-made courses are priced from £60 per person for groups of five or more people, rising to £125 for one person on their own. Kayak hire costs from £50 per day, with one-piece paddle suits available for a daily charge of £10.

Paragliding, Surrey

Take to the skies and enjoy staggering views of the Surrey and London landscape on a tandem paragliding experience with Green Dragons. Jumps are made in harnesses attached to highly experienced qualified instructors and reach heights of 500ft, providing a new perspective on the stunning countryside below. Although jumps are dictated by weather conditions, the instructors alter the location and launch method to ensure an exhilarating experience.

A tandem flight costs £89 per person.

National White Water Rafting Centre, North Wales

Speed down the frantic natural rapids on the River Tryweryn in the heart of Snowdonia National Park at Wales’ National White Water Rafting Centre. Since the river is controlled by a dam at the Llyn Celyn reservoir, high flows provide an abundance of conditions that are ideal for white water activities. Water releases on the River Tryweryn happen on around 200 days every year and the centre is open whenever this takes place. Alongside full rafting sessions, there are also Rafting Safari sessions on the calmer lower parts of the river specifically designed for families with 10 and 11-year-old children (minimum age of 10 to be on the water). Alternatively, embark on a canyoning experience to climb, scramble, slide and swim down the cascading river while taking in the stunning surroundings of Wales’ largest national park.

White water rafting taster sessions cost from £37 per person. Wetsuits are available to hire for all activities for £5. The Rafting Safari costs from £49 per person, with a full rafting session priced from £67 per person, or from £320 per raft for groups (minimum of four people). Canyoning costs £56 per person.

Hangloose Adventure, Cornwall

Next to the famous Eden Project site, just 10 minutes from St Austell in Cornwall, Hangloose Adventure offers an array of adrenaline-fuelled activities. The Skywire is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience, enabling guests to fly down a 660 metre course at speeds of around 60mph, while seeing the Eden Project’s massive biomes from a new perspective. Tower over the site while tackling Skytrek, a new aerial trekking course featuring zip lines and a host of other elements, or get involved with Big Air, a test of nerves where individuals jump from towering platforms onto a giant bean bag below. Alternatively, guests can opt to be strapped in on Gravity, a 20-metre high giant cliff swing that overlooks the Eden Project site.

Skywire and Skytrek both cost £30, Gravity is priced at £20 and Big Air at £15. All prices are per person.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia (Surf Snowdonia), North-West Wales

Presenting an opportunity to surf inland in the heart of Snowdonia, Adventure Parc Snowdonia puts adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports top of the agenda. At the world’s first surf lagoon, visitors can get to grips with a range of waves, from gentle undulations for beginners up to advanced waves for the pros. Surrounded by the stunning natural landscapes of Snowdonia, Adrenaline Indoors hosts an array of new adventure features too, including one of the longest artificial caving courses in the world, Britain’s only kicker flight slide, a ninja parkour floor trail and climbing and racer walls.

A range of surfing options are available, from beginner classes and specialist classes for children up to advanced waves, three-day beginner courses and development days. Prices start from £40 for children and £50 for adults. Surfboard and wetsuit hire are available for £6. Indoor activities cost from £12. Stand up paddleboarding, coasteering, climbing and gorge walking are also available, starting from £35-£40.

The Canyoning Company, Scotland

Discover unforgettable canyoning experiences hidden within Scotland’s rugged landscape with the Canyoning Company. With several routes to choose from, the canyons include jumps ranging from two to 10 metres, numerous flumes, vertical rock slides and spectacular waterfall abseils. The Tummel Canyon route, found along the shores of Loch Tummel in Perthshire, is the newest to open – from summer 2018 – and includes an incredible 14 abseils to get pulses racing!

Canyoning experiences cost from £65 for children aged 12-15 and £70 for adults, and vary depending on the canyon route used. All equipment is included.

Windsurfing, Norfolk

Dive into the world of windsurfing with a half-day taster session near Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coast. With fantastic wind conditions and a suitable expanse of beach, it’s the ideal location to learn how to windsurf. Hunstanton Water Sports also runs progression sessions for those with more experience while kitesurfing and power kiting sessions are also available.

A three-hour windsurfing taster session costs £40. Kitesurfing is priced from £120 for a one-day course, rising to £289 for a three-day course. One-to-one tuition is available from £45 per hour.

Cardiff International White Water, Wales

Nestled in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff International White Water offers an abundance of exciting water sports from white water rafting through to stand up paddleboarding. Thrill seekers may want to ditch the raft in favour of a river board (similar to a body board) or practice their surfing on the indoor wave machine. There’s a number of exhilarating ways to complete the water course, while those wishing to stay dry can tackle the Air Trail, a set of high wire ropes that tower over the centre.

White water rafting costs from £40 per person and river boarding costs £55 per person. Visitors can ride the indoor wave from £22.50. The Air Trail costs £10.

Five reasons to visit Britain’s National Parks

July heralds Britain’s National Parks Week (22-29), where an eclectic range of events, from seaside safaris, forest walks, family fun days and treasure trails, take place across our 15 National Parks. All boast diverse and ancient landscapes, communities with rich cultural roots going back thousands of years and are must-visit destinations of natural beauty and tranquillity. Each is unique and special in its own way; here’s why a visit to Britain’s National Parks should be on your itinerary.

 

Cool ways to explore the countryside

Outdoor pursuits are ubiquitous throughout the National Parks, with a huge variety to experience. Enjoy boating? Head to the Broads National Park, where pleasure boating, especially on board a barge, has been part of life through its myriad of inland waterways since the early 19th century. Looking for an activity to get that adrenaline pumping? The Lake District National Park boasts the highest concentration of outdoor activity centres in the UK – check out Honister, an innovative adventure attraction (and also England’s last working slate mine) for a brilliant buzz. Neighbouring Yorkshire Dales National Park is famed for its limestone geology, making it one of the best places in the UK for caving and potholing. And the only coastal national park, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in west Wales, is perfect for watersports from coasteering and surfing to sailing and kayaking. 

 

The chance to spot rare wildlife
Bring those binoculars…because the National Parks are home to rare and endangered species of wildlife. Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park – the largest of all the parks – is home to high plateaux with the rarest habitats and is the most southerly site in Europe for snow buntings. In fact, one in four of the UK’s endangered species have their home in this park, such as the golden eagle. Down on England’s east coast, in the Broads National Park, a quarter of Britain’s rarest species have their home here, while around 20 per cent of Wales’ Snowdonia National Park is specially designated by UK and European law to protect its distinctive wildlife. That includes the Snowdon Lily and the Snowdon beetle (both unique to Snowdon). And native wildlife often gives a National Park real character; check out the Dartmoor Ponies, a part of the Dartmoor National Park’s cultural heritage, and the iconic New Forest Ponies roaming free in the woods of the New Forest National Park.

 

Be inspired by contrasting landscapes
There are such varied landscapes within each National Park that depending on which area of each park you’re in you’ll find a wealth of distinctive environments. The Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales, for example, is a mix of caves, gorges and waterfalls, hilltops, cliffs and broad valleys, as well as farmed landscapes, lakes and rivers. While down in the south-west of England, Exmoor National Park is one of heather and grass moors, wooded valleys, wonderful coastal views and upland farms. Exmoor is an International Dark Sky Park, as is Northumberland National Park in the north east of England; plus, the latter’s landscape is so geographically important, there are five Sites of Special Scientific Interest here, such as its volcanic and glacial features.

 

You’ll be stepping onto a film set
You might just recognise some of our National Parks’ landscapes and features from the silver screen, and from the pages of legendary novels and poems. The Peak District National Park in central England, for example, has been used many times as a film location, thanks to its multitude of magnificent stately homes – Chatsworth has starred in Pride & Prejudice, as has Lyme Hall; Haddon Hall was the background setting to Jane Eyre, Elizabeth and Moll Flanders while North Lees Hall, as well as appearing in Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, starred in The Other Boleyn Girl. Elsewhere, Dartmoor’s landscape appeared in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, while the Lake District is famously the inspiration for Romantic poets Wordsworth and Coleridge and children’s authors Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome.

 

Stay in unique accommodation
You’ll find everything from campsites to charming B&Bs, cosy inns and luxury hotels throughout National Parks, as well as accommodation that’s rather extraordinary. In Scotland’s Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park wild camping is permitted in certain sections, an incredible way to experience the true beauty of the nature. Experience a glamping site with a difference at the North York Moors National Park at La Rosa campsite and stay in gypsy caravans with décor ranging from circus-themed, fairy tale themed, ‘psycho candy’ (all pink) and 1970s funky Africa! At the opposite end of Britain, on the edge of the beautiful South Downs National Park in south England – the country’s youngest national park – you can even stay on a 1964 Routemaster London double decker bus in Blackberry Wood, kitted out with sleeping, kitchen and dining areas!

 

Spotlight on: Peak District National Park

  • The Peak District was the first designated National Park in Britain, in 1951.
  • The park stretches into five counties: Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, meaning it’s accessible from the cities of Manchester, Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham.
  • With 1,600 miles of public rights of way across footpaths, bridleways and tracks, this is great walking country. Love cycling? Hit the park’s 65 miles of off-road dedicated cycling and walking trails, with cycle-hire centres at Ashbourne, Parsley Hay, Derwent Valley and Middleton Top. It also boasts a treasure trove of disused railways to explore – the park owns 34 miles of them at High Peak Trail, Tissington Trail and Monsal Trail.
  • Head to the medieval market town of Bakewell, home to one of the UK’s most important agricultural markets. Make sure you try its famous Bakewell puddings (flaky pastry base, moist almond and jam filling, said to be invented by lucky mistake by an 18th-century kitchen maid).
  • The National Park has 2,900 listed buildings, including the world-renowned stately homes of Chatsworth, the medieval Haddon Hall, the Norman Peveril Castle, Bakewell’s medieval bridge as well as centuries-old farm-buildings and cottages.
  • There are plenty of interesting villages to explore. Castleton is famous for its caverns, and the “shivering mountain” of Mam Tor, Winnats Pass and Peveril Castle. Then there’s Eyam (“plague village”), Hathersage (reputed grave-site of Robin Hood’s friend Little John), Tideswell (14th century “cathedral of the Peak”), Ilam (Swiss-style architecture), Ashford-in-the-Water (classic English riverside village), and Tissington (Tissington Hall and close to Tissington Trail).
  • The Peak District has a distinctive custom to look out for: well dressing! Originally a pagan ceremony to honour water gods, it’s now a summer tradition in dozens of villages. Different villages decorate their wells or springs with natural, ephemeral pictures made of flowers, petals, seeds, twigs, nuts and berries, pressed into soft clay held in wooden frames. Well dressing weeks also include carnivals and streets decorated with bunting.

Explore Royal Britain

Britain just oozes with royalty with its roots dipped in rich history. Discover the UK’s castles, palaces, yachts and more. Explore our interactive map to discover royal attractions across Britain.

Royal things to do in Scotland

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire

Balmoral Castle tells of Scottish history like no other, built in 1856 it served as the Queen’s countryside getaway in Aberdeenshire. This stately castle was also the setting for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s honeymoon – romance is in the air!

 

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

This sacred site situated on the Isle of Iona traces all the way back to AD 563 and was a regular destination for Christian pilgrimages. Take the chance to soak in this spiritual haven first-hand.
 

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh

It’s most famous resident monarch was Mary, Queen of Scots whose secretary and confident was assassinated on the premises. Visit the home of Scottish royal history and the Queen’s office residence in Scotland.

 

The Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

With the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh, you’ll wonder which British royal hasn’t graced its elegant deck. From Her Majesty The Queen and Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi, notable figures have boarded this majestic vessel. All aboard the deck for stunning exhibitions!

 

Royal things to do in England

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Indulge your inner artist with one of the UK’s largest private art collection and follow the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Located in heart of the Peak District, you could roam the stunning greenery and lavish rooms at Chatsworth House for days.

 

Sandringham, Norfolk

Housing four generations of British monarchs Sandringham is the Queen’s countryside retreat! From coastal wetlands to beautiful woodlands, find out what makes it the perfect escape.

 

Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Previously used as a medieval fortress, Warwick Castle has a long and varied history. Visit the well-preserved castle where Earl of Warwick enjoyed his leisure time in style.

 

The Althorp, Northampton

Once the home of the late Princess Diana, Althorp House is now her resting place. Roam around the tranquil cottages, beautiful woodland and farms surrounding the estate.

 

King’s College, Cambridge

Feel like royalty as you gaze up at the stunning architecture of Cambridge’s King’s College. Founded by Henry VI, pop in to see its chapel that took a whole century to complete.

 

Longdole Polo Club, Gloucester

Enter the depth of rural tranquillity in Gloucester and learn to play Polo with the best of them. Even Prince Charles, William and Harry made an appearance on the grounds.

 

Kensington Palace, London

Did you know that original Leonardo da Vinci drawings were found in the palace with no clues as to how they got there? Get the royal insight by visiting the London home of Queen Victoria, Princess Diana and Will and Kate.

 

Buckingham Palace, London

You can’t get much more royal than Buckingham Palace. With one of the best known balconies in the world, it’s where the Royal Family appear to the public after royal or national celebrations. Inside you’ll find stunning interiors and the finest art collection to marvel at.

 

Windsor Castle, Windsor

The largest inhabited castle in the world, this building is simply breathtaking. Soak up the history of the artefacts, staterooms and grounds of one of the Queen’s favourite palaces.

 

Highgrove House, Gloucestershire

For the finest greenery in all the land, Highgrove garden in Gloucestershire will supply you with more than just a spring walk. Indulge in your luxury tastes with the kind of fine living suitable for a prince and a duchess.

 

Osborne House, Isle of White

Queen Victoria spent her holidays on the Isle of White in the palatial Osborne House. Marvel at its ornate terrace gardens or take a dip in the sea at Osborne beach.

 

Wimbledon, London

The Royal Family have had their own box at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships since 1922. If tennis isn’t your thing, there’s a charming village, an 1140 acres common (with windmill) and classy boutiques to explore nearby.

 

Royal Pavilion, Brigthton

Inspired by lavish Indian, Chinese and Islamic architecture King George IV ordered its construction in 1787. From a royal residence and seaside getaway to a hospital for Indian soldiers – the enchanting Royal Pavilion stands tall to this day.

 

Royal things to do in Wales

Conwy Castle, Conwy

Did you know that Conwy Castle was part of Edward I’s plan to build an ‘iron ring of castles’ around Wales? Its grandiosity is not to be underrated. Venture to the battlements and immerse yourself in the conquest.

 

Anglesey

Pursue some romance on the captivating north coast of Wales where Kate and Prince William found their perfect hideaway residence. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Anglesey is the perfect place to fall in love.

 

Caerphilly Castle

Wales’ largest castle is a revolutionary masterpiece in its strategic military defence. It’s one of the first castles in Britain to have a concentric design (it has a surrounding wall) and has a rich and thrilling medieval history.

 

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The story of a royal romance

Love is very much in the air in Britain, with Valentine’s Day almost upon us and the upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

A few chapters ahead in their own love story, next week also marks the royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Sweden and Norway. We mark their blossoming relationship with four places in Great Britain to feel the love.

 

St Andrews, Scotland

The University of St Andrews in the quaint coastal town of St Andrews in Fife is where the couple’s story began. William arrived in 2001 to study art history (he eventually switched to geography), where he met Kate who was on the same course. Follow in their footsteps, wandering around the university quads, and admiring the striking architecture.

Nearby, climb the 156 steps to the top of St Rule’s Tower at St Andrew’s Cathedral for panoramic views across Fife. It’s free to visit, and the cathedral ruins hint at the grandeur of what was once Scotland’s largest church, and a meeting point for medieval pilgrims. You can also make your own two-hour ‘pilgrimage’ to Edinburgh by train.

 

Anglesey, Wales

Before their engagement, the couple lived on the island of Anglesey, just off the northwest coast of Wales.

Marking the official start of their life together, Anglesey was a particularly special place to call home and the ideal base for William’s job as a Royal Air Force Search and Rescue pilot.

Get swept away by its wild beauty along the 130-mile Anglesey Coastal Path which circles the island, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can also explore on horseback and enjoy views of the Menai Straits and Snowdonia’s mountains.

Anglesey is also known for its ancient sites – there are around 120 megaliths and burial chambers scattered across the island. Add to this, historic lighthouses, medieval castles and pretty harbours and it makes for a picture-perfect break.

 

Norfolk, England

The Queen gifted the secluded Georgian estate of Anmer Hall to the future monarchs, also giving them plenty of privacy to raise their children. It’s also just two miles from the Queen’s own beloved Norfolk residence of Sandringham, where William spent much of his childhood.

The couple have been spotted in local towns including Holt, where the Duchess has been seen browsing independent shops to furnish their countryside retreat.

Check in at the Kings Head Hotel in King’s Lynn for a romantic weekend retreat. It’s rumoured the royal couple dined here. You can also visit Sandringham’s spectacular house and gardens, including the museum’s extraordinary collection of royal vehicles and rare memorabilia. The grounds are free to explore.

 

London, England

In 2017, the couple and their two children (with a third on its way) moved into a 20-room apartment inside Kensington Palace to step up their royal duties, dividing their time between here and Norfolk.

Also the home of newly-engaged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, visitors can tour public areas of the palace, including the lavish King and Queen’s state apartments.

To re-create your own special proposal, consider dinner and drinks at the west London institution that is Bluebird Chelsea or the unusual dine-in-the-dark Dans Le Noir ? in Clerkenwell, east London, where the pair are reported to have enjoyed pre-wedding dates.

Finish up with Kate and William’s Royal Wedding Tour of London to trace their whirlwind romance. Spots include their favourite Mayfair nightclubs, designer shopping haunts, the jewellers selling that engagement ring, and the hospital where their children were born.

 

Editor’s Note

Sandringham House, Gardens and Museum, and Sandringham Church, are open daily from Saturday 31 March until Sunday 21 October 2018, EXCEPT 23rd to 27th July inclusive. Visitors should check the variable opening times for the museum, house and gardens before travel.

Annual events - 2018

From traditional and tasty to cultured and quirky, there are thousands of events of all different types happening in Britain every month of every year. Read on for our comprehensive list of the best events going on in 2018.

 

JANUARY

New Year’s Day Parade, London, England

1 January

London’s New Year’s Day Parade has evolved into one of the world’s great street spectaculars, with around 10,000 performers from across the world and a street-side audience approaching 500,000. The parade starts at 12pm and is filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, acrobats, kites and more.

 

Stoats Loony Dook, Edinburgh, Scotland

1 January

Welcome the New Year with a splash! Join thousands of ‘Dookers’ taking part in this annual dip in the freezing River Forth after their march along the High Street as part of the Dooker Parade. The tradition has been going for 30 years and participants raise tens of thousands of pounds for charities. Spectators are welcome to cheer on the Dookers at various vantage points along the route or down on the beach.

 

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England

6-8 January

The best of British menswear design comes to the capital, with catwalk shows, events, and presentations.

 

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland 

18 January – 4 February

Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, celebrating Celtic music and its connections to cultures across the globe. It’s the largest annual winter music festival of its kind and Britain’s premier celebration of Celtic music, featuring  more than 2,000 artists and 300 events across 20 venues, including concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, and workshops.

 

Lumiere London, London, England

18 – 21 January

More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city during this spectacular festival of lights featuring dazzling installations. Festival locations will include King’s Cross, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Westminster. New destinations added for 2018 include Covent Garden, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo.

 

Burns’ Night, Scotland-wide

25 January

Every January Scotland celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns - the national poet of Scotland - with food, drams, dancing and verse. Don’t forget to address the haggis!

 

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland *Quirky*

31 January

Up Helly Aa is a tradition that originated in the 1880s. This annual event is Europe’s largest fire festival and involves a torch-lit procession, the burning of a Viking long ship and a ceilidh that lasts late into the night. The festival heralds the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

 

FEBRUARY

RBS Six Nations Rugby, Cardiff in Wales, London in England, Edinburgh in Scotland

3 – 17 March

The 19th Six Nations Championship for England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales will see matches take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Twickenham Stadium in London, and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

 

Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, London

7 – 18 February

Imagine Children’s Festival offers a packed programme of free and ticketed events for all ages, from opera for babies to talks for adults - plus the chance for children to meet some of their favourite authors, who will bring much-loved characters to life.

 

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England

12 – 18 February

This annual city-wide celebration of York’s Viking heritage is recognised as the largest Viking Festival in Europe, attracting more than 40,000 visitors. It commemorates the traditional ‘Jolablot’ celebrations that the Vikings held each February to herald the coming of spring and the survival of winter hardships.

 

Olney Pancake Race, Buckinghamshire, south-east England *Quirky*

13 February

This unique race literally stops traffic as energetic local ladies in aprons run through the streets of Olney. The tradition supposedly began in the 15th century when a local housewife heard the ringing of the bell summoning the congregation to church while she was making her Shrove Tuesday pancakes – in a rush, she raced to church carrying her frying pan. The course is 415-yards long and the pancakes must be tossed at the start and finish.

 

Chinese New Year, London and around Britain

16 February (celebration parade date TBC)

London hosts the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia each year, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the festivities. They are free to attend and usually take place in Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and across the West End.

 

London Fashion Week, London, England

16 – 20 February

The ultimate fashion industry event, where the world’s top designers showcase their latest collections via catwalk shows, plus curated talks, designer shopping and trend presentations.

 

Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

21 February – 4 March  

The fastest-growing and third-largest film festival in Britain, with more than 350 events.

 

MARCH

National St David's Day Parade, Cardiff, south Wales

1 March

The streets of the Welsh capital celebrate St David and all things Welsh – look out for eisteddfods, traditional celebrations of Welsh culture and music.

 

World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018, Birmingham, England

1 – 4 March

One of the biggest sporting events of the year, this indoor athletics championship will feature more than 400 competitors from 150 countries at the Arena Birmingham.

 

WOW – Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, London, England

March – date TBC

Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival celebrates its eighth year in 2018 and returns to champion the incredible achievements of women and girls. It will explore the most pertinent topics for women today through a mix of talks and debates, concerts, performances, film, comedy, workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities.

 

The Big Cheese Festival, Brighton, south England

3 March

Cheese lovers rejoice! Brighton Racecourse is hosting a dedicated festival showcasing the finest cheeses by international cheesemakers and cheesemongers. There will be samples aplenty, with a selection of cheesy delicacies on offer including halloumi fries, mozzarella sticks, raclette and fondue.

 

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

8 – 25 March

The largest event of its kind in Europe, this comedy extravaganza features a line-up of both big league players and emerging talent from around Britain and beyond, performing in venues throughout the city.

 

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

13 –16 March

Held close to the lovely Regency town of Cheltenham, this National Hunt race meeting attracts prize money second only to the Grand National. Famous for the roar arising from the stands as the tape is raised for the start of the first race, the excitement continues to build until its climax with Friday’s signature Gold Cup – one of the greatest of all jump-racing events.

 

St Patrick’s Day, Northern Ireland and parts of Britain

17 March

The national saint of Ireland is celebrated in traditional fashion with festivals, parades, carnivals and concerts taking place across Northern Ireland, and around Britain, including a parade in London.

 

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, Oxford, south-east England

17 – 25 March

More than 350 writers flock to this famous university city to discuss literary, political, historical, environmental and culinary affairs for this eight-day festival, hosted in Christ Church College within its Tudor hall and cloisters. Visitors can also book to join guided literary walks, lunches and dinner parties with prominent authors. Since 2008, a creative writing course has also formed part of the programme.

 

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

March - date TBC

The Sage Gateshead concert venue hosts this diverse jazz festival with four different performance spaces under one roof, including a free public area offering a mix of local acts and headliners. 

 

The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London, England

24 March

First raced in 1829, the Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. Watched by thousands along the banks of The Tideway, located between Putney and Mortlake in south London, this unique sporting event sees two strong squads of athletes competing against each other.

 

APRIL

Grand National, Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, north-west England

12 - 14 April

The most famous horse race in the world sees competitors make two circuits of the Grand National course, tackling 30 fences as they cover four and a half miles. The event’s colourful, fashionista celebration, Ladies’ Day, will take place on 13 April.

 

London Coffee Festival, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London

12 – 15 April

Arabica aficionados can celebrate London coffee culture at this dedicated festival, which brings together a range of coffee-related activities under one roof, as well as art and food spin-off events.

 

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, south Wales

13-15 April

Cardiff hosts the Royal Horticultural Society’s first major outdoor show of the year. Getting the gardening season started, it’s packed full of amazing show gardens, fabulous floral displays, and lots of garden inspiration.

 

London Marathon, London, England

22 April

The Virgin Money London Marathon is a phenomenal event to be a part of, as a participant and a spectator. It’s not just a monumental physical challenge, but also the world's largest fundraising event - and one of the six top marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors.

 

St George’s Day, across England

23 April

St George’s Day celebrates the patron saint of England with activities ranging from festivals, ‘dragon’ hunts and medieval banquets happening across England.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, Stratford-upon-Avon, central England

22 – 23 April

Every year a unique event takes place in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the birth of the world’s greatest playwright. The birthday celebrations are a tradition going back nearly 200 years and are held on the weekend closest to William Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April.

 

MAY

Highland Games, across Scotland

May – September (Dates TBC)

Around 100 Highland games and gatherings take place in Scotland each year. Each one has a mix of piping, athletic events and Highland dancing.

 

Whisky Month, across Scotland

Throughout May

May is Whisky Month, taking in a diverse range of events ranging from whisky tasting sessions to behind-the-scenes experiences and distillery tours.

 

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

2 – 7 May

Every year, Cheltenham Jazz Festival represents the start of the summer in Cheltenham and is a great way to spend the long weekend over May Bank Holiday.

 

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Speyside, Scotland

3 – 7 May

Spirited, inspiring, Scottish – this festival puts on hundreds of whisky-inspired events over five days. Discover the passion behind the world’s finest whiskies.

 

Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east England

4 May – 3 June 

As part of Brighton Festival, this fringe celebration of all things creative consists of hundreds of events and performances across a hugely eclectic range of art forms. As an open-access festival, anyone can put on an event and be included in the brochure and website listings on payment of a fee, enabling the development of both new and established work to attract fresh audiences, press and promoters.

 

Brighton Festival, Brighton, south-east England

5 – 27 May

Brighton is known as a place that welcomes diversity, creativity and innovative thinking, and its annual festival celebrates this pioneering spirit and experimental approach. Established in 1967 and now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, this celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate and family events takes place in a variety of venues across Brighton and Hove.

 

Tour de Yorkshire, Yorkshire, north England

5 – 6 May

This three-day road cycling race in Yorkshire started in May 2015, arising as a legacy event following the significant success of the visit of the 2014 Tour de France to the county.

 

Football Association Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England

19 May 

The FA Cup, the oldest domestic Cup competition in the football world, is established as one of the country's great sporting institutions. The history and tradition of the competition, and the pageantry of the Cup Final, is familiar to millions.

 

The Late Shows, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

Dates TBC  

The Late Shows is an inspiring, late-night culture crawl programme of events and exhibitions through cultural venues in NewcastleGateshead that are usually closed in the evening.  Museums, galleries and visitor attractions stay up late to encourage people to do something cultural with their evening – in celebration of the international event ‘Museums at Night’.

 

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, Brecon Beacons, south Wales

24 May – 3 June

The renowned Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, held annually in a tented village on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, brings together some of the greatest contemporary practitioners and the most exciting new voices in literature and arts.

 

Birmingham Pride, Birmingham, central England

26 – 27 May

The second largest city in England hosts its annual gay pride, a technicolour spectacular celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture.

 

Conwy Pirate Weekend, Conwy, north Wales

Dates TBC

Ahoy there! Grab your shipmates and head down to Conwy Quayside for a weekend of pirate fun. This annual celebration consists of three days of swashbuckling entertainment, including boat races, live music, a market, pirate costume competitions and more.

 

Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England

Dates TBC

Liverpool Sound City is an annual international music festival and industry conference taking place over the weekend. The event welcomes global stars, local artists and key industry figures. The festival has provided a platform for many future stars early on in their careers, including the likes of Ed Sheeran, The xx, Alt J and Calvin Harris.

 

Cheese rolling at Coopers Hill, Gloucestershire, south-west England *Quirky*

30 May

A passion for cheese is a must for this annual event, which involves daredevils hurling themselves down the steep, grassy slopes of Coopers Hill, near Gloucester, in pursuit of Double Gloucester cheeses. There are downhill races throughout the afternoon including ones for men and for women. The race starts with the master of ceremonies rolling a 7- 8 lb (4kg) Double Gloucester cheese down the hill. Dozens of competitors run, roll and somersault down the hill after it. 

 

JUNE

Investec Derby, Epsom Downs Race Course, Surrey, south-east England

2 June

The world’s famous flat race will see riders and owners in pursuit of one of the richest prizes in British racing.

 

Walled City Music Festival, Derry~LondonDerry, Northern Ireland

Dates TBC

2018 will mark the Walled City Music Festival’s 10th year of hosting talented classical musicians of wide-ranging genres and styles.

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire, north England

6 – 10 June

The newest addition to the Royal Horticultural Society’s flower shows had its debut in 2017, joining the existing portfolio of shows at Malvern, Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace, Tatton Park, and Chelsea in London. Hosted in the expansive 1,000 acre grounds of stunning Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the show’s style and content seek to expand on current offerings with immersive horticultural experiences, alongside the usual show gardens, amazing floral displays, and plenty of garden inspiration.

 

Festival of Voice, Cardiff, south Wales

7 – 17 June

As its name suggests, this biennial international arts event aims to build on the unique heritage of Wales as the ‘land of song’ – a nation that is celebrated for its tradition of choral singing and producing world-famous vocal artists such as Tom Jones and Charlotte Church. The festival will feature opera alongside grime, and musical theatre alongside rock, gospel and a cappella choral music.

 

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England

8-11 June

The best of British menswear design comes to the capital for the second time in the year, with catwalk shows, events, and presentations.

 

Queen’s Birthday / Trooping the Colour, London, England

9 June

Trooping the Colour is the annual celebration of the Queen's official birthday. Otherwise known as The Queen's Birthday Parade, it’s a colourful display of military pageantry featuring 1,400 officers and men on parade in ceremonial uniform, 200 horses and 400 musicians. The Queen always attends the ceremony, which takes place on Horse Guards Parade behind Whitehall, London.

 

Royal Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England

14 – 18 June

Royal Ascot has established itself as a national institution and a major focus of the British social calendar, as well as being the ultimate stage for the best racehorses in the world. Tradition, pageantry, fashion and style all mix together, as well as over £6.5 million in total prize money on offer and around 30 races over five days.

 

Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival, Scotland

15 – 24 June

This midsummer walking festival stages events across Moray including walking challenges, gentle ambles and other outdoor events. From the foothills of the Cairngorms to Moray’s award-winning coastline, participants can enjoy long summer days exploring coastal, hill, forest, river and town walks. 

 

Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England

16 June

This unique three-day vintage cycling festival sees around 3,500 cyclists from all over the world don retro gear and hop on pre-1987 bikes for this special race, passing through some of the finest Peak District landscapes and villages en route. Bakewell Showground, in the heart of the Peak District, hosts the festival’s live music, acres of vintage shopping, and specialist food stalls.

 

The Great Exhibition of the North, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

21 June - September

Newcastle and Gateshead in north-east England will host the Great Exhibition of the North: a major exhibition showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England. The 77-day exhibition will start with an opening ceremony at the Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the event, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions:  The Arts Circuit, Design Circuit and Innovation Circuit. The Baltic art gallery will invite five northern and five international artists to create work on the exhibition's themes.

 

TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland

Dates TBC

Britain’s fastest growing cycling festival is held every year in the beautiful Tweed Valley. There are three main races: Vallelujah, TweedLove International Enduro and Expo, and King and Queen of the Hill: Scottish Open Champs. Or, there’s the option for riders to enter all three – a challenge known as the Triple Crown.

 

Whole Earth Man vs. Horse Marathon, Powys, mid-Wales *Quirky*

Dates TBC

Starting from the square in Llanwrtyd Wells (the smallest town in Britain), this unique race is run over 22 miles of mixed and very hilly terrain by up to 500 entrants each year. The Man vs Horse Race was the brainchild of local man, Gordon Green, when he was landlord of Neuadd Arms, after a discussion over a pint about the relative merits of man and horse. It took 25 years before a man finally beat a horse, when in 2004 Huw Lobb finished two minutes before the fastest horse.

 

Stonehenge Summer Solstice, Wiltshire, south-west England

21 June

Every year visitors from around the world gather at Stonehenge overnight to celebrate the Summer Solstice and watch the sun rise over the stones. It’s the most important day of the year at Stonehenge and a truly magical time to visit. The celebration brings together England's New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans and Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travellers and party people.

 

Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, south England

21 – 24 June

This popular music festival on the famous island situated off the south coast of England has impressive musical heritage stretching back to Bob Dylan (who performed here in 1969) and Jimi Hendrix (who took to the stage in 1970). Recent headliners have included The Who, Queen + Adam Lambert, Stereophonics and Faithless.

 

The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

21 – 24 June

One of Scotland’s most iconic events, the Royal Highland Show is a major highlight of the Scottish country calendar and firmly established as one of Europe’s most impressive celebrations of farming, food and rural life.

 

Taste of London Festival, London, England

Dates TBC

Every year Regent's Park transforms into a foodie wonderland for four days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. Around 40 of the city's best restaurants dish up their finest dishes for the ultimate alfresco feast, while 200 producers provide a bounty of the best food and beverages from Britain and around the world.

 

Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England

23 June  

An annual one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, attracting more than 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world. Competitors come from all over the world and follow the 50 nautical mile course, which starts and finishes in Cowes.

 

Pride in London, London, England

June / July (date TBC)

London hosts a huge party in the summer with Pride in London - one of Europe’s largest non-ticketed events. The festival usually comes to a close with a sizzling carnival of colour of music, floats and dancing, drawing a huge crowd of spectators.

 

World Egg Throwing Championships, Swaton, Lincolnshire, central England *Quirky*

Date TBC

Contestants have to construct a gravity-powered egg-hurling device to launch an egg to a waiting team member. Distances to be achieved start at 30 metres but can be extended up to 150 in the knock-out competition. Another activity that takes place on the day is the Russian Egg Roulette where two participants select from five hard boiled eggs and one raw egg; they have to smash them onto their own foreheads.

 

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Sussex, south England

Dates TBC

Along the Sussex coast lies the Goodwood Motor Circuit near Chichester. Each summer the circuit is the venue for the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the largest car culture event in the world. Around 150,000 visitors attend three days' worth of races to celebrate the history of motor racing, including a hill climb featuring classic Formula One cars, and a forest rally stage. 

 

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

30 June – 8 July

Edinburgh International Magic Festival is one of the fastest-growing festivals in Edinburgh and the only event of its kind in Britain, giving an audience the opportunity to enjoy a breath-taking spectacle of the finest acts in magic.

 

JULY

Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, England

2 – 15 July

Arguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, the Wimbledon Championships have been played since 1877 and tickets are always in fierce demand. The championships start at the end of June, or, in 2017, the beginning of July, and last approximately two weeks, or until all events are complete. The club operates a public ballot (lottery) for advanced sales of Centre, No. 1 and No. 2 court tickets.

 

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Surrey, south-east England

3 – 8 July

The world’s largest annual flower show returns in 2018. A plant lover’s paradise, it’s packed with stunning show gardens, floral displays, and plenty of garden inspiration.

 

International Eisteddfod, Llangollen, north-east Wales

3 – 8 July   

Every year more than 4,000 singers from across the globe descend on the small town of Llangollen to compete in 25 different competitions celebrating song, music and dance, closing with the prestigious ‘Choir of the World’ where winning choirs compete for the Pavarotti Trophy.

 

Henley Royal Regatta, Henley-on-Thames, central England

4 – 8 July

The picturesque market town of Henley-on-Thames is transformed into a cosmopolitan hub of rowing when the Henley Royal Regatta comes to town. This five-day festival, which attracts international rowing crews, is one of the highlights of the British summer social calendar and offers up to 90 world-class races. The races are head-to-head knock-out competitions, raced over a course of one mile 550 yards (2,112m) from Temple Island upstream towards Henley Bridge.

 

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England

6 – 8 July

The jewel in the crown of British Motorsports, Silverstone is a fast circuit with a series of complex high-speed turns, and a short straight to add to the excitement. Average cornering speeds are higher than at any other championship racetrack.

 

Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England
6 – 15 July

Bristol Pride is a week-long LGBT festival that culminates in a massive outdoor music and arts festival which takes place in Castle Park. Kicking off with the Pride parade through the city, the festival also features entertainment, a family area, funfair, market stalls, food stalls, and bars.

 

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales

8 July

A well-established seafood festival in picturesque Cardigan Bay. Previous participants have included Michelin chefs Hywel Jones of Lucknam Park and Roger Jones of the Little Bedwyn.

 

Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, Gullane Golf Club, east Scotland

11 – 15 July

Watch some of the world’s top golfers at their best during this major golf tournament on the European Tour.

 

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

13 – 22 July

See established jazz legends and rising stars in their element at this annual jazz and blues celebration in Scotland’s festival city.

 

Liverpool Biennial: Festival of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, north-west England

14 July – 28 October

Every two years, Liverpool’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world. 

 

Kynren, Auckland Castle, County Durham, north-east England

Dates TBC – July to September

During the summer, Auckland Castle will host the third year of Kynren - the movie-like open-air night spectacular that brings to life 2,000 years of Britain's history, from the Roman period to post-World War II. The show take its audience on a 90-minute journey of epic storytelling, using pyrotechnics, lighting, and water effects across a seven-and-a-half acre stage, and starring more than 1,000 professionally trained volunteers.

 

The Open Championship, Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, Scotland

16 – 22 July

This year the major golf championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, will be hosted at Carnoustie Golf Links.

 

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, Cheshire, north-west England

18-22 Jul

This plant lover’s paradise is hosted at Cheshire’s historic neo-classical country mansion, Tatton Park, featuring stunning show gardens, floral displays, and plenty of green-fingered inspiration.

 

Women’s Hockey World Cup, London, England

21 July – 5 August

The world’s best female hockey teams from 15 nations take to the field at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This will be the first time England has hosted a Hockey Women's World Cup, and will be the biggest standalone hockey event Britain has ever seen. 

 

World Snail Racing Championship, Norfolk, east England *Quirky*

21 July

Ready, steady, slow! For more than 25 years, the World Snail Racing Championships have been held at Congham in Norfolk, where more than 300 snails slug it out for the title of ‘Fastest Snail in the World’. Anyone with a snail can enter and a number of heats are held before the final. The winner receives a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce.

 

SummerTyne Americana Festival, Sage Gateshead, Newcastle, north-east England

21 – 23 July

SummerTyne Americana Festival is a popular weekend event that attracts visitors from across the world for a sizzling celebration of Americana music in and around the spectacular setting of Sage Gateshead, on the south bank of the river Tyne.

 

Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, east England

20 - 23 July 2017

Secret Garden Party is no longer a secret - this fantastical festival in Cambridgeshire sells out fast. If a wild long weekend of partying to amazing live acts, dressing up in crazy costumes, fireworks and illuminations and wild swimming appeals, get your tickets early!

 

The BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England

2018 dates TBC

The Proms is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts, with a wide range of classical music to choose from, at affordable prices, in an informal atmosphere. The famous Last Night performances include BBC Proms in the Park.

 

Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, Cardiff, south Wales

Date TBC

Every year the Welsh capital welcomes this popular festival, with hundreds of stalls offering delicious food and drink to try and buy, from Wales and all over the world. Highlights include Welsh cheeses, Norwegian smoked salmon, French wines and Persian snack foods.

 

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London, England

2018 dates TBC

Explore the palace’s lavishly furnished State Rooms – where the Queen and members of the Royal Family receive and entertain guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions – and witness some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.

 

The Welsh Proms, Cardiff, south Wales

Dates TBC

The Welsh Proms feature the world's top orchestras, soloists and conductors. There’s a strong classical programme, alongside jazz, soul, rock dance and world music.

 

The Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly, south Wales

TBC July

Set in the shadows of one of Europe's largest castles, the town of Caerphilly is home to this free weekend cheese festival, which celebrates its 21st year in 2018. Highlights include the cheese market, with lots of samples to try and buy from top class producers including The Blaenafon Cheddar Company and Snowdonia Cheese. There are also street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, a traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry and fire-eating shows.

 

The Royal Welsh Show, Llanelwedd, Powys, mid-Wales

23 – 26 July

A major event in the British agricultural calendar, the Royal Welsh Show consists of four days of livestock competitions and wide range of activities including forestry, horticulture, crafts, entertainment, attractions, displays, countryside sports, and shopping.

 

Glasgow Mela, Glasgow, Scotland

Date TBC

Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival lights up Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park every summer in a kaleidoscope of colours, with music, dance, performance and tastes from around the globe. 

 

Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

Bristol Harbour Festival is one of Britain’s largest public festivals, where the city celebrates its rich musical and performance roots, alongside activities and markets galore.

 

Liverpool International Music Festival, Sefton Park, Liverpool, north-west England

20 – 22 July

Celebrating its sixth birthday in 2018, this two-day celebration hosts big names in hip-hop, house and pop, while also promoting new talent, musical heritage and cultural diversity.

 

Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

26 July – 26 August

Britain’s largest annual celebration of visual art, Edinburgh Art Festival attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year for a diverse and vibrant programme of exhibitions and events at the city’s galleries and museums.

 

#Upfest, Bristol, south-west England

Late July – Date TBC

Europe’s biggest, free, street art and graffiti art festival is now a firmly established annual event, attracting more than 250 cutting-edge graffiti artists from all over the world. They descend on Bristol to paint visual spectacles at various venues, resulting in 30,000 square foot of artwork over the weekend. As a family-friendly festival, kids can take part in graffiti workshops and draw on a ‘giant doodle wall’.

 

AUGUST

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

2 – 12 August

Glasgow’s cultural quarter comes to life with its annual celebration of live music, street performances, art, dance, theatre, comedy, food and drink. 

 

European Championships 2018, Glasgow, Scotland

2 – 12 August

Glasgow 2018 is part of a brand new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - plus a brand new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. At the same time, Berlin will host the European Athletics Championships.

 

Royal Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland

3 – 25 August

The world famous military extravaganza with unforgettable displays of music, ceremony, theatre and dance.

 

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south England

4 - 11 August

As one of the sailing calendar’s biggest events, Cowes Week brings together the world’s biggest sailing stars, with more than 1,000 yachts and 8,000 competitors taking part.

 

Brighton Pride, Brighton, south-east England  

Dates TBC

Britain's biggest Pride festival kick offs with the annual Pride Community Parade, a dazzling visual spectacle that sees Brighton and Hove's diverse community take to the streets in a show of unity and equality, with more than 200,000 people participating. The party carries on with The Pride Festival in Preston Park, featuring main stage entertainment, dance tents, cabaret, a funfair, a family area, and a market. The Pride Village Party brings the festivities to St James Street and the city's iconic seafront Marine Parade.

 

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

Europe's largest hot air balloon event sees more than 150 hot air balloons take to the skies at dusk and dawn from Ashton Court Estate's beautiful grounds. The free event is an incredible spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Visitors can also enjoy helicopter and balloon rides and family entertainment, including acoustic music and fairground rides.

 

Glorious Goodwood Festival, West Sussex, south England

2018 Dates TBC

Enjoy picnics, evening jazz and famous faces alongside flat racing at this small and sophisticated horseracing event held every year at the course owned by the Earl of March on his country estate near Chichester. 

 

Edinburgh Festivals, Edinburgh, Scotland

Throughout August

Edinburgh has been presenting performances of classical music, opera, theatre, dance and the visual arts from around the world each August since 1947. Since its inception, a host of other festivals – of which the best known is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – have sprung up in the city, many of them also running through much of August and into September. Indulge in all things cultural – from experimental street theatre to comedy, art and literature celebrations.

 

3 – 27 August: Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe

11 – 28 August: Edinburgh International Book Festival

26 July – 26 August: Edinburgh Art Festival

TBC: Edinburgh Mela

 

Race the Train, Tywyn, mid-Wales *Quirky*

18 August

This contest between man and machine takes place alongside, as far as practicable, the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey to Abergynolwyn and back. In order to do this, all courses use a mixture of public roads, lanes, tracks, agricultural land and rough grazing pastures.

 

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Powys, mid-Wales *Quirky*

28 August

Waen Rhydd peat bog on the outskirts of the smallest town in Britain, Llanwrtyd Wells, is home to this now world-famous event. The aim of the championships is to swim two lengths (about 115 metres) of a peaty, murky trench, which has been dug out of the Waen Rhydd peat bog, in the quickest time possible. Competitors come from as far afield as Australia, the USA and Europe as well as from Britain for the pleasure of taking part. Organised by Green Events, the novel event was originally thought up by a local pub landlord Gordon Green in 1986 in a bid to boost tourism to the area.

 

World Gravy Wresting Championships Lancashire, north-west England

Date TBC

Teams competing for this quirky title slip and slide about in lukewarm gravy, and win points for pinning the opposition down in the gloop. The event was started in 2007 and brings out the crowds in force to laugh at the proceedings, while TV cameras and the press often record it for audiences all over the world from Australia to the USA.

 

Notting Hill Carnival, London, England

25 – 27 August

London’s famous free Caribbean festival and the largest street party in Europe, with great music, outrageous floats and fabulous costumes. Hear everything from traditional steel bands, Soca and Calypso to the latest dub, drum ‘n’ bass, R&B and reggae blasting out from pumping sound systems and moving floats. Live stages also feature local bands, top international artists and sounds from around the world, plus hundreds of Caribbean food stalls.

 

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England

August – Date TBC

Every summer the beautiful Fountain Court at Somerset House hosts London's most impressive open-air cinema: Film4 Summer Screen. The series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound.

 

Piping Live! Glasgow, Scotland

August – Dates TBC

Piping Live! Brings more than 40,000 visitors and hundreds of pipe bands and soloists to Glasgow, showcasing the best piping from around the world. 

 

The Garlic Festival, Isle of Wight, south England *Quirky*

Dates TBC

Garlic ice cream, jelly beans, fudge and beer are just some of the unusual garlic-based produce that can be sampled at this unique festival. It attracts around 25,000 people and features live music and children’s entertainers alongside all the garlic!

 

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, south Wales

2018 dates TBC

Taking place in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons National Park, Green Man music festival presents a live soundtrack to four days and nights of festival magic located among the otherworldly Black Mountains.
 

V Festival, Essex and Staffordshire, central England

2018 dates TBC

V Festival is one of the year's most popular events and always attracts big commercial names to two different sites over one weekend: Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, south-east England and Weston Park in south Staffordshire, central England. Previous headliners have included the likes of Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kings of Leon, Stereophonics and Calvin Harris. 

 

Reading Festival & Leeds Festival, England

2018 dates TBC

Britain's premier rock music festival features global acts uniquely performing at both locations over three days allowing for 100,000 revellers at Reading and more than 80,000 at Leeds to experience global rock superstars, with previously headliners including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Biffy Clyro.

 

SEPTEMBER

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

1 September

Enjoy the skills of the pipers and Highland dancers and the stamina of the hill runners as well as the international athletes taking part in the heavy events. Sample contemporary Scotland with live music, top-quality arts and crafts and local food and drink at one of The Queen’s favourite annual events.

 

British Science Festival, Brighton, south-east England

2018 dates TBC

The British Science Festival is organised each year by the British Science Association to bring together hundreds of Britain’s top scientists, journalists and tens of thousands of members of the public. The Festival lasts over six days and events range from lectures and debates for adults, to hands-on activity for schools and families, to comedy, theatre and expeditions.

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion, north Wales

2018 dates TBC

Stunningly-located Festival No. 6 takes place in Portmeirion Village, where cult 60s TV show The Prisoner was filmed. As well as big-name music acts, there's entertainment of all kinds, from carnivals to comedians, as well as delicious street food to fuel the party.
 

Hull Freedom Festival, Yorkshire, north England

2018 dates TBC

Hull's annual flagship arts and culture event, the Freedom Festival, brings three days of entertainment to Yorkshire's waterfront city every September.

 

Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

Bestival consists of four days of live music and premier league DJ and is one of Britain's most colourful festivals, with dressing up encouraged and even a Roller Disco. Previous years have seen headliners such as The Cure, Sean Paul, and Hot Chip take the stage.
 

Heritage Open Days, across England

2018 dates TBC  

Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission. Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

 

Roald Dahl Day, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, south-east England

13 September

The official Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on the storyteller’s birthday, 13 September.  A number of activities and events take place at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in his home village of Great Missenden.

 

London Fashion Week, London, England

14 - 18 September

The ultimate fashion industry event, where the world’s top designers showcase their latest collections via catwalk shows, plus curated talks, designer shopping and trend presentations.

 

Jane Austen Festival, Bath, south-west England

14 – 23 September

Every year hundreds of Jane Austen fans descend on the city of Bath for one of the biggest Regency re-enactments and gatherings of Jane Austen fans in the world. Lasting for 10 days, the annual event includes theatre, music, food, a ball, workshops, readings, dances and the famous Regency Promenade.

 

London Design Festival, London, England

2018 dates TBC

This colourful annual festival has celebrated and promoted London as the design capital of the world since 2003. With the V&A Museum as its hub, the festival showcases the work of contemporary designers, architects and artists, with striking large-scale installations and events popping up around the city.

 

Great North Run Weekend, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

2018 date TBC

A series of professional and junior athletics activities on the Saturday of the Great North Run weekend has been developed over the last few years, using NewcastleGateshead Quaysides as a 'virtual arena'.

 

Egremont Crab Fair & World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, north-west England *Quirky*

2018 Date TBC

Gurning consists of contestants putting their heads through a horse collar and contorting their faces into the scariest, most grotesque, silliest expression possible! The person who gets the most applause for their ugly face wins. The event dates back to 1267, celebrating the time when the local Lord of the Manor wheeled a cart of crab apples through the village of Egremont as a goodwill gesture to the poor. Crab apples have a sharp taste and it is said the gurning competition originates from the faces the locals made when they bit into them.

 

World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland *Quirky*

2018 date TBC

Each competitor is allowed three skims using specially-selected slate skimming stones. For a skim to qualify, the stone must bounce at least three times; it is then judged on the distance achieved before it sinks. The championships were launched in 1983 and now attract more than 200 participants and many spectators, hailing from around the world.

 

Goodwood Revival, Chichester, West Sussex, south-east England

Dates TBC

Each September the famous historic Goodwood Motor Circuit recreates the golden era of its glorious heyday, bringing together the most historically significant, priceless machines, along with legendary drivers from past and present. Vintage fashion is at the heart of the event, with many visitors going to great lengths to dress in period style. Live music – from big band to jazz, and boogie-woogie to rock ‘n’ roll – all play a part in adding to the unique nostalgic atmosphere.
 

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, west Wales

September – Date TBC

The annual festival returns to celebrate the exquisite produce of some 200 food exhibitors as well as featuring master-classes from top-flight chefs, tutored tastings and food talks with food writers and critics.

 

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, south Wales *Quirky*

2018 dates TBC

Every September thousands of Elvis fans descend on the south Wales seaside town of Porthcawl for a unique celebration of The King. One of the largest Elvis events in the world, it includes a leading show for Elvis tribute artists.

 

Dundee Food and Flower Show, Dundee, Scotland

September – Date TBC

The Dundee Flower and Food Festival is the premier show of its kind in Scotland, and has developed over the years into a three-day extravaganza with a host of attractions. It is also one of Dundee’s major annual events. With over two acres of marquees set in the magnificent grounds of Camperdown Country Park, the event has developed over the years to become a high profile, popular and very successful three-day lifestyle event.

 

Last Night of the Proms & BBC Proms in the Park, Royal Albert Hall & Hyde Park, London

2018 date TBC

For a very British cultural experience, don’t miss the final night crescendo of the biggest classical music festival on earth, the BBC Proms. The legendary Last Night of the Proms is the culmination of an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral and classical music concerts taking place across London. Last Night of the Proms tickets are very popular, so plan ahead. The celebrations include BBC Proms in the Park, which take place in London’s Hyde Park.

 

OCTOBER

Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Oxfordshire, central England

October – Dates TBC

Leading writers from the fields of politics, history, food and drink, architecture and design, music, literature and society assemble at the annual literary festival at historic Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born.

 

World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England *Quirky*

October – Date TBC

The game of conkers has been a popular pastime of British schoolchildren for decades. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns in trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. The World Conker Championships are held on the village green in Ashton, Peterborough, and attract more than 300 competitors attempting to become the King or Queen of conkers. 

 

Swansea Festival of Music and Arts, Swansea, south Wales

October – Date TBC

The programme has, in the past, included performances from the Welsh National Opera, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra plus a range of arts at venues across the city.

 

Creative Mackintosh Festival, across Glasgow, Scotland

October – Date TBC

The annual Creative Mackintosh Festival celebrates acclaimed Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his architecture, design, arts and crafts in Glasgow. The events programme showcases the Mackintosh buildings and legacy, as well as focusing on Glasgow and its creativity through the work of contemporary artists. 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh’s birth, which will be commemorated by Glasgow Museums with a new exhibition of unseen works by the architect in the summer.

 

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Leicestershire, central England

2018 dates TBC

If you’ve never tried the traditional British delicacy that is a pork pie, then Melton Mowbray Food Festival is the place to go for your initiation. Now in its 14th year, it’s known as one of the top regional food events in the country. Around 200 stands showcase some of the region’s finest food and drink, alongside a Street Food area serving hot food from around the world.

 

BFI London Film Festival, Southbank, London, England

2018 dates TBC

In 2018 London will host its 62nd annual film festival organized with the British Film Institute. The event screens more than 300 films, documentaries and shorts in the capital from around 50 countries. Highlights include the world's best new films, and director and actor retrospectives. Previous A-lister guests have included Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Casey Affleck, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, and director Tom Ford.

 

Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea, south Wales

October – Date TBC

The south Wales city of Swansea, 40 miles from Cardiff, is the birthplace of arguably Wales’ greatest poets, Dylan Thomas. Each year the city hosts its annual Dylan Thomas Festival, where budding writers and artists from Wales and beyond are given the opportunity to showcase their talent.

 

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland *Quirky*

October – Date TBC

The Golden Spurtle is the annual World Porridge-Making Championship, which tasks each competitor to produce at least one pint (200ml) of porridge, divided into three portions for the judges to taste. The championship title is awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional porridge, made from oatmeal. The event includes a pipe band, cookery demonstrations and product tastings.

 

NOVEMBER

Bonfire Night, Britain-wide  

5 November

Britain’s night skies light up with blazing bonfires and sparkling fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. This unique British tradition, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night or Firework Night, celebrates the foiling of the infamous Gunpowder Plot - a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November, 1605. It’s celebrated across Britain and most towns and cities host their own bonfire nights: here are seven of the best displays.

 

London Jazz Festival, Southbank Centre, London, England

November – Date TBC

London Jazz Festival hosts world-class artists and emerging stars, packed into back-to-back concerts, workshops, talks, masterclasses and free events across London. A number of key events will take place at Southbank Centre.

 

Skate at Somerset House, London, England

November – Date TBC

Skate at Somerset House offers a complete festive experience in the capital. During the day, visitors can skate in the beautiful splendour of Somerset House’s neoclassical courtyard and, after dark, the rink hosts some of the best international clubs and festivals at exclusive Club Nights. For those looking to relax after taking to the ice, the Skate Lounge offers delicious rink-side refreshments.

 

World’s Biggest Liar, Lake District, Cumbria, north-west England *Quirky*

November – Date TBC

This annual contest is held at The Bridge Inn pub in Santon Bridge, a hamlet of the Lake District. The competition is held in honour of 19th-century Bridge Inn landlord Will Ritson, who was famous for his incredible stories. Competitors are given five minutes to impress the judges with an outrageous but convincing lie.

 

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London, England

November - January (Dates TBC)

A true family favourite, Winter Wonderland returns to London's Hyde Park with big top shows, the observation wheel and a huge Christmas market. As well as the ice rink, Winter Wonderland includes gentle rides for younger children.

 

St Andrew’s Day, across Scotland

30 November

Events celebrating the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew, take place throughout the country and, in the past, have included some of Scotland’s historic attractions offering free entry for the day.

 

DECEMBER

Christmas at Kew, London, England

2018 dates TBC

Learn to ice-skate against the picturesque background of Kew Gardens, which, each year, delivers a sparkling after-dark experience and a truly festive atmosphere.

 

The Great Christmas Pudding Race – London & Brighton, England *Quirky*

December – Date TBC

One of the wackiest races you’ll ever see, teams from schools or companies – with competitors aged from 14 to 70 – race around a 150-metre course balancing a Christmas pudding on a flimsy paper plate. They have to navigate two slippery inflatables, balloons filled with flour, jets of foam and limbo poles. To complicate things even further, they do it all in fancy dress. 

 

NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival and New Year’s Eve Carnival, north-east England

31 December

The annual New Year’s Eve Winter Carnival sees the Newcastle Ice Queen and her entourage of local community participants parading through the streets of Newcastle, culminating in an early-evening fireworks display.

 

Hogmanay, across Scotland

31 December

Hogmanay is what the Scots call New Year's Eve and the arrival of the New Year is always celebrated in style across the country. Fireworks, open-air concerts and street parties make Hogmanay Scotland’s biggest party of the year.

 

Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

31 December

This fireball ceremony is the traditional way to greet the New Year in the Aberdeenshire town of Stonehaven every year.