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.

Discover English wine at some of the UK's best vineyards

Britain is home to an incredible selection of thriving vineyards that produce deliciously tempting wines. From the greenery of Kent and Dorset to the rolling hills of Yorkshire, a visit to one of the wineries can add some sparkle to the summer in more ways than one.

English Wine Week, running from 25 May to 2 June, promotes the nation’s wine industry and will see many vineyards opening their doors to welcome visitors with tours, tastings and special offers. English Wine Tasting and Tours also operate from central London to wineries in Kent and Sussex, meaning English wine remains incredibly accessible.

With award-winning wine offerings in a number of counties, it’s time to explore Britain’s vineyards and raise a glass to a blossoming industry.

Langham, Dorset

Occupying 30 acres at Crawthorne Farm, the Langham Wine Estate takes a ‘low-intervention’ approach to its growing process in a bid to limit its environmental impact. What results is a mix of terroir-driven sparkling wines from hand-picked grapes that are processed on site. Visitors can be talked through the entire process during a two-hour guided tour and tasting. Alternatively, they can embark on a self-guided tour, before treating themselves to lunch or afternoon tea in the Vineyard Café, set in a former 19th-century milking parlour.

Rodington, Shropshire

Hidden away in the heart of picturesque Shropshire is Rodington Vineyard, a family-run 10-acre site that offers an abundance of fine wines. Their Blue Tractor Wines are internationally recognised for their quality and visitors can arrange tastings and a visit to the vineyard during its opening hours – 10am to 4pm daily (closed Wednesdays) – to find out more.

Giffords Hall, Suffolk

Renowned for its array of sparkling wine, rosés and reds, Giffords Hall in Hartest, Suffolk is set on the clay soils of a former glacial riverbed. Taking advantage of its geographic location, it produces quality grapes that are high in both natural sugars and acids – a fantastic combination for both sparkling and dry aromatic wines. Visitors can take part in private or group tours and dogs are also welcome, although they must be kept on a lead to protect the vineyard’s collection of free-roaming lambs and chicks. Grand Tours of the vineyard also take place on selected dates throughout the summer, featuring a guided tour and tasting session with 3 wines and 3 liquors.

When? Grand Tours at 11am on 6 May, 27 May, 22 June, 13 July and 26 August.

Three Choirs, Gloucestershire

With a unique microclimate that is perfectly suited to grape growing, the Three Choirs vineyard and brasserie is found amid the scenic beauty of the Cotswolds. Having first been planted in 1973, the 75-acre site near Newent is among England’s oldest vineyards and is best explored via a guided tour. Visitors can also stay among the vines in one of the luxury vineyard lodges, which offer verandas on two sides for soaking up the sun and the scenery. The Brasserie has a menu packed with country classics and plates that are designed around the seasons using fresh ingredients from the region. Booking in advance for tours and tastings is a necessity.

Camel Valley, Cornwall

Nestled in the spectacular Cornish countryside in Bodmin is Camel Valley, developed by husband and wife pair Bob and Annie Lindo. They’ve been making wine at the site for two decades and possess a Royal Warrant for their sparkling wine from the Prince of Wales. All of the wines produced at Camel Valley are sold in the onsite shop too, meaning visitors can sample the flavours even when Grand Tour tastings are fully booked. Sit back and relax on the terrace or follow the Camel Trail through the farm to the picturesque sandy beaches of Padstow. The Grand Tour details the entire process of winemaking and is accompanied by a taster session when visitors can try the highly acclaimed Cornwall Brut.

When? Grand Tours take place at 5pm on Wednesday evenings between April and October, with additional tours at the same time on Thursdays throughout August. Guided Tours also take place at 2.30pm, Monday to Friday, between April and September.

Chapel Down, Kent

Using locally sourced fruit and mirroring the Traditional Method that is used to create Champagne, Chapel Down vineyard is notorious for its still and sparkling wines. Now covering hundreds of acres of prime Kentish countryside, the vineyard is open all year round to visitors, with gift experiences, tutored tasting sessions and guided tours all available. Chapel Down supplies iconic British institutions including The Royal Opera House and No. 10 Downing Street, while its wines are also popular with leading chefs Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver. Visitors can also enjoy modern British cuisine in the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant The Swan, with its spectacular outdoor terrace that overlooks the vineyard.

When? Guided tours run throughout the year, and booking in advance is recommended.

Greyfriars, Surrey

Occupying close to 50 acres of the Surrey North Downs, Greyfriars is another vineyard that mixes traditional methods with modern wine making technology to create a delightful array of English sparkling wines. Reflecting the unique soil conditions and climate of the region, the wines have won numerous international accolades for owners Mike and Hilary Wagstaff. Tours and tastings run on most weekends, while Greyfriars also hosts open days with free entry on selected days throughout the year.

When? Open days on Saturday 8 June and Saturday 14 September 2019. Booking in advance for tours and tastings is recommended.

Hush Heath Estate and Winery, Kent

Hidden away amid scenic Kentish countryside, the Hush Heath Estate and Winery is home to the award-winning Balfour Brut Rose. Alongside the winery is a picturesque Tudor-framed manor house, glorious gardens and acres of ancient orchards and woodlands. Visitors can embark on a self-guided tour at their own pace after picking up a map from the Cellar Door, taking in the spectacular scenery and wildlife on the way before finishing up with a complimentary sample of wine, cider or beer in the tasting room. There’s an option to add more tastings for an additional fee. Tutored tasting tours, full estate tours and private group tours are also available, but must be booked in advance.

When? Tours take place all year round when the winery is open.

Kingscote, West Sussex

Developed to be a wine tasting break, Kingscote in West Sussex offers not only vineyard tours and tastings, but an all-encompassing countryside experience. The 150-acre estate is also home to Tithe Barn, a spectacular venue used for weddings and corporate events. Visitors can fish at two picturesque lakes known as Leggett Lakes or join one of the public footpaths that meander their way through the estate to discover other attractions in the 2,000-acre Kingscote Valley. Guided tours of the site take in the vines, winery, Tithe Barn and the shop and feature a tutored tasting of 2 of the vineyard’s award-winning wines. Vineyard tours with lunch or afternoon tea are also available, as well as a Gourmet Vineyard Tour option.

When? The vineyard shop is open daily from 10am to 5.30pm. Tours run from the start of April to the end of September and must be booked in advance.

Wyken Vineyards, Suffolk

With its country lanes, tall hedgerows and patchwork fields, the 1,200-acre farm of Wyken is characteristically Suffolk. The 7-acre winery, first established in 1988, produces several award-winning wines that are sold via the shop and the on-site Leaping Hare restaurant. Housed in a 400-year-old barn, the Bib Gourmand awarded restaurant serves a delightful mix of British and European dishes, while Wyken Farmer’s Market runs adjacent to the restaurant on Saturdays, selling an array of local goods, delicious food, alcohol, plants and sculpture. Visitors are encouraged to walk to the vineyard through the grounds of the estate. Alongside the Elizabethan manor house Wyken Hall there is a set of formal gardens that can also be explored.

When? The restaurant is open daily between 12pm and 3pm for lunch, and from 7pm on Friday and Saturday for dinner. The café is open from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Friday, and from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays. The Farmer’s Market runs from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. The Gardens are open daily from 2pm to 6pm but are closed on Saturdays.

Sharpen Wine and Cheese, Devon

Producing more than a dozen wines, many of which have won awards internationally, as well as unpasteurised cheeses, Sharpham offers an array of exciting tours and tastings opportunities. Visitors can explore the site overlooking the River Dart as part of a self-directed vineyard walk, or can take part in a Vine to Wine Tour that takes in the vineyard and the winery with expert guidance. The Cellar Door Kitchen, an on-site alfresco kitchen café, is open throughout the season and features local ingredients and those picked from the estate itself.

When? Vine to Wine tours run from April to October at 3pm on weekends. Booking in advance is a must.

Ryedale Vineyards, North Yorkshire

The UK’s most northerly commercial vineyard, Ryedale Vineyards is a small family-run business near Malton at the foot of the North Yorkshire Wolds. Enjoy informal tours and tastings, or relax with a stay at the small B&B at the vineyard farmhouse. The 7-acre vineyard, established in 2007, produces an array of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, as well as cider and apple juice.

When? Tours and tastings take place on selected days at 3pm between April and October, and must be booked in advance.

Rathfinny Estate, West Sussex

A relative newcomer to the English wine scene, having been founded in 2010 by husband and wife team Mark and Sarah Driver, the Rathfinny Estate occupies exceptionally beautiful countryside in the South Downs. With vines separated by rows of wildflowers, the picturesque site has glimpses of the Sussex heritage coast and features an abundance of tour opportunities. The state-of-the-art winery on the estate is capable of producing one million bottles of sparkling wine annually, a process that is explained as part of an exclusive tour and tasting experience that includes food at the site’s Tasting Room restaurant. Visitors can also stay at the Flint Barns or explore the Rathfinny Trail, a pathway that weaves its way through a mosaic of habitats, presenting numerous opportunities to spot plants, flowers and wildlife.

When? Tour, Tastings and Lunch, and Afternoon Tour and Tastings run on selected days between May and September and must be booked in advance. The Rathfinny trail is open daily, but can be closed at short notice for vineyard works.

Ten cool hotels to have on your radar in 2019

Suitcases at the ready – some fabulously cool hotels are set to open in Britain next year, each bringing their own unique vibe as they set to join the ‘hottest properties to stay at’ lists.

The Hard Rock Hotel, London

Get ready to rock – located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, the legendary Hard Rock Hotel is scheduled to open its new London property in Spring next year. With 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®, Hard Rock Hotel London will pay tribute in its memorabilia collection to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Madonna. The lobby will house its world-famous Rock Shop® featuring Hard Rock merchandise, and guests seeking the ultimate experience will have the opportunity to elevate their status and become Rock Royalty®. These luxurious Rock Royalty rooms and suites will offer extra perks including a personal concierge and access to a lavish lounge.

The DogHouse, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

Beer lovers rejoice; independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel – wittily called The DogHouse – and will launch this immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland. Set to welcome guests in the first half of 2019, the 26-room hotel will feature beer taps in the rooms, a built-in shower beer fridge, while the rooms will overlook the brewery itself. Guests will also be able to watch brewers at work from rooms overlooking the new facility.

Vineyard hotel at Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey, south-east England

If wine is more your favourite tipple, look no further than England’s largest single estate vineyard, which, come Spring 2019, will have converted its existing farmhouse accommodation into what is being billed as the UK’s first vineyard hotel. Set on the Denbies estate in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and offering panoramic views across the vineyard and North Downs Way, the new hotel will have 17 en-suite bedrooms, an Orangery-style garden restaurant, outdoor dining cabanas and its own ‘Enomatic™ wine dispensing machine’ – meaning guests can taste and purchase Denbies wine by the glass. Plus, there’ll be complimentary wine tasting tutorials. Cheers to that!

art'otel Hoxton, London

What could be cooler than staying in a hotel with its own art gallery? art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, which will be an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary hotel. As well as an art gallery located in the publicly accessible arts centre, plans are said to include a top-floor restaurant and bar and luxury spa. Another art’otel property to have on your radar is the one the hotel group is said to be opening near the historic Battersea Power Station in the new Nine Elms district, south London.

Grantley Hall, Yorkshire Dales, north England

When Spring rolls round, the doors are set to open on a new five-star luxury country resort hotel and spa, set in a grand 17th-century house on its own island! Situated between the elegant Yorkshire towns of Ripon and Harrogate, Grantley Hall is being restored to its former early 20th-century glory and guests will be able to choose from 47 rooms and suites, four restaurants, three bars, a private members club, a spa pool, state-of-the-art gym and elite performance centre. The elegance continues outside; explore gorgeous landscaped gardens, which including a 1910 Japanese Garden that features on Historic England’s National Heritage List.

Stock Exchange Hotel, Manchester, north-west England

If you’re a football fan, the newest hotel owned by Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville should be on your hotel hot list. The former footballers-turned-hoteliers are transforming Manchester’s beautiful old Stock Exchange building into a five-star boutique hotel, with 40 bedrooms, two presidential suites, two restaurants and private dining in the wine cellars for up to 100 people. The hotel is due to open in Spring 2019.

The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent, south-east England

Joining the litter of Pig Hotels, The Pig at Bridge Place in Kent is due to open in Spring. Its home is within a 17th-century manor house that may once have been the refined Bridge Place Country Club but was also host to some legendary parties and gigs in its time – Led Zeppelin even played here in the 1970s. Its 28 bedrooms will be enhanced by period features such as large fireplaces, secret stairways and panelled rooms, and there’ll be a further 12 bedrooms in its new Coach House. As with all Pigs, the kitchen garden and restaurant will be at the heart of this new property, and anything that can’t be supplied by the gardens will be sourced from the best producers within a 25-mile (40-km) radius. Also keep an eye out for another Pig opening towards the end of 2019; The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, south-west England.

Market Street Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland

Early 2019 will see Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, welcome a property from the Carlton House Collection, called Market Street Hotel. Situated on the edge of Edinburgh’s gorgeous Old Town, the historic nature of the building means lovely high ceilings and plenty of historic references, although the 98 bedrooms will be contemporary, urban-styled rooms with ante-room bathrooms. Its top floor is intriguingly being described as a ‘Champagne city residence’ and will offer wonderful vistas across the city.

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire, north-west England

Get ready for some serious indulgence as the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, welcomes an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel to the Grade I-listed architectural masterpiece The Crescent. The hotel will be part of the overall transformation of The Crescent – which originally opened in 1789 and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Britain – and guests will also have access to the splendid Assembly Rooms, a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths plus to the six prestigious retail premises along the front ground façade.

The Grand, Birmingham, central England

The chance to stay in hotels housed in some of Britain’s most iconic architectural sights continues in Birmingham, where one of the city’s best-known, Grade II-listed buildings is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool. While the hotel is scheduled to open in early 2019, several lovely bars and cafés have already set up home in the development - The Alchemist, Gusto and 200 Degrees cafe – that hotel guests will have easy access to.

Six of the best English country gardens

An English country garden is a sight to behold and there are plenty within an hour’s journey of central London that can easily be visited on a day trip. Here are just a few suggestions of some of the best late summer season gardens to visit before autumn sets in.

 

RHS Wisley, Surrey

The Royal Horticultural Society has a wonderful gem in the heart of Surrey with its gardens at Wisley – there’s a rich variety of areas to visit and it’s a garden that continues to evolve. Last year saw the opening of its new Exotic Garden, a beautiful showcase of plants with a tropical look but which can grow well outdoors in a typical British summer climate. You’ll find a dazzling array of flowers, palms and dahlias, which look their very best up until late summer. Discover pretty mixed summer borders, as well as visit the exciting, vibrant displays at the Trials Field, designed to inspire visitors and demonstrate good environmental practice. The many roses at Wisley are in stunning bloom and August is also a great month to view the vivid blues of Agapanthus. Garden lovers should put the 4-9 September in their diaries for the RHS Wisley Flower Show; expect to see a Flower Bus, Anita Nowinska’s exhibition of floral artwork and more than 100 dahlia exhibitors.

Getting there: Take the train from London Waterloo to Effingham Junction (45 minutes) then a taxi to Wisley (ten minutes).

 

National Trust Cliveden, Berkshire

The numerous, magnificent gardens of Cliveden – ranging from the Water Garden, Walled Garden, Round Garden, the Long Garden, the Parterre and all the spectacular garden sculptures – are maintained by the National Trust and are as glorious to visit in the late summer months as they are early in the season. All summer long there’s a riot of colour and scents from its Rose Garden, where more than 900 roses bloom until September. The Rose Garden was recreated just four years ago, based on an original 1950s design by famed garden designer Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, and include various elements of the gardens’ original 18th-century wilderness landscape. A lovely way to top off a trip to Cliveden’s gardens is by booking tickets to an event in its formal gardens. Bring a picnic hamper and enjoy performances ranging from a new adaptation of a David Walliams novel to a reworking of a classic Sherlock Holmes case. And while the historic Cliveden House, on the wider estate, is now a luxury hotel, you can buy a ticket for a short-guided tour available three afternoons a week until the end of October.

Getting there: Take the train from London Paddington to Bourne End, (50 minutes) then walk a pleasant two miles through countryside to Cliveden.

 

Hatfield House & Gardens, Hertfordshire

History emanates from every corner of Hatfield House, the home of the seventh Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family; the estate has been in the Cecil family for 400 years. As well as the chance to see some of the finest examples of 17th-century architecture in the country, visitors will find Hatfield’s gardens just as impressive. Explore the roses and herbaceous plants in the West Garden, designed more than 100 years ago, and the Sundial Garden that was commissioned to mark Hatfield’s 400th anniversary in 2011. It’s also a wonderful place to discover contemporary sculpture set within the gardens – the new ‘Renaissance’ water sculpture by renowned sculptor Angela Connor, sits on the North Front of the House – as well as attend performances during its summer Theatre in the Park programme. Look out for the unique event on 1 September when the Urban Soul Orchestra performs classic Ibiza anthems in this gorgeous setting.

Getting there: Take the fast train from London Kings Cross to Hatfield, (20 minutes) and walk 15 minutes from the station to Hatfield House.

 

Leeds Castle, Kent

Leeds Castle is perhaps one of the most attractive castles in England – and its gardens are just as spectacular; there’s more than 500 acres of stunning parkland and formal gardens. Its Culpeper Garden – named after the 17th-century owners of the castle – is a fine example of an English country garden, an informal layout with roses, poppies and lupins creating a wonderful colourful display. Its Woodland Garden runs alongside the River Len and is currently being redeveloped to create six magnificent individual gardens to explore. Visit in September (15-20) for its Festival of Flowers; discover floral displays inside the castle and around the rest of the grounds, all themed around ‘Ladies Day’ in 2018. Admire the creativity of award-winning floral designers, participate in floral workshops and watch specialist talks and demonstrations. Fortunately, if you like what you see, your admission ticket allows you to visit as many times as you like over 12 months, so it’s worth returning to admire the gardens in different seasons.

Getting there: Take the train from London Victoria to Bearsted (one hour) and take the coach shuttle service from the station to the castle, which runs between April and September.

 

Eltham Palace & Gardens, south-east London

Eltham Palace has an illustrious history; starting life as a medieval palace, it became a Tudor royal residence and was turned into an Art Deco mansion created by millionaires Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930s. The palace is a must-visit, yet so are its 19 acres of historic gardens, which, like the home, boast a mix of medieval features in its landscape. Late summer is all about its long herbaceous border that encircles the medieval palace, which becomes a riot of purples, yellows, blues and coppers. It’s also home to 18 different varieties of oriental poppy plus a huge assortment of peonies and clematis. Wonderful scents arise from the plentiful roses in the Rose Garden and the Rose Quadrant, which include several historic rose varieties; late summer is also the perfect time to see the wildflower meadows and colourful dahlias.

Getting there: Take the train from London Charing Cross to Mottingham (25 minutes) and then walk to the palace (ten minutes).

 

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex

Set in 360 acres of land, RHS Garden Hyde Hall was donated to the RHS in 1993 by renowned gardeners Helen and Dick Robinson and is in one of the driest parts of the UK, with an average rainfall of just 600mm. Hyde Hall's Clover Hill is a patchwork of colour, with vast swathes of grasses and herbaceous perennials flowing through its landscape. There are plenty of horticultural highlights; Hyde Hall holds the national plant collection of Viburnum, numbering around 250 accessions; the Dry Garden is one of breathtaking beauty even where there is very little rainfall. Don’t forget to visit the Global Growth Vegetable Garden, which opened last summer and features unusual fruit and vegetables from around the world. Plans for next year include the Big Sky Meadows, an ambitious planting project to create up to 50 acres of perennial meadowland.

Getting there: Take the train from London Liverpool Street to Chelmsford (30 minutes) and take a taxi or bus to Hyde Hall (20 minutes).

Six of the best: wintry National Trust walks

The National Trust is a charity that looks after some of the most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It cares for more than 2,400 square kilometres of land and more than 500 historic houses, castles, parks and nature reserves. One of the joys of the British countryside is that you can enjoy it at any time of year. Don't let lower temperatures put you off - grab a warm coat and your National Trust touring pass, and head out on a fresh wintery walk at one of these scenic spots, which display a whole new beauty in frosty or snowy conditions.

 

Box Hill, Surrey, south-east England

Approximately 30km south-west of London is Box Hill, a summit of the Surrey’s North Downs. It takes its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest slopes overlooking the River Mole. There are lots of different walks to explore, from a gentle stroll over the top of the famous hill, to a long walk down and up again, taking a well-earnt stop at a pub along the way. If it’s a white winter with a decent layer of snow, Box Hill becomes a sledging playground, with kids and adults alike hurtling down its famous slopes, and lots of enthusiastic snow fights!

 

Bath Skyline, Somerset, south-west England   

Once you’ve explored the beautiful city of Bath, a short stroll from its centre is the six-mile Skyline trail, taking you up onto the hills overlooking Bath and beyond. The route boasts magnificent views and you'll wander through history, passing an Iron Age hill fort and 18th-century follies. The path continues through meadows, ancient woodlands and secluded valleys, which look even more beautiful covered in wintery frost or a dusting of snow.

 

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire, east Midlands, England

Clumber Park is a beautiful expanse of parkland, heath and woods covering more than 3,800 acres. Although the house was demolished in 1938, there are many glimpses of its grand past to explore, including the Gothic-style chapel, often referred to as a 'Cathedral in miniature'. This gentle two-mile walking trail explores the park’s picturesque parkland, heathland, gardens and peaceful woodlands. The views of Clumber Lake – particularly from Clumber Bridge – are stunning.

 

Divis and the Black Mountain, County Antrim,  Northern Ireland   

This challenging three-mile Summit Trail takes you along the Tipperary Road through open heath, following a way marked trail to the highest peak in the Belfast Hills, Divis Mountain. Overlooking the city of Belfast below and with magnificent views of Lough Neagh, the Mourne Mountains and Strangford Lough, this is a fantastic vantage point from which to take in the magnificent scenery that Northern Ireland has to offer.

 

Dinefwr Park, Carmarthenshire, south-west Wales

Discover ancient oaks and wildlife during this scenic one-and-a-half mile route, which was designed by landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown when he visited Dinefwr in 1775. It takes you through Dinefwr deer park, which surrounds 12th-century Dinefwr Castle. Fallow deer roam the park and are often joined by a neighbouring second herd in winter. Keep a look out for majestic Newton House, and some of the park's 150 ancient trees that you'll pass; there are nearly 300 ancient trees at Dinefwr, half of them in the deer park.  

 

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire, northern England 

Discover the winter landscapes of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden with a five-mile trail that takes you through the deer park and elegant Georgian water garden. The route offers views of Ripon, the distant North York Moors and the impressive ruins of Fountains Abbey. This walk follows around the boundary of the estate, and after taking in the sights of the deer park, wander through the 18th-century water garden and past the magnificent Abbey.

Accommodation Update October 2017

 

Britain’s best awarded at the AA Hospitality Awards 2017

The AA has announced the results of its Hospitality Awards 2017, naming its industry gold-standard hotels, pubs and restaurants across Britain. 

The Gainsborough Bath Spa in the south-west took England’s top spot for its 'sophisticated and luxurious experience', while The Douneside House in Aboyne was awarded Scotland’s Hotel of the Year. The Old Inn, Bangor, took first prize for Northern Ireland, praised for its 'untold elegance and grandeur'. Twr Y Felin Hotel, St Davids, won Hotel of the Year Wales, awarded for its 'excellent design and presentation, with noteworthy attention to detail'. Hotel of the Year London went to The Goring; described as 'an icon of British hospitality', it was where Kate Middleton famously got ready for her royal wedding to Prince William.

 

LONDON

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Mandrake, Fitzrovia

Billed as one of central London’s hottest new hotels, this exotic boutique luxury setting (named after a mystical plant) has already hosted London Fashion Week parties. Five years in the making, The Mandrake’s 30 bedrooms and three suites frame a jungle-style inner courtyard of tropical plants. The interior design mixes opulent purples and reds with gold finishes, velvet, feathers, ornate chandeliers and striking artwork. The lavish Mandrake Suite and the Penthouse are sure to be Instagram favourites, the latter clad in white marble with a huge bed and a jacuzzi under a retractable roof. The hotel’s headline restaurant is Serge et le Phoque, by Michelin-starred chef Frédéric Peneau.

 

Opening October 2017: Trafalgar St. James

This classic hotel overlooking Trafalgar Square –which has hosted the likes of Tom Cruise and Nicole Scherzinger – is unveiling its modern new look since joining the Curio Collection by Hilton. A “peer panel” of young Londoners – including lifestyle blogger Lucy Freedman and DJ Doug Marshall – were appointed during the project to give their perspective on everything from furnishings to menus. Trafalgar St. James now has 131 bedrooms, the Trafalgar Dining Rooms, an underground lounge, Biblio, and a 14-cover private dining room. The rooftop bar has great views of Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery. PR contact: hshearer@thecommunicationgroup.co.uk

 

Opening October 2017: The Pilgrm, Paddington

New design hotel The Pilgrm focuses on pared-back urban chic with a vintage touch. There is no lobby or reception desk – instead, guests will be able to check in online. The ground floor café will provide a welcome area, plus a lounge bar and dining room. Interiors showcase the building’s 200-year-old parquet flooring, as well as cast-iron radiators and a “cloud carpet”. The hotel’s 73 rooms come in four sizes: ‘bunk’ (two single beds), small, medium and large. PR contact: Alexandra Berry a.berry@gemmabellandcompany.com

 

Opening October 2017: New Road Hotel, Whitechapel, east London

With its “Everything you need, nothing you don’t” promise, New Road Hotel focuses on stylish stripped-back luxury. Owned by three brothers, the 80-bedroom boutique hotel has been built on the site of an old textile factory where their father once worked. The interiors reflect this heritage, and quirky touches include a rooftop Eco Shed and the Loft + Hot Tub room, with views of London’s skyline. The hotel’s restaurant is by Marco Pierre White, and other features include a fitness studio and social areas where guests can enjoy live music, games and a library.

 

Opening early 2018: Vintry & Mercer, Cannon Street, City of London

Located in London’s historic trading centre near St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard, forthcoming 92-bedroom hotel Vintry & Mercer is named after two of the City’s historic professions: vintners, who traded fine wines, and mercers, who sold fine silks. Both trades will be reflected in the hotel’s design. For food and drink, there will be Vintry Kitchen, serving Mediterranean food; rooftop Mercer Terrace; and DND, (Do Not Disturb), an underground cocktail bar.

 

Long-lead

 

Date TBC: Marylebone Lane hotel, Marylebone, central London

A brand new luxury 206-bedroom, nine-storey hotel operated by Shiva Hotels is planned for Marylebone. The proposed hotel will have a spa, swimming pool, café and club lounge.

 

2020: The Hoxton, Shepherd's Bush, west London

Subject to planning permission, the capital will be getting another stylish Hoxton hotel in west London. The new 214-bedroom property will join sister hotels already open in London (Shoreditch and Holborn), and Amsterdam.

 

2020: Raffles Hotels & Resort London, Westminster, central London

One of London’s most significant historic buildings, the Old War Office – once the office of Winston Churchill, and sections of the British secret service – is being transformed into a 125-room luxury hotel by Raffles Hotels & Resorts. It will be the company’s first property in Britain, and rooms will include 50 suites and 88 private residences.

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Now open: The English Grill at The Rubens at the Palace, Westminster, central London

The Rubens at the Palace has opened its new restaurant as part of a five-year, multi-million pound refurbishment. The English Grill’s menu includes a daily roast, carved from a silver trolley at diners’ tables.

 

Opening November 2017: The Coral Room bar at Bloomsbury Hotel, central London

As part of a major refurbishment of the 153-room Bloomsbury Hotel, its new Coral Room bar will be unveiled in November alongside the hotel’s redesigned public spaces. PR contact: chloe.davison@ttc.com

 

SCOTLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

Following a top-to-toe refurbishment, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square (formerly The Roxburghe Hotel) has re-opened its doors. One of Edinburgh’s oldest hotels, it’s hosted A-list Hollywood actors and is made up of seven inter-connecting Georgian townhouses in the city’s New Town. The concierge still wears a kilt and vintage red post boxes in the new lobby collect post daily. The 199 elegantly refurbished bedrooms (including 18 suites) are designed with Scottish accents and earthy colours. There is informal all-day-dining at The Garden, and eastern Mediterranean cuisine at BABA restaurant, opening in November. PR contact: georgie.griffiths@theprincipalhotel.com

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Opened September 2017: Sleeperz Hotels, Edinburgh

Budget operator Sleeperz Hotels has launched a new wing at its Cityroomz Edinburgh hotel, accessible via Princes Street. The 43 new bedrooms include superior doubles, family and cabin rooms, as well as ten suites. Flooring in the suite bathrooms is printed with a city street map of Edinburgh. Sleeperz will also be opening a 120-bedroom hotel in Dundee in 2018 opposite the new V&A Museum. PR contact: matthew@honeypotmedia.co.uk

 

Now open: Cameron House, Loch Lomond

Cameron House, the five-AA-star, luxury 36-bedroom resort set on the banks of Loch Lomond, has completed the final phase of its multi–million pound refurbishment. Its new-look rooms and suites have Scotland-inspired features, such as contemporary tartan and handmade leather sleigh beds. The hotel has also announced the launch of its new Cameron Kids offering, treating little ones to their own slice of luxury during their stay.

 

Summer 2018: Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh

Work has started on a 52-bedroom expansion of Ten Hill Place hotel. Owned by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, hotel profits go back into the college.

 

WALES

 

Long-lead

 

2021: Afan Valley Adventure Resort, Port Talbot, south Wales

Plans have been submitted for a new 480-acre adventure resort in south Wales, which will have a 100-bedroom hotel and spa, plus 400 luxury lodges, and adventures zones, bars, restaurants and retail outlets. The proposed Afan Valley Adventure Resort site is just south of Afan Forest Park. There are plans for five main ‘zones’: Forest, Xtreme, Trails, Zen and Alpine, the last of which will include three different ski slopes. The resort will also be home to the Bear Grylls Survival Academy – a series of challenges and endurance courses designed by the TV survival expert. Other activities will include ice skating, Segway tours, indoor skydiving and surfing, ‘ninja warrior’ training, go-karting, forest zip wires, paintballing and mountain biking. Watch the action-packed teaser film here.

 

SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened August 2017: Beaverbrook, Surrey

The former country home of press baron and politician Lord Beaverbrook has opened as the luxurious Beaverbrook hotel, following a multi-million pound transformation. Just 19 miles from London, the hotel is surrounded by 400 acres of privately owned countryside. Designed by Soho House interiors guru Susie Atkinson, the interiors exude classic opulence, featuring four-poster beds and rich fabrics. Each of the hotel’s 18 rooms and suites have been named after one of the estate’s famous former guests, which include Winston Churchill, James Bond author Ian Fleming, Elizabeth Taylor, and Charlie Chaplin. The hotel also has an Art Deco-style cinema, the glamorous Parrot Bar, a cookery school, and a Japanese restaurant, The Dining Room, headed up by top ex-Nobu chef Taiji Maruyama. By the end of the year the hotel will also have a spa with swimming pools, a hammam and a sauna. PR contact: gemma@gp-associates.com

 

Opened August 2017: Hog Deer Creek, Kent

This summer, Kent safari park Port Lympne Reserve opened its latest accommodation, Hog Deer Creek. The five luxury shepherd huts are designed for couples or families, and located within the park’s Asian Experience, so guests’ neighbours will include roaming Asian animals such as Sambar deer.

 

Opened September 2017: Piggledy Tree House, South Downs National Park

This new four-bed treehouse looks like a forest dwelling straight from the pages of a fairy tale. Designed for adults and kids alike, The Piggledy Tree House is located in Blackberry Wood at the foot of the South Downs National Park near Brighton, and comes with a kitchen and a balcony. Owner Tim fulfilled a childhood dream by building the treehouse, which took three years to complete.

 

Opening March 2018: Room 2, Southampton

Room 2 has confirmed details of its second design-led aparthotel in Southampton, due to open next year. Its 71 studio rooms will feature nautical-inspired designs and come in three sizes: little, regular and large.

 

Long-lead

 

2020: Malmaison, Bournemouth

Next year work will begin on a 100-bedroom Malmaison hotel in the coastal town of Bournemouth. Expected to take around two years to build, the new hotel will include a Chez Mal bar and brasserie, a rooftop bar and terrace overlooking the seafront, a gym, a swimming pool, and beauty rooms.

 

WEST MIDLANDS

 

Long-lead

Autumn 2018: Hawkstone Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Hawkstone Hall, a Georgian country mansion in Shropshire, is being transformed into a 40-bedroom hotel and wedding venue. Refurbishment of the main hall and 12 suites will be complete in summer 2018. By autumn, all works are due to be complete, resulting in a total of 40 suites and bedrooms.

 

SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

Refurbs & expansions

 

Re-opened July 2017: De Vere Tortworth Court, Gloucestershire

Victorian countryside mansion De Vere Tortworth Court is now open following its £5-million pound restoration, which has resulted in 11 spacious new suites, bringing the total number of guestrooms and suites in the main house to 55. All of the bedrooms have been refurbished to reflect modern British heritage, incorporating leather, tweed and linen. The largest suite, The Kipling, includes a dining table for six guests and a lounge that can be connected to The Paxton, to form a family suite that spans 129 square metres, overlooking the formal gardens.

 

Opened August 2017: Luxury sea-view suites at Lewinnick Lodge, Cornwall

Lewinnick Lodge has added six new suites to its cliff-top B&B hotel on Pentire Headland, close to Newquay’s Fistral Beach – widely regarded as England’s surfing capital. Each of the rooms has 180-degree coastal views, super-king beds, DAB radios, Bluetooth speakers, smart TVs, homemade biscuits and organic toiletries.

 

YORKSHIRE

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened July 2017: Swinton Country Club & Spa, North Yorkshire

The Good Spa Guide has awarded Swinton Estate’s new Country Club & Spa a five-bubble rating just two months after opening. The new club has a 10-metre outdoor natural water swimming pool and a hot tub, and the fitness team incorporate outdoor activities from the wider estate, such as running, cycling and outdoor yoga. The old Estate Gardener’s cottage has been transformed into a suite of beauty rooms, with signature treatments including the Elemis Garden of England Rose Restore Wrap.

 

Long-lead

 

2019: Bretton Hall, Wakefield, west Yorkshire  

Historic Georgian mansion house Bretton Hall is being transformed into a luxury 120-bedroom hotel and ‘creative campus’, set within 500 acres of landscaped gardens and parkland adjacent to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). The property’s redevelopment will include two theatres, a seminar space, exhibition area and conferencing facilities, with further accommodation, work and educational spaces planned for future phases.

 

Date TBC: Malmaison, York

Malmaison hotel chain will be opening a new site in York after being granted planning permission earlier this year. The new hotel will have 160 bedrooms and suites, as well as its Chez Mal Bar and Brasserie for cocktails and dining. Malmaison currently has hotels in 15 cities across Britain, including Leeds and Manchester.

 

NORTH-WEST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

2018: Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool

A 100-bedroom hotel in honour of Everton footballer Dixie Dean is due to open in Liverpool city centre next year, opposite The Shankly hotel, which similarly celebrates Scottish footballer and manager Bill Shankly (the two men were great friends). The Dixie Dean Hotel will have restaurants, bars and an events space, and showcase memorabilia from the footballer’s career.

 

Long lead

 

Date TBC: Manchester Moxy

Planning permission has been granted for a 145-bedroom Moxy hotel in Manchester’s Spinningfields district. Moxy is Marriot International’s millennial-focused boutique hotel concept, and the new hotel will join one other in London. There are plans for seven more in pipeline, located in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Southampton, Bristol and York.

 

Date TBC: Re-opening of Trafford Park hotel, Manchester

The Trafford Park hotel, built in 1902, is being refurbished and relaunched under an international boutique brand after being derelict for eight years. Plans include an additional wing, which will expand the total bedroom count to 120.

 

Summer 2019: Zetter Hotel, London Road Fire Station, Manchester

Manchester's historic London Road Fire Station is being developed by London-based boutique hotel brand The Zetter Group. The new hotel will be the group’s first in Manchester, and will have on-site restaurants and bars.

 

NORTH-EAST ENGLAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

Opened September 2017: The Cookie Jar, Alnwick, Northumberland

Deborah Cook, wife of the former chief executive of Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and De Vere Hotels, has opened her first solo venture, a luxury boutique hotel overlooking Alnwick Castle. The Cookie Jar has 11 bedrooms and offers quirky treats such as freshly baked cookies and milk. It has initially opened as a bed and breakfast operation, serving coffees, teas and sharing plates from the bar – but there are plans for a restaurant in the near future.

 

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

New and upcoming openings

 

September 2017: Titanic Hotel Belfast

Northern Ireland’s much-anticipated luxury Titanic-themed hotel is now open on the site of the former headquarters of Harland & Wolff, shipbuilders of the Titanic over 100 years ago. The 119-bedroom Titanic Hotel Belfast is sister hotel to the Titanic Hotel in Liverpool. The interior design includes nautical touches, models of the iconic ship, and old photographs. The hotel’s dining room has views of the slipway where the Titanic was built, and art deco-inspired suites give impressive views of the Belfast Titanic building and the entire Titanic Quarter. There are also corporate and entertainment spaces available for events and conferences. PR contact: jane.williams@jcomms.co.uk

 

Long-lead

 

June 2018: Grand Central Hotel, Belfast  

Work is starting on what will be Belfast’s largest hotel development, the 304-bedroom Grand Central Hotel, Belfast.

 

June 2018:  George Best Hotel, Belfast

The developer of The Shankly Hotel in Liverpool (themed around Liverpool Football Club's legendary Scottish player and manager) is building a new 80-bedroom hotel in Belfast, named after and inspired by Manchester United and Northern Ireland football legend, George Best.

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.

2018 Michelin-starred restaurants list announced

Taste buds at the ready! The Michelin Guide has announced its 2018 list of restaurants in Britain and Ireland awarded with prestigious Michelin stars. The accolade is widely regarded as the hallmark of fine dining, and the most sought-after honour for many chefs

 

Britain’s food scene has long held plenty of the prestigious stars, and the 2018 list brings the total of Michelin-starred restaurants to 175. This comprises five restaurants with three Michelin stars, 20 with two stars and a total of 150 with one star, including 17 new ones.

 

Click here for a full rundown 2018 Michelin Guide list. Here are the highlights:

 

  • London has gained one new three-star restaurant, one new two-star restaurant, and six new one-star restaurants. This brings the total number of 2018 Michelin-starred restaurants in the capital to 70, comprising three restaurants with three stars, nine restaurants with two stars – including new entry Bibendum, in Chelsea – and 58 restaurants with one star.

 

  • The Araki, a sushi restaurant in London’s Mayfair with just nine seats, was the only new restaurant to gain three Michelin stars, increasing the number of Britain’s three-starred restaurants to five – the most the guide can award.

 

 

  • No London restaurants have lost stars in the 2018 guide, and six more gained one star. This included two Indian restaurants – Mayfair’s Jamavar and Chelsea’s Vineet Bhatia – along with modern Chinese restaurant A Wong and Nordic restaurant Aquavit (both in Victoria), City restaurant Le Dame de Pic, and Elystan Street in Kensington.

 

 

 

  • Northern Ireland has retained its two Michelin stars – for Eipic and Ox, both in Belfast.

 

 

Looking for more foodie inspiration? Check out VisitBritain’s Food is GREAT content guide.