48 Hours in… Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate

Looking for a super-cool retro vibe from beach destinations that are just 1.5 hours by train from London? Dotted along the coast of south-east England are three captivating beachside towns that have reinvented themselves into stylish destinations over the last few years – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. In this coastal corner of Kent, known as the Isle of Thanet, you’ll find a buzzing contemporary arts and culture scene married with quirky attractions, elegant Regency squares combined with maritime history, all packaged together with that quintessential British seaside charm.

 

Time to check in:

This is an area of Kent that boasts a raft of gorgeous guesthouses and B&Bs, each with their own unique character, many influenced in style by the area’s rich history, and all within various price ranges. For a touch of luxury, check out Bleak House Broadstairs; not only can you visit eminent author Charles Dickens' study and the smuggling museum, you can stay in rooms such as ‘Fagin’s Superior Double’ (no pickpockets here though!) or the David Copperfield suite. Elsewhere, Broadstairs’ Yarrow Hotel is housed in a 16th-century building now designed with all the comforts of a luxury boutique hotel, while in Margate, the Reading Rooms boutique B&B is housed in a building dating back to the 1760s; its décor is contemporary yet boasts original floor-to-ceiling windows and polished antique floorboards. Margate’s pretty Sands Hotel captures those stunning sea views perfectly, easily enjoyed as you sip cocktails on its own roof terrace. Sea views are also guaranteed at charming boutique hotel Albion House Ramsgate – and it also overlooks the only Royal Harbour in England.

 

Day One

09:00 EMBRACE CONTEMPORARY ART

Not only are the exhibits at Turner Contemporary exceptional, this gallery is well worth visiting for the building alone. It’s an architectural highlight of the Kent coast, flooded with natural light and is a fitting tribute to Victorian artist JMW Turner, who loved Margate. Until the end of September 2018 you’ll have the chance to catch a major exhibition, Animals & Us, examining how artists’ view the relationship between humans and other animals.

 

11:00 EXPLORE A MYSTERIOUS UNDERGROUND ATTRACTION

Just a ten-minute stroll from the gallery is another of Margate’s works of art, but one that couldn’t be more different. The Shell Grotto is a subterranean passageway 21 metres long adorned with 4.6 million shells laid out in a myriad decorative patterns. One of the most intriguing things about it, since its discovery in 1835, is nobody knows who put it there and why. Let your imagination wonder about its mysterious history!

 

13:00 FEAST ON THE FINEST SEAFOOD

Seafood is as fresh as it gets in Margate – and café Hantverk & Found is all about serving the local produce. Find local delicacies such as rock oysters and Rye Bay scallops on its menu, as well as tagliatelle with sea urchin, all washed down with a glass of wine from its range of natural and organic wines.

 

15:00 FIND ALL THE FUN OF THE RETRO-STYLE FAIR

One of the most significant reinventions in Margate over the last few years is Dreamland amusement park, based on the idea of a traditional British seaside fair. When you’ve whooped and laughed your way through rides such as rollercoasters and swing boats, and immersed yourself in the interactive art installations, strap on some roller boots and hit the retro roller disco. Dreamland is a fun way to spend the afternoon whatever your age, while the evenings here are packed with live music and DJ sets for over 18s.

 

19:00 SIP STYLISH COCKTAILS

After an afternoon of fairground fun, take the short six-minute walk from Dreamland to the Clockwork Cocktail Company, for a well-deserved Perk-Up Martini or Satan’s Whiskers in this cool cocktail bar that describes itself as ‘Steampunk/neo-Victorian style’.

 

20:00 BUY THE INGREDIENTS FROM YOUR DINNER

Stylishly contemporary interiors greet diners at The Old Post Office restaurant, a couple of minutes’ walk from your cocktail spot, which is passionate about featuring locally grown and sourced produce on its menus. And, if you like what you ate, you can buy the produce at its delicatessen, stocked to the brim with treats from around Kent.

 

Day Two

09:00 HEAD OUT TO SEA

A great way to brush off the cobwebs from a late night in Margate is to embark on a brisk hour’s walk to the nearby town of Broadstairs and straight to the Joss Bay Surf School. The beautiful bay – fringed by the Georgian facades of the town – is a popular Kent surf spot and the surf school also offers Stand-Up Paddleboarding.

 

11:00 DISCOVER DICKENSIAN CULTURE

Easily venture from sport activity to cultural activity in this town, as you head to the Dickens House Museum. Charles Dickens was a regular visitor to Broadstairs over 22 years of his life and the museum is housed in the cottage said to be the inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield. View fascinating Dickensian artefacts such as his writing box, letters he penned and early editions of his novels.

 

13:00 INDULGE IN ICE CREAM FOR LUNCH!

Since 1932 Morellis Gelato on Broadstairs seafront has been serving customers a huge range of delicious flavours of its famous ice-cream, where fresh gelato is made in store daily. Enjoy these creamy treats among the parlour’s funky 1950s décor, which includes its original soda fountain, pink leatherette seating and juke box.

 

15:00 WALK ANCIENT TRAILS AND TUNNELS

Join Kent’s Viking Coastal Trail between Broadstairs and neighbouring town Ramsgate and walk along the beautiful coastline between the two towns – it’s a pleasant 40-minute walk on this part of the trail. When you arrive in Ramsgate – which made its name as a favoured seaside retreat in the 18th and 19th centuries and where much of the elegant Georgian architecture still stands – head to the Ramsgate Tunnels. Take a tour of this fascinating civilian wartime tunnel network, the largest in Britain, for a feel of what life was like for the citizens of Ramsgate during World War Two.

 

17:00 DRINKS IN THE MARINA

Soak up the atmosphere in Ramsgate’s picturesque marina, that borders a busy Royal Harbour, with pre-dinner drinks at one of the marina’s bars – a great spot for yacht-watching – such as Enoteca or 26 Harbour Street. Keep an eye on the time…Ramsgate boasts its own Meridian Line and is five minutes and 41 seconds ahead of GMT!

 

19:00 DINE WHILE OVERLOOKING HARBOUR VIEWS

Even if you’re not staying at Albion House, you can dine at its restaurant Townley’s; admire the fine views from its windows over the harbour and enjoy formal dining in its elegant Georgian dining room as you order from menus that reflect the seasons and use local produce.

7 British festivals foodies you should visit in 2018

Let the British food festival season begin! Come for the amazing food and world-renowned chefs and stay for those extra twists that deliver true British style. We pick seven to have on your radar this summer.

 

Pub in the Park, various locations

When and Where: Bath, south-west England (8-10 June), Tunbridge Wells, south-east England (6-8 July), Knutsford, Cheshire, north-west England (7-9 September)

Why: There’s nothing quite as quintessentially British as the pub and world-renowned chef Tom Kerridge – owner of the first pub, the Hand and Flowers, to be awarded two Michelin stars – is bringing the pub, first-class food and music to the great outdoors this summer. Sample dishes from top British pubs, including the Hand and Flowers and Tom’s other Michelin-starred pub The Coach, while dancing the night away to Razorlight, Jamie Cullum and KT Tunstall.

Getting there: Bath can be reached in 1.5 hours by train from London, Tunbridge Wells in one hour and Knutsford in three hours.

 

Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall

When: 26-29 July

Where: Port Eliot estate, St Germans, Cornwall, south-west England

Why: There’s plenty of chefs, stalls, locally-sourced and sustainable produce, international food and cookery demonstrations here that celebrate the rich and diverse food culture of Cornwall and south-west England. Yet as the festival is located in stunning 6,000 acres of countryside it’s a perfect opportunity to indulge in unforgettable outdoor activities, from wild swimming to foraging walks. This year’s food-demo focus concentrates on up-close-and-personal experiences in the estate’s centuries-old Big Kitchen and the Open Fire Stage. Oh, and there’s a baking masterclass with Desperate Housewives and Superman star Teri Hatcher.

Getting there: take a direct train from London to St Germans, which takes just under four hours.

 

Foodies Festival Edinburgh

When: 3-5 August

Where: Inverleith Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

Why: Because you’ve always wanted to take part in cream-pie throwing, chilli eating and cheese-stretching competitions! Quirky activities aside, this touring festival (which travels to six other British destinations) brings everything a foodie could ask for to a festival, from Kombucha workshops to Prosecco and Parmesan masterclasses, artisan and street food stalls, a Gin Station and a Tequila Shack. Plus, you’ll see top bands such as The Hoosiers and Toploader perform.

Getting there: The park is a ten-minute taxi or bus ride from Edinburgh city centre.

 

Isle of Wight Garlic Festival

When: 18-19 August

Where: Sandown, Isle of Wight, south England

Why: Ever fancied trying garlic fudge? Or how about sampling garlic popcorn or ice cream? The Isle of Wight, off the coast of south England, is famous for its garlic so it makes perfect sense for the island to host an entire festival to the ‘stinking rose’. Find out just how good garlic is for health, learn various ways to cook with it and how best to grow it. A new theatre kitchen has launched for this year where cooking demonstrations will take place and the whole charm of the festival is further boosted with live music, art, craft and food stalls, a huge funfair and children’s entertainers.

Getting there: Take the 45-minute ferry crossing to Fishbourne from Portsmouth Harbour (2 hours from London by train).

 

The Big Feastival, Cotswolds

When: 24-26 August

Where: Alex James Farm, Kingham, Cotswolds, central England

Why: Launched by Alex James of Britpop legends Blur, and taking place on his Cotswolds farm, The Big Feastival has earned its place as one of the food festivals to visit, thanks to both its impressive line-up of top chefs – which this year includes Marco Pierre White, Raymond Blanc, Mark Hix and Pierre Koffman – and stellar musical talent. Cheese is a big draw for this festival (Alex James makes his own); cheese lovers should head to the double-decker cheese hub with its award-winning artisan cheeses and all-day cocktail bar, and – new for 2018 – The Cheese Bar and The Cheese Truck where you can feast on huge stacks of British cheeseboards and grilled cheese sandwiches. When you’ve eaten your fill, dance off the calories to music from Basement Jaxx, Craig David, and Paloma Faith.

Getting there: The nearest train station is Kingham, 1.5 hours from London

 

Great British Food Festival, Wiltshire

When: 25-27 August

Where: Bowood House, Wiltshire, south-west England

Why: It’s a foodie paradise set in the grounds of a beautiful English stately home in the heart of the Cotswolds. Another touring festival, the Great British Food Festival comes to the breathtaking Bowood House, which gives visitors the opportunity to team a love for food with a love for history. Along with talks, stalls and cooking demonstrations, there’s also the chance to take part in some quirky British challenges – why not see if you can beat the record of eating a 74.5 inch sausage followed by a pint of cider in less than six minutes six seconds!

Getting there: the train takes just over an hour from London to Chippenham; Bowood House is then a 15-minute taxi ride from there.

 

Abergavenny Food Festival, Wales

When: 15-16 September

Where: Abergavenny, south Wales

Why: Set in a pretty medieval market town, this is one of Britain’s most well-established food festivals – 2018 marks the 20th year since the first took place –– and it’s a great festival to visit for combining a passion for food with a sense of adventure. There’s a diverse selection of forages and tours operating as part of the festival, taking advantage of the bountiful Welsh countryside. Forage for seafood or for gin botanicals or book onto tours of nearby vineyards and distilleries. The popular ‘Cooking Over Fire’ area will return to the town’s historic castle featuring Hang Fire BB, while the demo stage will host Welsh chef legends such as the Michelin-starred chef Gareth Ward from Ynyshir Hall, and James Sommerin from his eponymous restaurant in Penarth, Cardiff.

Getting there: Trains take 2.5 hours from London to Abergavenny or 45 minutes from Cardiff.

 

Topic tags:

Food & Drink

Festivals

Heritage

Culture

Location tags:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South-east England

60 minutes from… Manchester

A city of culture, sport, music, history, creativity and diversity, Manchester in north-west England  should be on the must-visit list of any traveller to Britain; plus it’s one of the key gateways into the destination. It’s also in an enviable location, which means that journeying just an hour by train or car outside the city will lead you to a realm of ancient cities and spa towns, beautiful beach resorts, stately homes, unique countryside and bohemian heartlands – all perfect to visit on a day trip from Manchester.

 

Buxton, Derbyshire
Renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, the stately Crescent, which is being transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel, due to open in 2019, is a must-see. Buxton also boasts an impressive repertoire of festivals. This summer stop by for the open-access arts festival, the Buxton Fringe Festival, plus the Buxton Military Tattoo, and the Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature.

 

Liverpool, Merseyside
2018 is a huge year for Liverpool as it celebrates ten years since it was named European City of Culture 2008 and welcomes Britain’s largest celebration of contemporary art during the Liverpool Biennial, when artworks by 40 artists from 22 countries will be showcased for free across the city…all just 30 minutes by train direct from Manchester. There are a myriad of attractions to enjoy, from The Beatles Story and The Cavern (why not visit during the International Beatle Week Festival in August?) to contemporary art gallery Tate Liverpool and maybe cheer your football heroes on at a Premiere League football match at either Liverpool FC or Everton FC.

 

Southport, Merseyside
Miles of magnificent beaches greet you at Southport, a pretty coastal resort where you can kite surf, climb sand dunes, stroll along its historic pier or follow one of the town’s historic trails. Take a trip to Crosby Beach, which is home to Anthony Gormley’s art installation Another Place, 100 iron men standing looking out to sea. The area is also part of the UK’s ‘golfing capital’ – tee off at the prestigious Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport or travel 15 minutes’ from town to several more championship courses.

 

Chester, Cheshire
Wherever you walk in Chester, you can feel its rich history pulsating through its buildings, its city walls – the most complete city walls remaining in the UK – and its attractions. Here you can visit Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre, walk through 700 years of history while shopping in the Rows galleries, enjoy race days at Britain’s oldest racecourse and visit one of Britain’s largest zoos, Chester Zoo, where you can meet 21,000 animals and experience its passion for conservation.

 

Peak District, Derbyshire

The nearest part of the picturesque Peak District National Park to Manchester is packed with dramatic landscapes of high moorland plateaus – travel further south in the park to discover a diverse landscape of hills and dales – which makes for great walking territory. The Peak District is also home to charming villages and attractive market towns and, if you travel just 90 minutes from Manchester, you can visit some of the loveliest stately homes in the country, such as the grand Tudor Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House; when the house reopened in March the wraps came off a major long-term, £32.7 million restoration programme.

 

You might also like:

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, for its creative vibe generated from the influence of writers and artists, cute galleries and independent shops, all set near valleys and heather moorland. Come for the summer’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Tatton Park, Cheshire, for its neo-classical mansion, 1,000 acres of deer park, collection of fine art, as well as walks through the huge gardens, plus the many events held here every year. Come in July for its Food Festival and RHS Flower Show. 

Blackpool, Lancashire, for its traditional English seaside resort attractions, the stunning Blackpool Illuminations and the iconic Blackpool Tower. Come this summer as the town celebrates the 250th anniversary of the circus with a series of special events.

Lake District National Park, Cumbria, for the sheer beauty of its landscapes. Parts are reachable from Manchester within 60-90 minutes so is still manageable for a day trip. Explore the lovely town of Kendal in the south of the Lake District National Park, before heading for a walk on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England and just nine miles from Kendal.

8 reasons why Newcastle and the North East are hot right now

The spotlight is shining brightly on Newcastle Gateshead this summer; Rough Guides declared it the top place to visit in 2018 and an epic 80-day exhibition – Great Exhibition of the North – showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England is coming to town. A visit to the city - just three hours from London and 1.5 hours from Edinburgh by train - also means you’re in easy distance of some of north-east England’s coolest and most intriguing spots to visit.

 

Great Exhibition of the North

A major highlight in the cultural calendar, Great Exhibition of the North opens with a ceremony on 22 June at the Gateshead Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the exhibition run, which takes place between 22 June – 9 September, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions: The Get North Art Trail, Get North Design Trail and Get North Innovation Trail. Discover all that is ground-breaking about this part of England and visit iconic venues around Newcastle Gateshead, from the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art to Sage Gateshead.

 

A foodie paradise

With a spate of new restaurant openings, Michelin-star restaurants, comforting street food and everything in between, the city and the surrounding areas are a must-visit for any foodie. For a romantic date or a special celebratory treat, the two-Michelin-star House of Tides fits the bill, while the Quayside has welcomed Dobson & Parnell, with its focus on fine-dining British cuisine and Gateshead has seen the opening of Lola Jeans, which features a menu ‘from barn to board’ and an inspired cocktail list. Check out the neighbourhood of Jesmond for new eateries such as Cal’s Own for Brooklyn-style pizza pie.

 

The hottest nightlife

There’s no party quite like a party in Newcastle Gateshead, a city packed with friendly pubs, stylish cocktail bars, clubs playing the hottest DJ sets and music venues catering to every taste, resulting in its well-deserved reputation as one of England’s best party cities… and one that keeps evolving. Hit the newest hotspots such as Wylam Brewery’s Palace of Arts, where you can catch live music and street food events while enjoying its unique craft beers. For quirky surroundings with your cocktails, head to Alvinos with its array of pinball machines and vintage vinyl records or, for an awesome selection of gin, spend the evening at Pleased To Meet You where you’ll find more than 100 behind the bar.

 

Cool neighbourhoods

Yes, Newcastle’s city centre is bursting with hot bars and stylish restaurants but its hip neighbourhoods of Ouseburn and Jesmond are well worth a visit. Ouseburn is regarded as the birthplace of the industrial revolution in Newcastle and has grown into a creative hotspot over the last few years. Check out England’s largest independent art, craft and The Biscuit Factory for independent art, craft and design gallery, stop by Hoults Yard for live theatre, music festivals and art exhibitions and spend the evening at cool music venue The Cluny. Jesmond has a more elegant vibe, its streets studded with Victorian terraced houses and home to a fantastic range of bars, restaurants and boutique shops. Pack a picnic and head to Jesmond Dene in the summer months, a stunning local beauty spot.

 

Instagrammable landmarks

Sir Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North stands at 20 metres high and 54 metres wide and is an outstanding piece of public art. Dominating the Gateshead landscape, stand at the feet of this impressive statue – itself a symbol of pride in north-east England – for an unmissable photo. Marking its 20th anniversary this year will be a range of special events; look out for pop-up #Angel 20 activities and workshops at Gateshead venues.

 

Nearby natural beauty

Sometimes you need a breather from the bright lights – easily found by heading 45 minutes out of town to Northumberland National Park. Come here for its Dark Sky Reserve, for Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a bracing walk or gentle cycle through more than 400 square miles of gorgeous countryside scenery. Newcastle is also close to the Northumberland coast – and what a coast it is! Some of the best beaches in Britain are found here, fringed by impressive backdrops. Check out Bamburgh Castle Beach or Cresswell Beach for unmissable sights of sweeping stretches of sandy beaches that go on for miles.

 

A city of contrast

Just a 12-minute train journey from Newcastle but with a completely different vibe, Durham is one of the most picturesque cities in Britain. A magnificent cathedral and castle dominate the skyline of this city that has its own coastline and countless historical sites and events, including the spectacular Kynren. This ‘Epic Tale of England’ (30 June – 15 September 2018) is an all-action blockbuster show travelling through 2,000 years of history and legend, with 1,000 cast and crew.

 

Living history

North-east England is an area bursting with heritage and history but one of the region’s great skills is bringing that history to life for contemporary audiences. Less than a half-hour drive south of Newcastle, Beamish Outdoor Museum, which tells the story of the region in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s, offers compelling workshops such as driving a steam engine or cooking 1940s-style. And, this summer at Alnwick Castle – 45 minutes-drive north of Newcastle and seen on screen in both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Downton Abbey – is hosting a range of experiences, from Wizarding Week and Medieval Week to a Knight’s Week and a Napoleonic Skirmish.

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

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

 

If you like – art and design

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

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

Open: 15 September

 

If you like – sculpture

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

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

Open: Summer 2018

 

If you like – great feats of engineering

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

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

Open: Now

 

If you like – classic ceramics

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

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

Open: May 2018

 

If you like – maritime history

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

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

 

If you like – Welsh history

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

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

Open: Now, and throughout 2018

 

If you like – WWII history

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

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

Open: Now

 

If you like – world-class art

You’ll love – the revamped Royal Academy, London

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

Open: May 2018

 

You might also like:

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

15 incredible ways to celebrate World Gin Day in Britain

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

 

England

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

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

 

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

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

 

Head for London’s largest collection of gin, London

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

 

Order gin from a ‘Bath’, Bath

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

 

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

 

Feast on cake and gin, London

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

 

Scotland

Indulge in gin pamperingm, Glasgow

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

 

Venture to the far north for gin, Shetland

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

 

Sail on a gin cruise, Edinburgh

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

 

Gin along the North Coast 500, Caithness

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

 

Mix gin with chocolate, Perth

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

 

Wales

Buy biosphere-inspired gin

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

 

Sample sea-inspired gin

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

 

Northern Ireland

Take Northern Ireland’s very first gin tour

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

 

Explore Northern Ireland’s first craft gin

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

Must-See Spots, Less Than An Hour From London

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

You might also like:

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

Roll up, roll up for original theatre in the round

The circus is in the spotlight in 2018. And it's not just because Hugh Jackman is strutting around in a red cape on centre stage. While Jackman's star turn as P.T. Barnum, the creator of the three-ring circus in The Greatest Showman has put the modern circus and its unconventional tribes back in the spotlight, this year also marks the 250th anniversary of the #FirstDayOfCircus, which originated near Waterloo in London in 1768.  From Bristol to Belfast, here is how to get your circus on in the UK's Six Cities of Circus in 2018.

To juggle between joyful acts in Blackpool
The words bedazzling… remarkable… breathtaking have been rolled out by ringmasters at the Blackpool Tower Circus since it opened its doors in 1894. Take a seat in the oldest permanent circus arena in the world to enjoy jaw-dropping stunts and acrobatics and slapstick antics from clowns Mooky the Clown and Mr Boo.   

With 'Sawdust and Sequins' in Bristol
Bristol, in Southwest England, is home to more circus companies than any other British city. The Royal West of England Academy will celebrate Bristol's history as a City of Circus with the Circus250 Sawdust and Sequins: The Art of the Circus exhibition. Expect glitter and dare-devilry.

Step back in time in Derry and Belfast
Step back in time to enjoy Derry's flagship vintage circus festival, Carnival of Colours, and the over-the-top Tumble Circus in Belfast, which is turning circus on its head with acts such as Strong Lady, Jitterbug Jackson and Bucky Buckshire.

A collision of pop culture in London
Circus is the original 'pop-up' event. Find out how far the modern circus has evolved 250 years on as Roundhouse presents CircusFest 2018: 250 Years in the Making. The highlight of the modern circus concept has to be the parkour acts with the artists possessing all the panache of the late performer Fred Astaire.

For over-the-top fun in Newcastle-under-Lyme
The so-called Father of Modern Circus', Philip Astley, was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742. Astley developed the 42ft diameter circus ring, which is still the standard size used in circuses across the world. What better way to celebrate the showman's legacy than in his hometown. The Philip Astley Project will include the premier of Lexicon, a daring, contemporary take on the modern circus.

At the Norwich Summer Spectacular
Norwich is the birthplace of Pablo Fanque, the famed 19th century circus proprietor. It's also home to the Hippodrome, in nearby Great Yarmouth, Britain's only surviving complete circus building. The celebrations at the Hippodrome Circus this year include four world-class circus shows including a Summer Spectacular & Water Show where the ring magically morphs into a giant pool replete with swimmers.

VisitBritain invites Australian travellers to Find Your GREAT Britain in 2018

Britain’s national tourism agency VisitBritain has launched a new marketing campaign in Australia to boost tourism to Britain.

The ‘I Travel For…’ marketing campaign was officially launched at a VisitBritain reception attended by more than 100 representatives from the travel industry across Australia as well as media from the travel and lifestyle sectors.

VisitBritain’s campaign, which runs from February 5 until March 31 in Australia, uses short films and story-telling to shine the spotlight on unexpected experiences and less-explored destinations in Britain, alongside its globally renowned and iconic landmarks and attractions. The short films and images align the passions that motivate Australians to travel with experiences they can only have in Britain, inspiring them to ‘Find Your Great Britain’ and book a trip right now.  

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries, and is a fiercely competitive global industry. We are seizing the opportunity in 2018 to showcase that Britain is bursting with fun activities, adventure and wonderfully unexpected experiences to come and discover all year round.“

VisitBritain Director Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa Tricia Warwick said:

“Australia is an extremely important market for VisitBritain; a billion-pound market and our fourth most valuable. We want to build on the growth we have seen in visits from Australia so far in 2017 and invite more Aussies to Find Your Great Britain this year.

“From Britain’s exciting and contemporary culture and living history to the vibrancy of its cool cities, from thrill-seeking adventures in stunning countryside to its local food and drink experiences, I Travel For... wants to inspire visitors from Australia to book a trip right now.”

The campaign has been developed based on VisitBritain’s global research into people’s motivations, passions and inspiration for travel including adventure, fun, discovery, food and drink and the unexpected.

VisitBritain is working with commercial partners in Australia including Flight Centre and Etihad to amplify its global marketing reach and convert the aspiration to visit into bookings. Its partnerships with airlines and travel brands showcase how accessible Britain is for Australians via the five key gateways.

The latest official statistics show that there has been strong growth in visits from Australia to the UK. There were 876,000 visits from Australia to the UK from January to September 2017, up 11% compared to the same period the previous year. Visitors from Australia spent £956 million in the UK during this period, up 12% compared to the same period in 2016.

‘I Travel For…’ is part of the UK Government’s global GREAT Britain campaign, which showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer as a place to visit, study, invest and do business.

-ENDS-

 

For more information on the I Travel For... campaign please contact Kristen Angus at VisitBritain: kristen.angus@visitbritain.org

Notes:  

Reasons to travel to Britain in 2018:

  • Bristol in England is opening a new museum, Being Brunel, in early 2018 and London’s V&A Museum is opening an outpost in Dundee in the second half of the year.
  • It will be a big year for culture in Liverpool as it celebrates its 10th anniversary of being named European Capital of Culture. The city welcomes the Terracotta Warriors to the World Museum from February to October 2018.
  • NewcastleGateshead in England will host The Great Exhibition of the North, celebrating the cities’ culture, art and design from June to September.
  • Scotland heralds 2018 as the Year of Young People, with events including the Royal Edinburgh Tattoo and Speyside Whisky Festival.
  • Wales celebrates the Year of the Sea celebrating its epic coastline, fringed with rugged cliffs, wide sandy bays, and the adventures to match through themed events and celebrations. Its annual literary and arts festival, The Laugharne Weekend, is in April, followed by the Festival of Voice in Cardiff in June. The Big Cheese Festival takes place in Caerphilly in June, with a Seafood Festival in Cardigan Bay in July.
  • The last season of Game of Thrones will be filmed in Northern Ireland, on locations including Giant's Causeway (The Iron Island) and the Dark Hedges (The King’s Road), along with the original filming locations of Winterfell.

In 2016:

  • There were 982,000 visits from Australia to Britain with total spend of £1.06 billion, placing Australia as fourth most valuable for inbound spend and 10th biggest source market for inbound visits to the UK.
  • The average Australian visitor spent £1,079, 80% more than the average visitor to the UK in 2016.
  • Australians stay for longer than average. They stayed for 13 nights in 2016, almost 80% more than the average visitor who stayed for 7 nights.
  • Australian visitors have a high propensity to travel across Britain. In 2016 61% visits from Australia included a visit to London, 52% in the English regions, 13% in Scotland, 7% in Wales – compared to 51%, 42%, 7% and 3% respectively for the average visitor to the UK.

Source: International Passenger Survey, Office of National Statistics UK

Three great day trips on the Brunel Heritage Trail

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

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

 

Day One: London

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

 

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

 

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

 

Day Two: Bristol

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

 

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

 

Day Three: Bath

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

 

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

 

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

 

Editor’s Notes

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