Hay Festival of Literature and Arts

Hay Festival of Literature and Arts

Brighton Festival

Brighton Festival

Jane Austen Festival

Jane Austen Festival

48 hours in…Nottinghamshire

Situated in the very heart of England, the county of Nottinghamshire is known as the land of Robin Hood, the heroic outlaw famous for robbing the rich to feed the poor. The legacy of Robin Hood resonates across the county, from the ancient oak trees of Sherwood Forest to the historic city streets of Nottingham, whose Sheriff was Robin’s main adversary.

One of England’s first industrial towns, Nottingham was an important centre for textile manufacturing. During Victorian times, the world’s finest machine made lace came from Nottingham’s Lace Market. As the industry declined, so did the city’s outlook – but today Nottingham’s many impressive examples of Victorian industrial architecture are the bricks of a rejuvenated city, with former 19th-century warehouse buildings converted into independent bars, restaurants and shops.

2017 is VisitEngland’s ‘Year of Literary Heroes’, and besides originating the myth and legend of Robin Hood, the region has other literary connections. Nottingham’s oldest public park, the Arboretum Park is known to be the place that inspired J.M. Barrie’s novel Peter Pan, while beyond the city is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron and the birthplace of writer D.H. Lawrence. An inspirational place to these great writers, Nottinghamshire is sure to inspire you too. www.experiencenottinghamshire.com

 

TIME TO CHECK IN:

A 17th-century former farmhouse set in three acres of private grounds to the north of Nottingham, Cockliffe Country House Hotel is undergoing major renovation works, due for completion summer 2017. All guest areas and 11 bedrooms will be luxuriously refurbished, plus there’s a striking new architect designed banqueting room.

A converted Georgian townhouse in central Nottingham, the Lace Market Hotel is a stylish boutique option with 42 bedrooms, a smart restaurant, and its very own pub, the Cock & Hoop for more casual drinking and dining.

Located in Nottingham city centre, Igloo is a cool hostel that pairs vintage and up-cycled furniture with top-notch comforts like memory foam mattresses and flatscreen TV’s. There’s a choice of dorm rooms, sleepboxes, and single, double and family rooms, some with en-suite facilities.

 

DAY ONE:

10:00 SEE A CASTLE FULL OF HISTORICAL & ARTISTIC HERITAGE

Nottingham Castle museum & art gallery stands on the site of a 11th-century Norman castle built to establish the rule of law over this notoriously rebellious city – both the city and castle are associated with the legendary outlaw Robin Hood, as well as with significant kings including William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, and Richard III. The present building is an elegant Ducal Palace dating from 1678. Gutted by fire in 1831 by protestors demanding electoral reform, it was remodelled and reopened in 1878 as the first municipal art gallery outside London. Today its collection includes fine works by 17th-century Dutch and Northern European masters, as well as renowned contemporary artists including Grayson Perry, Wolfgang Tillmans and Sam Taylor-Johnson.

 

12:00 DISCOVER A HIDDEN WORLD BELOW THE CITY

Deep below the city of Nottingham is a hidden world of over 500 manmade caves, many of which date back to medieval times. The soft sandstone bedrock allowed for these hand-carved caves to be excavated. Many were created for use as pub cellars or storerooms, and some have fascinating historical significance. Beneath Nottingham Castle is a labyrinth of manmade caves that are integral to the castle’s history. In 1330, King Edward III is said to have entered the castle via these secret passageways to stage a coup d’état against his mother, Isabella of France and her lover, Sir Roger Mortimer, who together had conspired to depose and murder his father, Edward II. Mortimer was executed for treason, and his ghost is said to haunt a particular tunnel here known as Mortimer’s Hole. Visitors to Nottingham Castle may join a cave tour for an additional fee.

 

13:15 HAVE A CURIOUS LUNCH

The quirky Curious Manor and Curious Townhouse are surreal spaces for enjoying anything from brunch to late night cocktails, with menus that include burgers, hand stretched pizzas, and splendid afternoon teas. The latest addition Curious Tavern opened in October 2016, serving traditional tavern fare including freshly shucked oysters and hand-pulled cask stout. It’s also home to a new secret bar called Lost Property.

 

14:00 TAKE A ROBIN HOOD OR LACE HERITAGE TOUR

An award-winning tour guide, Ezekial Bone is best known for his Robin Hood Town Tour, visiting places throughout historic Nottingham that tell the story of the legendary outlaw. The tour concludes with a tankard of ale at Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, a historic inn dating from 1189 that claims to be the oldest in England. The city became a major centre for textile manufacturing during Victorian times, with the finest machine made lace in the world coming from here. This fascinating period is the subject of the new Nottingham Lace Market Tour, a 90-minute tour that threads its way around the city’s fine Victorian industrial architecture.

 

16:30 DELVE INTO A LACE ARCHIVE OR A VIDEOGAME MUSEUM

When Nottingham’s lace industry fell into decline, so did the streets surrounding the Lace Market, a neighbourhood known as Hockley. In recent years the area and its well-preserved Victorian buildings has enjoyed a resurgence, and is now home to modern creative and digital industries. Hockley buzzes with pavement cafes and independent shops such as Debbie Bryan, maker of individually hand cast brooches and knitted scarves inspired by British heritage – her studio has regular craft and design classes, and houses a unique Lace Archive. Grand 18th-century Willoughby House is a flagship store of pre-eminent British fashion designer and Nottingham native Paul Smith. Pixelheads may prefer the nostalgia of gaming at the nearby National Videogame Arcade, a playful museum sure to unleash your inner geek.

 

18:00 TOUR A HAUNTED MUSEUM AFTER DARK

A city associated with the outlaw Robin Hood, it’s appropriate that Nottingham’s National Justice Museum has Britain’s largest collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment. Formerly the Galleries of Justice Museum, it reopened in April 2017 following a £1million refurbishment. New interactive activities and exhibition spaces now complement the museum’s grand Victorian courtrooms, 17th-century dungeon and 19th-century prison cells. As well as displaying many fascinating artefacts, it’s reputedly one of the world’s most haunted buildings and in 2014 was voted the most haunted building in Britain. Not normally accessible to the general public, its darkest and deepest corners are open for chilling Ghost Tours and Terror Tours on Friday and Saturday nights at 6pm.

 

19:30 DINE IN AN HISTORIC BOOTS PHARMACY

The Hockley area of Nottingham has many independent eateries, including Michelin Guide listed The Larder on Goosegate, whose daily changing menu is based around seasonal produce. It occupies a Victorian building that was once home to Jesse Boot’s first apothecary – he transformed M & J Boot, founded by his father in Nottingham in 1849, into one of Britain’s best-known high street retailers, and the restaurant décor retains many heritage and architectural features that echo the building’s history. Or enjoy award-winning North Indian cuisine at MemSaab.

 

DAY TWO:

09:30 GO IN PURSUIT OF AN OUTLAW

Once part of a royal hunting forest, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve is the legendary stomping ground of Robin Hood. Located 1 hour north of Nottingham by car, the forest covers 450 acres including ancient areas of native woodland. Legend asserts that Robin and his band of Merry Men would hide inside the hollow trunk of an enormous oak tree known as Major Oak, thus evading enemies including the Sheriff Of Nottingham. Standing in the heart of Sherwood Forest, this epic tree is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old, and is so huge that since Victorian times its branches have needed the support of scaffolding. There are numerous trails through the trees and glades, and the forest is free to enter. Held each August is the annual Robin Hood Festival, with live-action re-enactments of Robin Hood’s exploits, plus medieval jousting, jesters and falconry.

 

12:30 HUNT FOR LUNCH

Robin Hood may have been skilled at archery, but with numerous country inns and restaurants around Sherwood Forest, hunting for lunch with a bow and arrow is no longer necessary. On the edge of the forest, the village of Edwinstowe has excellent options including Launay’s, whose seasonal menu fuses English and French cuisine, and Forest Lodge, an award-winning 18th-century coaching inn.

 

14:00 TAKE A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE

The famous writer D.H. Lawrence was born in 1885 in a red brick miner’s cottage in Eastwood, 30 minutes north west of Nottingham by car. Now the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, its authentically recreated interiors offer an insight into the writer’s formative years. Awarded a VisitEngland ‘Hidden Gem’ accolade in 2016, it’s also a fascinating snapshot of what life was like in a small mining community during Victorian times. For more literary connections, nearby Newstead Abbey was the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron, and is also open to the public.

 

Or…

If you’d prefer to pamper your body, spend the afternoon at a luxury day spa. Surrounded by countryside in the east of the county, award-winning Eden Hall Day Spa is a peaceful sanctuary set in a beautiful old mansion. Or head farther north to the historic Ye Olde Bell Hotel. This AA 4-star Rosette hotel has a brand new purpose-built £multi-million spa open from Spring 2017, with state-of-the-art amenities including an indoor to outdoor vitality hydropool, Sabbia Med Sunlight Therapy, and Britain’s first and only ‘snowstorm’ spa experience.

 

19:30 HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DINNER

Head back into Nottingham for a global smorgasbord of drinking and dining options. Nottingham’s newest bar and eatery is Bavarian-style The Bierkeller. Or enjoy world tapas at Bar Iberico, a new and casual sister venue to Iberico, a fine dining restaurant and Nottinghamshire’s only Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand entry.

 

HOW TO GET HERE:

Nottinghamshire is a county in the heart of England. Its principle city, Nottingham, is 1h 40m north of London by train. Located just over 30 minutes south west of the city, East Midlands Airport is a hub for budget airlines Jet2.com and Ryanair, with flights from many European cities.

48 hours in… Belfast

Get inspired by our series of 48 Hours In..., this time in Belfast! Having been named the best region to visit in 2018 in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel, we shine the spotlight on the fascinating capital of Northern Ireland.

 

Why Belfast?

Belfast is a city of many quarters, each with its own character and story to share. The oldest quarter, and the city's cultural heart, is the Cathedral Quarter, characterised by cobble streets and traditional pubs. Home to some of Belfast's iconic political wall murals, the Gaeltacht Quarter is an area where Irish language and culture flourishes. Encompassing historic Queen's University, Ulster Museum and the Lisburn Road, the Queens Quarter has informal cafés, bars and independent shops. The RMS Titanic is so synonymous with this city that a whole neighbourhood is named in its honour. Delve into Belfast's rich industrial and maritime heritage in the Titanic Quarter, and witness the story of the origins, construction, launch and legacy of this world-famous ship.

A day of celebration throughout Ireland and beyond, St Patrick's Day falls on 17 March every year. Belfast commemorates with the colourful St Patrick's Day Carnival, an array of floats, musicians and dancers that parade their way around the city from Belfast City Hall. There's also a free concert with a variety of talent, ranging from traditional Irish dance groups to well-known pop acts, plus smaller events at pubs and venues around the city.

2016 is Northern Ireland's Year of Food & Drink, celebrating the epic landscapes, traditions and people that make the regions food heritage so unique. With a different foodie theme each month, this is an ideal time to enjoy a taste of Belfast.

 

DAY ONE

Time to check in

A three-star hotel with 171 simple, modern rooms, plus a bar and restaurant, Premier Inn Belfast (Cathedral Quarter) is affordable, well located, and one of the top-ranked hotels on TripAdvisor.

More indulgent, Malmaison Belfast is a four-star hotel with 62 rooms and suites in a converted Victorian warehouse. Original features such as carved stone gargoyles and wrought iron pillars complement the velvety, contemporary décor.

Blending Victorian grandeur with Art Deco elegance, the Merchant Hotel is an award-winning five-star property. Exclusive amenities include airport transfers in the hotel's chauffeur driven Rolls Royce Phantom, and a rooftop gym and spa with stunning views.

 

10:00 Have a Titanic adventure

Arguably the world's most famous ocean-going vessel, RMS Titanic was built in Belfast's historic shipyards. One hundred years on from the ship's ill-fated maiden voyage, April 2012 saw the opening of Titanic Belfast, the world's largest Titanic-themed visitor attraction. This monumental structure by Texan architect Eric Kuhne rises from the docks like a glass and aluminium iceberg. Inside are nine galleries telling the story of the Titanic, from her conception in Belfast in the early 1900s, through her construction and launch, to her ill-fated maiden voyage. This state-of-the-art visitor experience includes a special effects-laden shipyard ride, underwater exploration theatre, and recreations of the ships cabins.

 

12:00 Meet ‘Samson & Goliath' and other dockyard heavyweights

Two huge yellow gantry cranes dominate Belfast's skyline. Part of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, birthplace of many great ships including RMS Titanic, these two cranes were constructed in 1969 and 1974 to service a new graving dock. Affectionately known by locals as Samson & Goliath, they've become city icons.

Other shipbuilding and Titanic-related attractions in Belfast's Titanic Quarter include Titanic's Dock&Pump House. The largest dry dock ever constructed, it's here that workers put the final touches on the most luxurious liner ever built.

 

12:30 A tasty Titanic lunch

The Titanic Quarter visitor attractions offer various lunch options, including Titanic Belfast's Bistro 401 restaurant and The Galley tearoom, and Titanic's Dock&Pump House Café. A small, stylish choice, Cast&Crew is nestled beneath the ‘Samson&Goliath' cranes, and serves delicious locally sourced food.

 

Go onboard the last surviving White Star Line ship

Her siblings either sunk or were scrapped, but visitors to Belfast can still go onboard SS Nomadic, the only surviving White Star Line vessel afloat today. Launched in Belfast in 1911, it was built as a tender to big ships including RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, giving first-class passengers (including Marie Curie and Charlie Chaplin) their first taste of White Star Line luxury. Later used as a minesweeper and troop rescue ship during both world wars, it's now back home in Belfast's historic Hamilton Dock and restored to her original glory.

 

15:00 Take a free peek at treasures from across the globe

You'll see dinosaurs, an Egyptian Mummy and modern masterpieces at Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland's treasure house of the past and present. This extensive collection of art, history and natural sciences is free to all visitors.

 

18:00 Have an aperitif in a Victorian ‘gin palace'

Open since 1885, Crown Liquor Saloon is a stunning example of a Victorian ‘gin palace'. It features private snugs with a bell system for summoning staff, designed to ensure customer privacy during the stern Victorian era. Now owned by the National Trust, it's wonderfully atmospheric with elaborate tile mosaics, period gas lighting, and etched and stained glass windows.

 

19:30 Enjoy modern Northern Irish cuisine

For modern fine dining, James Street South serves fresh and locally sourced Northern Irish produce in a contemporary space. Signature dishes include Strangford Lough Bouillabaisse and organic Irish lamb. Open since 2003, chef Niall McKenna now has a cookery school and two further restaurants (Bar + Grill and Hadskis) in Belfast.

Another fine dining option is the spectacular Great Room Restaurant within the Merchant Hotel. 

Or there's restaurateur Michael Deane's EIPIC, a recent recipient of a coveted Michelin star for chef Danni Barry - only the second female chef ever in Ireland to gain a star.

 

22:00 Sample Belfast's lively pub scene

Although there are excellent pubs and bars throughout the city, Belfast's Cathedral Quarter has many characterful choices. Options include McHugh's Bar and Restaurant, which dates back to 1711. Its Main Bar is full of historical objects and memorabilia, while the Basement Bar is a live music venue hosting gigs by established artists like George Ezra as well as up-and-coming alternative bands.

The John Hewitt is a pub uniquely owned and run by the Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, funding its work via the sale of hearty home-cooked food, speciality gins, craft ales and cider including locally produced MacIvors Irish Artisan Cider and Maddens Mellow Armagh Cider.

 

DAY TWO

10:00 Wake up to an Ulster fry

Start the day with an Ulster Fry: potato and soda bread, fried eggs, sausage, bacon, black and white pudding and a tomato. The secret is to cook everything in one pan to secure all the flavour. George's Of The Market has overlooked historic St George's Market for more than 15 years, and serves an award-winning version using sausages made of pork and Irish dulse seaweed, a local delicacy.

 

10:45 Shop for the best local arts, crafts and foods

Dating from 1890, grand St George's Market was voted Britain's Best Large Indoor Market in 2014. There's been a Friday market on this site since 1604, a tradition upheld with the Friday Variety Market, where stalls sell fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, antiques, books and clothes. Saturday's City Food and Craft Market sees local and international speciality foods plus handmade pottery, glass, metalwork and local photography. The Sunday Market focuses on local arts and crafts such as scented candles, handmade jewellery and homemade confectionary. There's often live music from local bands.

 

11:30 Take a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast's political murals

Northern Ireland has witnessed many political and religious divisions over the years. An estimated 2,000 murals, considered the most famous political murals in Europe, document these troubles. Significant murals from the 1980s tend to endorse either Republican or Loyalist views, depicting sectarian events such as the Ballymurphy Massacre and the hunger strike of Bobby Sands. The current trend is for murals representing peace and tolerance. These striking examples of political street art provide an overview of Northern Ireland's recent history. Take a 90-minute Black Taxi Tour to see what the walls of Belfast have to say. 

 

13:00 Sample Northern Irish cuisine, language and culture

An arts and cultural centre housed in a former church in the Gaeltacht Quarter, Cultúrlann McAdam O Fiaich celebrates and fosters Irish culture with poetry readings, traditional and contemporary Irish music, exhibitions and céili's. Its homely café-restaurant Bia is a meeting place for Belfast's Irish Language community, and a place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in an authentic Gaelic atmosphere. 

 

14:00 Go to prison

First opening its gates to prisoners in 1846, Crumlin Road Gaol housed murderers, suffragettes, and loyalist and republican prisoners for 150 years. It has witnessed births, deaths and marriages and has been home to executions, escapes, riots and hunger strikes. Closing its doors for what many thought would be the final time in 1996, the gaol reopened in 2012 as a major visitor attraction. The 70-minute tour pays a visit to the condemned man's cell, the execution cell, and the underground tunnel connecting the gaol to Crumlin Road Courthouse.

 

15:30 Escape to the past

Set in more than 170 acres of rolling landscape overlooking Belfast Lough, visitors to the Ulster Folk&Transport Museum will discover how people lived and travelled over the centuries. Wander though history, encountering costumed visitor guides and passing cottages, farms, schools and shops. There are also horse-drawn carriages, electric trams, motorbikes fire engines and vintage cars.

 

18:00 Recharge

Head back to your hotel, with just enough time to shower and change before a second night out.

 

19:30 Dinner to suit all tastes, appetites and budgets

Carnivores will devour the signature Beef Shin Burger at The Barking Dog, but there are excellent fish and vegetarian options too. With exposed brick walls and scrubbed wooden tables, this informal eatery is ideal for a full meal or a quick bite, while the upstairs cocktail lounge serves drinks and nibbles.

One of Belfast's favourite restaurants, Mourne Seafood Bar specialises in fresh local seafood at an affordable price in rustic surroundings. This winning formula means it's very popular, so reservations are essential for dinner (if you miss out, you can try lunch, which is first come, first served).

With its quirky, mismatched furnishings and relaxed vibe, Muriel's Café Bar is especially popular for Sunday brunch and dinner - bear in mind that last food orders are 7:45pm, although they serve platters of cold cuts and other nibbles until midnight. 

 

Getting here

Belfast is situated on the east coast of Northern Ireland. It's served by flights into Belfast International Airport and George Best Belfast City Airport. Scheduled flights operate from most major British airports, as well as from many major European cities. There are also ferry connections with England and Scotland.

www.tourismni.com

2018 theatre: what to book tickets for now

Bright lights point to the stage in 2018 as a host of theatrical shows are set to dazzle audiences in London’s glitzy West End and around the country, showcasing the best of classic and modern theatre.

As the red curtains rise, get lost in passionate plays, smash-hit shows and flamboyant musicals, and celebrate show business in Britain. Here are ten shows for 2018 that are not to be missed.

LONDON

Network by Lee Hall at the Lyttelton Theatre, London

4 November 2017 – 24 March 2018

Breaking Bad fans will rejoice as actor Bryan Cranston is making his British stage debut in the new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Network, a Paddy Chayefsky production depicting a dystopian media landscape where opinion trumps fact. Cranston recently won a Tony Award for his Broadway role in All The Way. Many shows are sold out or on limited availability so get your tickets quickly.
 

Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly at the Lyttelton Theatre, London

1 December 2017 – 7 April 2018

Featuring songs and score from the 1940’s Walt Disney film Pinocchio, this new musical production has been brought to the stage by the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the writer of Matilda the Musical. Expert puppetry will bring Pinocchio's world to life during his quest to become a real boy, from alpine forests to the bottom of the sea. For tickets, visit the website.
 

Hamilton: An American Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre, London

6 December 2017 – 30 June 2018

Following unanimous critical praise, 11 Tony Awards, and playing to celebrities, politicians and members of theatre royalty, this sensational Broadway musical is coming from New York to London’s West End to re-open the new Victoria Palace Theatre. Hamilton: An American Musical tells the story of the American Revolution through the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, incorporating hip-hop, rhythm and blues, pop music, and traditional-style show tunes.

Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at Sadler's Wells, London

9 December 2017 – 27 January 2018

Matthew Bourne's sell-out interpretations of classic fairy tales as bold modern ballets are critically acclaimed. His new show at Sadler’s Wells transforms the Cinderella story into a war-time romance: a chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, who are together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.
 

Mary Stuart at Duke of York's Theatre, West End, London

15 January – 31 March 2018

Following a critically acclaimed, sold-out season at the Almeida Theatre in 2016-17, Robert Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart explores the backstage goings-on of politically crucial days in British history. Based on Friedrich Schiller’s royal tragedy written in 1800, this electrifying play focuses on Mary and Elizabeth I’s relationship, centering on an imaginary meeting between them. Following the run at Duke of York’s Theatre, the play will embark on a Britain-wide tour.
 

Macbeth by William Shakespeare at the Olivier Theatre, London

Spring 2018

Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, will bring A-listers Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff to the Olivier Theatre’s stage for Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy. Ambitious and ruthless, the play will explore the destructive effect of power as the Macbeths try desperately to cling on to it. Keep an eye on the website for ticket information.

 

BRITAIN-WIDE

The Band: Take That's New Musical, Britain-wide tour

8 September 2017 – 14 July 2018

Featuring top hits of iconic British boy band Take That, this jukebox musical is a story about how music can define our lives. The protagonists are five teenage girls who adore Take That and aspire to meet their heroes as they grow older. The show will be performed in numerous cities, including Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool. For full tour dates, visit the website.
 

Shrek the Musical, Britain-wide tour
12 November 2017 – 6 January 2019

Shrek returns to the stage with his loyal steed Donkey and a 14-foot dragon to win Fiona’s heart in this all-singing, all-dancing, alternative fairy tale. Based on William Steig's book Shrek! and the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation feature film, this musical extravaganza will feature new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I’m a Believer. This Britain-wide tour includes venues in Abderdeen, Cardiff and Blackpool. For full tour dates and tickets, visit the website.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis at West Yorkshire Playhouse
29 November 2017 - 21 January 2018

A wonderland of magic and mayhem, this adaptation of the novel by CS Lewis follows siblings Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter as they set off on an adventure through the back of a wardrobe into the enchanting kingdom of Narnia. Directed by Sally Cookson, who recently bought to stage Peter Pan and the critically acclaimed sell-out tour of Jane Eyre, this timeless story will transport you into a faraway land. For tickets, visit the website.
 

Titanic: The Musical, Britain-wide tour

12 April – 21 July 2018

Maury Yeston's musical Titanic, which won five Tony Awards after opening on Broadway in 1997, will set sail on its first ever Britain-wide tour in April 2018. Following critical acclaim at Southwark Playhouse and Charing Cross Theatre, this tragic tale is based on real stories of passengers aboard the ill-fated ship, which catastrophically collided with an iceberg in 1517. The show will be performed in a selection of cities, including Edinburgh, Southampton and Birmingham.

What's hot for 2018 - Britain

2018 Destination Hotspot: Bristol

The southwest England city of Bristol attracts everyone from culture vultures on the trail of Banksy to engineering aficionados keen to learn about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 2018 sees the opening of Being Brunel, a museum dedicated to the fascinating life and works of the aforementioned engineer, who was one of the greatest figures of the Industrial Revolution; he gave Britain dockyards, the Great Western Railway, the magnificent Bristolian landmark the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the impressive ss Great Britain, a popular visitor attraction in the city.

Bristol is synonymous with art, as the hometown of street artist Banksy, but did you know the much loved animated characters Wallace and Gromit hail from there too? Summer 2018 will see a new public arts trail from Aardman Animations, which promises to amuse children and adults alike. For nocturnal entertainment, Bristol’s cultural scene is brimming with options ranging from Britain’s oldest continually working theatre, the Bristol Old Vic – currently undergoing a revamp that will be revealed in 2018 – to the world-class music venue St George’s Bristol, also getting a facelift for 2018 that will include a glass sound wave sculpture suspended in the foyer, based on a musical score by the composer Philip Glass.

Each July Bristol hosts #Upfest, Europe’s biggest, free, street art and graffiti art festival. More than 250 cutting-edge graffiti artists from all over the world descend on Bristol to paint visual spectacles around the city, resulting in 30,000 square foot of artwork created over the weekend.

And cameras at the ready for the 40th anniversary of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta in summer 2018; the free spectacle transforms the city skyline, peppering it with hundreds of brightly coloured hot air balloons. It’s the city’s largest outdoor event and the biggest event of its kind in Europe.

Click for more on Bristol

Spotlight on: Northern England Walks

From soaring mountains and picturesque moors to outdoor galleries and historic pubs, Britain is a walking paradise. Lace up your boots and let your feet take you exploring through Northern England in 2018, especially the newly claimed UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Lake District.

  • Newcastle and Gateshead 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 on 21 June 2018 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. 
     
  • A fort-ridden Roman defensive barrier erected to keep out the Picts (modern-day Scots), much of Hadrian’s Wall still stands today. Linking the shipbuilding eastern town of Wallsend with the west-coast Solway Firth, its mostly-flat Hadrian’s Wall Path specialises in barren and beautiful scenery, despite including the cities of Carlisle and Newcastle at either end.
     
  • The Lake District is Britain’s first national park to be awarded the momentous UNESCO World Heritage status. Picking out one view in the Lake District is a tricky task because the area is so geographically blessed with beautiful landscapes. One of the best vistas is looking east from the top of Cat Bells hill across the lake of Derwentwater to the mountain of Skiddaw. Cat Bells is one of the most popular hills in the area; it’s also a short, sharp, steep climb of 451 metres – but is worth the effort. 

    For more incredible views, Stony Cove Pike from Kirkstone Pass is another to add to your list. This undulating odyssey, starts and triumphantly finishes at Britain’s third-highest boozer, the wood-beamed Kirkstone Pass Inn. In between, scree-ridden moorland, dark green hills, glinting lakes and isolated slate-roof crofts unfold either side of Stony Cove Pike’s windblown summit.

    Frequently lauded by real ale enthusiasts, The Spinners Arms in Cumbria is an ideal haunt for those who appreciate the culinary complexities of a good pint. It’s almost equidistant to the North Pennines, the Lake District National Park, and Northumberland National Park, so it’s an ideal spot to rest those weary legs after a day of countryside rambles.
     

  • There are three reasons to tackle the seaside sortie, the Craster to Low Newton Coastal Walk. Firstly, you start in the spiritual home of kippers (cold-smoked herrings), a classic British breakfast. Then there’s the chance to relish the finest coast on north-east England, including flower-mottled dunes and the lonely ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, originally built by rebels seven centuries ago to repel King Edward II. The final incentive is Low Newton’s Ship Inn, beloved for its microbrewery and handpicked-crab sandwiches.
     
  • The Peak District is an area of contrasting natural beauty, with moors and dales, rivers, springs and caverns. At its heart is the Peak District National Park, loved by millions for its breath-taking views, relaxation, inspiration and adventure. Head to Edale to get stuck into some characteristically dramatic Peaks terrain – it’s the starting point for the Pennine Way walking trail, and offers low-level ambles and more challenging hikes.

Cultural Liverpool

Since claiming the title ‘European Capital of Culture 2008', Liverpool has experienced a renaissance in art and culture. As a modern cultural hub, Liverpool has more museums and galleries than any other UK City Region outside of London. It is home to an impressive collection of museums in which to discover the city's 800-year-old history, while the arts scene has its feet firmly planted in the modern day, with the spruced up Albert Dock home to the Tate Liverpool and FACT media arts centre.

The world-famous Terracotta Warriors arrive at the city’s World Museum in February – their new home until October. This exciting exhibition will be a major part of Liverpool’s year-long 2018 celebrations, marking 10 years since the city donned its Cultural Capital title.

The Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art is in residence from 14 July until 28 October 2018. Every two years, the city’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. It’s a chance to head out on a cultural treasure hunt through the city to discover unusual and unexpected places through art.

Scotland’s UNESCO Triangle
Boasting three UNESCO awarded creative cities, just 100 miles apart - music (Glasgow), literature (Edinburgh), and design (Dundee) – Scotland is a must see destination in 2018.

Where to go: The V&A is one of London’s – if not the world’s – best museums, and Dundee is getting a new outpost of the museum, due to open in early 2018. The V&A Dundee will be uber-modern in design and is architect Kenzo Kuma’s first British commission.  The new museum will showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Visit Glasgow for its eclectic mix of architectural styles, including the art nouveau buildings by celebrated designer and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of famed Glasgow-born architect’s birth, which will be commemorated by Glasgow Museums with a new exhibition of unseen works in the summer. As part of the city’s celebration, the original Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms and the famous Salon de Luxe are being renovated and will reopen with a new visitor centre on 7 June 2018.

Explore the capital Edinburgh and find history on every corner, in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of its Old and New Towns. Discover the city’s stunning settings for world-famous novels, the scenery that inspired revered poets and the birthplaces of some of the most-loved storybook characters.

Adrenaline filled adventure breaks, breath-taking road trips, buzzing music festivals, and a jam-packed events calendar - Scotland hosts legendary activities and endless things to do for the young or young at heart throughout 2018 as it celebrates its Year of Young People.  The celebrations kick off in a spectacular Torchlight Procession on the 30th December, as part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2017.

A culture vulture’s guide to Britain in 2018

New looks, new exhibitions, and display spaces are on the cards for a host of British museums & galleries.   

  • In January 2018, London’s world-renowned contemporary art space, the Hayward Gallery, will re-open in the Southbank Centre after major refurbishment. The opening marks its 50th anniversary, and will see the first major British retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky. 
     
  • In March, more than 100 of Picasso’s greatest works of art are being brought together for a “once in a lifetime” exhibition, Picasso 1932, at Tate Modern. This landmark show is a collaboration between the Tate Modern and the Musée National-Picasso in Paris and will be the first solo exhibition of Picasso’s work to be held at the gallery. It focusses on 1932 - a pivotal year in the artist’s life, and marked the height of his affair with young lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, who he immortalised in his famous Le Rêve (The Dream), which has never before been shown in Britain.
     
  • 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 at Greenwich is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will expand the museum’s exhibition space by 40 per cent, with each one dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things. The museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection. While his expedition began from Plymouth, Cook spent his early life and career at Great Ayton, Staithes and Whitby in Yorkshire, where his boat the Endeavour was built, with a number of Cook-related attractions in the area.
     
  • 2018 also marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, and the institution will reveal its new revamp in spring. Connecting the Royal Academy’s two buildings - Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens - for the first time, there will be new dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and café.
     
  • In autumn 2018 the British Museum will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery. The museum is also adding the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, which will open in November 2017.
     
  • Dippy, the Natural History Museum’s iconic diplodocus skeleton cast, stood in the entrance of the London museum for more than 30 years. Marking a period of transformation for the museum, Dippy was replaced in July with Hope, the blue whale skeleton, so is going on tour across Britain. The tour will run until the end of 2020 – in 2018 Dippy will be on show in museums in Dorset (south-west England), Birmingham (central England) and Belfast (Northern Ireland).
     

Lights On

See some Britain’s famous attractions brighten evenings with dazzling displays of light and installations.

  • After its debut in 2016, the capital’s largest night-time festival, Lumiere London, is back in 2018 - bigger, brighter and bolder. More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city and offer new perspectives on the capital’s iconic architecture, streets and landmarks. Taking place over four nights between 18 and 21 January 2018, festival locations will include King’s Cross, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Westminster. Covent Garden, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo are being added as new destinations for 2018.
     
  • Returning in October 2018, illuminating York encourages the exploration of the city through the imagination of artists, using the medium of light in all its forms. This bi-annual festival lights up one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, transforming its historic buildings into stunning works of art

Top 10 reasons to visit Wales in the Year of the Sea

Thanks to new direct flights from Australia to Cardiff (May 2018), it’s even easier to catch a rugby match, wind through the shopping arcades and take to a gig in one of Cardiff’s hip side-street venues before venturing out along the epic Welsh coastline, fringed with rugged cliffs & wide sandy bays.

One of the toughest and largest sailing events in the world, the Volvo Ocean Race, will arrive in Cardiff Bay in May 2018. It will be the first time the race fleet has returned to British shores in 12 years.

If your tastes run to high octane adventures then Wales is probably your spiritual birthplace. Its coastal craziness includes the sport of coasteering which involves cliff jumping, caving and wild swimming – all in one afternoon.  (Those after a good leg stretch may find the 1,400 km Wales Coast Path more to their liking. Head out to Skomer Island for to spy out the plethora of puffins or watch out for soaring red kites as you drive through the picturesque Breacon Beacons. 

Stay somewhere extraordinary in one of Epic Retreat’s glamping-style pop-ups, inspired by famous Welsh myths and legends. Or wake up deep in the forest, in the heart of the Welsh mountains, in your very own treehouse.

North Wales is a thrill seeker’s paradise. Here you’ll find the world's fastest (and Europe's longest) zip line, a revolutionary inland surf lagoon, and giant trampolines strung in the caverns of a disused slate mine.

Go stargazing in a Welsh dark sky park. Granted ‘International Dark Sky’ status, the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks both offer an abundance of dark sky spying spots to get your astronomer juices flowing.

Party in a weird and wonderful Italianate village by the sea. For 4 days every September, Portmeirion is taken over by one of the most unique music festivals in the world: Festival No.6: “a bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture”.

With 641 Welsh castles to choose from, it’s easy to conquer a castle in 2018. For some of the finest examples, head for the castles and fortified towns of Gwynedd. Follow the trail to explore the UNESCO World Heritage quartet of majestic castles - Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech.

Annual Updates

Hot hotel openings

  • Easter 2018: Royal Yacht Britannia’s new Boat Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland
    A floating 'boatique' hotel aimed at luxury travellers is putting its anchor down next to the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II and one of Edinburgh’s biggest tourist attractions.  The lavish new 23-room hotel will feature balconied cabins, plush duplex apartments and Art Deco-inspired interiors.
     
  • Summer 2018: Britain’s first Hard Rock Hotel, Marble Arch, London
    Hard Rock International is opening its first London property inside the existing Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, transforming it into the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London. The hotel will follow the music theme, featuring rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and offering a new live performance venue.
     
  • Eden Project Hotel, Cornwall, south-west England (opening date TBC)
    A £6million hotel is opening at the Eden Project in 2018. The Eden Project Hotel will have 115 bedrooms and has been designed to blend into the countryside, with access to the main Eden Project site.
     
  • Vintry & Mercer, Cannon Street, City of London, early 2018
    Located in London’s historic trading centre near St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard, the 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.
     
  • Hawkstone Hall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Autumn 2018
    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.
     
  • Dixie Dean Hotel, Liverpool, 2018:
    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.
     
  • George Best Hotel, Belfast June 2018
    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.

Britain on the big screen
Britain is playing a starring role in several new 2018 movie releases, and providing the inspiration for the blockbuster remakes of two classic British tales: Peter Rabbit and Robin Hood.

  • Phantom Thread - 2 February 2018
    Set in the fashion world of 1950s London, Phantom Thread revolves around the life of fashion designer Charles James, played by Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis. James was commissioned by royalty, and British and American stars including Marlene Dietrich. This will be Day-Lewis’s final film performance – the star recently announced his retirement. He’s been spotted filming in Lythe, a village located in the North York Moors National Park near Whitby beach. Other nearby filming locations include the Victoria Hotel at Robin Hood’s Bay and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Grosmont.
     
  • Peter Rabbit – - 22 March 2018
    Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a mischievous blue-jacketed rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden is getting a star-studded live-action and computer-generated motion picture remake. James Corden will voice the lead role of Peter, while Rose Byrne stars as Bea. The voices of Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie and Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will also feature. The majority of filming has taken place in Australia, with additional location scenes shot in the towns of Ambleside and Windermere in Lake District in Cumbria, north-west England, which was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Beatrix Potter is synonymous with the Lake District – it was her home and its natural beauty and plentiful wildlife inspired many of her literary creations. Fans can visit her house, Hill Top, and in London, the V&A Museum holds the world's largest collection of Potter's drawings, literary manuscripts and correspondence.
     
  • Robin Hood: Origins – 23 March 2018
    According to legend, heroic forest-dwelling outlaw Robin Hood was a highly-skilled archer and swordsman who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood: Origins aims to give a new spin on the legend, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, and Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlet. Filming mainly took place in DubrovnikCroatia, but Robin Hood’s original stomping ground was Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. The forest is the setting for the annual Robin Hood Festival in early August – a medieval gala of entertainment, food and drink, activities, and live-action re-enactments. This will be the festival’s 34th year, and follow the reopening of the Sherwood Forest visitor centre in early 2018. For more content on Robin Hood-inspired forest adventures around Britain, see the VisitBritain media centre.
     
  • Han Solo: A Star Wars Story
    This upcoming second Stars Wars Anthology film, following the 2016 film Rogue One, will centre on the adventures of young Han Solo. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, alongside Woody HarrelsonEmilia ClarkeDonald Glover and Thandie Newton. Filming has taken place at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, and a port scene was shot in Southampton, Hampshire.
     
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 - Late 2018
    The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, with London as one of the key filming locations. 
     
  • Mary Poppins Returns – 25 December 2018
    It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. In 2018, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children in this Disney musical sequel, which takes the action forward to London in 1935. Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke (who starred in the original film) also feature in the cast. London filming locations include St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and outside the Bank of England.

New theatre shows
2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for theatre in Britain with hot new shows and A-listers galore.

  • The Band, Britain-wide tour  8 September 2017 – 14 July 2018
    The new musical celebrates the music of hugely popular British boy band Take That, featuring their best hits. The show premieres in Manchester in September and then tours around Britain. For full tour dates, visit the website.
     
  • Hamilton: An American Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre, London  21 November 2017 – 30 June 2018
    Following unanimous critical praise, 11 Tony Awards, and playing to audiences full of celebrities, politicians and members of theatre royalty, sensational Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical is coming to London’s West End. The musical is about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and incorporates hip-hoprhythm and bluespop music, and traditional-style show tunes.
     
  • Network by Lee Hall, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London  November 2017 – March 2018
    Good news for fans of Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston – he’s making his British stage debut in the new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Network, by Paddy Chayefsky. Cranston recently won a Tony Award for his Broadway role in All The Way.
     
  • Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London 1 December 2017 – 7 April 2018
    The world premiere of John Tiffany’s new musical production of Pinocchio, which has been specially arranged for the stage, with songs and score from the Walt Disney film and expert puppetry.
     
  • Matthew Bourne's Cinderella  at Sadler's Wells, London  9 December 2017 – 27 January 2018
    Matthew Bourne's sell-out interpretation of classic fairy tales into bold modern ballets are critically acclaimed. His new show at Sadler’s Wells transforms the Cinderella story into a war-time romance: a chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.
     
  • Mary Stuart at Duke of York's Theatre, West End, London  5 January – 31 March 2018
    Following a critically acclaimed, sold-out season at the Almeida Theatre in 2016-17, Robert Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited run.
     
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare, at the Olivier Theatre, London  Spring 2018
    Rufus Norris will direct A-listers Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff in Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy.

Championship sport
Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events. In 2018 the following championships will take place:

  • European Championships 2018 – Glasgow, Scotland  2 – 12 August 2018
    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.
     
  • World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018 – Birmingham, England  1 – 4 March 2018
    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.
     
  • Women’s Hockey World Cup – London, England 21 July – 5 August 2018
    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 the United Kingdom has ever seen. 

2019 stories and beyond

  • Opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater, north-west England
    Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) currently has four gardens across the country, and in 2019 will open the gates of its fifth. The 154-acre (62-hectare) RHS Garden Bridgewater will be in Salford, near Manchester in north-west England. The garden will bring the lost historic grounds of Worsley New Hall (built in the 1760s and demolished in the 1940s) back to life.
     
  • The Silverstone Heritage Experience opens, central England
    The Silverstone circuit in southern England is the current home of the Formula One British Grand Prix. The Silverstone Heritage Experience will explore and explain the circuit’s history and heritage with a multi-million pound visitor experience.
     
  • A big year for cricket, England and Wales
    Britain will be on the itineraries for cricket fans in 2019, with two major competitions taking place. The Cricket World Cup will be contested in venues in England and Wales between May and July, while the England vs Australia Ashes series will also be played at grounds including Lord’s and Edgbaston.
     
  • London museums unveil new looks
    London’s Science Museum will open its new medicine gallery, and the Royal College of Music and Geffrye museums will reopen after complete overhauls.
     
  • New rail museum in Leicester, central England
    A new £18million rail museum will open in Leicester, central England. It will house locomotives from the National Railway Museum and Great Central Railway – the Uk’s only double-track mainline heritage railway.
     
  • Glastonbury festival moves to a new site (and potentially has a new name)
    The festival will not run in 2018 – organisers say it could move venue for 2019 to protect the site where it is held, and will possibly be run under a new name, the Variety Bazaar.

2020

  • 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower
    The 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from Plymouth, southern England, which carried the pilgrims to America, with a big series of events planned to mark the anniversary. Plymouth Museum, currently shut for a three-and-a-half-year redevelopment, will reopen in time for the anniversary.
     
  • The England Coast Path opens
    The England Coast Path, a new national trail around all of England’s coast, is scheduled to open in 2020, becoming one of the longest coastal walking routes in the world.
     
  • 250th birthday of poet William Wordsworth
    England will mark the 250th birthday of poet William Wordsworth, who has strong links to the Lake District in north-west England. The Wordsworth Museum and Dove Cottage (Wordsworth’s first family home and where he wrote some of his greatest work) will be overhauled in time for the anniversary.
     
  • New arts centre for Manchester
    Manchester, north-west England, will be the site of a new arts and theatre venue, The Factory, in 2020, which will provide a permanent home for the Manchester International Festival.
     
  • Dorset museums
    A new dinosaur museum, Jurassica, will open in a quarry in Dorset. A £13million redevelopment of Dorset County Museum will be complete, with it becoming a ‘world-class contemporary museum’.
     
  • Restoration of the National Botanic Garden of Wales
    The National Botanic Garden of Wales’ 18th century and landscape will be restored to its heyday, with reconstructed dams, cascades, weirs and falls.

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.

Lifelong Rolling Stones fan visits Exhibitionism and gets surprise Meet and Greet with band

London’s cultural landmarks lead Google search rankings as overseas visits rise: VisitLondon.com and the GREAT Britain campaign launch London’s Autumn Season of Culture