Theatre to book in 2019

Britain is always a hot-bed of theatrical drama, magical musicals and returning classics, and 2019 is no different. Both in London and across the UK, theatres are preparing to welcome some of the world’s biggest stars, the best directors and renowned singing acts as they prepare to break a leg and take to the stage. Discover the theatre to book in 2019.

London shows

Small Island

Opening in May, the Olivier Theatre in London’s National Theatre will welcome an adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel Small Island by Helen Edmundson. Focusing on the history of Jamaica and Britain and set at the time when the Empire Windrush docked in the UK, the show follows the connected stories of Hortense, new to London from Jamaica, landlady Queenie and two servicemen, Bernard and Gilbert.

The Antipodes

October means the European premiere of Annie Baker’s The Antipodes at the Dorfman Theatre, another of the National Theatre spaces. Following a period at the Signature Theatre in New York, the play about stories and the people that tell them is directed by Lila Neugebauer.

Top Girls

Having premiered in London in 1982, Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls will return in 2019 to the National Theatre’s Lyttelton space. Following Marlene, the first woman to head the Top Girls employment agency, the play is an innovative look at a country that is divided by its ambitions – the first showing is in late March.

9 to 5 The Musical

Enjoy a hilarious tale of friendship, gossip and revenge, as well as Dolly Parton’s biggest hits in 9 to 5 the Musical, which premiers in the West End’s Savoy Theatre in late January, before concluding at the end of August. Telling the story of how to survive in an office environment, expect all of the classic songs, including the title track 9 to 5, Always a Woman and Around Here, as well as many more.

All About Eve

Discover Ivo van Hove’s new adaptation of All About Eve at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. Uncover a world of jealousy and ambition, and question why people are fascinated with celebrities, youth and identity when the show premiers in the West End in February 2019.

Come From Away

Having sold out on Broadway, Come From Away comes to the UK in 2019 to tell the remarkable true story of how a small town in Newfoundland housed 7,000 stranded air passengers in the wake of 9/11 in 2001. Highlighting the capacity for human kindness in difficult times and the triumph of humanity over hate, the show gets underway at London’s Phoenix Theatre in late January.

The Waitress

Taking inspiration from Adrienne Shelly’s hit film, The Waitress is the story of Jenna, a waitress and skilled pie-maker on the hunt of a new life beyond the confines of her small town and loveless marriage. Katharine McPhee will star as Jenna during the limited run from February to May at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand.

Long-running shows Lion King The Musical, The Book of Mormon, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and Thriller-Live will all continue to grab the imagination in 2019 too.

Across the UK

Swan Lake

Matthew Bourne’s re-imagined take on Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake completes its tour of Britain in the first half of 2019, with shows all over the country. Famed for its male ballet ensemble, it’s an exciting modern look at a renowned classic production. Alongside shows at Sadler’s Wells in London, the tour will visit Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Southampton, Glasgow, Bristol, Canterbury, Norwich, Liverpool, Wimbledon, Hull, Woking, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Annie

Following a successful stint on London’s West End, the heart-warming story of young orphan Annie will visit 16 cities across the UK between early February and the beginning of July. Expect all of the hit songs, including It’s the Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow, and keep your eyes peeled for Anita Dobson and Craig Revel Horwood, who are both set for spells as tyrannical orphanage owner Miss Hannigan in Michael Harrison and David Ian’s hit production.

The Bodyguard

X-factor winner Alexandra Burke leads the cast in The Bodyguard, a musical based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. Having successfully conquered London’s West End, the romantic thriller follows bodyguard Frank Farmer and superstar Rachel Marron and is directed by award-wining Thea Sharrock. Having opened in Glasgow in late 2018, the hit musical will travel across the UK in 2019 before culminating with Manchester shows in early January 2020. Note that Carole Stennett will step into the lead role for certain shows.

Measure for Measure

Despite being written in the early 1600s, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure still resonates strongly to this day. Gregory Doran directs the story of a young nun, compromised by a corrupt official and unsure of her options. Starting in late June, shows will take place at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until the end of August.

In The Willows

Discover a fresh new take on Kenneth Grahame’s classic as The Wind in the Willows is transformed into a thrilling hip hop musical. Director Poppy Burton-Morgan has joined forces with award-winning composer Pippa Cleary and pioneering hip-hop composer Kieran Merrick for In The Willows, which will tour the UK from mid-February to the start of June. Expect killer beats and epic tunes as deaf street dancer Chris Fonseca stars as Otter.

Pirates!

A vibrant revival of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance is set to open in 2019, although dates are yet to be confirmed. Pirates!, directed by Daryl Gray, will feature new arrangements and orchestrations from Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, some 140 years after the original was first performed.

We Will Rock You

The smash hit Queen and Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You returns in 2019 for a UK and Ireland tour, having toured internationally since leaving the West End in 2014. Offering a combination of Elton’s futuristic comedy writing paired with 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, it follows the epic Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which opened at number one in the box office in more than 30 countries. The nine-month tour of the UK gets underway in September.

Annual events in Britain - 2019

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’ at the Loony Dook (also known as the ‘daft dip’!) 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 more 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

5 – 7 January 

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

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland  

17 January – 3 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.

Slapstick Festival, Bristol, England

18 – 20 January (and 10 February)

Start the year in good humour with the Slapstick Festival, Bristol’s annual celebration of silent comedy that brings guest comedians, experts and film historians together in a passionate and hilarious celebration of classic silent and visual comedy. Its Silent Comedy Gala has a standalone date in February and moves to Bristol Hippodrome for 2019. A super-sized HD screen will show classics with the 40-piece Bristol Ensemble playing Chaplin’s own score during the screening of his masterpiece Modern Times (1936).

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! Burns Night 2019 marks the 260th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen, Wales-wide
 

25 January

This day is in honour of Wales’ patron saint of lovers, the Welsh version of St Valentine’s Day. The day exists due to Dwynwen’s own experiences with lost love and her later commitment to becoming a nun.

 

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland *Quirky*

29 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. 

Lumiere London, London, England

January TBC

More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city during this spectacular festival of lights featuring dazzling installations. Festival locations 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.

 

 

 

FEBRUARY  

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

1 February – 16 March 

The 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. 

Chinese New Year, London and around Britain

5 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. 

Dark Skies Festival, Yorkshire, north England
 

15 February – 3 March
 

The Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors national parks, which remain some of the darkest places in England, are running a joint Dark Skies Festival in February 2019. The 2018 Festival included stargazing, night zips, wildlife and ghost walks, starlight runs and bike rides, games, activities and more, from Hawes to the Moors and shores!

 

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.

Great British Beer Festival Winter, St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, east England

19 – 23 February (The Fringe 1 – 23 February)

The medieval City of Norwich hosts the Great British Beer Festival Winter 2019. Beer of all kinds, from popular light ales to ruby and dark ales, foreign beers and ciders, is served in magnificent medieval friary halls in the heart of Norwich, where pubs also host The Fringe, with special events 1 – 23 February.

Derby Winter Beer Festival, Derbyshire, central England

20 – 23 February

Dubbed the ‘Real Ale Capital’ of Britain, Derby hosts this four-day festival in one of its iconic railway buildings, the world’s oldest Roundhouse. The annual celebration of real ales, lagers and ciders has live bands and tutored beer tastings, with visitors exploring the city as they sample the produce of the city’s respected microbreweries.
 

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England

20 – 27 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. Now in its 35th year it commemorates the traditional ‘Jolablot’ celebrations that the Vikings held each February to herald the coming of spring and the survival of winter hardships.

Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

20 February – 3 March  

The fastest-growing and third-largest film festival in Britain, with more than 350 events, including new local and international film from all genres, from mainstream to art-house, classics to cult.

Keswick Film Festival, Cumbria, north-west England
 

28 February – 3 March
 

Keswick Film Festival’s annual celebration of cinema set within stunning mountain scenery celebrate its 20th birthday in 2019. This is your chance to experience some of the best UK independent and international films.
 

Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, London

February TBC

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. 

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

February TBC

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. 

 

 

 

 

MARCH  

St. David’s Day, Wales-wide

1 March
 

St David is the patron saint of Wales and this day is a celebration of all things Welsh. You’ll find parades of leeks, daffodils, flags of Saint David himself and herds of red dragons – on flags of course. The capital, Cardiff, holds a National St David's Day Parade.

 

European Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland

1 – 3 March

Glasgow will welcome more than 600 athletes from 50 nations to the tracks at the city’s Emirates Arena for the 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships.

Belfast Children’s Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland

8 – 13 March

Expect a packed programme of theatre, visual art, music, dance, literature, workshops and talks at Belfast’s annual international festival for children aged 0 - 17 years. 

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

12 – 15 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. 

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow, Scotland 

14 – 31 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. 

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.

 

Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival, Bristol, south-west England

21 – 24 March
 

The Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival has been host to many legendary names, including the founder father of Jazz Louis Armstrong. With previous line-ups seeing workshops led by James Brown’s former bandmates, and performances from the likes of Melody Gardot, Maceo Parker and Martin Taylor, the 2019 line-up for the world’s most thrilling and ground-breaking jazz and blues festival promises to be great.
 

Gymnastics World Cup, Birmingham, central England

23 March  

Held at Birmingham’s Genting Arena in March, some of the biggest gymnasts from across the globe will be competing to win the prestigious title.
 

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

28 – 31 March

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. 

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

30 March – 7 April

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. A creative writing course also forms part of the programme. 

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England 

March 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. 

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

March TBC

Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival celebrates its ninth year in 2019 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. 

Bath Comedy Festival, Bath, south-west England

 

March – April TBC
 

Featuring famous household names and the stars of tomorrow, Bath Comedy Festival brings a mix of stand-up, sketch comedy, cabaret, music and magic.

 

 

 

APRIL 

Isle of Wight Walking Festival, Isle of Wight, south England

4 – 19 April

The Isle of Wight’s popular walking festival has a full schedule of walks for all ages and abilities. Thousands of local and visiting walkers explore trails across the island, taking in chalky cliffs and rolling hills, sand dunes and pebbly beaches, bustling towns and sleepy villages of thatched cottages.

 

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

5 – 7 April 

One of the most famous horse races 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 5 April. 

Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

6 – 21 April

Edinburgh International Science Festival delivers one of Europe's largest Science Festivals, giving audiences amazing experiences through a programme of innovative and inspiring discussions, workshops, performances, screenings, special events and exhibitions. The Science Festival brings great minds together for a programme that fosters dialogues about the future of our culture, our nation, our planet and our understanding.

 

The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London, England

7 April

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.

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, Cardiff, south Wales 

12 – 14 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. 

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. 

London Marathon, London, England

28 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. 

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival, Stratford upon Avon, west England

28 April – 5 May

This Stratford-upon-Avon festival is one of the most significant literary festivals in the UK, attracting thousands of people who share a love of books, writing and reading. Alongside the debates, celebrity author events and workshops that make up the adult programme is a series of education events designed to entertain and inspire children aged 2 to 18.
 

Bath in Fashion, Bath, south-west England

 

April TBC

 

Bath in Fashion sees fashionistas descend upon the World Heritage City for a week-long celebration of fashion that promises stimulating debate, in-store events and fast-paced catwalks. Expect red carpets with a line-up of stellar designers and global fashion experts.

 

 

 

 

MAY  

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

1 – 6 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. 

Tour de Yorkshire, Yorkshire, north England

2 – 5 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. 

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Speyside, Scotland

2 – 6 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.

Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England

3 – 5 May

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.

Machynlleth Comedy Festival, Machynlleth, Wales

3 – 5 May
 

The Machynlleth Comedy Festival has quickly gained a reputation as a hidden gem, featuring as-seen-on-TV comedy acts. The town is known for its quirky venues, which helps to make it popular with both the acts and audience alike.
 

Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east England

3 May – 2 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. 

Women’s FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium

4 May

The SSE Women's FA Cup Final returns to Wembley for a fifth consecutive year in 2019.

Chelsea lifted the trophy for a second time in 2018, will they triumph again in 2019?

 

Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza, Llandudno, north Wales
 

4 – 6 May
 

Over the May Bank Holiday weekend Llandudno will be packed full of steam engines and Victorian musical organs, vintage cars and costumes, curiosities and sideshows, and people dressed as they were back in the Victorian days. 

 

Brighton Festival, Brighton, south-east England

4 – 26 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.

Stratford Festival of Motoring, Stratford-upon-Avon, west England

5 – 6 May
 
More than 300 cars zoom through the countryside around Stratford-upon-Avon before parking up in the town centre, as part of the popular Stratford Festival of Motoring. Expect plenty of family friendly activities as well as all sorts of classic and special-interest cars to gawp at.
 

Crimefest, Bristol, south-west England

9 – 12 May

Whether you’re a die-hard crime fanatic or you simply like to read an occasional crime novel, this annual convention is an opportunity to celebrate the genre in a friendly, informal and inclusive atmosphere. Drawing crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world, the programme consists of: interviews with its featured and highlighted guest authors; over 40 panels with more than a hundred participating authors; a gala awards dinner; and one or two surprises.

 

Norfolk & Norwich Festival, east England

10 – 26 May

The internationally renowned Norfolk and Norwich Festival is a highlight of the region’s cultural calendar. Held over 17 packed days in various locations across the county, the festival presents more than 100 performances in a superb line-up of companies and ensembles from all over the world. There’s music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts as well as a host of spectacular free outdoor events and plenty of opportunities to get involved in the range of festival workshops.
 

Museums at Night, Britain-wide

15 – 18 May (and October TBC)

Britain’s major museums, historic sites and cultural venues open their doors after dark with a variety of torchlit tours, live music and new exhibitions.

Football Association Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England

18 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. 

Chelsea Flower Show, London

21 – 25 May

One of the best know Royal Horticultural Shows, the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show returns with even more unforgettable floral and horticultural displays.

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

23 May – 2 June

The renowned Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, held annually in a tented village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, brings together some of the greatest contemporary practitioners and the most exciting new voices in literature and arts. Past speakers and performers have included Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Chelsea Clinton, Michael Woolf, Jake Bugg, Laura Mvula, David Walliams, Simon Schama, David Olusoga, Rose McGowan, Dara O'Briain and many more. 

HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, Hay on Wye, Wales

23 May – 2 June
 

On the banks of the River Wye, you'll find the festival where the world's leading thinkers come together to debate the most cutting-edge ideas. HowTheLightGetsIn, the world's largest philosophy and music festival, returns to Hay for the Bank Holiday weekend of May 2019. Confirmed speakers include political theorist Noam Chomsky, physicist Lawrence Krauss, Diane Abbott and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. All of this alongside a programme of music, comedy, culture and performance. 

 

Bath Fringe Festival, Bath, south-west England

24 May – 9 June

 

Expect the unexpected in this festival featuring dance, music, visual arts, comedy, a children’s festival, street theatre, and plenty more.

 

WalkFest 2019, North York Moors, north England

24 – 27 May

Walks for all ages and abilities, expert guides, children’s treasure hunts, moorland hikes, afternoon tea strolls and steam train rides characterise this walking festival in the beautiful North York Moors National Park. In 2019, all of the walks will be themed around the Cleveland Way National Trail as the trail marks its 50th anniversary.

 

Birmingham Pride, Birmingham, central England

25 – 26 May

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

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

25 May – 2 June

 

The Edinburgh International Children's Festival presents the world’s best theatre and dance for young audiences with performances that are engaging, innovative and inspiring, and places an emphasis on striking visual productions.

 

Mersey River Festival, Liverpool, north-west England

25 – 27 May

Explore Liverpool’s maritime heritage during the annual Mersey River Festival.

Loves Saves The Day, Bristol, south-west England

25 – 26 May

This two-day love-in in Eastville Park is an eclectic blend of the original UK pioneers of the UK dance scene with some of the most exciting emerging artists. It’s from the people behind the Wow! Stage at Glastonbury, so expect a fantastic line-up of over 300 acts playing dance, hip hop, dub and reggae.
 

Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Oxfordshire, central England
 

25 – 27 May
 

Oxfordshire’s largest food festival brings 150 food stalls, strolling jazz musicians, children’s storytellers and some of the biggest names in the foodie world to Blenheim Palace’s magnificent grounds. Raymond Blanc and MasterChef winners have attended in the past.

 

Urdd National Eisteddfod, Cardiff Bay, south Wales
 

27 May – 2 June

The Urdd National Eisteddfod is one of Europe’s largest youth touring festivals that attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. More than 15,000 children and young people will be competing during the Eisteddfod week in various competitions such as singing, dancing and performing. There is plenty of attractions for the whole family at the Eisteddfod from enjoying the competitions, to visiting the various stalls and exhibitors on site.

 

Cricket World Cup, various locations

30 May – 14 July

England and Wales host the Cricket World Cup for the fifth time in 2019. Hosting venues include Birmingham’s Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Bristol’s County Cricket Ground, Riverside Ground at Chester-Le-Street, Headingley in Leeds, The Oval and Lord’s in London, Old Trafford in Manchester, Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Southampton’s Rose Bowl, and Taunton’s County Ground.

 

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

31 May – 1 June 

The world’s most famous flat race will see riders and owners in pursuit of one of the richest prizes in British racing on 1 June, with the famous Ladies’ Day held the day before on 31 May.
 

The Bath Festival, Bath, south-west England

 

May – June TBC

 

Bath’s flagship festival consists of 17 days of music and literature in the city’s most beautiful venues. With more than 180 live events to choose from, highlights include Bath’s biggest night of free music, Party in the City, and the highly anticipated Finale Weekend.

 

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

May TBC 

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. 

The Late Shows, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

May TBC  

The Late Shows is an inspiring, late-night 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’. 

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

May TBC 

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. 

Highland Games, across Scotland

May – September 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. 

 

 

 

 

JUNE  

Conwy Pirate Weekend, Conwy, north Wales

1 – 2 June

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.   

Festival of Nature, Bristol and Bath, south-west England

1 – 9 June
 

One of the UK’s greatest free celebrations of the natural world, Festival of Nature features hundreds of free events, including lectures, tours and film screenings on the subjects of science, natural history and the environment. In 2019 the theme will be A Trail of Two Cities, and will take place across Bristol and Bath.

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire, north England

5 – 9 June

This Royal Horticultural Society’s flower shows made its debut in 2017, joining the existing portfolio of shows at Malvern, Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace and Tatton Park and is hosted in the expansive 1,000-acre grounds of stunning Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

Open Garden Squares Weekend, London

8 – 9 June

This special weekend event sees more than 200 green spaces and urban gardens across London, many of which are usually closed to the public, open up for the public to explore. 

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales, Wales
 

9 June

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France is one of the most iconic sportives in the UK, organised by Human Race and ASO to offer an inspiring Tour de France riding experience to UK cyclists. With a selection of four distances to choose from ranging from the Macmillan 100 over 100km, to the gruelling 305km Dragon Devil, the famous route features epic climbs. Signature climbs include Devil’s Elbow, Rhigos, Bwlch, Black Mountain and Devil’s Staircase.
 

Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, south England

13 – 16 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 Kasabian, The Killers and Liam Gallagher.

Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival, Scotland 

14 – 23 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. 

Royal Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England

18 – 22 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 around 30 races over five days.

Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

19 – 30 June
 

Established in 1947, the Film Festival is renowned for discovering and promoting the very best in international cinema, and for heralding and debating changes in global filmmaking. The festival seeks to spotlight the most exciting and innovative new film talent and brings a mix of red-carpet glamour, innovative and exciting cinematic discoveries and massive audience appeal.
 

The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

20 – 23 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. 

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. 

Jane Austen Regency Week, Hampshire, south England
 

22 – 30 June  
 

This nine-day festival is packed with all things Austen. It takes place in and around the market town of Alton and nearby Chawton, the home of Jane Austen’s House & Museum. Expect Regency-style music, dining, drama, singing, talks and guided walks and tours as well as the famous Regency Ball.

Yorkshire Sculpture International triennial, Yorkshire, north England
 

22 June – 29 September
 

Four Yorkshire galleries have secured £750,000 funding from Arts Council England for a new large-scale triennial exhibition. The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, the Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park – which together form the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle – will host Yorkshire Sculpture International every three years, starting in 2019. The project will be characterised by collaborative artistic programming, talent and audience development, new outdoor commissions and international commissioning partnerships. Sculptor Phyllida Barlow will be the ‘provocateur’ for the inaugural triennial.

 

Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England

29 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. 

Major League Baseball London Series, London

29 – 30 June

The first-ever Major League Baseball games to be held in Europe, the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will host the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

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

29 June – 14 September TBC

During the summer, Auckland Castle will host 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.

Swaton Vintage Day & World Egg Throwing Championships, Swaton, Lincolnshire, central England *Quirky*

30 June 

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. 

Pride in London, London, England

June / July 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. 

Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England

June TBC

Bristol Pride is a week-long series of events dedicated to the city’s LGBT+ community ­to spread the message of love and equality for all. The week’s finale is a Pride Parade through the city as part of a colourful outdoor music and arts celebration. Entertainment includes a funfair, market stalls, bars and a Community Area hosting over 60 organisations.

Torchlit Summer Evenings at the Roman Baths, Bath, south-west England

June – August (date TBC)

Every summer, the Roman Baths opens its doors until 10pm every evening, giving visitors the chance to explore the awe-inspiring attraction by torchlight.
 

Taste of London Festival, London, England

June/July 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. 

Man v Horse Marathon, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
 

June TBC

The Man versus Horse Marathon is an annual 22-mile race, where runners compete against riders on horseback, in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells. The event started in 1980 after a pub landlord overheard two drinkers discussing the merits of men and horses running over mountainous terrain. The course was changed in 1982 to provide a more even match between the man and the horse but it took until 2004 before a man finally beat a horse.
 

Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England

June TBC

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. 

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England 

June TBC 

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

June TBC

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.

TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland

June 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.  

Walled City Music Festival, Derry, Northern Ireland

June TBC

The Walled City Music Festival hosts talented classical musicians of wide-ranging genres and styles. 

West End LIVE at Trafalgar Square, London

June TBC

West End LIVE returns to Trafalgar Square in summer 2019, offering the chance to see the best of the London stage performed over one weekend, all for free.

 
 

 

 

JULY 

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

1 – 7 July

The world’s largest annual flower show returns in 2019. A plant lover’s paradise, it’s packed with stunning show gardens, floral displays, and plenty of garden inspiration. 

Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, England

1 – 14 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 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. 

Llangollen Eisteddfod, Llangollen, Wales
 

2 – 7 July

The annual festival will be held at the Royal International Pavilion in Llangollen. Six days of music and folk dance from all over the world in one place.

 

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

3 – 7 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. 

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Sussex, south England 

4 – 7 July

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.

Manchester International Festival, Manchester, north-west England
 

4 – 21 July
 

Staged every two years at venues all over the city, Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events – and it’s the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. The 2019 festival will be the last before it takes up permanent residence in brand new venue The Factory (see entry below). Over the next few years, MIF will be presenting a series of pre-Factory events that will exemplify the energy and ambition of the work to be presented at The Factory.

 

Barclaycard presents British Summertime, Hyde Park, London

5 – 14 July

Returning to London’s Hyde Park, Barclaycard presents British Summertime will once again see some of the world’s greatest bands and musicians take to the stage for six days (over two weekends) of amazing performances.

Wales Airshow, Swansea, Wales
 

6 – 7 July

The show is visible along the entire five-mile stretch of Swansea Bay with spectacular views of the air displays that feature some of the world’s best military and civilian aviation display teams. Ground attractions include an interactive military village, trade stands, children’s entertainment, funfair and lots more.

 

Stratford River Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon, west England
 

6 – 7 July
 

Stratford’s largest free family friendly event welcomes over 70,000 visitors, with market stalls, entertainment and events both on and off the river. There will be live music and dance, local ales and Pimm's, an artisan craft market, and a spectacular illuminated parade of boats and a grand firework display.

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales
 

7 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 – 14 July 

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

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England

12 – 14 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. 

Netball World Cup, Liverpool, north-west England
 

12 – 21 July
 

England Netball and the City of Liverpool will host 16 teams for the 2019 Netball World Cup. The tournament will be held at ACC Liverpool, which has already successfully staged international netball on several occasions. Host nation England are second seeds, following their Commonwealth Games gold medal in April 2018.

 

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

 

12 – 21 July

 

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival plays host to some of the finest jazz and blues talent from all corners of the globe. From bop to boogie-woogie to blues-rock, from samba to swing to soul, the festival takes place over ten groove-packed summer days.

 

The Open Championship, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland

14 – 21 July 

This year the major golf championship, often referred to as The Open or the British Open, will be held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

 

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

17 – 21 July 

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. 

Llangollen Fringe Festival, north-east Wales
 

18 – 28 July
 

The Festival includes an eclectic mix of performance-based events including punk, reggae, rock, folk, flamenco, poetry, drama, art and film. Main events take place in Llangollen's town hall, as well as on a narrow boat, steam train, at the ancient ruins of Castell Dinas Bran and in the atmospheric setting of Vale Crucis Abbey.

 

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

20 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. 

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

22 – 25 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. 

Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 

25 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. 

Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, south-west England

26 – 29 July

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, Rudimental and Hot Chip take the stage. 

Glorious Goodwood Festival, West Sussex, south England 

30 July – 3 August

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.  

The BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Summer 2019 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, Wales

July 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

July – September 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, Wales

July 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. 

Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England 

July TBC

Bristol Pride is a week-long LGBT festival that culminates in a massive outdoor music and arts festival that 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.

Bristol Harbour Festival

July TBC

Bristol Harbour Festival is a free weekend of music, markets and maritime fun based around Bristol’s historic harbourside. Packed with live performance, artists, musicians, circus acts, children’s events, dancers, food markets and street stalls. On the water, hundreds of sailing vessels provide a vibrant backdrop to the activities.
 

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

July TBC

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

The Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly, south Wales

July TBC

The town of Caerphilly comes to life as people of all ages come to The Big Cheese, a free extravaganza including street entertainers, living history encampments, music, dance, traditional funfair, folk dancing, falconry, fire eating, minstrels, troubadours and much more.
 

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

July TBC

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. 

Glasgow Mela, Glasgow, Scotland

Summer 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.  

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

July TBC 

This two-day celebration in Liverpool hosts big names in hip-hop, house and pop, while also promoting new talent, musical heritage and cultural diversity.

National Parks Week, nationwide
 

July TBC

Britain’s 15 national parks do their bit for National Parks Week with plenty of events to celebrate everything that’s great about the nation’s “breathing spaces”. There’s a different theme every year, and all sorts of activities take place, from cycling and walking to stargazing – and many of them are free.

Northern Pride, Newcastle, north-east England
 

July TBC
 

This annual celebration of LGBT life on Tyneside is one of the biggest and most diverse free events in the North East. It starts with a Pride march through Newcastle and ends with a day of music, education, fun and celebration.

 

 

 

 

AUGUST  

Brighton Pride, Brighton, south-east England  

2 – 4 August

Brighton’s 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.

RideLondon, London-Surrey, south-east England

3 – 4 August

Developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies in 2013, Prudential RideLondon is a world-class festival of cycling that wants to encourage more people to cycle more safely, more often. TfL anticipates tens of thousands of spectators and participants every year will take up regular cycling after each event. There is no other closed-road event quite like it, combining a fun and accessible free family ride in central London with the excitement of watching the world’s best professional cyclists race.
 

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 26 August

 

Every August, the Edinburgh International Festival presents three exhilarating weeks of the finest creators and performers from the worlds of the arts. Edinburgh's six major theatres and concert halls, a few smaller venues and often some unconventional ones too, come alive with the best music, theatre, opera and dance from around the globe.

 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 26 August

 

The world's largest arts festival transforms Scotland's capital every August, as thousands of performers take to hundreds of stages all over the city to present shows of all kinds and for every taste. The work on show ranges from huge names in the world of entertainment to unknown artists looking to build their careers. Audiences can enjoy theatre, comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, children's shows, physical theatre, musicals, opera, music, spoken word, exhibitions and events.

 

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 24 August

 

The Tattoo is an iconic Edinburgh institution, with music, dance and precision display with the Massed Pipes and Drums, the Massed Military Bands, cultural troupes, singers and the poignant refrain of the Lone Piper against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Each year's Tattoo is very much a 'global gathering' - showcasing the talents of musicians and performers from every corner of the globe. Each Tattoo is different from the last but always embraces different themes; nature, creativity and Scotland's homecoming are just some of the concepts explored in recent times.

 

Leeds Pride, Yorkshire, north England
 

4 August
 

A ‘must-not-miss’ event on Yorkshire’s LGBT calendar, Leeds Pride is the biggest event of its kind in Yorkshire. Thousands flock to the city for a diverse line up of acts at Millennium Square, a march through the centre of Leeds and the biggest parties until the early hours.

 

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England

8 – 11 August

The city’s largest outdoor event, held annually at the city’s Ashton Court Estate, is the largest event of its kind in Europe. The mass ascents at dawn and teatime are a sight to behold, with more than 100 balloons taking off, and after-dark firework shows to follow. More than half a million people attend the fiesta, which offers a packed four days of fun for the whole family.

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south England

10 – 17 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. 

Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

10 – 26 August

 

The Edinburgh International Book Festival programme offers more 800 events featuring rising stars of fiction to Nobel Prize-winners plus events for children and young adults featuring the finest writers and illustrators for young people. From author events and interactive workshops to lively debates and book signings, the Book Festival allows visitors to meet favourite authors.

 

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, south Wales
 

15 – 18 August
 

This wonderful family-friendly festival takes place on the Glanusk Estate in the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park and features far more than just great music. Visitors can also enjoy live comedy acts as well as watch films, theatre and live poetry.

 

RiZE Festival, Chelmsford, Essex, south-east England

16 – 17 August

RiZE is a new multi-genre music festival that launched in 2018, taking over from the annual V Festival held at Chelmsford's Hylands Park. The music genres range from indie and pop to dance and urban.

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

17 – 18 August

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! 

Creamfields, Liverpool, north-west England

22 – 25 August

Regarded as an iconic dance music festival, every year this legendary event in Liverpool showcases superstar DJs and artists from the music genres of EDM, house, trance, drum and bass and grime.

Pride Cymru, Cardiff, south Wales

23 – 25 August TBC
 

LGBT Mardi Gras, trading as Pride Cymru, returns to Cardiff for Wales' biggest celebration of equality and diversity. The variety of entertainment will continue along with a funfair, a cultural market with arts and crafts, plenty food and drink, and a social hub, offering advice and support to LGBT communities and their friends and family.
 

Reading Festival & Leeds Festival, England

23 – 25 August 

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 Kings of Leon and Kendrick Lamar.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales

25 August

This unusual sport consists of contestants swimming two consecutive lengths of a water-filled trench in the shortest time possible. Held annually in Llanwrtyd Wells in Mid Wales, the championships attract visitors from all over the world. There are food and drink stalls, crafts, a bouncy castle, live music and a real ale and cider bar on the site, so it's a great day out even if you don't fancy taking the plunge.
 

Notting Hill Carnival, London, England

24 – 25 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. 

Piping Live! Glasgow, Scotland

August 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.   

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

August TBC 

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

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

August TBC

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. To do this, all courses use a mixture of public roads, lanes, tracks, agricultural land and rough grazing pastures. 

World Gravy Wresting Championships, Lancashire, north-west England *Quirky*

August 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. 

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England

August 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. 

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

End August/beginning of September TBC

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. 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER  

Dundee Food and Flower Show, Dundee, Scotland

6 – 8 September

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 more than 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.

Great North Run Weekend, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
 

8 September
 

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'. The run starts in the city centre, winds past several iconic sights, and ends at the sea.
 

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

13 September TBC

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. 

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

13 – 15 September 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.

Heritage Open Days, across England 

13 – 22 September   

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.

Ironman Wales, Pembrokeshire, west Wales
 

15 September

A spectacular course, often called one of the most challenging races in the world that takes in stunning beaches and medieval fortresses.
 

UCI Road World Championships, Yorkshire, north England
 

22 – 29 September
 

Yet another major sporting event will arrive in Yorkshire in 2019. One of the world’s most prestigious professional cycling events, the UCI Road World Championships will see 1,000 riders from 75 different countries compete in 12 races over eight days. The routes will take in Yorkshire’s spectacular countryside and no doubt be packed by crowds waving on the athletes. Provisional race start venues include Beverley, Bradford, Doncaster, Leeds, Northallerton, Ripon and York. All races will finish in Harrogate, the event’s focal point.

 

Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival, Bristol, south-west England

September TBC

This is the longest-running competitive short film and animation festival in the UK. Based at Watershed in Bristol’s historic floating harbour, the week-long programme pulls together some of the best short films from around the world alongside a series of special big screen events, a comprehensive industry programme and free public screenings. This is a chance to see films from 90 seconds to 20 minutes, across all film-making genres and made by film-makers and animators from 60 countries.

Bristol Open Doors, Bristol, south-west England

September TBC

This annual weekend event offers the chance to get inside more than 100 landmark buildings and curious spaces, many of which are usually closed to the public. Organised by The Architecture Centre, a registered charity, the weekend offers a mix of drop-in and must-book events including tours, talks, walks and visitor experiences that get under the skin of the city. 

British Science Festival, 2019 location TBC

September 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. 

Hull Freedom Festival, Yorkshire, north England 

2019 dates TBC

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

London Fashion Week, London, England

September TBC

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
 

September TBC
 

Visit Bath during the Jane Austen Festival for an immersive Regency experience. Walk alongside 500 Jane Austen fans in the spectacular, opening Grand Regency Costumed Promenade. Throughout the rest of the festival, join other Jane Austen fans on guided walks and day trips, sit back and enjoy talks, music recitals and concerts or get hands on at workshops and dance classes.

 

Bath Children’s Literature Festival, Bath, south-west England
 

September – October TBC

Featuring the best children’s and teen authors, incredible illustrators, favourite characters, professional storytellers and the biggest names in children’s literature from across the world.

 

York Food and Drink Festival, York, north England

September/October TBC

One of the biggest foodie festivals in Britain, York Food and Drink Festival celebrates the best local and regional food and drink. There’s a great variety of day and evening events, from wine and food tastings to cookery demonstrations and hands-on workshops in some of the city’s iconic historic buildings.

 

Blackpool Illuminations, Lancashire, north-west England

September – November TBC

This annual light show has been a major part of Blackpool’s attraction since 1879. The Festival of Light complements the traditional Illuminations with a contemporary take on entertainment made from light and art. The Illuminations are usually bookended by a fantastic celebrity-packed Switch-on Festival Weekend with bespoke Illumination performances, and Lightpool Festival, a spectacular walking route linking Blackpool’s most iconic buildings and history through light installation artworks.
 

The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, north Wales
 

September TBC

The Good Life is created by Cerys Matthews, Steve 'Abbo' Abbott and Charlie and Caroline Gladstone who have put together the very best of music, books, food and the great outdoors. This will be a voyage of fun and discovery for the whole family. 

 

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, south Wales
 

September TBC
 

One of the biggest events on the UK foodie calendar.  A packed menu of celebrity chefs, master-classes, mouth-watering street stalls and entertainment.

 

Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, south Wales
 

September TBC
 

Elvis lives, thanks to the thousands of fans and the tribute artists who attend this annual gathering of blue suede shoes, Vegas jumpsuits, and whopping sideburns in Porthcawl.
 

London Design Festival, London, England

September TBC

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

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

September 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*

September 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.

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

September 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 

Wales Rally GB, Flintshire, north Wales

4 – 7 October
 

The British leg of the FIA World Rally Championship takes place over four thrilling days based at the Rally Village in Deeside, Flintshire.

 

Cardiff Half Marathon, Cardiff, south Wales

7 October
 

Competitors race right through Cardiff city centre past iconic locations, with beautiful scenery and historic buildings, starting at Cardiff Castle, and passing the Principality Stadium, Penarth Marina, before crossing the Cardiff Barrage and racing through Cardiff Bay before finishing close to Cardiff City Hall.  

 

Iris Prize Festival, Cardiff, south Wales

9 – 14 October
 

A six-day celebration of LGBT film, including screenings of 35 short films competing for the Best of British Iris Prize.

 

World Shore Angling Championships, Conwy, north Wales

20 – 27 October
 

This prestigious international event, held in a different venue each year, features the world’s top shore anglers competing for World Championship titles for men and women. There will be fishing from the shoreline on five competitive days.

 

Artes Mundi, Cardiff, south Wales
 

27 October – 24 February

Best known for its biennial international Exhibition and Prize, which takes place in Cardiff, this is Wales’ biggest contemporary visual art show. One of the shortlisted artists is awarded the prize of £40,000, the largest art prize in the UK and one of the most significant in the world.

 

Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea, south Wales

27 October – 9 November
 

An annual two-week festival that starts on Dylan's birthday and finishes on the date of his death with talks, performances, exhibitions, readings and music with a Dylan Thomas theme.

 

Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Oxfordshire, central England

October 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 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 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 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.

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Leicestershire, central England

October 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; 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

October TBC

In 2019 London will host its 63rd annual film festival organised 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.

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland *Quirky*

October 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. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, west England

October TBC

This literary festival will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2019 and will see the launch of major books, as well as more than 500 talks, workshops and performances touching upon subjects as diverse as history, politics, sport, food and fashion.

Belfast International Arts Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland

October – November TBC

This Belfast-based festival covers theatre, dance, classical and roots music, visual, film and digital arts and literature in the Northern Ireland capital.

Turner Prize 2019, Margate, Kent
 

October – January 2020
 

The Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate will host the famous Turner Prize in 2019. Both venue and event are named after the innovative landscape artist JMW Turner, who was a regular visitor to Margate and inspired by the east Kent coast. The gallery is built on the site of a boarding house where Turner stayed when he visited the seaside town. Margate was also the childhood home of Tracey Emin, whose controversial My Bed artwork was shortlisted for the prize in 1999. Exact dates TBC; the winner will be announced at a major awards ceremony in December 2019.

 

 

 

 

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. 

Lumiere 10th anniversary, Durham City, north-east England
 

14 – 17 November
 

The Lumiere light festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Durham with its most ambitious festival yet. A selection of favourites from the previous five festivals will be on show alongside some brand new artworks.

 

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.

London Jazz Festival, London, England

November 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 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 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.

The Cary Grant Festival, Bristol, south-west England

November TBC

This is a favourite for fans of the Bristolian star as a weekend of events is dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the Hollywood actor and style icon Cary Grant.

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London, England

November – January 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.  

Longleat Festival of Light, Longleat, Wiltshire, west England

November TBC

This festive outdoor light festival boasts hundreds of illuminated characters and scenes once again transforming the estate into a winter wonderland; each year has a new theme.

FilmBath Festival, Bath, south-west England

November TBC

Soak up the special atmosphere of packed, yet quiet, auditoriums as you enjoy screenings of previews, documentary features, F-Rated films and talks with directors, producers and stars.

 

Bath Mozartfest, Bath south-west England

November TBC
 

Celebrate Mozart’s music, and that of his contemporaries or those influenced by him, in a glorious feast of classical music performed in some of Bath’s most beautiful and inspiring buildings.

 

CS Lewis Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland
 

November TBC

The CS Lewis Festival celebrates the legacy of Belfast-born author Clive Staples Lewis, famous for creating The Chronicles of Narnia.

Kendal Mountain Festival, Cumbria, north-west England

November TBC
 

The world’s biggest Mountain Festival is a celebration of film, outdoor sports, literature, art and legends that hopes to inspire people to explore and enjoy mountains and the wilderness. The Mountain Film Competition is a main feature of the event, with entries competing to be the grand prize winner.
 

Leeds International Film Festival, Yorkshire, north England
 

November TBC
 

One of the largest film events in the UK, Leeds International Film Festival presents an incredible selection of the best new and classic films from around the world. Each year, audiences are invited to step in from the cold autumn weather and enjoy the power of cinema at some of the city’s favourite venues, including Leeds Town Hall, The Hyde Park Picture House and Everyman Leeds.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 

Christmas at Kew, London, England

December 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 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. 

Enchanted Parks, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

Early December TBC

Every year, a themed trail of art installations with lights, performances, sculptures and projections transforms Gateshead’s Saltwell Park into a winter wonderland. Enchanted Parks is part of Light up the North, a series of seven light festivals in seven cities in north England. Don’t delay buying tickets – they sell out quickly.
 

NewcastleGateshead Winter Festival and New Year’s Eve Carnival, NewcastleGateshead, 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.

Top destination stories for 2019

Top Destination Stories For 2019

 

75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

A significant moment in global history, 6 June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy of the Second World War. Next year will see several important occasions to commemorate this historic anniversary. Britain’s Imperial War Museums (IWM), with five museums across the UK, will retell the story between 1 – 9 June through three of its historic sites: HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and Churchill War Rooms, all of which played a significant role in D-Day. Elsewhere, Bristol in south-west England will be marking the anniversary; the Normandy landings were planned by Gen Omar Bradley at Clifton College in Bristol, the US Army’s command base in the city. General Bradley and others stayed in a building in the The Holmes, now part of the University of Bristol’s Botanic Gardens, while he was in the city. And Southsea in south England, is home to the D-Day Museum, is planning a major redevelopment ahead of the anniversary. Expect more events and commemorations to take place across the country.

Wales – Year of Discovery

Wales – Year of Discovery 2019 will build on the destination’s three previous themes (Year of the Sea, Year of Legends and Year of Adventure) and emphasise that Wales is alive with events and activities. 2019’s Year of Discovery will encourage visitors to not only discover Wales but also themselves through the wealth of attractions, adventures and experiences Wales has to offer.
The Wales Way will also remain a key focus for 2019. Launched towards the end of 2018, The Wales Way is a group of three national touring routes that cross the country’s most epic landscapes, showcasing its fascinating history, coastlines and attractions. The routes will help position Wales as a destination for experience-seeking travellers, willing to explore off-the-beaten track locations along The North Wales Way, The Cambrian Way and The Coastal Way, all year round.

London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest

Inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, the London Borough of Culture is a major new initiative launched by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2018, with the borough of Waltham Forest being the first to win the accolade for 2019. Designed to put culture at the heart of communities, it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover the character and diversity of different areas of London. Mercury Award-winning local musician Talvin Singh will lead a stellar cast of artists in a unique collaboration with Waltham Forest’s young people for a huge opening event, Welcome to the Forest, to celebrate the start of the neighbourhood’s tenure as London’s first Borough of Culture.

Britain on the big – and small – screen

Britain will, once again, play a starring role in several new major movie releases in 2019, as well as lead the way with some of television’s biggest hits.

Mary Queen of Scots – January 2019 (with early release in USA end of 2018)

Starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England respectively, this biographical tale portrays Mary’s attempt to overthrow Elizabeth, before being condemned to years of imprisonment and finally facing execution. Glorious period sets and costumes are further enhanced by the British landscapes used as locations, including London, Oxford and Derbyshire in England and Edinburgh and Glencoe in Scotland. Visit Linlithgow Palace, an hour from Edinburgh, where Mary was born, Edinburgh Castle where she gave birth to her only child and the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh, Scottish Borders.

Downton Abbey movie – release date 2019 TBC

The rumour mill has certainly been in overdrive on this one…but an NBC Universal spokesman confirmed the studio is to put the highly anticipated movie into production in 2018. Nearly three years after its final television episode, Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey itself) has revealed the cast and crew will return there to film in the last quarter of 2018.

Bond 25 – release date 8 November 2019

Bond returns! The 25th instalment of the Bond movies will hit the big screen in 2019. No locations have been divulged yet but there’s plenty to see and do in Britain to get Bond-ready, whether that’s checking out props from the films at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden or enjoying a martini at Dukes Bar in London's Mayfair, where Bond author Ian Fleming regularly frequented.

Shaun the Sheep 2 – 2019 release date TBC

Everyone’s favourite woolly friend will be back on our screens next year in the Aardman production of Shaun the Sheep 2. The production company – the Oscar-winning animation studio that also created the award-winning Wallace and Gromit films, Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man – is famously based in Bristol, south-west England.

The Favourite – release date early January 2019 (earlier 2018 release in the US)

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. Starring British actors Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz, locations such as Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, one hour from London, were used.

The Secret Garden – release date Summer 2019 TBC

A new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s classic children’s novel The Secret Garden is set for release in 2019. Directed by Marc Munden and starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters, the film tells the story of a young orphaned girl sent from India to live with her neglectful uncle in Yorkshire. Key locations for the film include Helmsley Walled Garden (the secret garden), Duncombe Park and Farndale in the North York Moors National Park, north England, and Iford Manor, Wiltshire, west England.

Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle release – 13 September 2019

The plot of a new film by Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle is being kept tightly under wraps, but it’s believed to be a Beatles-themed romantic comedy set in 1960s and/or 1970s Suffolk... Filming took place all over the county, including Halesworth, Dunwich, Shingle Street and Latitude Festival. It stars Lily James, Himesh Patel and Ana de Armas, and promises all sorts of cameos, including one by Ed Sheeran.

Peaky Blinders, season 5 – 2019 release date TBC

Tommy and the rest of the Peaky Blinders will return to our TV screens in 2019. Set and filmed in the central England city of Birmingham Peaky Blinders is set during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The show is also filmed in Liverpool, north-west England.

The Crown, season 3 – 2019 release date TBC

Filming has started Netflix’s The Crown third season, with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.

 

Manchester International Festival returns – and discover the city’s newest neighbourhood

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. The festival is staged every two years – the next edition will take place 4 – 21 July 2019 at venues all over the city – and will be the last before the festival takes up permanent residence in the North of England’s flagship new cultural venue, The Factory. And St John’s is the name of an enormous masterplan to create a new neighbourhood for enterprise, culture and living in the city, which will sit on the former site of Granada Studios. Incorporating residenti­­al, hotels, work space, intimate streets and lively courtyards, the St John’s neighbourhood will retain many original buildings such as the iconic Bonded Warehouse as well as new-builds including Factory Manchester.  

 

Must-see exhibitions and museum updates

A host of British museums and galleries are welcoming new exhibitions and extensions in 2019.

In London, Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade, and the Tate’s first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947 (27 March – 11 August) while the National Portrait Gallery will host the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver (21 February – 19 May). The new Medicine galleries at the Science Museum are due for completion in 2019 and will be one of the most significant medicine collections in the world, while The Geffrye has embarked on a major transformative scheme, Unlocking the Geffrye, to open up the museum and improve visitors’ experience, due for completion in 2019. The Cartoon Museum will open in a new central London location, bringing the “imagination of the world of cartoons into a physical space”.

In Bristol, south-west England, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (2 February – 2 May) while M-Shed hosts Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed (16 March – 16 June) – the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK – and On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (6 July – 29 September), which will feature everything from drawings to the latest VR technology that went into making the animated feature film Early Man.

Turner Contemporary in Margate, on the Kent coast in south-east England will host the world-famous visual art prize, the Turner Prize. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire will launch new exhibitions, events, historic restoration and conservation projects and new tours.  From 9 February – April, an exhibition of JMW Turner’s early architectural paintings and engravings will be on show and, new for 2019, are the Twizy Tours – a fun way to explore the Capability Brown landscaped parkland from the comfort of a two-seater, electric vehicle.

Heading to the north of England, the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will host Yorkshire Sculpture International every three years, starting in 2019. The project will be characterised by collaborative artistic programming, talent and audience development, new outdoor commissions and international commissioning partnerships. Liverpool’s Tate Liverpool will host the first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring (14 June – 10 November), where more than 70 art works inspired by underground club culture, pop art and graffiti will be displayed. The city will also welcome an exhibition of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the Walker Art Gallery (15 March – 26 August).

And good news for royal fans in 2019 as the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh hosts A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (14 June – 6 October), when the wedding outfits of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will go on display in a special exhibition.

 

Hot hotel openings

Book ahead for these exciting hotel openings in 2019.

London
Robert de Niro's is due to open his first London hotel in partnership with BD Hotels The Wellington, in Covent Garden. Planning permission has been granted for the scheme, which will include 83 bedrooms, two restaurants, a members' club, deli/café, spa and swimming pool.
The Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, is scheduled to open its doors in Spring next year and boast around 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®. And art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel, the art'otel Hoxton

England
Work has now started on the development of a 137-bedroom Dakota Deluxe hotel in Manchester, north-west England, the third in the luxury Dakota Deluxe brand alongside properties in Glasgow and Leeds; the design-led hotel is set to open in spring 2019. And in January 2019, the Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station hotel is set to open with 187 contemporary rooms.
The Grand, one of Birmingham's most iconic buildings, is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool, due to open in early 2019. And The Crescent is due to open next year in the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, as the Grade I-listed Crescent is transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel.

Scotland
Yotel is to open its first hotel in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019 on Edinburgh’s Queen Street, featuring 280 cabins. Elsewhere, independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel, called The DogHouse, and will launch an immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland.

Unmissable sporting events

Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events and, in 2019, the following championships will take place.

European Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland (1 – 3 March)

Glasgow will welcome more than 600 athletes from 50 nations to the tracks at the city’s Emirates Arena for the 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships.

RBS 6 Nations Rugby Union, across Britain (starts 23 February)

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland join France and Italy in the clash of the rugby greats.

Gymnastics World Cup, Birmingham, central England (23 March)  

Held at Birmingham’s Genting Arena in March, gymnasts from across the globe will compete to win the prestigious title.

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

This will be the 12th Cricket World Cup competition and, for the fifth time, will be held in England and Wales.

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France is one of the most iconic sportives in the UK and offers an inspiring Tour de France riding experience to UK cyclists.

Major League Baseball, London (29 – 30 June)

The first-ever Major League Baseball games to be held in Europe, the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will host the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

Netball World Cup, Liverpool, north-west England (12 – 21 July)

England Netball and the City of Liverpool will host the 2019 Netball World Cup at ACC Liverpool.

Solheim Cup, Gleneagles, Scotland (9 – 15 September)

The Solheim Cup is the biggest event in women’s golf and more than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend from across the globe.

UCI Road World Championships, Yorkshire, north England (22 – 29 September)

One of the world’s most prestigious professional cycling events, the UCI Road World Championships will see 1,000 riders from 75 different countries complete in 12 races over eight days.

Fantastic new experiences launch

June will welcome a new Silverstone Heritage Experience at of the home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, central England. The permanent exhibition, housed in a refurbished World War II-hangar on the Silverstone circuit site, will use state-of-the-art interactive displays to tell the stories of people who have been involved in the site’s history, from medieval monks to modern racing drivers and engineers. The immersive show dome finale to the 2.5-hour experience will allow visitors to feel what it’s like to zoom around the track alongside their racing heroes.

In Bristol, south-west England, The Wave Bristol is set to open in the Autumn, a new inland surfing lake powered by the latest wave-making technology, capable of generating up to 1,000 quality waves per hour. The lake will have three surf zones for different abilities and a high-performance surf centre for elite athletes and aspiring pros. Set in beautiful sensory, healing and kitchen gardens on the edge of the city, The Wave will also have a swimming pool, café, education centre, camping accommodation and surf shop. As well as giving people easier access to surfing, the project aims to educate and inspire people on a range of topics from marine conservation to living healthier lifestyles.

New theatre for 2019

Yet another fantastic year is lined up in the world of London theatre.

Pinter At The Pinter: Party Time/Celebration at the Harold Pinter Theatre
From 4 January
Party Time is paired with Harold Pinter’s final play, Celebration, as part of the Pinter At The Pinter season, held at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

9 to 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre
Previews from 28 January
Based on the cult film, 9 to 5 The Musical is coming to the West End and will feature a book by the movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick with the score by the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton.

Notre Dame de Paris, London Coliseum
From 23 January
One of France’s most popular musicals, Notre Dame de Paris is based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame with music by Riccardo Cocciante and book and lyrics by Luc Plamondon.

Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre
From 18 February
This Broadway musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is based on the events in the week following the 9/11 attacks on America, when 38 planes were ordered to land in the small Canadian town of Gander. 

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other: Twelve Variations On Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela', National Theatre
From January
Directed by Katie Mitchell with a cast including Cate Blanchett and Stephen Dillane, Martin Crimp’s play breaks through the surface of contemporary debate to explore the messy nature of desire and the complicated roles men and women play.

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
Spring 2019
Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is in a loveless marriage in a small town. A baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, leaving Jenna to weigh her commitments against a shot at freedom and recognition.

On Your Feet! London Coliseum, London
From 14 June
Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s smash-hit musical comes to London in 2019 direct from Broadway for a strictly limited season. It’s the true love story of Emilio and Gloria and follows their journey from its Cuban origins to the streets of Miami and to international superstardom.

Mary Poppins Prince Edward Theatre
Autumn 2019
Mary Poppins will return in the autumn of 2019 at the West End theatre where it premiered in 2004. Tickets for the production will go on sale in January.

Major anniversaries to commemorate

2019 will be a bumper year of significant anniversaries in Britain; this year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight, when Club Concorde hopes to buy the Concorde currently on display at Le Bourget airport in Paris. If it is successful, the plane will be restored before resuming operation as a private heritage aircraft that will be flown at air displays as well as being available for charter. 2019 also marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace, where she also spent her childhood. A permanent re-presentation of her rooms, telling the story of her fascinating life at the palace will open and a programme of performance, special events, tours and talks will also run throughout the year. Britain’s National Parks will celebrate their 70th anniversary next year – expect National Parks Week to be extra special. And Manchester, in north-west England, will mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019. On 16 August 1819 in St Peter's Fields, Manchester, armed cavalry charged a peaceful crowd of around 60,000 people gathered to listen to anti-poverty and pro-democracy speakers.

Back with a bang! Where to celebrate Bonfire Night in Britain

If you’re travelling in Britain on or around 5 November, you’ll have the chance to experience something uniquely British – Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, where fireworks light up the skies and huge bonfires are lit. It’s a tradition stretching back centuries, celebrating the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Many British towns and cities host their own events; here’s where you can expect to find some of the most spectacular fireworks displays in 2018.

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival, London

There’ll be guaranteed ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’ at one of the biggest and most impressive fireworks displays in the UK, held at north London’s Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as Ally Pally) between 2 – 3 November. There’ll also be plenty more to enjoy than the fireworks and the bonfire; ice-skating sessions at its rink – plus a special Ice Disco for after the main fireworks’ display – a laser show prior to the fireworks, a huge German Bier Keller taking over Ally Pally’s Great Hall, live music, circus performances of high-wire walking, plus tasty treats at the Street Food and Craft Beer village. All of this with the added bonus of incredible panoramic views over the London skyline.

Battle Bonfire and Fireworks Display, East Sussex, south England

Said to be the town where Guy Fawkes sourced his gunpowder, Battle in East Sussex (around two hours from London) understandably puts on a fabulous free, non-ticketed event. Hosted by the Battle Bonfire Boyes, the day (3 November in 2018) begins with the ringing of the church bells and a children’s procession, that leads to a competition for the best fancy dress and the best Guy (the effigy created to put on the bonfire). By 6pm the Guy is taken up the High Street to kickstart another procession that ends at the bonfire and a fabulous fireworks display commences.

Fireworks at the Fort, Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend, north-east England

The night sky over north-east England’s River Tyne will be lit up with multi-coloured fireworks on 2 November when the event kicks off at Segedunum, a major site on Hadrian’s Wall. The beauty of celebrating Bonfire Night at this location is the chance to explore the museum exhibits at the Fort first, the most excavated fort along World Heritage Site Hadrian’s Wall. It has a fantastic interactive museum (free entry after 4pm on the day), plus a full-scale reconstruction of a bath house and a section of the Wall. Catch fabulous views of Hadrian’s Wall from its 35-metre high viewing tower, which, for the first time this year, will be the offering exclusive, limited number, VIP seats for the fireworks display.

Sparks in the Park, Cardiff, south Wales

This annual event is attended by around 20,000 people making it one of Wales’ biggest and best firework displays. At Cardiff’s Bute Park on 3 November, a huge bonfire will be lit, with an earlier fireworks’ show taking place for young children before the main event later in the evening. There’s plenty to occupy visitors before then, with food stalls, fairground attractions and live entertainment.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, central England

This fireworks’ extravaganza takes place in its gardens of one of England’s most beautiful stately homes over the course of two nights, on 2 and 3 November. The lighting of the bonfire kicks off proceedings, followed by a children’s fireworks display and culminates with the grand finale fireworks display. Wrap up warm and explore the grounds for live music, circus performances, dancing and feasts of hog roasts and mulled cider. This year guests can also buy tickets to a two-course dinner in Chatsworth’s Cavendish restaurant before entry to the bonfire and fireworks event.

Lewes Bonfire Night, East Sussex, south-east England

Probably one of the quirkiest celebrations of Bonfire Night, the 5 November will see the return of this remarkable festival in the tranquil town of Lewes on England’s south coast. Six separate Lewes Bonfire Societies, including visiting bonfire societies from all over Sussex, celebrate Guy Fawkes Night across various parts of the town, each with their own fireworks, traditions and up to 30 processions, which then all come together through the streets of Lewes. It’s quite the spectacle.

The Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary, Devon, south England

You can’t get a better example of the charm of English eccentricity than this…the Tar Barrel tradition, which is centuries older and began after the Gunpowder Plot. The event started with the townspeople of Devon town Ottery St Mary rolling burning barrels down the streets on 5 November, which then progressed to the current tradition of people carrying full-sized, lit tar barrels through the streets instead! This year the event takes place on 4 November (as 5 November falls on a Sunday) and this pyrotechnic wonder is accompanied by a fireworks’ display and bonfire.

Tartantastic Fireworks Extravaganza Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

Charity Scottish Love in Action is hosting three Tartantastic Fireworks Extravaganza Shows, huge family-friendly fundraising events, the first on 2 November, the next two on 4 November. Not only are visitors treated to a large-scale fireworks display, there will also be traditional Scottish music from pipe bands as well as a performance by the Fire Circus theatre and enough food stalls to satisfy all hungry stomachs. This year there are a limited number of VIP tickets available, which includes access to the VIP lounge and refreshments.

 

Ten of the best ghostly tours and haunted houses in Britain

Get ready to be spooked this Halloween with these spine-chilling experiences and haunted houses.

 

5 chilling experiences

 

For The Love Of Horror – Manchester, north-west England

Your nerves will be stretched to their very limit as you explore a new creepy experience from Monopoly Events, who will transfer the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester into a chilling immersive attraction that will make you quake in your boots! Dare you enter the Nightmare Zone, where you’ll be greeted by horror movies’ most frightening characters, before you attempt to battle your way through a zombie outbreak? Meet those real-life creatures that always crop up in horror films, the tarantulas and cockroaches to snakes, before you heroically move on to a ‘mad monster after party’ and experiencing all the other horror attractions. Prove to friends and family you survived it all with a snap in the interactive ‘exorcist’ photo booth.

 

Wicked Nights at Blackgang Chine – Isle of Wight, south England

Walk through a ‘land of twisted imagination’ at amusement park Blackgang Chine’s new horror event, Wicked Nights at the Cursed Mill. Pluck up all your courage as you approach hair-raising live action experiences and scream like you’ve never screamed before on the Cliffhanger roller-caster. Still feeling brave? Hop on board the sinister ghost train before keeping your wits about you as you compete in games and activities at the Freaky Fair.

 

Muncaster Castle – Cumbria, north-west England

Muncaster Castle celebrates the spookiest time of the year in a truly ghostly fashion, as befits a castle known to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Don your finest Halloween fancy dress before making your way bravely through the dark and eerie Meadowvole Maze, be prepared to jump out of your skin as you listen to scary tales of fear and terror, and who knows what you might find lurking in the Ghostly Grotto! In between being spooked you’ll be entertained by the Muncaster Monster Cabaret – a mix of conjurors, fire-eating and aerial acts. 

 

Journey to the Underworld – London, England

Are you brave enough to embark on a Journey to the Underworld? This is a journey where you’ll discover the ‘Greatest Love Story Never Told’ at Pedley Street Station in Shoreditch, east London, as Funicular Productions brings a new enigmatic theatre experience to life. Get ready to encounter a thrilling combination that takes you through a story of fantasy, danger, fear, hope and love, as well as feast on a ‘last meal in paradise’ before your journey to the underworld. It’s here you’ll try to outsmart ‘the seductive Gatekeeper, the hunched Harbinger, and the damnable Dark One’.

 

Ghoulies Haunted House – Liverpool, north-west England

After bringing a live-action scare attraction and horror-themed bar to the residents of, and visitors to, Liverpool on a year-round basis it’s unsurprising that Ghoulies Haunted House is upping the scare factor come Halloween. This year, a character that may be innocuously called Kavity the Clown will be roaming the Haunted House, but you can guarantee it will be as scary as clowns get…and with a lot of laughs thrown in. If you enjoy this, come back any time of year to experience the venue’s horror-themed cocktails and events such as Scaryoke Karaoke, the Brain Dead Quiz and Boogeyman Bingo.

 

5 of Britain’s most haunted houses

 

Chillingham Castle, Chillingham, Northumberland, north-east England

Chilling by name and chilling by nature, this 13th-century castle in Northumberland was the scene of bloody battles and eerie intrigue for centuries. Its rooms and gardens are lovely places to explore but to properly experience one of the most haunted castles in Britain, head into its Torture Chamber and join an evening Ghost Tour for a more unnerving encounter.

The Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, west England

For nearly 900 years the Ancient Ram Inn has stood in the Gloucestershire village of Wotton-under-Edge and brings with it stories of a gruesome and bloodthirsty history. Not only that, there have been numerous reports of supernatural events taking place here, making it a frontrunner for spookiest house in Britain. If that doesn’t petrify you, stay overnight here – although whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep is another matter…

Newton House, Dinefwr, Pembrokeshire, west Wales

The gorgeous Dinefwr Estate is a beautiful 18th-century park landscaped by Capability Brown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tales of ghosts and ghouls roaming the grounds. Newton House, in the centre of the park, has a ghostly visitor each night in the form of Lady Elinor Cavendish. The tale goes that she was betrothed to a man she didn’t love and, when she ran away from him and escaped back to Dinefwr to her family, her suitor strangled her. Visitors should listen out for muffled voices and watch out paranormal activity from the servants’ basement…

St Briavel’s Castle, Gloucestershire, west England

Looked after by English Heritage, this castle is now a youth hostel and if you enjoy the thought of hearing all the creepy tales about this 800-year-old castle, this is the place for you. Maybe you’ll sense the spine-chilling atmosphere as you explore the castle and feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as you read pleading notes carved into the walls by prisoners held here centuries ago.

Glamis Castle, Scotland

Known as one of the most haunted castles in Scotland, Glamis Castle – 20 minutes’ drive from Dundee and, incidentally, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother – is said to be home to many spirits…which makes sense when you learn it’s been standing since 1372 and was said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth. There’s many a spooky tale of historic dark deeds to be heard, especially around Halloween on one of its ghostly tours…

 

The Highs & Lows of London

From skyline spectaculars to subterranean secrets, London presents a raft of thrilling experiences to showcase its sights.

Up High

Sky Garden

The view across the capital from the stunning glass dome of 20 Fenchurch Church – which Londoners affectionately refer to as the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building – is jaw-droppingly awesome, delivering iconic views of the city and far beyond...and it’s all for free! Space is limited at its beautifully landscaped Sky Garden, so tickets must be booked online, but you can also soak up the views while enjoying fine dining at its Fenchurch Restaurant, Darwin Brasserie or Sky Pod Bar.  

ArcelorMittal Orbit

Soaring 114.5 metres high above the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture. Head up to its observation deck for a spectacular 60-degree view of London and the legendary sporting arenas of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (home of the London 2012 Olympics), including the impressive London Stadium, now home to West Ham United FC. That’s not all – with views of up to 20 miles across all angles of London, you’ll catch sight of famous London landmarks as well as five of London’s football grounds. And the best way to descend the Orbit? Via the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide where you’ll whizz down 178 metres.

Frank’s Café

A hidden gem in the buzzing south-east London neighbourhood of Peckham is Peckham Levels, a multi-purpose, artistic space created in a multi-storey car park that has also evolved into a foodie and nightlife destination. Head to the top-floor Frank’s Café for gorgeous panoramic views of the capital’s skyline while you enjoy a drink or two.

Greenwich Park

Head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Royal Maritime Greenwich for magnificent, sweeping views over the capital. Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park and outside the Royal Observatory you’ll find a fantastic viewpoint in front of the statue of General Wolfe that offers incredible vistas, taking in the beautiful architecture of the Royal Museums Greenwich buildings and the Old Royal Naval College, the River Thames and out across to the City of London. It’s also a perfect spot when the sun sets and the city lights illuminate the view.

Up at the O2

Yes, you’ll be climbing onto the actual roof of the iconic entertainment venue, but climb guides will be with you throughout the 90-minute climb and, as you reach the summit, 360° views over historic Greenwich, the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf await you; on a clear day you’ll be able to see 15 miles away. As well as daytime climbs, you can set off on this high-scale adventure as the sun sets or at night for extraordinary night-time views.

The Tower Viewing Gallery – Westminster Abbey

One of the newest ‘high points’ to launch in the capital, Westminster Cathedral has opened its recently refurbished Tower Viewing Gallery, standing 210 feet/64 metres above street level. Add to that an exhibition of stunning drawings illustrating the design and heritage of the Cathedral in its Viewing Gallery and ground floor lobby and you’ll gain a full sense of the tower’s perspective.

Also worth heading up for outstanding views: The View from the Shard, the London Eye, the Tower Bridge Exhibition, restaurants SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle, as well as the OXO Tower.

 

Down Below

The Mail Rail

Descend into the former engineering depot of Mail Rail – the one-hundred-year-old Post Office railway – and set off on a 15-minute underground exploration via miniature train into the original tunnel below Royal Mail’s Mount Pleasant sorting office. The experience is fully immersive; you’ll discover original station platforms and secret parts of the underground railway that once transported mail through the capital.

Hidden London – London Transport Museum

Hidden London is the London Transport Museum’s exclusive programme of tours and events at disused stations and secret sites across the capital. It’s a fantastic chance to discover locations rarely seen by the public and experienced guides will divulge unique stories about the stations’ different histories along the way. Hidden London is offering tours between October and December 2018 at locations such as ‘Down Street: Churchill’s Secret Station’; ‘Euston: The Lost Tunnels’; and ‘Clapham South: Subterranean Shelter’.

The Vaults at Waterloo

Located in a maze of disused railway arches under Waterloo station, with some incredible street art right in front of you, The Vaults is a haven for immersive theatre and alternative arts. Check out its weird and wonderful programme of unique events that take place throughout the year; future events on the bill in 2018 include an immersive dining experience called Divine Proportions and a Hidden Jazz Club.

Churchill War Rooms

This underground bunker beneath the streets of Westminster was the secret location where Winston Churchill and his war cabinet planned the allied route to victory during the Second World War. Explore its intriguing maze of corridors and rooms, discovering where history was made, as well as visit its Churchill Museum to learn more about the wartime leader’s life.

Cahoots

Channelling a retro theme, Cahoots is a Soho-based bar where you’ll find delicious cocktails, sing-alongs and swing dancing, all housed in a disused Underground tube station and decorated to transport you back to post-war 1940s London. Drinks are all served in vintage milk bottles and tins, hip flasks and crockery that wouldn’t look out of place in your gran’s kitchen. Kitsch and fun, there’s also live music and entertaining experiences such as the ‘Squiffy Picnic’.

Silver Vaults Chancery Lane

Did you know that hidden on Chancery Lane between the City and the West End are London’s Silver Vaults, a subterranean labyrinth of antique silver dealers? It’s one of London’s most unusual shopping destinations; the underground location is home to 30 specialist silver retailers, selling British, international, and antique silver from every period, in every style. Whether you’re window shopping or looking to buy, it’s a lovely place to explore.

Also worth heading down to: St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt, the Greenwich & Woolwich Foot Tunnels and bars such as WC Clapham and Basement Sate.

 

 

Ten cool and unique ways to see Britain’s cities

Searching for an alternative to a walking tour of Britain’s cities? Here’s how you can turn city sightseeing into an immersive experience, whether it’s via watersports, from the sky…or even in a hot tub!

In a hot tub – London

Yes, you read that correctly – you can now step into a freshwater hot tub that sails down London’s River Thames, passing by some of the capital’s most iconic sights. The 90-minute HotTug experience sets sail from two different locations; its original site in Angel, north London, takes you through the cute and calm waterways of Regent’s Canal and, just last month, a new experience launched in the Docklands area around Canary Wharf/West India Quay. Book the VIP Experience and receive sailors’ hats, robe and towel rental and an essential ice bucket to keep drinks cool.

Kayaking by night – London

London’s landmarks are emblazoned with light come nightfall, delivering an atmospheric glow as you view them from double kayaks on the River Thames. On board the Night Kayak Tour you’ll paddle past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge, a journey that takes you from pretty Battersea and ends in the historic maritime neighbourhood of Greenwich. Waterproof clothing, paddles, buoyancy aids – and instructors – are included.

By group cycle – Belfast, Northern Ireland

Chat face-to-face with your friends at the same time as cycling around Northern Ireland’s capital, on a specially adapted cycle with Wee Toast Tours – and enjoy a drink or two en route! An hour or two allows you to cruise around the city centre at gentle speeds, taking in such sights as City Hall and the Opera House. Wee Toast Tours also offers a Cathedral Quarter tour, through Belfast’s cultural heart, and will soon be launching a tour of the Titanic Quarter, home to the world-famous Titanic Museum, SS Nomadic and HMS Caroline.

Stand-up paddleboarding – Bristol, south-west England

Bristol is renowned for its historic harbours and waterways but why not explore its iconic waterside  via the contemporary watersport of stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Bristol? The professional team there will show you the ropes and take you out to float past Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the historic dockside and the multi-coloured houses of the leafy and elegant neighbourhood of Clifton – as the sun rises is a particularly lovely time to head out.

Singing in the back of a taxi – London

Black cab taxi driver – and professional singer – Aiden Kent had been driving customers around London for 20 years when he decided to combine his love for singing with his love for performing. The ‘Singing Cabbie’ fitted out his cab with a red carpet, Italian red leather seats and a bottle of champagne for guests, and a specially-adapted PA system to experience an extraordinary performance as you zip past London’s sights.

From a bird’s eye perspective – Cardiff, south Wales

Wales’ capital is packed with legendary landmarks – and one thrilling way to experience them is from the air! Hover Helicopters fly you to more than 1,000 ft/300 metres above Cardiff and over the Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Castle and the majestic Principality Stadium. Flights take place between March and October and the company can also take you over south Wales and its striking coastline. City skyline flights are also available over Manchester and Liverpool in north-west England.

On a ghostly tour – Edinburgh, Scotland

Enjoy the thrill of a fright? Ghost Bus Tours in Scotland’s capital takes you on a spooky theatrical experience around one of the UK’s most haunted cities, on board a classic 1960s Routemaster bus. Both entertaining and educational – it’s billed as a comedy horror show – you’ll learn all about the city’s former grisly sites where historic executions took place and hear eerie tales of supernatural occurrences.

Out on the river – Liverpool, north-west England

The legendary landmarks of Liverpool – the Liver Building, Albert Dock and the two stunning cathedrals that tower above the city skyline – can be seen from a different perspective from the River Mersey, on board the Dazzle Ferry, itself an attractive sight. The ferry was created by Sir Peter Blake, as part of the First World War centenary commemorations, with the design commissioned by Liverpool Biennial, 14–18 NOW the First World War Centenary Art Commissions, and Tate Liverpool in partnership with Merseytravel and National Museums Liverpool. Learn about the city as well as the history behind the ‘dazzle’ ship.

On the run – London

Don’t just walk around London – run through it! City Jogging Tours offers both specially designed tours or customised versions; all you need to do is bring your running shoes and be ready to explore. An experienced guide leads you to the city’s attractions and the tours cater for all running abilities, from newcomers to endurance runners. A great way to keep fit and fit in essential sightseeing.

Meandering through canals – Birmingham, central England

Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice and that they are lined with beautifully restored industrial heritage landmarks and intriguing contemporary buildings? See all of this on board a canal boat tour; there are several to choose from, ranging from tours of the more modern developments of Birmingham to the city’s pretty suburbs and out further into the countryside.

 

48 hours in… Bristol

It’s already well-known for its Banksy street art connection and vibrant arts, culture and music scene — but there’s even more to Bristol than meets the eye.

Not only is Bristol a buzzing university city, but it’s also home of some of Britain’s quirkiest tourist attractions. It’s little wonder that in 2017 it topped a Sunday Times poll for ‘Best Place To Live’ in the UK.

Walks along the harbour or through The Downs, a public park overlooking Avon Gorge, are the perfect way to relax in between the excitement of a hedonistic 48-hour trip to this lively city, home to an eclectic art scene and the ever-present basslines of its famous music venues.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN:

Stay among the hipsters and check into the Hotel du Vin at The Sugar House, a collection of restored historic sugar warehouses. Right in the city centre, it’s the perfect base from which to enjoy the best of classic Bristolian cool.

 

DAY ONE:

 

10:00 EXPLORE EUROPE’S MOST BIKE-FRIENDLY DESTINATION

Join a tour or even hire a tandem to explore the city. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can download a cycling map from Better By Bike.

 

13:00 EAT IN A SECRET GARDEN

Fill your rumbling tum with rustic fare at local favourite The Ethicurean where you can indulge in an ethically conscious feast of seasonal produce in its whimsical walled garden setting. It is half an hour by taxi from Bristol city centre (and only six minutes from the airport); note that it’s closed on Mondays.

The mouthwatering dishes include modern British creations such as beef neck with purple sprouting broccoli to classic desserts like sticky toffee pudding. Diners can choose from an a-la-carte lunch menu or enjoy the ‘Full Feast Dinner’ served Tuesday to Saturday evenings (£28-£46 per person).

 

15:00 HEAD TO THE HARBOURSIDE

Wander down to Bristol’s historic harbour and learn why the SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was called ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation.’ The steamship, one of the longest and most powerful of its time, was designed to transport passengers across the Atlantic from Bristol to New York.

Get to know the vessel’s history at the Dockyard Museum. Step aboard the lovingly restored ship, adorned with flags as if ready for departure, and imagine what transatlantic travel would have felt like in Victorian Britain. The ship is contained inside a glass ‘sea’ to repel humidity and ensure minimal corrosion. In fact, the air inside the ‘dry dock’ that surrounds the ship is as dry as the desert!

 

19:00 DINING ON THE WATER

Grab a table at the Glass Boat Brasserie. This floating restaurant, constructed from a barge, makes for an unusual dining experience and serves up classic French cuisine.

 

21:00 SECRET SPEAKEASY

Get the party started and seek out one of Bristol’s ‘secret’ prohibition bars. Opposite the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, in the city centre, you’ll find Hyde & Co, Bristol’s original speakeasy. Grab yourself a pew at the bar and sip on Sucker Punch, a tropical mix of the bar’s own Hyde Scotch, with coconut, salted pineapple, lime and creole bitters.

 

DAY TWO:

 

10:00 UNESCO CITY OF FILM

See why Bristol was named UNESCO City of Film and check out some of the city’s famous locations. From university rom-com Starter for Ten, to period drama The Duchess starring Keira Knightley, Bristol is a seriously starry city. 
 

13:00 DINE IN A SHIPPING CONTAINER

Enjoy lunch at Cargo, at Wapping Wharf, a collection of restaurants set in old shipping containers. Other spots include the delicious taco bar Cargo Cantina or opt for the ultimate comfort food at Lovett Pies.

 

15:00 EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

No Bristolian adventure would be complete without a pilgrimage to places where the notoriously anonymous street artist, and Bristolian, Banksy made his name in the early 1990s.

See some of his iconic works, such as ‘Paint-Pot Angel’ at the entrance to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. You’ll come across many others on a self-guided Banksy walking tour or can download the Banksy Bristol Trail app for more.

Although he’s never sold a piece, his work attracts fans from around the globe, which was the subject of Banksy’s own Oscar-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop, about a street art-obsessed French immigrant living in LA.

 

17:00 BOUTIQUE BUYS

Grab some last-minute buys and head back to shoppers’ haven Clifton, a picture-perfect Victorian suburb of Bristol. The area is packed with independent shops, and you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get that Instagram shot of Clifton Suspension Bridge too.

 

HOW TO GET THERE:

By air: Bristol Airport is approximately 30 minutes by express bus to Bristol Temple Meads station.

By rail: Bristol Temple Meads is under two hours from London Paddington.

By road: Bristol is 2.5 hours from London via the M4.

Must-See Spots, Less Than An Hour From London

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

You might also like:

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

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.