Eccentric Britain

Summer in Britain is more than picnics in the park, strawberries at Wimbledon, and drinking Pimms at a barbecue. One thing it does better than anyone else is good old-fashioned eccentricity! Adults dancing on hobby horses, faces stretched into hilarious contortions, and a festival of fools make Great Britain THE place to be this summer for tourists seeking adventure off the beaten path. From the sublime to the ridiculous, there’s an unusual activity to satiate every traveller’s metaphorical palate.

 

The Padstow ‘Obby ‘Oss Festival

Padstow, Cornwall, 1st May

Head down to the Cornish port town of Padstow on May Day and you’ll find one of the most unusual British traditions where each year, thousands flock to watch two ‘Obby Osses’ (hobby horses) dancing to the beat of drums and accordions. 

 

Belfast Festival of Fools

Belfast, Northern Ireland, 4th – 8th May

Held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, Belfast gets together to laugh itself silly as a whole host of offbeat and alternative comedy acts, circus performers and street theatre combines to make the silliest summer entertainment. A free festival, those coming to Belfast for the event can expect to get their walking shoes on and pound the historic streets, enjoying events like cabaret and comedy as they go.

 

Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming

Blackawton, Devon, 27th May

Starting back in 1983, ‘Worm Master’ Nat Lowson and his team of worm-charming officials preside over the annual event each May, where people compete for the dubious accolade of who can charm the worms out of the ground the fastest.

 

Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill

Brockworth, Gloucestershire, 28th May

An event harking back to the 1800s, cheese-rolling is as bonkers as it sounds. Contestants chase after a speeding wheel of Double Gloucester cheese as big as a newborn baby, and the first to reach the cheese (which can go as fast as 70 miles an hour) is the victor.

 

The Highland Games

Various venues, Scotland, May – September

Quintessentially Scottish, the Highland Games have been an important annual event for centuries. Taking place across several cities, towns and islands across the country, they attract thousands of excited spectators from around the world. 

‘Expect the unexpected’ is an unofficial mantra, as sports such as Caber Toss and Tug ‘O’ War stand alongside best-dressed pet competitions and, of course, Highland dancing.

 

World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, 26th August

Over a weekend at the end of August, plucky snorkellers race against each other in the murky Waen Rhydd peat bog – they can wear wetsuits, snorkels and flippers but can’t use any recognisable swimming stroke.

Hundreds of participants compete each year in the event which Lonely Planet described as one of the Top 50 “Must Do” activities in 2014.

 

Egremont Crab Fair and World Gurning Championships

Egremont, West Cumbria, 14th – 15th September

Held every September in beautiful Cumbria, the historic Crab Fair has been running since 1267 to celebrate the season of crab apples of September.

Alongside street-racing and ‘The Cuddy’, aka horse racing, the fair plays host to the famous World Gurning Championships where folk compete for the title by contorting their faces through a horse collar. A truly strange tradition, it’s thought to have started as a way to “mock the village idiot”, but is now simply a fun competition to see who can pull the most grotesque or silliest face.

Quirky London

You might be shocked in London, but you'll never be bored – the capital is a city of surprises. Here some of the weirdest and most wonderful sights to see.

Experience ancient London in the London Mithraeum, a Roman temple excavated after World War II, where over 600 Roman artefacts including the earliest writing tablets were discovered by archaeologists. Built along one of London’s lost rivers, the Walbrook, it was earmarked for a new location, but has been returned to its original site and is now open to the public in Bloomberg's European headquarters.

Alternatively, transport yourself back to wartime London with a visit to Churchill's War Rooms, the underground bunker from where Winston Churchill coordinated the Allied forces during World War II, eventually leading them to victory.

And if you thought museums were boring, think again. London has the Natural History Museum, home to 80 million specimens from a 9,000-year-old human skeleton to a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, while the Museum of London tells the entire story of this great city from 450,000 BC to the present day. And for a slice of the darker side of Victorian life, the Jack the Ripper Museum has recreated scenes in the heart of Whitechapel during the reign of the still-unidentified serial killer.

You'll find all manner of animal oddities at the Grant Museum of Zoology where some 68,000 specimens cover the whole Animal Kingdom from the skeleton of a quagga - a long-extinct species of zebra – to the bones of a dodo and a jar of preserved moles.

There’s living, breathing wildlife too. While lush wetlands may be the last thing you expect to see in the suburbs of northwest London, that's what you'll find at Woodberry Wetlands. Originally the Stoke Newington East Reservoir, the wetlands have been reclaimed by wildlife, including waterbirds, newts, bats and butterflies.

Over in Highgate, you’ll find the final resting place of Karl Marx and George Michael (his grave is closed to the public) at Highgate Cemetery. Built in Victorian times, it’s famous for its grand memorials and elaborate style - you can explore the newer East Cemetery independently or take a guided tour of the original (more architecturally impressive) West Cemetery.

For something truly peculiar, head to House of Dreams, a delightfully odd collection of items found by artist Stephen Wright; his personal memories and scavenged curios, from dolls' heads and bottle tops to false teeth and wigs are all displayed in his East Dulwich home. In God’s Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, you’ll find an eye-assaulting collection of neon art, created and curated by late designer Chris Bracey, from salvaged neon signs, old movie props and retro film sets. Open to the public as a homage to his life's work, it’s free to visit, and you can buy, rent or simply ogle the glittering kaleidoscope before you.

Eating out needn't be a staid affair in London. Grab a coffee at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium in trendy east London, and you might be joined by a furry tablemate – this is where you can relax with the three C's: coffee, cake and cats. If you prefer your food cold and crunchy, visit the Cereal Killer Café, where every meal is of the breakfast bowl variety from Coco Pops to Lucky Charms. And while we’d love to tell you about the Chambers of Flavour, we don’t have a clue.. What we DO know is you arrive at a secret location for an evening of gastro and theatrical treats…  So embrace the eccentric, and start exploring!

Quirky Royal Traditions

Being a royal has obvious perks: You get to live in castles, wear amazing gowns, and put on priceless jewellery.

But there are also some, let’s say, quirkier aspects to British monarchy – some are understandable traditions, others delightfully eccentric nods to centuries gone by – many of which Meghan Markle will need to brush up on before she joins the family fold in May.

You could start with the fact the Queen has two birthdays - one is the actual day she was born, 21 April, and the second is her official birthday, usually celebrated on the second Saturday in June. This second birthday is generally for monarchs not born in the summer, so official festivities can take place in better weather – and June has a better chance of sunshine than April for the annual Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.

The Queen also doesn’t need paperwork to travel internationally. As the British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it’s unnecessary for the Queen to give herself permission to travel. However, all other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh, do require passports.

The reigning monarch is also exempt from requiring a driver’s licence and wearing a seat belt, and is immune from civil or criminal proceedings, a throwback to the time when the Sovereign established and enforced the legal system – although as the official website of the Royal Family points out: “The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law”.

Also enjoying special privileges are the ravens of the Tower of London. During the reign of King Charles II in the 17th century, a prophecy declared: “If the ravens leave the Tower (of London), the kingdom will fall”. Ever since, at least six ravens have continuously resided in the Tower, protected by the Ravenmaster, who breeds and feeds them.

Another anomaly is the penchant for shorts - you may have noticed that Prince George wears shorts even during the bracing British winter. This long-standing tradition among the upper classes, aristocracy and royals goes back to when it was considered ‘suburban’ or middle-class to do otherwise; instead, boys wear shorts until the age of around eight, when they ‘graduate’ to trousers. Who’d have thought cold knees and goosebumps could be a sign of blue blood?

Tradition is everything here. Every morning Monday to Friday, the Queen is woken by the sounds of bagpipes playing outside her bedroom window. The Sovereign’s Piper was first appointed by Queen Victoria in 1843 after she took a trip to the Highlands, and the 15-minute morning ritual has continued ever since.

Another bizarre custom takes place during the annual State Opening of Parliament. Before the Queen delivers her speech in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster, an MP is delivered to Buckingham Palace and ‘held hostage’ to ensure the Queen’s safe return. This centuries-old ritual harks back to a time when the monarch and Parliament weren’t so friendly; as a result, precautions had to be taken to ensure the Sovereign arrived home in one royal piece. Today, it’s simply retained as a symbolic gesture to days past.

These are just a few of the quirky rituals of the Royal Family. These traditions may seem strange, but they’re part of the rich and fascinating history of British royalty and no doubt will be preserved for centuries to come.

Celebrate some other quirky traditions with these Royal places of interest: Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace and a Houses of Parliament Tour with Afternoon Tea.

Annual events - 2018

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

 

JANUARY

New Year’s Day Parade, London, England

1 January

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

 

Stoats Loony Dook, Edinburgh, Scotland

1 January

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

 

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England

6-8 January

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

 

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland 

18 January – 4 February

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

 

Lumiere London, London, England

18 – 21 January

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

 

Burns’ Night, Scotland-wide

25 January

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

 

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland *Quirky*

31 January

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

 

FEBRUARY

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

3 – 17 March

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

 

Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, London

7 – 18 February

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

 

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England

12 – 18 February

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

 

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

13 February

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

 

Chinese New Year, London and around Britain

16 February (celebration parade date TBC)

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

 

London Fashion Week, London, England

16 – 20 February

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

 

Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

21 February – 4 March  

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

 

MARCH

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

1 March

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

 

World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018, Birmingham, England

1 – 4 March

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

 

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

March – date TBC

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

 

The Big Cheese Festival, Brighton, south England

3 March

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

 

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

8 – 25 March

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

 

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

13 –16 March

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

 

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

17 March

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

 

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

17 – 25 March

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

 

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

March - date TBC

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

 

The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London, England

24 March

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

 

APRIL

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

12 - 14 April

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

 

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

12 – 15 April

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

 

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, south Wales

13-15 April

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

 

London Marathon, London, England

22 April

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

 

St George’s Day, across England

23 April

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

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

22 – 23 April

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

 

MAY

Highland Games, across Scotland

May – September (Dates TBC)

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

 

Whisky Month, across Scotland

Throughout May

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

 

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

2 – 7 May

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

 

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Speyside, Scotland

3 – 7 May

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

 

Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east England

4 May – 3 June 

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

 

Brighton Festival, Brighton, south-east England

5 – 27 May

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

 

Tour de Yorkshire, Yorkshire, north England

5 – 6 May

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

 

Football Association Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England

19 May 

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

 

The Late Shows, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

Dates TBC  

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

 

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

24 May – 3 June

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

 

Birmingham Pride, Birmingham, central England

26 – 27 May

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

 

Conwy Pirate Weekend, Conwy, north Wales

Dates TBC

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

 

Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England

Dates TBC

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

 

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

30 May

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

 

JUNE

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

2 June

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

 

Walled City Music Festival, Derry~LondonDerry, Northern Ireland

Dates TBC

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

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire, north England

6 – 10 June

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

 

Festival of Voice, Cardiff, south Wales

7 – 17 June

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

 

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England

8-11 June

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

 

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

9 June

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

 

Royal Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England

14 – 18 June

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

 

Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival, Scotland

15 – 24 June

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

 

Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England

16 June

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

 

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

21 June - September

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

 

TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland

Dates TBC

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

 

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

Dates TBC

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

 

Stonehenge Summer Solstice, Wiltshire, south-west England

21 June

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

 

Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, south England

21 – 24 June

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

 

The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

21 – 24 June

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

 

Taste of London Festival, London, England

Dates TBC

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

 

Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England

23 June  

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

 

Pride in London, London, England

June / July (date TBC)

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

 

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

Date TBC

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

 

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Sussex, south England

Dates TBC

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

 

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

30 June – 8 July

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

 

JULY

Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, England

2 – 15 July

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

 

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

3 – 8 July

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

 

International Eisteddfod, Llangollen, north-east Wales

3 – 8 July   

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

 

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

4 – 8 July

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

 

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England

6 – 8 July

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

 

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

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

 

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales

8 July

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

 

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

11 – 15 July

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

 

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

13 – 22 July

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

 

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

14 July – 28 October

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

 

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

Dates TBC – July to September

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

 

The Open Championship, Carnoustie Golf Links, Angus, Scotland

16 – 22 July

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

 

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

18-22 Jul

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

 

Women’s Hockey World Cup, London, England

21 July – 5 August

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

 

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

21 July

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

 

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

21 – 23 July

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

 

Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, east England

20 - 23 July 2017

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

 

The BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, Cardiff, south Wales

Date TBC

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

 

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

The Welsh Proms, Cardiff, south Wales

Dates TBC

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

 

The Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly, south Wales

TBC July

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

 

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

23 – 26 July

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

 

Glasgow Mela, Glasgow, Scotland

Date TBC

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

 

Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

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

20 – 22 July

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

 

Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

26 July – 26 August

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

 

#Upfest, Bristol, south-west England

Late July – Date TBC

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

 

AUGUST

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

2 – 12 August

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

 

European Championships 2018, Glasgow, Scotland

2 – 12 August

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

 

Royal Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland

3 – 25 August

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

 

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south England

4 - 11 August

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

 

Brighton Pride, Brighton, south-east England  

Dates TBC

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

 

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Glorious Goodwood Festival, West Sussex, south England

2018 Dates TBC

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

 

Edinburgh Festivals, Edinburgh, Scotland

Throughout August

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

 

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

11 – 28 August: Edinburgh International Book Festival

26 July – 26 August: Edinburgh Art Festival

TBC: Edinburgh Mela

 

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

18 August

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

 

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

28 August

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

 

World Gravy Wresting Championships Lancashire, north-west England

Date TBC

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

 

Notting Hill Carnival, London, England

25 – 27 August

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

 

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England

August – Date TBC

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

 

Piping Live! Glasgow, Scotland

August – Dates TBC

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

 

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

Dates TBC

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

 

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, south Wales

2018 dates TBC

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

V Festival, Essex and Staffordshire, central England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Reading Festival & Leeds Festival, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

SEPTEMBER

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

1 September

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

 

British Science Festival, Brighton, south-east England

2018 dates TBC

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

Festival Number 6, Portmeirion, north Wales

2018 dates TBC

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

Hull Freedom Festival, Yorkshire, north England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, south-west England

2018 dates TBC

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

Heritage Open Days, across England

2018 dates TBC  

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

 

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

13 September

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

 

London Fashion Week, London, England

14 - 18 September

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

 

Jane Austen Festival, Bath, south-west England

14 – 23 September

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

 

London Design Festival, London, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Great North Run Weekend, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

2018 date TBC

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

 

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

2018 Date TBC

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

 

World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland *Quirky*

2018 date TBC

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

 

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

Dates TBC

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

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, west Wales

September – Date TBC

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

 

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

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Dundee Food and Flower Show, Dundee, Scotland

September – Date TBC

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

 

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

2018 date TBC

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

 

OCTOBER

Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Oxfordshire, central England

October – Dates TBC

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

 

World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England *Quirky*

October – Date TBC

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

 

Swansea Festival of Music and Arts, Swansea, south Wales

October – Date TBC

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

 

Creative Mackintosh Festival, across Glasgow, Scotland

October – Date TBC

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

 

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Leicestershire, central England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

BFI London Film Festival, Southbank, London, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea, south Wales

October – Date TBC

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

 

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland *Quirky*

October – Date TBC

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

 

NOVEMBER

Bonfire Night, Britain-wide  

5 November

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

 

London Jazz Festival, Southbank Centre, London, England

November – Date TBC

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

 

Skate at Somerset House, London, England

November – Date TBC

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

 

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

November – Date TBC

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

 

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London, England

November - January (Dates TBC)

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

 

St Andrew’s Day, across Scotland

30 November

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

 

DECEMBER

Christmas at Kew, London, England

2018 dates TBC

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

 

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

December – Date TBC

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

 

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

31 December

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

 

Hogmanay, across Scotland

31 December

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

 

Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

31 December

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