1. Blooming brilliant gardens
2020 is great for gardens in Britain, with the opening of the biggest horticultural heritage project in Europe – RHS Garden Bridgewater. Get green-fingered inspiration with a visit to the 156-acres site, which is twice the size of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Designed by master landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, the first stage of the opening will unveil the 11-acre walled kitchen garden, a spellbinding horticultural highlight reimagined for the 21st century. The first new RHS garden for almost 20 years, the project is set to restore Wolsey New Hall’s historic landscapes to their former glory, with later stages of the opening staggered throughout the year.
With so many public gardens to choose from in Britain, here’s our pick of brilliant English gardens for each season to get you started…
2. Discover Bond’s Britain
From north to south, Britain is a land made for the silver screen. Recently the spotlight has shone on a host of ground-breaking British and Britain-filmed TV dramas, comedies and thrillers, with actors from series such as Fleabag, Killing Eve and Game of Thrones all winning at the recent Emmy Awards. In 2020 Britain will, once again, play a starring role in several new major movie releases, as well as continue to lead the way with some of television’s biggest hits.
Daniel Craig returns for a final outing as the quintessential British spy and British actress Lashana Lynch is set to appear as the first female 007 in No Time to Die. Visitors to Britain can explore the locations made famous by Bond as the latest instalment takes in the pomp and ceremony of London’s Horse Guards Parade and the splendour of Whitehall, as well as the gleaming emerald forests of the Scottish Highlands. They’re not the first places to see action during the Bond franchise though. Oxfordshire’s monumental Blenheim Palace had a starring role in Spectre, with exciting boat scenes on the River Thames and tense shots around Notting Hill, Southbank and Westminster Bridge. Skyfall visited the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and a host of locations around Westminster, before ending amid the scenic beauty of Scotland’s Glen Etive.
3. Spotlight on: Britain’s coast
As an island nation, Britain is packed with a striking array of coastal highlights. Whether it’s on foot, by bicycle, or even out on the water, there are no limits on how visitors can experience Britain’s coastline.
With three National Parks, 600 Castles and 870 miles of coastal path, it’s no wonder Wales ranked 10th in Rough Guides’ list of the world’s most beautiful places. If you’re seeking wilderness and wildlife, the country certainly delivers – and Wales’ Year of Outdoors in 2020 is the ideal time to discover them. Scotland’s coasts and waters will also be celebrated in 2020 with a year-long programme of events and experiences in recognition of the lochs, rivers and canals that have helped to shape the nation’s history
The England Coast Path
Get set to walk the world’s longest managed coastal path in 2020. Discover sunlit sandy beaches, crumbling castles, friendly fishing villages and picture-postcard countryside scenery on a route that rambles from the Scottish to the Welsh border. Pass the iconic Blackpool Tower and wander along Morecambe Bay, the largest stretch of mudflats in Britain, catching a glimpse of the crystal-clear waters and flower-strewn valleys of the Lake District en route. Eat fresh seafood in traditional coastal cottages and explore the medieval fortress of Bamburgh in the north east, or see rare British wildlife in the Broads National Park. All that and we haven’t even mentioned the southern sections of the path, where bustling ports and towns meet spectacularly rugged cliffs, otherworldly coves and solitary lighthouses on routes that meander from the Norfolk coast to London, Kent, Dorsey and beyond.
The Coast to Coast Canoe Trail
See Britain’s waterways from a new perspective along the first ever coast to coast canoe trail that links Mersey and Humberside. Following the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Aire and Calder Navigation, the 260km (162-mile) route could take kayakers between five and eight days to complete – although there’s no obligation to do it all! Journey from Goole to Bootle, passing towns and cities including Leeds, Blackburn, Wigan, Burnley and Bradford, as well as more than 100 locks on the way.
4. A historic ride – discover Britain by taxi tour
Dive into British culture from the comfort of an iconic cab, with taxi tours that provide a fresh perspective on the nation’s cities, monuments and history. From getting lyrical in Liverpool with sites that inspired the Beatles to having a right regal time in royal Windsor, discover a unique way to see more of Britain.
5. Gin, glorious gin
Britain’s gin revolution continues with new distilleries opening their doors all over the country for tours, tastings and more. Pop into Tarquin’s gin distillery on the Wild Cornish Coast for an intimate behind-the-scenes tour of how its flavoursome small batch gins are made. Create your very own bottle of gin at the award-winning City of Manchester Distillery, the home of the renowned Manchester Three Rivers Gin, or get a taste for it at Penderyn, where the magnificent surroundings of the Brecon Beacons provide the backdrop. Head to Aber Falls Distillery Centre for a taste of Welsh rhubarb and ginger gin made with local botanicals, meet three copper ladies – Prudence, Patience and Verity – at London’s Sipsmith distillery – the first new copper distillery to open in the capital for 200 years. There’s no better time for gin to be on the menu!
6. (Dining) rooms with a view
When it comes to eating out, there’s nothing like dining against a beautiful backdrop. In 2020 visitors to Britain can take it one step further, with a host of award-winning and unique dining establishments attached to cosy rooms in warm, friendly surroundings, for the ultimate in British hospitality.
New PIGS on the block
Leading the trend are the ever-popular PIG hotels, a much-loved chain of historic houses lovingly converted into characterful hotels with a focus on delicious dining fuelled by local produce. With two new hotels opening in 2020 - historic Harlyn House, in Cornwall, and Grade II-listed Madehurst Lodge, nestled along the West Sussex coast – visitors are sure of a warm welcome, sumptuous cuisine fed from the kitchen garden, and cosy rooms bursting with quintessential British charm.
7. National Trust Treasures
2020 marks a huge year for the National Trust, as the organisation celebrates its landmark 125th anniversary. As well as protecting more than 700 miles of exquisite coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Trust cares for hundreds of fine houses, castles, churches and industrial monuments from days past. Since being founded in 1895, it has sought to ensure that these special places are preserved for everyone to enjoy.
Walk behind the scenes of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, filmed at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire or step into Winterfell at Castle Ward County Down in Northern Ireland, a showpiece from HBO hit Game of Thrones. From hiking around the jagged rocks at Bolt Head in Devon and admiring the expanses of the Peak District’s Derwent Valley to exploring the size and grandeur of Knole house in Kent or the former home of statesman and wartime prime minister Winston Churchill in Chartwell, each location has its own story to tell.
8. Great (literary) Expectations
Literary ties across the UK are omnipresent, but the year 2020 is bursting with anniversaries from the literary world including two of the world’s best known, Dickens and Wordsworth.
250 years since… the birth of Wordsworth
Celebrating 250 years since William Wordsworth was born, 2020 is a fantastic time for travellers to immerse themselves in the tranquil landscape that the Romantic poet adored so much. With a new exhibition focusing on William’s childhood and how it influenced his work, there’s no time like his anniversary to visit Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth – his birthplace and childhood home.
150 years since… the death of Charles Dickens
With his evocative descriptions of dimly lit streets, eclectic characters and impossible hardship, Charles Dickens has been taking readers on unforgettable journeys through Victorian London since the 1800s. 2020 is the ideal time for Dicken’s fans to trace the footsteps of the legendary author with a Charles Dickens walking tour. Alternatively, travel to Hampshire on a visit to the author’s birthplace, now a dedicated Charles Dickens museum.
9. For the culture vultures: fabulous festivals and the breath-taking Biennial
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary Glastonbury Festival, but the country of the Beatles, Oasis and Ed Sheeran has more up its sleeve for 2020 with the biggest international musicians in line to headline next year’s special event.
Britain’s biggest contemporary arts festival returns to Liverpool in 2020, as the Biennial welcomes dozens of artists from around the globe to showcase their work in the city from 11 July to 25 October. The 11th edition, to be curated by Ecuadorian Manuela Moscoso, promises to bring new and exciting art to Liverpool’s galleries, museums and public spaces.
Renowned for its huge and varied festival calendar, Edinburgh’s major events continue to get bigger and better every year, and 2020 will be no exception. Thousands flock to the Scottish capital to get a glimpse of famous and up-and-coming comedians at the Fringe, or for a seat at one of Edinburgh International Film Festival’s prominent cinema screenings – the world’s oldest continually running film festival.
10. Stylish stays
From boutique B&Bs to high-end hotels, visitors to Britain can enjoy an endless array of accommodation openings and refurbishments in 2020. If you’re London-bound, check out The Londoner, a deluxe 350-bedroom hotel, cinema and dining complex opening in spring in Leicester Square, or head to Covent Garden and stay in style at the first NoMad Hotel to open outside of the US.
Discover five-star style at the new Radisson RED in the heart of Liverpool, or step into history at Edinburgh’s Abbey City Apartments, set in a renovated 16th-century building with royal connections. Looking for a new take on an old favourite? Birmingham’s Grade-II listed Grand Hotel reopens with a whole new look in summer 2020, while the city’s Louisa Ryland House looks set to transform into a 173-room Apart Hotel in spring.
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