11 of the best Christmas markets in Britain

Manchester Christmas Market sign

Twinkling lights, mulled wine, a festive atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back this year and bigger and better than ever before. Set in some of Britain’s loveliest cities, a visit to a Christmas market is equal parts shopping experience, equal parts destination discovery.

 

Winter Wonderland, London

Transforming one of London’s spectacular parks, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland offers a festive paradise in the heart of the city. Home to the world’s tallest transportable observation wheel, a Magical Ice Kingdom and an array of comedic acts at its own Comedy Club, in addition to Britain’s largest open air ice rink and plenty of bars and food stalls, there’s something for all the family to enjoy. Enjoy jaw-dropping circus acts and don’t miss the arrival of Paddington on Ice, a stunning show combining cutting-edge choreography, toe-tapping music and impressive costumes that is being performed in the UK for the first time!

When? 21 November – 5 January

Also check out: The festive window displays at Hamleys, Selfridge’s and Harrods, plus the capital’s festive lights around the shopping hubs of Regent’s Street and Oxford Street

 

Bath Christmas Market, south-west England

For historic-ambience-meets-winter-style, head to Bath Christmas Market, as more than 150 pop-up chalets set up on the city’s pretty Georgian streets. Visitors can expect a real treasure trove of gifts to take home, whether that’s jewellery, homewares or decorations. Last year more than 80% of stallholders came from Bath and south-west England, while 99% of all products were handmade in Britain or abroad with Fairtrade certification, so this is very much an eco-savvy shopping experience. There’s always new stalls to explore as well as the perennial favourites, while visitors can fill empty bellies with a range of festive food from The Lodge in the heart of the market.

When? 28 November – 15 December

Also check out: Bath on Ice, the festive ice rink that runs from 15 November to 5 January 2020, and Glow in the Dark mini golf; the Christmas Trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden during December; and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey on various dates throughout the festive season.

 

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market, central England

A firm favourite on the city’s yuletide calendar, Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria. Expect a fine range of traditional, personalised gifts and products on its 80 stalls and get into the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, glühwein and weissbeer. Another huge draw is its bandstand location in Victoria Square and the programme of live music and carol singers that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.

When? 7 November – 23 December 2019

Also check out: Outdoor skating at Ice Rink Birmingham plus the Big Wheel Experience from 7 November to 12 January 2020, or head to Enchanted Weston, an illuminated, after-dark experience in stunning parkland with live music and food, running from 13 to 21 December.

 

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland

Even if paying a visit after Christmas, guests still get the chance to enjoy some festive treats as Edinburgh’s Christmas market continues until early January as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas, a six-week programme of entertainment in the city centre. While it’s not open on Christmas Day, it is open until 8pm on Christmas Eve so bring plenty of bags to fill up with goodies such as arts and crafts, foodie treats and traditional or bespoke Christmas products. The market itself takes place in East Princes Street Gardens, guaranteeing some gorgeous views of Edinburgh Castle in the background and easy access to some of the city’s major attractions.

When? 16 November 2019 – 4 January 2020

Also check out: The Big Wheel and funfair rides on East Princes Street Gardens; and an adaption of Charles Dickens classic An Edinburgh Christmas Carol at the Lyceum (28 November 2019 – 4 January 2020).

 

Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland

Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Irish capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, the Belfast Christmas Market returns in 2019 with its enviable mix of artisan products and stalls groaning with tasty treats from international cuisines in its outdoor food court. Indulge in crepes, a hog roast, glühwein and continental cheeses, then make it a truly Northern Irish experience and visit Lavery’s traditional Irish bar for fantastic live music to really get in the Christmas spirit. Kids will love riding the vintage carousel or zipping down the helter skelter, as well as taking a trip to visit Santa in his magical grotto.

When? 16 November – 22 December 2019

Also check out: A Christmas Carol at arts and culture hub The Mac (27 November 2019 – 5 January 2020), and Christmas Wonderland at outdoor adventure centre The Jungle.

 

South Bank Winter Festival, London

The popular Winter Market returns to London’s Southbank Centre, a seasonal pleasure that sits alongside a range of family shows and festive fun as the banks of the River Thames become a winter wonderland. All along the South Bank are strings of decorations and cute illuminated wooden cabins selling Christmas gifts, from the quirky to the traditional, as well as mince pies, spiced cider and steaming mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Global cuisines are available too, in the form of festive treats to gift or to eat there and then. Make sure to grab a selfie by the huge Christmas tree!

When? 8 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

Also check out: The fantastic performances available at the Southbank Centre, from Christmas concerts and choir performances to a children’s retelling of Black Beauty (14 December 2019 – 5 January 2020) and circus entertainment with Circus 1903 (19 December 2019 – 5 January 2020).

 

Cardiff Christmas Market, south Wales

Set across five streets of Cardiff’s pedestrianised city centre, Cardiff’s Christmas Market will be in full swing from mid-November, leaving plenty of time to find the perfect gift among its stalls. Its ethos is hosting stallholders selling original, hand-made products and artists and crafts people selling their work. There are plenty of food and drink options available among the 200+ stallholders and there’ll be music, festive lights and entertainment transforming the streets.

When? 14 November – 23 December 2019

Also check out: Santa Tours at the Principality Stadium (4 – 24 December 2019) or choose from various Christmas shows at St David’s Hall throughout December.

 

Manchester Christmas Markets, north-west England

The 20th instalment of the Manchester Christmas Markets will take over locations across the city from mid-November, meaning visitors won’t be far from festive gifts and delicious food and drink stalls selling traditional bratwurst, hog roast, paella and much more. There will be more than 300 stalls and chalets across the city, with the heart of the markets found in Albert Square. Visitors can follow the trail and pick up jewellery, toys, plants, bags, homeware and fun, quirky gifts at a variety of markets, including a French market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts & Crafts market.

When? 8 November – 21 December 2019 (Albert Square stalls open until 22 December)

Also check out: Winter Funland, which will be held at an indoor venue and include fairground attractions, an ice rink, a circus and other fun performances (6 December 2019 – 3 January 2020); Halle’s (Manchester’s Orchestra’s) Christmas Concerts at Bridgewater Hall and Ice Village Manchester, the UK's biggest-ever ice attraction which includes an Arctic Tiki Bar, Santa's Grotto and an ice rink (8 November 2019 - 5 January 2020).

 

Leeds Christkindelmarkt, north England

Millennium Square in Leeds is transformed for the city’s annual Christkindelmarkt German Christmas Market, with the addition of more than 40 traditionally decorated wooden chalets. Browse through hand-crafted jewellery and festive decorations, tuck into authentic German food and feel extra festive with a ride on the popular Christmas Carousel. For those still feeling hungry, visit the Alp Chalet restaurant in the centre of the market, a Bavarian style eatery offering a delectable selection of traditional food and drink, alongside evening entertainment.

When? 8 November – 21 December 2019

Also check out: Thor’s Tipi in Victoria Gardens, a pop-up tipi bar offering an array of winter warming drinks; the massed voices of Inspiration Choir as they join forces with the Orchestra of Opera North for Inspiration: A Christmas Extravaganza at Leeds Town Hall (21 December 2019); and the Leeds Playhouse festive production of The Night Before Christmas (30 November - 28 December 2019).

 

Winchester Christmas Market, south England

With its unique location in the shadow of Winchester’s great cathedral, Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market is widely regarded as one of Europe’s best. More than 100 chalets are home to hand-picked exhibitors offering exclusive gifts that visitors won’t find on the high street – from hand-crafted decorations and festive treats to craft beer and mulled wine.

When? 21 November – 22 December 2019

Also check out: Skate around the city’s covered Christmas Ice Rink (21 November 2019 – 2 January 2020) and marvel at the glittering Christmas tree in its centre; or visit the Ginchester Christmas Market (7 December 2019), a celebration of the region’s diverse spirits including local gin, whisky, vodka and rum.

 

The Victorian Christmas Festival at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, south England

Travel back in time for three days of festive fun at the Victorian Christmas Festival, held in the impressive surroundings of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This year marks 20 years of Christmas magic, with the festival home to 120 market stalls selling all sorts of festive treats, an array of Victorian street performers and the chance to meet Father Christmas.

When? 29 November – 1 December 2019

Also check out: Mix up a treat as the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower hosts two Christmas Cocktail Parties (7 and 13 December 2019); Meet Father Christmas at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum (14 December 2019) and enjoy lashings of festive fun during the That’ll Be The Day Christmas Show at Kings Theatre (18 December 2019).

 

 

Open doors in Britain - discover Britain's stately homes, houses and archives

The doors of Britain’s historic monuments and buildings, including many that are normally closed to the public, are set to be flung open in September. Heritage Open Days, established in 1994, has become England’s biggest heritage festival, with thousands of stately homes, historic properties and archives opening their doors between 13-22 September.

To celebrate the event’s 25th anniversary this year, a special programme of themed events will focus on ‘People Power’ – looking into both modern and historic communities, groups and individuals that have been drivers of positive change. More than 5,000 free events are expected to take place, giving visitors a unique glimpse into the buildings and the people that run them.

Open House London

The ten day event coincides with Open House London, taking place on 21-22 September, an architecture festival which seeks to showcase the benefits of great design by giving free access to many of London’s best buildings.

Last year more than 800 buildings, walks, talks and tours were part of Open House London, with those events visited by more than a quarter of a million people. Among the buildings to open their doors were historic houses and monuments, places of worship, private clubs, train stations, government buildings, town halls and even tunnels!

The programme for this year will be unveiled on 20 August, although UK Parliament has already confirmed that it is taking part on 21 September by granting admission to Portcullis House – the newest building on the parliamentary estate.

Events to look out for

Heritage Open Days has already confirmed several highlights for 2019, including a community harvest at the National Trust’s Brockhampton orchard and a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Prince Philip Maritime Collection housed at Royal Museums Greenwich. Here are just some of the thousands of events to look out for.

New for 2019

Prince Philip Maritime Collection, Greenwich

Visitors can catch a rare glimpse of the Prince Philip Maritime Collection as part of an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Royal Museum Greenwich’s storage collection. The items will be accompanied by interpretations by local residences that take into account the heritage stories behind them.

When? Friday 20 September and Saturday 21 September at 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm, with an additional show at 4pm on Friday.

The Way We Were film screening, Sunderland

The Way We Were film screening will combine film, music and photographs that explore Sunderland throughout history, taking visitors on a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

When? Tuesday 17 September at 7pm

Medieval Origins of Today's Remedies, John Innes Centre, Norwich

Learn about the importance of plants and gardens in medieval medicine as part of an exploration of how the past has influenced the present at the John Innes Centre, a hub for plant science research and training. Alongside illustrated talks from Dr Joy Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia, and Anne Edwards, a plant scientist at the centre, the open house event will look at the Medieval Origins of Today’s Remedies, including a display of rare books.

When? Thursday 19 September and Friday 20 September at 10am.

People Power events

Collections Showcase, Newcastle University Library Archives, Newcastle

Delve into Newcastle’s rich history as part of a thought-provoking look at the Newcastle University Library Archives. Learn how the city’s first female doctor and suffragist Ethal William’s fought for women’s rights and discover how student marches and human rights speeches helped to shape Newcastle’s past, as revealed by the Special Collections and Archives Team.

When? Thursday 19 September, 1pm-4pm.

Scott House at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucester

Once the home of environmental conservation campaigner Sir Peter Scott, visitors to Scott House at WWT Slimbridge can find out about his life and work, while embracing the ‘people power’ he harnessed when creating both the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the World Wildlife Fund.

When? Saturday 14 September, 10am-4pm.

Moor Pool Heritage Festival, Moor Pool Heritage Trust, Birmingham

The delightful Arts and Crafts Garden Suburb in Birmingham was saved following a community campaign in 2014, and it remains one of the last remaining intact Garden Suburbs in the UK. To celebrate the ‘people power’ of the community, the gardens will be opened for families to enjoy sports games, musical performances and an exciting array of children’s activities.

When? Sunday 15 September, 11am-3pm.

Family Activities

Heritage Steam Railway, Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight’s Heritage Steam Railway is offering several weekends of fun for all the family at the Train Story Discovery Centre. Interactive displays will showcase the historic locomotives, carriages and wagons, while guided tours will provide exclusive access to workshops, giving visitors a rare glimpse of ongoing restoration work. There’ll also be a birds of prey flying display to keep youngsters entertained.

When? Saturday 14 September and Sunday 15 December, 11am-3.30pm, and Thursday 19 September to Sunday 22 September, 9.30am to 5pm.

Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent

Visitors can explore the renowned Gladstone Pottery Museum and even get hands-on with an array of interactive demonstrations and activities. The site provides a fascinating insight into the history of Stoke-on-Trent while numerous throwing, casting and painting demonstrations will highlight the skills that helped put the Pottery on the map. The on-site Flushed with Pride exhibition takes a fun look at the history of sewerage too, embracing giant toilet rolls and rude sound effects in the process!

When? Saturday 21 September, 10am-5pm.

Magpie Mine, Derbyshire

Britain’s best surviving example of an 18th and 19th-century lead mine, Magpie Mine was the last working mine in the Peak District. Since closing in 1958, the site is has been designated a Scheduled Monument and is preserved by the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Although the mining tunnels will remain closed for Heritage Open Days, a comprehensive guided tour will provide insight into life at the mine by exploring the former buildings, delving into a piece of mining heritage in the process.

When? Sunday 15 September, 11am-4pm

Welwyn Roman Baths, Welwyn

Travel back in history at the Welwyn Roman Baths to experience what life was like 1,700 years ago for the Romans of Britain. Alongside dressing up in period costumes, children can embrace traditional Roman games and learn more about foods of the past, before exploring several thrilling trails around the ancient site.

When? Saturday 14 September, 2pm-5pm.

Cragside, Northumberland

Enter into the world of Victorian inventor Lord Armstrong, an innovator and landscaping genius, at Cragside. As the world’s first house to be lit using hydroelectricity, the extraordinary property remains full of gadgets, while its garden spaces are equally as impressive. One of Europe’s largest rock gardens leads the way to the Iron Bridge, while the Rhododendron forest tunnels of Nelly’s Labyrinth offer an outdoor escape for all the family.

When? Thursday 19 September, 10am-5pm.

Watts Artist Village, Surrey

Packed with paintings and sculptures from Victorian artist G F Watts, the historic galleries at the Watts Artist Village can be explored via guided tours, talks and workshops. Bask in the glorious surroundings of the site’s Grade I listed chapel, see the studios where Watts created his masterpieces and get behind-the-scenes access to Limnerslease, a property designed by the great Arts & Crafts architect Sir Ernest George.

When? Sunday 15 September

Brockhampton’s Damson Harvest Helpers, Worcester

Visitors to Brockhampton’s orchards can pick fruit to assist with fundraising for the medieval manor’s replanting project as part of the community damson harvest. The trees at the National Trust site are laden with fruit in the autumn months, giving people the chance to relax and refresh their senses while surrounded by the best of what nature has to offer.

When? Saturday 14 September, 11am-5pm.

Historic Openings

Queen Anne’s Summerhouse, Bedfordshire

This spectacular 18th century summerhouse has beautifully crafted brickwork and dates back to around 1712. Lovingly restored by the Landmark Trust in the years since the Second World War to include an elegant bedsit with kitchen, dining, sitting and sleeping space, Queen Anne’s Summerhouse on the Shuttleworth Estate promises beautiful architecture and exceptional views.

When? Friday 13 September to Sunday 15 September, 10am-4pm, and Monday 16 September, 10am-1pm.

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, Staffordshire

Discover a spectacular array of former mining buildings at the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, the most comprehensive surviving deep mine complex in England. Although there is no underground access now, visitors can access and explore the many different structures as part of a guided tour by Chatterley Whitfield Friends. The site closed and became a museum in 1973, and although the museum closed its doors in 1993, a new heritage centre explains the site’s rich history.

When? Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September, and Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September, 10am-4pm.

Arlington Court, Devon

A jewel in the National Trust’s crown, Arlington Court houses an impressive set of horse-drawn vehicles in addition to an intriguing Regency property. The National Trust Carriage Museum includes vehicles for every occasion, and the collection currently includes the Speaker’s State Coach – a glorious carriage with more than 300 years of history. Visitors can explore the family estate, including 20 miles of walking paths and a two-mile loop around the man-made lake.

When? Saturday 14 September, 11am-5pm.

Wilmington Priory, East Sussex

Dating back to 1215, Wilmington Priory was once the priory of a Benedictine Abbey and features architectural additions from nearly every century since. Although the abbey is now a romantic ruin, visitors can get a glimpse of the Landmark Trust’s restoration of the neighbouring farmhouse, now a holiday let.

When? Saturday 14 September and Sunday 15 September, 10am-4pm, and Monday 16 September, 10am-1pm.

Williamson Tunnels, Liverpool

Hidden deep below Liverpool are the Williamson Tunnels, a 200-year-old labyrinth developed by 19th-century philanthropist Joseph Williamson. Lost and forgotten for a long period, the tunnels can be explored as part of a guided tour that reveals what was behind his mysterious burrowing.

When? Friday 13 to Sunday 15 September, and Friday 20 September to Sunday 22 September, all tours at 10.30am.

Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire

With exclusive access to parts of Gawthorpe Hall that are not usually open to the public, Heritage Open Day will allow people to see a different side to the National Trust property. Browse textiles from the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection and see portraits from the National Portrait Gallery before experiencing the surroundings of the Victorian kitchen and servant’s quarters.

When? Saturday 14 September, 12pm-5pm.

 

Heritage Open Days is coordinated and promoted nationally by the National Trust with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

How to celebrate Birmingham Pride

Birmingham Pride is Britain’s largest 2-day LGBTQ+ festival and is expected to welcome more than 70,000 people to the city. For 2019, the location of the festival is shifting to a new site just outside the city’s Gay Village, providing more space for music, cabaret and a host of LGBTQ+ friendly events. An array of big name artists, up-and-coming stars and local talent will perform across the weekend of 25-26 May, as Birmingham celebrates its LGBTQ+ community.

Alongside three stages in the Gay Village – the Main Stage, Mixmag Arena and the Future Stage – they’ll also be a Los Angeles Cabaret Stage, a women’s area and an inclusivity-focused community village. A theme of ‘Love Out Loud’ accompanies Birmingham Pride 2019, encouraging individuals to celebrate the best of the LGBTQ+ community, while the Birmingham LGBT Centre will host spoken word sessions, acoustic shows and film screenings.

Street Fest will be home to a food court and beer garden, offering an abundance of craft ales and delicious street food, and numerous community stalls will provide crafts, gifts and other memorabilia.

The Parade

A centrepiece of the Birmingham Pride celebrations, the annual carnival parade weaves its way around the city from midday on Saturday. Setting off from Victoria Square, more than 5,000 people are expected to participate, with thousands more lining the streets. Expect a wealth of colourful floats and brightly-dressed participants of all ages.

Main Stage

Chart-topping Sigala, new pop sensation Alice Chater and former BRIT Awards winner Kate Nash are among those taking to the main stage on Saturday, as well as Mabel, MYA and MOBO nominated all-female band M.O. Sunday will feature a DJ Set from Faithless and a performance from the iconic Human League.

Mixmag Arena

The Black Madonna will bring the infamous We Still Believe party to the Mixmag Arena during the day on Saturday, before a closing set from Sam Divine. That will be followed by an all-female line up on Sunday, featuring Birmingham’s own DJ Hannah Wants, Monki, Jaguar and Fleur Shore, among others.

The venues

A host of bars and nightclubs have pledged their support to Birmingham Pride 2019, and all offer something different for partygoers. Eden, Clonezone, Nightingale Club, Missing Bar, Glamourous Cabaret Bar, The Fox and The Village Inn are among those hosting events during the Pride weekend.

What to wear

Although there is no dress code for Birmingham Pride 2019, the majority of those in attendance – and especially those taking part in the parade – opt for bright and extravagant clothing, often reflecting the LGBTQ+ community’s rainbow flag.

Where to stay

Occupying the 23rd and 24th floors of the distinct Cube building, the bedrooms of 4-star Hotel Indigo maximise their elevated status with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. Alternatively, Staying Cool at the Rotunda offers serviced apartments on the top 4 floors of a Birmingham landmark, the Rotunda building. Available in 4 configurations, from studios to 2-bed penthouses, this funky self-catering option is recommended by British-based LGBTQ+ travel website FurtherAfield.com. Another option is BLOC Hotel. A budget choice that doesn’t compromise on style, BLOC Hotel describes itself as pared-down chic. The 73 rooms are stylishly efficient with the things you need, like powerful drench showers, comfortable beds with Egyptian cotton sheets, super-fast Wi-Fi and HD TVs.

Getting to Birmingham

Birmingham is around a 2.5-hour drive from London. Two direct train routes take around 90 minutes to 2 hours, going from London Euston to Birmingham New Street or from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street. Birmingham Airport is served by an array of international carriers, and is a 15-minute train journey from Birmingham City Centre, with trains arriving into Birmingham New Street station.

Top ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

Britain will be awash with green in mid-March as St Patrick’s Day celebrations sweep across the major cities. Marking the death of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, communities in Ireland and across the Irish diaspora come together to celebrate on 17 March – a Sunday in 2019 – with a host of colourful parades, exciting musical performances and a wealth of other events.

London

London marks St Patrick’s Day with an annual parade through the capital’s streets, featuring striking decorative floats, incredible marching bands and performances from Irish dancing schools and sports clubs. The 1.5-mile procession meanders its way from Piccadilly past some of London’s most iconic landmarks on its ways to Whitehall. As a celebration of London’s diversity and welcome, the theme for 2019’s parade is #LondonIsOpen.

The St Patrick’s Day Festival packs Trafalgar Square from midday and features performances from renowned Irish artists and special guests, alongside an abundance of craft stalls, delicious food and a family friendly area in Pall Mall offering themed workshops and activities.

When? 17 March (St Patrick’s Day Festival, 12pm – 6pm)

Manchester

A stunning parade from the Irish World Heritage Centre to Albert Square is the focal point for the Manchester Irish Festival, which runs from the start of March and culminates on St Patrick’s Day. Featuring an array of floats and representation from each of the Irish counties, the Manchester Irish Festival Parade is one of many events held in the city. The Manchester Irish Festival Market takes pride of place in front of Manchester Town Hall, offering Irish foods, crafts and souvenirs in abundance, as well as children’s rides and entertainment.

The Castlefield Hotel is also hosting a St Patrick’s night whisky tasting and 3-course supper, featuring a delectable range of Irish themed food and a selection of fine Irish whisky.

When? 1-17 March (Manchester Irish Festival), 7-10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Market), 10 March (Manchester Irish Festival Parade), 15 March (Whisky Tasting)

Birmingham

A week-long festival in the build up to St Patrick’s Day celebrates diversity and multiculturalism in Birmingham. The launch night event, featuring traditional Irish music and dance, a delightful 4-course dinner and a performance from Birmingham Irish band Salt Creek gets proceedings underway, before the festival is completed with a spectacular parade around the Digbeth area of the city – taking place on St Patrick’s Day itself in 2019.

When? 9-17 March (9 March, launch night; 17 March, Parade at 12pm)

Edinburgh

Join the Scots Music Group for Café Ceilidh to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, an afternoon session of songs, poems, music and stories that recognise the patron saint. The Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival is another cause for celebration, taking place over 3 days at 5 venues and performance spaces.

When? 19 March (Scots Music Group), 15-17 March (Cowgate St Patrick’s Festival)

Belfast

Eye-catching floats and performers in magnificent costumes form just part of Belfast’s spectacular carnival parade as it weaves its way from Belfast City Hall to Writers Square. An open air concert in Custom House Square will follow, headlined by the Vengaboys and including an array of Irish artists showcasing traditional music, dance and song. St George’s Market will offer traditional Irish food and music, as well as plenty of handmade crafts.

When? 17 March (Carnival Parade, 12.30pm; Custom House Square, 1.15pm; St George’s Market, 10am – 4pm)

Newcastle

Paddy Fest will return to the heart of Newcastle city centre for St Patrick’s Day 2019, featuring 4 days of events and entertainment. Beginning with Let’s Play Darts, cheese festival Cheesetoon will follow on Friday with 25 stalls offering an array of cheesy concoctions. Saturday of Paddy Fest will feature authentic Irish bands and a handful of DJs, as well as screens showing the final matches of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, before the event is rounded off with the biggest Bongo’s Bingo! to be held in the north-west of England, taking place in Times Square.

When? 14-17 March

Liverpool

Liverpool will march to the sound of drums, flutes and pipe bands on St Patrick’s Day, as the annual parade makes its way from the Old Irish Centre in Mount Pleasant into the centre of the city.

When? 17 March (12pm-3pm)

Armagh

The Home of Saint Patrick Festival showcases Irish culture, song and dance, and recognises the leading role that St Patrick had in converting Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago. Both the Armagh Robinson Library and Armagh County Museum host an array of artefacts, manuscripts, collections and rare books that relate to the role of the city in early Christian Ireland. An abundance of cultural events take place throughout the festival period, including parades, lectures, concerts and church services.

When? 8-18 March

Top UK festivals for beer, wine and spirits

Britain is renowned for its craft beers, fine spirits and delightful mixology, while the growth of its wine industry continues to gather pace. With ‘Dry January’ at an end, those keen to sample the best of Britain’s alcohol can enjoy an abundance of incredible festivals for beer, wine and spirits throughout 2019, all of which provide ample opportunity to discover innovative concoctions and perhaps even a new tipple of choice…

Great British Gin Festival

The Great British Gin Festival will continue its tour of Britain in 2019, bringing 100 different gins from around the world to a range of locations. With cocktail demos and presentations from industry producers, they’ll be a generous helping of flavoured gins to test the taste buds, all with a background of live music.

When? On selected Fridays and Saturdays throughout 2019: 9 February (Hartlepool), 23 February (Winchester), 9 March (Portsmouth), 23 March (Ipswich), 29 March (Northamptonshire), 12 April (Bristol), 20 April (Hastings), 20 April (Edinburgh), 4 May (Belfast), 17 May (Birmingham), 25 May (Isle of Wight), 1 June (Cardiff), 7 June (Maidstone), 22 June (Newcastle), 29 June (London), 13 July (Nottingham), 27 July (Jersey)

Craft Beer Rising   

Tantalise your taste buds at The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, as Craft Beer Rising brings together more than a hundred of the finest craft brewers and ten cider producers. Alongside established names from the craft beer world, such as Brewdog, London Fields Brewery and Tiny Rebel, the festival will also welcome Brooklyn Brewery and Goose Island from the United States. Visitors can sample an array of delicious street food in The Foxes Den and enjoy live music across all three days of the event.

When? 21-23 February

The Wine and Spirits Show

Following an extremely popular show in autumn 2018, in April this year The Wine and Spirits Show returns to One Whitehall Place, part of the iconic The Royal Horseguards hotel in Westminster. Sample masterclasses from major wine and spirit brands, meet up with boutique wine producers and discover more about the fantastic history of Champagne. Head to the Global Masters Zone to find out more about prestigious entries into Global Masters competitions, sample a range of brews from every continent as part of the Global Beer Tour Zone, or visit the Spirits Hall – home to award-winning vodka, whisky, tequila, bourbon and more.

When? 12-13 April

London Whisky Weekender

Try an array of the finest home-grown Scottish whiskies, alongside brands from all corners of the globe at the London Whisky Weekender. With set sessions at the Kia Oval to ensure things don’t get too crowded, try the finest whiskies that India, Japan, the USA and Taiwan (among many others) have to offer, or purchase ‘under the counter dram tokens’ to sample rarer, more exclusive tipples.

When? 10-12 May

Prosecco Springs

The UK’s largest festival dedicated to sparkling wine, Prosecco Springs, will return to London’s Oval Space in May. With more producers on the bill than in previous years, visitors can sample authentic Italian street food, live music and an abundance of Prosecco in the heart of East London.

When? 17-19 May

Fyne Fest    

The annual celebration of beer, food and music at the Fyne Ales brewery estate in Cairndow, Argyll marks its tenth year in 2019. Having won Beer event of the Year at the 2018 Scottish Beer Awards, the family-friendly festival welcomes people of any age and has plenty of space for visitors to pitch tents or park up in motorhome and caravans. Fyne Fest will have more than 200 beers from over 50 of Europe’s breweries available to try, as well as a wealth of cider, cocktails, wines and spirits. Three stages host live music while 11 local and award-winning producers provide the food.

When? 31 May - 3 June

Festival of Wine 

Having originated in Glasgow in 2002, wine expert Tom Cannavan’s popular festival has expanded to take in three cities across Britain. The Festival of Wine features tastings and masterclasses in city centre locations from top winemakers, retailers and importers, allowing visitors to discover great wines and to learn the stories behind them.

When? 29 June (Glasgow), 19 October (London), 9 November (Edinburgh)

Great British Beer Festival

Developed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), the Great British Beer Festival showcases more than 900 real ales and craft beers from around the world, of which more than half come from British brewers. Having operated for more than 40 years, the festival is run by hundreds of volunteers and also serves an array of ciders, fine wines, perries and gin from more than 30 bars. Tutored tasting sessions reveal more about the brews on offer, with each brewery also competing for the prestigious title of 2019 Champion Beer of Britain.

When? 6-10 August

Indy Man Beer Con

Hosted in the glorious surroundings of Victoria Baths in Manchester, Independent Manchester Beer Convention will return for its eighth year in October. Welcoming breweries from across Britain, and a sprinkling of those from elsewhere in the world, the event features an eclectic mix of tasting sessions and a food village packed with delicacies from around the region.

When? 3-6 October

RumFest

Showcasing more than 400 rums from across the world, RumFest returns to the ILEC conference centre in Earls Court, London, for its thirteenth year in 2019. Expect intimate seminars from some of the industry’s leading lights, an array of delicious food tastings, live music and holiday giveaways as part of a carnival-like experience.

When? 19-20 October

Craft Beer Calling 

Bringing together an abundance of craft breweries under one roof, Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery will host the sixth edition of Craft Beer Calling in late October. As well as a Gin Palace and an artisan cider cellar, visitors can talk with the brewery staff to find out more about their favourite tipples before indulging at the on-site street food market.

When? 24-26 October

The Wine Festival 

Featuring hundreds of wines from English wine producers and some from further afield, Winchester Guildhall hosts The Wine Festival, a selection of tasters, masterclasses, street food and merchandise. Masters of Wine and TV presenters, Susie Barry and Peter Richards, host the event, imparting their expert knowledge while visitors discover exciting new wines.

When? 29-30 November

TASTE – February 2019

London – recently opened

 

London’s thriving restaurant scene has shown no signs of slowing in the early part of 2019, as numerous new eateries are now serving up an array of exciting dishes and experiences.

 

Acclaimed Turkish chef Civan Er has brought the taste of his famed Istanbul restaurant Yeni Lokanta to Soho with the opening of Yeni. A menu packed with innovative vegetable dishes, inventive takes on street food and sophisticated fish and meat plates takes inspiration from Istanbul’s location as a meeting point between Europe and Asia.

 

Sushi Daily has built on the success of its global food kiosks by opening its own permanent site on New Oxford Street, as founder Kelly Choi joins forces with sushi expert Silla Bjerrum. Serving an array of fresh, handmade sushi, breakfast dishes and hot options, visitors can expect classic sushi and authentic Japanese dishes, including yakisoba, katsu curry and udon soup, as well as porridge options to start the day.

 

France’s oldest luxury tea emporium Mariage Frères has now opened its doors in a beautiful Georgian five-storey townhouse on Covent Garden’s King Street. Choose from the world’s largest collection of tea, with 1,000 aromatic varieties from 36 tea producing countries, all stored in an apothecary-style wall stretched out over 1,200 square metres. The first floor Salon De Thé is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, with Mariage Frères’ Cuisine au Thé concept using tea as a delicate ingredient, flavouring or spice in every dish on the menu.

 

The pair behind Camden Market’s popular vegan bakery, Cupcakes and Shhht, have launched We Are Vegan Everything (WAVE) in the heart of Hackney. Expect vegan ‘freakshakes’, juice shots, superfood lattes and vegan gluten and sugar free cakes, brownies and croissants, as well as a brunch menu featuring vegan fried eggs and vegan salmon and cream cheese.

 

London – opening soon

 

Opening in February, Centre Point’s flagship restaurant VIVI will offer a return to the Swinging Sixties, with a bold seasonal menu and extravagant décor right in the centre of the capital’s theatre district. Divided into four key spaces, including The Dining Room, The Bar, The Gallery and the Liquid Lounge, the restaurant will serve everything from simple breakfasts through to evening dining.

 

X-upper is set to open at 88 Upper Street, Islington in early March, serving a delectable array of gourmet sausages, with carefully curated recipes by a handful of top London chefs. Alongside six core sausages, they’ll also be daily specials for visitors to get their teeth into.

 

Craft pasta restaurant Emilia’s in St Katherine Docks is all set to open a second offering in the heart of Aldgate, offering 7 carefully created pasta dishes and a range of exciting specials. Get ready for delicious twists on original dishes, a small wine list packed with Italian vintages and a unique Italian craft beer selection, set against a vibrant terracotta backdrop.

 

As part of a dramatic transformation, former late-night bar Gigalum in Clapham South is being turned into The Perky Nel, a neighbourhood pub serving delightful British food from local suppliers and producers. The offering, from independent pub group livelihood, will also host live sport screenings and other entertainment when it opens in February.

 

Although not strictly a new opening, Vaughn’s Cookery School in Devizes, Wiltshire, and chef Peter Vaughn, will mark St David’s Day on 1 March with a Chef’s Table Supper Club. Alongside a three-course meal with plenty of Welsh influences, Vaughn will share his experiences while putting unique twists on the food served.

 

Food will also be on the agenda at the Victoria and Albert Museum from mid-May, as a major exhibition will take visitors on a multi-sensory journey through the food cycle. Food: Bigger than the plate will explore the ways that innovative individuals and communities grow, distribute and experience food, with highlights including cheese made from human bacteria and an Urban Mushroom Farm installation.

 

Just opened – Bristol

 

Having tasted success in Cheltenham and Oxford, independent micro-chain Coconut Tree launched in two Bristol locations in late 2018, bringing affordable Sri Lankan street food to Gloucester Road and Clifton. Sample fiery cocktails, tropical tapas and egg hoppers, alongside plenty of other culinary delights.

 

Opening soon – Birmingham

 

Chef Adam Stokes, the Michelin-starred owner of Adam’s restaurant in Birmingham, will open his second venture in the city in February, specialising in fish and seafood. Crab toast, teriyaki salmon and fish and chips will be on the menu at The Oyster Club on Temple Street, alongside a dedicated oyster bar and a range of exciting meat and vegetarian dishes.

 

The huge basement boiler room of the Grand Hotel will soon welcome Tattu, offering contemporary Chinese cuisine that’s carefully presented and packed full of incredible flavours. The third branch from owner pair Adam and Drew Jones will serve up a delightful array of signature dishes and new additions to the menu, including chilli and sesame roasted scallops served with Chinese sausage.

Torquay B&B named world’s best at Trip Advisor traveller awards

Britain is home to the world’s best B&B – and lots more besides. The 25 Boutique B&B, nestled away on the English Riviera, took the crown of being The World’s number one B&B at the prestigious TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards. In just four years, The 25’s owners Andy and Julian Banner-Price have scooped an array of internationally renowned awards for the unique and memorable five-star experiences on offer.

Each of the boutique B&B’s six funky bedrooms has its own distinctive design, is packed with the latest technologies, and is within easy reach of the main harbour in Torquay. Taking into account the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and opinions specific to each award category, the hallmarks of Travellers’ Choice winners are extraordinary service, quality and value.

The 25 Boutique B&B wasn’t the only slice of Britain to scoop an award in 2019, with the winners showcasing the wide array of quality attractions, restaurants and hotels that are available to travellers from all over the world.

Hotels

Hotel 41, London

The five-star Hotel 41, a beautiful gem overlooking the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, featured among the world’s top 25 hotels, taking 15th spot. An intimate private hideaway with 30 luxurious rooms and suites, the hotel has a stylish black and white design, enriched by mahogany and fabulous furnishings. Guests can enjoy Plunder the Pantry complementary treats in the residents only Executive Lounge.

Best Destination

London

England’s capital city ranked as the world’s second best destination thanks to the wealth of things to see and do, its restaurants, infrastructure and shopping experiences. With the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace featuring on most visitor itineraries, the city is also home to the spectacular National Gallery and the Tate Modern, as well as an abundance of historical attractions and fine dining.

Rentals

St Michaels, Whitstable

Ranking as the second best rental option in the world, St Michaels in Whitstable has space for up to 23 guests and offers an abundance of space and amenities. The executive 5-bedroom detached house is just 15-minute walk from the stunning Whitstable Harbour, castle and seafront.

Little Upton Threshing Barn, Glastonbury

The second of three rentals to feature in the global top ten, this time in eighth spot, Little Upton Threshing Barn in Glastonbury has six luxury rooms split across two converted barns with access to plenty of outdoor space, an enclosed heated swimming pool and a private hot tub. Visitors have the option to tailor their experience with an array of catering and activity options.

Snowdon House in Snowdonia, Llanberis

Taking tenth spot in the best rental ranking, Snowdon House is nestled among the picturesque beauty of Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. Alongside an outdoor hot tub and a sauna, the characterful home has heated floors and beautiful log burning stoves.

Restaurants

Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham

Nestled under a flyover off the A52, the two Michelin star Restaurant Sat Bains has tables seating up to six guests and 7 and 10-course tasting menus featuring plenty of stunning original dishes. The restaurant is popular with TripAdvisor guests too, having been named as the fourth best restaurant in the world in this year’s Travellers’ Choice awards.

Adam’s, Birmingham

Offering contemporary British fine dining in intimate surroundings, the 36-cover dining room at the Michelin starred Adam’s in Birmingham was another popular choice at the 2019 awards. Named as the 11th best restaurant in the world, owner and chef Adam Stokes has 3 AA Rosettes to his name and serves up a 3-course menu and a signature tasting menu in the heart of the city.

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton

Hidden among beautiful gardens in the rural Cotswolds countryside is the world’s 15th best restaurant, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Having held two Michelin stars for 35 years, the gourmet hotel in Oxfordshire oozes gastronomic flair, with chef Raymond Blanc offering a 6-course weekend lunch menu, as well as a 5-course lunch and 7-course dinner options.

Museums

The British Museum, London

The British Museum, voted as the world’s fourth best museum at the Travellers’ Choice awards, houses a vast collection of world art and artefacts that are dedicated to human history, art and culture. Dating back to 1753, the museum’s collection includes more than eight million objects, of which only a fraction is on show at any one time. Special exhibitions take place across the year, including the largest exhibition of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s prints in the UK for 45 years, from early April 2019.

National Gallery, London

Home to more than 2,300 pieces of artwork, ranging from altarpieces to the Impressionists, the National Gallery hosts regular events and exhibitions and ranks as the 11th best museum in the world. Accessible across 361 days every year, its national collection of paintings in Western European styles cover the 13th to 19th centuries and can be viewed free of charge.

Beaches

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Bournemouth Beach, a sandy expanse of coastline on the south coast of England, featured among the world’s top 25 beaches, in 14th. Tuck into fish and chips along seven miles of spectacular sands, sit back and relax in a colourful deckchair or sample the many family attractions on Bournemouth Pier.

Amusement Parks

Paulton’s Park, Romsey, Hampshire

Home to the world’s first Peppa Pig World, Paultons Park on the edge of the New Forest National Park has more than 70 exciting rides and attractions for all the family to enjoy. The theme park features in the world’s top 25 amusement parks, with the Travellers’ Choice award recognising its eclectic mix of rides and entertainment.

48 Hours in Birmingham

Time to check in

As befits a city of its size, Birmingham has a multitude of hotels, ranging from budget chains to luxury properties and everything in between. The seven-storey, 131-bedroom Pentahotel is one of the city’s coolest properties – its bar, restaurant and lounge being a particular draw thanks to its funky décor – and is only a ten-minute walk from the train station, and just five from the city’s must-visit Bullring Shopping Centre. For boutique-style accommodation set within Victorian architecture, The Edgbaston – located in the Edgbaston neighbourhood of Birmingham, the famous home of cricket – has just expanded to offer 20 contemporary, individually styled bedrooms. You’ll find four-star luxury at the Genting Hotel, situated right at the heart of leisure and entertainment complex Resorts World Birmingham and, come early 2019, The Grand, a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool, is due to open in one of the city’s best-known, Grade II-listed buildings.

DAY ONE

09:00 Did you know that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, all of which are lined with beautifully restored industrial heritage landmarks or striking contemporary buildings? Embarking on a canal boat tour is one of the best ways to explore the city’s heritage. There are several routes 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.

11:00 Discover adventure in the heart of a city as you test your mental and physical abilities at Birmingham’s recently opened Bear Grylls Adventure, the TV presenter’s eponymous activities venue. Choose from thrilling climbing challenges, tackle extreme high-ropes courses, experience unadulterated joy as you free fall at indoor skydiving, or take a deep breath as you submerge for the underwater challenges. The adrenaline rush will set you up for the day ahead!

13:00 How about a botanical-inspired cocktail – think poppy and pomegranate martini or a sage and rhubarb spritz – created from greenhouse herbs grown on-site to accompany a hearty lunch in a charming venue? The Botanist evokes a secret garden atmosphere, its décor embellished with various knick-knacks and ornaments. The restaurant serves up BBQ, deli and rotisserie-based dishes such as its Famous Hanging Kebabs, ranging from Tandoori cod and king prawn to lamb kofta with harissa jam.

15:00 One of Britain’s most famous confectionary brands, Cadbury, was born and bred in Birmingham. Discover its story – as well as feast on as much chocolate as you can eat – at Cadbury World, 20 minutes from the city centre. You’ll find out how chocolate is made, explore the 4D Chocolate Adventure zone and the 4D cinema experiences and watch the chocolatiers at work. And don’t forget to stock up on treats at the world’s largest Cadbury shop on-site!

17:00 Make your way over to the Custard Factory, the city’s creative quarter, and enjoy a round of crazy golf against a backdrop of graffiti art and cool music at Ghetto Golf. After you’ve hit 18 holes sip a cocktail or two at its stylish bar.

19:00 Head back into the city centre for a meal at one of Birmingham’s newest dining experiences, Pint Shop. Located in a listed building dating back to 1860 in Birmingham’s former financial quarter, Bennett’s Hill, the restaurant focuses on a menu of seasonal British produce and local and national beers.

DAY TWO

09:00 Gain a genuine insight into what life was like in the Black Country (just west of Birmingham) as the region grew into one of the world’s first industrial landscapes at the Black Country Living Museum. This fascinating open-air museum is packed with original period shops, houses and villages, with costumed characters to relate stories of what it was like to live and work in the region in the mid-19th century. Plans are also under way to create a new town centre telling the story of the Black Country from the 1940s to the 1960s.

11:00 In addition to its well-documented industrial heritage, Birmingham is renowned for its jewellery and metalworking heritage. Head to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter in the Jewellery Quarter to discover more – the museum is a perfect time capsule, built around a preserved jewellery workshop. Take a guided tour, explore the galleries and watch live jewellery-making demonstrations before exploring the Jewellery Quarter itself which, as well as the ideal place to search for a new bracelet or earrings, boasts a thriving arts scene.

13:00 Stop for a quick bite to eat at the Jewellery Quarter-based Rose Villa Tavern. Described as a ‘vintage Victorian mecca’ it’s a highly decorative venue (think antler chandeliers and artistic tiles), creating a lovely atmosphere in which to enjoy classic diner-style food, craft beers and maybe a sample of one of the 100 vodkas it stocks.

15:00 Birmingham has long been a magnet for TV and film producers; one of the biggest hits recently filmed here is Peaky Blinders, a show set in the city during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Discover Birmingham’s darker past on a Peaky Blinders-inspired walking tour. There are several tour companies offering such tours, as well as a host of other walking routes. BrumTours, for example, also runs a BrumPubs tour, a Birth of Birmingham tour and a Thousand Trades tour, as an homage to the city’s rich trading and manufacturing past.

17:00 Head to the neighbourhood of Digbeth, a cool, creative hub where street and graffiti artists have changed the outlook of the area’s classic red brick walls. Order a drink in one of the newest bars in the area, The Ruin, which also recently unveiled a mural-style map featuring 12 independent and unique neighbours, together called ‘The Digbeth Dozen’. Created by Birmingham graffiti artist Title (Andy Mills) it features venues such as the street-food focused Digbeth Dining Club, where you can stop by for a bite to eat on Fridays and Saturdays.

19:00 Birmingham is one of England’s cultural hubs, and an evening can be spent enjoying a production at one of its theatres. Check out the Birmingham Repertory Theatre for classic and contemporary theatre, the New Alexandra Theatre for its mix of musicals, comedy, drama and concerts, or the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), which boasts four performance auditoria presenting a wide range of contemporary work across a variety of genres.

Getting there: Birmingham has its own international airport and can also be reached by train from both London and Manchester in 90 minutes.

Ten cool hotels to have on your radar in 2019

Suitcases at the ready – some fabulously cool hotels are set to open in Britain next year, each bringing their own unique vibe as they set to join the ‘hottest properties to stay at’ lists.

The Hard Rock Hotel, London

Get ready to rock – located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, the legendary Hard Rock Hotel is scheduled to open its new London property in Spring next year. With 900 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®, Hard Rock Hotel London will pay tribute in its memorabilia collection to former residents such as Jimi Hendrix, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Madonna. The lobby will house its world-famous Rock Shop® featuring Hard Rock merchandise, and guests seeking the ultimate experience will have the opportunity to elevate their status and become Rock Royalty®. These luxurious Rock Royalty rooms and suites will offer extra perks including a personal concierge and access to a lavish lounge.

The DogHouse, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

Beer lovers rejoice; independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel – wittily called The DogHouse – and will launch this immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland. Set to welcome guests in the first half of 2019, the 26-room hotel will feature beer taps in the rooms, a built-in shower beer fridge, while the rooms will overlook the brewery itself. Guests will also be able to watch brewers at work from rooms overlooking the new facility.

Vineyard hotel at Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey, south-east England

If wine is more your favourite tipple, look no further than England’s largest single estate vineyard, which, come Spring 2019, will have converted its existing farmhouse accommodation into what is being billed as the UK’s first vineyard hotel. Set on the Denbies estate in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and offering panoramic views across the vineyard and North Downs Way, the new hotel will have 17 en-suite bedrooms, an Orangery-style garden restaurant, outdoor dining cabanas and its own ‘Enomatic™ wine dispensing machine’ – meaning guests can taste and purchase Denbies wine by the glass. Plus, there’ll be complimentary wine tasting tutorials. Cheers to that!

art'otel Hoxton, London

What could be cooler than staying in a hotel with its own art gallery? art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, which will be an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary hotel. As well as an art gallery located in the publicly accessible arts centre, plans are said to include a top-floor restaurant and bar and luxury spa. Another art’otel property to have on your radar is the one the hotel group is said to be opening near the historic Battersea Power Station in the new Nine Elms district, south London.

Grantley Hall, Yorkshire Dales, north England

When Spring rolls round, the doors are set to open on a new five-star luxury country resort hotel and spa, set in a grand 17th-century house on its own island! Situated between the elegant Yorkshire towns of Ripon and Harrogate, Grantley Hall is being restored to its former early 20th-century glory and guests will be able to choose from 47 rooms and suites, four restaurants, three bars, a private members club, a spa pool, state-of-the-art gym and elite performance centre. The elegance continues outside; explore gorgeous landscaped gardens, which including a 1910 Japanese Garden that features on Historic England’s National Heritage List.

Stock Exchange Hotel, Manchester, north-west England

If you’re a football fan, the newest hotel owned by Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville should be on your hotel hot list. The former footballers-turned-hoteliers are transforming Manchester’s beautiful old Stock Exchange building into a five-star boutique hotel, with 40 bedrooms, two presidential suites, two restaurants and private dining in the wine cellars for up to 100 people. The hotel is due to open in Spring 2019.

The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent, south-east England

Joining the litter of Pig Hotels, The Pig at Bridge Place in Kent is due to open in Spring. Its home is within a 17th-century manor house that may once have been the refined Bridge Place Country Club but was also host to some legendary parties and gigs in its time – Led Zeppelin even played here in the 1970s. Its 28 bedrooms will be enhanced by period features such as large fireplaces, secret stairways and panelled rooms, and there’ll be a further 12 bedrooms in its new Coach House. As with all Pigs, the kitchen garden and restaurant will be at the heart of this new property, and anything that can’t be supplied by the gardens will be sourced from the best producers within a 25-mile (40-km) radius. Also keep an eye out for another Pig opening towards the end of 2019; The Pig at Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, south-west England.

Market Street Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland

Early 2019 will see Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, welcome a property from the Carlton House Collection, called Market Street Hotel. Situated on the edge of Edinburgh’s gorgeous Old Town, the historic nature of the building means lovely high ceilings and plenty of historic references, although the 98 bedrooms will be contemporary, urban-styled rooms with ante-room bathrooms. Its top floor is intriguingly being described as a ‘Champagne city residence’ and will offer wonderful vistas across the city.

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire, north-west England

Get ready for some serious indulgence as the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, welcomes an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel to the Grade I-listed architectural masterpiece The Crescent. The hotel will be part of the overall transformation of The Crescent – which originally opened in 1789 and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Britain – and guests will also have access to the splendid Assembly Rooms, a thermal natural mineral water spa in the Natural Baths plus to the six prestigious retail premises along the front ground façade.

The Grand, Birmingham, central England

The chance to stay in hotels housed in some of Britain’s most iconic architectural sights continues in Birmingham, where one of the city’s best-known, Grade II-listed buildings is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool. While the hotel is scheduled to open in early 2019, several lovely bars and cafés have already set up home in the development - The Alchemist, Gusto and 200 Degrees cafe – that hotel guests will have easy access to.

Where to find the best post-Christmas sales in Britain

Coincide your visit to Britain during one of the major sales seasons and you could make huge savings on shopping during your trip. Post-Christmas is a brilliant seasonal sale period as shops offer great discounts and incentives, usually from Boxing Day (26 December) onwards. You’ll find them everywhere, from major department stores and high-street shops, independent boutiques and outlet centres.

CITY SHOPPING

London

England’s capital is, without doubt, one of the best places in the world to shop! Legendary shopping haunts such as Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street, Westfield in Stratford, east London and Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, Covent Garden and Knightsbridge, plus pretty much every other street in the capital, are teeming with shops that offer post-Christmas sales. If you’re searching for great prices at high-end stores, why not start at the ‘grande dame’ of them all, Harrods in Knightsbridge. Its Winter Sale is a real show-stopper of an event, opening with great fanfare on Boxing Day – in previous years, the Boxing Day sale event has featured live reindeers and a performance by Florence + The Machine. Also head to Selfridges on Oxford Street where, across six floors, you’ll discover fantastic sales on designer wear (its sale also kicks off on Boxing Day), while over in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols is a must-visit for luxury brands at sale prices. Homewares, fashion and beauty bargains can be found at the elegant designer department store Liberty on Regent Street and, if it’s a good deal on foodie treats you’re looking for, head to Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly, where sales tend to start on 27 December. 

Birmingham, central England

Jump on a train from London and 90 minutes later you’ll find yourself in another shopper’s paradise. The city of Birmingham has a wonderful mix of shopping experiences, from luxury department stores and independent boutiques to historic markets and high-street favourites. Check out the post-Christmas sales at its branches of Harvey Nichols, found at the Mailbox shopping venue, which is also home to brands such as Armani and Calvin Klein. The Birmingham branch of Selfridges is located in one of the city’s most distinctive buildings and is part of The Bullring & Grand Central shopping destination. It boasts upscale brands such as Michael Kors and the British institution that is department store John Lewis, which kicks off its famous sale on 27 December. Close by is Birmingham’s New Street, which has a myriad of narrow streets leading off it where you’ll find sales events at the independent boutiques and high-street favourites that have their home there. And don’t forget to explore the city’s renowned Jewellery Quarter, packed with historic buildings and jewellery boutiques to hunt for that gem of a post-Christmas bargain.

Manchester, north-west England

Whatever style you’re into, you’ll find it in Manchester’s shops – and at great prices too during sales season. Like London and Birmingham, Manchester has branches of luxury department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, each home to a raft of designer concessions. If you’re looking for high-street bargains all under one roof, check out the city’s fantastic shopping centres; the intu Trafford Centre (where Selfridges is located) is home to Zara, Victoria’s Secret, John Lewis and that British favourite, Primark. For shopping in a historic destination, visit The Royal Exchange – once the hub of the world’s cotton trade and a Grade II-listed building – where premium high-street brands (think French Connection and Molton Brown) sit alongside independent boutiques and luxury retailers. The venue is also close to Manchester Arndale, where bargains can be found at leading British high-street fashion stores such as TopShop, River Island and Next. It’s also worth exploring Manchester’s creative, bohemian hub, the Northern Quarter, for vintage boutiques and independent record stores and head to Afflecks, where bargains can be picked up at independent designers trading across four floors – it’s a labyrinth of treasures.

Glasgow, Scotland

Home to one of the UK’s largest retail hubs outside of London, Glasgow is a shopaholic’s dream destination. Its world-famous Style Mile in the city centre means an easy route around all your favourite shops – good news, as hunting for bargains can be tiring work! The ‘Style Mile’ is home to well-loved British high-street stores, as well as luxury retailers, but it’s also the place to go to explore the city’s shopping centres and department stores. More than 80 retailers have made their home at the Buchanan Galleries, including a branch of John Lewis, the classically British Jones the Bootmaker, and beauty shops such as Bare Minerals. The West End of the city is the place to shop if you’re looking for sales bargains in more avant-garde and independent boutiques.

Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff’s main shopping area in the city centre is mainly pedestrianised, meaning the hunt for post-Christmas bargains is all concentrated in an easy-to-navigate district. The Welsh capital is well-known for its Victorian arcades and no less than six have been transformed into shopping venues. The Castle Quarter alone comprises three; Castle Arcade, High Street Arcade and Duke Street Arcade, and it’s here you’ll find a raft of vintage shops, clothes stores and jewellery shops worth exploring during the post-Christmas sales. Contemporary British brands, such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis, have made their home at the St David’s Centre and there are high-street names galore throughout the city centre.

 

OUTLETS

Grab even bigger bargains at Britain's outlet stores – they offer deals all year round, but you can discover even bigger discounts during the main sale periods as items are marked down further.

Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, central England

Less than one hour from London, Bicester Village is one of Britain’s best-known luxury shopping destinations and bargain hunters can explore more than 160 famous brand-name boutiques, including Oscar de la Renta, Hugo Boss, Tods and Mulberry. Year-round they offer savings of up to 60% and may often discount further during the post-Christmas sales period. New designer boutiques are constantly opening at the Village, with recent additions including Roland Mouret, MonnaLisa, Amanda Wakeley and British brand Shrimps. Bicester Village now also offers an exclusive by-appointment-only space where guests can retreat for private shopping consultations and, to complete the VIP shopping experience, can take advantage of valet parking, hands-free shopping and on-site tax refunds and money services. There’s also a Bicester Village app packed full off shopping tips, important information and exclusive offers, that you can download before you hit the shops.

McArthur Glen

McArthurGlen has designer outlets in six locations across Britain, including York (a two-hour train ride from London) and Cheshire, a 45-minute train journey from Liverpool. Cheshire Oaks is Britain’s largest designer outlet, with more than 145 boutiques, restaurants and cafés, and shoppers can find bargains from popular high-street names such as Marks & Spencer and Next, and high-end brands such as Burberry and Michael Kors. McArthur Glen’s other destinations include Ashford in Kent (40 minutes from London), Bridgend in south Wales (around 30 minutes from Cardiff), East Midlands (around 25 minutes from Nottingham) and Swindon (around 45 minutes from Bath). A new outlet is due to open in 2020 in Cannock in the West Midlands (30 minutes from Birmingham).

London Designer Outlet

Close to the world-famous Wembley Stadium in north London is the London Designer Outlet, where visitors will discover more than 50 outlet stores offering regular and seasonal discounts of up to 70% on top fashion and lifestyle brands – it’s ideal for post-Christmas sales! If you’re into sportswear, this is where you’ll find top sporting brands such as Nike and adidas, while if you’re searching for stylish homewares, check out lifestyle stores that include Villeroy & Boch, Sony and Procook. The outlet also offers services such as multi-lingual staff and overseas shoppers can claim an immediate VAT refund at the outlet’s currency exchange service.

ICON Outlet at the O2

New to the outlet scene – it opened in late October 2018 – the ICON Outlet at the iconic O2 arena in Greenwich, south-east London, has brought together a huge range of fashion and lifestyle brands at accessible prices all under the famous tented roof. It's home to retailers including Kurt Geiger, Aspinal of London, Jack Wills, Cath Kidston, Hackett, Guess, G-STAR Raw and Ted Baker, as well as a host of other shops and restaurants. Customers can take advantage of services such as a concierge luggage drop and hands-free shopping.