Discover some of Britain's fantastic flower shows

To commemorate our 50th anniversary, we at VisitBritain have teamed up with RHS Chelsea to promote Britain’s wonderful flower shows. From RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court to the delightful lesser-known shows that take place up and down the country, spring and summer in Britain are packed with an abundance of floral delights. One such highlight is sure to be the new 154-acre garden in the grounds of Worsley New Hall opening in 2020. To celebrate, RHS Chelsea has teamed up with garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith to create the RHS Bridgewater Garden at Chelsea. The largest exhibit in this year's show, the garden will reveal some of the key features of the new development, with the entire garden being relocated to Worsley New Hall following the Chelsea Flower Show. In the meantime, here’s our round-up of some of the fabulous shows to visit this year.

National Flower Show at Hylands House

Set in the grounds of the spectacular Hylands House and Estate in Essex, the National Flower Show will return for its 5th year in 2019. The Floral Pavilion is the centre of the show, providing inspiration as exhibitors present the finest plants and flowers as they compete to be crowned Best in Show. TV gardener Carol Klein will officially open the show, before hosting two question and answer sessions on all things floral. On top of an array of gardening talks, they’ll also be an opportunity to participate in floral workshops, although participation in these will be limited. Entry to the impressive Hylands House, Parks and Gardens is included with entry to the show.

When? 17-19 May

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Taking place from 21-25 May 2019 and now in its 116th year, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a much-loved staple of the British horticultural calendar. From exquisite traditional gardens to cutting-edge design and exhibits exploring the science behind horticulture, the show has something for every green-fingered enthusiast. Visitors can meet the world’s leading growers and discover a riot of colour and scent at the Great Pavilion – which this year features ‘Gardening Will Save the World’, its first show garden. They can also see the very latest innovations in design at exhibits including the new RHS Garden Bridgewater Garden at Chelsea by designer Tom Stuart-Smith, and learn about the benefits of gardening and green space to health and wellbeing.

When? 21-25 May

Gardening Scotland

With its focus on gardening and outdoor living, Gardening Scotland hosts an abundance of designers and features all of the latest gardening trends. More than 400 exhibitors from across Britain flock to the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, while numerous florists and horticultural experts are on hand to answer queries and provide advice. Pop-up food stalls and cafes serve an eclectic mix of country food, providing everything from sandwiches and speciality coffees to Scottish steak rolls.

When? 31 May - 2 June

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

The grounds of Chatsworth House provide the setting for the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, offering spectacular summer colours, unique shopping experiences and numerous have-a-go workshops. From thought-provoking show gardens featuring innovative planting ideas to floral experts on hand in the marquees to answer questions, Chatsworth caters for every gardener, regardless of experience. More than 200 exhibitors will also be in attendance, offering everything from sculpture to garden furniture.

When? 5-9 June

Blenheim Palace Flower Show

Returning for its seventh year in 2019, the Blenheim Palace Flower Show offers 3 days of stunning flower displays, mouth-watering food and drink, and inspiration for both the home and outdoors. Discover hand-made crafts and gifts in the Home and Country Living Pavilion before casting an eye over the entries for Best in Show in the Grand Floral Pavilion, all in the shadow of the magnificent Blenheim Palace.

When? 21-23 June

Woburn Abbey Garden Show

Marking a decade since the Woburn Abbey Garden Show first graced the landscaped grounds of Woburn Abbey, 2019’s show will feature a hand-picked selection of exhibitors and nurseries. Visitors can expect live entertainment, food and shopping alongside informative talks, demonstrations and gardening tours. Gain rare access to the Private Gardens of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford and browse a selection of RHS Medal winning nurseries that offer a diverse mix of European and global plants.

When? 22-23 June

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

Rich gardening inspiration, entertaining family activities and hands-on workshops are just some of what is on offer at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. Discover the essentials for creating a new vegetable plot and meet the future stars of garden design as part of the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition. Afterwards, browse the stalls of hundreds of exhibitors before wandering through a dazzling display of more than 5,000 dahlias. An interactive feature called the Bug Hub will detail the lifecycle of insects, while the School Gardens, created by hundreds of local school children, are just waiting to be explored.

When? 17-21 July

Prestatyn Flower Show

Held annually in the North Wales seaside town of Prestatyn, the Prestatyn Flower Show features an array of beautiful plants and garden furniture alongside arts, crafts and prize-winning exhibitions. Enjoy brass band music and live jazz and explore a striking collection of classic cars before discovering the many boutique shops and eateries in the town.

When? 26-27 July

Chorley Flower Show

The 4th annual Chorley Flower Show transforms Astley Park into a blaze of colour in late July, as horticultural exhibitors and florists descend on the heart of Lancashire. As well as plenty of garden designs and exciting species, there’s also an amateur marquee packed full of beautiful plants and shrubs.

When? 27-28 July

Shrewsbury Flower Show

Attracting exhibitors from all over Britain, the Shrewsbury Flower Show is home to spectacular entertainment, celebrity chefs and a wealth of stunning flower collections. The UK’s top nurseries display their plants in the Quarry Marquee, while the lecture theatre hosts talks from leading industry experts throughout the show. Alongside a space for amateur growers to showcase their skills, there is a special section for bee keeping and honey exhibitors. A magnificent firework display brings an end to proceedings.

When? 9-10 August

Southport Flower Show

Find horticultural inspiration, try out delicious regional food and immerse yourself in spectacular show gardens at the Southport Flower Show, all of which reflect the 2019 theme of ‘Garden Party’. Visit the Grand Floral Marquee to unearth a treasure trove of plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, vegetables and herbs before discovering the quirky work of landscape designers as they go head-to-head to create the most Curious Garden at the show.

When? 15-18 August

Ayr and District Flower Show

Ayr Racecourse welcomes the Ayr and District Flower Show in August, a delightful mix of brightly coloured flowers, floral art, Bonsai trees and other plants. There’s also a delightful food market featuring Scottish producers selling baked goods, fruit and vegetables, meat and confectionary. Numerous trade stands sell everything from plants, bulbs and trees to pots, planters and other garden equipment.

When? 16-17 August

RHS Wisley Flower Show

Taking place in late summer, the RHS Wisley Flower Show is home to a plethora of colourful plants, an expert zone with talks and demos and ample opportunities to seek gardening advice. The National Dahlia Society Annual Show forms part of proceedings, showcasing the very best in dahlia cultivation in Britain.

When? 3-9 September

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

New Year extravaganzas – where to welcome in 2019

2019 is almost upon us and Britain is preparing to celebrate the new year in style. Which destination will you choose to say farewell 2018, hello 2019?

LONDON

The capital is world-famous for its New Year’s Eve fireworks display over the London Eye, the largest such annual display to take place in the UK. Crowds gather all along the South Bank to hear Big Ben chime midnight as they enjoy the rainbow of colours lighting up the sky as they welcome in another year. This has been a ticketed event since 2014 and you can get yours here. Of course, even if you don’t get tickets to this coveted event, there are plenty of other ways to see the famous fireworks; head out onto the water on board one of City Cruises New Year’s Eve cruises on the River Thames for example, or book a table at one of the capital’s top restaurants that boast views overlooking the Thames, such as Galvin at Windows or the Aqua Shard.

Of course, London has numerous different venues that host their own special New Year’s Eve extravaganzas; how about partying the night way underneath the skeleton of Hope the blue whale, the largest creature to have ever lived, at the Natural History Museum’s New Year’s Eve Party Animals event? On the night you can also try your luck at Musical Bingo, sample edible insects, explore two blockbuster exhibitions, and dance the night away in the Silent Disco.

There’s also Silent Disco fun to be had at the City of London’s Grade II-listed Banking Hall, a stunning Art Deco building. Or be transported back in time to some 1940s-style fun, courtesy of live big bands and a swing dance class at the Blitz Party New Year’s Eve at Shoreditch’s Village Underground, which will be transformed into an air-raid shelter for the occasion.

EDINBURGH

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations. This year, on 31 December, Scottish indie sensations Franz Ferdinand will top the bill at the Concert in the Gardens main stage in the Scottish capital’s iconic West Princes Street Gardens, supported by Metronomy and Free Love. The gig will be followed by a jaw-dropping firework display over Edinburgh Castle and, a ticket for Concert in the Gardens also includes access to the famous Street Party! Every reveller to the Street Party will receive a free dram of host Johnnie Walker’s whisky to see in the new year and guests can throw some shapes at the silent disco. Alternatively, you can toast 2019 with a whirl or a jig at the Ceilidh under the Castle event before enjoying the fireworks display.

Like London, Edinburgh has a multitude of venue choices to see in the New Year; arts and music institution located in the Old Town, Cabaret Voltaire, is hosting its ‘Psychedelic Wizard of Oz’ event, where the year turns back to 1990 and guests are whisked down the Yellow Brick Road on a journey to Oz. If classical music is more your thing, head to the stunning 19th-century building McEwan Hall, which will host Symphonic Ibiza, classic Ibiza anthems played by a 20-strong orchestra.

NEWCASTLE

Considering that little ones also like to enjoy the fun of welcoming in a new year but may not be able to stay up until midnight on 31 December, Newcastle in north-east England is putting on brilliant family friendly fireworks display at the Newcastle Civic Centre. The afternoon will be packed with entertainment such as music and street theatre before the fireworks display at 6pm.

For a more mature evening, check out the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the iconic Sage Gateshead, where orchestral pop band The Divine Comedy will be performing alongside after guests have enjoyed a four-course meal. Or you could head to music venue the O2 Academy for a party led by Monta Musica, one of Newcastle’s most well-known music producers. Beer lovers should head to the Wylam Brewery, which will host The Whole Hogmany III at Exhibition Park Palace of Arts – expect a hog roast, 36 taps of craft keg beers and pop-up bars, a street food village, a gin palace and fireworks at midnight.

MANCHESTER

Marking the end of the north-west England city’s Christmas season will be a spectacular fireworks display outside the iconic Manchester Hall in Albert Square. Poignantly, big screens will display poetry and messages during the event, including This is the Place by Tony Walsh, which was embraced by the city following the attack on the Arena earlier in the year.

Manchester’s venues also put on great parties come 31 December. Want to time travel back to the 1990s? Head to All Star Lanes for a New Year’s Eve with a ‘90s twist – come dressed in your finest neon and dance to the party tunes of the decade at this popular bowling alley. Journey further back in time to the 1920s for a Gatsby-style celebration at The Fitzgerald in the bohemian Northern Quarter, where live entertainment, burlesque dancers, DJs and a jazz band will evoke the Roaring Twenties. And, if you’ve got the stamina, you can party for 24 hours at The Liquor Store’s famous New Year’s Eve party. Start at midday on New Year’s Eve and keep on celebrating until midday on New Year’s Day. Keeping you energised will be live music, pizza, games and prizes plus a Jager Fountain.

CARDIFF

Wales’ capital city will be heralding the new year with a spectacular firework display at the beautiful City Hall. And a great spot to watch those is from Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland (which runs until 6 January), particularly if you’re skating on its ice rink during the special New Year’s Eve 11.30pm-midnight slot. Other attractions to enjoy on the night include a fun fair with some hair-raising rides including The 90ft Tower!

Elsewhere in the city centre, Cardiff’s pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants will be packed with revellers enjoying a whole range of parties. Fond of a craft beer or two? Check out the New Year’s Eve party at BrewDog Cardiff, which will host a ‘BREW Year party’. Tickets include limited edition beers, tapas and a table for your party. Another ‘Brew Year’s Eve’ can be found at the Brewhouse & Kitchen, where a dinner party ticket gets you a three-course meal before the music and dancing starts.  

AND FOR SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT…

Britain is well-known for its quirky traditions, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Here are a just a few that might tempt you to spend a New Year’s Eve quite unlike any other you’ve experienced…

Fireball Ceremony at Stonehaven – in a pretty harbour town just south of Aberdeen in north Scotland is an astonishing ceremony where a group of people parade through the High Street swinging flaming balls above their heads, accompanied by bagpipers, as the clocks strike midnight on 31 December. The fireballs are then thrown into the harbour waters. Its free for visitors to watch and the event culminates in a fireworks display.

Comrie Flambeaux Procession – Scotland is well known for its love of Hogmanay celebrations and the small village of Comrie in Perthshire, around 90 minutes from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, is no exception when it comes to celebrating. This ancient fire festival – originally believed to cleanse the village at the start of each year – sees people bearing torches through the village before poles are lit and bagpipes played at midnight. Before this all happens there’s a children’s fancy dress parade and fireworks display earlier in the evening.

The Allendale Tar Bar’l – this fire festival takes place in the Northumberland town of Allendale in north-east England, around 45 minutes’ drive from Newcastle. More than 40 local men, bedecked in fancy dress, form a procession through the town carrying whisky barrels containing burning hot tar. The music-led procession ends at a ceremonial bonfire at midnight and the party begins!

48 Hours on….The Wales Way

Recently launched, The Wales Way is a group of three national touring routes crossing the country’s most epic landscapes, showcasing its fascinating history, coastlines and attractions. The routes demonstrate how Wales is a destination for experience-seeking travellers, willing to explore off-the-beaten track locations along The North Wales Way, The Cambrian Way and The Coastal Way, all year round. Here we take a look at how to spend 48 hours across the Cambrian Way, a north to south journey of the country, stretching 185 miles (300km) along what is known as the ‘mountainous spine’ of Wales.

 

DAY ONE

09:00 Begin your journey in the vibrant capital city of Wales, Cardiff, and gain an insight into the country you’re about to traverse with a visit to the National Museum of Wales. Discover Wales’ national art, geology and natural history collections as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions…and it’s all for free! Visit from now until 24 February 2019 and explore the world-renowned Artes Mundi, a biennial international art exhibition and prize.

11:00 Travel on half an hour out of Cardiff to the Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant. The Royal Mint makes and distributes British coins and official medals for around 60 countries every year and visitors can take a guided tour of the manufacturing areas to discover how coins are created, plus the chance to strike your own coin. The experience concludes with an interactive exhibition.

13:00 Did you know that more than 20 different grape varieties are grown in vineyards across Wales? Stop to discover seven of those varieties, as you arrive at the Brecon Beacons National Park and a tour of the Sugar Loaf Vineyards near Abergavenny. The vineyard produces three whites, a rosé and, if the weather is in its favour, a red. You’ll also be rewarded with lovely views of the Usk Valley and be sure to stop for some lunch in its coffee shop – any non-drivers should, of course, order a glass of wine to go with it!

15:00 Another hour’s drive will take you to the stunning Farmers’ Lavender Fields near Builth Wells, which produce the scented oils that are used in the Farmers’ body care creams and lotions range. The farm is open year-round (although peak time for lavender is midsummer) for visitors to embark on self-guided tours and, out of season, the distillery is open for visitors see how lavender flowers produce essential oil. Stock up on body care products and a range of beautiful gifts in its shop as well as enjoying some tea and cake in the tea shop.

17:00 45 minutes from the lavender fields is the pretty market town of Llanidloes, a beautiful spot at the gateway to the Cambrian Mountains and also, intriguingly, that lays at the heart of Arwystli, an ancient medieval kingdom. It’s a pleasant spot to stop and settle in for the evening.

19:00 Dine out in town, which boasts a range of eateries. In the mood for homemade pies or succulent steaks? Check out Bistro Hafren. Fish and chips take your fancy? Head to the town’s Evans Fish Bar. And, for some after-dinner drinks accompanied by live music, take a walk to the Old Mill Bar, a café-bar set in a former flannel mill.

 

Time to check in

Llanidloes is well-served by charming bed and breakfast accommodation. Among them are the prettily named Unicorn Hotel, which offers six classic rooms, and The Whistling Badger, a historic pub that has been operating for more than 100 years, which offers three rooms. 

DAY TWO

09:00 Just over an hour’s drive from Llanidloes and you’ll hit the start of Snowdonia National Park and the amazing viewpoint Bwlch y Groes. Meaning ‘Pass of the Cross’, this mountain pass stands at 1,788 feet/545 metres above sea level and is well worth travelling through for some epic views.  

10:00 Take advantage of being in the adventure playground that is the Snowdonia National Park and check out some seriously thrilling activities to get the adrenaline pumping! Ever wanted to try surfing…inland? Surf Snowdonia (due to reopen in Spring 2019) is a 300-metre lagoon in the heart of the Conwy Valley countryside where, along with surfing, you can try out a watery assault course and have fun at its Crash & Splash Lagoon. Alternatively, Zip World, near the historic mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, is the place to go to bounce and slide through a huge underground net adventure, climb through a unique underground course in a disused slate mine or zip down Europe’s largest zipwire!

12:30 To wind down after all that adventure, explore somewhere a little statelier; Gwydir Castle, half an hour from Zip World and sitting on the edge of Snowdonia National Park. Once the ancestral home of the local, powerful Wynn family, it has a long tradition of entertaining royalty and is regarded as one of Wales’ finest Tudor houses.

14:00 Travel on 40 minutes and you’ll arrive at the splendid Bodnant Estate, set in picturesque countryside with wonderful views across to Snowdonia. Explore the magnificent Bodnant Hall, its terraced gardens, lawns and wild garden, admire the stone cottages (that you can also stay in) and farm buildings that were restored using traditional techniques and materials, as well as its Garden Centre and Craft Centre.

17:00 Head north on a 20-minute drive from the Bodnant Estate and you’ll arrive in the seaside retreat of Llandudno in north Wales. Its beautiful beaches have made this a popular resort since the Victorian era, while fans of Alice in Wonderland will enjoy taking part in the town’s Alice in Wonderland trails (the real Alice, Alice Liddell, spent time at her family’s holiday home in Llandudno). The town is also home to Wales’ longest pier (built in 1876), which stretches 2,295ft/700 metres out to sea. Just 15 minutes’ drive away is the seaside town of Conwy – home to the spectacular medieval Conwy Castle, built by England’s King Edward I; climb up to its battlements for incredible views across the sea and the town.

19:30 Time to feast on local delicacies such as pot roast of Welsh beef or slow-braised shoulder of Conwy Valley lamb, a sample of dishes that can be found at the town’s Bistro Bach. For dining at a proper Welsh country pub, try The Cottage Loaf, a charming inn of wooden beams and log fires serving a menu of seasonal specials and pub classics created from ingredients that are as locally sourced as possible.

Time to check in

Llandudno offers a good accommodation mix of hotels, townhouses and B&Bs. One of the most elegant and luxurious is Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, just south of the town centre; a romantic hotel set in a Grade I-listed country house with stunning gardens to match, guests will also love its gorgeous views over both the mountains and the sea.

The Quay Hotel & Spa located on the Conwy Estuary, affords amazing views over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Conwy Castle and has fantastic leisure facilities, while if you’re looking for something a little more central to town, the luxurious rooms at St George’s Hotel overlook Llandudno’s glorious seascape, which are particularly good from its rooms with balconies on The Rooftop.

Getting there: Cardiff, at the start of the Cambrian Way, has an international airport and is 2.5 hours by train from London. Llandudno, at the end of the journey, is a two-hour train journey from Manchester, and three hours from London. 

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 price. 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, which also 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 here. 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

Only 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 recently opened at the Village include 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.

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 – 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. Retailers that have opened in Phase 1 include Kurt Geiger, Aspinal of London, Jack Wills, Cath Kidston, Hackett, Guess, G-STAR Raw and Ted Baker, with many more due to open in the next phase. Customers can take advantage of services such as a concierge luggage drop and hands-free shopping. 

7 of the best Christmas markets and winter activities

Twinkling lights, mulled wine, festive atmosphere and fabulous gifts – Britain’s Christmas markets are back this year 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.

Bath Christmas Market, south-west England (22 November – 9 December)

There’s a lovely historic-ambience-meets-winter-style at Bath Christmas Market, as more than 200 pop-up chalets set up on Bath’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 you can fill empty bellies with a range of food sold from The Lodge in the heart of the market.

Also check out: Bath on Ice, the festive ice rink that runs from 16 November – 6 January 2019, and Glow in the Dark mini golf; a Christmas Trail at Prior Park Landscape Garden during December; and Shoppers’ Carols at Bath Abbey on various dates throughout the festive season.

 

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market, central England (15 November – 23 December)

A firm favourite on Birmingham’s Christmas calendar, this yuletide market is the largest authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany or Austria, and you can peruse all the lovely stalls right up until just before Christmas itself. Expect a fine range of traditional gifts and products on its 120 stalls and get into the German spirit while feasting on schnitzels, bratwursts, gluhwein and weissbeer. While you may be getting a flavour of Germany in the middle of Birmingham, a huge draw is its location in Victoria Square and the programme of live music that’s set to bring the party atmosphere to festive shopping.

Also check out: Birmingham Cathedral’s new outdoor market and Santa’s Grotto plus a full programme of music and film events during the festive season; outdoor skating at Ice Rink Birmingham plus the Big Wheel Experience from 15 November to 27 January 2019; a new event for 2018 (14 – 22 December), Enchanted Weston is an illuminated, after-dark experience in stunning parkland with live music and food.

 

Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland (16 November – 5 January)

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

Also check out: The Big Wheel and funfair rides on East Princes Street Gardens; performance company the multi award-winning La Clique with its show La Clique Noel Part Deux; and 24 Hours of Advent, a real-life advent calendar where Edinburgh opens its doors from 1 – 24 December to showcase the city’s unique buildings. 

 

Belfast Christmas Market, Northern Ireland (17 November – 22 December)

Set against the backdrop of one of the Northern Ireland capital’s most iconic buildings, Belfast City Hall, this yuletide market returns in 2018 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, Gluhwein and continental cheeses but make it a truly Northern Irish experience and visit Lavery’s traditional Irish bar for some fantastic live music to really get you in the Christmas spirit. Kids will love to take a ride on the vintage carousel or zip down the helter skelter as well as a trip to visit Santa in his magical grotto.

Also check out: Festive Fables at arts and culture hub The Mac (16 – 24 December) for festive storytelling; Christmas Wonderland at outdoor adventure centre The Jungle throughout December; and The Music Box at Belfast Waterfront, a festive music show celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

 

South Bank Winter Festival, London (9 November – 27 December)

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 wooden cabins lit up with fairy lights will sell 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 you grab a selfie by the huge Christmas tree!

Also check out: As you’re in one of the capital’s cultural hotspots, book onto one of the fantastic performances available at the Southbank Centre, from Christmas concerts and choir performances to the fairy tale spectacle of Rumpelstiltskin (13 December – 6 January 2019) and Belle Epoque (turn of the century) circus entertainment with Circus 1903 (19 December – 5 January 2019). There are also a number of workshops such as the Winter Knees Up, storytelling and music for all generations.

 

Cardiff Christmas Market, south Wales (15 November – 23 December)

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, entertainment transforming the streets.

Also check out: Once you’ve shopped you’re in the perfect location to head over to Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland (15 November – 6 January), including an undercover ice rink and Santa’s Grotto, which will be in the spectacular setting of Cardiff Castle; unique Santa Tours at the Principality Stadium (dates TBC); and choose from four Christmas ballets at St David’s Hall (19 – 31 December).

 

Manchester Christmas Markets, north-west England (9 November – 22 December)

Not one, not two, not even three but TEN locations will be hosting Manchester’s award-winning Christmas markets, meaning wherever you are in the city you 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; follow the market trail as you pick up jewellery, toys, plants, bags, homeware and quirky, fun gifts. Each has its own character; as well as the traditional style market there will be a French market, a German market, a World Christmas market and a dedicated Arts & Crafts market.

Also check out: Winter Funland, which will be held at an indoor venue and include fairground attractions, ice rink, circus and other fun performances (7 December – 1 January 2019); Manchester orchestra Halle’s Christmas music extravaganza at Bridgewater Hall (21 December); and visit Ice Village Manchester, the UK's biggest-ever ice attraction which will include an Arctic Bar, Santa's Grotto and ice rink (9 November – 5 January 2019).

The World of Mr Banks

The world of ‘banks’ is at the very heart of the story of Mary Poppins; aside from the magical nanny herself, the main characters are the Banks family and Mr Banks is preoccupied with his work at a…you’ve guessed it, a bank! Britain itself has a long history of banking, with many branches once residing in the grandest buildings of a city that have now been transformed into elegant hotels and restaurants. As new feature film Mary Poppins Returns hits screens this winter it’s the perfect time to seek out your very own ‘Banks’ experience in Britain.

Stay

The Ned, London

A City of London landmark since 1925, the building now occupied by luxury hotel The Ned was once the headquarters of Britain’s Midland Bank, a striking building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens – one of Britain’s greatest architects – that was the largest clearing house bank in the world at the time it was built. Now a five-star hotel, part of the Soho House & Co Group and Sydell Group, its banking legacy means guests stay in a super-stylish building dominated with high-vaulted ceilings and grand doors. Its rooms range from the cosy ‘Crash Pad’ to Grand Heritage suites on the Grade I-listed fifth floor, while its pièce de résistance is its spectacular restaurant hall. Eight restaurants, ranging in cuisine from Italian to British, American to French, sit within the former banking hall, each with its own space separated by 92 verdite columns and walnut banking counters.

The Old Bank Hotel, Oxford, central England

Surrounded by the impressive architecture of ancient Oxford University colleges as well as the Bodleian Library, The Old Bank Hotel still manages to stand out in Oxford thanks to its stunning design. It fully became a bank in 1808, and had strong links with the University, counting author of Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll as one of its customers. Now a five-star property with 42 bedrooms, many with gorgeous views of Oxford landmarks, The Old Bank Hotel has recently undergone a refurbishment, resulting in the creation of a rooftop bedroom and terrace overlooking Oxford’s ‘dreaming spires’ skyline.

Harbour Hotel & Spa, Bristol, south-west England

Situated in the heart of Bristol, the Harbour Hotel & Spa is housed in not one, but two former Lloyds Bank buildings. Designed by famed Victorian architect William Bruce Gingell, who was inspired by the 16th-century Venetian Library, the hotel has a stunning façade and beautiful interiors. The former banking hall is particularly grand and often hosts events, while what were once the bank vaults are now the hotel’s luxury spa. Indulge in a treatment or two or a dip in the hydrotherapy pool knowing that you’re relaxing in the location where a lot of money was once guarded!

Inn on the Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

It may not be on the same grandiose scale as some buildings that were formerly bank headquarters, but this gem of a boutique hotel on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has lovingly conserved many of the building’s original features from when it was the British Linen Bank, built in 1923. The hotel’s nine bedrooms include large sash windows, high ceilings and original cornicing, while its pub also nods to its banking heritage in its décor and style.

Hotel Gotham, Manchester, north-west England

Sir Edwin Lutyens left his mark in Manchester when he designed the building of a former bank that is now home to Hotel Gotham. The architecture is quite breathtaking and the luxury hotel pays homage throughout to the building’s original purpose, maintaining elaborate period touches such as the polished wooden counters so synonymous with banks from the last century. The five-star hotel offers 60 rooms, including five Inner Sanctum Suites – two of which are named ‘Bank Manager’s Suites’ – all of which are decadent in style. Guests (and members) have access to its VIP Club Brass lounge, which is accessed through two vault-like doors.

Eat

Old Bank of England, London

This pub and restaurant’s name sums up its past…it sits in the former Law Courts branch of the Bank of England, on the historic Fleet Street in the City of London. Stunningly renovated, the Old Bank of England has updated the ornate interior of the venue where the Bank of England traded from 1888 until 1975. When you’re enjoying your hearty British meals (think hand-made pies and fish and chips) you’ll be doing so surrounded by history; the basement still contains the original vaults used to store bullion and some of the Crown Jewels during the First World War. The two safes are now the venue’s cellars and kitchens.

The Corinthian Club, Glasgow, Scotland

Five floors of what was once a former bank and high court in the heart of Glasgow now house the restaurant, bar and event spaces of The Corinthian Club. One of the city’s most elaborate buildings, the Club has retained many of the original features of the Glasgow & Ship Bank (which was built in 1842) such as the impressive 26-foot glass dome and delicate, elegant plasterwork. Book into Teller’s Brasserie at the Club for a French-influenced dishes created using Scottish produce.

The Wolseley, London

Situated on Piccadilly, The Wolseley is run in the style of the European Grand Café, serving everything from breakfast to lunch, afternoon teas to dinners – it’s also very much a place to see and be seen. As well as the food, people come for the prestigious surroundings of the building that started life as a car showroom – Wolseley Motors – in 1921 and became a branch of Barclays Bank in 1927. Architect William Curtis Green created an opulent building, with marble pillars and archways, later adding banking counter and managers offices, which now serve as the bar and tea salon. When it became The Wolseley many aspects of the original design, including the domed ceiling and marble flooring, were kept.

The Dome, Edinburgh, Scotland

Dine on traditional Scottish favourites at this Edinburgh restaurant, which was once one of the city’s most striking bank branches and its décor remains as opulent to this day. Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, an elegant Graeco-Roman façade and Corinthian Portico greet its guests. You can dine under the dome itself in the Grill Room, among wood-panelled walls and Art Deco-inspired mirrors in The Club or take afternoon tea under the crystal chandeliers of The Georgian Tea Room.

Potted Pig, Cardiff, south Wales

Modern British cuisine and French/American culinary influences are on the menu at Cardiff’s Potted Pig, situated in a former Lloyd’s Bank vault beneath the city. Regularly changing seasonal menus are served in this underground restaurant that has retained a raft of original features, such as cast-iron cage doors and shallow-arched ceilings. The exposed brickwork, wooden floors and comfy sofas of its Gin Lounge make it the perfect place to experience its huge range of bespoke gins.

Play

Bank of England Museum, London

The Bank of England itself may not be open to visitors but you can explore its fascinating museum in the City of London. Five different galleries will take you through economic history and that of the Bank of England, from the origins of paper money and examples of forged notes to explaining why modern banknotes are difficult to counterfeit.

Royal Mint Experience, Llantrisant, south Wales

The Royal Mint makes and distributes British coins and official medals for around 60 countries every year and its location in south Wales, 30 minutes’ drive from Cardiff, also offers a visitor experience. Take a guided tour of the manufacturing areas to discover how coins are created and the chance to strike your own coin. The experience concludes with an interactive exhibition divided into six zones, which include the history and origins of the Mint and the roles coins play in our lives.

Museum on the Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland

Close to Edinburgh’s Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle, the Museum on the Mound is located in the historic Bank of Scotland Head Office and takes visitors through the story of money. You’ll be able to see Scotland’s oldest banknote, come face-to-face with a million pounds, see how safes are cracked open and learn much more about the design, technology and security of money at this free museum.

Annual events in Britain - 2019

JANUARY

New Year’s Day Parade, London, England

1 January

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

Stoats Loony Dook, Edinburgh, Scotland

1 January

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

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England

5 – 7 January 

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

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland  

17 January – 3 February 

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

Slapstick Festival, Bristol, England

18 – 20 January (and 10 February)

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

Burns’ Night, Scotland-wide

25 January

Every January Scotland celebrates the birthday of Robert Burns - the national poet of Scotland - with food, drams, dancing and verse. Don’t forget to address the haggis! Burns Night 2019 marks the 260th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth.

Dydd Santes Dwynwen, Wales-wide
 

25 January

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

 

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland *Quirky*

29 January

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

Lumiere London, London, England

January TBC

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

 

 

 

FEBRUARY  

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

1 February – 16 March 

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

Chinese New Year, London and around Britain

5 February (celebration parade date TBC)

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

Dark Skies Festival, Yorkshire, north England
 

15 February – 3 March
 

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

 

London Fashion Week, London, England

16 – 20 February

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

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

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

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

Derby Winter Beer Festival, Derbyshire, central England

20 – 23 February

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

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England

20 – 27 February 

This annual city-wide celebration of York’s Viking heritage is recognised as the largest Viking Festival in Europe, attracting more than 40,000 visitors. Now in its 35th year it commemorates the traditional ‘Jolablot’ celebrations that the Vikings held each February to herald the coming of spring and the survival of winter hardships.

Glasgow Film Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

20 February – 3 March  

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

Keswick Film Festival, Cumbria, north-west England
 

28 February – 3 March
 

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

Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, London

February TBC

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

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

February TBC

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

 

 

 

 

MARCH  

St. David’s Day, Wales-wide

1 March
 

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

 

European Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland

1 – 3 March

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

Belfast Children’s Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland

8 – 13 March

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

Cheltenham Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

12 – 15 March

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

Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Glasgow, Scotland 

14 – 31 March

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

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

17 March

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

 

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

21 – 24 March
 

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

Gymnastics World Cup, Birmingham, central England

23 March  

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

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

28 – 31 March

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

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

30 March – 7 April

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

Gateshead International Jazz Festival, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England 

March TBC

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

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

March TBC

Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival celebrates its ninth year in 2019 and returns to champion the incredible achievements of women and girls. It will explore the most pertinent topics for women today through a mix of talks and debates, concerts, performances, film, comedy, workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities. 

Bath Comedy Festival, Bath, south-west England

 

March – April TBC
 

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

 

 

 

APRIL 

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

4 – 19 April

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

 

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

5 – 7 April 

One of the most famous horse races in the world sees competitors make two circuits of the Grand National course, tackling 30 fences as they cover four and a half miles. The event’s colourful, fashionista celebration, Ladies’ Day, will take place on 5 April. 

Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

6 – 21 April

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

 

The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London, England

7 April

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

RHS Flower Show Cardiff, Cardiff, south Wales 

12 – 14 April 

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

St George’s Day, across England

23 April 

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

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

22 – 23 April

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

London Marathon, London, England

28 April

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

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

28 April – 5 May

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

Bath in Fashion, Bath, south-west England

 

April TBC

 

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

 

 

 

 

MAY  

Whisky Month, across Scotland

Throughout May

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

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Gloucestershire, south-west England

1 – 6 May

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

Tour de Yorkshire, Yorkshire, north England

2 – 5 May  

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

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, Speyside, Scotland

2 – 6 May

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

Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England

3 – 5 May

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

Machynlleth Comedy Festival, Machynlleth, Wales

3 – 5 May
 

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

Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east England

3 May – 2 June  

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

Women’s FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium

4 May

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

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

 

Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza, Llandudno, north Wales
 

4 – 6 May
 

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

 

Brighton Festival, Brighton, south-east England

4 – 26 May 

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

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

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

Crimefest, Bristol, south-west England

9 – 12 May

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

 

Norfolk & Norwich Festival, east England

10 – 26 May

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

Museums at Night, Britain-wide

15 – 18 May (and October TBC)

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

Football Association Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London, England

18 May

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

Chelsea Flower Show, London

21 – 25 May

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

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

23 May – 2 June

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

HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, Hay on Wye, Wales

23 May – 2 June
 

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

 

Bath Fringe Festival, Bath, south-west England

24 May – 9 June

 

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

 

WalkFest 2019, North York Moors, north England

24 – 27 May

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

 

Birmingham Pride, Birmingham, central England

25 – 26 May

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

Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

25 May – 2 June

 

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

 

Mersey River Festival, Liverpool, north-west England

25 – 27 May

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

Loves Saves The Day, Bristol, south-west England

25 – 26 May

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

Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Oxfordshire, central England
 

25 – 27 May
 

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

 

Urdd National Eisteddfod, Cardiff Bay, south Wales
 

27 May – 2 June

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

 

Cricket World Cup, various locations

30 May – 14 July

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

 

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

31 May – 1 June 

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

The Bath Festival, Bath, south-west England

 

May – June TBC

 

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

 

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

May TBC 

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

The Late Shows, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

May TBC  

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

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

May TBC 

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

Highland Games, across Scotland

May – September TBC

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

 

 

 

 

JUNE  

Conwy Pirate Weekend, Conwy, north Wales

1 – 2 June

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

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

1 – 9 June
 

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

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire, north England

5 – 9 June

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

Open Garden Squares Weekend, London

8 – 9 June

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

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales, Wales
 

9 June

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

Isle of Wight Festival, Isle of Wight, south England

13 – 16 June 

This popular music festival on the famous island situated off the south coast of England has impressive musical heritage stretching back to Bob Dylan (who performed here in 1969) and Jimi Hendrix (who took to the stage in 1970). Recent headliners have included Kasabian, The Killers and Liam Gallagher.

Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival, Scotland 

14 – 23 June 

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

Royal Ascot, Berkshire, south-east England

18 – 22 June 

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

Edinburgh International Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

19 – 30 June
 

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

The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

20 – 23 June

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

Stonehenge Summer Solstice, Wiltshire, south-west England

21 June 

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

Jane Austen Regency Week, Hampshire, south England
 

22 – 30 June  
 

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

Yorkshire Sculpture International triennial, Yorkshire, north England
 

22 June – 29 September
 

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

 

Round the Island Race, Isle of Wight, south England

29 June  

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

Major League Baseball London Series, London

29 – 30 June

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

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

29 June – 14 September TBC

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

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

30 June 

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

Pride in London, London, England

June / July TBC

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

Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England

June TBC

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

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

June – August (date TBC)

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

Taste of London Festival, London, England

June/July TBC 

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

Man v Horse Marathon, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
 

June TBC

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

Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England

June TBC

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

London Fashion Week Men’s, London, England 

June TBC 

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

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

June TBC

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

TweedLove Bike Festival, Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders, Scotland

June TBC

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

Walled City Music Festival, Derry, Northern Ireland

June TBC

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

West End LIVE at Trafalgar Square, London

June TBC

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

 
 

 

 

JULY 

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

1 – 7 July

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

Wimbledon Tennis Championships, London, England

1 – 14 July

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

Llangollen Eisteddfod, Llangollen, Wales
 

2 – 7 July

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

 

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

3 – 7 July

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

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Sussex, south England 

4 – 7 July

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

Manchester International Festival, Manchester, north-west England
 

4 – 21 July
 

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

 

Barclaycard presents British Summertime, Hyde Park, London

5 – 14 July

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

Wales Airshow, Swansea, Wales
 

6 – 7 July

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

 

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

6 – 7 July
 

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

Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival, Cardigan Bay, north Wales
 

7 July 

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

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

11 – 14 July 

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

Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, central England

12 – 14 July 

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

Netball World Cup, Liverpool, north-west England
 

12 – 21 July
 

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

 

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

 

12 – 21 July

 

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

 

The Open Championship, Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland

14 – 21 July 

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

 

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

17 – 21 July 

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

Llangollen Fringe Festival, north-east Wales
 

18 – 28 July
 

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

 

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

20 July

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

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

22 – 25 July

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

Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland 

25 July – 26 August

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

Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, south-west England

26 – 29 July

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

Glorious Goodwood Festival, West Sussex, south England 

30 July – 3 August

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

The BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Summer 2019 dates TBC

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

Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, Cardiff, Wales

July TBC

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

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London, England

July – September TBC

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

The Welsh Proms, Cardiff, Wales

July TBC

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

Bristol Pride, Bristol, south-west England 

July TBC

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

Bristol Harbour Festival

July TBC

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

Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

July TBC

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

The Big Cheese Festival, Caerphilly, south Wales

July TBC

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

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

July TBC

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

Glasgow Mela, Glasgow, Scotland

Summer TBC

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

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

July TBC 

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

National Parks Week, nationwide
 

July TBC

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

Northern Pride, Newcastle, north-east England
 

July TBC
 

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

 

 

 

 

AUGUST  

Brighton Pride, Brighton, south-east England  

2 – 4 August

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

RideLondon, London-Surrey, south-east England

3 – 4 August

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

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 26 August

 

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

 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 26 August

 

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

 

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

2 – 24 August

 

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

 

Leeds Pride, Yorkshire, north England
 

4 August
 

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

 

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England

8 – 11 August

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

Cowes Week, Isle of Wight, south England

10 – 17 August

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

Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

 

10 – 26 August

 

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

 

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, south Wales
 

15 – 18 August
 

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

 

RiZE Festival, Chelmsford, Essex, south-east England

16 – 17 August

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

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

17 – 18 August

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

Creamfields, Liverpool, north-west England

22 – 25 August

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

Pride Cymru, Cardiff, south Wales

23 – 25 August TBC
 

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

Reading Festival & Leeds Festival, England

23 – 25 August 

Britain's premier rock music festival features global acts uniquely performing at both locations over three days allowing for 100,000 revellers at Reading and more than 80,000 at Leeds to experience global rock superstars, with previously headliners including the Kings of Leon and Kendrick Lamar.

World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales

25 August

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

Notting Hill Carnival, London, England

24 – 25 August

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

Piping Live! Glasgow, Scotland

August TBC

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

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow, Scotland

August TBC 

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

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

August TBC

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

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

August TBC

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

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England

August TBC

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

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

End August/beginning of September TBC

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

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER  

Dundee Food and Flower Show, Dundee, Scotland

6 – 8 September

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

Great North Run Weekend, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
 

8 September
 

A series of professional and junior athletics activities on the Saturday of the Great North Run weekend has been developed over the last few years, using NewcastleGateshead Quaysides as a 'virtual arena'. The run starts in the city centre, winds past several iconic sights, and ends at the sea.
 

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

13 September TBC

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

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

13 – 15 September TBC

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

Heritage Open Days, across England 

13 – 22 September   

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

Ironman Wales, Pembrokeshire, west Wales
 

15 September

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

UCI Road World Championships, Yorkshire, north England
 

22 – 29 September
 

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

 

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

September TBC

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

Bristol Open Doors, Bristol, south-west England

September TBC

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

British Science Festival, 2019 location TBC

September TBC 

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

Hull Freedom Festival, Yorkshire, north England 

2019 dates TBC

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

London Fashion Week, London, England

September TBC

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

Jane Austen Festival, Bath, south-west England
 

September TBC
 

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

 

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

September – October TBC

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

 

York Food and Drink Festival, York, north England

September/October TBC

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

 

Blackpool Illuminations, Lancashire, north-west England

September – November TBC

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

The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, north Wales
 

September TBC

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

 

Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, south Wales
 

September TBC
 

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

 

Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, south Wales
 

September TBC
 

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

London Design Festival, London, England

September TBC

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

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

September TBC 

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

World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland *Quirky*

September TBC 

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

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

September TBC  

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

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER 

Wales Rally GB, Flintshire, north Wales

4 – 7 October
 

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

 

Cardiff Half Marathon, Cardiff, south Wales

7 October
 

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

 

Iris Prize Festival, Cardiff, south Wales

9 – 14 October
 

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

 

World Shore Angling Championships, Conwy, north Wales

20 – 27 October
 

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

 

Artes Mundi, Cardiff, south Wales
 

27 October – 24 February

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

 

Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea, south Wales

27 October – 9 November
 

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

 

Blenheim Palace Literary Festival, Oxfordshire, central England

October TBC 

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

World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England *Quirky*

October TBC 

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

Swansea Festival of Music and Arts, Swansea, south Wales

October TBC

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

Creative Mackintosh Festival, across Glasgow, Scotland

October TBC

The annual Creative Mackintosh Festival celebrates acclaimed Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his architecture, design, arts and crafts in Glasgow. The events programme showcases the Mackintosh buildings and legacy, as well as focusing on Glasgow and its creativity through the work of contemporary artists.

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Leicestershire, central England

October TBC 

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

BFI London Film Festival, Southbank, London, England

October TBC

In 2019 London will host its 63rd annual film festival organised with the British Film Institute. The event screens more than 300 films, documentaries and shorts in the capital from around 50 countries. Highlights include the world's best new films, and director and actor retrospectives. Previous A-lister guests have included Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams, Casey Affleck, Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson, and director Tom Ford.

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland *Quirky*

October TBC

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

Cheltenham Literature Festival, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, west England

October TBC

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

Belfast International Arts Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland

October – November TBC

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

Turner Prize 2019, Margate, Kent
 

October – January 2020
 

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

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER

Bonfire Night, Britain-wide  

5 November

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

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

14 – 17 November
 

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

 

St Andrew’s Day, across Scotland

30 November

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

London Jazz Festival, London, England

November TBC

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

Skate at Somerset House, London, England

November TBC

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

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

November TBC

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

The Cary Grant Festival, Bristol, south-west England

November TBC

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

Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, London, England

November – January TBC

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

Longleat Festival of Light, Longleat, Wiltshire, west England

November TBC

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

FilmBath Festival, Bath, south-west England

November TBC

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

 

Bath Mozartfest, Bath south-west England

November TBC
 

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

 

CS Lewis Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland
 

November TBC

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

Kendal Mountain Festival, Cumbria, north-west England

November TBC
 

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

Leeds International Film Festival, Yorkshire, north England
 

November TBC
 

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

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 

Christmas at Kew, London, England

December TBC 

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

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

December TBC

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

Enchanted Parks, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England

Early December TBC

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

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

31 December

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

Hogmanay, across Scotland,

31 December

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

Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

31 December

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

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

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

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival, London

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

Battle Bonfire and Fireworks Display, East Sussex, south England

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

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

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

Sparks in the Park, Cardiff, south Wales

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

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, central England

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

Lewes Bonfire Night, East Sussex, south-east England

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

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

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

Tartantastic Fireworks Extravaganza Show, Edinburgh, Scotland

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

 

Ten cool and unique ways to see Britain’s cities

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

In a hot tub – London

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

Kayaking by night – London

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

By group cycle – Belfast, Northern Ireland

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

Stand-up paddleboarding – Bristol, south-west England

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

Singing in the back of a taxi – London

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

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

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

On a ghostly tour – Edinburgh, Scotland

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

Out on the river – Liverpool, north-west England

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

On the run – London

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

Meandering through canals – Birmingham, central England

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