Discover Britain’s musical legends on the trail of Rocketman

Telling the story of multi-Grammy award-winning superstar Sir Elton John, Rocketman dives head-first into the colourful world of rock and roll. The masterful biopic charts his rise to fame, from his origins as youngster Reginald Dwight to the fabulously flamboyant world of Elton John. Taron Egerton stars as the leading protagonist, as Rocketman explores Elton’s relationships with manager John Reid and lyricist Bernie Taupin, among others. In collaboration with Taupin, Elton has released more than 30 albums to date and has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. But Elton isn’t the only British artist to change the face of music history. From The Beatles to Queen and David Bowie, Take That to the Rolling Stones, Britain is a cultural mecca for music fans, and whether you’re visiting London or Liverpool, there’s a musical experience that perfect for you.

London

A hive of musical activity throughout the ages, London really came into its own in the swinging 60s, when up-and-coming bands from across the world flocked to soak up the creative vibes and jam together. It was from his parent’s home in Pinner, North London, that a young Reginald Dwight formed Bluesology – the first step on his path to stardom. Indeed, the names of two band members, Elton Dean and John Baldry, were used to create his solo stage name – Elton John! Fans of the charismatic star can walk in his footsteps on a Pinner Walk, which takes in Elton’s childhood home, spectacular views from Pinner Hill Golf Club and his first gigging venue. Having welcomed Elton as a weekend pianist in the 1960s, Northwood Hills Hotel may be gone, but the building lives on as Namaste Lounge, a modern Indian restaurant, bar and shisha lounge. If you’re a rock fan on a trip to the capital you can also discover the former haunts of Led Zeppelin, The Clash and Amy Winehouse on a Rock Legends minibus tour, or visit the London flat that all four Beatles shared on the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Tour of London, which also reveals the history of artists including U2 and Elton himself. Alternatively, why not go time travelling on the Swinging 60s bus tour, which transports you back to the music-defining decade.

Liverpool

Elton has close ties to Liverpool thanks to his auntie, while drummer Nigel Olsson, who has played drums alongside him for half a century, was born in the Wirral. The city is packed full of music-themed tours and experiences to enjoy. You can discover the history of Liverpool supergroup The Beatles and a whole host of other British artists at the British Music Experience.  With a section dedicated just to the Fab Four, you can see letters written by fans of the band, clothing worn by Ringo and John, and a whole range of memorabilia from the band’s travels in the 1960s. Other highlights include outfits worn by David Bowie, the Union Jack guitar played by Noel Gallagher at the pinnacle of Oasis’s fame, and even lyrics written by Adele.

Manchester

As the birthplace of Oasis, The 1975 and The Smiths, Manchester is no slouch when it comes to musical heritage. If you’re inspired by Rocketman to get back to your musical roots and Manchester is your destination of choice, why not jump on one of Manchester Music Tours sightseeing trips? Founded by Craig Gill, the drummer of Inspiral Carpets, the tours reveal the history of famous artists, bands and venues throughout the decades, from The Stone Roses to Joy Division. You can even travel in rock star style and take the tour from the comfort of a Manchester taxi. And from two-hour group tours to private itineraries, Manchester Music Story Tour has something for every fan – you can even do a combined tour of three British music cities, taking in the highlights of Manchester, London and Liverpool.

Edinburgh

From bagpipes to the Bay City Rollers, Scotland’s capital city has a rich musical history that’s well worth discovering. Elton’s first solo concert in 1972 was at the city’s Festival Theatre in Nicolson Street, then called the Empire, while the extravagant musician has also wowed crowds at Edinburgh Castle and Easter Road in the past. If you’re visiting the city, why not check out Edinburgh Music Tours, which offer 1.5-hour tours of the city’s musical highlights. For over 18s only, the tours finish in one of Edinburgh’s most famous folk bars, where you can discover more about the legendary acts that have played there over a wee dram or two.

Glasgow

A hot spot for up-and-coming musicians over the years, Elton wouldn’t have been out of place trying to forge his career in Glasgow! A favourite stomping ground of bands including Oasis and Manic Street Preachers, the city’s bars and pubs have played host to many a struggling artist both before and after they made it big. You can find out more about this epic musical heritage on a Glasgow Music City Tour, enjoy traditional folk music on the Scottish Trad Trail Tour or visit the historic music venues of yore on the Merchant City Tour.

Edinburgh in film - discover Edinburgh as seen on the silver screen

The 73rd instalment of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) arrives in the Scottish capital in June, bringing with it a wealth of new cinematic ideas and film premieres. Showcasing the very best in international cinema, the EIFF takes place on 19-30 June and is renowned around the world for discovering and championing British talent and for encouraging changes in global filmmaking.

With a dynamic programme of experimental cinema, documentaries, shorts and feature films, the festival is a celebration of the cinematic world and allows audiences to engage with film in new and exciting ways in venues across the city. British directors including Danny Boyle, Bill Forsyth and Stephen Frears have all premiered their work at the EIFF in the past.

Venues

The EIFF screenings and galas take place at five main locations in the centre of Edinburgh, with a distinct focus on inclusivity and accessibility.

Filmhouse: A three-screen independent cinema, serving as the festival’s official home and as the central box office, at 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ.

The Festival Theatre: A performing arts venue with a contemporary glass-fronted foyer and large art-deco auditorium for the main galas at 13-29 Nicolson Street, EH8 9FT.

ODEON: With the capability of showing both 2D and 3D screenings, ODEON is a state-of-the-art cinema at 122 Lothian Road, EH3 9BG.

Traverse Theatre: Scotland’s foremost new writing theatre. Established in 1963, it features two custom-build and versatile theatre spaces at 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED.

VUE: A 12-screen venue with three digital 3D screens and more than 2,100 seats at the Omni Leisure Building, Greenside Place, EH1 3AU.

The EIFF main events

The EIFF programme includes a varied mix of screenings, as well as several high-profile events and galas, as detailed below.

Toy Story 4 – Pre-festival screening

The next instalment of Disney Pixar’s incredibly popular Toy Story franchise is set for a special pre-festival screening at the Festival Theatre. Tom Hanks will once again voice Woody in Josh Cooley’s animated tale Toy Story 4, with the screening scheduled five days before the film is released to UK cinemas on 21 June. The festival has a long standing partnership with Disney Pixar and has hosted gala screenings of the award-winning WALL-E, Toy Story 3 and Inside Out in past years.

When and where? Festival Theatre Main Hall, 16 June 2019 at 3pm

Film Fest in the City with Edinburgh Live

Free open-air cinema returns to St Andrew Square Garden for the eighth time in 2019, with three days of screenings of new and old releases just days before the festival gets underway. EIFF, in partnership with Essential Edinburgh, will screen the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Showman and Mary Poppins Returns, as well as Mamma Mia! and sequel Mamma Mia 2 as part of Film Fest in the City with Edinburgh Live. In addition, there will be screenings of Groundhog Day, The Iron Giant, Xanadu, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and When Harry Met Sally, while an array of pop-up bars will provide refreshments.

When and where? St Andrew Square Garden, 14-16 June

Opening Night Gala: Boyz in the Wood

The European premiere of the social satire Boyz in the Wood will kick-start EIFF 2019. Described as an “anarchic cocktail of generational politics, hip-hop loving farmers, and hallucinogenic rabbit droppings”, music video director Ninian Doff’s first foray into feature film follows four city boys as they try to escape a mysterious huntsman deep in the Scottish Highlands. Just don’t expect the Highlands’ police force to provide any meaningful assistance.

When and where? Festival Theatre, 19 June at 8.45pm

The Family Gala: UglyDolls

Animated musical adventure and global plush-toy phenomenon UglyDolls will premiere at the Family Gala of this year’s festival, giving festival goers a unique opportunity to walk the red carpet. Featuring the acting and singing voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, Janelle Monae and Pitbull, director Kelly Asbury’s animated tale confronts notions of beauty in a fun and unusual way.

When and where? Festival Theatre, 23 June at 2pm

The People’s Gala: Balance, Not Symmetry

The Jamie Adams drama Balance, Not Symmetry will provide a cinematic tribute to music, art and Scotland at the People’s Gala. Made in close conjunction with Scottish band Biffy Clyro, who assisted with both the storyline and the score, and starring Laura Harrier (of Spider-man: Homecoming fame), the inspirational and moving film is set for its debut during EIFF.

When and where? Festival Theatre, 23 June at 8.30pm

Closing Night Gala: Mrs Lowry and Son

The world premiere of Adrian Noble’s intimate biopic of renowned painter L.S. Lowry, Mrs Lowry and Son will bring the curtain down on EIFF 2019. Timothy Spall stars as the iconic British artist, who found fame for his depictions of industrial life in north-west England. Vanessa Redgrave provides support as Lowry’s mother Elizabeth, with whom the artist lived until her death. The film focuses on the relationship between the pair and on Lowry’s quest for recognition of his work, and Vertigo will release it to UK audiences this summer.

When and where? Festival Theatre, 30 June at 5.15pm

Ticket Information

The full programme of events for the 73rd edition of EIFF is released on 29 May 2019, with tickets going on sale to EIFF Friends and Filmhouse Members at 12pm the same day.

Tickets go on public sale at 10am on 31 May 2019.

The Best Fringe Festivals in 2019

Whether it’s a celebration of live theatre, dance, arts or comedy, fringe festivals can be found in nearly every corner of Britain. Laugh along with the nation’s finest comedians as they prepare for their major tours, take in the sounds of up-and-coming musicians and discover new takes on some of the finest theatrical works. Packed with live entertainment and clever improvisation, these are the best Fringe Festivals to enjoy in 2019.

Maidstone Fringe

Marking the diversity of new and original music in Kent and the South East of England, Maidstone Fringe returns for a 9th year in 2019. Spread across numerous venues in the town centre, including pubs, clubs and music venues, as well as in cafes and coffee shops, the majority of the musical performances are free to attend. Expect a wide array of music too, with everything from rock, indie and pop-punk to blues, acoustic, folk, dance and hip-hop on the bill for 2019.

When? 1-6 May

Brighton Fringe

England’s largest arts festival, featuring more than 4,500 performances and events, takes place across Brighton, embracing all forms of art and artistic impression. Running alongside the Brighton Festival, the Brighton Fringe includes cabaret, classical concerts, club nights, comedy, theatre shows and a host of exhibitions, as well as street performances and exciting pop-up venues. In 2019, the International Seasons programme is also set to welcome some of the best contemporary performances by artists from France, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Iceland, Korea and Sweden, among others, showcasing the event’s global appeal.

When? 3 May – 2 June

Bath Fringe

Incorporating 3 weekends and the weeks in between, the Bath Fringe is a celebration of all the arts, meaning there are few rules regarding what is on. Both the people of Bath and venues in the city have a big say over what is included, with a detailed events list usually published in April.

When? 24 May - 9 June

Plymouth Fringe

An annual celebration of theatre and live performance, Plymouth Fringe welcomes some of the best talent in the South West, as well as others from across Britain. With venues in the city centre and on the waterfront, expect a host of inspiring performances as the Fringe marks its 5th consecutive year.

When? 27 May – 1 June

Ludlow Fringe

Ludlow Fringe is an independent arts, community and culture festival with a focus on inclusivity. Many of its events are free to attend, while prices are capped at £15 on those that are not, to ensure that events are affordable and accessible. Be sure to check out the Annual Ludlow Fringe Art Trail too, a diverse collection of affordable art by local and national artists that is showcased in 25 different pop-up venues and galleries. Featuring paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, print and jewellery, and much more besides, the quirky venues are all located a short distance from the town centre.

When? 15-30 June

Guildford Fringe

Now in its 7th year, the Guildford Fringe is a multi-arts festival that features comedy, poetry, theatre, music, visual arts, workshops, burlesque and an abundance of family-friendly shows. Gag House Comedy Superstars kicks-off proceedings on 28 June, featuring comedian and actor Hal Cruttenden, Paul Sinha from TV’s The Chase and Susan Murray. Around 125 events made up the 2018 Guildford Fringe, and its organisers are expecting even more for 2019.

When? 28 June – 28 July

Greater Manchester Fringe

A multi-venue arts festival packed with comedy stand up, dance, magic shows, orchestras, new writing and a wealth of other art forms, the Greater Manchester Fringe provides a stage for performers to showcase their skills. It often acts as a platform for productions too - many past shows have moved onto the region’s established theatres including the Lowry Theatre, the Royal Exchange and the Bolton Octagon, or have embarked on nationwide tours. Now in its 8th year, a full programme of events for 2019 will be released at the start of May.

When 1-31 July

The Great Yorkshire Fringe

As part of its 5th anniversary celebrations, the Great Yorkshire Fringe is set to expand across York in 2019 to feature even more cultural venues. The historic city’s well-known thoroughfare, Parliament Street, will be transformed into an exciting festival hub offering everything from comedy and cabaret to music, theatre and fun for all the family. Performances from comedian Henning Wehn and writer, broadcaster and actor Gyles Brandreth already feature on the bill for 2019, as well as Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel, an entirely improvised performance showcasing Jane Austen’s work in a new light.

When? 18-28 July (20 July, Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel; 21 July, Gyles Brandreth; 27 July, Henning Wehn)

Llangollen Fringe

Final details for the 2019 Llangollen Fringe are yet to be announced, but the celebration of music, dance, film and art will return to the small town of Llangollen, in North Wales, this year. With an eclectic mix of musical and artistic talents on its bill each year, the festival is town centre based, providing easy access to pubs, restaurants and car parks. Taking centre stage is the Victorian Llangollen Town Hall, which boasts its own 300-seat capacity theatre.

When? 19-28 July

Reading Fringe

Designed to support emerging artists and to provide a platform for them ahead of the world famous Edinburgh Fringe, the Reading Fringe welcomes acts to the town from all over the globe. With venues spread across the town, the theme for 2019 is ‘Into the woods – and beyond’, an exploration of what it means to be part of an ecosystem and a consideration of what the future holds for Earth.

When? 20-28 July

Ventnor Fringe

A multi-award winning arts festival on the Isle of Wight, the Ventnor Fringe includes an array of exciting venues in the eclectic hillside town. Alongside cabaret, music, theatre and art, visitors can also expect to see pop-up cinemas, basement bars and mystery tours.

When? 23-28 July

Camden Fringe

From its origins in 2006 as an alternative to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Camden Fringe provides performers with a chance to try out new and untested material. Encompassing all forms of performing arts, the Fringe welcomes both ambitious newcomers and experienced performers as they deliver new writing, sketch comedy, poetry, improvisation and everything in between. A full programme of events is expected in spring 2019.

When? 29 July – 25 August

Edinburgh Fringe

Renowned around the globe as being a platform for creative freedom, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the single biggest celebration of arts and culture in the world. Welcoming the finest performers to the Scottish capital, from the biggest names in show business to emerging stars, and covering all sorts of art forms, the festival features more than 50,000 performances each year. More than 300 venues provide the stages, alongside street events and market stalls, showcasing theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera, exhibitions and speech – if it’s a form of art, it’s probably on the bill somewhere.

When? 2-26 August

Celebrate World Art Day with the UK's top literature and art festivals

Celebrated on 15 April each year, marking the birthday of influential artist Leonardo da Vinci, World Art Day promotes awareness of creative activities around the globe. But in Britain celebrations of the arts are not limited to just one day, as there are a wide array of enthralling literature and art festivals taking place throughout the year.

Insiders/Outsiders

From March 2019, a year-long nationwide arts festival will celebrate refugees that escaped from Nazi Europe and their impact on British culture. Insiders/ Outsiders will feature exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, lectures, dance and theatre performances, walks and literary events all over Britain. It seeks to showcase the influence of artists, writers, architects, designers, actors, photographers, musicians, publishers, art historians, dealers and collectors, among many others, who have enriched Britain’s culture having fled Nazi-dominated Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and initiated by art historian Monica Bohm-Duchen, the festival recognises the deep, long-lasting and wide-ranging contributions that refugees have made, and continue to make, to society.

When? March 2019 – March 2020

 

Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival

Found within the picturesque grounds and house of Chiddingstone Castle in Kent, the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Festival is returning for a fourth year in 2019. Featuring a number of author events, talks, workshops and performances, the festival is carefully tailored to ensure there is something for people of all ages and interests. Alongside clay modelling workshops with Aardman Animations, who are marking 30 years of Wallace and Gromit, they’ll also be a chance to meet the illustrator of children’s classic Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, as well as life drawing and writing workshops for budding artists and writers.

When? 4-7 May

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival

Marking its 12th year in 2019 and welcoming celebrity speakers and best-selling authors, the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival has a varied mix of workshops, panel discussions and other events. A programme of educational events runs alongside the festival, developed to inspire school children with help from authors, poets and illustrators. The festival’s first Writer’s Day will provide guidance for anyone looking to get work published, and while there will be events for families throughout the week, 5 May will be solely dedicated to children’s activities.

When? 27 April – 5 May

 

Hay Festival Wales

The annual Hay Festival in Wales has progressed significantly across the last three decades and features a host of events set against a glorious countryside backdrop on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. Bringing together readers and writers to share stories and ideas, including Nobel-Prize winners, novelists, historians, politicians and scientists, the festival explore the latest thinking and developments in the arts and sciences. Having welcomed key speakers including Bill Clinton, Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen Fry in the past, the line-up for 2019 includes 2018 Man Booker Prize Winner Anna Burns, author and journalist Leila Slimani, and comedian Jimmy Carr, among many others.

When? 23 May – 2 June

 

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

A selection of the best international and UK crime fiction writers will venture to the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for the award-winning Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Held at Agatha Christie’s former haunt, the festival has achieved international acclaim for its celebration of crime writing and will welcome James Patterson, Jo Newsbo, Stuart MacBride and Ian Rankin in 2019, alongside many other recognised crime fiction writers.

When? 18-21 July

Port Eliot Festival

Dubbed a celebration of ‘words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration, fun and all that is good in the world’, the Port Eliot Festival in the parish of St Germans in Cornwall welcomes an eclectic mix of authors and others from the world of art and literature. The Fashion Foundation site has a distinct focus on fashion and art, with workshops, talks and exhibitions all taking place within the Walled Garden at Port Eliot, while award-winning BBC Newsnight and election journalist Emily Maitlis and stand-up comedian Shappi Khorsandi are among those on the bill for the 2019 festival. A huge range of outdoor activities also take place within the grounds.

When? 25-28 July

 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Welcoming around 1,000 authors to a specially created tented village in the centre of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh International Book Festival includes more than 900 events for people of all ages. Nobel and Booker prize-winners are among those to feature on past line-ups, alongside sportsmen and women, illustrators, philosophers, scientists, poets, comic creators, biographers, economists and musicians. A full programme of events of the festival is revealed in June.

When? 10-26 August

 

Curious Arts Festival

Relocating in 2019 from the surroundings of Pylewell Park in the New Forest to Pippingford Park in East Sussex, the Curious Arts Festival is a family-friendly arts and music festival that plays host to plenty of well-known authors, comedians and musicians. Expect talks on challenging topics, an extensive set of workshops and experiences, and an exceptional programme of events for children. Those with tickets to Curious Arts will also be able to access Byline Festival on the same weekend, a festival that promotes independent journalism and free speech.

When? 23-26 August

London Literary Festival

The London Literary Festival returns to London’s South Bank Centre for its 13th year in October, bringing together writers, journalists and creative thinkers for 11 days of readings, talks, poetry and performance. The Southbank Centre’s longest running festival, Poetry International, will kick-start proceedings, having been founded by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes in 1967. Past speakers at the festival have included author Phillip Pullman, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy and actor Tom Hanks.

When? 17-27 October

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Established in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the UK’s oldest festival of its type and welcomes more than 600 of the world’s writers, politicians, poets and actors to celebrate the written word. Around 500 events and workshops are packed into the 10-day festival, which also features Book It!, a series of events aimed specifically at families and young children.

When? 4-13 October

Top ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day

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

London

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

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

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

Manchester

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

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

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

Birmingham

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

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

Edinburgh

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

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

Belfast

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

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

Newcastle

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

When? 14-17 March

Liverpool

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

When? 17 March (12pm-3pm)

Armagh

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

When? 8-18 March

Top UK festivals for beer, wine and spirits

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

Great British Gin Festival

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

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

Craft Beer Rising   

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

When? 21-23 February

The Wine and Spirits Show

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

When? 12-13 April

London Whisky Weekender

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

When? 10-12 May

Prosecco Springs

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

When? 17-19 May

Fyne Fest    

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

When? 31 May - 3 June

Festival of Wine 

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

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

Great British Beer Festival

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

When? 6-10 August

Indy Man Beer Con

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

When? 3-6 October

RumFest

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

When? 19-20 October

Craft Beer Calling 

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

When? 24-26 October

The Wine Festival 

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

When? 29-30 November

New exhibitions and galleries you have to see in 2019

Britain has hosted hundreds of famed artists throughout its rich history and you’ll find their works portrayed in exhibitions and galleries in numerous towns and cities. These spectacular locations are constantly updating their collections to provide us all with a unique opportunity to cast our eye over prized works from some of the world’s most famous artists, sculptures, painters and impressionists. In preparation for 2019, here are the new exhibitions and galleries that are well worth a date in the diary…

Discover why Van Gogh loved London

Tate Britain will host the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade (27 March – 11 August). Marking the Tate’s first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947, Van Gogh and Britain will bring together 40 of his most prized works while examining the culture, art and literature that provided inspiration when he lived in London in his early 20s.

Life through a lens

The Tate Britain will also explore the life of renowned photojournalist Don McCullin through images that document his extraordinary career (4 February – 6 May). From harrowing stills of the battlefields of Vietnam and the Troubles in Ireland to images of life in London’s East End and scenes of urban strife, more than 250 photographs will provide a complex retrospective of an icon in British photography. 

An artist at work

September welcomes the most comprehensive survey of William Blake for more than 15 years at Tate Britain (11 September – 2 February 2020), featuring 600 works across an array of different mediums. Discover how the British artist has influenced other artists, writers, musicians and many more people besides over a period of more than 250 years, while working in a time of war, revolution and oppression.

A medicinal journey of discovery

Explore one of the world’s most significant medicine collections at London’s Science Museum and find out how health and medicine have developed during the last 400 years. Bringing together impressive collections from pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum, the Medicine Galleries are set to fill the entirety of the building’s first floor.

See life in Tudor miniature

The first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures to be hosted in the UK in more than 35 years goes on display in the National Portrait Gallery (21 February – 19 May). Showcasing works from some of the most skilled artists of the period, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver, will feature portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I, as well as other famous figures including explorers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Explore the world of cartoons

The Cartoon Museum is due to open in the spring after relocating to London’s Wells Street, near Oxford Circus. As well as new exhibition spaces, a learning centre and visitor facilities, the museum promises to bring the “imagination of the world of cartoons into a physical space”.

The power struggle of an ancient king

Renowned for his savagery, the great king Ashurbanipal ruled the ancient world by showcasing his power, as detailed in the British Museum until 24 February. I am Ashurbanipal: King of the World, King of Assyria features numerous wall reliefs from the period that detail how the king demonstrated his unquestionable authority.

Immerse yourself in the world of Manga

The biggest exhibition of manga to take place outside of Japan will fill the British Museum in May, detailing how the visual narrative art form has become a global multimedia phenomenon (23 May – 26 August). By examining manga’s appeal across the globe, the Manga exhibition is set to entertain, inspire and challenge, presenting the art form in a new light.

Great artists separated by history

Nearly 500 years separate Michelangelo and Bill Viola but the Royal Academy are going to explore what influence the great Renaissance Master painter had on the video art innovator (28 January – 31 March). Bill Viola/ Michelangelo will delve into the pair’s mutual fascination with birth, life and death, among a host of other themes.

Appreciate the art of sculpture

Turner Prize winner Antony Gormley is looking to fill the Royal Academy with seawater as part of an exhibition detailing his illustrious career (21 September – 3 December). The artist, renowned for creating the Angel of the North and for his incredible sculpture work, will present his most significant set of works for more than a decade.

Celebrate the life of Leonardo

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery will mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s passing with Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, displaying 12 of his finest works as part of a national celebration (2 February – 2 May). Twelve venues across the country will simultaneously display 144 of Da Vinci’s exquisite drawings, considered to be among the most technically accomplished in the history of art.

Ink the artistic history of tattoos

Uncover the largest gathering of original tattoo artwork and real objects ever assembled in the UK at Bristol’s M-Shed space (16 March – 16 June). Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed will celebrate the rich artistic heritage of tattooing as part of a pioneering and comprehensive history exhibition featuring the thoughts of leading academics, cutting edge designers and plenty of key private collectors.

An encounter with art and architecture

Blenheim Palace will host The Young Turner: Ambitions in Architecture and the Art of Perspective from February, the largest collection of the famed JMW Turner’s works ever to visit the county (16 February – 22 April). Exhibited in the State Rooms of the Palace, this immersive experience will feature stunning artwork in equally spectacular surroundings.

Uncover street art with a difference

The first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring’s work promises to delve into underground club culture while taking inspiration from pop art and graffiti at Tate Liverpool (14 June – 10 November). Renowned for his public art, Haring has a huge influence on global culture through his sadly short-lived but highly illustrious artistic career.

Experience Royal fashion up close and personal

See the wedding outfits of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as part of a special exhibition at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (14 June – 6 October). From mid-June, Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will provide Royal fans with the chance to see Meghan’s striking dress in person, alongside all of the other significant fashion points from their big day.

Don’t missy Dippy on tour

Finally, the Natural History Museum’s famed Dippy the Diplodocus will continue his tour of Britain by visiting the Great North Museum: Hancock (18 May – 6 October). Having spent more than 100 years in London, the 21.3-metre-long skeleton provides a unique insight into prehistoric times and can enthral both children and adults alike.

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!

Ten cool hotels to have on your radar in 2019

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

The Hard Rock Hotel, London

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

The DogHouse, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland

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

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

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

art'otel Hoxton, London

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

Grantley Hall, Yorkshire Dales, north England

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

Stock Exchange Hotel, Manchester, north-west England

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

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

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

Market Street Hotel, Edinburgh, Scotland

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

The Crescent, Buxton, Derbyshire, north-west England

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

The Grand, Birmingham, central England

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

Discover Britain's best restaurants for vegans

Veganuary is upon us, kickstarting a month-long campaign to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet. If you’re vegan - or trying to be - and travelling to the UK, you’ll discover an ever-growing number of restaurants, cafés and bars serving up delicious sweet and savoury vegan treats this January and throughout the year – from high-end healthy cuisine to jaw-dropping junk food. Here are a few of our favourites below.

 

London

Mildreds, Soho

Whether you’re looking for vegan-friendly cocktails or cuisine, London is no slouch when it comes to plant-based restaurants and bars. One of the best is Mildreds. Originally established in Soho in 1988, the restaurant now boasts branches in Camden, King’s Cross and Dalston too. Airy, bright and stylish, the chain is loved for its delicious cuisine which includes warming winter dishes like smoked tofu, apple and white bean sausages and mash, and toffee apple crumble. Diners can also savour vegan cocktails including popcorn martinis and blood orange margaritas and enjoy a special brunch menu at weekends.

Manna, Primrose Hill

Located in leafy north-west London, Manna is one of the capital’s most popular vegan restaurants. With a menu displaying influences as far flung as India, Mexico and Japan, this elegant restaurant prides itself on using sustainable produce throughout the year. Diners can choose from seasonal specials including roasted root vegetable masala or buffalo cauliflower tostada, enjoy protein-rich Sunday roasts or splash out and savour the chef’s special five-course custom menu.

Wulf & Lamb, Sloane Square

“Run with the wolves, eat with the lambs” is the mantra of Wulf & Lamb, one of the newest additions to the London vegan scene. It’s 100% plant-based menu focuses heavily on comfort food, so expect fabulously filling dishes including an open burrito with sautéed ackee, green coconut curry with sweet potato mash and the seitan Wulf Burger complete with cashew aioli and wedges.  Sweet-toothed diners can also choose from deliciously decadent desserts including tiramisu with raw almond cream or dairy-free mango and passionfruit cheesecake. 

Quaglino’s and The Meet, various locations

If you’re looking for cocktails over cuisine, Quaglino’s Bar in St James’s is offering a Science of Sustainability cocktail menu. Divided into past, present and future, the menu reveals the history of sustainability via a range of delicious drinks including The Green Revolution, which combines Matchers Rye, yellow chartreuse, lime, beer, honey and matcha tea served with a pistachio foam. Alternatively, head to The Meet, a stylish pop-up that offers vegan cocktails, including a delicious rhubarb and vanilla custard martini, comfort food and even a bottomless vegan brunch, all in a memorable setting under the railway arches of Clapham North.

 

Manchester

The Allotment, Lloyd Street

Named best vegetarian restaurant of 2018 by the Times, award-winning restaurant The Allotment offers 3, 7 and 10-course tasting menus in the heart of Manchester. All its dishes are also 100% gluten, dairy and egg free, making it perfect for coeliacs in addition to those following a plant-based diet. Visit during the holiday season and you can also enjoy its Christmas menu featuring festive delights including cranberry and red wine parfait and pan fried cauliflower roast with all the trimmings.

V-Rev Vegan Diner, Edge Street

A mecca for vegan junk food lovers, V-Rev offers gloriously greasy delights at a price that won’t break the budget. From loaded southwest fries with smashed avocado and southwest chipotle mayo to buffalo mac and cheez made with homemade cheez sauce, beacon and buffalo sauce, this is the perfect venue for post-party pick me ups and cheat days. Can’t decide between savoury and sweet? Look out for Donut Stop Me Now – a mouth-watering medley of buttermilk fried seitan chckn, cheez, baecon, maple syrup and crispy fried onions between two fried donuts, for a decadent burger experience with a difference.

Greens, Didsbury

Set up by Simon Connolly and Simon Rimmer, now one of the UK’s top TV chefs, Greens has been ‘terrifying carnivores’ since 1990 with its inspiring menu of delicious plant-based dishes. Influenced by cuisines from around the world, the menu features dishes including deep-fried oyster mushrooms, pancakes with plum sauce and sage gnocchi with roasted squash and horseradish crumb. Visiting this winter? Enjoy a festive feast of dishes including red lentil and walnut loaf and vegan Christmas pudding, available throughout December.

Edinburgh

Holy Cow, Elder Street

Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, quirky independent café Holy Cow prides itself on using organic local produce to create its 100% vegan menu. Dishes change according to the season and you can expect tasty treats including spicy butternut squash soup in addition to staples such as vegan burgers, open sandwiches and seasonal salads. Much loved for its cakes, the café has an ever-changing selection of sweet delights including chocolate and peanut butter cake, pumpkin pie and spiced pear and walnut cake.

The Ivy on the Square, St Andrew Square

One of the newest restaurants in the city, The Ivy on the Square has swiftly become a staple on the Edinburgh dining scene. Its specially designed vegetarian menu features vegan-friendly options, while non-vegans can also choose from the à la carte menu. With delicious dishes including sweet potato Keralan curry, warm Asian salad and roasted butternut squash with grains, this chic and stylish restaurant is the ideal spot for vegan and vegetarian celebrations while in the Scottish capital.

The Auld Hoose, St Leonard’s Street

Home to some of the best rock, metal and punk music in Edinburgh via their legendary jukebox, The Auld Hoose is also one of the city’s best venues for vegans in search of a little comfort food. From huge plates of nachos dripping in vegan cheese to crunchy onions rings, vegan falafel burgers and even a vegan sorbet sundae, this is the ideal spot for meat-free visitors and music lovers alike.

 

Brighton

Purezza, St James’s Street

The UK’s first vegan pizzeria, Purezza take animal-friendly Italian cuisine seriously. Having spent two years developing their dairy-free mozzarella (made from brown rice), the restaurant uses innovative recipes and ingredients to create delectable vegan pizzas, pastas and desserts – from meltingly moreish macaroni to cheesesteak calzone and vegan oreo pizza. With a second branch in London and many gluten-free options available, it’s the perfect pit-stop for vegans looking for a taste of Italy in the UK.

Food for Friends, Prince Albert Street

Established in 1981, the award-winning Food for Friends is one of Brighton’s longest-running vegetarian and vegan restaurants and a favourite with locals and visitors alike. Boasting a seasonal menu made with local and organic produce, diners can enjoy Middle Eastern, Japanese and British-inspired vegan dishes including courgette kofta and black olive polenta in addition to a selection of mouth-watering desserts and vegan cocktails.

Terre à Terre, East Street

A haven of vegan indulgence, Terra à Terra prides itself on its marvellous meat-free creations made with ethically sourced ingredients. Playfully named dishes range from KFC, Korean fried cauliflower with sweet and sour sesame, to Snap, Crackle and Choc, a rich chocolate mousse with praline and chocolate shortbread. With a range of organic vegan wines, beers and ciders on offer as well as cocktails and non-alcoholic options, this is the perfect spot for special vegan suppers by the sea.