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.

How to celebrate Scottish Whisky month in May

Produced in Scotland for centuries, whisky is widely celebrated as the country’s national drink. It’s distinct and varied flavours are heavily influenced by the regions in which it is made, a fact that is celebrated as part of national whisky month in May.

Named uisge beatha in Gaelic, which translates to ‘water of life’, whisky is produced at more than 120 distilleries across Scotland, with each producing unique and stimulating tastes. These distilleries are divided up into 5 main whisky producing regions – Speyside, Islay, Campbeltown, Highland and Lowland – and a visit to any one of these represents a memorable way of celebrating Scottish whisky month in style. Alternatively, there are numerous whisky-themed events and festivals that can tickle the taste buds.

The Distilleries

The source of water or even the presence of peat in a region has a huge influence on the taste of the whisky produced. Each of the 5 whisky producing regions has numerous distilleries to explore – and to sample a dram – while also taking in the spectacular highlights of Scotland’s countryside.

  1. Speyside

Home to 50 distilleries – the most of any of the 5 regions – Speyside is renowned for its fine malt whiskies. As the driest and warmest part of Scotland, located between the Highlands in the west, the farmlands of Aberdeenshire to the east and the beauty of the Cairngorms National Park to the north. Conditions are perfect for growing barley, while the mountain water helps to produce some of the best-loved malt whiskies in existence. To celebrate Scottish Whisky month, don’t miss the world famous Malt Whisky Trail which includes 7 working distilleries, Britain’s only cooperage – the Speyside Cooperage – and the Dallas Dhu historic distillery.

  1. Islay

A small island in the Inner Hebrides, just off Scotland’s west coast, Islay has 9 distilleries that produce delightful single malt Scotch whisky. It’s also home to one of the country’s oldest distilleries, as Bowmore can trace its roots back to 1779. As the island is covered in peat, it is harvested and used in the distilling process to create whiskies with characteristic peaty, oily and smoky flavours.

  1. Lowland

Expect lighter and floral tones of whisky in the Lowland region that reflect the rolling countryside landscapes of southern Scotland. The most accessible of the whisky regions given its travel routes to both Edinburgh and Glasgow, it is also home to a number of newer distilleries, with the development of more in the pipeline.

  1. Campbeltown

Campbeltown might be Scotland’s smallest whisky producing region, but such is the quality of the single malts created at its 3 distilleries that it is considered a region in its own right. Aided by the region’s coastal location – the spectacular and remote Kintyre Peninsula in west Argyll – the Springbank, Glengyle and Glen Scotia distilleries all produce distinct flavours that have garnered a worldwide following.

  1. Highlands

Covering a vast expanse of Scotland, the Highlands whisky region houses 47 distilleries, the oldest and most famous of which is Glenturret – home to the Famous Grouse Experience. Anticipate a diverse range of flavours across this region that reflect the rugged coastlines, changing landscapes, mountainous regions and variable weather conditions

May whisky festivals

On top of a visit to a distillery during Scottish whisky month, why not visit one of the many whisky festivals that take place throughout May? World Whisky Day is also on 18 May, and there’ll be an abundance of whisky-themed events taking place at Scotland’s many distilleries, as well as in bars and restaurants.

Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival

Discover the rich history of whisky in Speyside during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, packed full of behind-the-scenes distillery tours, sensory experiences, whisky-themed walks, music events and an array of arts and crafts. Embark on a whisky tour by train or 4x4, enjoy delightful food and whisky pairings, and explore many of the region’s most iconic distilleries.

When? 1-6 May

Stirling Whisky Festival

Welcoming distillers from all over Scotland to the Stirling Highland Hotel, the Stirling Whisky Festival returns for its 8th year in 2019. Whisky masterclasses come with certain tickets, enabling visitors to try drams of special and rare malts. An exclusive tasting evening at the Stirling Distillery on Friday 10 May will see the Scotch Malt Whisky Society showcase 6 of their unique single malts, with a different food plate for each to provide the perfect accompaniment.

When? 10-12 May

Highland Whisky Festival

Taste some incredible malt whisky from across the Highland region, as the Highland Whisky Festival showcases 8 of the best distilleries from along the North Coast 500 route. As well as exclusive tastings and tours, a range of events will also take place at the Balblair, Glenmorangie, Old Pulteney, Clynelish, The Dalmore, Wolfburn, Tomatin and The Singleton of Glen Ord distilleries.

When? 10-17 May

Edinburgh Whisky Stramash

Hosting numerous whisky experiences in the historic Surgeon’s Hall on Edinburgh’s Nicholson Street, the Edinburgh Whisky Stramash looks to showcase whisky from across Scotland and the rest of the world. Expect quirky tasting sessions and circa 200 whiskies from around the globe!

When? 18-19 May

Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt

Discover the island of Islay’s peaty flavours and take in its unique culture as part of Feis Ile, The Islay Festival of Music and Malt. With a programme packed with Gaelic and traditional music, ceilidhs and events relating to golf, history and natural heritage, among others, the festival is a chance to visit the island’s distilleries while uncovering its distinctive character.

When? 24 May – 1 June

Best eco-lodges to stay at to celebrate World Earth Day

World Earth Day (22 April) is celebrated by more than one billion people around the globe, with an emphasis on tackling climate change, ending plastic pollution and protecting endangered species. Embracing nature is a fundamental part of the world’s largest environmental movement, and Britain has no shortage of incredible eco-friendly locations where the occasion can be marked in style.

Tom’s Eco Lodge, Isle of Wight

Experience UK glamping all year round at Tom’s Eco Lodge on the Isle of Wight, a set of delightful Wood Cabins, Eco Pods and Modulogs that all aim to have the least environmental impact possible. Relax in a spa hot tub on the outside decking of one of the Wood Cabins at Tapnell Farm, or get cosy in one of the specially-built Modulogs – peaceful pods with all the must-have essentials. For a romantic couple’s getaway, try the open-plan Eco Pods, delivering stunning views of the west of the island, or pick a Safari Tent, complete with a rustic kitchen and log burning range cookers, for the ultimate glamping experience.

Asheston Eco Barns, Pembrokeshire

Bursting with character, Asheston Eco Barns in the heart of Pembrokeshire retain many of the original features from their time as stone farm buildings. Alongside underfloor heating and swish bathrooms, expect exposed stonework and buildings packed with the latest renewable technologies, providing luxurious living but without the environmental hit. Visitors receive a welcome hamper on arrival, packed with seasonal produce from across the region.

Rosehill Lodges, Cornwall

With their grass roofs and bubbling hot tubs, Rosehill Lodges deliver a luxury eco experience from a picturesque spot on north Cornwall’s coastline. Porthtowan’s surf-friendly Blue Flag beach is just minutes away, Newquay, St Ives, Land’s End and Falmouth are all easily reachable by car, and there are miles of coastal paths to explore in both directions. Each lodge has been hand-built in the region using environmentally-friendly materials, as part of an award-winning and sustainable approach to tourism.

Waterhouse, Scotland

Unwind at the Waterhouse retreat in south west Scotland, a set of 3 self-catering luxury lodges set in 1.5 acres of beautiful gardens. A short distance from the fishing port of Kirkcudbright, the picturesque setting is perfect for exploring what the region has to offer. Alongside the Waterhouse Lodge, complete with an outdoor hot tub, is The Boathouse, which provides additional sleeping berths if required. Alternatively, Westwater Lodge includes a spacious sun room and a log burner, making it ideal for winter or summer.

Wheatland Farm, Devon

A peaceful haven of 21 acres with 5 places to stay, Wheatland Farm can house up to 26 guests at a time. The wooden holiday lodges run on 100% renewable energy, powered by solar panels and an on-site wind turbine, while the Balebarn eco lodge uses straw bales from the surrounding fields – which explains why the site has scooped Visit England’s top award for sustainable tourism twice.

Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House, Snowdonia

Nestled at the base of the Moelwyn mountains in a curve of the spectacular Ffestiniog Steam Railway, the Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House is powered solely by renewable energy. Explore the magical landscapes of Snowdonia and north Wales from the quaint guesthouse, which is perfectly located for adventure activities including Zip World Bounce Below and Zip World Titan, as well as the Llechwedd Slate Caverns and Go Below at Cwmorthin Slate Mine.

Wrostler’s Barn, Cumbria

Hidden away in secluded woodlands near Coniston Water, on the lake’s eastern side, is Wrostler’s Barn, a 3-level converted structure that sleeps up to 12 people. Serving as a back-to-basics rental, the site has no electricity and two compost toilets situated outside. As a rare surviving example of the Lakeland practice of using intersecting slates – known locally as ‘wrostler’ – the off-grid location is surrounded by farmland, protected wildlife areas and a Site of Special Scientific Interest woodland.

Crai Valley Eco Lodges, Brecon Beacons

Found on a busy working farm in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, the Crai Valley Eco Lodges provide spacious accommodation, panoramic views, and ample opportunities for stargazing. Gaze upon the Milky Way from the Dark Sky Discovery Site at Glwydcaenewydd Farm and take in the spectacular views of Llyn-yr-Fan Lake from the large French windows of the lodges.

Cotna Eco Retreat, Cornwall

From eco glamping to boutique style yurts, the Cotna Eco Retreat provides a wonderful insight into organic and sustainable living. Surrounded by picturesque Cornish countryside and a short distance from Gorran Haven; The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the fishing village of Mevagissey are also not far away. The 3 Yurts – Gilliflower, Tregonna King and Fern Pippin – sit in orchards surrounded by Cornish stone walls and ancient woodland, and are named after the 3 apple varieties growing nearby.

48 hours in… Glasgow

Scotland's largest city, Glasgow is renowned for its vibrant arts, music and culture scene, rich architectural heritage and world-class shopping.

The city has the greatest concentration of creative industries in Britain outside London. Its architectural assets include the Victorian splendour of Glasgow City Chambers, the Art Nouveau style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's renowned Glasgow School of Art, and the ultra-modern spikes of Zaha Hadid's Riverside Transport Museum. And with more than 1,500 shops, this fashionable city is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre.

UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow (or ‘GTown' as it's known on the urban music scene) stages an average of 130 music events in the city every week. It's also considered a place to discover new talent: bands hailing from, or starting their careers here include famous names like Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis, Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Travis, Texas and Paolo Nutini.

TIME TO CHECK IN:

The four-star Grand Central Hotel has been open since 1879; this Queen Anne style landmark has 230 rooms and suites, and former guests include politicians and Hollywood stars. https://www.phcompany.com/principal/glasgow-grand-central-hotel/

Situated on the Banks of the River Clyde next to The SSE Hydro, the Radisson Red Hotel opened its doors in 2018 and is home to 174 studio rooms. The OUIBar + KTCHEN and rooftop RED Sky Bar, with its craft beers and classy cocktails, mean your food and drink needs are well covered too. https://www.radissonred.com/glasgow/

Scotland’s largest bedroomed hotel with 374 rooms, Motel One Glasgow provides a stylish budget option with an interior that takes inspiration from its location next to Glasgow Central Station. The hotel’s signature One Lounge – a breakfast café, bar and living area rolled into one – is themed around the golden age of train travel in Scotland. https://www.motel-one.com/en/hotels/glasgow/

Alternatively, the new Ibis Styles Glasgow Centre West is another that mixes affordability with style across its 137 rooms. The hotel recognises Glasgow’s influence on the global music scene, so keep an eye out for the names of iconic bands and venues that are splashed across the décor. www.accorhotels.com/gb/ibis-styles-glasgow-centre-west

DAY ONE:

11.00 Take in the Gallery of Modern Art

Discover an incredible collection of contemporary art right in the centre of Glasgow at the Gallery of Modern Art. Thought-provoking displays and temporary exhibitions pack the gallery, and building tours take place at weekends that can introduce the history of the building and the exhibitions within it. https://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/venues/gallery-of-modern-art-goma

12:15 Follow in the footsteps of great pioneers

The historic campus of the University of Glasgow is another edifying tourist attraction. Take a self-guided tour of Britain's fourth oldest university, and follow in the footsteps of renowned visionaries such as the pioneer of television John Logie Baird. Not to be missed are the Cloisters - these impressive archways have featured in several films. www.gla.ac.uk/about/visit/attractions

13:30 Enjoy lunch along a cobbled backstreet

A cobbled backstreet close to the university, Ashton Lane is a treasure trove of bohemian bars and restaurants. With its rustic chic interior and a beer garden for al fresco drinking and dining, Belgian-style bar and restaurant Brel is a popular choice. Or try renowned Glasgow bar and eatery the Ubiquitous Chipwww.brelbar.com www.ubiquitouschip.co.uk/

14:30 Experience Glasgow's bohemian side

The neighbourhood that includes the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane is known as Glasgow's West End. This bohemian quarter of ornate sandstone tenements and cobbled streets is well worth exploring. A fantastic range of vintage and design stores, cafés, bars and specialist delicatessens can be found here. It's also home to the picturesque Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park, as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's distinctive and stylish Mackintosh House. www.peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/shopping/west-end

16:30 Explore Scottish and world history

Also located within Glasgow's West End is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Built in 1901, this grand red brick building displays one of Europe's greatest and most eclectic art collections, and is one of Scotland's most popular free-to-enter visitor attractions. Highlights include Salvador Dali's iconic painting Christ Of St John Of The Cross, plus Scottish history and archaeology, dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, arms and armour, and Dutch Old Masters. Several stunning exhibitions relating to the centenary of the end of the First World War will continue in the first half of 2019 while visitors can take the Natural History Trail from late January to explore Scotland’s natural world.  www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove

19:30 Dine in a cool up-and-coming quarter

Once an industrial area frequented by dockworkers, Finnieston is now a neighbourhood with a cool new vibe. Anchored by the SSE Hydro arena, a venue built for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the area has witnessed a change in fortune. Known as "The Strip", a stretch of Argyle Street is now lined with pop-up bars and eclectic restaurants, with top picks including industrial eatery The Gannet, tapas-style Indian food at Mother India's Café, or fish and shellfish at Crabshakk. www.thegannetgla.com www.motherindia.co.uk http://www.crabshakk.com/

21:30 Sip a cocktail or a dram of whisky

After-dinner options along Argyle Street range from cocktails at Kelvingrove Café to a dram of Scottish whisky and traditional live music at The Ben Neviswww.kelvingrovecafe.com www.thebennevis.co.uk

DAY TWO:

9:30 Visit a champion transport and travel museum

Voted 2013 European Museum of the Year, the spiky Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum is Scotland's museum of transport and travel. Its collection includes a historic Tall Ship, an icon of Glasgow's shipbuilding heritage now moored at Riverside, while inside the vast free-flowing gallery space are trams, trolley buses, vintage cars, bicycles and motorbikes - each object telling a unique story. Discover the story of Glasgow’s telegram messengers throughout 2019 and keep an eye out for numerous one and two-day specialist exhibitions that are held across the year. www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/riverside

11:00 Take a Scottish brunch break

Enjoy a delicious Scottish brunch at Cup, Glasgow's award-winning tea rooms. The tiled Victorian interior of Cup Tea Lounge is truly stunning. There's also Cup Tea Room in Glasgow's West End, and the Cup Tea Garden in stylish Merchant City. Cup's big breakfast includes Scottish cured bacon, sausages and homemade beans. Other choices include Eggs Benedict, Florentine, Royal or Stornoway - the latter two coming with either Scottish smoked salmon or Stornoway Black Pudding. Cup is also a great choice for afternoon tea. www.cupglasgow.co.uk

12:00 Shop till you drop in Britain's second largest retail centre

With more than 1,500 shops, Glasgow is recognised as Britain's second largest retail centre, providing one of the best shopping experiences outside London. Glasgow's Style Mile is the city's central shopping district, with all the big high street brands. Tucked away behind the city centre is the Merchant City, one of Glasgow's oldest quarters and an area of huge architectural interest. Dating back to the 1750s, it was home to the warehouses of wealthy merchants. Those old warehouses have since become quirky designer boutiques, bars, restaurants and stylish loft apartments. www.peoplemakeglasgow.com/things-to-do/shopping

14:30 Head out of the city to a grand old country house

In easy reach of Glasgow city centre, Pollok House is a grand country property built in 1752. Now part of the National Trust for Scotland, its lavish family rooms are packed full of period furniture and fine art, while downstairs are vast servants' quarters. Afterwards, hire a bike to explore the surrounding Pollok Country Park - look out for the Highland Cattle and Clydesdale Horses. www.nts.org.uk/pollokhouse

19:30 Taste a crisp apple ale and hearty Scottish fare

Britain's first experiential craft brewery, Drygate produce a range of ales and IPAs, and is home to 26 rotating taps and a carefully curated bottle selection. Their Glasgow brewhouse is also home to Drygate's Craft Beer Bar & Kitchen serving seasonal Scottish produce, burgers and charcuterie-grazing boards. www.drygate.com

22:00 Listen out for the next big thing in the City of Music

Glasgow is designated UNESCO City of Music thanks to its thriving music scene and multitude of live music venues. King Tut's Wah Hut is consistently named Britain's best small live music venue, or there's the legendary Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom in the east end of Glasgow, plus Saint Luke's, an exciting music and arts venue in a restored former parish church. www.kingtuts.co.uk http://barrowland-ballroom.co.uk/ www.stlukesglasgow.com

HOW TO GET HERE:

Glasgow is in Scotland, six hours by train north of London, one hour from Edinburgh. Glasgow International Airport is just shy of 9-miles from Glasgow city centre with regular train connections that take around 20-25 minutes.

Six of the healthiest spots to kick off the new year

Feel the need to detox after the end-of-year celebrations? Here’s a pick of health retreats in Britain where you can easily kickstart your new-year, new-year wellbeing journey.

Gilpin Hotel & Spa, Lake District, north-west England

England’s stunning Lake District vistas are inspiration enough to make someone want to embrace a healthier lifestyle for the new year but, for that extra boost, check in to the Gilpin Hotel for some star-quality spa experiences. In addition to the 25 bedrooms, all with lake views, the hotel offers five new detached Spa Lodges; in each you’ll find an ensuite spa – think outdoor saunas and hydrotherapy hot tubs and indoor rainmaker showers and steam rooms. An alternative option at the property is to stay at the Gilpin Lake House, situated a mile away on a separate estate. This is truly a sanctuary – available to be privately booked for 12 people, it has its own lake, hot tubs, sauna, pool and the Jetty Spa, a Swedish-style spa treatment room set three metres into a tree canopy. Round off the relaxing experience with healthy, yet mouth-watering dishes at the Michelin-starred HRiSHi restaurant back up at Gilpin House.

The Sharpham Trust, Devon, south-west England

Set on a 550-acre estate on the River Dart in south Devon, the Sharpham Trust aims to bring nature and mindfulness to its guests. Its programme of mediation retreats are held at The Barn, a converted linhay (a type of two-storeyed farmhouse particularly found in Devon), while its dedicated mindfulness retreats take place in the Grade I-listed, Georgian mansion Sharpham House. The Trust, which has been running for more than 30 years, is set in gorgeous Capability Brown-designed parkland. Woodland retreats are also available, providing a fantastic opportunity to be super close to nature as guests stay in yurts out in the woodlands, or consider booking onto one of its courses for positive mental health, ranging from a one-day to a nine-week Mindful-in-Nature course.

ecoYoga, Scotland

The fresh air of the Scottish Highlands is a sure-fire way to get in the mood for a healthy outlook on life. Head to the tranquil, riverside retreat of ecoYoga Scotland for its relaxed vibes; here you’ll find a variety of yoga courses and retreats that are married with the teachings of sustainable eco-living. The ecoYoga Centre is powered by a hydro turbine and solar panels, water comes directly from a natural spring and guests can get involved in forest creations, gardening and a number of other eco-style activities. Even when retreats are not running guests can stay at the venue on a self-catering basis, take yoga classes in its yoga studio and enjoy its hot wild-river baths. Yoga classes are also taught by visiting teachers and include styles such as Ashtanga and Iyengar.

Seren Retreat, Gower, south Wales

Interested in Polarity Therapy? This technique, which focuses on the body’s energy flow, is a speciality of the Seren Retreat, a health resort 15 minutes from the award-winning beaches of the Gower Peninsula and set in 23 acres of woodland. Run by Rex and Alaea Beynon, who have 30 years’ experience in the healing arts, the retreats here aim to promote emotional, mental, physical and spiritual happiness. Treatments and counselling sessions are supported by both nutritional guidance and yoga aimed towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Yoga and mediation retreats use Ayurvedic rejuvenation techniques and retreats can be booked for between three to ten nights and also come with an Ayurvedic cooking demonstration.

Neal’s Yard Holidays, Britain-wide

Vegan detox and juice detox spa breaks, yoga retreats and wellbeing retreats – whatever way you’re looking to recharge your batteries and kickstart a healthy lifestyle you’re likely to find it through the UK-based Neal’s Yard Holidays, which take place across a number of locations across Britain. North Yorkshire has been the location for its juice detox spa breaks, where, as well as staying in a beautiful venue, guests enjoy yoga and energy rebalancing workshops. There are also women-only wellbeing retreats that combine life coaching with meditation and gourmet raw food, while its yoga retreats take place across some of Britain’s most beautiful and tranquil locations.

Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire

Just over half an hour from London and only seven miles from Heathrow Airport, you’ll find Stoke Park Hotel in the heart of the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside. Not only will the five-star luxury of this mansion house kickstart those endorphins to start you down a stress-free path, if your exercise of choice is tennis then you’re also in your dream location. Here you’ll find 13 tennis courts encompassing grass, clay and indoor, ideal for any level of player. Plus, it boasts a 4,000sqft gym for guests use, personal training and up to 40 exercise classes each week, a 27-hole Championship golf course, indoor pool and 14 acres of private gardens to stroll around. Relax after all that sport with some time in its award-winning spa and Scandinavian sauna.

Accommodation Update - November 2018

Whether you’re looking for a boutique luxury hotel in leafy Kent or affordable accommodation in the heart of Glasgow, our round-up of the UK’s newest hotels offers something for every traveller. Discover our top picks below.

Recently refurbished

London

The Marylebone, Marylebone

Situated in the heart of central London a short walk from Bond Street, The Marylebone is a recently renovated boutique hotel boasting new facilities. These include The Cocktail Bar, which combines 4 adjoining spaces themed around the seasons, from the cosy winter lounge complete with a roaring fire to the outdoor terrace that’s perfect for summer socialising. Other additions include The Marylebone Rooms and Number Six – a series of stylish private event rooms designed in the hotel’s signature art deco style by the award-winning Michaelis Boyd studio. There is also a range of newly refurbished luxury rooms and suites to choose from.

Recently opened

Scotland

The Grandtully Hotel, Perthshire

Dedicated to delivering exceptional Scottish food and drink to its guests, the newly renovated The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart offers luxurious culinary experiences in equally luxurious settings. With just eight bedrooms, this boutique property has been lovingly restored and features a careful blend of traditional features and contemporary design. Facilities include a 30-cover restaurant serving fine local produce, a bar, a private dining area and an outdoor terrace. 

Citi Hotel, Aberdeen

City Hotel in Aberdeen prides itself on offering affordable stays in the heart of the city. Based on the former site of The Royal Hotel, the property underwent a £500,000 refurbishment over 12 months and reopened at the start of November.  The self-dubbed ‘poshtel’ boasts a new reception area, newly fitted bathroom suites, refined décor and 42 bedrooms starting from just £35 per night.  

Opening soon

London

The Bedford, Balham

Opening December 2018

Beloved by musicians including Ed Sheeran, London’s famous The Bedford pub is undergoing a multi-million-pound refurbishment. Scheduled to reopen this December, the Grade II-listed building will boast five bars, a ballroom, four private rooms and a 250-capacity live music venue hosting a range of events, from comedy to burlesque. There are also 15 ensuite bedrooms to choose from, each designed around the pub’s distinctive medley of art deco and 1970s style.

The Standard, St Pancras

Opening in spring 2019

The boutique Standard Hotel chain will soon be celebrating the opening of its first international hotel in London. Scheduled to open in early 2019, the hotel will be the newest addition to the chain’s properties in New York, Miami and L.A. Located within the Camden Town Hall Annex, one of the city’s best-known examples of 1970s brutalist architecture, the hotel promises to embody the quirky culture and history of the local area while serving as a luxury base from which to explore King’s Cross and the surrounding area.

 

South-east England

Lion Lodge, Port Lympne, Kent  

Opening in spring 2019

The luxurious Lion Lodge will give guests the chance to stay in close proximity to Port Lympne’s lion pride. Set within the lions’ enclosure, the loft-style lodge features floor-to-ceiling windows in the open plan living space and master bedroom, an open fire, underfloor heating and a monsoon shower and wet room. Designed to sleep four, the master bedroom offers incredible views of the lions at rest and play, with the mezzanine level offering two additional beds accessed by spiral staircase. Guests can also enjoy the Scandinavian outdoor bath, built on a platform overlooking the sea and the 600-acre wildlife reserve.

The Albion Rooms, Margate

Opening date to be confirmed

Owned and developed by The Libertines rock band, The Albion Rooms is located on the seafront of Margate, a classic British seaside town with a strong artistic heritage. The development will comprise both a studio – scheduled to be finished in February 2019 - and bar within the five-storey Victorian building, in addition to 10 guest bedrooms individually designed by the band. The official opening date is still to be confirmed, but future guests can track the development’s progress here.

The Pig at Bridge Place, Canterbury

Opening in spring 2019

The Pig at Bridge Place is the latest hotel to be developed by the popular Pig Hotel chain. Opening its doors in spring 2019, the hotel is located in the former Bridge Place Country Club, a delightful 16th-century manor just outside Canterbury in historic Bridge village. In addition to the main building, guests can choose to stay in one of 12 bedrooms in the Coach House or 2 in the newly renovated gate lodge. Alternatively, there’s the option to choose from 7 ‘hop picker’ huts, for those looking for a more romantic getaway.

 

North-west England

Whitworth Locke, Manchester

Opening in December 2018

Due to open next month, Whitworth Locke is an 160-unit aparthotel offering a choice of one-bedroom suites or 24-sq metre studios overlooking Rochdale Canal. Designed by architects Grzywinski + Pons, this stylish residence and former cotton mill will offer the services and facilities of hotel living with the autonomy of a private apartment.

 

Hotel Indigo, Manchester

Opening in December 2018

Located in the city’s Northern Quarter opposite Victoria Station, Hotel Indigo embodies the style and originality that typifies the former industrial heart of the city - now a mecca for hipsters, musicians and the achingly cool. The hotel offers 187 bedrooms, all of which have been carefully renovated to reflect the cultural history of the area, and combines original Victorian features with modern facilities including an on-site gym, bar and restaurant.

 

London Warehouse, Manchester

Opening in spring 2019

The newly renovated London Warehouse hotel will open in spring 2019. Located in the Victorian railway warehouse formerly occupied by The Place Aparthotel, this luxurious 166-bed four-star aparthotel will offer facilities including a gym created by fitness brand BLOK. Other highlights include an all-day hangout space and a mini cinema, restaurant, bar and lounge managed by Bistrotheque restaurant.

 

Dakota Hotel, Manchester

Opening in spring 2019

Work has now begun on the £25 million pound development of Dakota Deluxe design hotel in Manchester. Scheduled to open in spring 2019, the hotel is located close to Piccadilly Station and promises to deliver the same elegant style, tasteful décor and luxurious facilities as its sister properties in Leeds and Glasgow.

 

Stock Exchange Hotel

Opening in spring 2019

Manchester’s historic Stock Exchange building is being redeveloped into a luxurious five-star boutique hotel courtesy of former Manchester United football stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs (GG Hospitality). Due to open in spring 2019, the Edwardian Baroque building – with its impressive central dome – is located in Norfolk Street. In addition to 40 bedrooms and suites, two luxurious presidential suites and two fine dining restaurants, the hotel will offer private dining in the wine cellars.

Five luxurious ways to travel around Britain

Get from A to B with these seriously glamorous ways to travel, which turn exploring British destinations into an upper-class experience all the way.

Train

One of the greatest travel experiences has to be while relaxing with a glass of Champagne, savouring luxurious surroundings while gazing out of the window at ever-changing, beautiful scenery. Train travel on board the lavish Belmond Royal Scotsman (sister train of the Venice Simplon Orient Express) evokes the romance of travel from a bygone era and is all about delivering an exclusive experience; only a maximum of 36 guests are on board on any journey. There are a number of routes available; whisky lovers should check out its Malt Whisky Trail or fans of history can book onto a journey that takes you to visit castles and country estates. But it’s the experience on board that’s just as unforgettable as the stops. Visit its on-board spa for an indulgent treatment, enjoy fine dining across its two elegant dining cars and relax in the Edwardian Observation car.

Even if you only have one day to spare, you can experience the thrill of luxury train travel by dining on board the Northern Belle, which departs from regional stations throughout the UK and takes you through some of the most stunning countryside. Enjoy Champagne receptions, grand dinners or sumptuous afternoon teas in its gorgeous carriages, each of which is named after a British castle or stately home.

Hot-air balloon

Admire the exceptional beauty of the British countryside as you float above the landscapes on an exclusive trip in a hot-air balloon. Visitors have their pick of companies across the destination offering these trips; one example is Kent Ballooning, which offers ballooning over the ‘Garden of England’ – the county of Kent – in south-east England. Take it to a more exclusive, luxurious level with its VIP flights. Two passengers board their own private balloon – after watching its inflation – and enjoy Champagne during the flight.  

Alternatively, why not take part in Britain’s most famous hot-air balloon festival by booking a once-in-a-lifetime hot-air balloon trip with Virgin Balloon Flights at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, which returns in August 2019? You’ll take to the skies over the gorgeous Somerset landscapes for three-to-four hours and witness all the other balloons taking part in the fiesta beside you, while sipping on Champagne!

Helicopter

See Britain from a different angle as you cruise above it by helicopter…all piloted of course! You just have to sit back and enjoy the scenery. If you’re in England’s capital, one of the most exclusive ways to see the city is on board The London Helicopter on a trip that takes in all the iconic landmarks from the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park to St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. For an extra special journey tie in a luxury chauffeur service to and from your helicopter flight and, on arrival back at the heliport in Battersea, complete the trip with a glass or two of Champagne at neighbouring ‘The Pad’ at the Crowne Plaza. Helicopter flights can, of course, be more than sightseeing. Aerial Charter Scotland, for example, offers Helicopter Distillery Tours, where whisky lovers can travel between distilleries across the five distinctive whisky producing regions of Scotland. Spot the magnificent lochs, dramatic mountains and vibrant cities as you soar overhead en route to the distilleries.

Cruise ship

Britain is an island – so what better way to explore it than on board a luxury cruise ship? There are a wide range of cruise companies operating itineraries, from around the remote Scottish islands to cruises around the whole of Britain. You’ll find all-inclusive luxury – think butler service, gourmet dining, fine wines, Champagne, suites with private verandas and indulgent spas – with companies such as Regent Seven Seas, Six Star Cruises and Silversea. A two-week cruise by Silversea departs from London and stops at ports such as the spectacular Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall at the south-western tip of England; the exciting city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, the stunning Scottish islands of Lewis, Shetland, Orkney and Mull as well as the vibrant Scottish capital Edinburgh. Six Star Cruises offers a ‘British Isles Legacy’ route, with stops in Fowey in Cornwall, Liverpool in north-west England and Scotland, while Regent Seven Seas’ offers a ‘Treasures of the British Isles’ cruise, departing from Bristol, heading up to the Scottish islands and across to Aberdeen, before taking in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and the Isles of Scilly.

Chauffeur-driven luxury car

Enjoy the VIP treatment by visiting some of Britain’s top attractions and most beautiful destinations via chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle. There is a wealth of companies across Britain offering this type of service but to enhance the experience further, ensure your driver is also a knowledgeable guide. British Chauffeur Tours offers tailor-made tours to suit individual interests but check out popular journeys such as its Harry Potter tours, football tours and tours of the Cotswolds. Ever wanted to channel your inner James Bond? Book onto its Espionage London tour to discover the secret world of the spy – all, of course, from the comfort of a luxury car. Visitors can also have multi-day bespoke tours created. British Heritage Chauffeur Tours, for example, offers entire trips around Wales, England or Scotland – which include five-star accommodation along the way – as well as tours across a range in themes, from Poldark to Queen Victoria.

Top destination stories for 2019

Top Destination Stories For 2019

 

75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

A significant moment in global history, 6 June 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy of the Second World War. Next year will see several important occasions to commemorate this historic anniversary. Britain’s Imperial War Museums (IWM), with five museums across the UK, will retell the story between 1 – 9 June through three of its historic sites: HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and Churchill War Rooms, all of which played a significant role in D-Day. Elsewhere, Bristol in south-west England will be marking the anniversary; the Normandy landings were planned by Gen Omar Bradley at Clifton College in Bristol, the US Army’s command base in the city. General Bradley and others stayed in a building in the The Holmes, now part of the University of Bristol’s Botanic Gardens, while he was in the city. And Southsea in south England, is home to the D-Day Museum, is planning a major redevelopment ahead of the anniversary. Expect more events and commemorations to take place across the country.

Wales – Year of Discovery

Wales – Year of Discovery 2019 will build on the destination’s three previous themes (Year of the Sea, Year of Legends and Year of Adventure) and emphasise that Wales is alive with events and activities. 2019’s Year of Discovery will encourage visitors to not only discover Wales but also themselves through the wealth of attractions, adventures and experiences Wales has to offer.
The Wales Way will also remain a key focus for 2019. Launched towards the end of 2018, The Wales Way is a group of three national touring routes that cross the country’s most epic landscapes, showcasing its fascinating history, coastlines and attractions. The routes will help position Wales as 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.

London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest

Inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, the London Borough of Culture is a major new initiative launched by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2018, with the borough of Waltham Forest being the first to win the accolade for 2019. Designed to put culture at the heart of communities, it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover the character and diversity of different areas of London. Mercury Award-winning local musician Talvin Singh will lead a stellar cast of artists in a unique collaboration with Waltham Forest’s young people for a huge opening event, Welcome to the Forest, to celebrate the start of the neighbourhood’s tenure as London’s first Borough of Culture.

Britain on the big – and small – screen

Britain will, once again, play a starring role in several new major movie releases in 2019, as well as lead the way with some of television’s biggest hits.

Mary Queen of Scots – January 2019 (with early release in USA end of 2018)

Starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England respectively, this biographical tale portrays Mary’s attempt to overthrow Elizabeth, before being condemned to years of imprisonment and finally facing execution. Glorious period sets and costumes are further enhanced by the British landscapes used as locations, including London, Oxford and Derbyshire in England and Edinburgh and Glencoe in Scotland. Visit Linlithgow Palace, an hour from Edinburgh, where Mary was born, Edinburgh Castle where she gave birth to her only child and the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh, Scottish Borders.

Downton Abbey movie – release date 2019 TBC

The rumour mill has certainly been in overdrive on this one…but an NBC Universal spokesman confirmed the studio is to put the highly anticipated movie into production in 2018. Nearly three years after its final television episode, Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey itself) has revealed the cast and crew will return there to film in the last quarter of 2018.

Bond 25 – release date 8 November 2019

Bond returns! The 25th instalment of the Bond movies will hit the big screen in 2019. No locations have been divulged yet but there’s plenty to see and do in Britain to get Bond-ready, whether that’s checking out props from the films at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden or enjoying a martini at Dukes Bar in London's Mayfair, where Bond author Ian Fleming regularly frequented.

Shaun the Sheep 2 – 2019 release date TBC

Everyone’s favourite woolly friend will be back on our screens next year in the Aardman production of Shaun the Sheep 2. The production company – the Oscar-winning animation studio that also created the award-winning Wallace and Gromit films, Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man – is famously based in Bristol, south-west England.

The Favourite – release date early January 2019 (earlier 2018 release in the US)

In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah governs the country in her stead. Starring British actors Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz, locations such as Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, one hour from London, were used.

The Secret Garden – release date Summer 2019 TBC

A new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s classic children’s novel The Secret Garden is set for release in 2019. Directed by Marc Munden and starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters, the film tells the story of a young orphaned girl sent from India to live with her neglectful uncle in Yorkshire. Key locations for the film include Helmsley Walled Garden (the secret garden), Duncombe Park and Farndale in the North York Moors National Park, north England, and Iford Manor, Wiltshire, west England.

Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle release – 13 September 2019

The plot of a new film by Richard Curtis and Danny Boyle is being kept tightly under wraps, but it’s believed to be a Beatles-themed romantic comedy set in 1960s and/or 1970s Suffolk... Filming took place all over the county, including Halesworth, Dunwich, Shingle Street and Latitude Festival. It stars Lily James, Himesh Patel and Ana de Armas, and promises all sorts of cameos, including one by Ed Sheeran.

Peaky Blinders, season 5 – 2019 release date TBC

Tommy and the rest of the Peaky Blinders will return to our TV screens in 2019. Set and filmed in the central England city of Birmingham Peaky Blinders is set during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The show is also filmed in Liverpool, north-west England.

The Crown, season 3 – 2019 release date TBC

Filming has started Netflix’s The Crown third season, with Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.

 

Manchester International Festival returns – and discover the city’s newest neighbourhood

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. The festival is staged every two years – the next edition will take place 4 – 21 July 2019 at venues all over the city – and will be the last before the festival takes up permanent residence in the North of England’s flagship new cultural venue, The Factory. And St John’s is the name of an enormous masterplan to create a new neighbourhood for enterprise, culture and living in the city, which will sit on the former site of Granada Studios. Incorporating residenti­­al, hotels, work space, intimate streets and lively courtyards, the St John’s neighbourhood will retain many original buildings such as the iconic Bonded Warehouse as well as new-builds including Factory Manchester.  

 

Must-see exhibitions and museum updates

A host of British museums and galleries are welcoming new exhibitions and extensions in 2019.

In London, Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade, and the Tate’s first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947 (27 March – 11 August) while the National Portrait Gallery will host the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver (21 February – 19 May). The new Medicine galleries at the Science Museum are due for completion in 2019 and will be one of the most significant medicine collections in the world, while The Geffrye has embarked on a major transformative scheme, Unlocking the Geffrye, to open up the museum and improve visitors’ experience, due for completion in 2019. The Cartoon Museum will open in a new central London location, bringing the “imagination of the world of cartoons into a physical space”.

In Bristol, south-west England, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (2 February – 2 May) while M-Shed hosts Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed (16 March – 16 June) – the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK – and On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (6 July – 29 September), which will feature everything from drawings to the latest VR technology that went into making the animated feature film Early Man.

Turner Contemporary in Margate, on the Kent coast in south-east England will host the world-famous visual art prize, the Turner Prize. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire will launch new exhibitions, events, historic restoration and conservation projects and new tours.  From 9 February – April, an exhibition of JMW Turner’s early architectural paintings and engravings will be on show and, new for 2019, are the Twizy Tours – a fun way to explore the Capability Brown landscaped parkland from the comfort of a two-seater, electric vehicle.

Heading to the north of England, 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. Liverpool’s Tate Liverpool will host the first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring (14 June – 10 November), where more than 70 art works inspired by underground club culture, pop art and graffiti will be displayed. The city will also welcome an exhibition of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the Walker Art Gallery (15 March – 26 August).

And good news for royal fans in 2019 as the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh hosts A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (14 June – 6 October), when the wedding outfits of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will go on display in a special exhibition.

 

Hot hotel openings

Book ahead for these exciting hotel openings in 2019.

London
The Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, is scheduled to open its doors in Spring next year and boast around 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®. And art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel, the art'otel Hoxton

England
Work has now started on the development of a 137-bedroom Dakota Deluxe hotel in Manchester, north-west England, the third in the luxury Dakota Deluxe brand alongside properties in Glasgow and Leeds; the design-led hotel is set to open in spring 2019. And in January 2019, the Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station hotel is set to open with 187 contemporary rooms.
The Grand, one of Birmingham's most iconic buildings, is to be redeveloped into a luxury, 180-room hotel with a restaurant and bar, a spa and a rooftop infinity pool, due to open in early 2019. And The Crescent is due to open next year in the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire, as the Grade I-listed Crescent is transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel.

Scotland
Yotel is to open its first hotel in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019 on Edinburgh’s Queen Street, featuring 280 cabins. Elsewhere, independent craft brewer BrewDog has announced plans to build the world’s first craft beer hotel, called The DogHouse, and will launch an immersive craft beer hotel and brewery expansion at its headquarters in Aberdeenshire, north Scotland.

Unmissable sporting events

Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events and, in 2019, the following championships will take place.

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.

RBS 6 Nations Rugby Union, across Britain (starts 23 February)

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland join France and Italy in the clash of the rugby greats.

Gymnastics World Cup, Birmingham, central England (23 March)  

Held at Birmingham’s Genting Arena in March, gymnasts from across the globe will compete to win the prestigious title.

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

This will be the 12th Cricket World Cup competition and, for the fifth time, will be held in England and Wales.

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France is one of the most iconic sportives in the UK and offers an inspiring Tour de France riding experience to UK cyclists.

Major League Baseball, 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.

Netball World Cup, Liverpool, north-west England (12 – 21 July)

England Netball and the City of Liverpool will host the 2019 Netball World Cup at ACC Liverpool.

Solheim Cup, Gleneagles, Scotland (9 – 15 September)

The Solheim Cup is the biggest event in women’s golf and more than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend from across the globe.

UCI Road World Championships, Yorkshire, north England (22 – 29 September)

One of the world’s most prestigious professional cycling events, the UCI Road World Championships will see 1,000 riders from 75 different countries complete in 12 races over eight days.

Fantastic new experiences launch

June will welcome a new Silverstone Heritage Experience at of the home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, central England. The permanent exhibition, housed in a refurbished World War II-hangar on the Silverstone circuit site, will use state-of-the-art interactive displays to tell the stories of people who have been involved in the site’s history, from medieval monks to modern racing drivers and engineers. The immersive show dome finale to the 2.5-hour experience will allow visitors to feel what it’s like to zoom around the track alongside their racing heroes.

In Bristol, south-west England, The Wave Bristol is set to open in the Autumn, a new inland surfing lake powered by the latest wave-making technology, capable of generating up to 1,000 quality waves per hour. The lake will have three surf zones for different abilities and a high-performance surf centre for elite athletes and aspiring pros. Set in beautiful sensory, healing and kitchen gardens on the edge of the city, The Wave will also have a swimming pool, café, education centre, camping accommodation and surf shop. As well as giving people easier access to surfing, the project aims to educate and inspire people on a range of topics from marine conservation to living healthier lifestyles.

New theatre for 2019

Yet another fantastic year is lined up in the world of London theatre.

Pinter At The Pinter: Party Time/Celebration at the Harold Pinter Theatre
From 4 January
Party Time is paired with Harold Pinter’s final play, Celebration, as part of the Pinter At The Pinter season, held at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

9 to 5 The Musical, Savoy Theatre
Previews from 28 January
Based on the cult film, 9 to 5 The Musical is coming to the West End and will feature a book by the movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick with the score by the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton.

Notre Dame de Paris, London Coliseum
From 23 January
One of France’s most popular musicals, Notre Dame de Paris is based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame with music by Riccardo Cocciante and book and lyrics by Luc Plamondon.

Come From Away, Phoenix Theatre
From 18 February
This Broadway musical by Irene Sankoff and David Hein is based on the events in the week following the 9/11 attacks on America, when 38 planes were ordered to land in the small Canadian town of Gander. 

When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other: Twelve Variations On Samuel Richardson's 'Pamela', National Theatre
From January
Directed by Katie Mitchell with a cast including Cate Blanchett and Stephen Dillane, Martin Crimp’s play breaks through the surface of contemporary debate to explore the messy nature of desire and the complicated roles men and women play.

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre
Spring 2019
Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker, is in a loveless marriage in a small town. A baking contest in a nearby county offers her a chance at escape, leaving Jenna to weigh her commitments against a shot at freedom and recognition.

On Your Feet! London Coliseum, London
From 14 June
Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s smash-hit musical comes to London in 2019 direct from Broadway for a strictly limited season. It’s the true love story of Emilio and Gloria and follows their journey from its Cuban origins to the streets of Miami and to international superstardom.

Mary Poppins Prince Edward Theatre
Autumn 2019
Mary Poppins will return in the autumn of 2019 at the West End theatre where it premiered in 2004. Tickets for the production will go on sale in January.

Major anniversaries to commemorate

2019 will be a bumper year of significant anniversaries in Britain; this year will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s first flight, when Club Concorde hopes to buy the Concorde currently on display at Le Bourget airport in Paris. If it is successful, the plane will be restored before resuming operation as a private heritage aircraft that will be flown at air displays as well as being available for charter. 2019 also marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace, where she also spent her childhood. A permanent re-presentation of her rooms, telling the story of her fascinating life at the palace will open and a programme of performance, special events, tours and talks will also run throughout the year. Britain’s National Parks will celebrate their 70th anniversary next year – expect National Parks Week to be extra special. And Manchester, in north-west England, will mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in 2019. On 16 August 1819 in St Peter's Fields, Manchester, armed cavalry charged a peaceful crowd of around 60,000 people gathered to listen to anti-poverty and pro-democracy speakers.

Six of the best free things to do in Edinburgh this winter

Planning to visit the Scottish capital for Hogmanay celebrations on 31 December? Why not come earlier and spend more time in Edinburgh exploring its fantastic array of free attractions this winter? Plus, what is already a beautiful city is even more alluring when bathed in winter sunshine, dusted with frost and buzzing with festive spirit.

National Galleries of Scotland

Not one, not two, not even three but FOUR buildings across Edinburgh house an astounding collection of art and are all well worth a visit. And, aside from certain paid-for exhibitions, they’re all free admission. Princes Street in the city centre is where you head to see iconic works from the Masters of 14th – 18th century European art at the National; then stroll over to the National Portrait Gallery nearby, before ending the day at the Modern gallery, which is set across two buildings in a magnificent sculpture park.

Why go this winter? Obviously for the art…but there’s also free live music ranging from Gaelic to opera on certain dates in November at the National; drop-in easel sketching workshops at the Portrait; or lectures and talks on subjects such as surrealism at the Modern.

The National Museum of Scotland

Seven levels of spectacular exhibitions await you at this fascinating free attraction in Edinburgh’s picturesque Old Town. The museum is packed with intriguing displays and insights into science and technology, fashion, the natural world and art and design that will keep you busy all day. Gain a wonderful insight into Scotland from prehistory to the present day in its must-visit Scottish Galleries.

Why go this winter? Fascinated by science? Every Saturday between 13 October – 26 January 2019 is Science Saturday, meaning specialist talks, hands-on activities and science demonstrations. Music fans should investigate its Rip It Up – The Story of Scottish Pop exhibition until 25 November and put its new exhibition Robots, launching on 18 January, in the diary.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Proving that gardens are not just for summer, visitors can appreciate the gorgeous winter landscape of these gardens, which are split across three themes and stretch across an impressive 70 acres. Discover seasonal flora and fauna as well as modern sculptures and installations dotted throughout. There is a fee for the Victorian glass houses but if you don’t want to spend any money, you can still admire the exterior of this stunning piece of architecture.

Why go this winter? Check out the fascinating Botanic Cottage on one of its Open Doors Days for an insight into its history and usage (5 October – 7 December). Travelling with your family? Bring them along to a weekend of nature discovery and grow young ones’ understanding of the environment (8 – 9 December).

Stand Up Comedy Club

Edinburgh is a world leader on the comedy stage, thanks to its brilliant Fringe Festival that takes place every August, which hosts plenty of comedy shows that won’t break the bank. But you can still get laughs aplenty – and find free events – throughout the year at the excellent Stand Up Comedy Club.

Why go this winter? Head to the club on a Sunday through November and December to enjoy its long-running, improvised comedy show – and it won’t cost you a penny! Resident comedians Stu and Garry take on the audiences’ suggestions and create comedy, so the show is very much for everyone.

Calton Hill

Pack your camera because a walk up Calton Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will result in some of the best views of Edinburgh. Aside from the remarkable vistas over the city, this is also where you’ll find some of Scotland’s legendary monuments, including Nelson’s Monument and the National Monument. It’s also home to the Royal Observatory, which has a visitor centre to explore and which also hosts public events such as astronomy evenings.

Why go this winter? Catch the sunrise from its summit too – the beauty of a winter sunrise is it is a little later, which means not such an early start to the day!

Window shopping

Even if you don’t want to splurge the cash, Edinburgh’s lovely shops and markets are worth exploring just for a spot of window shopping. From Princes Street to the Farmers’ Market, the pretty boutiques and uniquely Scottish stores, there’s plenty to explore to gather inspiration for your wish list.

Why go this winter? Come 16 November (until 5 January 2019) the East Princes Street Gardens will be alive with festive stalls, twinkling lights and delicious food as the annual Christmas Market gets underway. Be there for 18 November for Light Night, where choirs from across Scotland will perform and the Christmas Tree on the Mound will be lit as part of the Light Night switch on.

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.