What’s new and happening in Britain in 2018

by Rachel Ricks
Wednesday 03 January 2018

From traditional and tasty to cultured and quirky, there are thousands of events of all different types happening in Britain every month of every year. Read on for some of the best and little bit different things to do in Britain 2018...

Great Exhibition of the North opening event
Great Exhibition of the North opening event. Image credit: Eyelevel

JANUARY

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, Scotland
18 January – 4 February 2018

Street art in Glasgow
Glasgow street art

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

Lumiere London, London, England
18 – 21 January 2018

Lumiere London

More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city during this spectacular festival of lights, featuring dazzling installations. Festival locations include London’s familiar neighbourhoods and streets: King’s Cross, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Westminster. If you went last year, you’ll be excited to learn new destinations have been added for 2018 including Covent Garden, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo.

Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland
31 January

Up Helly Aa, Scotland
It’s an adventure to get there, but my, what a sight you will behold on Britain’s remote Shetland isle. Up Helly Aa is an annual event that originated in the 1880s to herald the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and is Europe’s largest fire festival. A torch-lit procession, the burning of a Viking long ship and a ceilidh that lasts late into the night will make your jaw drop.

FEBRUARY

What: RBS Six Nations Rugby, Cardiff in Wales, London in England, Edinburgh in Scotland
When: 3 – 17 March 2018

The 19th Six Nations Championship for England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales will see matches take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Twickenham Stadium in London, and Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.

Jorvik Viking Festival, York, north England
12 – 18 February 2018

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

Olney Pancake Race, Buckinghamshire, south-east England
13 February 2018

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

London Fashion Week, London, England
16 – 20 February

London Fashion Week

The ultimate fashion industry event, where the world’s top designers gather in London to showcase their latest collections via catwalk shows, plus you can attend talks, trend presentations, and go designer shopping.

MARCH

World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018, Birmingham, England
1 – 4 March

One of the biggest sporting events of the year, this indoor athletics championship will feature more than 400 competitors from 150 countries at the Arena Birmingham.

The Big Cheese Festival, Brighton, south England
3 March 2018

Cheese lovers rejoice! Brighton Racecourse is hosting a dedicated festival showcasing the finest cheeses by international cheesemakers and cheesemongers. There will be samples aplenty, with a selection of cheesy delicacies on offer including halloumi fries, mozzarella sticks, raclette and fondue.

The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, London, England
24 March

This is a British event you cannot miss – The Boat Race is one of the oldest sporting events in the world. Watched by thousands along the banks of the Thames in southwest London, this unique sporting event sees 2 strong squads of athletes competing against each other.

APRIL

Grand National at Aintree racecourse England

Grand National, Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool, north-west England
12 – 14 April 2018

The most famous horse race in the world sees competitors make 2 circuits of the Grand National course, tackling 30 fences as they cover four and a half miles. The event’s colourful fashionista celebration, Ladies’ Day, when there’s the chance to don your most adventurous hat, will take place on 13 April in 2018.

London Coffee Festival, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London
12 – 15 April 2018

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

MAY

Highland Games, across Scotland
May – September (2018 dates TBC)

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

Whisky Month, across Scotland
Throughout May

May is Whisky Month, so grab the opportunity to tour Scotland’s distilleries, take whisky tasting sessions and go on behind-the-scenes experiences and distillery tours to discover the passion behind the world’s finest whiskies.

Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival, Brighton, south-east England
5 – 27 May Fringe: 4 May – 3 June 2018

Brighton is known as a place that welcomes diversity, creativity and innovative thinking, and its annual festivals celebrate this pioneering spirit and experimental approach. Go along for easy access to music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate and family events taking place in a variety of venues across Brighton and Hove.

Tour de Yorkshire, Yorkshire, north England
5 – 6 May 2018

This 3-day road cycling race in Yorkshire started in 2015 as a legacy event following the 2014 Tour de France. Go along to cheer them on and take in the gorgeous Yorkshire scenery.

The Late Shows, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
2018 dates TBC

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

Liverpool Sound City, Liverpool, north-west England
2018 dates TBC

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

JUNE

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, Derbyshire, north England
6 – 10 June 2018

The newest addition to the Royal Horticultural Society’s flower shows had its debut in 2017, joining the existing shows at Malvern, Tatton Park, and Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace in London. Hosted in the grounds of stunning Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, explore immersive horticultural experiences, show gardens, amazing floral displays, and plenty of garden inspiration.

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

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

Eroica Britannia, Peak District, central England
16 June 2018

This unique 3-day vintage cycling festival sees around 3,500 cyclists from all over the world don retro gear and hop on pre-1987 bikes to race through gorgeous Peak District landscapes and villages. Bakewell Showground, in the heart of the Peak District, hosts live music, miles of vintage shopping, and specialist food stalls.

The Great Exhibition of the North, NewcastleGateshead, north-east England
22 June – 9 September 2018

Baltic and Quayside, Newcastle Gateshead

The buzzing metropolis of Newcastle and Gateshead will host the Great Exhibition of the North: a major exhibition showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England. The 77-day exhibition will start with an opening ceremony at the Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the event, themed walking routes will guide you to venues and attractions:  The Arts Circuit, Design Circuit and Innovation Circuit.

Whole Earth Man vs. Horse Marathon, Powys, mid-Wales
2018 dates TBC

Starting from the square in Llanwrtyd Wells (the smallest town in Britain), this unique race is run over 22 miles of mixed and very hilly terrain by up to 500 entrants each year. The Man vs Horse Race was the brainchild of local man, Gordon Green, when he was landlord of Neuadd Arms, after a discussion over a pint about the relative merits of man and horse. It took 25 years before a man finally beat a horse, when in 2004 Huw Lobb finished 2 minutes before the fastest horse.

Taste of London Festival, London, England
13-17 June 2018

Every year Regent's Park transforms into a foodie wonderland for 4 days of summer eating, drinking and entertainment. Around 40 of the city's best restaurants dish up their finest dishes for the ultimate alfresco feast, while 200 producers provide a bounty of the best food and beverages from Britain and around the world.

World Egg Throwing Championships, Swaton, Lincolnshire, central England
2018 date TBC

Contestants have to construct a gravity-powered egg-hurling device to launch an egg to a waiting team member. Distances to be achieved start at 30 metres but can be extended up to 150 in the knock-out competition. Another activity that takes place on the day is the Russian Egg Roulette where 2 participants select from 5 hard boiled eggs and one raw egg; they have to smash them onto their own foreheads.

Edinburgh International Magic Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
30 June – 8 July 2018

A fast-growing festival of sorcery in Edinburgh and the only event of its kind in Britain, you can enjoy a breath-taking spectacle of the finest acts in magic.

JULY

Liverpool Biennial: Festival of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, north-west England
14 July – 28 October 2018

Every 2 years, Liverpool’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. The Biennial has so far commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world.

Kynren, Auckland Castle, County Durham, north-east England
2018 dates TBC – usually July to September

During the summer, Auckland Castle hosts Kynren – a movie-like open-air night spectacular that brings to life 2,000 years of Britain's history, from the Roman period to mid-20th century. Embark on a journey of epic storytelling, with pyrotechnics, lighting and water effects across a 30.4m sq stage, with more than 1,000 performers.

World Snail Racing Championship, Norfolk, east England
21 July 2018

Ready, steady, slow! More than 300 snails slug it out for the title of ‘Fastest Snail in the World’. Anyone with a snail can enter and a number of heats are held before the final. The winner receives a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce.

Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire, east England
20-23 July 2018

Secret Garden Party is no longer a secret - this fantastical festival in Cambridgeshire sells out fast. If a wild long weekend of partying to amazing live acts, dressing up in crazy costumes, fireworks and illuminations and wild swimming appeals, get your tickets early!

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, London, England
2018 dates TBC

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

Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
26 July – 26 August 2018

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

#Upfest, Bristol, south-west England
2018 date TBC – normally late July

Europe’s biggest, free, street art and graffiti art festival is now a firmly established annual event, attracting more than 250 cutting-edge graffiti artists from all over the world. They descend on Bristol to paint visual spectacles at various venues, resulting in 30,000 square foot of artwork over the weekend. As a family-friendly festival, kids can take part in graffiti workshops and draw on a ‘giant doodle wall’.

AUGUST

European Championships 2018, Glasgow, Scotland
2-12 August 2018

Glasgow 2018 is part of a brand new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - plus a brand new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. At the same time, Berlin will host the European Athletics Championships.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England
9-12 August 2018

Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Europe's largest hot air balloon event sees more than 150 hot air balloons take to the skies at dusk and dawn from Ashton Court Estate's beautiful grounds. The free event is an incredible spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Visitors can also enjoy helicopter and balloon rides and family entertainment, including acoustic music and fairground rides.

World Gravy Wrestling Championships, Lancashire, north-west England
2018 date TBC

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

Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England
August – 2018 dates TBC

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

Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, south Wales
16-19 August 2018

Taking place in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons National Park, the Green Man music festival presents a live soundtrack to four days and nights of festival magic located among the otherworldly Black Mountains.

SEPTEMBER

The Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, north Scotland
1 September 2018

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

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

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

London Fashion Week, London, England
14-18 September 2018

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

Jane Austen Festival, Bath, south-west England
14-23 September 2018

Every year hundreds of Jane Austen fans descend on the city of Bath for one of the biggest Regency re-enactments and gatherings of Jane Austen fans in the world. Lasting for 10 days, the annual event includes theatre, music, food, a ball, workshops, readings, dances and the famous Regency Promenade.

London Design Festival, London, England
2018 dates TBC

This colourful annual festival celebrates London as the design capital of the world. With the V&A Museum as its hub, the festival showcases the work of contemporary designers, architects and artists, with striking large-scale installations and events popping up around the city.

Egremont Crab Fair & World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, north-west England
2018 date TBC

To be a ‘gurning’ contestant you must put your head through a horse collar and contort your face into the scariest, most grotesque, silliest expression possible! The person who gets the most applause wins. The unusual event dates back to 1267, when the local Lord of the Manor wheeled a cart of crab apples through the village of Egremont as a goodwill gesture to the poor. Crab apples have a sharp taste and it is said the gurning competition originates from the faces the locals made when they bit into them.

The Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, south Wales
28-30 September 2018

Every September thousands of Elvis fans descend on the south Wales seaside town of Porthcawl for a unique celebration of The King. One of the largest Elvis events in the world, it includes a leading show for Elvis tribute artists.

OCTOBER

World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, central England
14 October  2018

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

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Leicestershire, central England
2018 dates TBC

If you’ve never tried the traditional British delicacy that is a pork pie, then Melton Mowbray Food Festival is the place to go for your initiation. Around 200 stands showcase some of the region’s finest food and drink.

Golden Spurtle, Inverness, Scotland
6 October 2018

The Golden Spurtle is the annual World Porridge-Making Championship, which tasks each competitor to produce at least 1 pint (200ml) of porridge, divided into 3 portions for the judges to taste. The championship title is awarded to the competitor producing the best traditional Scottish porridge, made from oatmeal. The event includes a pipe band, cookery demos and tastings.

NOVEMBER

Guy Fawkes Night, Britain-wide
5 November every year

Britain’s night skies light up with blazing bonfires and sparkling fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. This unique British tradition marks the foiling of the infamous Gunpowder Plot - a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605.

Ice skate at Britain’s landmarks
Usually November – January

Each year, ice rinks pop up in the forecourts of some of Britain’s most beautiful buildings – look out for the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London, and Somerset House to name but a few.

DECEMBER

Christmas at Kew, London, England
2018 dates TBC

Kew Gardens delivers a sparkling after-dark experience and a truly festive atmosphere.

The Great Christmas Pudding Race, London & Brighton, England
December 2018 date TBC

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

Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
31 December every year
Stonehaven Fireball Festival, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

This jaw-dropping fireball ceremony is a different way to celebrate the arrival of 2019! It's held every year in the Aberdeenshire town of Stonehaven in Scotland.

Author

Rachel Ricks

Rachel is Britain's biggest fan so she couldn't possibly choose her favourite place to visit in the country! From hiking in the wild and windswept Highlands of Scotland, to moseying around the shops in Brighton's Lanes, Rachel has done it and written about it.

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