Discover the UK’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site

Britain has a new UNESCO World Heritage Site after Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire was granted the prestigious status.

It means the UK is now home to 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a list which includes Stonehenge, the city of Bath, Blenheim Palace, Hadrian’s Wall and the Tower of London.

The home of the Lovell Telescope, the world’s third largest steerable radio telescope, Jodrell Bank is a working scientific observatory and a leading tourist attraction.

First used to track the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite – the world’s first artificial satellite – Jodrell now operates the UK’s national e-MERLIN radio telescope and is the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array – a ground-breaking project to build the world’s biggest telescope.

Jodrell Bank’s addition to the World Heritage Site list is in recognition of its outstanding scientific heritage and of its role in the development of radio astronomy.

The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre acts as a site of inspiration for budding scientists of all ages, while its 35-acre gardens are popular for walks and picnics.

Families can explore scientific theory and discover more about space in the Planet Pavilion, find out about the inner workings of Jodrell Bank in the Space Pavilion and enjoy science shows and exhibitions in the Stars Pavilion.

An exciting array of interactive screens, games and displays explore space, encouraging people of all ages to discover more about the solar system and the extent of the universe.

Telescope Walking Tours take place daily at 3.15pm, with additional tours at 11.45am at weekends, offering visitors the chance to find out more about how the Grade I-listed Lovell Telescope works. The tours last around 45 minutes and are free with general admission to the site.

Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Britain include Durham Castle and Cathedral, the Ironbridge Gorge, the old and new towns of Edinburgh, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Forth Bridge, the waterfront in Liverpool, Maritime Greenwich and the Dorset and East Devon Coast.

Vintage experiences in Britain

As the Goodwood Festival of Speed (4-7 July 2019) casts the spotlight on classic cars and motorsport generally, it’s a reminder that Britain is packed full of thrilling vintage experiences. From fashionable afternoon teas to car shows and literary walks, there’s ample opportunity to experience the delights of the past, in the present.

 

Goodwood Festival of Speed

A global celebration of car culture, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is renowned for showcasing the best of the glamour that accompanies motorsport. From the Hillclimb event – the centrepiece of the festival where fans can get up close to the cars and bikes in action – to the showgrounds and arenas, the motoring garden party has something for everyone. The FOS Future Lab provides a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry, while the First Glance Paddock showcases the latest from the production line. Visitors can be wowed by motorsport displays in the Arena, see thrilling extreme sports in the Goodwood Action Sports area and watch as drivers hurtle their way around the Forest Rally Stage.

When? 4-7 July

Pret-a-Portea: Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

Sit back and relax with a vintage afternoon tea, inspired by the iconic designs of Christian Dior. This season’s Pret-a-Portea offering from The Berkeley enables guests to tuck into the Dior Coutre Collection, where landmark pieces have been transformed into delicious biscuits, bakes and fancies. Expect to see the iconic Bar Jacket from the 1947 catwalk show that formed a ‘New Look’ in biscuit form, as well as a reference to the Junon Dress worn by Theo Graham at Le Pre Catalan in Paris in 1949. The afternoon tea includes an array of elegant canapés, sandwiches and tasters, as well as a loose leaf tea from the hotel’s extensive collection. Pret-a-Portea is priced at £60 per person, while a range of champagne options are also available at additional cost.

When? Until 29 September

Silverstone Classic

An action-packed weekend of historic motor racing at the renowned Silverstone circuit awaits those attending the Silverstone Classic. The world’s biggest classic motor racing festival includes more than 20 races and demonstrations, featuring more than 1,000 vehicles, and is accompanied by an eclectic mix of music and entertainment. The family-friendly event includes Rocking and Racing, a set of musical performances from tribute acts to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous Woodstock festival, as well as a vintage funfair, crazy golf and Street Car Shootout drag racing. There’s also a shopping village crammed with vintage clothing and memorabilia and football coaching from the Chelsea FC Foundation.

When? 26-28 July

Atomic Festival   

Dive into a world of classic cars and retro music at Atomic Festival, a 1950s weekend of fun at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. As well as a line-up of bands and DJs playing rock and roll and dance floor fillers in four venues, expect to witness drag racing involving hot rods, classic trucks and motorcycles, an array of classic car displays and even a hotly-contested soap-box derby. Enjoy fairground rides and crazy golf by day, as well as jive classes, burlesque shows, films in a ‘vintage’ cinema, and much more. Saturday tickets for Atomic cost from £45 and Sunday tickets from £40. Weekend, camping and glamping options are also available.

When? 27-28 July

Passion for Power

Hundreds of exotic supercars converge on Tatton Park, in Knutsford, for the Passion for Power Classic Motor Show, offering an exciting day out for all the family. The show encourages classic and supercar owners to attend, while the Dream Cars Pavilion showcases some of the rarest, fastest and most spectacular vehicles on the planet. Alongside a variety of trade stalls and car clubs that are attending, there’s an abundance of food and drink options on site. Tickets for Passion for Power cost £9 for adults and £6 for children, while those under 10 go free. All visitors will need to pay for entry to Tatton Park in addition to the costs of the show.

When? 17-18 August

Twinwood Festival

A buzzing celebration of vintage music, dance and fashion, Twinwood Festival, near Bedford, is spread over four days of the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Main Arena will take people on a musical journey from the 1920s through to the 1960s, while more than 100 vintage acts are set to perform at 16 different venues across the site. The fashion of that era is also the keystone of the festival, and with more than 100 traders and boutiques on site, selling everything from vintage clothing to homewares, there’s ample opportunity to get into the retro spirit. A set of vintage salons and a barbershop only adds to the festival’s charm. A three-day adult ticket costs £109, with adult day tickets priced at £49 each for Saturday and Sunday and £29 for Monday. Child tickets cost £8 per day, or £15 for a three-day ticket. Those with three-day tickets can access the festival on Friday for free, while non-campers can purchase a Friday ticket for £25, or £5 for children, provided they have purchased another day ticket as well.

When? 23-26 August

The Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show

Welcoming motorcycles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s to the Staffordshire County Showground, the Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show is one of two annual Stafford Classic Bike Shows. The 26th edition of the show in October is set to feature more than 900 traders, dealers and autojumble stands, with parts and products to help enthusiasts. Visit the Off-road Hall and Grand Prix Paddock to discover rare bikes and see some of the machines in action. Tickets are priced from £12 for adults, while children under 15 go free. The other show – the Carole Nash International Classic Motorcycle Show – takes place on the weekend of 25-26 April 2020.

When? 19-20 October

Vintage Adventure Tours

Experience the picturesque beauty of the Lake District from high up in a 1929 vintage car with Vintage Adventure Tours. In addition to eight carefully designed tours that take in different parts of the incredible landscape, guests get sole use of the 1929 Model A Ford Phaeton, meaning they can create their own trips and touring routes too. Zip along country lanes in the only vintage car in Britain that is registered for private hire – tours are priced from £195 for up to four people, while bespoke route costs vary based on time and distance travelled. Advance booking is a must.

When? All-year-round, dependent on availability

Sail on a Traditional Wherry

Experience sailing along the waters of the Broads National Park the traditional way aboard an Edwardian wherry yacht. As one of only three surviving vessels from the period, each more than 100 years old, a range of trips are available to experience the rivers as in Edwardian times, taking in the changing scenery and rare wildlife within the National Park. Part of the English National Park Experience Collection, scheduled trips are available for booking – lengths and prices vary.

When? Trips on selected dates

Literary footsteps in Exmoor

Discover the ancient traditions of Exmoor National Park and follow in the footsteps of literary greats, including poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and author R.D Blackmore on a Literary Footsteps tour. The vintage walking trail explores the lands that provided inspiration for their work, before the day is rounded off with a delicious Devonshire Cream Tea or a drink in a traditional pub. Tours are priced from £50 to £80, with half-day and full-day walking options available, and must be booked in advance.

When? Trips on selected dates

Jane Austen - The Dancing Years

Be transported back to the Regency Period and imagine Hampshire life for celebrated author Jane Austen in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Jane Austen’s Dancing Years Tour explores the picturesque villages, many that are largely unchanged from Victorian times, before taking in the Jane Austen House Museum at Chowton where she spent her last years. Tours are priced on a per person basis and vary dependent on the size of the tour party.

When? All-year-round, dependent on availability

London Design Festival 2019

The London Design Festival (LDF) returns to the capital for a 17th time in September, marking a citywide celebration of all things design. An eclectic mix of events, fairs, workshops and exhibitions spanning nine days, the festival will feature numerous specially commissioned works from renowned international designers.

Formed by Sir John Sorrell and Ben Evans in 2003, the festival seeks to bring together creative individuals from around the globe to promote London as a global powerhouse for art and design. The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) acts as a hub for the festival – taking place from 14-22 September – housing a number of innovative installations and hosting the festival’s thought-leadership programme: The Global Design Forum. Visitors can listen in to inspirational talks, take part in debates and workshops, and enjoy daily tours.

Encompassing trade shows, exhibitions and installations across the capital, London Design Festival dives into the world of design innovation and its impact on everyday life.

Design Districts

In order to make as many of the London Design Festival’s 400 events and installations as accessible as possible, events are clustered into Design Districts – groups of events all within a short distance of each other. The number of districts has increased alongside the festival’s popularity, with ten areas set to showcase the best in design in 2019.

Bankside Design District

Running along the banks of the River Thames from Borough Market to Oxo Tower Wharf, the Bankside Design District will champion the region as ‘London’s Other Side’ in celebration of the area’s thriving creative industries. Alongside innovative installations by Tate Edit and The Africa Centre, the iconic Oxo Tower Wharf will showcase craft and design from its abundance of designer-maker shops and studios.

Brompton Design District

As the oldest of LDF’s designated districts, the Brompton Design District is renowned for having a focus on progressive and responsible design. Expect an array of installations and exhibits that explore the theme of Nature/Nurture for 2019, with designers urged to reassess human relationships with nature to determine how design can aid preservation. Leading international designers including Marlene Huissoud and Jorge Penades are among those taking part.

Clerkenwell Design Quarter

The Clerkenwell Design Quarter is preparing for its eighth year and brings together an array of multidisciplinary design strands dotted across the historic part of London, stretching from the boundaries of EC1 to the Barbican and Hatton Cross. The region hosts new product launches and events from showrooms and retailers, as well as plenty of bars, pop-ups and restaurants.

Marylebone Design District

Home to a diverse collection of design retailers, galleries and workshops, the Marylebone Design District has everything from small independent designers to internationally famous brands. As well as exclusive launches, there’ll be a number of partner-hosted demonstrations and workshops for the duration of the festival.

Mayfair Design District

The Mayfair Design District seeks to showcase how this small portion of London is embracing modern art and design. Established galleries and pop-up spaces host inspiring exhibitions, while major estates including The Crown Estate, the Pollen Estate Commission and the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate have all commissioned architecture. A number of international collaborations put a further focus on the importance of design in an area rich with regeneration.

Pimlico Road Design District

A creative hub just minutes from Sloane Square, the Pimlico Road Design District is home to internationally renowned designers, studios and an abundance of shopping opportunities. Known for its antiques, art and fine furniture, the district provides a unique insight into design in Belgravia.

Shoreditch Design Triangle

Since being established in 2008 to aid collaboration among designers in the East End, the Shoreditch Design Triangle mixes exhibitions and installations with product launches, talks, tours and workshops, as well as numerous culinary options. Past years have seen as many as 60 individual events, showcasing everything from furniture and accessories to lighting, prints, cookware and textiles.

Victoria Connections Design District

With a theme of Connections: people and places, the Victoria Connections Design District will showcase the role that design has played in creating the Victoria that exists today. This newly formed Design District launched last year and different forms of design will be highlighted at a variety of events and activities, delving into the area-wide transformation that has occurred in recent years.

West Kensington Design District

Another newly formed district, having first made an appearance in 2018, the West Kensington Design District will bring together exciting cultural institutions, leading design destinations and numerous events for the duration of the festival.

Kings Cross Design District

A new district for 2019 to coincide with the widespread development of the region, the Kings Cross Design District is recognition that the area is now a thriving hub of design, architecture and creative industries. Expect an extensive programme of events, including large scale public installations, contemporary design event, designjunction, and plenty of other exhibitions.

Landmark Projects

The London Design Festival will see Finsbury Park Square, in Broadgate, transformed by British designer Paul Cocksedge’s landmark project, Please Be Seated. Marking the most ambitious of British Land’s commissions to date, the installation will feature curves for people to sit on and walk under. Made from scaffolding planks, the project represents a reimagining of how building wood is used.

Trade shows and exhibitions

This year marks 25 years of 100% Design, a trade event that showcases innovative exhibitions, panel discussions and talks from some of the biggest names in design. Renowned as being a centre of design and innovation, the show features a stellar line-up of more than 400 exhibitors, inspirational installations and thought-provoking experiences that push the boundaries of design.

Designjunction will return to King’s Cross, presenting an exciting range of over 200 internationally known design brands for four days from 19 September. Now in its ninth year, the exhibition features pop-up shops, temporary structures and brand activations, alongside the latest developments in furniture, lighting and technology design.

The London Design Fair takes place from 19-22 September and welcomes 550 exhibitors from around the world to the heart of East London at the Old Truman Brewery Site near Brick Lane. Independent designers and more than 300 established brands are involved, while a host of international country pavilions showcase innovations from particular parts of the globe.

Focus/19 includes an array of collection launches and immersive events from 600 international brands, spread over six days from 15 September. The Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, hosts Design Discovery Tours, meet the designer sessions and workshops that explore various elements of design, accompanied by talks from world-class speakers.

Installations

French-born designer Camille Walala will attempt to create an ‘urban living room’, transforming South Molton Street in Mayfair into the Walala Lounge, featuring 11 unique, geometric and boldly colourful benches for the public to enjoy. Surrounded by international boutiques and cafes, the design aims to make Molton a place for reflection and relaxation.

Matthew McCormick’s Falling Sky multi-storey design-art installation will hang in the V&A for the duration of the festival, with a focus on global warming and its impact on life. Manually crafted from reflective aluminium, the installation is designed to mimic frost-like formations that are seemingly frozen in time.

The V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance galleries will be home to Rony Plesl’s unique glass installation Sacred Geometry, featuring hexagonal glass tree trunks. Marking the first time the exhibition has been seen outside of Plesl’s native Czech Republic, it details how new technology enables glass to be casted into any array of 3D shapes.

Tate Modern

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the Tate Modern’s collection of contemporary art is the most extensive in the country. Offering free admission to the majority of the pieces, including Picasso, Rothko, Dali and Matisse, there are also after-hours ‘Tate Lates’ events on the last Friday of every month, as well as ticketed exhibitions. One such exhibition coinciding with the LDF is ‘Takis’, one of the most celebrated artistic voices to come out of 1960s Europe.

The Design Museum

Kensington’s Design Museum will host the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition in September, showcasing the best ideas that the design industry has seen over the last 12 months, as voted for by the public and experts.

Where to eat

In a former tram-generator building, Tramshed offers high-quality food, with many sharable dishes. Meals are served with a backdrop of Damien Hirst artworks, most notably his ‘Cock ‘n’ Bull’ installation. Run by renowned chef Mark Hix, the East End eatery is a unique blend of food, art and style.

Located in Hyde Park, Chucs Café is a modern architectural gem in itself. Designed by iconic architect Zaha Hadid, the café is located in the ‘Magazine’ extension of the Serpentine Gallery. Open from breakfast to dinner, it serves everything from fresh salads, pizza and fish dishes.

Inspired by the traditional tearooms of 1960s Hong Kong, Duddell’s serves high-end Cantonese cuisine in a richly decorated Grade II deconsecrated church. Found in London Bridge, in the shadow of the Shard, the elegant interior is complemented by ‘museum-quality’ art exhibitions, displayed all year round.

Where to drink

In the trendy area of Dalston, Hackey, Untitled Bar serves cocktails by celebrated mixologist, Tony Conigliaro, in a tinfoil-covered, minimalist space.

Within the new Battersea Power Station’s Circus West Village is the luxe-1960s inspired bar and restaurant No29 Power Station West. With a cocktail menu ranging from ‘Long & Fresh’ to ‘Short & to the Point’, this is a bar carefully designed and curated for a modern yet homely atmosphere.

Lyaness (formerly Dandelyan) has an interior as rich as its reputation, and is renowned for its flavoursome cocktails. With a multi-award winning bartender dubbed ‘Mr Lyan’, Lyaness is located in the Sea Containers hotel, overlooking the River Thames.

Where to sleep

In the heart of Shoreditch, The Hoxton Hotel offers rooms ranging from ‘Shoebox’, which although a money-saver, does not scrimp on style, to the bigger ‘Roomy’ size. The ‘Concept’ rooms, each individually designed by a local artist, offer a unique design experience, while the Hoxton Grill offers American dishes, served all-day. Prices start from £109 per night.

Found near Spitalfields and Brick Lane, Leman Locke offers an over-night experience lying somewhere between relaxed apartment living and boutique hotel. Every inch of the aparthotel is design-led, with a refreshing pastel colour scheme, simple industrial-chic furniture and space-saving layouts. Prices start from £180 per night.

With ten unique bedrooms located in the heart of London’s West End, Artist’s Residence offers eclectically designed rooms and suites. Luxury additions include roll-top baths, floor-to-ceiling windows and a rainfall shower. The Tate Britain, the Saatchi Gallery and the hub of the London Design Festival, the V&A are all within walking distance. Prices start from £215 per night.

Discover Caribbean culture in the UK

The Caribbean community has played a pivotal role in shaping British culture, since the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush 71 years ago. This is now celebrated annually on 22 June as Windrush Day. On that day in 1948, the vessel landed at Tilbury Docks, in London, bringing with it the first immigrants from the Caribbean. In the years that followed, a huge number of immigrants from the Caribbean followed, and the ship’s name inspired the term, the Windrush Generation. The celebration is designed to recognise and celebrate the incredible contributions of the Windrush Generation and their descendants in helping create the multicultural Britain that exists today.

As well as the Windrush Day celebrations, numerous other events take place across Britain throughout the year to celebrate Caribbean culture, including one of the world’s largest street festivals – the Notting Hill Carnival. Visitors can enjoy revelry, dance and music, while getting a true taste of Caribbean food and drink in Britain.

Events for Windrush Day

A number of events are taking place in London to mark Windrush Day, including the Radiate Windrush Festival, held in Crystal Palace Park. Numerous acts are performing, alongside a food village offering a range of Caribbean and African cuisine.

The Migration Museum at the Workshop is also hosting a day of activities to coincide with a new audio-visual exhibition called Caribbean Takeaway Takeover: Identity and Stories. The museum’s café will morph into a Caribbean takeaway, while also telling inspirational stories from those who arrived on the HMT Empire Windrush.

Newcastle is hosting a Rum and Reggae Festival on 22 June, where guests will be taken on a rum journey around the world. The festival is visiting numerous other locations during the summer months, including London, Reading, Nottingham, Brighton, Kidderminster, Manchester, Weston-Super-Mare and Lincoln.

Meanwhile the city of Bangor in Wales is hosting a Jamaican breakfast to mark the occasion.

Notting Hill Carnival

As one of the world’s largest street festivals, the Notting Hill Carnival celebrates Caribbean culture in Britain every August Bank Holiday. From the first event in 1959, the carnival in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has continued to grow, with steel bands, street food and dancing commonplace. By bringing together talents from London’s Caribbean community, the festival is a celebration of cultural diversity, creativity and the arts, with a traditional J’ouvert parade taking place early on Sunday morning (25 August). Expect revellers donned in brightly coloured paint and an array of dance shows, with the Sunday of the festival aimed at children in particular. As well as a Children’s Parade, a host of other family-friendly entertainment can be found dotted around the streets. The Notting Hill Grand Finale Parade brings an end to proceedings on Monday (26 August), with an array of dancing, street performances, steel bands and music groups all taking part.

When? 24-26 August

Jerk Jam

Having evolved from a small gathering, Jerk Jam is now a fully-fledged celebration of the Caribbean, with food vendors, artists, DJs and dancers flocking to Houndhill Farm in Hampshire. Alongside four stages of live music, there’ll be workshops for children, fairground rides and plenty of circus, arts and magic performers. The centre piece of the festival is the Jerk-Off BBQ Battle, when chefs from all over the country go head-to-head in a boxing ring, battling it out with authentic jerk pans.

When? 20 July

Caribbean Carnival of Manchester

Since launching in 1972, the Caribbean Carnival of Manchester has celebrated all that is great about Caribbean culture in the heart of the city’s Alexandra Park. Expect to see Caribbean music and dance, as well as theatre, steel bands and an abundance of bright and extravagant costumes. Proceedings start with an early morning J’ouvert parade before the main carnival procession weaves its way through the crowds, complete with floats, DJs, dance troupes and a host of carnival queens and princesses in the early afternoon. Three stages of music will be accompanied by a host of food vendors and Soca bands.

When? 10-11 August

Caribbean Music Festival – Liverpool

Dubbed the ‘ultimate Caribbean festival’, Liverpool’s celebration of the Caribbean welcomes an array of DJs and other artists to Brick Street to showcase their talents. Headline acts for the main stage of this year’s Caribbean Music Festival include Scrappy Sinon, DJ Rockshun, Big Band Tropical Storm, Firebiggz, DJ Rory and Iyah Sample, among others.

When? 17 August

Discover Britain’s musical legends on the trail of Rocketman

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

London

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

Liverpool

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

Manchester

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

Edinburgh

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

Glasgow

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

Dotty for Downton - discover the filming locations of the Downton Abbey movie

The feature length Downton Abbey movie hits the screens in September, with the new trailer providing plenty of reasons for fans of the period drama to get excited.

Director Brian Percival’s feature length production will welcome back the stars of the hit ITV series, last seen on screens in 2015. And there are ample opportunities to visit the real Downton Abbey, both before and after the movie lands in UK cinemas on 13 September.

What to expect from the movie?

Set around a year after the finale of the TV series, in 1927, the Downton Abbey movie will revolve around a royal visit from His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary.

It will once again follow the aristocratic Crawley family and their dedicated staff on the fictional Yorkshire estate. Starring old favourites including Dame Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Lesley Nicole and Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter will also return as Carson the butler in a bid to restore Downton to its former glory.

See the real Downton Abbey!

The picturesque star of the movie, and of the past television series, Highclere Castle near the Hampshire/Berkshire border doubles up as the famous setting for Downton Abbey. The home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, the stunning period property and 5,000-acre estate features Jacobean Revival architecture from Sir Charles Barry which dates back to the 1820s. In addition to the country house are its pristine grounds, landscaped by renowned gardener Capability Brown in 1770, and designated a Sight of Special Scientific Interest since 1991.

Events at Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle opens for a limited period during the summer, and on selected other dates for special events throughout the year, giving Downton Abbey fans a chance to experience the impressive building first-hand.

When? The Castle and Gardens, as well as an onsite Egyptian Exhibition, will be open to the public from 7 July 2019 to 2 September 2019, although the Castle is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Downton Abbey Live Open Air Concert

Fans can prepare for the forthcoming movie release by taking in the TV show’s magical soundtrack this June. Set in the grounds of Highclere Castle, the Chamber Orchestra of London will join forces with the TV show’s composer John Lunn on piano for an exclusive open air concert. Hosted by Jim Carter, renowned for his portrayal of Mr Carson, the Downton Abbey Live open air concert aims to bring the TV phenomenon to life on 22 June.

When? 22 June, from 4pm

Costumes, Cocktails and Castle Tours

Just in time for the Downton Abbey movie release, Highclere Castle is hosting Costumes, Cocktails and Castle Tours on the weekend before it hits cinemas. Visitors can tour the castle, walking in the footsteps of the stars, while taking in a spectacular collection of costumes from the 1920s era. Highclere’s own cocktail van, ‘Josephine Vanessa’ will also be on site serving up a delicious array of refreshing drinks.

When? 7-8 September 2019. Grounds open from 10am to 6pm, with access on the Castle limited to the type of ticket. Morning ticket access from 10.30am to 12.30 pm. Afternoon ticket access from 12.20pm to 2.30pm.

Real Lives and Film Sets – Special guided tours

Once the film is released, fans of Downton Abbey will be able to set foot in many of the locations were the scenes were shot as part of exclusive special guided tours. Real Lives and Film Sets will enable visitors to explore the beauty of the State Rooms, climb the Great Oak Staircase and be immersed by the extensive Egyptian Exhibition – which details the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter – while discovering more about the rich and varied history of the site. Tours also include a seasonal buffet at the estate’s Coach House Tea Rooms.

When? Tours on selected dates in September (14, 17, 20, 25, 28, 29) and October (16, 17, 23, 24) with morning sessions starting at 10.30am and afternoon sessions starting at 2.30pm for entry to the Castle.

Beamish Open Air Museum

Used as a backdrop for the upcoming Downton Abbey film, the renowned Beamish open air museum in County Durham explores life in North East England in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 1900s Town allows visitors to discover how families lived and worked in the build-up to the First World War, supported by highly engaging and thought-provoking Pit Village and Colliery experiences. A recreated tramway, a 1940s farm, an Edwardian style railway station and 1820s Pockerley are among the other star attractions.

When? Open daily from 10am to 5pm until 3 November 2019, with reduced opening hours of 10am to 4pm during the winter. Beamish is closed on selected days during the winter.

Discover London during Wimbledon

As the only Grand Slam tennis tournament still played on grass, the prestigious Wimbledon Championships continues to be a huge draw for fans across the world. The 2019 tournament runs from 1-14 July and will see thousands of fans descending on the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Tickets for the two-week event are in demand, with the majority only accessible via ballot, and the remaining tickets don’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean fans in London need to miss the action on the famous grass courts in SW19.

As well as the men’s and ladies’ singles finals, there are also men’s doubles, ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles to enjoy during the tournament, as well as four junior events – boy’s and girls’ singles and boy’s and girls’ doubles. The best players from across the world go head-to-head, chasing multi-million-pound prize pots and a chance to cement their place in tennis folklore.

In the men’s game, no one has beaten Roger Federer’s eight Wimbledon titles, while of those still playing in the women’s game, Serena Williams has lifted the trophy an incredible seven times. Both will be hoping to secure their place in their respective finals, with the Women’s Singles’ Final on Saturday 13 July, and the Men’s Singles Final on Sunday 14 July.

Getting tickets for Wimbledon

Although the tennis attracts a worldwide audience of millions each year, only a maximum of 39,000 spectators are allowed into the grounds at any one time.

Those tickets are distributed via public ballots, long-term debenture seats, by queueing on the day for a limited number of release tickets and via online sales the day before play. The vast majority of tickets for the main courts – Centre Court, No.1 Court and Number 2 Court – are sold via ballots, months in advance of the action getting underway.  

Around 500 tickets for each of the three courts, as well as a limited number of Grounds Passes, are available to those who want to queue up each day – this often involves camping at the grounds for at least one night. Wristbands are allocated from 7.30am to those in the queue on Church Road leading to Gate 3. The grounds open at 9.30 and no wristband for the show courts means no ticket, although Grounds Passes could still be available. Note also that all tickets for the final four days of the tournament are sold in advance.

A big screen on Murray Mound (or Henman Hill), a strip of high ground adjacent to Court No. 1 is a go-to for those with Grounds Passes who are keen to see the elite stars in action.

Getting to Wimbledon

For those with a ticket to Wimbledon, it’s recommended to use public transport to access the All England Lawn Tennis Club as parking options are limited.

District Line services on the London Underground run regularly and the entrance to Wimbledon is around a 15-minute walk from Southfields. South West Trains services run from Waterloo Station to Wimbledon Station, with the walk to the venue taking around 30 minutes.

London’s big screenings

With tickets for Wimbledon in such high demand, it’s still possible to enjoy the action in the heart of London on one of several big screens.

Granary Square, King’s Cross

The canal side steps in Granary Square will show coverage of Wimbledon until at least 8pm each evening, with screenings continuing if key matches are not finished. The screenings form part of the Everyman Summer Love Film Festival and the KERB street food market and a pop-up bar will provide refreshments.

When? 1-14 July

Merchant Square, Paddington

Hidden away alongside the canal in the Paddington Basin, tennis will once again be shown on the big screen in Merchant Square. Relax in deckchairs and on beanbags, and tuck into an array of delicious street food on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When? 1-14 July

British Summer Time, Hyde Park

As part of the Open House week of British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park, visitors can enjoy outdoor cinema, food markets and free Wimbledon screenings on four weekdays from 12pm, alongside delicious portions of strawberries and cream. Note that the championship finals will not be screened.

When? 8-11 July

The Piazza, Wimbledon

For those unable to secure a ticket to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, screenings will take place on The Piazza near to Wimbledon station, with an abundance of colourful deckchairs available for fans.

When? 1-14 July

Cardinal Place Roof Garden

The much-loved Wimbledon screenings at Cardinal Place, Victoria will return once again this summer – but with an all-new tropical twist.

Visitors to London can relax and unwind in sunshine-inspired surroundings whatever the weather, with deck chairs for sun worshippers, and a bright canary yellow canopy for those throwing some shade, as the roof garden at Cardinal Place is transformed as part of this year’s Colour my Summer campaign.

Come rain or shine, Wimbledon screenings at Cardinal Place will run seven days a week.

When? 1-14 July

VisitBritain highlights importance of gardens to tourism at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

VisitBritain is this year supporting the RHS Bridgewater Feature Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, hosting an event to shine the spotlight on the role that gardens play in driving both domestic and inbound tourism.

It comes as latest statistics show that more Brits are visiting gardens as part of a day trip out in England, last year taking 7.4 million more such trips than in 2017, up 16% and making gardens more popular than visiting a stately home, historic house or palace. 

Longer-term, visits to gardens as part of a day trip in England have increased 14% on average each year during the last five years from 2014 to 2018. 

VisitBritain Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Britain’s stunning gardens are a proven tourism draw which have inspired visitors for generations, admired at home and across the world for their beauty and variety and enjoyed by domestic and overseas tourists in growing numbers. With the summer season upon us and Britain’s gardens in bloom, it is the perfect time to be highlighting their importance to tourism at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations.”

Garden attractions in England have also seen higher growth than other types of attractions according to VisitEngland’s latest Annual Attractions Survey. Garden attractions saw a 3% annual increase in domestic and inbound visitors, above the average for all attraction types of 2%. 

When looking at inbound tourism, almost a third of all visits annually to the UK include a trip to a garden or park with those visitors spending a total of £8.9 billion during their stay. The US, France and Germany make up the top three inbound markets respectively for the number of visits to gardens and parks made during trips to the UK. 

Gardens have been a cornerstone of the tourism agency’s promotional activity for decades, from the ‘Britain in Bloom’ competition which it ran for many years to VisitEngland’s year-long themed campaigns promoting English gardens to drive domestic tourism. More recently its focus has been supporting tourism product development for example the ‘Gourmet Garden Trails of England’ which packages up accommodation, and food and drink around English garden attractions.

VisitBritain is hosting an evening reception for its 50th anniversary at the RHS Bridgewater Garden during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, putting the spotlight on regional destinations and visitor attractions. The garden is designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and is the largest at this year’s show, described as a collage of the garden being built around the new Welcome Building at RHS Bridgewater in Greater Manchester. 

Tourism overall is worth £127 billion annually to the UK economy, creating jobs and driving economic growth across its nations and regions.

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

• For a link to an online map of some of Britain’s flower shows and content please see: https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/discover-some-britains-most-fantastic-flower-shows
• For content on flower shows in Britain please see: 

https://www.visitbritain.com/gb/en/media/story-ideas/discover-some-britains-most-fantastic-flower-shows
• The British Tourist Authority (VisitBritain/VisitEngland) marks its 50th anniversary this year, 2019. It was established following The Development of Tourism Act 1969.
• Latest statistics show that in 2018 there 54.4 million domestic day trips in England which included a visit to a garden compared to 47 million in 2017, an increase of 16%.
• The third of inbound tourism visits accounted for (32%) of visits to the UK based on 2016 International Passenger Survey statistics from ONS.
• The latest VisitEngland Annual Attractions Survey is for 2017 (and published in August 2018): See link here: https://www.visitbritain.org/sites/default/files/vb-corporate/Documents-Library/documents/England-documents/vva_2017_trends_in_england.pdf 

• For more information on the RHS Bridgewater Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show see:
https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater

May Accommodation Update

Secluded rural retreats, 5-star luxury and a planned hotel opening from a well-loved British Brewery, this month Britain welcomes a diverse range of newly opened and soon to open accommodation.

Opening soon:

Set to open its doors in August 2019, the Nhow London is a Shoreditch hotel for the radical and design-focused traveller. With an aim to boldly mix traditional British iconography with even bolder colours and textures, this beyond vibrant style will spread over 8-floors and encompass 190 rooms. Nhow is poised to become a buzzing hub for creatives, mirroring the energy of the surrounding area of east London.

With ever-growing popularity, the craft beer powerhouse Brewdog are expanding into new horizons, as they plan to open their own hotel in London. With quirky additions such as a bespoke beer museum and in-shower mini-fridges, it is sure to widen eyes of Brewdog fans the world over. Work for what will be called The Doghouse is still in development, but the brewers have vowed to begin as soon as a location is confirmed.

A new ‘bistro with beds’ boutique hotel is to open in the Lake District village of Grasmere. Set in a converted 17th century farm outbuilding, The Yan will welcome guests from July 2019. Close to the picturesque Lake District town, this family-run boutique hotel will combine warm welcomes, hearty food and stylish interiors. With 7 en-suite bedrooms, it is surrounded by some of Britain’s most picturesque countryside and will offer seasonal Cumbrian dishes in an attached rustic bistro. Located halfway between the highly visited towns of Windermere and Keswick, The Yan has great links for a Lake District getaway.

Newly opened:

With unspoilt views over the cathedral, aiming to bring together aspects of Manhattan penthouse living in a Downton Abbey-esque setting, 52 Old Elvet is a new development of luxury apartments in the centre of Durham. Breathing new life into what was once the Durham Country Club, each of the Grade II listed serviced apartments, originally built in the 1700s, comes with a fully equipped kitchen and stylish lounge. The high specification development’s central location makes it a great base for exploring the northeast of England.

The latest addition to the Ribby Hall Village near Blackpool, The Farm House offers a slice of British countryside living, boasting a traditional Aga and large roll-top bath. Set in its own private grounds with views of the Lancashire countryside, groups of up to 12 can now enjoy a stay in this new, spacious holiday property. Although promising maximum seclusion, with private gardens, cinema room and hot tub, guests can also enjoy shared spaces, such as the indoor pool, gym and outdoor adventure playgrounds. Introductory prices start from £1,364, based on a four-night, midweek break.

Having just completed the most extensive restoration in the hotel’s 117-year history, the ultra-luxe Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, London, is ready to welcome guests into its new rooms, suites and penthouses. Inspired by early 20th century art deco glamour, internationally renowned designer Joyce Wang redesigned the spaces, adding specially selected artworks and bespoke furniture to finish the 5-star feel. A ‘Be the First to Stay’ package on offer until 30 June 2019, includes champagne on arrival and daily credit to spend in the hotel spa or bars.

Earlier this year, with St Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames just a few steps away, Vintry & Mercer hotel welcomed their first guests. In a bustling area of London, historically associated with wine merchants, Vintry & Mercer now offer 92 modern and bespoke rooms. Designed to be chic and crisp, guests’ time here can be enhanced by visiting the stylish roof terrace or indulging in a cocktail in the underground speakeasy. This hotel offers a slice of cool, modern-day London style with a nod to its rich history.

50 years of Pride: Be there for London’s Jubilee Gay Pride Celebrations

London Pride 2019 will be a historic and important moment for the LGBTQ+ community, celebrating 50 years since the first protest for equal rights in the gay community. The ground-breaking Stonewall Uprising in New York will be remembered with a joyous parade through the streets and the capital’s gay village, Soho, becoming a hub for parties and fun as London celebrates half a century of progression and unity.

The Parade

Visitors can witness history in this jubilee year Pride of London parade, happening 6 July. Starting in Portland Place and ending in Whitehall/Trafalgar Square, the parade will consist of over 300 floats and groups who will entertain the crowd with music, dancing and performances, many of which are kept secret until the day! The grand finale of this festival of celebration is a varied line-up of entertainment, including music and speeches in Trafalgar Square, which is free to attend.

Bars

Found in the heart of London’s gay village, with views of Old Compton Street, Ku Bar & Club is a great place for a cocktail during Pride. With rich golden interiors covering this 2-floor bar, Ku will have an extra special atmosphere during Pride festival.

Around since the early 1990s, Village Soho is a very well established gay-friendly venue. With an extensive cocktail menu and a late-night license, it will be right at the heart of the Gay Pride party.

A traditional style pub in Soho’s gay village, Comptons of Soho serves everything from real ale to punch bowls and shots, and has become a well-known gay bar in London. Being in the heart of Soho, crowds are sure to gather outside Comptons for a bustling street party along Old Compton Street!

Opening in 1979 and quickly becoming pivotal in the creation of London’s gay scene, nightclub and music venue, Heaven  has been host to many musical legends. From New Order’s first London show, to Nick Cave’s original punk band The Birthday Party and London’s sweetheart Adele, the lively shows at Heaven continue to impress music lovers to this day. It also holds regular club nights on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Known for serving some of the cheapest drinks in Soho to a soundtrack of gay anthems and the best of guilty-pleasure pop, G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late are the places to be for a night of guaranteed fun! G-A-Y late is open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Blending elements of traditional British pub culture with a classic gay bar, Halfway to Heaven is located in Trafalgar Square, a few steps from where the Pride in London parade ends. Sure to be full of people celebrating, there is also a smaller ‘centre-stage’ bar downstairs, known for putting on cabaret acts, drag shows and karaoke.

Where to stay - Soho

With elegant suites and rooms, The London EDITION hotel offers a luxurious space just a stone’s throw from the Pride parties, while the hotel’s Lobby Bar and Punch Room offer sophisticated spots to enjoy wine and cocktails.

Modern, stylish and full of amazing artwork, Soho’s Ham Yard Hotel is a haven in the heart of central London. Boasting a drawing room, library, spa, 1950s style bowling alley imported from America, and even a cosy roof terrace bar, Ham Yard Hotel has a lot to offer its guests. Bowling is £20 per person for one hour.

Located in the centre of the gay village, Z Soho is a super-modern hotel with 85 rooms surrounding a central courtyard. Minutes away from Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road tube stations, the thriving LGBTQ+ community of London is right on their doorstep.

For ‘style on a budget’ hostel accommodation in the midst of all the Pride action, try SoHostel on Dean Street. Prices vary from a very cheap 18-bed mixed dormitory room and increase when fewer people are sharing.

 

What to wear

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

 

Getting to London

Flights to London airports, as well as regular Eurostar services going from several European cities, are well served by transport links into central London. Tube stations close to Soho include Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road.