60 minutes from… Manchester

A city of culture, sport, music, history, creativity and diversity, Manchester in north-west England  should be on the must-visit list of any traveller to Britain; plus it’s one of the key gateways into the destination. It’s also in an enviable location, which means that journeying just an hour by train or car outside the city will lead you to a realm of ancient cities and spa towns, beautiful beach resorts, stately homes, unique countryside and bohemian heartlands – all perfect to visit on a day trip from Manchester.

 

Buxton, Derbyshire
Renowned as a historic spa town and peppered with architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries, the stately Crescent, which is being transformed into an 80-bedroom, five-star spa hotel, due to open in 2019, is a must-see. Buxton also boasts an impressive repertoire of festivals. This summer stop by for the open-access arts festival, the Buxton Fringe Festival, plus the Buxton Military Tattoo, and the Buxton International Festival of Opera, Music and Literature.

 

Liverpool, Merseyside
2018 is a huge year for Liverpool as it celebrates ten years since it was named European City of Culture 2008 and welcomes Britain’s largest celebration of contemporary art during the Liverpool Biennial, when artworks by 40 artists from 22 countries will be showcased for free across the city…all just 30 minutes by train direct from Manchester. There are a myriad of attractions to enjoy, from The Beatles Story and The Cavern (why not visit during the International Beatle Week Festival in August?) to contemporary art gallery Tate Liverpool and maybe cheer your football heroes on at a Premiere League football match at either Liverpool FC or Everton FC.

 

Southport, Merseyside
Miles of magnificent beaches greet you at Southport, a pretty coastal resort where you can kite surf, climb sand dunes, stroll along its historic pier or follow one of the town’s historic trails. Take a trip to Crosby Beach, which is home to Anthony Gormley’s art installation Another Place, 100 iron men standing looking out to sea. The area is also part of the UK’s ‘golfing capital’ – tee off at the prestigious Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport or travel 15 minutes’ from town to several more championship courses.

 

Chester, Cheshire
Wherever you walk in Chester, you can feel its rich history pulsating through its buildings, its city walls – the most complete city walls remaining in the UK – and its attractions. Here you can visit Britain’s largest Roman amphitheatre, walk through 700 years of history while shopping in the Rows galleries, enjoy race days at Britain’s oldest racecourse and visit one of Britain’s largest zoos, Chester Zoo, where you can meet 21,000 animals and experience its passion for conservation.

 

Peak District, Derbyshire

The nearest part of the picturesque Peak District National Park to Manchester is packed with dramatic landscapes of high moorland plateaus – travel further south in the park to discover a diverse landscape of hills and dales – which makes for great walking territory. The Peak District is also home to charming villages and attractive market towns and, if you travel just 90 minutes from Manchester, you can visit some of the loveliest stately homes in the country, such as the grand Tudor Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House; when the house reopened in March the wraps came off a major long-term, £32.7 million restoration programme.

 

You might also like:

Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, for its creative vibe generated from the influence of writers and artists, cute galleries and independent shops, all set near valleys and heather moorland. Come for the summer’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Tatton Park, Cheshire, for its neo-classical mansion, 1,000 acres of deer park, collection of fine art, as well as walks through the huge gardens, plus the many events held here every year. Come in July for its Food Festival and RHS Flower Show. 

Blackpool, Lancashire, for its traditional English seaside resort attractions, the stunning Blackpool Illuminations and the iconic Blackpool Tower. Come this summer as the town celebrates the 250th anniversary of the circus with a series of special events.

Lake District National Park, Cumbria, for the sheer beauty of its landscapes. Parts are reachable from Manchester within 60-90 minutes so is still manageable for a day trip. Explore the lovely town of Kendal in the south of the Lake District National Park, before heading for a walk on the shores of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England and just nine miles from Kendal.

8 reasons why Newcastle and the North East are hot right now

The spotlight is shining brightly on Newcastle Gateshead this summer; Rough Guides declared it the top place to visit in 2018 and an epic 80-day exhibition – Great Exhibition of the North – showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England is coming to town. A visit to the city - just three hours from London and 1.5 hours from Edinburgh by train - also means you’re in easy distance of some of north-east England’s coolest and most intriguing spots to visit.

 

Great Exhibition of the North

A major highlight in the cultural calendar, Great Exhibition of the North opens with a ceremony on 22 June at the Gateshead Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the exhibition run, which takes place between 22 June – 9 September, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions: The Get North Art Trail, Get North Design Trail and Get North Innovation Trail. Discover all that is ground-breaking about this part of England and visit iconic venues around Newcastle Gateshead, from the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art to Sage Gateshead.

 

A foodie paradise

With a spate of new restaurant openings, Michelin-star restaurants, comforting street food and everything in between, the city and the surrounding areas are a must-visit for any foodie. For a romantic date or a special celebratory treat, the two-Michelin-star House of Tides fits the bill, while the Quayside has welcomed Dobson & Parnell, with its focus on fine-dining British cuisine and Gateshead has seen the opening of Lola Jeans, which features a menu ‘from barn to board’ and an inspired cocktail list. Check out the neighbourhood of Jesmond for new eateries such as Cal’s Own for Brooklyn-style pizza pie.

 

The hottest nightlife

There’s no party quite like a party in Newcastle Gateshead, a city packed with friendly pubs, stylish cocktail bars, clubs playing the hottest DJ sets and music venues catering to every taste, resulting in its well-deserved reputation as one of England’s best party cities… and one that keeps evolving. Hit the newest hotspots such as Wylam Brewery’s Palace of Arts, where you can catch live music and street food events while enjoying its unique craft beers. For quirky surroundings with your cocktails, head to Alvinos with its array of pinball machines and vintage vinyl records or, for an awesome selection of gin, spend the evening at Pleased To Meet You where you’ll find more than 100 behind the bar.

 

Cool neighbourhoods

Yes, Newcastle’s city centre is bursting with hot bars and stylish restaurants but its hip neighbourhoods of Ouseburn and Jesmond are well worth a visit. Ouseburn is regarded as the birthplace of the industrial revolution in Newcastle and has grown into a creative hotspot over the last few years. Check out England’s largest independent art, craft and The Biscuit Factory for independent art, craft and design gallery, stop by Hoults Yard for live theatre, music festivals and art exhibitions and spend the evening at cool music venue The Cluny. Jesmond has a more elegant vibe, its streets studded with Victorian terraced houses and home to a fantastic range of bars, restaurants and boutique shops. Pack a picnic and head to Jesmond Dene in the summer months, a stunning local beauty spot.

 

Instagrammable landmarks

Sir Antony Gormley’s iconic Angel of the North stands at 20 metres high and 54 metres wide and is an outstanding piece of public art. Dominating the Gateshead landscape, stand at the feet of this impressive statue – itself a symbol of pride in north-east England – for an unmissable photo. Marking its 20th anniversary this year will be a range of special events; look out for pop-up #Angel 20 activities and workshops at Gateshead venues.

 

Nearby natural beauty

Sometimes you need a breather from the bright lights – easily found by heading 45 minutes out of town to Northumberland National Park. Come here for its Dark Sky Reserve, for Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a bracing walk or gentle cycle through more than 400 square miles of gorgeous countryside scenery. Newcastle is also close to the Northumberland coast – and what a coast it is! Some of the best beaches in Britain are found here, fringed by impressive backdrops. Check out Bamburgh Castle Beach or Cresswell Beach for unmissable sights of sweeping stretches of sandy beaches that go on for miles.

 

A city of contrast

Just a 12-minute train journey from Newcastle but with a completely different vibe, Durham is one of the most picturesque cities in Britain. A magnificent cathedral and castle dominate the skyline of this city that has its own coastline and countless historical sites and events, including the spectacular Kynren. This ‘Epic Tale of England’ (30 June – 15 September 2018) is an all-action blockbuster show travelling through 2,000 years of history and legend, with 1,000 cast and crew.

 

Living history

North-east England is an area bursting with heritage and history but one of the region’s great skills is bringing that history to life for contemporary audiences. Less than a half-hour drive south of Newcastle, Beamish Outdoor Museum, which tells the story of the region in the 1820s, 1900s and 1940s, offers compelling workshops such as driving a steam engine or cooking 1940s-style. And, this summer at Alnwick Castle – 45 minutes-drive north of Newcastle and seen on screen in both Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Downton Abbey – is hosting a range of experiences, from Wizarding Week and Medieval Week to a Knight’s Week and a Napoleonic Skirmish.

8 new museums and exhibitions you won’t want to miss

You’re never far from a first-rate museum or art gallery in Britain, many of which are free to visit. Take a look at these hot new openings in 2018 and be the first to see some of the best new exhibitions and galleries in the world.

 

If you like – art and design

You’ll loveDundee’s V&A, Dundee, Scotland

The V&A – one of London’s best museums – opens a new outpost of the museum in the Scottish city of Dundee this autumn, located 1.5 hours from Edinburgh. Ultra-modern and sleek in design, and architect Kengo Kuma’s first British commission, the museum launches with the spectacular Ocean Liners: Speed & Style exhibition, which will display never-before-seen objects and highlights from the ships that revolutionised travel in the mid-19th to the late 20th centuries. The museum will also showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.

Open: 15 September

 

If you like – sculpture

You’ll loveYorkshire Sculpture Park’s new visitor centre, Yorkshire, north England

Be one of the first to visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s (YSP) £4million, environmentally friendly visitor centre later this year, which will bring a gallery space exhibiting 20th- and 21st-century art, a restaurant and shop to this leading centre of modern and contemporary sculpture. Set in the 18th-century Bretton Hall Estate in West Yorkshire, 30 minutes from Leeds, it’s also the only place in the world where you can see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety as well as a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore.

Open: Summer 2018

 

If you like – great feats of engineering

You’ll love – Being Brunel, Bristol, south-west England

New to Bristol this year is Being Brunel, a museum celebrating the life and work of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the celebrated Victorian engineer whose famous designs include SS Great Britain, itself moored next to the new museum, and the city’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It explores everything from the great designs themselves, his celebrity, his ambition to become a leader in engineering, and his home life. Families will love the interactive exhibits, which include talking portraits of his family and friends.

Open: Now

 

If you like – classic ceramics

You’ll love – the new-look Museum of Royal Worcester, Worcestershire, west England

Receiving a £1.7million refurbishment means the museum of the famed porcelain makers, located an hour from Birmingham, will become a living history of the factory, telling the stories of the people that worked there, as well as exhibiting collections that date back to 1751 when the company was formed.

Open: May 2018

 

If you like – maritime history

You’ll love – the new galleries at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Taking a lead role in Cook 250 – the 250th anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s first expedition from London to the Pacific and Australia (on 26 August) – the National Maritime Museum is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will each be dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things.
Open: Mid-2018 TBC

 

If you like – Welsh history

You’ll love – the new galleries at St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff, Wales

Later this year, new galleries will open at the open-air history museum around St Fagans Castle to display objects – many never shown before – from the National Museum Wales’ collections. Part of a significant renovation project, there will also be new buildings across the site, one – Gweithdy, a sustainable building boasting a café and a range of craft workshops – that is now open.

Open: Now, and throughout 2018

 

If you like – WWII history

You’ll love – the new galleries at D-Day Story, Portsmouth, south England

Personal stories of D-Day are told through the museum’s collections and audio-visual presentations in the refurbished galleries of the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, two hours south of London. The new displays feature accounts of the Battle of Normandy and the museum has also put together guides on how you can discover the story of your family members involved in D-Day.

Open: Now

 

If you like – world-class art

You’ll love – the revamped Royal Academy, London

Marking its 250th anniversary in 2018, the Royal Academy will reveal its new look this summer. It will showcase more major exhibitions focusing on living artists and architects, new free art displays, and the institution’s two buildings – Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens – will be linked for the first time with dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and cafés. There’ll also be an increase in the debates, discussions and workshops the RA is famed for.

Open: May 2018

 

You might also like:

  • In autumn 2018 the British Museum in London will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery.
  • The RAF Museum’s RAF Centenary Programme is transforming its London site as part of the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations in 2018 with new permanent exhibitions, opening in the summer, and the Now & the Future exhibit area will tell the story of the RAF from its earliest years in the First World War to its global role today.
  • The new-look Mackintosh Tearooms, Glasgow, Scotland, a £10million project preserving the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Tea Rooms Building, is scheduled for completion in June, and a shop next door will be transformed into an education and interpretative centre.
  • Westminster Abbey, London, will welcome a new gallery and museum this summer. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries in the Abbey’s medieval triforium, runs 70 ft above the Abbey and has not been seen by the public for more than 700 years. Expect to see treasures from the Abbey’s 1,000-year history.
  • Discover more than 3,000 objects from around the world in south London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens new World Gallery, celebrating what it means to be human. The new £4.6million gallery includes works of art and fun things to touch, play with and smell.

60 minutes to Royal

Central London is packed with attractions that celebrate all things royal. But hop on a train and within an hour, you could be enjoying a fabulously royal day out. Here are some of the ways you can spend a day soaking up royal history and events, from past to present.

 

Richmond Park, Richmond upon Thames

Richmond Park, a former hunting ground of Henry VIII, is still home to red and fallow deer, as well as some 2,500 acres of hills, woodland and grassland. A walker’s paradise, the protected Royal Park is the perfect place to escape the hustle of central London and is just 45 minutes away.

 

Hampton Court Palace, Richmond upon Thames

Gone are the days of musty museums and dull exhibits, as visitors will find at Hampton Court Palace. The Palace’s Time Explorers digital app allows you to step back in time via an interactive adventure that keeps everyone engaged, from the young to the young-at-heart. Discover fascinating stories of life in the Tudor court and keep your eyes peeled for haunted sightings of two of Henry VIII’s wives, Jane Seymour and Catherine Howard.

 

Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

A place with significant historical significance, Hatfield House is an unmissable royal attraction, 20 minutes by train from central London; it was here in 1558, in the Old Palace, that Elizabeth I learned she would become Queen. From 31st March 2018, you can tour the halls, gallery, library and chapel; the Grand Staircase is particularly impressive.

 

The Chalybeate Springs, Royal Tunbridge Wells

Tunbridge Wells received its ‘Royal’ prefix in 1909, when King Edward VII realised how popular Tunbridge Wells was with royal ‘holidaymakers’ including his mother, Queen Victoria. Members of the aristocracy would take the short journey from London to experience the curative waters at the Chalybeate Spring. Follow in their footsteps for some hydro-healing before wandering the colonnaded walkways of The Pantiles and its independent shops, galleries and restaurants.

 

Opera House, Royal Tunbridge Wells

For pre-dinner drinks, visit the Opera House pub. Originally built as an opera house in 1902 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it became a cinema in 1931 before it was transformed into a bingo hall then a pub. You can still see the stage, grand balcony and original stalls and the pub even returns to its theatrical beginnings with opera performances twice a year.

 

Windsor Castle, Berkshire

Even today, Queen Elizabeth often spends weekends at Windsor Castle while the county of Berkshire was the childhood stomping ground of the Duchess of Cambridge. Tour the castle’s state rooms and grounds — you’ll see more of this area when the location plays host to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding this May.

 

Eton College, Berkshire

Eton College is where Princes William and Harry were educated, but the jury is out on whether Prince George will be enrolled here too. On Sunday afternoons, the college opens up its exhibition spaces — the Natural History Museum, Eton Museum of Antiquities and Museum of Eton Life — with collections of rare books, art, manuscripts and specimens. Start with the Museum of Eton Life which presents the college’s history and traditions across six centuries.

 

Royal Ascot, Berkshire

Visitors who like the odd flutter should book tickets for one of the race meetings at Royal Ascot, one of Great Britain’s leading horse-racing courses and just six miles from Windsor Castle. The course maintains a close association with the Royals, frequented by the Queen each year for the Royal race days in June and July.

 

See also:

Book a VIP Gondola on the Royal Windsor Wheel for aerial views of Windsor Castle.

Visit Windsor Great Park, the Royal Park home to award-winning gardens, ancient forest and woodland walks.

Explore the 14th-century Penshurst Place and Gardens, Kent once used as a hunting lodge by King Henry VIII.

Discover the beautifully located Leeds Castle in Kent, once used by King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the private home of six of England’s medieval queens.

Quirky Royal Traditions

Being a royal has obvious perks: You get to live in castles, wear amazing gowns, and put on priceless jewellery.

But there are also some, let’s say, quirkier aspects to British monarchy – some are understandable traditions, others delightfully eccentric nods to centuries gone by – many of which Meghan Markle will need to brush up on before she joins the family fold in May.

You could start with the fact the Queen has two birthdays - one is the actual day she was born, 21 April, and the second is her official birthday, usually celebrated on the second Saturday in June. This second birthday is generally for monarchs not born in the summer, so official festivities can take place in better weather – and June has a better chance of sunshine than April for the annual Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.

The Queen also doesn’t need paperwork to travel internationally. As the British passport is issued in the name of Her Majesty, it’s unnecessary for the Queen to give herself permission to travel. However, all other members of the Royal Family, including The Duke of Edinburgh, do require passports.

The reigning monarch is also exempt from requiring a driver’s licence and wearing a seat belt, and is immune from civil or criminal proceedings, a throwback to the time when the Sovereign established and enforced the legal system – although as the official website of the Royal Family points out: “The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law”.

Also enjoying special privileges are the ravens of the Tower of London. During the reign of King Charles II in the 17th century, a prophecy declared: “If the ravens leave the Tower (of London), the kingdom will fall”. Ever since, at least six ravens have continuously resided in the Tower, protected by the Ravenmaster, who breeds and feeds them.

Another anomaly is the penchant for shorts - you may have noticed that Prince George wears shorts even during the bracing British winter. This long-standing tradition among the upper classes, aristocracy and royals goes back to when it was considered ‘suburban’ or middle-class to do otherwise; instead, boys wear shorts until the age of around eight, when they ‘graduate’ to trousers. Who’d have thought cold knees and goosebumps could be a sign of blue blood?

Tradition is everything here. Every morning Monday to Friday, the Queen is woken by the sounds of bagpipes playing outside her bedroom window. The Sovereign’s Piper was first appointed by Queen Victoria in 1843 after she took a trip to the Highlands, and the 15-minute morning ritual has continued ever since.

Another bizarre custom takes place during the annual State Opening of Parliament. Before the Queen delivers her speech in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster, an MP is delivered to Buckingham Palace and ‘held hostage’ to ensure the Queen’s safe return. This centuries-old ritual harks back to a time when the monarch and Parliament weren’t so friendly; as a result, precautions had to be taken to ensure the Sovereign arrived home in one royal piece. Today, it’s simply retained as a symbolic gesture to days past.

These are just a few of the quirky rituals of the Royal Family. These traditions may seem strange, but they’re part of the rich and fascinating history of British royalty and no doubt will be preserved for centuries to come.

Celebrate some other quirky traditions with these Royal places of interest: Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace and a Houses of Parliament Tour with Afternoon Tea.

Three great day trips on the Brunel Heritage Trail

The exciting opening of the Being Brunel museum in early 2018 will bring together a collection of never-seen-before possessions of iconic 19th-century British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. One of the most important figures of the Industrial Revolution, he hailed from one of the world’s greatest engineering dynasties and created some of the nation’s finest landmarks.

Here are three fabulous days out to experience the best of Brunel and the cities he made more accessible – and they’re all within two hours of central London.

 

Day One: London

Start in southeast London at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe to discover the fascinating stories behind Brunel's Thames Tunnel project. The underwater tunnel, which took 18 years to build, was designed for transporting goods, but was also used to host fairgrounds and banquets when it opened in 1843.

 

After a tour, take the Tube to Paddington to dine alfresco at the urban garden of Pergola Paddington Central, re-opening this spring with tempting dishes from five, independent London restaurants. After lunch, head to Paddington Station, designed by Brunel as part of the Great Western Railway development which was assigned to him in 1833, aged just 27.

 

The station’s glass and metal structure bears significant resemblance to Crystal Palace in south London – which is believed to have been his inspiration. As well as hunting out the statue of fictional children’s character, Paddington Bear, visitors should aim for platforms eight and nine to see a life-sized (talking) statue of Brunel himself. After a few photo opps, board the train to Bristol, under two hours from the capital.

 

Day Two: Bristol

Start off at the harbour, home to SS Great Britain designed by Brunel and first launched in 1843. His ship designs marked the beginning of international travel when this marine masterpiece, the longest passenger ship in the world at the time, made its 14-day maiden voyage to New York in 1845.

 

Elsewhere in Bristol, get a retail fix at Bristol Shopping Quarter for world-class shopping, or hunt for unique souvenirs in the independent boutiques of Clifton Village. Finish the day admiring another one of Brunel’s iconic landmarks and the symbol of Bristol, the Grade 1-listed Clifton Suspension Bridge overlooking Avon Gorge – the terrace of the White Lion Bar at the Avon Gorge Hotel is a prime viewing spot. Next up, board the 20-minute train to Bath Spa.

 

Day Three: Bath

As part of Brunel’s Great Western Railway project to connect London with the southwest of England by steam train, he quickly set his sights on Sydney Gardens in Bath, Somerset.

 

The railway runs directly through the park, Bath’s oldest park and one of the finest remaining 18th-century Georgian Pleasure Gardens. Brunel designed two footbridges over the railway line, and they remain in the park today. Trace his footsteps around the grand gardens, once a favourite with royals and even Jane Austen.

 

Elsewhere, this UNESCO World Heritage Site city is packed with Roman and neoclassical Palladian buildings to explore. For lunch, visit the historic tea house Sally Lunn’s, former home of the young Huguenot baker of the same name, and try the Sally Lunn Bun - the original Bath Bun, a popular sweet and savoury delicacy in Georgian times. Finally, let off some steam at Thermae Bath Spa where people have been taking in the natural, mineral-rich waters since Roman times. Soak it all up in the spa and rooftop pool before catching the train back to London.

 

Editor’s Notes

Thermae Spa in Bath is closed for renovations from 8 to 23 January 2018 inclusive.

On the trail of British women who changed the world

In March, London’s Southbank Centre hosts its annual Women of the World festival, celebrating the achievements of women around the world. But it’s not the only place with the WOW factor. Here are nine destinations showcasing the highlights and heritage of influential British women.

1. J.K. Rowling

Visitors to Edinburgh can experience Potter magic through some of J.K. Rowling’s favourite haunts. Take a trip to the Elephant House, once a writing refuge for the author and where fans can sit in the seat she vacated, or book the suite at The Balmoral where she wrote the final chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Don’t miss the Potter Trail, a free walking tour around Edinburgh’s old town, which spills the beans on how He Who Must Not Be Named got his name.

2. Emmeline Pankhurst

In her hometown of Manchester, visitors can explore the legacy of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Suffragette movement that helped women secure the vote. Stay in the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel, once Manchester’s Free Trade Hall which hosted the first public meeting on women’s suffrage, and visit The Pankhurst Centreat 62 Nelson Street, the family home of Emmeline Pankhurst. Currently, Manchester Art Gallery is taking votes on the design of a memorial statue to be unveiled on International Women’s Day 2019.

3. Kelly Holmes

Athlete Dame Kelly Holmes was on the move long before she was crowned double Olympic champion or founded the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. In her early years, she did paper rounds for a sweetshop in Hildenborough near Tonbridge, Kent – she has since turned the shop into Café 1809 where visitors earn loyalty points for healthy food choices and can chat about sporting endeavours.

4. Mary Quant

Designer Dame Mary Quant made London’s King’s Road world-famous with her Bazaar boutique in the 1950s and is credited with placing the mini skirt on the fashion map; nowadays, the area is packed with high-end stores and restaurants. After a long day’s shopping, get your culture fix at the nearby Saatchi Gallery or take a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea with one of the Chelsea Pensioners, the retired soldiers who live here.

5. Diana, Princess of Wales

London’s Kensington Palace and Gardens are a good starting point for exploring the life of Princess Diana and the venue is currently hosting the exhibition; Diana: Her Fashion Story. As well as being a member of the royal family, she was known for raising awareness of causes such as HIV/AIDS and anti-landmine campaigns. Younger visitors can explore the Diana Memorial Playground complete with sensory trail, beach, and pirate ship. Visitors can also dip their toes in Hyde Park’s Diana Memorial Fountain or stretch their legs on a seven-mile Memorial Walk through four London parks.

6. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter left 14 farms and 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust so people could enjoy her beloved Lake District. You can follow the Beatrix Potter trail which includes her former home, the National Trust property of Hill Top, and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, set in a 17th-century building once the office of her solicitor husband. Separate to the Trust, the exhibition and character-inspired gardens at the World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windemere offer an engaging insight into this much-loved author’s life and books. 

Also, you may want to consider these influential women:

  • Amy Winehouse - view street art dedicated to the late singer in Camden, north west London.
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson - discover the inspirational story of Britain’s first female doctor at The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery, London, and The Long Shop Museum near Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
  • Kate Moss – the international supermodel is a big fan of the London Eye – she’s taken it 25 times.

Special exhibitions to mark the 300th anniversary of celebrated landscape gardener, ‘Capability’ Brown

This summer, the Capability Brown Festival 2016 celebrates the life, work and legacy of the 18th-century landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability' Brown, the man attributed for what we know today as the ‘quintessential English garden'. A range of special art exhibitions will take place across the country, inspired by Brown's stunning landscapes.

If you're in or near London head to...

The Empress and the Gardener

A special exhibition of drawings at Hampton Court Palace by Brown's surveyor John Spyers on loan from The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

When? 28 April - 4 September.

Where? Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, a 30-minute train journey from London.

Lenses on a Landscape Genius

A contemporary photography exhibition (taking place during the London Festival of Architecture) highlighting the work of several leading landscape and garden photographers, each offering their own take on Capability Brown's landscapes.

When? 22 June - 29 July.

Where? The Building Centre, Store Street, London; within walking distance from London Underground stations Goodge Street and Tottenham Court Road.

A Capable Businessman: Brown's account book

Find out how Capability Brown managed the astonishing range of projects he undertook in this exhibition, which focuses on his only known account book. In addition, the exhibition will also feature contemporary horticultural literature from the period.

When? 5 September - 28 October.

Where? Lindley Library London (Royal Horticultural Society), London; the library is closest to Pimlico and St James' Park London Underground stations.

If you're in south-east England head to:

The English Garden: Views and Visitors

Items from the collections of the Bodleian Library tell the story of 18th-century garden design, creativity and tourism. A range of additional lectures and talks from Oxford academics will accompany the exhibition over the summer months.

When? 8 July - 4 September.

Where? Blackwell Hall of the new Weston Library, Oxford, an hour's journey from London by train or car.

Scene: a new way of looking

A major contemporary installation by NEON, an award-winning design practice, that seeks to explore new territories between architecture, design and art.

When? Until 30 October.

Where? Wimpole Estate (cared for by the National Trust), Arrington, Hertfordshire, just over an hour's journey from London.

Petworth Park Revealed: The Naked Landscape

Colonel Wyndham's room at Petworth is opened for the first time to host an intriguing exhibition that explores the scale and impact of Brown's work at Petworth. The exhibition includes new aerial footage, films and 3D reconstructions.

When? Until 6 November 2016.

Where? Petworth House & Park (cared for by the National Trust), Petworth, West Sussex, a 90-minute train journey from London.

If you're in central England, head to...

Strange Magic and Delicarta Exhibition ‘Bringing Paper to Life'

See a range of art installations, from work by environmental artists Red Earth set within parkland and which interprets the landscape's restoration back to Brown's original vision, to 18th-century characters of Berrington Hall, including Brown, brought to life in hand-crafted full-scale paper costumes.

When? Until Autumn 2016.

Where? Berrington Hall (cared for by the National Trust), near Leominster, Herefordshire. Close to the border of Wales Herefordshire is a three-hour train journey from London, and 90 minutes from Birmingham.

If you're in the north of England, head to...

Works by sculptor Emma Stothard

Hull-born sculptor Emma Stothard recreates Brown's vision at Burton Constable, with an exhibition throughout the parkland of wire and willow sculptures inspired by the wildlife that once roamed Brown's landscape and quirky stories from the Hall's history.

When? 28 May - 29 September.

Where? Burton Constable, Holderness, East Yorkshire. Getting there: Holderness is in north England, a 25-minute journey from Hull city centre, and around four hours by train from London.

Noble Prospects: Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape

The first-ever exhibition dedicated to Brown's Yorkshire landscapes and created by the Yorkshire Gardens Trust to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

When? 25 June - 11 September.

Where? Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, north Yorkshire, three hours by train from London.

If you're in south-west England head to...

The Capability Brown Exhibition at Milton Abbey

A multimedia exhibition for all the family, featuring film, photography, textiles, a computer game, an interactive tour, and original works by local artists as well as Royal Academician Stephen Farthing.

When? 6 July - 21 August.

Where? Milton Abbey, Milton Abbas, Dorset, around two-and-a-half hours' drive from London.

And there's more...

The Embroiderers' Guild presents more than 40 textile exhibitions inspired by Brown's designs and landscapes at venues across England and Welsh Historic Gardens Trust will tour venues in Wales including hotels and churches with a bilingual exhibition.

For further details of Capability Brown Festival 2016 exhibitions and other events, visit www.capabilitybrown.org/events

WHAT’S NEW in Britain in 2017

2017 is packed with exciting events, anniversaries, new attractions and key dates, making Britain a top destination to visit next year! From the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh Festivals and The Natural History Museum's new Blue Whale display to Hull's City of Culture 2017 and hot new hotel openings. For media, this means lots of fantastic story ideas to keep you coming back to Britain.


Anniversaries

70th anniversary of Edinburgh Festivals

Led by the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festivals were born in 1947 as a platform to celebrate art and culture and to bring nations together once again after global conflict. For 70 years that inspiration has been sustained, making Edinburgh and its festivals an unparalleled destination for visitors, performers, artists and thinkers from all over the globe. In 2017, the 12 major festivals of Edinburgh will mark this special 70th anniversary by transforming the historic city like never before with music, science, film, art, theatre, dance, literature and storytelling, as its festivals continue to dream, reflect, invent and celebrate - while looking forward to another 70 years.

www.edinburghfestivalcity.com

25th anniversary of the Premier League

The world-famous Premier League turns 25 in 2017. The inaugural season kicked off on 15 August 1992 and has been drawing international interest ever since. Attending a match is an unforgettable experience and high up on the must-do list of any visitor to Britain - you'll witness the players' skills, the fans' passion and be surrounded by the stadiums' electric atmosphere. As well as the opportunity to watch the crème de la crème of English and Welsh football (Scotland has its own league), attending a game is also the perfect chance to visit the clubs' destinations. Reaching from the far north-east of England (Newcastle) to the south of Wales (Swansea), over to London and across to the hip cities of north-west England (Manchester and Liverpool), following Premier League football also means discovering some of Britain's most exciting cities - and, of course, the opportunity to explore behind the scenes at many stadiums run tours.

www.premierleague.com

125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes short story

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was published in 1892. Now a popular TV series, London is almost a character in itself in the Sherlock stories and it's hard to imagine the detective living anywhere else. Explore the city as Sherlock did and visit some of his favourite haunts, including 221B Baker Street. While it doesn't actually exist, the exterior of the flat as seen in the TV series, is shot in this quieter west London road, 25 minutes' walk from Baker Street, at 187 North Gower Street. Other destinations include The Sherlock Holmes Museum, featuring a re-creation of his sitting room, as well as a gift shop. The Sherlock Homes Pub in Westminster is stuffed with memorabilia, including Dr Watson's old service revolver and his favourite food, Cumberland sausages.

200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen

One of the most widely read authors in English literature, Jane Austen died on 18 July 1817 in Winchester, south England. To mark the 200th anniversary of her death, Austen fans can visit Jane Austen's former home in Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire, south England, around an hour by train from London. Here, everything will gear-up for the 2017 ‘Jane Austen 200' commemorations, as well as in wider Hampshire. The charming house was where she spent the last eight years of her life, wrote Emma, Mansfield Park and Persuasion, and revised Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. Now called the Jane Austen's House Museum, it runs a programme of events throughout the year to keep even the most ardent of Austen aficionados happy.

www.janeausten200.co.uk

20th anniversary of the Harry Potter book series

Since the release of J.K. Rowling's first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on 30 June 1997, the books have gained immense popularity, critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide, inspiring the popular film series. All eight movies were filmed in Britain, with locations spanning England, Scotland and Wales. While in London, Potter fans shouldn't miss a priceless photo opportunity at Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross Station. Would-be sorcerers can try their hand at pushing a trolley through the brick wall between platforms nine and ten, otherwise known as the portal to the wizarding world. And a must-visit for any discerning Harry Potter fan is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter, a dream come true for muggles - young or old - who watched and loved the movies and books.

To celebrate the anniversary, The British Library in London is launching a new exhibition about the magic of Harry Potter, set to open on 20 October 2017 it will run until 28 February 2018. From medieval descriptions of dragons and griffins to the origins of the philosopher's stone, the exhibition will take readers on a journey to the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Look out for an extraordinary range of wizarding books, manuscripts and objects, with original material from Bloomsbury's and J.K. Rowling's archives, that will sit alongside centuries-old British Library treasures. #HarryPotter20

www.bl.uk, www.harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/uk/harry-potter-20

Attractions and openings


Blue Whale comes to the Natural History Museum after 35 years of Diplodocus display

The central display in the Natural History Museum's Hintze Hall is set to change in the summer of 2017, as long-serving resident ‘Dippy the Diplodocus' is being replaced after 35 years with a blue whale skeleton, which will mark the beginning of a decade of transformation for the museum.

www.nhm.ac.uk

New interactive gallery at the Science Museum - Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery

Featuring live event spaces, hands-on experiments and state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. Visitors to the gallery will be able to walk through a giant Orrery with a canopy of stars, take part in live chemistry experiments, and whizz down the friction slide!

www.beta.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wonderlab/#overview

British Music Experience moves from London to Liverpool

This new permanent attraction in Liverpool has moved from London to Liverpool and opens at the historic Cunard Building on the Pier Head, 11 February 2017. The attraction will feature more than 600 artefacts and over 90 hours of digital content highlighting how music has influenced British culture over the last 70 years.

www.britishmusicexperience.com

Liverpool World Museum's new Ancient World gallery

February 2017

The museum has been inspiring children of all ages since 1853. Its popular Ancient World gallery is currently being revamped and is set to open early next year. Alongside 4,000 objects - many of them previously unseen by the public - there are plans for a brand-new Mummy Room as well as interactive displays.

www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

V&A improvements

The interiors of west London's Victoria and Albert Museum have been undergoing a daring series of redesigns, upgrades and expansions. Among them, 2017 will see the opening of a new main V&A Shop at the heart of the museum and the completion of the £49.5 million Exhibition Road Project. Designed by the Amanda Levete Architects, the project will create a grand new entrance to the museum from Exhibition Road, a magnificent open courtyard, and a purpose-built gallery to house temporary exhibitions.

www.vam.ac.uk/page/e/exhibition-road-building-project

New Hadrian's Cavalry exhibition

8 April - 10 September 2017

1 - 2 July: largest Roman cavalry re-enactments ever seen in Britain

Taking place at ten attractions across the full 150-milelength of Hadrian's Wall, Hadrian's Cavalry will be a wall-wide exhibition celebrating the elite Roman cavalry regiments that guarded Hadrian's Wall and projected the power of Imperial Rome 2,000 years ago. The six-month exhibition is a once in a lifetime opportunity for visitors to explore the role and daily life of the cavalry forces of the Roman army. On 1 & 2 July, the largest Roman cavalry re-enactments ever seen in Britain will take place throughout the day at Bitts Park in Carlisle, with a troop (turma) of 30 Roman cavalrymen coming together to perform ancient training exercises.

www.hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/events/hadrians-cavalry-2017

New National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, east England

In 2016 the National Horseracing Museum moved to Palace House in Newmarket (around 90 minutes' drive from London) and is the new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art. As well as live thoroughbred horses in the Rothschild Yard and a four-acre paddock, the centre will include a new museum that celebrates the sport and science of horseracing. The move to Palace House means the museum will occupy the last remaining element of King Charles II's racing palace in Newmarket, a town synonymous with the ‘sport of kings', and home to two racecourses, the Rowley Mile and July Course.

www.nhrm.co.uk


RHS Flower Show, Chatsworth

7 - 11 June 2017

For the first time in more than a decade, the Royal Horticultural Society is embarking on a new show in the expansive 1,000 acre grounds of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. It will join the current portfolio of shows at Malvern, Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace, Tatton Park, and Chelsea in London but expand the experience with an immersive horticultural event based on ‘Design Revolutionaries'. The event will celebrate the creative genius and conceptual thinking of gardeners and garden designers from the past and present, including Lancelot ‘Capability' Brown. Provisional dates for all RHS Flower Shows in 2017 are:

7 - 9 April: RHS Flower Show Cardiff
23 - 27 May: RHS Chelsea Flower Show
7 - 11 June: RHS Chatsworth Flower Show
4 - 9 July: RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
19 - 23 July: RHS Flower Show Tatton Park

www.rhs.org.uk/chatsworth-show

Film & TV-inspired holidays

Step into these films and TV series due for release in 2017 with a visit to the British landscapes they were filmed in.

T2: Trainspotting - UK release date 27 January 2017

A continuation of the Trainspotting saga, T2: Trainspotting reunites the original characters in and around the country of Scotland and will star Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle. The cast have been spotted filming at locations across Edinburgh and Glasgow.

www.visitscotland.com

Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur - UK release date 24 March 2017

This epic adventure film retells the story of the famous legend. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey and Jude Law. British locations used in the film include Snowdonia in north Wales, the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye, plus Windsor Great Park and the Forest of Dean on the border of England and Wales.

www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/highlands

www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/isle-skye

www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk,

www.wyedeantourism.co.uk

Disney's Beauty and the Beast - UK release date 17 March 2017

An adaptation of the classic fairy tale about a monstrous prince and a young woman who fall in love. The cast includes Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen, and was filmed on location in London and Surrey in south-east England.

www.visitlondon.com

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - UK release date 16 June 2017

Twentieth Century Fox's The Kingsman: Secret Service returns in 2017 with its sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle. See Eggsy and Marlin work together to take on a new villain with the help of the American agency: Statesman. Filming locations for this action-film include Birmingham in England, and London.

www.visitbirmingham.com

Paddington 2 - UK release date 24 November 2017

Paddington fans can rejoice as the nation's favourite furry friend is back with Studio Canal's sequel Paddington 2. It will feature the same cast as the first movie with a new addition playing the villain. Shooting for the movie will start this autumn in London, England.

www.visitlondon.com

Poldark

Cornwall's favourite hero returned to US TV screens with a second series on 25 September. Filmed in and around Cornwall in England, fans can now book Poldark tours around the movie locations in the seaside county. www.poldarktours.co.uk

Victoria

Already a hit in the UK, the new TV drama Victoria airs in the US from January 2017. Based on the life of Queen Victoria in her early reign, the series stars Jenna Coleman and features eight episodes. Mostly filmed in Yorkshire, locations include Harewood House in Leeds, Castle Howard, and Beverly Minster, which stood in as Westminster Abbey.

www.harewood.org, www.castlehoward.co.uk, www.beverleyminster.org.uk

Sherlock series 4

Inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's much loved book series, the Sherlock TV series has seen huge success in the UK and will be returning to PBS in America for series four in early 2017. Excitingly, there are also rumours Avengers star Tom Hiddleston could feature. Based in Victorian and Georgian England, London has proved to be an ideal location for filming throughout the previous three series. www.visitlondon.com

Broadchurch (Series 3)

Crime-thriller Broadchurch returns for a final series in 2017 with David Tennant and Olivia Colman reprising their roles. It will continue to be filmed on location in Dorset at Bridport and West Bay, as well as Clevedon in Somerset, England.

www.visit-dorset.com

Hot new hotel openings in 2017


London's West End gets its biggest budget hotel

Hotel operator Accor is set to open the new 583-room Ibis Styles Piccadilly Circus hotel in 2017 on the site of the huge Trocadero building between Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street. It will be the West End's biggest budget hotel and around 80 percent of its guests are expected to be tourists. The prime central location and proposed price per night (£100 to £150) will make Ibis Styles unique; most hotel openings in the heart of the West End in recent years have been luxury five star hotels. Over the centuries the site has served as a tennis court, circus, theatre, exhibition space and music hall, as well as a tearoom and restaurant until the mid-Sixties. In the Eighties it was turned into an indoor theme park with rides, cinemas and shops but closed in February this year.

www.ibis.com

Scotland Yard Hotel

The original Scotland Yard police station is set to become a new five-star luxury hotel, opening in early 2017 following a £50 million refurbishment to the historic building. Scotland Yard was made known to millions reading the novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and was the centre of the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper' investigation in 1888. The new hotel combines luxury bedrooms - costing up to £10,000 a night - with two bars, a library, and dining rooms.

Liverpool strikes gold with new hotel in Martins Bank building

Principal Hayley Group is converting the historic Martins Bank building in Liverpool into a 227-room luxury hotel with a spa, bar and restaurant. Designed by noted architect Herbert James Rowse and completed in 1932, the Martins Bank building is considered to be among the finest classical buildings built in England during the interwar period, and was used to hide Britain's gold during WW2. Due to open late 2017.

www.ph-hotels.co.uk

Southampton's first luxury five-star hotel

Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa is due to open in June 2017 at Ocean Village. Highlights will include 85 luxury bedrooms, a jetty restaurant featuring a rooftop champagne bar, and the decadent harbour Spa, with gym and swimming pool.

www.harbourhotels.co.uk/hotels/southampton-harbour-hotel-spa

Eden Project Hotel, Cornwall

A £6million hotel is set to open at the Eden Project in Cornwall next year. The hotel will have 115 bedrooms and has been designed to ‘blend into the countryside'. It will have access to the main Eden Project site, as well as being close to the perimeter of its outer estate.

www.edenproject.com

Woolsington Hall Hotel & Spa, Newcastle
Woolsington Hall is undergoing a luxury renovation, transforming the historic building into a 34-bedroom, five-star hotel and leisure complex - the first of its kind in Newcastle. Due to open by early 2017, the site will also be complete with a restaurant, lodges, golf course, spa, and a cookery school.

www.woolsingtonhallhotel.co.uk

Z Hotel, Bath

Offering compact luxury rooms in city centre locations, Z Hotels will be opening its first property in the south-west of England next year after a £14 million development. Z Bath will offer 148 bedrooms and, following in the footsteps of all other Z Hotels, offer luxury bed linen on handcrafted beds, 40" LED TVs with Sky Sports and Movies at no extra cost, power showers and free high speed Wi-Fi throughout. There will also be complimentary cheese and wine each evening for guests.

www.theZhotels.com

Q1 2017: Nobu Hotel

Master sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa is opening his first European hotel, the Willow Street Hotel in London's Shoreditch, in 2017. It will have 150 bedrooms and a statement restaurant: a dramatic five-metre high space in the basement with imaginative creations from Nobu himself.

www.nobuhotels.com/london-nobu-hotel, www.nobuhospitality.com

Spring 2017: The Ned, City of London

The former Midland Bank headquarters is being turned into a new five-star hotel, The Ned. Redesigned with the glamour of a 1930s transatlantic ocean liner as inspiration, the hotel will have 252 suites, a rooftop bar with landscaped terraces, a health spa, and a range of restaurants and cafes, including a New-York-style deli.

www.thened.com

Summer 2017: New LEGOLAND Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, Berkshire

Situated on the edge of the popular theme park resort, the 61-room LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will bring to life an enchanted world of brave knights and princesses, wily wizards and jolly jesters. Families will be able to choose between two imaginatively themed room types - Knights and Wizards - each with separate sleeping areas for adults and children. Colourful LEGO touches and models will feature throughout - from the lobby's giant LEGO Wizard to the a la carte Tournament Tavern Restaurant, indoor Jester's Play area and outdoor Playground. Special guest benefits will include early entry to the park, fast track access on selected rides and LEGO gifts and collectables. Booking will open in mid-October 2016.

www.legoland.co.uk/castle

PR contact: tansy@freerange.eu

Summer 2017: Hotel Du Vin, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Malmaison Hotel du Vin Group is creating a new luxurious 48-bedroom Hotel du Vin in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon. The hotel will have 48 luxurious bedrooms, a bistro du vin, meeting and private dining rooms, and a banqueting room with the capacity to seat 80 guests.

www.hotelduvin.com

PR contact: malhdv@hudsonsandler.com

Events

UK City of Culture 2017: Hull, Yorkshire

All year

For 2017 Hull will be the UK City of Culture and host the Turner Prize, one of the biggest events in British art, at Hull's Ferens Art Gallery. Organisers have separated the year into four different "Seasons", each with its own theme: Made in Hull (January - March), Roots and Routes (April - June), Freedom (July - September), Tell The World (October - December)

www.hull2017.co.uk

Scotland's Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology

All year

2017 will celebrate Scotland's Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology. It will be a chance to showcase its rich history, heritage and archaeology, ranging from the remains of its earliest settlements going back thousands of years, through to the turbulent times of the Middle Ages and on to the Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

www.visitscotland.org/business_support/advice_materials/toolkits/yhha.aspx

Wales' Year of Legends

All year

The Year of Legends proposes to explore more of Wales' distinctive history, culture, heritage and mythology. In addition, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and one of the most prestigious club competitions in European football, the UEFA Champions League Final, will be played in Wales' capital Cardiff in 2017 - a fantastic opportunity to showcase Wales to the world and watch the emergence of new footballing legends.

www.visitwales.com/explore/traditions-history/discover-welsh-myths-legends

Women's Rugby World Cup

The event will hosted by Ulster Rugby alongside the Irish Rugby Football Union in August 2017. It will culminate with the world's top female rugby players coming together for the semi-finals and positional play-offs in the Kingspan Stadium Belfast in Northern Ireland's capital. In September, Kingspan will also open a new education and heritage centre, exploring the history of rugby in Ulster.

www.rwcwomens.com

Women's Cricket World Cup

The scene is being set for a thrilling 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in England, with confirmation of London's iconic Lord's Cricket Ground as the venue. Lord's is the home of cricket; playing its perfectly manicured wicket is the pinnacle of international cricketing ambition. Take a guided tour of Lord's and follow the footsteps of international cricketers through the Long Room, a cricketing art gallery and gateway to the hallowed turf. Tours run seven days a week (with some exceptions) from the MCC Museum, one of the oldest sporting museums in the world.

www.icc-cricket.com


Exhibitions

Major new exhibitions: late 2016 and 2017

Leonardo da Vinci: Ten Drawings from the Royal Collection at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, south Wales

14 October 2016 - 6 January 2017

Ten of the finest drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Collection, showcasing the extraordinary scope of the artist's interests and his use of different media - pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metal point.

www.glynnvivian.com

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the National History Museum

21 October 2016 - 20 September 2017

Marvel at startling images produced by photographers' passion for the natural world.

www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions.html#sthash.lpRyQklr.dpuf

Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line at the British Library, London

4 November 2016 - 1 March 2017

Uncovering the fascinating story of how maps became everyday objects for the first time in the 20th century.

www.bl.uk/events/maps-and-the-20th-century-drawing-the-line

Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition at the 02 Arena, Greenwich, London

18 November 2016 - 3 September 2017

Get to know the characters of Star Wars on a whole new level, with 200 original costumes, props, models, and pieces of artwork to discover up close.

www.starwarsidentities.com

Shakespeare in the Royal Library in The Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, south-east England
Runs until 11 December 2016

Marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, this display draws on material in the Royal Library, including works of Shakespeare collected by the royal family, accounts of performances at Windsor Castle, and art by members of the royal family inspired by Shakespeare's plays. It will examine aspects of the playwright's life, work and influence, and celebrate his longstanding connection with Windsor and the royal court.

www.royalcollection.org.uk/whatson/event/794586/Shakespeare-in-the-Royal-Library

Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe at Windsor Castle, south-east England

Runs until 8 January 2017

To celebrate The Queen's 90th birthday year and her support of British couture and millinery, this exhibition has toured Britain and ends its run at Windsor Castle. Explore significant events in The Queen's life and the nation's history through an unprecedented collection of couture and accessories exclusively designed for these occasions. www.royalcollection.org.uk/whatson/event/794179/Fashioning-a-Reign

Real to Reel: A Century of War Movies at the Imperial War Museum, London

Runs until 8 January 2017

Featuring film industry props and set designs from classic films including Apocalypse Now, Casablanca, Saving Private Ryan, Atonement and War Horse.

www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/real-to-reel-a-century-of-war-movies

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery at the V&A Museum, London

Runs until 5 February 2017

Featuring over 100 surviving examples of exquisite hand-made English Medieval embroidery, revealing the artistic skill of the makers and the world in which they were created.

www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/opus-anglicanum-masterpieces-of-english-medieval-embroidery

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear at the V&A Museum, London
Runs until 5 February 2017

The exhibition addresses the practicalities of underwear and its role in the fashionable wardrobe while highlighting its sensual, sexual appeal. Around 140 garments and accessories for men and women are on display, alongside fashion plates, photographs and films, advertisements and packaging to introduce changing concepts of the ideal body.

www.vam.ac.uk

You Say You Want A Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-1970 at the V&A Museum, London
Runs until 26 February 2017

This major exhibition examines the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through music, fashion, film, design and political activism. Fascinating objects are paired with an immersive soundtrack and theatrical three-dimensional design, investigating the cultural upheavals and the changes within the law that took place during the revolutionary years.

www.vam.ac.uk

The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 at Barbican Art Gallery, east London

23 March 2017 - 25 June 2017

The first major UK exhibition to focus on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of the Second World War up to now.

www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=19951

Fire! Fire! at the Museum of London

Runs until 17 April 2017

Discover the capital before, during and after the Great Fire of London with this interactive exhibition marking the 350th anniversary of this disastrous event, including rarely seen artefacts from 1666.

www.museumoflondon.org.uk//museum-london/whats-on/exhibitions/fire-fire

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at the V&A Museum, London

13 May 2017 - 1 October 2017

The first international retrospective of one of the world's most iconic and influential bands.

www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/pink-floyd

A History of Fashion in 100 Objects at the Fashion Museum, Bath, south-west England

Runs until 1 January 2019

A fascinating collection of garments and fashion accessories drawn from the museum's world-class collection that created the look of the times - from the 1500s to the present day.

www.visitbath.co.uk/whats-on/a-history-of-fashion-in-100-objects-p1995403


Stage

Theatre


An American in Paris, Dominion Theatre, London

4 March - 30 September 2017

This award-winning, thrillingly staged Broadway musical features some of the greatest Gershwin music and lyrics ever written.

www.anamericaninparisthemusical.co.uk

42nd Street, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London

20 March 2017 - 22 July 2017

Broadway's biggest show is set to make its West End debut next year. Young Peggy Sawyer is fresh off the bus from small-town America and just another face in the chorus line on Broadway's newest show. But when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy might just have the shot at stardom she's always dreamed of.

www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk

Sleepless: The New Musical, Plymouth and London

25 March 2017 - 17 April 2017 at The Lyric - Theatre Royal Plymouth, south-west England

Dates TBC: London West End run (theatre TBC)

Based on the popular 1993 comedy film of the same name starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, this new musical will premiere in Plymouth before its first West End run. Former pop star of British girl band Girls Aloud, Kimberley Walsh, is set to star as the female lead. The American Film Institute (AFI) lists the film version of Sleepless in Seattle among the Top 10 Best Romantic Comedies of all time.

www.sleeplessmusical.com

The Girls, Phoenix Theatre, London

28 January 2017 - 22 April 2017

The true story of the Yorkshire Calendar Girls, a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary. This new musical comedy has brought together the writing talents of pop legend Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, who grew up in the same village in the north of England and have been friends for 25 years. The musical originally opened at The Grand Theatre in Leeds, where it received standing ovations at every performance.

www.thegirlsmusical.com

The Band, details TBC

2017 dates TBC

Not content with two musicals showing in the West End, Take That frontman Gary Barlow will add a third to his bow. Featuring the songs of Take That, The Band is being created in association with Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald, and will tour Britain in 2017.


Extended London West End shows and musicals in 2017

The Book of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre

Running until 7 January 2017

Winner of 4 2014 Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Actor In A Musical. Rolling Stone says, 'The Genii of South Park hit Broadway, and history is made. Mormon is on its march into legend'. It's The Book of Mormon, the Broadway musical from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez.

www.bookofmormonlondon.com

The Mouse Trap, St Martin's Theatre

Running until 7 January 2017
Agatha Christie's most famous stage mystery sees a group of people in a country house cut off by snow. The gathering realise that there is a murderer in their company and the hunt begins to find the identity of the killer. This tour will travel across the UK to more than 20 locations.

www.the-mousetrap.co.uk

The Bodyguard, Dominion Theatre

Running until 7 January 2017

The Bodyguard, based on the smash-hit film that starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, is wowing audiences at the Domion Theatre, London, starring Beverley Knight as Rachel Marron.

www.thebodyguardmusical.com

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Running until 7 January 2017

Roald Dahl's delicious tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Mr Willy Wonka comes to life in this hit West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes.

www.charlieandthechocolatefactory.com

Show Boat, New London Theatre

Running until 7 January 2017

Daniel Evans' popular production set on and around a Mississippi river barge theatre during legislated racial segregation in 1880s southern America is based on the novel by Edna Ferber, and credited as one of the first musicals with a song and narrative structure as we know them today.

www.showboatmusical.co.uk

Stomp, Ambassadors Theatre

Running until 8 January 2017

Now in its 13th year in the West End, the Olivier Award-winning percussion extravaganza brings audiences the universal language of rhythm theatre, comedy and dance.

www.stomplondon.com

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Gielgud Theatre

Running until February 2017

This highly acclaimed Olivier Award-winning production is based on Mark Haddon's popular novel. It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Christopher, who finds a dog that has obviously been killed, and goes about investigating who did the deed. But Christopher's extraordinary brain is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, so how will he investigate the mystery further?

www.curiousonstage.com

Les Miserables, Queen's Theatre

Running until 4 March 2017

In October 2010 Cameron Mackintosh's legendary production of Boublil and Schonberg's Les Miserables celebrated its 25th Anniversary in London and is now the world's longest running musical. This international award-winning musical sweeps its audience through an epic tale of passion and destruction, against the backdrop of a nation in the grip of revolution.

www.lesmis.com/uk

Mamma Mia, Novello Theatre

Running until 4 March 2017

Join the ultimate feel-good party at the world's sunniest and most exhilarating smash-hit musical.

www.mamma-mia.com/london.php

The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty's Theatre

Running until 4 March 2017

This multi-award winning musical continues to captivate audiences at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End, after more than 12,000 performances.

www.thephantomoftheopera.com/london

The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre

Running until 2 April 2017

Disney's musical phenomenon The Lion King continues to captivate audiences of all ages. Combining dazzling staging and highly imaginative costumes, masks and puppets, this astonishing show at the Lyceum Theatre uses breath-taking theatrical magic to tell the story of Simba - join him now in his epic journey to reclaim his kingdom!

www.thelionking.co.uk

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre

21 November 2016 - 11 March 2017

Thirty-five years after the ground-breaking original Broadway production, this UK and West End premiere of the sensational and iconic Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls comes to the Savoy Theatre in November, 2016.

www.dreamgirlswestend.com

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child at Palace Theatre, London

Running until May 2017
A new play by Jack Thorne, inspired by J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, will debut in London's West End this year. It sees Rowling's hero all grown up, working for the Ministry of Magic and a father of three school-age children. The play is presented in two parts, which are intended to be seen in order on the same day (matinee and evening) or on two consecutive evenings.

www.harrypottertheplay.com

Billy Elliot The Musical

Touring the UK until May 2017

Based on the successful 2000 film, this West End production with music by Elton John tells the story of one boy's battle against convention to pursue his love of dance. Check tour dates and venues on the website.

www.billyelliotthemusical.com

Thriller - Live, Lyric Theatre

Running until 1 October 2017

Moonwalking into the West End after three UK tours and standing ovations across Europe, Thriller - Live is a spectacular, high-octane show celebrating the career of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

www.thrillerlive.com

Matilda The Musical, Cambridge Theatre

Running until 15 October 2017

This multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company was inspired by the beloved book by Roald Dahl.

www.matildathemusical.com

Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre

Running until 4 November 2017

Wicked has been casting its magical spell over audiences of all ages across the world since 2003 and continues to be a record-breaking hit. It has become the 16th longest-running West End musical of all time and earlier this year announced its 21st booking extension.

www.wickedthemusical.co.uk

Jersey Boys, Piccadilly Theatre

Running until 16 April 2017

The smash hit jukebox musical has extended its booking period until next year. It dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n roll group The Four Seasons, with songs including Big Girls Don't Cry and Can't Take My Eyes Off You.

www.jerseyboyslondon.com

Aladdin - Disney's New Musical, Prince Edward Theatre

Summer 2016 - 1 April 2017

Brought to theatrical life by a legendary creative team, Disney's Broadway musical Aladdin sweep its audience into beautiful spectacle. The musical has been a smash hit on Broadway and includes all the memorable songs from the film including A Whole New World, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and Arabian Nights. www.princeedwardtheatre.co.uk

Kinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre

Running until 6 May 2017

This feel-good, colourful, multi-award-winning show was inspired by true events and boasts music and lyrics by pop icon Cyndi Lauper. Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, who has reluctantly inherited his father's Northampton shoe factory. Trying to live up to his father's legacy, he finds inspiration in the form of Lola and they join together to make shoe history.

www.kinkybootsthemusical.co.uk

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical, Aldwych Theatre

Running until 22 July 2017

Beautiful is the untold story of Carole King's journey from schoolgirl to superstar; from her relationship with husband and song-writing partner Gerry Goffin to her playful rivalry with fellow song-writing duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and her remarkable rise to stardom.

www.beautifulmusical.co.uk



Opera

Cinderella (La Cenerentola)

A new production of Rossini's sparkling comedy performed by an exciting international cast. A much-loved fairy tale, but not quite as you know it. Sung in Italian with English subtitles.

16 - 25 February 2017: Leeds Grand Theatre, Yorkshire, north England

2 - 4 March 2017: Theatre Royal, Newcastle, north-east England

9 - 11 March 2017: The Lowry Salford Quays, Manchester, north-west England

16 - 18 March 2017: Grand Opera House Belfast, Northern Ireland

www.operanorth.co.uk/productions/cinderella

The Royal Opera House, London

16 January- 4 July 2017: La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi

Joyce El-Khoury, Ekaterina Bakanova and Corinne Winters lead three excellent casts in Richard Eyre's much-loved production of Verdi's most famous opera.

23 March - 25 April 2017: Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini
Antonio Pappano and Renato Balsadonna conduct two great casts led by Ermonela Jaho and Ana María Martínez in Puccini's deeply poignant opera.

21 June - 15 July 2017: Otello by Giuseppe Verdi *NEW*
Antonio Pappano conducts a new production of Verdi's thrilling Shakespeare-inspired opera directed by Keith Warner, starring Jonas Kaufmann and Gregory Kunde in the title role.

19 - 20 July 2017: The Merchant of Venice by André Tchaikowsky, Welsh National Opera *NEW*

Tchaikowsky's Shakespeare-inspired opera is an important rediscovery in 20th-century opera and receives its London premiere in this new production directed by Keith Warner.

5 - 16 July 2017: Turandot by Giacomo Puccini

Andrei Serban's striking staging of Puccini's final opera. In ancient Beijing, beautiful Princess Turandot decrees that she will marry the prince who can solve three riddles. Those who fail are put to death. Music of exotic colour and overwhelming power, including the famous and instantly recognisable ‘Nessun Dorma'.

www.roh.org.uk

Le Vin herbé (Love's Poisoned Chalice), Welsh National Opera

16 February - 25 April 2017

16 February: Wales Millenium Centre, Cardiff, Wales

21 March: Milton Keynes Theatre, south-east England

28 March: The Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol, south-west England

4 April: Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales

18 April: Theatre Royal, Plymouth, Devon, south-west England

25 April: Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, south England

Spring 2017 brings Frank Martin's touching re-tell of the Tristan and Isolde story, Le Vin herbé, (meaning the spiked drink).

www.wno.org.uk/season/loves-poisoned-chalice

Glyndebourne Festival 2017

Britain's most famous opera festival has another brilliant summer schedule for 2017:

20 May - 8 July: Hipermestra by Francesco Cavalli *UK premiere*

21 May - 19 June: La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi

11 June - 6 July: Hamlet by Brett Dean

25 June - 27 July: Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss

13 July - 23 August: Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti

26 July - 26 August: La clemenza di Tito by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

www.glyndebourne.com/festival_2017

Dance


Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes - UK tour *NEW*

An intoxicating drama where life imitates art with

Titanic Belfast Named Best Attraction in Europe

Titanic Belfast, the world's largest Titanic visitor experience, located on the spot where the famous liner was built and launched, has been named as Europe's Leading Visitor Attraction at the prestigious World Travel Awards held in Sardinia, Italy, last night.

Titanic Belfast beat off stiff competition from the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, La Sagrada Familia, Spain, The Eiffel Tower, France, Acropolis, Athens, Buckingham Palace, England, Ribeira do Porto, Portugal, and The Roman Colosseum, Italy for the top spot.It is also the first-time an attraction from Northern Ireland has won the accolade in its 23 year history.

Titanic Belfast Chief Executive, Tim Husbands MBE, commented, "We are absolutely thrilled to be Europe's Best Tourist Attraction and to bring the award back to Ireland! After only four years in operation, to be recognised and beat off stiff competition from Europe's most iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Roman Colosseum is a true honour. We know what we offer at Titanic Belfast is special - the enduring story of Titanic and the appeal of its home where she was designed and built captures hearts and minds throughout the world. We are pleased that we are recognised world-wide as the ultimate Titanic Experience and a must-see for anyone visiting Belfast, Northern Ireland and Ireland. We would like to thank everyone who has supported and voted for us."

Since opening in 2012, Titanic Belfast has established itself as a world-class attraction on the local, national and international stage, and continues to go from strength to strength. Last month, it welcomed its three-millionth visitor, having once again exceeded visitor number expectations. This milestone came during a record-breaking August, as the visitor attraction experienced its busiest day to date.

The world-class attraction has welcomed many VIP guests includes Her Majesty The Queen, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, TITANIC director James Cameron, the discovery of Titanic, Dr Robert Ballard, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and, as well as celebrities including Adele and Michael Bublé, to name a few.

It is home to some of the most significant Titanic artefacts, including the last letter ever to be written on board the Titanic by Essex-born Esther Hart and her seven-year-old daughter Eva and the SS Nomadic, the last remaining White Star Line artefact.

The award adds to Titanic Belfast accolades as it was recently included in Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travelist of 500 of the world's most striking locations, featuring everything from imposing temples to hidden gems, after only three years in operation. For more information, visit www.titanicbelfast.com.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

About Titanic Belfast
Titanic Belfast is an iconic six-floor building featuring nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Titanic, as well as the City and people which made her. It is the World's Largest Titanic exhibition.

The building houses temporary exhibits, a banqueting suite, education and community facilities, catering and retail space, and a basement car park. Visitors learn about the construction of RMS Titanic and the wide and rich story of Northern Ireland's industrial and maritime heritage.

Supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, Titanic Belfast is a unique public/private partnership funded by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter Ltd. It is operated by Titanic Belfast Ltd and owned by the Titanic Foundation Ltd.

Useful links:

For information on Titanic Belfast please contact:

Sarah Hamilton-Cardy
PR and Communications Executive, Titanic Belfast
Tel: +4428 9076 6380 or +447557641097
E: sarahhamiltoncardy@titanicbelfast.com
W: www.titanicbelfast.com
T: @titanicbelfast
FB: www.facebook.com/titanicbelfast