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

Top destination stories for 2019

Top Destination Stories For 2019

 

75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings

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

Wales – Year of Discovery

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

London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest

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

Britain on the big – and small – screen

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

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

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

Downton Abbey movie – release date 2019 TBC

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

Bond 25 – release date 8 November 2019

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

Shaun the Sheep 2 – 2019 release date TBC

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

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

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

The Secret Garden – release date Summer 2019 TBC

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

Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle release – 13 September 2019

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

Peaky Blinders, season 5 – 2019 release date TBC

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

The Crown, season 3 – 2019 release date TBC

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

 

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

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

 

Must-see exhibitions and museum updates

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

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

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

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

Heading to the north of England, the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will host Yorkshire Sculpture International every three years, starting in 2019. The project will be characterised by collaborative artistic programming, talent and audience development, new outdoor commissions and international commissioning partnerships. Liverpool’s Tate Liverpool will host the first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring (14 June – 10 November), where more than 70 art works inspired by underground club culture, pop art and graffiti will be displayed. The city will also welcome an exhibition of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the Walker Art Gallery (15 March – 26 August).

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

 

Hot hotel openings

Book ahead for these exciting hotel openings in 2019.

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

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

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

Unmissable sporting events

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

European Athletics Indoor Championships, Glasgow, Scotland (1 – 3 March)

Glasgow will welcome more than 600 athletes from 50 nations to the tracks at the city’s Emirates Arena for the 35th European Athletics Indoor Championships.

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

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

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

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

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

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

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

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

Major League Baseball, London (29 – 30 June)

The first-ever Major League Baseball games to be held in Europe, the London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will host the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantastic new experiences launch

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

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

New theatre for 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major anniversaries to commemorate

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

60 minutes from… Edinburgh

If you’re coming to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, to enjoy one of its many festivals, you’ll soon see why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as one of Britain’s greatest foodie and nightlife hotspots! And with gorgeous beaches, romantic castles and the vibrant buzz of Glasgow all only an hour away, you’ll be able to experience the country’s diverse landscapes, history and culture too, all within easy reach of a day trip.

 

The Borders

Picturesque coastlines in the east and rugged hills and moorlands in the west greet you at the Scottish Borders (bordering northern England), all of which is easily reached thanks to the Borders Railway, which connects Edinburgh and the Borders town of Tweedbank in less than an hour. Have your camera at the ready on this lovely rail journey as you pass by iconic architectural gems such as the Lothianbridge and Redbridge viaducts. Alight at Tweedbank to visit Abbotsford House, the home of famed writer Sir Walter Scott. This romantic mansion was built during the early decades of the 19th century and very much reflects the tastes of one of this era’s most prominent authors. Close by is the attractive town of Melrose, which is not only the home of the magnificent 12th-century Melrose Abbey, but also to two National Trust for Scotland gardens. Priorwood houses Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden and Harmony Gardens features a beautiful walled garden with breath-taking views over the abbey and the nearby Eildon Hills.

 

Glasgow

Did you know that Edinburgh, the capital, and Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, are only an hour apart? A lively, creative city, Glasgow is renowned for its mighty industrial heritage and world-class shopping as well as its vibrant arts, culture and music scene; it’s even a designated UNESCO City of Music! Discover why it won this status on a Glasgow Music City Tour, while fans of street art should check out Glasgow’s first dedicated tour to the genre, the City Centre Mural Trail. Football lovers can take tours of the world-famous Rangers and Celtic Football Clubs, while you can discover the city’s artistic and industrial legacy at a host of inspirational museums such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow and the Riverside Museum of Transport and the Tall Ship on the banks of the River Clyde.

 

North Berwick

In just half an hour by train you can swap Edinburgh’s cityscapes for coastal relaxation. North Berwick and its stretches of golden sands are spectacular – and if it’s glorious views you’ve come for, you won’t be disappointed. Sweeping vistas look out to Bass Rock, home to the world’s largest northern gannet colony, and to the Forth Islands. Take a boat trip out to the islands for an even closer inspection, while bird lovers should also pay a visit to the town’s Scottish Seabird Centre. Alternatively, if you fancy a game of golf overlooking these wonderful coastal scenes, tee off at either of the town’s excellent links courses, the Glen Golf Club and the North Berwick Golf Club.

The town itself is home to a fine collection of cafés, bars and shops, from vintage-style tearooms to stylish coffee shops…also make sure you hit the fish and chip shops and ice-cream parlours, it’s tradition at a British seaside resort! For heritage seekers, don’t miss the 14th-century fortress Tantallon Castle and Dirleton Castle, which houses some of the oldest castle architecture in Scotland.

 

Stirling

If you’ve ever watched the film Braveheart, you’ll want to visit Stirling. The iconic National Wallace Monument, which overlooks the scene of Scotland’s victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, gives a fascinating insight into the world of Scottish hero William Wallace. History pulsates through every inch of Stirling; explore the streets of the medieval old town, encounter intriguing royal history at Stirling Castle, and even see the world’s oldest football at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum. Perhaps one of the most absorbing attractions that tells the stories of the area’s past is the Battle of Bannockburn Experience. This 3D, immersive exhibition takes you into the heart of one of Scotland’s most historic battles, ending with a visit to the Battle Room where visitors can take part in the interactive battle game. And, if you’re a fan of the hit TV show Outlander, take the time to visit Doune Castle. Located around 15 minutes out of town, multiple scenes from the popular series were filmed at this splendid castle, as they were for Game of Thrones and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

Peebles

South of Edinburgh, on the banks of the River Tweed, lies Peebles, a small, attractive town with a distinctly artistic vibe, that’s framed by gorgeous countryside scenery. Scottish novelist John Buchan, author of The Thirty Nine Steps, made his home here and a picturesque 13-mile walking route is named after him, the John Buchan Way. Alternatively, head out hiking in Glentress Forest, which is also brilliant for mountain biking, as its trails are one of Scotland 7stanes (seven mountain biking centres in southern Scotland). Despite its size, Peebles boasts a number of art galleries and studios and its historic past is prevalent on every corner; ancient relics are dotted across town, from the ruined Cross Kirk to an old Mercat Cross (which depicts a town’s right, granted by a monarch or baron, to hold a regular market).

 

You might also like…

  • Rosslyn Chapel - Discover intricate carvings and unique stonework at one of the most intriguing places of worship in Scotland, in the village of Roslin, 30-minutes’ drive from Edinburgh. Discover its story from its founding in the 15th century to its depiction in the novel and subsequent film The Da Vinci Code.
  • Musselburgh - Step into the past at this historic market town that derives its name from the mussel beds found on nearby shores. It’s also home to the oldest racecourse in Scotland – which hosts many race meets throughout the year – as well as to the historic nine-hole Musselburgh Links golf course, which has royal connections going back to the early 16th century.
  • Linlithgow Palace - Explore royal history at the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, a palace that was once a stopping point for royalty en-route between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. Visit in the summer to enjoy its annual jousting spectacle.

Great British cycle routes

Great Britain excels in cycling, hosting celebrated challenge rides like the Peak District’s Eroica Britannia in Derbyshire, Scotland’s TweedLove Bike Festival and the UK National Track Championships in Manchester. But one of the best things about UK cycling is simply taking off spontaneously on a trail. Here are some ideas for exploring the UK on two wheels…   

 

Long-distance

Hebridean Way

This new long-distance ride spans the length of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides island chain. The 185-mile route crosses 10 islands in the archipelago – and it’s packed with paradise beaches visitors might not expect in the UK.

Surprise trailside treats: Calanais Standing Stones which pre-date Stonehenge, the historic Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

 

Bay Cycle Way  

Starting at the nature reserves of Walney Island, this flattish route follows a spectacular yet often underrated coastline. Pedalling 81 miles through the Cumbrian and Lancashire countryside, cyclists can enjoy bird-watching in RSPB reserves and eating in the many gourmet restaurants in the village of Cartmel.

Surprise trailside treats: Coniston Priory Buddhist Centre, the art deco Midland Hotel.

 

Celtic Trail West

The Celtic Trail runs across Wales at its widest point with the west section connecting Swansea and Fishguard via the spectacular Swansea and Pembrokeshire coastlines. The seaside resorts of Tenby and Saundersfoot are also worth a visit.

Surprise trailside treats: The sand dune forests of Millennium Coastal Park, the Brunel Trail.

 

See also:

South Coast Way

This 360-mile coastal route from Dover, Kent to Dawlish in Devon stops at the seaside towns of Brighton and Hastings.

 

Fun and family

Two Palaces Ride, London

This two-mile loop takes in more than just the two palaces of the title. The relaxed start from Buckingham Palace leads to a laidback ride through the Duke of Wellington Arch and into Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on its way to Kensington Palace – best ridden on a Sunday.

Surprise trailside treats: Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery and Apsley House.

 

Monsal Trail, Peak District

In Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park, the traffic-free Monsal trail offers flat, easy cycling along the old Midland railway line with great views of the limestone dales. The eight-and-a-half mile trail, from Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale to Coombs Road at Bakewell, blasts through six moodily lit tunnels, up to 400 metres long.

Surprise trailside treats: The Secret Tea Garden at Miller’s Dale. 

 

Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, Northern Ireland

The Lagan and Lough Cycle Way is a 21-mile, mostly traffic-free route from Lisburn to Jordanstown via Belfast. Cyclists can enjoy biking along the Lagan Towpath and Belfast Lough, with spectacular views inland to Belfast’s hills.

Surprise trailside treats: Kingfisher-spotting in the Lagan Valley Regional Park and Belfast’s most famous pub, The Crown Bar.

 

Cuckoo Trail, Sussex

The Cuckoo Trail gets its name from an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Agricultural Show. Running from Polegate near Eastbourne to Heathfield itself, it covers 11 family-friendly miles of traffic-free tarmac and gravel along a railway line.

Surprise trailside treats: See if you can spot Artist Steve Geliot’s wooden benches carved from storm damaged oaks, Hailsham village and nearby Michelham Priory, a medieval monastery-turned-country house and museum.

 

See also:

Fallowfield Loopline, Manchester

Head south from the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre and you’ll find the 16-mile traffic-free route to South Manchester.

 

Derby Canal Path and Cloud Trail

Flat, well-surfaced riverside riding starting in Derby and ending at the engagingly named Cloud Quarry where cyclists are rewarded by wonderful views. 

 

Camel Trail

A popular 18-mile, predominantly traffic-free railway trail taking in Padstow, Bodmin, Wadebridge, and Wenford Bridge; a delightful mix of Cornish woodland, birdlife and wild estuary.

New Year, New You

As we wave goodbye to turkey-guzzling and bubbly poppin’, and the Christmas jumper is tucked into drawer for another year, it’s time to start the New Year as we mean to go on. We’ve rounded up the ways in which we can stick to those New Year’s resolutions, as the year ahead shines bright and fresh.

 

Find courage and conquer your greatest fears

New for 2018, The Bear Grylls Adventure at Birmingham NEC is a great way to channel your inner strength with a series of adventure activities designed to test self-belief and physical and mental agility. Challenges will include conquering small spaces, indoor skydiving and the highest free-roam high ropes in Europe.

Can’t think of anything worse than falling face-down deep inside a cave? Turn that fear into thrills by signing up to the Black Cat Free Fall at Cheddar Gorge & Caves – the first of its kind in any UK cave.

Those who prefer feet safely on the ground, meet some fluffy friends at Longleat (Wiltshire) for its animal experiences, as rangers arrange a personal introduction where you can hold a tarantula, or let a snake slither across your shoulders.

 

Get spiritualised

With meditating emojis taking over our digital lives, find your zen in the real world with health and wellbeing retreats at Chilston Park Hotel in Kent. From New Beginnings and Restoring You courses to Couple’s Mindfulness, free your mind from the stresses of 2017.

Or get back in the saddle as horse riding has been billed as the latest fitness trend to aid mindfulness. The new Salisbury Plain Horse Back Safaris take in the dramatic landscapes and picturesque villages surrounding Stonehenge and the Plain, as well as Europe’s largest chalk grassland while on horseback.

 

Enjoy more ‘you time’

Indulge yourself with a spa break at HarSPA, the newly opened Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa. From a crystal steam room to hydrotherapy pool and massages, the new spa offers all the facilities for a perfect moment of relaxation. After a busy day, enjoy a facial massage or a hot stone back massage.

Or, head to Llandrindod Wells in mid-Wales. The legacy for this town is resplendent with Victorian hotels such as the magnificent, recently restored Metropole. Enjoy contemporary four star spa experience at The Rock Spa, amid the surroundings of a Victorian-style conservatory. The hotel’s award-winning Radnor & Miles Restaurant serves up a delicious à la carte menu for lunch and dinner.

Alternatively, go up the North and visit the Scottish town of Crieff, located less than an hour and a half by train from Scotland. To this day, its Crieff Hydro remains a relaxing retreat for visitors. This four star spa is set amid beautiful grounds and offers an enormous range of leisure activities additional to the usual body and beauty treatments, making it a family holiday destination too.

 

Let your creativity flow and learn a new skill

The hills are alive on the Isle of Wight and the sounds of your song can run through them, learn to hit those high notes with the Joy of Singing Weekend (16-18 Feb). Free your voice, increase your confidence, enjoy self-expression and ignite your creativity.

If your voice is best kept for the shower, tie on your apron, unleash your creativity, and get cooking! For a cookery class with a difference, head to Blackaddie Hotel in Scotland, owned by Ian McAndrew. This is not your normal cookery school, but hands-on work in a real kitchen, with a maximum of two students at a time. Experience what goes into a full day in the kitchens, from initial menu planning with the chefs in the morning through to preparation and live service.

If in London, the V&A Museum also offers a range of various artistic workshops from gouache portraits to polaroid photography techniques. Participants will be able to explore and develop new skills and learn from experts in a creative environment.

 

Work off those mince pies

Get in shape with a two-night electric-bike sightseeing package on the Isle of Wight, offering a great way to get exercise in the fresh air but the extra help from the electric motor. Yoga classes on the water are a great way to challenge your body’s balance and restore inner peace.

Or, following in the steps of Wales’ national footballers and head to The Vale Resort where the team trained before their semi-final run at 2016’s European Championships. This four-star hotel have outstanding sporting facilities but offers also Wales’ largest spa, a gigantic gym geared for professional athletes and two 18-hole championship golf courses, plus academy and pro shop.

As the only Northern Irish hotel to promise ‘sporting excellence’, no wonder the Crowne Plaza receives so many visiting sports teams. Its on-site health centre stars a large pool and can rent out bikes, while local partners include rugby, cricket, Gaelic football and hockey clubs, with all those sports possible to arrange. Ditto sea-kayaking. Some guests work up an perfectly-adequate sweat merely exploring Belfast, and especially its Titanic Experience

Eight of the best: hotels with great sporting facilities

Planning a post-Christmas detox? What is a better way than starting a new year with getting loads of essential endorphins pumping round your body? Many of Britain’s hotels boast high-quality sport offerings, from multi-facility all-rounders to single-discipline specialists. Book a stay at one of the following, and get 2018 off to a sporty start.

 

Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Wiltshire, south-west England

Whereas most hotel stables offer only gentle trots, luxurious Lucknam Park’s Equestrian Centre is far more comprehensive. Some of its 35 horses cater to proficient riders hoping to improve their jumping or dressage amid a full-size arena, while specialist clinics are led by world-leading showjumpers. The Palladian mansion is just as venerable, boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant and gloriously landscaped gardens. Bath’s famously restorative waters are within day-trip reach.

Getting there: Taxis are readily available at Bath and Chippenham’s rail stations, both of which welcome regular, 90-minute services from London Paddington.

 

Carden Park Hotel, Cheshire, western England

Two professional golf courses stretch away from this 196-room country hotel in western England, with PGA professionals including Garry Houston among the tutors. Carden Park’s 405 beautiful hectares (1,000 acres) also contain an archery area, full-sized football pitch, aerial ropes course and two tennis courts. The award-winning Carden Spa soothes any overused muscles. If you can tear yourself away, nearby Chester has a magnificent cathedral and one of Britain’s best zoos.

Getting there: Manchester’s international airport – to the north – is a 50-minute drive away.

 

The Vale Resort, Glamorgan, Wales

If it’s good enough for Gareth Bale… Wales’ national footballers trained at The Vale before their semi-final run at 2016’s European Championships, and Bale’s Real Madrid have also used the seven DESSO, 3G indoor and outdoor pitches – just as guests of the on-site four-star hotel can. The same goes for Wales’ largest spa, a gigantic gym geared for professional athletes and two 18-hole championship golf courses, plus academy and pro shop. Cardiff’s castle and filming locations for popular TV drama Sherlock are less than ten miles away.

Getting there: The Vale’s a 20-minute drive from Cardiff, and 25 minutes from Cardiff Airport.

 

Hilton at St George’s Park, Staffordshire, central England

England’s footballers, meanwhile, train at the National Football Centre in central England before international home games – and stay, just like you can, at the accompanying Hilton at St George’s Park. As state-of-the-art as you’d imagine, facilities include a FIFA-standard pitch and a dedicated area for goalkeepers. The hotel’s Health Club and Spa features a 17-metre (56-foot) pool. Rather less athletically-minded, this part of Britain is famous for its centuries-old beer-brewing.

Getting there: London is a two-hour drive, while Birmingham Airport is just 25 miles south.

 

Crowne Plaza Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

As the only Northern Irish hotel to promise ‘sporting excellence’, no wonder the Crowne Plaza receives so many visiting sports teams. Its on-site health centre stars a large pool and can rent out bikes, while local partners include rugby, cricket, Gaelic football and hockey clubs, with all those sports possible to arrange. Ditto sea-kayaking. Some guests work up an perfectly-adequate sweat merely exploring Belfast, and especially its Titanic Experience.

Getting there: The George Best Belfast City Airport has daily services from London.

 

Coworth Park, Berkshire, south-east England

Polo is a quintessentially English game, played on horseback. In grounds managed by the prestigious Guards Polo Club, southern England’s Coworth Park can promise two international polo fields, a devoted teaching paddock and a Polo Academy overseen by professional player Ebe Sievwright, open to guests of all levels. Part of the Dorchester Collection, Coworth Park is close to the famous Ascot racecourse.

Getting there: Coworth Park is located just east of London, with regular trains from Waterloo to Sunningdale, five minutes away.

 

Old Course Hotel, Fife, Scotland

Scotland’s St Andrews is considered the home of golf – and homestays are possible. Situated beside its namesake’s 17th hole, the Old Course Hotel splendidly gazes across the links to West Sands Beach and the North Sea. Awarded five red AA stars, it includes classical suites designed by French maestro Jacques Garcia. As St Andrews is publically-owned land, anyone can play the iconic courses – but reserve ahead, as demand is understandably high. Known for its castle and independent stores, the university town of St Andrews is within strolling distance.

Getting there: From Edinburgh, it’s an hour’s drive north or 55 minutes by train to Leuchars – four miles away.

 

The Manor House & Ashbury Hotels, Devon, south-west England

Neighbouring properties, the Manor House and Ashbury Hotels combine into a sports behemoth. Seven golf courses, 99 holes and over 400 buggies are the chief brag, but extensive tennis, squash, badminton, bowls and snooker facilities make for excellent support acts, as does a synthetic curling rink. Lessons are possible in all. Leave time to explore your surrounds, though: mysterious Dartmoor begins less than a mile to the west.

Getting there: Devon is in south-west England. Both hotels are a four-hour drive from London.

Lonely Planet declares North Wales in Britain as one of the world's top regions for 2017

North Wales has been named one of the top regions in the world for travellers in 2017. The region receives the accolade in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2017, the highly anticipated collection of the world's hottest trends, destinations and experiences for the year ahead.

North Wales earned its place as a must-see destination for 2017 thanks to the region's reinvention. As the book highlights, Surf Snowdonia, based on the site of an aluminium factory in the Conwy Valley, is perhaps the most headline-stealing example of this reinvention, while Zip World at Penrhyn Quarry boasts the world's fastest (and Europe's longest) zip line. Bounce Below offers the chance to enjoy giant trampolines strung in the caverns beneath Blaenau Ffestiniog, one-time capital of Wales' slate-mining industry.

If that wasn't enough, Snowdonia National Park - Wales' largest - has been designated a dark-sky reserve, thanks to its lack of light pollution.

North Wales featured fourth on the list of top regions for 2017, coming in ahead of South Australia, Aysén in Chile, the Tuamotus in French Polynesia and Coastal Georgia in the USA.

Lonely Planet's writers and experts spend time on the road in almost every destination on the planet, and each year they report which destinations are set to take off, offering travellers the best experience available. The destinations selected for Lonely Planet's Best in Travel meet specific criteria; it could be that something special is going on in the year ahead or there's been recent development and a lot of buzz about the place, that it offers travellers new things to see or do, or that the Lonely Planet team of experts thinks it's been overlooked and underrated and suggests travellers visit before the crowds do.

Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2017:

1. Choquequirao, Peru

2. Taranaki, New Zealand

3. The Azores, Portugal

4. North Wales, UK

5. South Australia

6. Aysén, Chile

7. The Tuamotus, French Polynesia

8. Coastal Georgia, USA

9. Perak, Malaysia

10. The Skellig Ring, Ireland