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
Robert de Niro's is due to open his first London hotel in partnership with BD Hotels The Wellington, in Covent Garden. Planning permission has been granted for the scheme, which will include 83 bedrooms, two restaurants, a members' club, deli/café, spa and swimming pool.
The Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane in the conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, is scheduled to open its doors in Spring next year and boast around 1,000 rooms and suites, together with two bars and a Hard Rock Cafe®. And art’otel plans to open its first property in London in the neighbourhood of Hoxton, an 18-storey, 350-bedroom contemporary new hotel, the art'otel Hoxton

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

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

Unmissable sporting events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICC Cricket World Cup (30 May – 15 July)   

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

Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (9 June)

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

Major League Baseball, London (29 – 30 June)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantastic new experiences launch

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

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

New theatre for 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major anniversaries to commemorate

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

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

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

National Galleries of Scotland

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

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

The National Museum of Scotland

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

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

Royal Botanic Gardens

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

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

Stand Up Comedy Club

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

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

Calton Hill

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

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

Window shopping

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

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

The Magic Is Back – Mary Poppins Returns!

It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. And, at the end of this year, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children, now in 1935, in the Disney musical sequel Mary Poppins Returns, where London is once again a star of the story. Here’s how to have your very own magical Mary Poppins experience in the capital that’s, as our favourite nanny would say, practically perfect in every way.

                                         

Lights, camera, action

Discover behind-the-scenes stories from the new film and details from the original Mary Poppins books and film on the new Brit Movies Mary Poppins tour, launching in 2019, which will take you through the streets of London and the locations used in Mary Poppins Returns. The two-hour walking tour, which is family friendly, will take in famous landmarks that you’ll recognise from the original movie and that have appeared in the sequel’s trailer, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most impressive examples of cathedral architecture in the country. Another filming location was by Buckingham Palace – its magnificent state rooms are open to visitors for ten weeks each summer –  as was outside the Bank of England. While this isn’t open to tours, check out its fascinating Bank of England Museum.

Stop by the house where it all began

We wouldn’t have the films if it wasn’t for the original books created by Australian-born author P.L. Travers who spent most of her life in England, which was where she created her unforgettable character. She wrote a series of eight books on the magical nanny at 50 Smith Street in Chelsea, which earlier this year was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque. P.L. Travers lived here for 17 years and the house is said to have inspired the look of the Banks’ family home in the original movie.

 

Enjoy a spoonful of sugar

You’ll get much more than just one spoonful of sugary treats at this creative and delicious afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. Launched to coincide with the relaunch of the five original Mary Poppins classic books, this afternoon tea of nostalgic sweets and savouries is available until April 2019…and it’s all so enchanting. The menu is a gilt gold framed mirror menu – the mirror is a recurring symbol throughout the books – and tea is delivered on a custom-made tea stand with an umbrella on top and silver booted feet below – with crockery designed with Mary Shepard’s original illustrations of Mary Poppins. Feast on homemade scones with jam and clotted cream (which you’ll find in Mary’s carpet bag); miniature crumpets; two bespoke teas ‘Mary’s Tea’ and ‘Bert’s Tea’; unique sweet treats such as Mary Poppins’ very own hat with a black ‘Cherry Tree Lane’ mousse covered in dark chocolate, and Fairground Candy Floss. Order champagne with the tea and be charmed by the kite that flies from the champagne flute before adding ‘medicine’ to the glass, with the choice of three homemade liqueurs. It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

 

Go fly a kite!

The trailer from Mary Poppins Returns includes a spot of kite-flying – which will have you humming Let’s Go Fly A Kite! from the original movie in no time. Of course, you can fly a kite across many of London’s green spaces, but if you want to fly your kite against the backdrop of the celebrated London skyline, head up to the top of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath, north London. Primrose Hill near Regent’s Park also affords spectacular views over the capital; the top of this hill is one of six protected viewpoints in London.

Step onto London’s rooftops
Bert took Mary Poppins up to the rooftops of London to show her the view of the capital through the eyes of a chimney sweep but you can gaze over the capital’s magnificent skyline in a far more sophisticated manner. London has many rooftop bars with panoramic vistas over the capital’s rooftops. Try out the Rumpus Room on floor 12 of South Bank’s Mondrian Hotel for its awesome view of St Paul’s Cathedral; the Radio Rooftop Bar at ME London for 360 degree views of the capital; or The Rooftop St James’ overlooking Trafalgar Square and ideal for all weathers thanks to  its retractable roof.

Order a bespoke umbrella

What is Mary Poppins’ favourite mode of transport? Flying in by umbrella of course! While owning a flying umbrella is just a dream, you can have your own bespoke brolly created at one of London’s historic establishments of fine craftsmanship. James Smith and Sons, just off Regent Street, has been designing and making high-end umbrellas (think handles of exquisitely carved wood) since 1830, while Fox Umbrellas has been creating beautiful bespoke umbrellas since 1868.

 

Book tickets to see Mary Poppins in the West End

Once you’ve watched the sequel, you’ll be inspired by all things Mary Poppins…and it’s recently been confirmed that Mary Poppins will return to the West End at Prince Edward Theatre in Autumn 2019! Booking for the show – a joint production between Cameron Mackintosh and Disney Theatrical Productions – opens in January 2019 and will star Zizi Strallen, who will step back into Mary’s shoes having played the role in the international tour.

 

 

 

48 Hours in…Chester and Cheshire

With an enchanting mix of historic market towns, quaint village squares and picturesque landscapes, not to mention an impressive collection of stately homes and formal gardens, there are few places more quintessentially English than Cheshire. At the heart of the county is the compact Roman city of Chester; bewitching in its beauty and quietly making a name for itself as one of the UK’s most enriching short break destinations.

 

GET YOUR BEARINGS

One of several counties in the north of England, Cheshire is within easy distance of a number of key cities, locations and tourism hubs, including Liverpool, Manchester, The Peak District, Staffordshire and North Wales. Due to Manchester Airport’s southern location within Greater Manchester, it is possible to travel into northern parts of Cheshire within minutes of leaving the airport, whilst a journey from the airport to Chester takes around 45 minutes by car.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN

If you’re setting up base camp in Chester, there are few hotels as impressive as The Chester Grosvenor. Overlooking the famous Eastgate Clock, The Grosvenor has been welcoming guests for over 150 years and was recently bestowed the title of ‘World’s Best Classic Hotel’ at the Boutique Hotel Awards. Similarly impressive but with a much more idiosyncratic style is the achingly-cool Oddfellows Chester, an Instagrammers dream hotel, and if you’re arriving on a late flight (or have an early departure) from Manchester Airport its sister property, Oddfellows On The Park, is equally charming. Of course, with so much beautiful countryside, Cheshire itself isn’t short of country-piles-turned-hotels and standout options include Peckforton Castle, The Mere, Mottram Hall and brand new opening in Knutsford, The Courthouse.

 

 

DAY ONE

 

10:00 – FIND YOUR FEET

Founded by the Romans in AD79, Chester has a long and fascinating history. Take a brisk morning stroll to discover the most complete City Walls in Britain; Eastgate Clock, said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben; the River Dee; the largest Roman Amphitheatre; the oldest racecourse in Britain; and the city’s stunning Cathedral. There are plenty of great walking tours available, but for a tour with a difference, book a Chester Running Tour and whizz around the sites on 5k or 10k routes. Just make sure that you backtrack to Chester Cross for midday to see the Town Crier’s daily proclamation.

 

12:30 – HAVE A STICKY LUNCH

Take a five-minute taxi ride or 30 minute walk to Hoole where you’ll find a quaint high street and a small restaurant with big ambitions. Sticky Walnut is the acclaimed neighbourhood restaurant from local restauranteur Gary Usher offering delicious British cuisine and a great value three-course lunch. It’s one of several restaurants across the north west that serial crowdfunder Usher has opened, drawing diners into small towns and suburbs such as Heswall in Merseyside where people flock to Burnt Truffle, Didsbury in Greater Manchester where he opened Hispi in 2016, and Prescott in Merseyside where Pinion is coming soon. There’s also Wreckfish in Liverpool and Kala, due to open in Manchester in 2019.

 

14:00 – A HIT OF HERITAGE

Take your pick for an afternoon of unique heritage attractions and experiences. Chester Castle reopened to the public last year and features the 12th-century Agricola Tower, the first stone gateway to Chester Castle, which had been founded by William the Conqueror in 1070 in the south west part of the city. Open during the summer months, you can soak up views across the city from the tower and then head over to the Grosvenor Museum or St. Michaels Church on Bridge Street, where plans are well underway for a brand new heritage attraction – watch this space! Heading out of town, The Lion Salt Works Museum is a restored historic open-pan salt making site where you can find out about the curious impact of salt on mid-Cheshire’s people, economy and landscape. Or for something completely different, try theAmazing Women by Rail trail which invites visitors to explore the fascinating and often hidden histories of women who lived and worked in areas along the Mid Cheshire and Calder Valley railway lines; from writers, artists and sportswomen to campaigners, suffragettes and politicians.

 

18:00 – ENJOY INDEPENDENT EATS

Chester’s bar and restaurant scene is booming at the moment, with independents at the heart of the scene. Book an early dinner at The Chef’s Table and let the small but passionate team look after you or Porta, a low-key, high-demand Spanish joint run by brothers Ben & Joe Wright. Alternatively, make the a pilgrimage to Stockport to sample culinary storytelling via a blind-tasting menu put together by one of the UK’s most exciting young chefs, Sam Buckley at Where the Light Gets In. You’ll need to book well in advance for the latter, however, given the perfect 10 score from Guardian reviewer Marina O’Loughlin last year.

 

19:30 – STORYTIME

Opened in May 2017, and then formally opened in June 2018 by The Queen and The Duchess of Sussex, Storyhouse is a sprawling multi-arts centre incorporating a library, theatre and cinema. It’s one of the country’s most successful cultural buildings, welcoming one million customers in its first year and is the perfect place to while away your first night in Chester. During the summer months look out for moonlight cinema screenings and open air theatre events in Grosvenor Park run by the Storyhouse team.

 

 

 

DAY TWO

 

10:30 – HAVE A MONKEY OF A TIME

Your second day needs to be all about exploring the tourism attractions of wider Cheshire and no visit to county is complete without a visit to Chester Zoo. The UK’s most popular zoo with over 21,000 animals and 500 species, it’s been the subject of several high profile TV series’ including the BBC drama Our Zoo, which chronicled the inspiring story of founder George Mottershead and his family in the 1930s. Major recent developments at the zoo include ‘Islands’, which showcases the tropical environments of six South East Asian microclimates with immersive and interactive experiences throughout, plus a newly-expanded nature reserve, located on the zoo’s doorstep which is free to enter. A must-see event during winter isThe Lanterns, a light festival which turns the zoo into a magical festival wonderland featuring colourful, over-sized animal illuminations.

OR

10:30 – GET YOUR GEEK ON

For over 50 years, the giant Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank has been a familiar feature of the Cheshire landscape and an internationally-renowned landmark in the world of astronomy. It’s now firmly establishing itself as a tourism destination too after the UK government nominated it for UNESCO World Heritage status earlier this year. There’s the telescope itself but also several pavilions exploring in great detail our understanding of space, stars and planets so far. Taking afternoon tea at the onsite café with the telescope and rolling hills of Cheshire as a backdrop is surely one of the most unique and unusual experiences you can have in the country. And if you want to see Jodrell Bank at its best, visit during the annual Blue Dot which offers a boutique festival combining music, art and science.

OR

10:30 – EXPLORE A COUNTRY ESTATE

Tatton Park is perhaps the best known of Cheshire’s country estates and is indeed one of the most loved historical sites in the UK. It houses a neo-classical mansion, acres of landscape gardens, a huge deer park and a Tudor Old Hall. The park is alsor home to a rare breed farm, which has recently been reworked as the ‘Field to Fork’ story, explaining in honest terms where food comes from by bringing to life Cheshire’s farming history with costumed actors. Not one for vegetarians or vegans perhaps, but an essential education piece for children, it’s also possible to get hands-on with workshops and agricultural skills classes such as cheese-making and bee-keeping.

 

16:00 – BRAIN FREEZE!

Whichever activity you choose, a crucial stop on your way back to Chester has to be The Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall. Primarily an adventure park for kids, it also features what is considered to be ‘World’s Largest Purpose Built Ice Cream Parlour’ housing all manner of award-winning ice cream flavours. It’s probably no surprise that The Ice Cream Farm made it into the top 20 visitor attractions in Britain in 2017. However, if ice cream’s not your thing, back in Chester make a beeline for The Cheese Shop which stocks over 200 varieties including the iconic Cheshire cheese. We also recommend stocking up on Pant Glas Bach Preserves’ award-winning marmalade and other local treats at Hawarden Estate Farm Shop.

 

19:00 – SECRET STOP OFF

It’s a relatively little-known fact that much of the hit show Peaky Blinders was actually shot on location in Cheshire, including in particular, Arley Hall which stands in as anti-hero Thomas Shelby’s country home. Mark this connection with a visit to hidden speakeasy Prohibition where you can enjoy cocktails and jazz music, then head off to Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor for an exquisite dinner that Mr Shelby would certainly approve. Remarkably, the restaurant has held a Michelin start since 1990 and also has four AA Rosettes and an AA Notable Wine List Award.

48 hours in… Bristol

It’s already well-known for its Banksy street art connection and vibrant arts, culture and music scene — but there’s even more to Bristol than meets the eye.

Not only is Bristol a buzzing university city, but it’s also home of some of Britain’s quirkiest tourist attractions. It’s little wonder that in 2017 it topped a Sunday Times poll for ‘Best Place To Live’ in the UK.

Walks along the harbour or through The Downs, a public park overlooking Avon Gorge, are the perfect way to relax in between the excitement of a hedonistic 48-hour trip to this lively city, home to an eclectic art scene and the ever-present basslines of its famous music venues.

 

TIME TO CHECK IN:

Stay among the hipsters and check into the Hotel du Vin at The Sugar House, a collection of restored historic sugar warehouses. Right in the city centre, it’s the perfect base from which to enjoy the best of classic Bristolian cool.

 

DAY ONE:

 

10:00 EXPLORE EUROPE’S MOST BIKE-FRIENDLY DESTINATION

Join a tour or even hire a tandem to explore the city. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can download a cycling map from Better By Bike.

 

13:00 EAT IN A SECRET GARDEN

Fill your rumbling tum with rustic fare at local favourite The Ethicurean where you can indulge in an ethically conscious feast of seasonal produce in its whimsical walled garden setting. It is half an hour by taxi from Bristol city centre (and only six minutes from the airport); note that it’s closed on Mondays.

The mouthwatering dishes include modern British creations such as beef neck with purple sprouting broccoli to classic desserts like sticky toffee pudding. Diners can choose from an a-la-carte lunch menu or enjoy the ‘Full Feast Dinner’ served Tuesday to Saturday evenings (£28-£46 per person).

 

15:00 HEAD TO THE HARBOURSIDE

Wander down to Bristol’s historic harbour and learn why the SS Great Britain, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was called ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation.’ The steamship, one of the longest and most powerful of its time, was designed to transport passengers across the Atlantic from Bristol to New York.

Get to know the vessel’s history at the Dockyard Museum. Step aboard the lovingly restored ship, adorned with flags as if ready for departure, and imagine what transatlantic travel would have felt like in Victorian Britain. The ship is contained inside a glass ‘sea’ to repel humidity and ensure minimal corrosion. In fact, the air inside the ‘dry dock’ that surrounds the ship is as dry as the desert!

 

19:00 DINING ON THE WATER

Grab a table at the Glass Boat Brasserie. This floating restaurant, constructed from a barge, makes for an unusual dining experience and serves up classic French cuisine.

 

21:00 SECRET SPEAKEASY

Get the party started and seek out one of Bristol’s ‘secret’ prohibition bars. Opposite the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, in the city centre, you’ll find Hyde & Co, Bristol’s original speakeasy. Grab yourself a pew at the bar and sip on Sucker Punch, a tropical mix of the bar’s own Hyde Scotch, with coconut, salted pineapple, lime and creole bitters.

 

DAY TWO:

 

10:00 UNESCO CITY OF FILM

See why Bristol was named UNESCO City of Film and check out some of the city’s famous locations. From university rom-com Starter for Ten, to period drama The Duchess starring Keira Knightley, Bristol is a seriously starry city. 
 

13:00 DINE IN A SHIPPING CONTAINER

Enjoy lunch at Cargo, at Wapping Wharf, a collection of restaurants set in old shipping containers. Other spots include the delicious taco bar Cargo Cantina or opt for the ultimate comfort food at Lovett Pies.

 

15:00 EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

No Bristolian adventure would be complete without a pilgrimage to places where the notoriously anonymous street artist, and Bristolian, Banksy made his name in the early 1990s.

See some of his iconic works, such as ‘Paint-Pot Angel’ at the entrance to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. You’ll come across many others on a self-guided Banksy walking tour or can download the Banksy Bristol Trail app for more.

Although he’s never sold a piece, his work attracts fans from around the globe, which was the subject of Banksy’s own Oscar-nominated film Exit Through the Gift Shop, about a street art-obsessed French immigrant living in LA.

 

17:00 BOUTIQUE BUYS

Grab some last-minute buys and head back to shoppers’ haven Clifton, a picture-perfect Victorian suburb of Bristol. The area is packed with independent shops, and you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get that Instagram shot of Clifton Suspension Bridge too.

 

HOW TO GET THERE:

By air: Bristol Airport is approximately 30 minutes by express bus to Bristol Temple Meads station.

By rail: Bristol Temple Meads is under two hours from London Paddington.

By road: Bristol is 2.5 hours from London via the M4.

48 hours in … Cardiff

Europe’s youngest capital city, Cardiff is also one of the easiest to enjoy. The old docks are now a striking waterfront and the compact city centre is packed with museums and concert halls, energetic nightlife, great food, some of the best shopping in western Britain and a vibrant cultural scene. It’s also home to world-class sports stadium, and with Cardiff City FC joining the Premier League this season - for only the second time in the Club’s 199 year history - there’s never been a better time to visit.

TIME TO CHECK IN

With the rapid expansion of tourism in recent years, Cardiff offers plenty of choice for places to crash, but few are as impressive as The Exchange. Housed in one of Cardiff’s most significant historical buildings, this 200-room luxury hotel was once the headquarters of the global coaling industry and where the first £1 million business deal was made in 1904. Another luxury option is the glass-fronted St. David’s Hotel, recently taken over by the achingly-cool Principal hotel group and located on Cardiff Bay. However, if boutique is more your style, The Pontcanna Inn offer just ten wholly Instagrammable rooms, whilst Hotel Indigo has recently expanded into the city with the addition of an impressive roof terrace that offers spectacular views of Cardiff Castle and the surrounds.

DAY ONE

10:30 – FEED YOUR CURIOSITY

Arguably the best way to plunge straight into the vibrant life of Cardiff – and get talking to its people – is to take a culinary tour of the capital’s thriving food scene with a local guide from Loving Welsh Food. Cardiff Tasting Tours will take you all over the city centre, calling in at specialist food producers, retailers and the famous indoor market. Six delicious food and drink tastings include continental meats, cheeses, cockles, laverbread and Welsh beers and ciders, plus along the way you’ll pass beautiful parks, majestic buildings and landmarks including Cardiff Castle and the Principality Stadium.

14:00 – VISIT THE DRAGON’S LAIR

Whilst Cardiff City FC may be joining the Premier League, if you want to really understand the soul of the Welsh people, back track to the Principality Stadium and partake in a tour of perhaps one of the world’s most enjoyable sporting arenas, home to the fierce Welsh Rugby Team – and host stadium for the UEFA Champions League Final 2017. Experience the build-up before the match in the Dragon’s Lair, Wales’ team dressing room and hear the spine-tingling roar of 74,500 fans as you walk down the players’ tunnel towards the hallowed turf.

OR

14:00 – EMBRACE AN ADRENALINE RUSH

Wales has no shortage of rapids on its rivers, but the Olympic-standard ones at Cardiff International White Water roar and tumble through this man-made white water course right in the heart Cardiff Bay. Two-hour coached sessions of exhilarating whitewater rafting are suitable for complete beginners and seasoned experts, and if rafting’s not your bag, you can opt for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, “hotdogging” in inflatable kayaks or bodyboarding. If you still want more once you’ve finished on the waves, you can strap on a harness and cross the high ropes timber structure towering above the white water course – before tackling the Burma Bridge, Monkey Swing, Barrel Crawl and Zip Wire.

16:00 – EXPLORE THE CITY OF ARCADES

It’s 160 years since the first of seven Cardiff arcades – The Royal Arcade – opened, and there has been a recent push to celebrate the collective glory of the city’s “crown jewels”. With over 100 local eateries and independent retailers, the arcades allow for a shopping experience peppered with character, eclecticism, stories and history; all brought together under a roof of classic Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Don’t miss Gin and Juice, the only cocktail-come-salad bar in the city; tattoo and barber shop Sleep When your Dead; and the world’s oldest record store, Spiller Records.

19:30 – GET STUFFED ON COWBRIDGE ROAD

Home to a mind-boggling array of independent eateries, the long stretch from Victoria Park to the River Taff is the perfect place to take evening stroll and decide on where to eat. From pizza at The Dough Thrower to nouvelle Indian cuisine at Purple Poppadom, build-your-own burgers at Time and Beef or delicious Lebanese takeaway at Falafel Wales; this is authentic foodie heaven. If you prefer your dinner with a local flavour, make a beeline for new Pontcanna bistro Milkwood, where you can chow down on dishes like Sewin (Welsh sea trout) with leeks and brown shrimp.

22:00 – ENJOY BEER AND BLUES

Cardiff is one of the best places in the UK to sample the taste bud-teasing pleasures of craft beer. At Porter’s, which contains Wales’ first pub theatre (and has no sign over the door) they serve a honey beer called Hiver and a seaweed ale that goes by the name of Kelpie. It’s also one of many venues offering jazz night’s – albeit more dancing than placid – across the city which also includes industrial-styled Tiny Rebel, Americana speakeasy Bootlegger and the aptly named Café Jazz. Visit in October for Sŵn festival which transforms the city into a musical adventure playground.

LATE – SNACKS AND STORIES ON CHIPPY LANE

When the night is done you might be tempted to grab some late night grub, and where better to visit than Chippy Lane, technically Caroline Street, which is considered to be first place that the eponymous fish and chips were sold in Cardiff in the 19th century.

 

DAY TWO

10:30 – BRUNCH BEAUTIFULLY AT ANNA LOKA

Not the name of the owner, Anna Loka roughly translates to ‘Earth Food’ in Sanskrit, and at this restaurant you’ll find exactly that: a plant-based menu where you can load up on a full vegan breakfast with peanut butter and coffee pancakes on the side. If you’re hankering for a more traditional brunch menu try The Early Bird for must-have French toast or proper café Garlands where you can enjoy a “Good Morning Mumbles” breakfast which includes Welsh Rarebit, laverbread and cockles. For something completely different try the Indian breakfast at Milgi.

12:00 – BREW UP ON A CRAFT BEER TOUR

Explore the art, science and culture of brewing a Cardiff Craft Beer Tour by Brewerism Brewery Tours. Over the course of three to four hours you’ll have the chance to see the full brewing process at Crafty Devil Brewery before hitting 3-4 stops – from trendy taprooms to marvellous micropubs – all within about a 15 minute walk around the hip Canton area of the city.

OR

12:00 - DISCOVER PROPER WELSH HISTORY

Few places define Welsh identity as profoundly as St Fagans, which opened in 1948 in the grounds of a 16th-century manor house as the very first national open-air museum in the UK. Since then more than 40 original Welsh buildings from different historic periods have been rebuilt piece by piece in the 100-acre park including houses, a farm, a school and a splendid workmen’s institute. Get out of town to visit this glorious architectural treasure house which is deservedly the most popular heritage attraction in Wales.

15:00 – INDULGE YOUR SWEET SIDE

Extraordinary cakes and pastries are worth making the journey north to the Maindy area of the city where Cocorico Patisserie can be found. This is Instagram heaven featuring creative creations including the Banana in Pyjama (banana mousse, pineapple cremeux, mango jelly and coconut dacquoise), Praline Spinner (vanilla dipomate, Gianduju crumbs, salted caramel with Dulcey and Gianduju whipped ganache), and a spectacular array of colourful macarons!

16:00 – PHOTOGRAPH SOME FURRY FRIENDS

Besides the grand splendour of Cardiff Castle, one odd quirk to take note of whilst enjoying a stroll around its exterior is The Animal Wall. Designed by architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute, the much-loved wall features models of animals including moneys and lions, a seal, pelican and many more, poking out ready to be snapped.

18:00 – DINE WITH DIFFERENCE

Based at Her Majesty’s Prison Cardiff, The Clink is a fine-dining venue run by prison inmates serving organic Welsh produce has been voted one of the best restaurants in the UK. Taste the very best of Wales while giving a helping hand to those who deserve a second chance in life.

19:30 – CATCH A SHOW

Finish your weekend by taking in a show at the incredible Wales Millennium Centre on Cardiff Bay. This architectural marvel is also a globally significant cultural landmark – a performing arts centre with a mission to “inspire our nation and impress the world”. Home of the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, it also stages musicals, stand-up comedy and art exhibitions.

48 Hours in… Dundee

Dundee is one of the best destinations in Europe to visit in 2018 according to Lonely Planet and there are myriad of reasons why this Scottish city – just over an hour by train from Edinburgh on Scotland’s east coast – deserves this accolade. Its ever-growing cultural scene, the redevelopment of its historic waterfront, the stunning V&A Dundee due to open this September, a variety of art and design galleries, a diverse range of bars and restaurants, a thrilling music and events scene and the fact it was named as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design… the list goes on!

 

Time to check in

From boutique to budget, the range of accommodation in Dundee is expanding, with more than 1,200 hotel beds expected to be ready by the end of 2018.

Joining hotels such as Malmaison, APEX, Holiday Inn Express and the recently opened Hampton by Hilton is a new Hotel Indigo, which will reopen in a former jute mill. This 102-bedroom hotel with 12 junior suites is scheduled to open in August. Dundee’s new train station is also due to open this summer following a £14m renovation, with a 120-bed Sleeperz hotel above it, opening on 9 July. Close to the station on the waterfront, the refurbished Premier Inn has also reopened with an additional 60 bedrooms.

 

Day One

09:00 BE THE FIRST TO VISIT A WORLD-CLASS ATTRACTION

One of the world’s most anticipated cultural attractions will open its doors to the public on 15 September. The magnificent Kengo Kuma-designed V&A Dundee is Scotland’s first design museum and will be home to the country’s design heritage, fascinating exhibitions, as well as permanent galleries and exciting features. The opening exhibition will be Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, which will delve into the history of these powerful steamships.

 

11:00 CHANNEL YOUR INNER PIRATE

Head out onto the River Tay with Pirate Boats and join an exhilarating one-hour boat trip that brings the history of the city to life. You’ll board in beautiful Broughty Ferry, just a ten-minute drive from the city centre, and take in sights along the revamped waterfront, including Broughty Castle and the new V&A building. If you’re there between May and September, you may also be joined for the ride by some dolphins.

 

13:00 LUNCH WITH COCKTAILS ON THE SIDE

Did you know that Dundee is the original home of marmalade (a citrus fruit preserve, commonly made from oranges)? It seems only fitting that you head to independent café Avery & Co and order a Marmalade Mojito served in a Mackays Dundee marmalade jar to go with lunch. This eaterie has an excellent vegan menu alongside meat feasts such as Korean pulled pork and homemade burgers with roast garlic mayo.

 

15:00 EXPLORE THE CITY’S SOCIAL HERITAGE

Head to the Verdant Works – a refurbished jute mill (jute is a natural fibre) – to discover the absorbing story of Dundee’s industrial textile heritage and social history. Within is the Jute Museum and its range of interactive hands-on activities, and then head to High Mill, which was recently restored and now houses an original and working Boulton & Watt steam engine. It’s then worth jumping in a taxi for the five-minute drive to RRS Discovery at Discovery Point to experience what life was like in the Antarctic with Captain Scott and his crew.

 

17:00 TASTE THE LOCAL SPIRITS
Time for a gin and tonic! Local distiller Verdant Spirits, the first distillery in Dundee for 200 years, and which won Scottish Gin of the Year in 2017, has plans to open a gin school and visitor centre ready for summer 2018.

 

19:30 DINE AT THE HOTTEST NEW RESTAURANT

Brassica restaurant, bar and bakery only threw open its doors to customers in June, so it’s one of the hottest eateries in town. The restaurant has taken over one of the old vault spaces in the ground of the city’s historic Caird Hall building, overlooking the waterfront, and all its produce is sourced within a 50-mile radius of Dundee. Make sure you check out its Champagne and Gin Menu, which lists many local Scottish gins.

 

21:00 BE SPOOKED WITH SPINE-CHILLING TALES

Be brave… and listen to spooky tales of the city’s sometimes gruesome past on a tour with Dark Dundee. These walking tours take you through stories of the city’s past, via places such as HM Frigate Unicorn, and The Howff, a 16th-century graveyard in the city centre.

 

DAY TWO

09:00 EMBARK ON AN ARTISTIC TRAIL

Wander through eight open-gallery spaces that are home to art, history and environment exhibitions at The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. In addition to the permanent displays, there is a changing programme of exhibitions and events throughout the year. New exhibition Bash Street’s Back, celebrating the iconic comic Beano’s 80th birthday and charting Dundee’s role in comic book history, is open until October – it’s a fantastic example of British popular culture through the decades.

 

11:00 For an example of the city’s contemporary art inventory, head to the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts). Converted from an old brick warehouse it combines art galleries, print studio, two cinemas, and a shop with a café and restaurant. If you’re in town before the end of the summer, catch the first major European show of work by acclaimed American artist Eve Fowler. Entitled what a slight. what a sound. what a universal shudder, it’s at DCA until 26 August.

 

13:00 DINE AMONG ARTWORKS

After a morning filled with artistic experiences, where better to stop for lunch than Gallery 48, a contemporary art gallery space with a tapas restaurant and gin bar that showcases art work, often from the neighbouring University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

 

15:00 TAKE A GUIDED CULTURAL TOUR

Behind the Scenes Dundee is a guided walking tour developed by Creative Dundee and Dundee Contemporary Arts, which takes you backstage to see how the city’s cultural venues work. You’ll also visit public art, creative studios and independent shops. An alternative way to see the city is with Run the Sights. Combine a run with a guided exploration of some of the city’s most interesting and beautiful locations.

 

17:00 EXPERIENCE A UNIQUE ART TRAIL

Dundee’s first street-art project covers the city’s hidden lanes and corners; the idea is to encourage people to explore parts of the city that wouldn’t feature on a usual walking trail. It has matched up unloved doorways with street artists, who have then created a unique piece of street art in a forgotten place. Called Open Close, the trail is available to download online.

 

19:30 FINE-DINING FEAST

Contemporary Scottish food is served up alongside gorgeous views over the sand dunes to Tentsmuir Forest at fine-dining restaurant The Tayberry, in the area of Broughty Ferry. Award-winning chef-proprietor Adam Newth has created an innovative and mouth-watering menu comprising delicacies such as risotto of brown crab with avocado ice-cream and pan-roast cod with sweetcorn bhajis.

 

21:00 HIT THE NIGHTLIFE

Dundee has some fantastic bars to end the evening in. New to the bar scene is King of Islington on Union Street, fast gaining a reputation for quality cocktails and a huge selection of rum; or try out Draffens, Dundee’s speakeasy bar located inside a former department store on Couttie’s Wynd, one of Dundee’s old cobbled lanes.

 

Getting there: Dundee is just under 1.5 hours by train from Edinburgh, 1 ¾ hours from Glasgow and you can take the Caledonian Sleeper train from London overnight (it takes just under seven hours).

48 Hours in… Liverpool

2018 is an exciting year culturally for Liverpool, as this north-west England city embraces a year-long celebration marking ten years since it was European Capital of Culture 2008. Boasting more museums and galleries than any other UK city outside of the capital, it’s a city that has long enjoyed a world-class reputation for culture, and never more so than musically, as the birthplace of The Beatles. Just two hours by train from London and half an hour from Manchester, Liverpool’s cultural legacy is ever-evolving and, with thrilling events planned for the year ahead, 2018 is a special time to visit.

 

Time to check in

Liverpool city centre teems with hotels that either embrace a cultural slant or nod to the city’s heritage. Arthouse Hotel encompasses the world of classic cinema, with quirky takes on memorable movie scenes in its rooms; stay in rooms designed as a tribute to films ranging from Grease to The Sound of Music, as well as rooms showcasing how Andy Warhol blended fine art with popular culture. Tributes to the city’s most famous cultural icons can also be found at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, the world’s only Beatles-inspired hotel, whose story is told through specially commissioned art work and memorabilia.

Liverpool’s legacy as a thriving port and industrial giant has also left its mark on its cultural offering and accommodation; stay at the Titanic Hotel, part of the redevelopment of the historic Stanley Dock complex, where each bedroom offers spectacular views over the Port of Liverpool. Back in the city centre, Hope Street Hotel is built within an original warehouse in mid-19th-century style – the Venetian Palazzo – while luxury boutique hotel Nadler Liverpool is set in a restored 1850s industrial building.

There’s also a range of well-known budget hotels in the city, from Ibis to Travelodge, as well as an Easyhotel, located just ten minutes’ walk away from the cultural haven of Albert Dock.

 

DAY ONE

09:00 DISCOVER WORLDLY WONDERS

Head down to William Brown Street, in the heart of the city, to the World Museum, a treasure trove of life and earth sciences and human culture worth exploring at any time, but a visit from now until October 2018 means you’ll see the spectacular Terracotta Warriors from the tomb of China’s First Emperor, the first time in more than ten years that they have been brought to Britain. Spanning almost 1,000 years of China’s history, the exhibition will include artefacts dating from 8th century BC to the 2nd century AD.

 

11:00 STROLL AMONG AWE-INSPIRING ART

One of the attractions of Liverpool is how easy it is to travel from one cultural venue to another. You’ll find yourself at the Walker Art Gallery just a couple of minutes’ walk from the World Museum; immerse yourself in sculpture, paintings and decorative art dating from the 13th century to the present day.

 

13:00 TASTE THE CITY’S FOOD CULTURE

Set out on a pleasant 20-minute walk from the gallery, and stop for lunch at one of the many independent eateries in the bohemian RopeWalks district, an area brimming with art, music and culture and home to cultural institutions such as FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). Or stroll on a little further to another of the city’s cultural hotspots, the Georgian Quarter, where The Art School Restaurant is located. Situated in the lantern room of a Victorian building, chef patron Paul Askew has produced tasting and prix fixe menus using seasonal ingredients for omnivores, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans alike.

 

15:00 EXPLORE A GOTHIC TREASURE

One of the world’s greatest buildings is arguably Liverpool Cathedral, a breathtaking architectural creation that’s home to the world’s highest and widest Gothic arches, one of the tallest Gothic towers – climb it for sensational panoramic city views – and a sculpture by celebrated contemporary artist Tracey Emin.

 

17:00 SAMPLE LOCALLY MADE DRINKS

Whether your favourite tipple is beer or gin, head to H1780 in the city’s creative and digital quarter – the Baltic Triangle – to sample both; this is a working brewery and distillery producing the prettily named Love Lane beers and The Ginsmiths of Liverpool gins. The bar is soon launching The Ginsmiths Experience, beer tours and gin afternoon teas – be the first to try them!

 

19.30 DINE AT A CREATIVE HUB

Head to the heart of cultural Liverpool to Upstairs at the Bluecoat, Liverpool's creative hub that showcases talent across visual art, music, dance, live art and literature. Its restaurant offers fabulous city views, walls adorned with contemporary local art and a menu created with locally sourced produce.

 

22:00 DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY

You can’t come to Liverpool and not take in one of its most iconic cultural landmarks for a memorable night out – The Cavern Club. The place where The Beatles started out, it not only showcases their legacy, but also is a hotspot for today’s ace up-and-coming bands.

 

DAY TWO

09:00: MARVEL AT CONTEMPORARY ART

Head to UNESCO World Heritage site the Albert Dock, home to the outstanding Tate Liverpool, a haven of British and international contemporary and modern art celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Visit before the end of the September to enjoy the works of Gustav Klimt’s radical protégé, Egon Schiele, alongside photography by Francesca Woodman. 

In 2018, the Liverpool Biennial, an internationally renowned festival of contemporary art, returns to the city between 14 July-28 October 2018, this year entitled Beautiful World, Where Are You?. Every two years, the city’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world, making it a must-see on a visit to Liverpool.

 

11:00 FIND OUT EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BEATLES

The Albert Dock is also home to The Beatles Story, the world's largest permanent exhibition devoted to the Fab Four. This year you’ll also be able to enjoy a special exhibition marking 50 years since The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India.

 

13:00 ENJOY A TRUE TASTE OF BRITISH CULTURE

Feast on delicious fish and chips at the Docklands Fish and Chip Restaurant, while overlooking the city’s waterfront and fabulous skyline. Don’t forget to try that side order of mushy peas!

 

15:00 TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME

Just a short train or ferry ride away in Wirral is the charming village of Port Sunlight, once home of Sunlight Soap and the Lever Brothers and a unique cultural feature of Liverpool and its surrounding area. A fun way to get around is by bike – hire them as you arrive and set off to discover differently styled cottages, originally built 130 years ago for the company’s workers,  explore the village via trails and pop into the Village Museum. Leave time to see the Lady Lever Art Gallery, housing the personal collection of fine and decorative art of industrialist and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme.

 

18:30 DINE AT ENGLAND’S ‘MOST ORNATE PUB’

Described as ‘the most ornate pub in England’ the architecturally stunning Philharmonic Dining Rooms is one of the closest restaurants to Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall and is a great place to grab some traditional British fare – think tasty pies and succulent sausages – before a performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s famed for its elaborately designed, Grade I-listed men’s toilets – women can ask to have a look!

 

20:00 BOOK AN EVENING AT THE THEATRE

Enjoy the latest plays and musicals? You can catch shows transferred directly from London’s West End at England’s second-largest theatre, the Liverpool Empire, or enjoy comedies and musicals at the city’s Royal Court Theatre. Alternatively, catch thought-provoking works performed at the Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, hosting plays such as Othello and A Clockwork Orange.

Day trips from London – must-do experiences in Hastings, Battle & Rye

Jump on a train heading south-east from London and in under 1.5 hours you’re in what is known as ‘1066 Country’ (due to its connections with the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066), in the towns of Hastings, Battle and Rye. Visit for a day of unique heritage, seaside experiences, festivals and much more!

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – HASTINGS

Not only is the Jerwood Gallery set in a stunning glass building on the Old Town’s fishing beach it’s also at forefront of contemporary art with changing exhibitions and home to a fabulous collection of 20th- and 21st-century British art.

Head down to St Clements Caves and embark on a Smugglers’ Adventure. You’ll join notorious smuggler ‘Hairy Jack’ through underground tunnels and caverns on this interactive experience that tells the tales of smugglers through the ages. You can also enter the attraction via the original West Hill funicular railway, which retains its original Victorian wooden carriages.

Stroll around the picturesque Old Town, a bustling haven of cobbled streets, ‘twittens’ (narrow passageways) and a flourishing arts community, which you can explore through its myriad of antique stores and independent art shops. Alternatively, explore off-the-beaten track at the America Ground and White Rock area of Hastings. This cool, creative neighbourhood has a fascinating history and is now home to independent restaurants, cafés and shops, funky clubs and bars, as well as Source BMX Park, the biggest underground BMX park in Europe, which runs its own ‘Battle of Hastings’ in September.

 

Where can I eat?

Fresh fish lands on Hastings’ beaches every day, serving the town’s restaurants and cafés. Head down to The Stade area, the town’s fishing and cultural quarter, and dine on smoked fish and fresh cockles at Rock-a-Nore Kitchen, or admire the views of the seafront while munching oysters and other delicacies from the sea at the Old Custom House Restaurant. Round off your lunch with a luscious homemade ice cream from Di Polas ice cream parlour, where flavours range from sea salt caramel to apple and ginger.

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Hastings has some genuinely charming B&Bs to choose from. Among them is The Laindons, a pretty guesthouse with five rooms located in the Old Town within a Georgian Grade II-listed building. It’s kept so much of its original character and comes with fabulous views of Hastings Old Town. The Old Rectory boutique B&B is also housed in a historic building and is beautifully designed within, showcasing work by local artists and designers. For hotel choices, check out The White Rock Hotel, a stylish seafront property with contemporary, comfortable rooms and a terrace café/bar, perfect for a meal or drinks while overlooking the coastal view. 

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – BATTLE

Re-live the atmosphere and tension of more than 600 soldiers clashing at the annual battle re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings. Held every October (13-14 in 2018), visitors can expect a day being immersed in medieval life and discovering what it was like on this famous date that changed history.

The market town of Battle grew up around Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror following the Battle of Hastings as a penance ordered by the Pope. Now looked after by English Heritage, along with the battle site, you can explore the abbey ruins and even stand on the spot where King Harold was said to have perished.

The town of Battle that subsequently spread beyond the Abbey walls is now a charming town to explore and offers cultural gems during the year. Throughout October is the Battle Arts & Music Festival, featuring events ranging from classical recitals, contemporary dance, author events and a range of artistic masterclasses and demonstrations.

 

Where can I eat?

For a light meal of sandwiches, cream teas and homemade cakes, Lavender Abbey Tea Rooms – with its cosy log burner to warm up against during the cooler months – is a popular choice and runs an interesting programme of evening events. A picturesque option is The Orangery at Ashburnham Place, where you can have lunch and afternoon tea in a Lancelot Capability Brown-designed building, which is home to many delicate plants including the oldest camellia in the country. Or stop by The Bull Inn Pub & Restaurant – a 17th-century coaching inn – for English pub classics such as pies, fish and chips, and steaks.

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Once a gunpowder owner’s residence, on the site of an 18th-century gunpowder works, the PowderMills is now a gorgeous country hotel in Battle, set in 150 acres of parkland and lakes. Just outside of Battle, overlooking the tranquil village green of Sedlescombe, is the family run Brickwall Hotel, which was built at the end of 16th century for the local ironmaster. And, for a luxury B&B stay, try Boreham House, around a ten-minute drive from Battle and situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This Grade II-listed Georgian house, originally the home of the local apothecary, also offers a converted self-catering cottage in what was the house’s original stables and coach house.

 

3 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES – RYE

Made up of attractive cobbled streets and a gamut of narrow passageways, the medieval town of Rye is made for exploring. It’s like stepping back in time as you discover buildings dating back to the medieval, Tudor and Georgian eras. It’s quaint and quirky – Mermaid Street, for example, is home to ancient buildings with unique names such as ‘The House Opposite’ or ‘The House with the Seat’.

Close to town is Great Dixter, the birthplace and home of renowned gardener and writer, the late Christopher Lloyd, and is well worth a visit for its glorious gardens – incorporating a walled garden, the sunk garden and the peacock garden – and for its horticultural events that run throughout the year.

For a true taste of Rye’s countryside, head to the award-winning, 850-acre Oxney Organic Estate, around six miles from the town, for a guided tour of its vineyard, and enjoy a tasting of its organic still and sparking wines, which only use the vineyard’s grapes and follow a natural winemaking ethos. It also has holiday cottages on site and recently introduced renovated vintage shepherds’ huts to stay in.

 

Where can I eat?

A pretty little clapperboard pub on the outskirts of Rye where the Military Canal meets the River Rother, The Globe Inn Marsh has a fantastic menu of locally sourced fish and other local ingredients, plus a bar that stocks more than 40 gins.

Another great fish restaurant is Webbe’s at the Fish Café, located in a listed building near the Landgate Arch in Rye, and was the first completely fire-proof building of its kind in the UK when it was built in 1907. It’s all about fresh local fish here, brought in from the ports of Rye and Hastings,  

Ten minutes from Rye is restaurant with rooms, The Gallivant Hotel, with a superb bistro that overlooks the beautiful sandy dunes at Camber Sands. It’s passionate about using local produce across its menu, with a daily changing menu highlighting the season’s best, and boasts a large list of English wines.

 

And if you do want to stay overnight…

Sloping ceilings, creaky floorboards and a diverting history encompassing 18th-century smugglers make the Mermaid Inn a special place to stay in Rye. History oozes out of every corner – its cellars date back to 1156 and the building itself was rebuilt in 1420 – although you’ll find a very contemporary welcome.

Another fine example of a historic inn is The George on Rye’s High Street, which dates back to 1575. A luxury hotel, each room is designed with its own bespoke furniture and colour theme. Dine at its in-house restaurant and enjoy a drink in its own pub, The George Tap.

Looking for more of a glamping experience? A ten-minute drive from Rye and you’ll find yourself in the village of Beckley, and at Swallowtail Hill, a farm, meadow and woodland where you can stay in either of its charming cottages – the Woodcutter’s Cottage or the Meadow Keeper’s Cottage – or its two cosy wood cabins. It’s a great place for a full digital detox.

 

Getting there: Hastings, Battle and Rye are located in the county of East Sussex on England’s south coast. Trains leave from either London St Pancras or London Charing Cross (depending on your destination) and take around 1.5 hours.

Must-See Spots, Less Than An Hour From London

London is one of the most fascinating cities on Earth. However, if you don’t venture just a little further out of the centre of the city you could be seriously missing out, as there are a huge range of activities and attractions, all located less than 60 minutes from central London.

 

Windsor Castle is the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II, and the venue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming nuptials. Tour the 11th-century castle and grounds, and admire the lavish State Apartments and Semi-State Rooms – faithfully restored after the 1992 fire. Catch a 40-minute mainline train from Paddington Station to Windsor & Eton Central, then walk five minutes to Windsor Castle.

 

Kew Gardens are just 30 minutes south of central London, on the District line to Richmond. A UNESCO World Heritage site, highlights include the iconic Palm House glasshouse, Kew Palace - where King George III sought refuge during his bouts of ‘madness’ - a treetop walkway and an arboretum containing 14,000 trees.

 

Jump on a train at London’s Charing Cross and you can be in Royal Tunbridge Wells in just 50 minutes. This Kentish spa town first found fame 400 years ago, when an iron-rich spring was discovered and the gentry flocked to ‘cure’ ailments from infertility to hangovers. Today you can still taste the healing waters, served to you by a traditionally-dressed dipper.

 

Immerse yourself in the wizarding world with an enchanting visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. When the final Harry Potter movie wrapped, a magical trove of treasures were left behind. Two soundstages and a back lot were reassembled and opened to adoring fans. Catch the train or tube from London Euston to Watford Junction, then a shuttle bus, and you could be knocking at Hogwarts’ door within 40 minutes.

 

Catch the fast train from Kings Cross and you could be outside Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, in just 20 minutes. The Old Palace was owned by Henry VIII and was the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I, while the newer Jacobean Hatfield House was built in 1611. You can tour both homes and the grounds, including the very spot where Elizabeth I discovered she’d become Queen of England.

 

You might also like:

  • Visit one of the Go Ape outdoor adventure parks for high rope courses, zip wires and Segway safaris.
  • Enjoy a spot of tea in a stately home, such as Strawberry Hill House.
  • Visit the William Morris Gallery, devoted to the life of the famous designer, craftsman and socialist.
  • Travel to Epsom, home to the greatest flat horse race in the world - the Epsom Derby. It is also where suffragette Emily Davison died to further women's rights by throwing herself under the king's horse.
  • Richmond Park is the largest of the Royal Parks and has remained almost unchanged since the 1600's when King Charles I turned it into a nature reserve and deer sanctuary.
  • LEGOLAND lets you bring out your inner child with rides, shows and Miniland - cities and landmarks famously recreated with Lego bricks.
  • Jump on a train and discover the stunning nature reserves and wetlands that ring London, including Surrey Hills, Epping Forest and the Chilterns.