Upcoming openings, galleries and events to enjoy in Britain

From artefact-filled museums to inspiring galleries and freshly revamped historic sites, Britain is laden with newly re-opened attractions and up-coming dates to get excited about. Those longing for a dose of culture, history and heritage can look forward to booking their slot to see a new side of Britain that’s nevertheless still overflowing with icons, traditions, and unexpected delights.

History is open – book a ticket!

Autumn scene in front of St Paul's Cathedral, credit to VisitBritain/Sam Barker

Britain’s fascinating museums are reopening with new procedures, so you can enjoy them with confidence. All require a pre-booked time slot for entry.

One of the capital’s first re-openings was the famous Westminster Abbey, which welcomed its first guests on 11 July 2020. The historic abbey has witnessed the coronations of English and British monarchs since 1066, and now has socially distanced seating and a one-way system in place. Windsor Castle is another royal must-see for those able to visit London and the surrounding area, having reopened on 23 July 2020 with reduced visitor numbers. The Castle’s East Terrace Garden will also be open at weekends until the end of September, marking the first time in many years that the pristine formal gardens have been accessible to visitors.

5 August 2020 saw the famous Tower of London welcome its first visitors. Now offering a chance to wander this World Heritage Site ‘without the usual crowds’, it holds a smaller visitor capacity and opens from Wednesday to Sunday. Some parts remain closed, but if you’re a history buff, you can still enjoy the outdoor areas, Crown Jewels, Bloody Tower and the White Tower. Mirroring the reduced opening days, the Natural History Museum also reopened its grand doors on 5 August 2020.

The ethereal design of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral can be enjoyed once again by a limited number of visitors via a new one-way system – with face coverings essential for entry. Another of Britain’s icons, Edinburgh’s maritime attraction the Royal Yacht Britannia, reopened on 27 July 2020, with reduced capacity, timed tickets and a mobile phone audio tour. Having provided a home for the Queen and the Royal Family for 40 years, the impressive vessel has clocked up more than one million nautical miles, with all five decks now open for you to explore.

Light streams into the Grand Gallery inside The National Museum of Scotland. Wrought iron railings and ironwork, credit to VisitBritain/Audrey Bergner/Sam Jeffrey

Future openings

The National Museum of Scotland is set to reopen on 19 August 2020 with temporary opening hours from 10:30-16:30. If you’re a knowledge-hungry visitor, you can also look forward to exploring London’s Science Museum, which opens its doors on the same day. Although still free, pre-booked tickets are essential. 

After the longest peacetime closure in its 261-year history, the British Museum will reopen on 27 August 2020, with reduced visitor capacity and a simple one-way route. Culture vultures can weave through eras of world history curated on the ground floor, with further galleries due to open in September.

The beginning of September will see Wales’ Big Pit National Coal Museum welcome visitors for the first time since March. A free, booked ticket includes an underground tour which delves deep into the industrial history of Wales.

Family-friendly is back – book a time!

Big Ben Tower and the Houses of Parliament seen through Millennium Wheel or London Eye at dusk from Waterloo Bridge.Credit to David Angel

City Cruises resumed service along the River Thames in July, with new spacing and face covering regulations. Some exclusive dining experiences are available to book from August, while kids go free with a Family River Pass.

An icon of the modern skyline, the London Eye opened with a reduced service at the beginning of August, giving you the chance to enjoy breathtaking views of the capital. Other Merlin attractions, such as Madam Tussauds, Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon and Shrek’s Adventure! opened on the same date - all requiring a face covering for those aged over 11.

Future openings

If you’re a Hogwarts fan, you can countdown the days until the reopening of The Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter on 20 August 2020. You will be asked to wear a facemask as you uncover the magical world and explore the sets. This autumn will see a Celebration of Slytherin feature – extended until mid-November – where the Slytherin common room will be on show.

Reopening on 1 September 2020, the People’s History Museum in Manchester presents the past, present and future of ideas through exhibitions and family-friendly galleries. Those wishing to visit during its 10th anniversary year will require face coverings.

Art is getting ready – book a spot!

Book a timed ticket for eye-catching sculpture, boundary-pushing contemporary exhibitions and timeless masterpieces as Britain’s art galleries gear up to inspire once again in 2020.

Future openings

Starting a phased reopening on 20 August 2020, the free Manchester Art Gallery will exhibit a Stay Well show focused on wellbeing until 6 September 2020.

In a year that saw it win ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ at the Scottish Thistle Awards, The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum will soon bring a free slice of art and history to those exploring Scotland, as it prepares to welcome visitors from 20 August 2020. Recently awarded the We’re Good To Go mark, it is also free.

The V&A Dundee will reopen on 27 August 2020. This free museum covers vast eras of design history, with a paid exhibition celebrating fashion designer Mary Quant (which must be booked separately). Further art inspiration can be found in this Scottish city come 4 September 2020, as Dundee Contemporary Arts reopens. Highlights include a print studio, a family-friendly gallery and a cinema.  

 If you’re planning to visit the Welsh capital, you can book a slot to marvel at the National Museum Cardiff from 27 August 2020, with atmospheric organ recitals scheduled throughout autumn. The MK Gallery in Milton Keyes, Buckinghamshire, will begin a partial reopening from 11 September, with plans to be fully open by late November.  

Welcoming art lovers with The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism and The Cosmic Tree, the Camden Art Centre is also set to reopen on 24 September 2020.

Finally, and for the first time in its 252-year history, the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition has been rescheduled for 6 October 2020, ending in early January 2021. Pre-booked tickets will be available online soon.

Events are coming – book a place!

Get ready to explore Britain with new events and experiences beginning to pop up during August and September, with more to follow soon.

Future openings

If you’re longing for a taste of wellbeing through nature, you can imagine jumping in to the Yorkshire Dales’ Mindful Month this September; featuring yoga, forest bathing and alpaca experiences.

The capital is preparing for a wide range of events this September too, starting with the family-focused celebration of the River Thames with Totally Thames 2020 throughout September and the London Design Festival, from 12-20 September 2020.  Alternatively, seize the chance to snoop around some of London’s secret buildings with Open House London, set to take place 19-27 September 2020. The full programme of participating buildings will be available from 26 August.


Different attractions and events will have varied measures in place. You are encouraged to check all locations, attraction and event websites before travelling, so you can do so with confidence.  

17 Aug 2020(last updated)

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