Category Archives: Visit Britain
Distinctively British fun…………….
Up Helly Aa, Shetland, Scotland
Up Helly Aa is the largest fire festival in Europe. As if the torchlight processions weren’t spectacular enough, local residents dress up in full Viking regalia — winged helmets, armour, you get the idea — and the evening culminates with the burning of a Viking longship. A traditional celebration of the end of winter and the coming of spring, it’s a truly memorable occasion.
Learn more about Up Helly Aa
Maldon Mud Race, Essex, England
Ink black mud, 250 competitors, and a mad dash for the finish line. It’s not going to be pretty, and we advise against hugging the winner afterwards. Race through the mire of the Blackwater Estuary in Essex if you feel up to the challenge, or stand back and watch if you prefer to keep dry. Either way it’s a lot of fun.
Learn more about the Maldon Mud Race
Man vs. Horse Race, Powys, Wales
In Britain, discussions over a pint can lead to many things. One such discussion in Powys led to the Man vs. Horse Race being dreamt up by the then landlord of the Neuadd Arms, Gordon Green. The 22 mile race over hills and rough terrain pits man against horse, and believe it or not, the horse doesn’t always win. In 2004, Huw Lobb crossed the finish line first, a full two minutes ahead of his four-legged adversary.
Learn more about the Man vs. Horse Race
World Pea Shooting Championships, Cambridgeshire, England
Pea-shooting involves propelling a pea through a tube with a quick burst of air from the lips. And in Witcham it’s evolved into an annual tournament that draws participants and crowds from across the globe. It’s pretty riveting stuff – watch the marksmen compete for the title of World Champion, and enjoy a bit of local cuisine at the village fete while you’re at it.
Learn more about the Pea Shooting Championships
International Worthing Birdman, West Sussex, England
As if jumping off a pier into the sea wasn’t enough fun, The Worthing Birdman combines the thrill of falling with spectacular fancy dress and even a bit of engineering. Part of the fun involves eager jumpers donning home-made flying machines and trying to ‘fly’ the furthest in the hopes of bagging a £30,000 prize. The other part of the fun is simply watching people in silly costumes jumping in the sea while you enjoy an ice-cream from a safe distance.
Learn more about the Worthing Birdman
World Hen Racing Championships, Derbyshire, England
Who has the fastest hen? It’s an important question that’s given rise to an annual event in Derbyshire. Head to the Barley Mow pub in Bonsall to discover the year’s speediest fowl as they’re put through their paces over a 30 feet track. You can enjoy gorgeous views of the Peak District and some good local ale while you do.
Learn more about hen racing
Race the Train, Tywyn, Wales
Man takes on machine in Tywyn’s annual Race the Train event. Competitors run alongside the Talyllyn Railway on its route to Abergynolwyn and back, fighting their way through all kinds of terrain, from quiet lanes to farmland and rough pasture. In a fun twist, the train is often carrying plenty of the runner’s supporters, so he or she can hear the cheers whenever he’s near his ‘opponent’.
Learn more about race the train
World Bog Snorkelling Championships, Powys, Wales
Every August, competitors from around the world flock to Waen Rhydd peat bog on the outskirts of the smallest town in Britain, Llanwrtyd Wells. This is where one of Wales’ most famous races takes place, the 115 metre World Bog Snorkelling Championship. It’s murky, it’s muddy, and you probably won’t see it anywhere else.
Learn more about bog snorkelling
The Porthcawl Elvis Festival, Porthcawl, Wales
When it comes to unusual spectacles, the Porthcawl Elvis Festival probably wins some kind of award. Thousands upon thousands of Elvis fans, many of them dressed as The King himself, descend upon the seaside town of Porthcawl to watch Elvis tribute acts and over 100 Elvis-related shows. Weird, wonderful, and definitely lots of fun.
Learn more about the Elvis festival
World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland
Skimming stones is probably one of the most fun things you can do with stones. In Argyll they couldn’t agree more, and hold the World Stone Skimming Championships each year. They do it properly too – with selected Easdale slate skimming stones, and with a minimum of three bounces required for a throw to count.
Learn more about the World Stone Skimming Championships
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Celebrate the end of London’s year like no other and welcome 2013 with a bang, watching the Mayor’s spectacular, free New Year’s Eve fireworks
The night skies will be a blaze of light and colour on Monday 31 December 2012 with a display of stunning pyrotechnics by the London Eye on the famous South Bank.
“Our New Year’s Eve fireworks will cap a triumphant year for London. As we welcomed the world to the magnificent celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the glorious success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, London was at its very best. From the thrilling sporting action to the breathtaking cultural celebrations, it has been an unforgettable year and I am immensely proud of the contribution that our Ambassadors made to that success. As we go into 2013 with a spectacular fireworks display I hope we can build on that energy and enthusiasm to make ours the best big city in the world.” Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
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Without a doubt, Christmas is the most stressful time of the year; the pressures of shopping, preparing food, and everything else. But most could be forgiven so long as we are with our loved ones this special holiday.
It is the perfect time to spend with your family or friends over delicious, traditional foods and treats. While most would contend with the hustle and bustle of majestic London, there are plenty of destinations out of town for an invigorating trip to history, elegance, royalty, and tradition.
Make this Christmas one to remember by leaving the capital and head west. On Christmas Eve, walk around the royal town of Windsor and see the mysterious rocks of Stonhenge as you feast on a delicious lunch before admiring the Gregorian architectural splendor at Bath.
With little traffic on the roads, you’ll arrive on the delightful town of Windsor in no time. Visit the home of Queen Elizabeth II in the world’s largest and oldest castle, Windsor Castle. Built high above the River Thames, it has been a royal residence for over 900 years and is where the Queen and Royal family traditionally spend Christmas. Marvel at its lavishly furnished surroundings that are used for State occasions to this day. On display inside the castle is Queen Mary’s world famous Doll’s House. You can also visit St. George’s Chapel, where the tombs of numerous kings and queens reside.
The day’s much anticipated highlight comes next as you stop for a delightful lunch near Stonehenge.Feast on a delicious meal as you step back in time overlooking the beautiful surrounding. After lunch, wander around the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge. The monument first took shape 5,000 years ago and its purpose has been the subject of an abundance of theories.
Continue to the slopes of the River Avon and discover the beauty of Bath. Known for its Gregorian architecture, Bath was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It also houses the Roman Baths, hidden from view until 1870. In Roman times a great Temple was built next to the sacred spring and the waters were believed to have healing properties that attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire.
If getting away from the metropolis is not your priority, there are several Christmas Tours in London that you can join in. London night tours are a “must see and do”. The famous landmarks of London all light up in the night sky making them look even more outstanding than during the day. Through the Sightseeing Tour London, you’ll be able to witness the magnificent attractions in their celebratory boldness.
The richness and amplitude of these spectacular locations contribute a large degree in adding glamour to this festive season. There are so many things to see and do on Christmas Eve in London and the whole of UK. So, if you are planning to be here this time of the year, book your tickets now and have fun at Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge
Christmas Tours from London can be booked here:
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There are plenty of opportunities to soak up the festive spirit for free around Britain, beginning with a stroll down almost any street from late afternoon, when the Christmas lights twinkle and shop windows are filled with fantastic displays. London’s most elaborate decorations attract big crowds to Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street (mid-November to early January); while in Edinburgh, the city’s Norwegian Christmas Tree will light up on 26 November (see http://www.edinburghsparkles.com/christmas for the city’s full Christmas calendar). The world’s tallest Christmas tree to be made out of Lego was built out of 400,000 bricks at St Pancras International in London last year, and this year the station promises an equally stunning surprise showpiece.
Winter is a great time to bring the family to Britain, and many children have learnt to ice-skate against the picturesque background of Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum or Edinburgh’s dramatic skyline at East Princes Street Gardens. This year Kew Gardens will also be home to a Santa’s Grotto, with Winter Tree Tours, a vintage carousel and roasted chestnuts to conjure the festive atmosphere (www.kew.org). Nature-lovers should go to Longleat, the popular safari park in Wiltshire, where they’ll find a huge outdoor ice-rink as well as Britain’s biggest singing Christmas tree! It stands at 50 feet tall and is decked with almost a million multi-coloured lights. The park’s usual attractions remain open, including a Safari Drive Adventure that takes you up close to the animals in Jungle Kingdom (www.longleat.co.uk, 16 Nov – 9 Dec, then 14 Dec – 7 Jan 2013).
Highlights of this year’s Southbank Winter Festival include dark comic cabaret, candlelit classical concerts and baby opera. These will run alongside a programme of free events, which include choirs singing by the river and gigs in the Royal Festival Hall foyer. Visitors can join in the fun, dancing in The Clore Ballroom, making Christmas cards and presents, and eating plenty at the the Real Food Christmas Market and Chocolate Festival (www.southbankcentre.co.uk, 16 Nov – 7 Jan).
Wales is known for its food festivals, and this year a festive market will be taking place at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff (www.wmc.org.uk), along with markets in Caerphilly Castle and Abergavenny, the food-festival capital of Wales. Cardiff Castle will play host to Victorian Christmas Tours, which promise ‘a real flavour of Christmas past’ (www.cardiffcastle.com).
The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are united in Dickens’s famous A Christmas Carol, and their story told in Scrooge The Musical, which will play in London’s West End from the end of October. The same man behind the special effects in Harry Potter is behind special illusions for the show, so it’s guaranteed to wow (www.londonpalladium.org/scrooge). The holiday season in Britain wouldn’t be complete without The Nutcracker, and the English National Ballet’s new version is part of Tamara Rojo’s first season as Artistic Director. It shows in Southampton at the end of November before moving to London’s Coliseum (www.ballet.org.uk). While The Nutcracker is an old favourite, new play The House Where Winter Lives looks set to enthral children at the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, East London, which will be transformed into a magical frozen forest: children and their families will explore the wonder of winter in an immersive storytelling adventure (www.discover.org.uk).
For more grown-up fun, the Winter Cinema at The Berkeley Hotel in London is one of the season’s most exclusive and cosy events. Classic winter films will be shown on the hotel’s rooftop high above Knightsbridge, while guests snuggle up under Moncler blankets and sip home-made hot chocolate and mince pies (www.the-berkeley.co.uk, 26 Nov – 31 Jan). The cinema is open to anyone during the week, but reserved to guests over the weekend. Another sumptuous place to stay – and visit – is Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire. The National Trust property is stunning at any time of year, with turrets worthy of Harry Potter and sumptuous interiors, but in winter is particularly beautiful. Each year the Christmas decorations have a different theme and for 2012, as in previous years, they will reflect the five European countries where the founding sons of the Rothschild dynasty (who bought the Estate) made their fortunes, with England as the focus this year. London’s great sights – Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s column are outlined in the Oval Hall, great English writers Dickens and Shakespeare are celebrated and a Christmas feast fit for Victoria and Albert will be laid out in the White Drawing Room (www.waddesdon.org.uk).
London and UK Chrsitmas Tours: http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
900,000 spectators came to UK for big matches last year, with one in five going to Manchester United
Nearly a million overseas visitors travelled to Britain last year to watch football matches, according to research confirming the popularity of the UK as a leading sports tourism destination. Despite the high price of tickets and the problems of violence and racism in the game, new figures from the national tourism agency reaffirm the global allure of British football, particularly the Premier League.
Figures compiled by VisitBritain show that 900,000 football supporters visited Britain last year, a figure tourism bosses hope will be further supplemented by the sporting success of the Olympics.
Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport and tourism, described the Premier League as “one of this country’s most successful exports”. He said: “It is no surprise that it has become a big draw for tourists who want to experience the most exciting league in the world.”
Football tourists collectively spent £706m, or £785 per fan – £200 more than the average visitor to Britain – with many arriving during the traditionally quieter period for tourism between January and March.
The allure of British football is most keenly pronounced in Norway, with one in 13 visitors from the country – 80,000 – watching a match. Other countries generating high numbers of football spectator visits include Ireland (174,000), the US (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000).
Four in ten of those who attended a match said watching sport was their principal reason for visiting the UK. Football was also found to encourage visitors to explore beyond London, with the stadiums attracting the largest number of overseas fans in the north-west.
Almost one in five watched a game at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground, followed closely by Anfield, home of Liverpool.
In terms of armchair support, the Premier League is already established as the biggest continuous annual global sporting event on television in the world, with matches viewed in 212 countries and coverage available in some 720m households.
Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “It is now the most watched and supported football league in the world and there’s a huge amount of effort being made to connect with our 900 million international fans. Our clubs have worked very hard to make Premier League grounds more welcoming and are striving to deliver a first-rate experience for all fans.
“Little, though, beats the thrill of a Premier League match day and it’s very encouraging to hear that football can play an important role in increasing the numbers of international visitors to this country.”
The research also found that around 1.3 million tourists travelled to Britain for a live sporting event last year, four per cent of all visits, with the estimated total spend calculated as £1.1bn.
The greatest number of spectators for golf came from the US, rugby was popular with the Irish and French, while cricket attracted the most visitors from Australia.
Mark Townsend – The Observer, Sunday 21 October 2012
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/21/football-tourism-premier-league
Stadium Tours: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/london-tours/london-attractions
Sport Tickets: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/search-discount-sport-event-tickets–169
Football Match Tickets: http://sightseeingtours.tickets-partners.com/dock/competition/premier-league
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10 most beautiful places in Britain
Britain is renowned for being a naturally beautiful country, with its rolling hills, dramatic coastlines and towering mountain ranges. Whether you want to explore a nature trail, gaze out at breath-taking views, or simply spend the day relaxing in the presence of natural beauty, here are 10 of the most picturesque spots Britain has to offer.
The Lake District
Situated in the North West of England, the picturesque Lake District is the physical manifestation of Britain’s famous nineteenth century Romantic Movement, having inspired some of the most renowned poems of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Blake. The landscapes that make up this area are full of enormous crystal clear lakes, including Windermere, which is the largest natural body of water in England. Bordering these vast bodies of water are dense green forests that take stillness and serenity to levels you never before thought possible.
The mystery of Stonehenge is one that may never be solved, despite the best efforts of historians all over the world. This enigmatic landmark is thousands of years old, and consists of a circle of around 30 standing stones. Although undeniably breath-taking during the day, the best time to visit Stonehenge is at sunrise or sunset. During this time the site takes on a whole new persona, with dramatic shadows forming as the low sunlight meets with the jutting monoliths.
Isle of Skye
The inner and outer Hebrides are a series of islands off Scotland’s east coast, the largest of which is the Isle of Skye. Walkers will be in their element on this picturesque island, with a huge array of routes and paths to pick from. Whether you choose the island’s sweeping coastline, the dramatic Cuillin mountain range further inland, or the rolling highlands dotted with ancient castles, Skye is sure to impress.
White Cliffs of Dover
For thousands of years the imposing sight of the White Cliffs of Dover looming out of the Atlantic has greeted invaders and visitors alike as they arrive at Britain’s south coast. These striking white chalk cliffs are flecked with jet-black veins of flint, creating one of Britain’s most distinctive natural landmarks. Take a walk along the cliffs and you’ll be met with stunning views all the way to France on clear days, as whispering winds caress the coast around you.
The Brecon Beacons
Taking their name from the burning red sandstone peaks that surround the area, The Brecon Beacons are arguably the pinnacle of Wales’ abundance of beautiful scenery. The surrounding national park is full of fascinating natural landscapes, as well as a variety of wildlife including wild mountain ponies and sheep. The Brecon Beacons Railway is the ultimate way to see the park, passing through the mountains and past the reservoir on an authentic steam locomotive.
Starting along the banks of the River Twiss on the boundary between North Yorkshire and Lancashire, the Ingleton Waterfall trail follows a series of cascading waterfalls set against intertwined woodland, before joining the River Doe. Along the way you’ll also see the famous money tree of Swilla Glen. This huge fallen tree is embedded from top to bottom with decades-old coins, which were hammered into the tree over time by people making wishes.
Often referred to as the ‘Glen of weeping’, Glen Coe is not quite as depressing as its grim moniker would suggest. Quite the opposite in fact. This U-shaped valley in the Scottish Highlands offers picture-perfect scenery that almost seems too good to be true. Divided by the winding form of the River Coe, the glen is filled with towering mountain ranges, glorious expanses of greenery, and imposing waterfalls. Rolling fog frequently seeps its way into the valley, making for impressively dramatic vistas as you climb the glen’s lofty peaks.
The Peak District
Picture an image of a stereotypically idyllic British countryside and it’s likely you won’t be far off the Peak District. Equal parts rugged and resplendent, this national park designated area in central England draws visitors from all over the world, and for good reason. Split into the limestone-filled White Peak and the imposing Dark Peak areas, the Peak District offers variety and distinction like no other region of Britain, and makes for the perfect relaxing day out.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in south-east London are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life in the capital. Explore these enormous (121 hectares in fact) gardens, and you’ll be awash in a wave of floral beauty, with dazzlingly colourful displays on offer wherever you turn. The gardens have been gradually expanded since they opened in 1759, and now contain a Japanese garden, a huge greenhouse, and even a palace.
A large section of Wales’ south-west coast is made up of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is a lengthy expanse of coastal paths, coves, cliffs, and white sandy beaches. Considering its popularity, the area is impressively clean and undisturbed, so there will be nothing to ruin the calming atmosphere as you wander the trails. Dotted along the coast are quaint seaside villages, where you’ll be able to stop for a well-earned lunch break as your explore Pembrokeshire.
Needless to say we offer tours to all the above detinations
Travel Editor: www.BestValueTours.co.uk
The days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting colder and the trees are getting barer. Fall has arrived, bringing the onset of Halloween with it, and there are plenty of attractions around the UK where you can indulge your fondness of a fright, your taste for terror and your soft spot for some spookiness.
IT WAS promoted as an opportunity to appreciate the splendour of your own country while saving a pound or two. Yet the “stay-cation” has failed to make a lasting impression on the British public, according to a new poll which found that holidaymakers are better at recognising foreign landmarks than one in their own country.
Despite having some of the most iconic buildings and scenery in the world, such as Edinburgh Castle and the white cliffs of Dover, British landmarks faired poorly in a new survey that sought to discover the most recognisable tourist icons among British holidaymakers.
While not a single person out of the 1,714 British holidaymakers polled by sunshine.co.uk, an online travel agent, failed to recognise the Eiffel Tower, only 77 per cent recognised Stonehenge, it is claimed.
To add insult to injury, places such as the Sydney Opera House and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge were more recognisable than Trafalgar Square and the London Eye.
Only Big Ben in London and Stonehenge made it into the top ten of the most recognised landmarks in the world. While 98 per cent recognised the Pyramids, 96 per cent identified the Statue of Liberty in New York and 95 per cent recognised the Great Wall of China. Big Ben had a “score” of 93 per cent but Trafalgar Square and the London Eye failed to make it into the top ten of most-recognised landmarks.
The Great Wall of China came fourth with 95 per cent of those polled recognising it, while the Taj Mahal came in sixth with 84 per cent.
The top ten most recognised landmarks for UK holidaymakers was completed by Stonehenge in seventh place, the Sydney Opera House in eighth place, the Colosseum in Rome in ninth place and San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge in tenth place.
Yesterday, Chris Clarkson, the co-founder of Sunshine.co.uk said: “I actually can’t quite believe that more UK-based landmarks didn’t feature in the top ten here. To see that more people recognised the Golden Gate Bridge above the likes of the London Eye and Trafalgar Square is a bit of an eye opener.”
However, Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said it aimed to make people more familiar with Scotland’s landmarks as well as the more out-of-the-way places in the country.
He said: “One of the main aims of our ongoing marketing campaign, Surprise Yourself, is to encourage more Scots to get out and about and explore what’s on their very doorstep.
“From iconic landmarks, such as Edinburgh Castle or Loch Ness, to hidden gems that you won’t find in the guidebooks, VisitScotland is working hard alongside Scotland’s tourism industry to promote every area of our stunning country and make sure Scots staycationers have every reason to stay close to home for their autumnal break.
“No matter how well you think you know Scotland, the beauty of it is there’s always something new to discover.”
1. Eiffel Tower – 100%
2. Pyramids – 98%
3. Statue of Liberty – 96%
4. Great Wall of China – 95%
5. Big Ben – 93%
6. Taj Mahal – 84%
7. Stonehenge – 77%
8. Sydney Opera House – 71%
9. Colosseum, Rome – 69%
10. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco – 65%
By ANGUS HOWARTH – http://www.scotsman.com
Published on Monday 8 October 2012 00:00
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The Cotswolds Hills
The Cotswolds Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are formed from a belt of oolitic limestone that divides the heart of England from the North Sea to the south coast passing through Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and nudging into Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire
The Cotswolds is an area of about the shape of a rough diamond in the heart of England stretching through the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.
The western edge forms the escarpment that overlooks the Severn Valley and the Vale of Evesham. This ridge gives the picture of hills seen from the valley floor as you travel along the M5 motorway. Yet, once on the top the land opens out into the rolling wolds and deep, wooded river valleys that make this one of the most beautiful areas in the UK.
The Cotswolds is popular with both the English and visitors from all over the world, renowned for the gentle, picture puzzle; sleepy villages that are so typically English has are the world famous cities of Bath and Oxford or the cathedral city of Gloucester.
Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The Cotswolds is one of 41 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales and is the largest, covering 790 sq miles – 2,038 sq kms from Bradford-upon-Avon to Banbury a distance of 78 miles – 126 kms from north to south.
The Cotswolds was designated An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966 and this means that the countryside protected forever and that the past, present and future assured for generations to come. The Cotswolds Conservation Board is the organisation that looks after the AONB in its entirety. For more information about the Cotswolds Conservation Board visit their website. The majority of this beautiful countryside is farmland, a diverse mix of arable, livestock and woodland.
About a tenth of the Cotswolds is woodland with many of the woods being ancient. Some of the best examples are on the western edge with the beech woods around Cranham and Birdlip. Other woodland consists of oak, ash and sycamore.
Cotswold Towns and Villages
Idyllic towns and villages like Bibury and Bourton-on-the Water hide in the steep wooded valleys or sit proud on high rolling wolds. The fine buildings created by great artisans, the magnificent churches built by the wealthy wool merchants from medieval times and their grand houses with wonderful gardens are waiting to be discovered by travellers.
Use the links to discover more about the history, the villages and towns, about the conservation projects undertaken throughout the area and top attractions to visit.
Follow one of our suggested tours by car or follow one of our family walks to discover some of the hidden parts of the Cotswolds. The Cotswold Gateway is your guide to this wonderful Cotswolds area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take a look at our Cotswolds town guide and the Cotswolds villages guide.
Needles to say we opearate daily tours of the Cotswolds area. I would recommend a small group tour so you can get off the beaten track and explore some of the smaller villages – www.Sightseeingtours.co.uk
Link Source: http://www.thecotswoldgateway.co.uk