2016’s calendar is jam-packed with events, anniversaries and key dates that guarantee Britain will be on the top of travel bucket lists this year! For media, this means lots of fantastic attractions to keep you coming back to Britain, and here we select our favourites to look out for in 2016!
To mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, a celebration will take place at Windsor Castle, showcasing her life, her love of horses, her dedication to the Commonwealth and her involvement with the Navy, Army and Air Force. Over 90 minutes, 500 horses and more than 1,000 participants from around Britain and the world will create an event for the Queen. Also in celebration of The Queen’s 90th birthday, three special exhibitions, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe, will be staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences during 2016. Constituting the largest display of The Queen’s dress ever mounted, they will open at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for Her Majesty’s birthday on 21 April 2016, at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in August 2016 and at Windsor Castle in September 2016.
In commemoration of the 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s England is hosting a range of new exhibitions in Stratford-upon-Avon this year, as part of the celebrations of the playwright’s legacy. These include a new immersive theatrical experience at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC); a reimagining of New Place (part of the five homes in Stratford-upon-Avon that are looked after by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and Shakespeare’s final home) following a major restoration project; and Shakespeare’s school room, open for the first time at King Edward VI School. Meanwhile, also at the RSC, a new exhibition will open, highlighting the work of the directors, writers, actors, designers and creative theatre makers who have shaped the RSC in its 130-year history.
2016 marks 300 years since the birth of Capability Brown and there are a large number of events planned. When the aristocrats of the 18th century were building their mansions, there was just one person they wanted to landscape their gardens – Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Brown got his nickname by assuring the owners that their land had ‘capability’. He then set about creating a landscape that looked natural, but was more perfect than nature could be. He built more than 170 gardens in Britain and most of them can still be seen and enjoyed today as idyllic places to relax, contemplate nature and picnic – just as Brown planned for the original owners.
One of Brown’s most famous projects was at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, north England. Still owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, this estate in the heart of the Peak District National Park receives more than half a million visitors a year, many of them travelling especially for the spectacular gardens. Another famous Capability project is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and a few gardens are now part of a luxury hotel, including Bowood in Wiltshire, west England, and Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire, an hour outside London. Here Capability Brown had 1,000 acres to play with – and room has now been found for a golf course too.
2016 will be Britain’s ‘Year of the GREAT English Garden’. It will be the ideal time to explore the beautiful gardens that England has to offer, and, of course, visit the stunning landscapes created by ‘Capability’ Brown.
Following on from the successful Year of Food and Drink in 2015, the Year of Homecoming in 2014 and the Year of Natural Scotland in 2013, 2016 will celebrate Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design with a 12-month programme of events. It’s a great opportunity to visit cities such as Dundee in eastern Scotland, which has become the first UNESCO City of Design in the UK, which recognises the huge contribution the city has made to design worldwide, including leading biomedical research, comics, orange marmalade, and video games including Grand Theft Auto.
Elsewhere, the city of Glasgow showcases the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of the leaders of the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland in the late 19th century. Visit the Mackintosh-designed Glasgow School of Art (currently undergoing restoration following a fire in 2014), the Willow Tea Rooms and House for an Art Lover. Glasgow has been named as one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 ‘Best of the World’ unmissable destinations to visit in 2016. The city’s vibrant art and music scene was singled out as the key determining factor for the city being selected for inclusion in this distinguished global ‘top 20’.
Wales has named 2016 their Year of Adventure. Dive into Coasteering in Anglesey, north Wales for some rock hopping and cliff jumping - ideal for the daredevil! Plus there’s the new Surf Snowdonia, a public surfing lagoon in north Wales- this exciting new adventure also has onsite camping pods for overnight stays. At Bounce Below, you can unleash your inner child on giant trampolines, walkways, slides and tunnels made of netting in a 176-year old disused cavern.
Born on 13 September 1916, Roald Dahl captured the imagination of children around the world with his tales including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits and The BFG. The film, The BFG, is also coming to the silver screen in 2016 (directed by Steven Spielberg) and visitors to Britain can learn more about the author at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, south-east England, or visit Cardiff, the capital city of Wales - Dahl’s birthplace - where the whole city will be the setting for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of all that’s weird, wonderful, subversive and surreal in his much-loved world. Created by National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre, City of Unexpected will take place in September 2016, where visitors can expect to see Cardiff as only Roald Dahl could re-imagine it. There will also be a pan-Wales programme of Roald Dahl 100 events throughout 2016, incorporated into some of the destination’s events and festivals.
A number of London’s leading cultural venues have announced plans to celebrate the legacy and continuing influence of London’s punk scene throughout 2016, which marks 40 years since the Sex Pistols released their infamous debut single Anarchy in the UK. Live gigs, talks, films, exhibitions and museum displays are all part of a year-long celebration of subversive culture. Not only will punk’s roots in London be explored, but also its on-going influence on modern day culture
Other organisations involved in Punk London include the British Fashion Council, British Film Institute, British Library, Design Museum, Doc ‘n Roll Films, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Museum of London, The Photographers’ Gallery, Rough Trade, PYMCA, Premier and On|Off, Roundhouse and Universal Music Catalogue.
British pop royalty The Spice Girls celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2016, while girl groups Bananarama and Little Mix also face significant anniversaries. As do British music legends Tom Jones, Van Morrison, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, The Kinks, Lulu, The Who and Englebert Humperdinck. And you can celebrate their anniversaries by visiting important locations to the bands in Britain!
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