The new year brings exciting plans in the United Kingdom. We’ve put together a selection of the best places and destinations to visit in Great Britain in 2019.
Wales – Year of Discovery
Wales – Year of Discovery 2019 continues the dynamic of the three previous themed years (Year of the Sea, Year of Legend, and Year of Adventure), this time emphasising Wales’ energy and vitality with a multitude of events and activities. Year of Discovery 2019 will encourage visitors to discover not just the region of Wales, but also themselves as individuals via a fascinating agenda full of attractions, adventures, and experiences.
The Wales Way will continue to be a key element in 2019. Inaugurated at the end of 2018, The Wales Way is a combination of three panoramic tourism routes that cross the most beautiful landscape in the country, showing off Wales’ gripping history, coasts, and tourist attractions. These routes – The North Wales Way, The Cambrian Way, and The Coastal Way – will help position Wales as a destination for those in search of adventure off the beaten track all year round.
London Borough of Culture – Waltham Forest
Inspired by the European Cities of Culture and UK City initiatives, London Borough of Culture is a new and important plan launched in 2018 by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with the aim of increasing cultural activities across London’s various districts. The first borough to win the award for 2019 is Waltham Forest. The idea is to bring culture to the heart of each community, offering a fantastic opportunity to discover the diversity and personality of London’s different areas. Local musician Talvin Singh, who won a prestigious Mercury Award for Best British Album of the Year, heads up a star-studded line up of artists that will collaborate with young people from Waltham Forest in what promises to be a majestic opening event – Welcome to the Forest – to celebrate the borough’s reign as the first London Borough of Culture.
Great Britain on the big and small screen
Great Britain will once again play a leading role in various prestigious cinema premiers in 2019, as well as in some new television releases.
Mary, Queen of Scots – January 2019 (pre-release in the United States at the end of 2018)
With Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as the main characters, playing the roles of Mary I of Scotland and her cousin, Elizabeth I, the Queen of England, respectively, this biopic portrays Mary’s attempt to overthrow Elizabeth before being condemned to years in prison and ultimately being executed. The beautifully embellished costumes and settings of the time are further enhanced by the majestic countryside in which the film was shot, including London, Oxford, and Derbyshire in England and Edinburgh and Glencoe in Scotland. If you’re thinking of visiting, we recommend the palace of Linlithgow, an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and the birthplace of Mary Stuart, Edinburgh Castle, where she gave birth to her only son, as well as the Mary, Queen of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders.
Downton Abbey, the film – release date in 2019, to be confirmed
It would seem that the avalanche of rumours about a possible movie are, in fact, true. A spokesperson from NBC Universal has confirmed that the movie went into production in 2018. Now, almost 3 years after the last episode of the television series, Highclere Castle, which plays the role of Downton Abbey, has announced that the cast and production team will return to film there in the last few months of 2018.
Bond 25 – release date 8th November 2019
Bond is back! The 25th instalment of the Bond saga will be released on the big screen in 2019. Filming locations haven’t been released yet, but Great Britain still offers a multitude of activities and places where you can soak up the Bond experience, whether that’s admiring props from the movies in the London Film Museum in Covent Garden or enjoying a martini in Dukes Bar in Mayfair, a frequent haunt of Ian Fleming, author of James Bond.
The Favourite – release date early 2019 (pre-release in the United States in 2018)
In England at the beginning of the 18th century, a weak queen, Anne Stuart, occupies the throne, while her close friend, Lady Sarah, rules the country in her place. British actresses Olivia Coleman and Rachel Weisz star in this film, shot in locations like Hatfield House in County Hertfordshire, one hour from London.
The Secret Garden – release due Summer 2019 to be confirmed
The release of the newest movie adaptation of the classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, is expected in 2019. Directed by Marc Munden and starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters, the film tells the story of a young orphan from India sent to live with her distracted uncle in Yorkshire. Some of the key locations in the film include Helmsley Walled Garden (the eponymous secret garden), Duncombe Park, and Farndale in North York Moors National Park in the north of England and Iford Manor, Wiltshire, in the west.
Untitled Richard Curtis/Danny Boyle – release date 13th September 2019
The storyline of Richard Curtis’ and Danny Boyle’s new film is top secret, but it’s thought that it will be a romantic comedy based around The Beatles and set in the 60s/70s in Suffolk. Filming took place all around the country, including Halesworth, Dunwich, Shingle Street, and Latitude Festival. Lily James, Himesh Patel and Ana de Armas star and there are rumours of a plethora of cameos, including one from Ed Sheeran himself!
Peaky Blinders, 5th season – release date in 2019 to be confirmed
Tommy and the other Peaky Blinders will return to the small screen in 2019. Set and filmed in central England, in the city of Birmingham, Peaky Blinders is set at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. Some parts of the series are also filmed in Liverpool in the north-east of England.
The Crown, 3rd Season – release date 2019 to be confirmed
Filming of the third season of Netflix series The Crown has already begun. It stars Olivia Coleman and Tobias Menzies as Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
Manchester International Festival returns – and there’s a new neighbourhood in town
Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the first international festival of original and unseen artworks and special events and is also the largest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. The festival takes place every two years – the next one will happen from the 4th to the 21st July 2019 in different venues across the city. After that, it will permanently move to a new flagship cultural centre in northern England, The Factory.
Elsewhere in Manchester, a massive plan to create a new neighbourhood that unites business, culture, and liveability located on the grounds of the old Granada Studios HQ, is unfolding. With a mixture of residential buildings, hotels, offices, quaint streets, and animated plazas, the new neighbourhood of St. John will maintain many of the original buildings, like the emblematic Bonded Warehouse, as well as new ones, such as The Factory Manchester.
New exhibitions and must-see museums
A number of British museums and galleries are hosting new exhibitions and undergoing enlargement in 2019.
In London, Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition on the work of Vincent Van Gogh (27th March – 11th August) in the UK for the last decade, as well as the first exhibition on Van Gogh in the Tate itself since in 1947. Also, in London, the National Portrait Gallery will host the first large-scale exhibition of miniature Tudor and Jacobite portraits in the United Kingdom in 35 years (Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver, 21st February– 19th May). The Museum of Science is expected to formally open new medicine galleries in 2019. These galleries promise to contain some of the most important medicine-related collections in the world. The Geffrye has set off on a remarkable important transformation, Unlocking the Geffrye, designed to improve accessibility and visitor experience. It’s expected to be completed sometime in 2019. Finally, the Cartoon Museum will launch their new headquarters in London city centre, bringing “the imagination of the world of comics to the physical realm”.
In Bristol, in the southeast, the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will pay homage to the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci by hosting the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing from February 2nd to May 16th. M-Shed will present Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed from March 16th to June 16th. It will be the largest collection of real objects and tattoo-related works of art ever presented in the UK. Lastly, On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (July 6th – September 29th) will display a huge variety of objects – from drawings to the latest technology in VR – that were used in the making of the animated film, Early Man.
The Turner Contemporary art gallery in the Kent coastal town of Margate, in the south-east of the country, will host the prestigious Turner Prize for Modern Art. Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, is in the process of preparing new exhibitions, events, historical re-creations, conservation projects, and new guided visits. From the 9th February – April, visitors will be able to see an exhibition of JMW Turner’s first drawings and architectural sketches, while 2019 will also be the first year that visitors can take a Twizy Tour – a fun way to explore the landscapes designed by great British landscape designer Capability Brown from the comfort of a 2-seater electric vehicle.
Moving north, Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will be the HQ of the triennial Yorkshire Sculpture International, beginning in 2019. The project involves sharing experiences and resources via collaborations in artistic programming, audience and talent development, new foreign commissions, and international curation associations. In Liverpool, Tate Liverpool will present the largest ever UK Keith Haring exhibition, displaying over 70 works of art inspired by underground club culture, pop art, and graffiti (June 14th – November 10th). Also, in Liverpool, the Walker Art Gallery will host a collection of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh from March 15th to August 26th.
Finally, and of particular interest to followers of the British royal family, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh will host A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (June 14th – October 6th), a special exhibition that will include the wedding wardrobe of the royal couple.
Interesting new hotels to open
We recommend booking in advance if you fancy staying at any of these promising new hotels in 2019.
Robert de Niro is planning to open his first hotel in London in collaboration with BD Hotels. Plans for The Wellington, in Covent Garden, include 83 bedrooms, 2 restaurants, a members’ club, gastro cafe, spa, and swimming pool and they’ve already been awarded planning permission. The Hard Rock Hotel, located on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane and, until now, known as the Cumberland Hotel, intends to open its doors next spring, with 1,000 rooms and suites, 2 bars, and a Hard Rock Cafe. Elsewhere, hotel chain Art’Otel plans to open its first London property in the district of Hoxton. The new, contemporary hotel will offer 350 rooms over 18 floors and is to be called Art’Otel Hoxton.
Rest of England
Work has already begun on the development of the Dakota Deluxe, a 137-bedroom hotel in Manchester, in the north of the UK. It will be the third in the Dakota Deluxe chain: the other two are in Glasgow and Leeds. The design hotel estimates it will open in the spring of 2019. Also in Manchester, in January 2019, the Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station will open. It will offer 187 rooms decked out in a contemporary style.The Grand, one of the most emblematic buildings in Birmingham, will be restored to a luxury 180-room hotel with bar and restaurant, spa, and top-floor infinity pool. It’s due to open in early 2019. Similarly, The Crescent is due to open next year in the historic spa town of Buxton, Derbyshire. It will be located in the stately Crescent building, already a site of archaeological interest, and after restoration will become a 5-star spa hotel with 80 rooms.
Yotel will open its first Scottish hotel in the early part of 2019, on Edinburgh’s Queen Street. It will offer 200 bedrooms. Elsewhere, beer co-op BrewDog has announced its plans to open the first hotel in the world themed around the craft brewing motif, to be called The DogHouse. As well as offering a craft beer themed hotel, the company will also expand their brewing facilities in their Aberdeenshire Factory, in the north of Scotland.
Upcoming events to get excited about
In Bristol. in the south-east of England, The Wave Bristol is planning an autumn launch for a new artificial surfing lake far from the coast. It will be possible thanks to the latest technology in artificial waves and is able to generate up to 1,000 quality waves an hour. The lake will offer three surf zones, aimed towards different levels of surfing ability, a high-performance surf centre for elite surfers and hobby surfers, both advanced and aspiring. Located on one side of the city in a gorgeous environment featuring sensory, medicinal, and food-producing gardens, The Wave will also offer a swimming pool, cafe, educational centre, campsite, and surf shop. The project aims to open the world of surfing to the public, as well as educating and inspiring them about a range of subjects from marine conservation to how to live a healthier way of life.
Big anniversaries on the calendar
2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria in Kensington Palace, where she also spent her childhood. To celebrate, the palace will put on a permanent display of her chambers along with an explanation of her fascinating life. There will also be a programme of performances, special events, guided visits, and conferences all throughout the year. Similarly, Britain’s national parks are celebrating their 70th anniversary next year, leaving us impatient to see what promises to be a very special National Parks Week. Elsewhere, in the north west of England, Manchester will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre. On the 16th August 1819 in St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester, an armed cavalry charged on a peaceful concentration of people gathered to demonstrate against poverty and for democracy.