As summer staycations continue to dominate the headlines, and travel destinations in the UK have never been in such high demand, make sure you make the most of your holiday experience with our ultimate list of unforgettable attractions, events and special themed breaks.
Belmond British Pullman
From London you could visit Bath in a day by hopping on the British Pullman train for a gourmet-great day to remember. Bellini and brunch to hand, admire the art deco carriages and passing countryside. A few hours browsing Bath’s shops and sights – from the Abbey to the Roman Baths to the Assembly Rooms – then it’s back on the train for dinner and drinks on the way home.
Priced from £485 per passenger.
Shrewsbury Prison Tour
In Shrewsbury there’s a new kind of lockdown in town – a 12-hour overnight stay in prison in one of England’s most haunted sites! Take a guided tour with an ex-prison officer of Shrewsbury Prison, ranked no. 6 in the World’s Best Dark Tourism Sites. Explore the prison wings, cells, segregation area, and execution room. If you are looking for the ultimate adrenalin experience try your hand at ghost hunting before turning in for the night in your prison cell, though you won’t be locked in on this occasion!
Prices from £49 per person,
Visit the Cairngorms, Scotland – the UK’s largest National Park, and you can enjoy a special encounter with the Cairngorm Reindeers! The only free-range herd in the country, re-introduced to the park in 1952 and now 150-strong. Accompanied by an experienced reindeer herder, you can be guided up the mountainside where the main herd lives all year round. The reindeer’s soft velvet noses mean that they are a delight to hand-feed with their endearing and friendly nature – an unforgettable experience!
Visit Mid Wales
In Wales, the Man versus Horse Marathon is due to take place in Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales, on Saturday 12 June, 2021; it took 25 years before a man finally beat a horse on this 22-mile course. The same town hosts the World Bog Snorkelling Championships on Sunday 29th August, 2021, and the Real Ale Wobble on 20th November – the latter is a non-competitive cycling event which marks the start of the Mid Wales Beer Festival, with stop-offs en route for cider and beer tastings. Stay nearby at Lake Country House Hotel and Spa, set in 50 acres of grounds on the banks of the River Irfon.
Tour Islay and the Whisky Coast
In Scotland, staycation experts Rabbies have added a four-day tour sampling some of the world’s finest whiskies to their bucket list of experiences. Join them on a visit to Islay and the Whisky Coast on an adventure to the Oban Distillery, Islay’s oldest distillery, and then on to Bowmore, Ardnahoe Distillery, Kilchoman Distillery, the Prince of Wales’ favourite Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg.
The four-day coach tour starts from £299 per person departing from Edinburgh.
Chiltern Trike Tour
In Buckinghamshire, you can now take to the open road on a chauffeured Boom trike experience! Two hours of beautiful views, ancient woodland and picturesque villages, accompanied by fascinating facts and local stories from your chauffeur, as you sit back and discover stories, myths and legends of the area. Perhaps you could make a day of it, stopping off for local gin or beer or a scrumptious afternoon tea.
Priced from £250.00 for a two-hour tour.
Try traditional sailing at Charlestown Harbour
In Cornwall why not try your hand at traditional sailing? Jump aboard one of Charlestown Harbour’s fleet of traditional wooden boats for a day sailing experience, join a sailing holiday or commission your own private charter. Nestled on Cornwall’s south coast, this is the UK’s only open, working, 18th century Georgian Port, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular filming location for the small and silver screens. Learn to hoist the sails, trim the rig, take the wheel and set a course along Cornwall’s coastline – or sit back and relax with wind under sail and spot for dolphins!
2-day cruise to Cawsand (sailing on Anny , a 1930’s Topsail Schooner) in April 2021 priced from £210 per person, including all your food aboard ship.
Foodies will love:
Forest of Dean foraging break
In Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, take a foraging break with a fungi expert forager at Tudor Farmhouse and spend hours off the beaten track discovering delicious ingredients, whilst enjoying fresh air and beautiful countryside. Having returned to the Farmhouse with your basket full of edible delights you’ll be greeted by a comforting lunch using the best of seasonal and foraged produce.
The experience includes an overnight stay with breakfast. April 24th/May 15th/June 19th 2021, priced from £195 per night.
Try a Northcote At Home Gourmet Box
If you are missing top-notch Michelin-starred cuisine, Northcote in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley has created new Northcote At Home Gourmet Boxes (£105 for two people) courtesy of creative Executive Chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen and her team. Using the finest seasonal ingredients, each dish is lovingly prepared and packaged so that you can enjoy restaurant-quality creations at your own dinner table. The Gourmet Boxes can be delivered nationwide and feature four delicious courses. Sample dishes include English Onion ‘French Style Soup’ and Waterford Farm Salt-Aged Beef, plus a selection of handmade chocolates.
New Japanese-Nordic food restaurant
In London there’s a new buzz around Japanese restaurant, Sachi, opening in Pantechnicon, a Japanese-Nordic food, drink and design emporium in Belgravia. It complements the eclectic shops, selling books to bikes, exclusive products and made-to-order furniture – and the Nordic restaurant, Eldr, with roof terrace.
Chiltern Hills Nomadic Dining experience
In Buckinghamshire, escape to the Chiltern Hills and join Nomadic Dining for a woodland foraging feast inspired by the wild ingredients that grow there in abundance. Immerse yourself into the magical experience of living off the land, cooking on an open flame with menus curated by the fruits and finds of your forest forage. Enjoy lunch or dinner experiences, woodland cocktails, hand-picked herbal teas and toasted marshmallows.
Priced from £99 per person.
For your mind, body and wellbeing
Open water swimming in the Lake District
Wild Swimming has boomed in popularity during lockdown with people searching for a natural health kick. Said to release endorphins and boost your immune system, open water swimming doesn’t get much better than an expert guided experience in the Lake District under the romantic light of the Milky Way. Try a Stargazing Night Swim with cold water swimming specialist Colin Hill at Another Place. Need some help with your swimming first? The hotel has just launched a brand new endless pool – almost like a treadmill underwater, where you’re swimming but staying in the same place. Book a session with Colin to help perfect your technique before braving the lake.
Horses and Nature Retreat
In Exmoor, the Heale Horses and Nature Retreat are offering a unique approach to achieving wellbeing and wellness through connection with nature and the calming presence of horses. The course includes open-air mindfulness sessions and walk and talk with horses. The perfect way to enjoy the tranquil beauty of Exmoor and to reconnect with nature and your sense of wellbeing.
Priced from £250 per person
Swim Club at Watergate Bay’s new infinity pool
In Cornwall, there’s a brand new 25-metre ocean-view infinity pool at Watergate Bay Hotel, designed for guests of the Swim Club, before taking to the ocean. Or you might prefer to put your feet up from the outdoor hot tub!
Tresco Swimming Retreat
While in nearby Tresco, on the Isles of Scilly, there’s a brand new five-night swimming retreat led by Olympian Keri-anne Payne of Triscape – build confidence and skill in the water while soaking up the island atmosphere
For Creative Souls
Tour Bristol street art
In Bristol, fans of street art can imagine getting under the skin of Banksy’s classics on Where the Wall, a new self-guided smart phone tour. Narrated by the ‘godfather of graffiti’, John Nation, the app reveals 13 key locations around the city and gives rich insight into Bristol’s artistic heritage.
Experience England’s Creative Coast
On the South Coast, you can now experience Britain’s outdoor art scene while enjoying a picturesque hike. England’s Creative Coast is the collaboration of seven new installations from famous contemporary artists in Essex, Kent and Sussex. Creating an artistic trail along the southern coastline, it will be the world’s first art GeoTour, incorporating global positioning system technology to form a unique treasure hunt experience.
Discover the Derby Ram Trail
In Derbyshire, discover the new Derby Ram Trail. After having to delay its opening due to this year’s series of unfortunate events, the Derby Ram Trail will finally take to the city’s streets in the spring/summer 2021. Based on the mythical Derby Ram – who was said to be ten yards high with a huge flowing fleece – the trail will feature a flock of 30 fabulous ram sculptures, each designed and painted by local artists, dotted throughout the city streets. Grab your camera and see how many you can find!
Visit Plymouth’s new cultural hub
In Plymouth, look forward to delving into maritime history at The Box, the south-west coast’s brand new cultural hub. The fully-accessible museum is currently showing a commemorative exhibition marking 400 years since the Pilgrims made their maiden voyage to America, titled Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy. The 12 new exhibitions will showcase 300 illuminating objects until 18 September 2021. There is also an outdoor Mayflower Trail for visitors wanting to see key locations in the city first-hand.
Enjoy a 5* walking and art break at The Nare
New to The Nare Hotel, Cornwall is a themed walking and art break overlooking Carne beach. Four days to draw inspiration from the stunning sea views and coastal scenery of the Roseland Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With plenty of sea air and hands-on creative tuition unlock your newfound artistic flair and take a personally hand- painted canvas home to forever remind you of your holiday. The hotel is also about to unveil four of the largest sea-view hotel suites in Britain, The Whittington Suites.
Photography break in Tresco
Back in Tresco, brand new for 2021 is The Tresco Photography Break. Expect breathtaking vistas, expansive seascapes, and showstopping sunsets combined with bespoke photography tuition. Budding writers might prefer a creative experience with writer Hannah Dennison, who offers her expert guidance, helping to stir creativity and confidence for you to pursue your writing dreams.
Coventry UK 2021 City of Culture
In Coventry, the UK’s 2021 ‘City of Culture’, a promising programme of art, theatre, dance and literature kicks off in May with a stand-out event with a city-wide installation, showcasing Coventry’s united energy.
New outdoor exhibitions at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Twenty miles south of Leeds, Yorkshire Sculpture Park currently boasts an installation of four major sculptures by Damien Hirst (running until 1 April 2022), as well as up to 80 sculptures that can be viewed in the open air. Subject to coronavirus restrictions lifting, indoor exhibitions planned include Breaking the Mould (13th March – 6th June), an epochal survey of women’s sculpture from Barbara Hepworth to Eva Rothschild, and Annie Morris (July), the artist’s first UK solo museum show of tapestry works and sculpture.
Stay at Middlethorpe Hall and Spa in York – one of three very special Historic House Hotels owned by The National Trust.
The Great British countryside
Go Walking with Rothay Manor in the Lake District
In the heart of The Lake District, Ambleside’s boutique hotel, Rothay Manor has launched private guided walks to the fells. Join International Mountain Leader Pip Line for a tailored session exploring the fells on foot. Double rooms are available from £200 per night, B&B or from £310 per night including a 7-course tasting menu, for two people, in the hotel’s restaurant.
Private walking sessions for two people are available from £150.
Discover Dartmoor on Horseback
In Dartmoor, you can witness the great British countryside on horseback through the wilds of open moorland and ancient woodland. Local guides tell tales of the history, terrain and nature of this beautiful place. Finish up with a wholesome lunch and a glass or two of wine to complete a truly special experience.
Priced from £275 per person for a half day tour.
Go Scrambling in the Yorkshire Dales
For a new challenge in the Yorkshire Dales, stay at Brownber House and book a Scrambling session (walking on all fours over steep ground, using your hands and feet) with professional mountaineer Graham Muney! Lying somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering and rock climbing – Scrambling is best suited to adventurous outdoor lovers (and not the faint hearted!).
Brownber House is available from £1,600 for 7 nights, sleeps 8.
For more information and to book a guided scrambling session
Orchard Cycling Trails in Herefordshire
In North and South Hereford two new Orchard Cycling Trails launch this September, just in time for harvest’s bumper crop. This is the perfect way to enjoy the picturesque hamlets and scenery of Herefordshire, while learning more about its apple heritage. Illustrated maps and descriptions of suggested spotting points will be available for download from the website. Enjoy cider tastings, restaurants, pubs and cafes serving apple themed tasting menus, the chance to meet some of the award-winning producers and explore the county’s incredible landscapes and orchards.
Stargazing at a National Park
Dream of the countryside in a different light at one of the National Park’s Dark Skies Festivals, a selection of events in areas recognised for their dazzling night skies. There are plenty of nocturnal adventures to look forward to, including ranger guided night walks, wellbeing retreats and dusk safaris. Although several are scheduled for spring, you can also look ahead to October 2021, when Exmoor National Park plans to host a range of fascinating events as part of its annual celebrations – from in-depth talks by leading astronomers to stargazing suppers.
Visitors are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.
Jessica Way is an award-winning travel journalist, Editor of British Travel Journal and Dream Escape Magazine. She spends most of her time visiting extraordinary cityscapes, countryside and coastlines across the British Isles