The coronavirus pandemic might have meant UK attractions haven’t been able to open in recent months, but it certainly hasn’t stopped them from getting ready to pack a punch! From the launch of England’s longest, fastest zipline, to a Roman sauna never seen before, and a number of multi-million-pound investments, the variety of new experiences and places to visit this summer in the UK is unprecedented!
Museum of Making, Derby
On the site of the world’s first factory (the Derby Silk Mill) the Museum of Making is an impressive 5-year, £18million project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – now ready to open. Located in the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the key sites of the industrial revolution, this brand-new museum will showcase the region’s 300-year history of making and celebrate its rich history of innovation. Expect to be astonished as this is no ordinary museum – it has been created and built by the people and industries of Derby, with volunteers helping to shape and design the way the museum will work for visitors. From the world’s smallest engine, run using a human hair, to a seven tonne Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine suspended in a new atrium above visitors’ heads, there will be 30,000 objects to enjoy. Designed to inspire creativity and new ideas, The Museum of Making will be a place where the story of making in the region is told, and you can discover your own bespoke trail through the amazing collections, displayed and shared in unique ways.
Don’t Miss: The two other Derby Museums in the trio; Hidden amongst the gorgeous old buildings and cobbled pavement of Friar Gate you could discover Pickford’s House; the professional showcase and family home of Georgian architect Joseph Pickford, or head to the Museum and Art Gallery, with longstanding and temporary exhibits it is home to a fascinating range of nationally important collections.
Hangloose Bluewater, Kent
If you are looking for a way to let off some adrenaline-fuelled steam then this brand new zipline could be just the ticket! Oh yes, England’s longest and fastest zipline, the biggest adventure centre in Europe, is landing in Kent at the much-loved Bluewater Shopping Centre – ready to open as soon as lockdown measures are lifted. Be one of the first to take on the 700-metre zipline, suspended high over the former quarry. Strapped in horizontally (just to make it that bit more intense) you’ll zoom over a sea of trees, waving to pedestrian shoppers below. And that’s not all: there are also plans for the UK’s only outdoor Skydive machine, as well as a climbing wall, giant swing and lots more!
Don’t Miss: Some retail therapy – you might need it to calm yourself down afterwards! Bluewater is home to over 300 stores, to include some of the biggest names in fashion, there’s over 50 places to eat and a Showcase Cinema de Lux.
Following a multi-million-pound investment, Nottingham Castle and its sprawling caves below are anticipating an exciting relaunch. Once lockdown lifts you will be able to step into the story of Nottingham Castle, along with the Ducal Palace, and the epic retelling of Robin Hood, rebellion and creativity. Symbolising almost 1,000 years of British history, Nottingham Castle has links to Robin Hood, Richard the Lionheart and the English Civil War. Rich in archaeology and human interest, and a beacon of power, protest and rebellion throughout the centuries. The restoration project hopes to revitalise the wealth of the castle’s history, the depth of its collections and the lives of the people of Nottingham. From reliving the adventures of Robin Hood to discovering the outstanding art collections, exploring the historic caves and sitting down for a bite to eat at the Terrace Café – they promise “every visit is unique”.
Don’t Miss: An impressive panorama – Take time to enjoy the views of Nottingham and its surrounding countryside from the castle’s lofty position.
The Roman Baths, Bath
Make 2021 a year to immerse in English history and head to Bath – a city offering it in abundance. Visitors can now delve further into Bath’s Roman history than ever before as previously unseen parts of the Roman Baths, including a Roman sauna, open to visitors for the first time. Following a conversion of a handful of Victorian spa buildings close to the site, this ever-popular attraction will also boast a brand-new World Heritage Centre, all part of The Archway Project, designed to increase understanding and enjoyment of the significance of Bath’s unique heritage. The centre will be free to visit and will inspire people to go out and experience the exceptional historic sites in Bath to include the hot springs, Roman remains, Georgian architecture and natural landscape settings which make Bath so special – and how it has become the only example in the UK of an entire urban city area to be given the highest and most prestigious accolade of being an exceptional World Heritage Site.
Don’t Miss: Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein. Another new attraction in Bath, a world first visitor attraction as the only horror experience dedicated to author Mary Shelley and her most infamous creation, Frankenstein. Mary Shelley wrote the majority of this timeless classic whilst living in lodgings situated in Abbey Churchyard in 1816, where you will now find the iconic Pump Room (next to The Roman Baths). The experience promises to be scarily atmospheric, multi-sensory and fully immersive!
Hambledon Vineyard’s Visitor Centre, South Downs
Hambledon comprises over 200 acres of vineyards planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – the three grape varieties most commonly used in the production of Champagne. Making wine is a labour of love and the vineyard team work hard all year round, in all weathers. To establish the 100,000 vines they must be pruned by hand – like pruning the roses in your garden – and the grapes are handpicked in September and October. Visitors will for the first time have the chance to enjoy some of the South Downs’ finest tipples at the Hambledon Vineyard’s new facilities. Located in 200 acres of lush countryside, the vineyard will welcome a brand-new tasting room and visitor centre, giving guests the chance to savour a range of delicious wines and discover behind-the-scenes stories and techniques of one England’s finest wines.
Don’t Miss: The Classic Cuvée Rosé Package – this quintessentially English day out includes a full vineyard tour, a tasting of their award-winning Classic Cuvée, and a delicious afternoon tea (including fresh fruit scones with cream, cupcakes and dainty sandwiches) served with a glass of Classic Cuvée Rosé. Bliss!
Wordsworth Grasmere, The Museum
Poetry fans will be delighted to hear the news of a brand-new Museum celebrating William Wordsworth in the Lake District. The Museum is scheduled to open this spring and will bring Wordsworth’s story into the 21st century, highlighting his relevance today and encouraging a greater sense of appreciation for his work than ever before. Wordsworth was a man ahead of his time, whose perspective on life is still hugely relevant today, 250 years after his birth. He published his first poem in 1787, and in 1793 he released his first collection of poems. His poetry is synonymous with the unique landscape of the English Lake District. He celebrated our relationship with nature and the importance of taking time to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the natural world. There will also be a new viewing platform overlooking Grasmere Vale. For the full Wordsworthian experience visit the reimagined Dove Cottage, Sensory Garden and The Woodland too.
Bodmin Jail, Cornwall
After almost 100 years of ruin, new life has been injected into this historic Cornish landmark. The brand new £8.5million immersive visitor experience is a creative, contemporary space, first opened in October 2020, only to be closed again shortly afterwards for lockdown. Once able to re-open, Cornwall’s dark history awaits you – the attraction takes you on a tour around the buildings of this historic jail in an exciting ‘Dark Walk’ experience allowing you to delve into its intriguing hidden history. Built in 1779 for King George III, Bodmin Jail has played an important role in Cornwall’s history – and this is promised to be “an immersive experience you won’t forget!” You will most likely be in need of a drink afterwards, so head to the Chapel Bar… transformed from the former Governor’s Office this luxurious cocktail bar won’t disappoint either.
Don’t Miss: The Bodmin Jail Hotel! Also brand-new, you might as well make a night of it by booking an overnight stay. See the hotel website for details on their Bodmin Jail Visitor Attraction package, which includes tickets for the attraction, a cosy bedroom (converted from three jail cells!), Cornish breakfast and three-course meal in the new Chapel restaurant
Love the great outdoors? Then you must visit…
Best New Garden
RHS Bridgewater, Manchester
Europe’s largest gardening project springs into life this May with RHS’s latest green oasis attraction. Horticulture lovers will soon be able to explore the brand-new garden, set to join the prestigious RHS’s portfolio. The 156-acre garden will be the first to be added in 17 years, offering a tranquil escape in the grounds of the historic Worsley New Hall, near the bustling centre of Manchester. This will be the largest gardening project in Europe and will include a kitchen garden, heritage orchard, therapeutic garden and a historic 11-acre walled garden – one of the largest in the UK.
Best Activity Centre
Llys-y-Frân Lake, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Llys y Frân Lake is located in a rolling pastoral landscape in the central-northern part of Pembrokeshire, West Wales near the foot of the Preseli Hills, 2 miles south of the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This brand-new 350 acre Outdoor Activity Centre is set to become the jewel attraction in Pembrokeshire’s crown. Following a £4 million investment the redevelopment of Llys-y-Frân Lake will become a Welsh Water adventure attracting over 100,000 visitors a year. Walkers and cyclists have over 14km of trails to explore, while on the water visitors can enjoy sailing, kayaking, fishing, canoeing and stand-up-paddleboarding. There will be a café, cycle hire and even a brand-new Pump Skills Track. Visitors can learn the art of axe and knife throwing, how to fire a crossbow or have a go at archery.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Take the kids with you and don’t miss the Crazi-Bugz – your young adventurers will love these six-wheeled off-road buggies.
Best New Walking Route
England’s Creative Coast, Essex, Kent and East Sussex
Stretching from the East Sussex Downs through to the Thames Estuary 1400km of stunning coastline is becoming a cultural treasure hunt brimming with seaside tales inspiring creativity through adventure. This is the world’s first art Geotour alongside ‘Waterfronts’. Launching at Turner Contemporary this May (until November) visitors walking the coastline will be able to enjoy a series of seven site-specific art commissions (curated by Tamsin Dillon) by internationally acclaimed artists. Highlights include Margate’s Turner Contemporary, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion and Hastings Contemporary. A naturally socially-distanced experience connecting art with the beautiful and dramatic landscape, stretching along the Essex, Kent and East Sussex shorelines offers visitors the chance to see some of the UK’s best new art works safely in the outdoors.
Best Family Attraction
Treat the kids after lockdown to dance, skip and bounce their way into the Summer holibobs! BeWILDerwood is a huge, award winning forest of family fun and outdoor adventure – due to open this spring. Think treehouses, crocklebogs, marsh walks, twiggles and boggles – and if you don’t know what any of these are just ask your little adventurers! Children will love whizzing down wobbly wires, sliding down slippery slopes and playing a part in the magical story in this vast magical adventure playground. Watch the kids run wild in the Twiggle Trails and enjoy the café and refreshments on offer. There’s a huge plus point too – with face painting, crafts and storytelling included in the price of your ticket.
Or try out these exciting new eco-tourism attractions:
Rye Harbour Discovery Centre to open in Sussex
The new centre will transform the way visitors engage with the natural and cultural heritage of the reserve, with an exciting and innovative programme of activities, education, training and conservation projects. The 1,110 acre reserve is one of the most biodiverse places in Britain with 4,200 plant and animal species recorded, including over 200 rare or endangered birds and mammals. It is also home to a range of historic buildings; among them, Henry VIII’s Camber Castle and the Mary Stanford Lifeboat House.
Stanmer Park, Brighton
Stanmer Park is Brighton’s largest park and the gateway between the city and the South Downs National Park. Designed in the 18th century, it is a grade II registered landscape which is historically and nationally significant – exciting news then that a £5million restoration project to restore 20 hectares of the 485 hectares park is currently in progress. What will there be to see? There will be a Walled Garden, new café, bike hire and easier-access to explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from new pathways and trails. Historical features will be restored, to include the entrance and parkland to Stanmer House and The Frankland Monument. The project is working “to create a world-class environment, that is economically successful and enjoyed by all – forever.”
Eden Project North
The Eden Project is expanding into the north – and has plans to transform the Lancashire coastal town of Morecambe. Scheduled to open in 2024, Eden North is currently in the development stages, but would potentially include indoor and outdoor attractions which would connect visitors with the internationally significant natural environment of Morecambe Bay.
PEAK Resort Adrenaline World and Gateway Hub, Derbyshire
The Peak District was the UKs first national park, celebrating 70 years this year and with a £100million project currently underway. The first phase of the exciting project will include a brand new 150 bedroom hotel and adrenaline filled activities to include zip lines, climbing walls, adventure golf, ninja courses, caving, trampolining and go karting. The Gateway at PEAK will be the next stage of this ambitious 300-acre PEAK resort development, taking a pioneering approach to sustainable tourism with plans for a 120 bedroom hotel and 50 lodges! This world-class visitor destination will enable visitors to enjoy the wildlife, cultural heritage and natural beauty of this stunning national park.
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