Whether you’re after a long overdue culture fix or some new family adventures to add to the memory bank, England’s cities are coming up trumps this summer with a host of new experiences, attractions and new accommodation on offer.
Visitors are advised to always check individual websites and government guidance for the latest information. National restrictions are currently in place. Check out www.visitengland.com for the latest guidance on how to Escape the Everyday responsibly.
Until 6 June 2021
Head to Liverpool for a long overdue culture fix as the city hosts the UK’s largest contemporary art festival, the Liverpool Biennial. This city-wide event will feature a programme packed with free exhibitions, performances and shows created by 50 international artists. There’s lots of new tours to discover the heritage, culture and vibrancy of this lively city.
New electric and Beatles themed Liverpool Cycle Tours
Come and get your Ticket to Ride with Liverpool Cycle Tours offering a range of bike tours to explore the city including a new electric bicycles and The Beatles tour. See many of the iconic landmarks linked to world famous Liverpool band, The Beatles, and their music. The tour uses new electric, pedal assist bikes, which flatten the hills and provide maximum enjoyment. Pricing: Adult (Ages 14+), £37.00, family package from £99.00 (two adults, two children).
This summer sees the former Echo and Daily Post building transform into a 207-room hotel with destination restaurant, panoramic sky bar, state-of-the-art fitness gym, and upscale modern suites under one roof. With a prime location on Old Hall Street in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial district, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the bustling food quarter of Castle Street and is ideal for those looking to explore the city centre by foot.
Chester’s offering its visitors outdoor fun for all the family with al fresco dining and theatre performances to keep everyone entertained.
Take to the Waters at Chester Weir, Chester
Two new waterborne tours are now being offered by Dee River Kayaking - White-water kayaking on the Chester Weir in the heart of the city and paddleboarding with a view of the Chester Meadows, Old Dee Bridge and Roman Walls. Alternatively, Chester Boat will be skippering new private picnic trips. Picnic Boat Hire is for up to six passengers and the special sailing comes with optional afternoon tea and fizz (with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus available).
England’s biggest open-air theatre returns this summer in Chester’s Grosvenor Park with three productions in an extended season, including The Jungle Book, Pride and Prejudice, and a Shakespearean comedy to be announced. The theatre performances will be among more than 200 outdoor events planned this summer, including its popular outdoor cinema, Moonlight Flicks with family favourites, cult classics and contemporary blockbuster movies screened against the backdrop of Chester Cathedral and the city walls
A vibrant programme of national and international, performances and premieres will return to the city this July, taking place in venues across the city including the first ever work on the construction site of The Factory, the landmark cultural space that will be MIF’s future home. Much of the programme will be free to attend, with more work than ever in public spaces around the city.
Manchester Jewish Museum is currently undergoing a major extension to add new galleries, learning spaces, a shop and café. The extension has been built alongside the museum’s historic building, a Grade II* listed Spanish and Portuguese former synagogue.
Manchester UNESCO City of Literature will be home to The North West’s first dedicated poetry library, housed in the new School of Digital Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University. The library will widen public access to poetry and foster new creative writing with a programme of classes and events scheduled throughout the year.
Stay at the new environmentally green hotel brand to open on Deansgate
17 May 2021
Climate conscious Qbic Hotels will open its fourth property in Manchester with pre-configured rooms made from recycled materials and incentives for guests for being green. In-house restaurant Motley will serve local food with a veggie menu.
Scottish beer brewing giants BrewDog have announced that they will open their first hotel in England in June, following the success of the DogHouse brand in Scotland and the USA. The 18-bedroom hotel will feature Punk IPA on tap in every room, beer fridges in the showers, a rooftop terrace with fire pit, and will allow guests to bring their pets.
Pricing from £220.00 per person, one weekend night
York a city full of beautiful architecture, fantastic food and of course chocolate; this summer there’s lots of new experiences and ways to enjoy all the city has to offer.
I Spy Walking Trail
brand new Little Vikings ‘I Spy’ Walking Trail inspiring families to explore the city and spot iconic sights. This permanent free walking trail is the perfect way for families to explore York, with 22 weird, wonderful, iconic and interesting things to spot along the circular route.
The Hole In Wand Wizard Golf is York’s new immersive experience in the Coppergate Shopping Centre. Inside the old Wizard pub you will be taken on a 9 hole mini golf adventure to search for the missing Gargoyle Grobblenook, and includes a trip through a magical portal, taking on bubbling cauldrons and avoiding the flying golf clubs! At the end of your magical journey you will find out whether you are a Basilisk, Serpent, Unicorn or Wizard and everyone who completes the course will get a potion to enjoy.
Pricing from £6.99 per person (includes a game of golf for one person and a take away drink)
Converting a landmark insurance building into a 150-bedroom hotel offering stylish bedrooms, delicious dining and sassy cocktails, with stunning views over the famous cathedral, and rooftop bar to take in the majestic views of the city below.
Pricing from £189.00, double room, only night
Newcastle have launched a series of tours to explore the city in a more active and fun way!
Cycle the posh parks of Toon, Newcastle
Take in Newcastle’s iconic sights as well as heading off the beaten track to explore some of the city’s green spaces. Lasting 3.5 hours you will explore Jesmond Dene, a billionaire’s private garden, Newcastle’s cultural hub Ouseburn, and the Town Moor, where Freemen of Newcastle hold the rights to graze their cattle to this day.
Pricing from £52.50 per person if in a group of six
The Quayside at night provides a spectacular urban light show. Artistically illuminated buildings, the changing colours of the Millennium Bridge and the glowing neon signs of the bars and restaurants on the quays, create an unmistakeable and vibrant light scape. Experience all of this from the water, on illuminated sit-on kayaks.
Coventry is putting the final touches in place as it takes on the helm as this year’s UK City of Culture from 15th May 2021. Offering visitors a dazzling array of major international events, highlights include the signature performance by Coventry Moves, which will transform the city through breathtaking installations, performance, and digital works on 5 June. In June, The Walk will arrive in the city, commemorating the 5,000-mile journey of fictional refugee Little Amal. Working with the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and Handspring Puppet Company, the creators of War Horse, the public artwork will commemorate and celebrate the history of refugees in Coventry, the UK’s only City of Peace and Reconciliation. The city will also play host to the Turner Prize this autumn.
The former Telegraph newspaper offices have transformed into an 88 bedroom hotel with rooftop bar with views across the city and a great vantage point for many of the City of Culture events taking place from May.
Pricing from: £82.00 for two sharing, Bed and Breakfast, one night
New jam-packed events programme at the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter has a rich heritage with Victorian factories and jewellery making, still operating today. The area is home to hundreds of independent businesses ranging from florists and stylists, to chocolate makers and Michelin starred restaurants. This summer the area offers a jam-packed events programme from tours, exhibitions and family fun with design and make your own galls-fused tiles.
4th June - Half Term Family Fun: Design and Make your own glass-fused tile – https://www.rmlt.org.uk/Event/half-term-family-fun-design-and-make-your-own-glass-fused-tile
Birmingham’s most hotly anticipated new hotel will launch in 2021. The Grand Hotel has undergone a £45 million restoration project that combines the original Victorian architecture with striking modern features
Pricing from £148.50 per room, two sharing (includes £10.00 drinks voucher)
Derby is set to host to a series of events this summer, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Derwent Valley Mills becoming a World Heritage Site and 300th anniversary of the Silk Mill site, from a colourful public art trail to a summer concert with music inspired by engineering, science and technology.
The Museum of the Making
A multi-million pound museum opens on the historic site of The Silk Mill this Spring; the visitor experience will chart the innovation and creativity of the mill, regarded as the world’s first factory.
General admission is free, special exhibitions from £2.50 per person
Thirty decorated rams will appear on Derby’s streets this summer, creating a brilliant public sculpture trail across the city centre. The five-foot-high fibreglass sculptures are made in the shape of Derby’s mythical ram - which, according to legend, was 10 yards high with enormous horns and a huge flowing fleece. The story goes that people travelled from all over the country to see the huge ram, and the hope is that the new trail will do the same.
One of the most significant heritage projects in the UK will finally welcome visitors back after a £24 million investment. The grounds have been remodelled to reveal more of the medieval site and views across the city, enabling the new visitor centre and year-round outdoor events programme. An interactive Robin Hood Gallery will be added to the Ducal Palace, which will be returned to its 19th-century layout. There will be animated tours of the caves, which will be given improved access, including to some parts never before seen by the public. The ground-floor displays in the 17th-century Brewhouse Yard cottages will also be improved, and the cottages will be the welcome point for visitors arriving at the foot of Castle Rock.
Take to the streets of Cambridge this summer and you’ll be greeted with an unexpected site…
Some 40 decorated Cow sculptures and 45 mini moos will be put out to pasture for 10 weeks so that local residents and visitors to the city can enjoy moo-vement and exercise, as they navigate the free trail to discover the inspirational designs that regional artists, schools and community groups have painted and collaged on to these 3D canvasses.
The US hotel chain will open their first UK hotel this summer. Inspired by the culture and creativity of Cambridge University and its world-renowned former alumni, the 148-room Graduate Cambridge will be nestled on the banks of the tranquil River Cam, just a stone’s throw from several of the University’s lauded Colleges. Housed within the former Doubletree by Hilton Cambridge City Centre, the interior will be the subject of a complete redesign. Pricing from: £275.00 (two adults, weekend one night, room only)
Whether you know Bath for its famous thermal waters or its Bridgerton backdrops, it makes for a great day trip or city break, and this summer there’s some unexpected new attractions and events to add to its already rich offering.
Mary Shelly's House of Frankenstein, Bath
A new multi-sensory, fully immersive family friendly visitor attraction and the UK’s first attraction dedicated to Mary Shelley and her novel, Frankenstein, one of the world’s most famous, iconic and lauded creations will launch this June.
Pricing: £15.50 Adults, £12.50 Children (15 years and under)
Those wanting to delve further into British history can plan a trip to the Archway Project, which is set to convert the former Victorian spa buildings close to the Roman Baths. The opening will offer new learning spaces, a World Heritage Centre exploring the internationally recognised historic city, and unlock previously unseen areas of the Roman Baths themselves – including a Roman sauna.
Pricing from: £19.50 Adult (weekday), £12.00 Children (6 – 18 years weekday)
Local food tour company Savouring Bath have launched a short 1.5hr tour with tutored tastings and pairings, including a range of different cheeses to sample, all while finding out about Bath’s culinary history.
The tour takes place every Saturday with a maximum of 8 people.
Bristol, home to British street art, Banksy and pop culture, with every street corner offering edgy art, independent shops and cute cafes, there’s also the chance for some adventure this summer with surfing and glamping at The Wave.
Bristol Street Art: The Evolution of a Global Movement, Bristol
26 June-31 October 2021
A new Vanguard exhibition at the M Shed celebrates Bristol as the birthplace of modern British street art, with a world-class exhibition produced by a collective of artists, musicians and creatives specialising in the second-generation graffiti movement. Expect work by names such as Dicy, Will Barras, Paris, Xenz, China Mike, Vermin, Mr Jago and, of course, Bristol’s most famous artist, Banksy.
Housed in a former boot factory, adjoined to a Grade I listed townhouse in Portland Square (between St Pauls and Cabot Circus shopping centre in the heart of the city), the new hotel is a continuum of the bohemian Artist Residence style – an eclectic fusion of art and vintage chic. It will feature 23 gorgeous bedrooms, a neighbourhood hangout with café and bar, and a garden and events space.
Group glamping accommodation is due to open at The Wave, a unique inland surfing destination that opened in November 2019. Safari tents sleeping up to ten people will offer peaceful hideaways close to the surf.
Ignite your imagination on a magical trip to Oxford this summer. Having played a starring role in the likes of adaptations of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and Pullman’s His Dark Materials, the city is alive with literary connections.
The Story Museum
Reopening 22nd May
This summer the much-anticipated re-opening of The Story Museum following its major refurb last year offers the chance for adults and children alike to celebrate stories, with a range of interactive exhibitions, gallery spaces and events including The Whispering Wood - a mysterious indoor forest where every tree has a tale to tell.
400th anniversary of Oxford Botanic Garden, Oxfordshire
Founded in 1621, Oxford Botanic Garden is the UK’s oldest garden of its kind, so it’s only fitting that it’s located within the country’s oldest university! Coupled with the 130-acre Harcourt Arboretum, acquired in 1947 and home to some of the finest conifer collections in the country, this world-renowned location for botanical research, study and conservation will celebrate its 400th birthday in 2021, offering an events programme from Twilight Tours and family friendly art to meditation and forest bathing.
Forest Bathing 8th August £35.00. Family Friendly Art 29th July £20.00 per person. Twilight Tour 29th June £15.00
Located just moments from the renowned Radcliffe Camera and Ashmolean Museum, in addition to the buzzing bars and restaurants of St Giles Street, the Graduate Oxford will be an ideal base from which to discover the City of Dreaming Spires. Located in the former Macdonald Randolph Hotel, the accommodation will feature 151 rooms brought to life with bold colours and textures inspired by the region’s rich history and artistry, and will undergo a complete redesign ahead of its opening.
Pricing from: £304.00 for two sharing one weekend night, room only.
London looks set to deliver a summer showstopper with premiere events, festivals and culture to help us rediscover and reconnect with our capital city, from Alice in Wonderland at the V&A and Fantastic Beasts at the Natural History Museum, to the Royal Opera House ‘Unlocked’ taking over the Covent Garden piazza. ‘London Lates’ over the summer months will see extended opening hours across museums, galleries and cultural and grassroots music venues.
Movie Magic Tour, London
Curated by Film London and produced in partnership with Geotourist, ‘Movie Magic Tour' takes in 12 filming locations across Central London from Batman Begins to Mary Poppins Returns, exploring the stories behind the movie magic captured in the capital.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020, Royal Academy
23 May – 26 September 2021
The Royal Academy of Arts will present David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 comprising a new body of work created by David Hockney RA during a period of intense activity at his home in Normandy, charting the unfolding and progression of spring.
Expect food, drinks and dodgems…with a difference, every time you bump your car it flicks your car’s soundtrack to a different piece of music, thanks to Mercury Award-shortlisted musician Anna Meredith and Bafta-winning sound artist Nick Ryan.
Pricing from £20.00 – Dodge Duo (two-hour table reservations include dodgem tokens and drinks for two, and your choice from their dining options)
Having dazzled over 7 million visitors in 65 cities worldwide, the world’s most visited immersive, multi-sensory experience is coming to the stunning Kensington Gardens this summer for an exclusive four-month run.
Plymouth is getting set to ignite the south-west’s rich heritage with a stellar line up of key events to mark the international Mayflower 400 commemorations. Events include Mayflower International Festival, including the main Four Nations Ceremony (11 July), Military Muster (10 July) and Rehabilitation Triathlon hosted by the Royal Marines (8 July). There’s also four new in-depth tours with Mayflower 400 Tours, revealing the lives of the pilgrims before their historic departure from Plymouth, while the city’s newly opened the Box museum will also explore the cultural significance of the Mayflower’s voyage and its connection with colonialism. www.mayflower400uk.org/
17 & 18 July
One of the world’s most impressive sail racing events, SailGP, will stop in Plymouth, following the season opening events in Bermuda and Taranto, Italy. Known as Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth will host the Great Britain Grand Prix, the third event of SailGP Season 2. SailGP features eight national teams made up of the sport’s top athletes including Britain’s own Sir Ben Ainslie, the world’s most successful Olympic sailor leading the Great Britain SailGP Team. The high-speed, adrenaline-filled racing will take place on Plymouth Sound each day, alongside onshore activity throughout the afternoon in the race village where you can watch the action “close- up” on big screens whilst looking out over the racecourse from Plymouth’s famous Hoe.
The world-famous Championships return’s to the city’s waterfront, under the sparkling night sky, viewers will enjoy spectacular pyrotechnics that will illuminate Plymouth Sound, as six top firework companies battle it out over two nights, each putting on an awe-inspiring ten-minute display in an attempt to be crowned the winner.
Brighton provides all the thrill and fun of an English seaside town as well as its famous Lanes, independent shops, culture and the great outdoors.
Stanmer Park, Brighton
After a £5.1 million investment, the site will be a destination of heritage and environmental excellence with 20 hectares of the 485 hectares park restored including the Walled Garden. There will be a summer programme of events and workshops to include herbalism and plant medicine and making your own floral jewellery courses.
Herbalism and plant medicine workshop £75.00 per person (20 May). Making your own Floral Jewellery £45.00 per person (17th June)
Rock 'n' Roll with Me - David Bowie Exhibition, Brighton 18 May – 23 January An exhibition of unique photographs taken by David Bowie’s close friend and travelling companion Geoff MacCormack between 1973-76. Capturing Bowie’s most iconic moments from Ziggy Stardust to Bowie’s first major film The Man Who Fell to Earth. From £10.00 per person, day (Adult). www.brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton