1. Tango back in time in Blackpool Tower
You can’t miss Blackpool Tower. It stands 158 metres (518 feet) tall over Blackpool’s lively seafront. At its heart is the legendary Blackpool Tower Ballroom, launchpad of a thousand glittering ballroom dancing careers. International dancers flock here to whirl around its sprung dancefloor to the live music of the famed Wurlitzer organ. Watch a show or take part in a tea dance, then head to the top of the tower for beautiful views of the Lancashire coast and, if you’re feeling brave, step onto the Skywalk’s sheer glass floor.
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2. Relive the glamour of a 1930s cinema
Get glammed up for a trip to the Tyneside Cinema, a lovingly restored movie theatre in Newcastle. It’s the UK’s last surviving newsreel theatre to still operate as a cinema full-time and you can catch free newsreel screenings, guided tours, old classics and recent releases. The restoration work preserves and celebrates the grandeur of its original 1937 Persian palace-inspired design, creating a window into the greatest achievements and darkest hours of the 20th century.
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3. Time travel through sweet shops, dentists and steam trains
England’s largest open-air museum, Beamish – The Living Museum of the North, brings 200 years of English history to life in incredible detail, complete with staff dressed in period costume. You can watch traditional sweets being made in a 1900s sweet shop, hear terrifying tales from a 1900s dentist’s surgery, try a tasty treat from an Edwardian bakery, take a steam train ride through the Georgian landscape, and walk around a 1940s farmhouse kitchen.
Find out more about Beamish – The Living Museum of the North
4. Re-enact football’s greatest moments
Manchester United Football Club has captured the imagination of fans around the world. On the Manchester United Museum and Stadium tour you can re-enact pep talks in the changing rooms, run out onto the pitch through the tunnel and see the stadium through the eyes of your idols. In the city centre, the National Football Museum houses enough footie memorabilia to fill a football pitch. Try a commentary challenge, a penalty shoot-out, and lift some precious silverware on a virtual trophy experience.
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5. Explore unseen parts of an original UNESCO World Heritage Site
Along with the Taj Mahal, Durham Castle and Cathedral was one of the first places to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and 2016 marks 30 years since it was designated. To celebrate, the site will launch Open Treasure, a world-class exhibition route that opens the doors to previously hidden spaces within the Cathedral Cloister.
Find out more about Durham
6. See an elephant’s suit of armour
Leeds Royal Armouries is home to the UK’s largest collection of arms, armour and artillery, and it celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016. Get up close to the royal armours of the Tudor and Stuart kings, including Henry VIII, see the only existing suit of armour built for an elephant and understand how soldiers defended themselves in the English Civil Wars. You could even get a taste of sporting spectacles dating back thousands of years at the regular sword fighting and jousting events.
Find out more about Leeds Royal Armouries
7. Go shopping in the Middle Ages
Peel back the layers of the historic city of Chester as you shop in The Rows, half-timbered, two-tiered medieval shopping galleries. These covered walkways are charming blend of the original 13th century buildings and impressive Victorian copies of the facades, and they’re completely unique. Nowadays The Rows are home to an eclectic range of designer boutiques, galleries, restaurants and tearooms. Atmosphere, history and souvenirs – bargain!
Find out more about Chester
8. Follow the footsteps of ancient monks to a holy island
This small but significant island, strikingly situated off the Northumberland coast, was the epicentre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times. Lindisfarne Priory, built by monks nearly 1,400 years ago, was the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books. The priory is now in ruins thanks to a grisly Viking raid, but you can explore the small but commanding Lindisfarne Castle, first a 16th-century fort, then renovated by famous British architect Edwin Lutyens as his holiday retreat. Wildlife watchers can also spot migratory birds and grey seals bobbing in surrounding waters.
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9. Live like a Victorian in Saltaire
The charming Victorian model village of Saltaire in west Yorkshire was founded in 1853 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. What really sets it apart though, is its UNESCO World Heritage Site status and that people still live here. This is a living, breathing historical site that brilliantly blends old and new. Explore Victorian architecture and industrial history, visit the famous Victorian United Reformed Church, the grand Victoria Hall, and the impressive Salts mill at the heart of the village. The mill has been converted into businesses, galleries and restaurants, including the ‘1853 Gallery’ – the UK’s only permanent David Hockney Gallery.
Find out more about Saltaire