VisitEngland’s 2023 Travel Trends
December 2022: VisitEngland has identified a number of travel trends for 2023, including northern cities enjoying a major moment in the spotlight, the rise of nostalgic getaways and heritage beverages making a comeback.
Set your cultural compass to true North
National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Conde Nast Traveller have championed Manchester in their prestigious travel lists for next year, but we’d argue that several cities in the north of England are must-visit destinations for 2023. Manchester’s cultural scene is set to get an unprecedented boost with the re-opening of Manchester Museum in February and the launch of the huge Factory International, a game-changing ultra-flexible performance space, in June. Later in the year, the 23,500-capacity Co-Op Live arena will be the UK’s greenest live music venue when it opens, and suite of new properties, including Soho House, Treehouse Hotel and Mollies in the old Granada Studios, will boost Manchester’s boutique hotel offering. Meanwhile, Liverpool has its time to shine as host of Eurovision 2023 (9 – 13 May) on behalf of 2022’s winners Ukraine. With fan zones and a cultural programme of events, there will be plenty of chances to catch all the action in the UNESCO City of Music. The following month, the city celebrates 25 years of the Liverpool Biennial contemporary visual arts festival (10 June – 17 September) with over 30 international artists and collectives taking over spaces in the city with curator Khanyisile Mbongwa at the helm. If you prefer your culture sprinkled with a touch of glam and glitz head a little further north. Blackpool will celebrate its own brand of showbiz with Showtown, a brand-new museum in the new Sands Venue Resort Hotel & Spa, soon to open as the first five-star hotel to embellish the city’s famous seafront. And further east, LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture will unleash creativity in a three-part programme designed to ‘let culture loose’ with 365 days of cultural activity planned across all 33 of the city’s wards.
Travel with a touch of nostalgia
Booking.com’s annual travel predictions research found that “88% of travellers want nostalgic getaways in 2023”*. Over the coming year, England looks set to see more new nostalgic experiences than you could fit in a thousand DeLoreans! Gameshow Studios, opening in London this spring, has serious retro appeal. Think bright lights, unbearable tension and that essential fastest-finger-first buzzer! Or, wind back 250 years to the creation of the Silver Swan, an amazing silver automaton. It’s on display at The Bowes Museum, which is celebrating the machine’s 250th anniversary in late 2023. Fun fact: its creator also invented roller skates. How about that for a blast from the roller-disco past? If you can’t get enough of the Georgian era, spend the night at Beamish – The Living Museum of the North‘s new Georgian-themed overnight experience, launching in summer. For a taste of the golden age of travel, don’t miss the 100th anniversary of Flying Scotsman, which is being celebrated at York’s National Railway Museum throughout 2023. On the topic of trains, Durham’s Locomotion will become home to the world’s largest undercover collection of heritage rail vehicles when it launches its new collection in autumn and the iconic North York Moors Railway will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Whilst the future may be electric, classic vehicles of the past will be preserved at Great Northern Classics in Derby, a new £3m heritage centre opening in Summer 2023. The sight of the Tall Ships’ masts is enough to set anyone’s heart aflutter, at Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta (15 – 18 August). Want more horsepower? Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre marks its 35th anniversary in 2023.
Coast with the most
Inspired by the development of the England Coast Path, the National Coastal Tourism Academy has dubbed 2023 Year of the Coast with a focus on sustainability and the protection of the marine environment. There’s loads going on, from food festivals to beach cleans, and the flock of new openings along England’s shores goes to show just how much our coast has to offer – from Blackpool’s new museum of showbiz, Showtown, to Brighton’s Sea Lanes swimming pool. In summer, Deep Time also brings a series of six permanent art installations to the Lake District’s coast. Cleethorpes Pier celebrates its 100 anniversary, as does Towner Eastbourne, the oldest gallery on the southeast coast, where even the Turner Prize is getting in on the coastal action. Thanks to its plethora of live-music venues, big cultural events and beautiful landscapes, Eastbourne topped Time Out’s list of best UK destinations to visit in 2023. There will also be a swathe of new hotels in coastal locations, from Margate’s No.42 to Blackpool’s new Sands Venue Resort Hotel & Spa. 2023 is an important year in the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project with the city also becoming the global centre of choir music in the springtime with the prestigious INTERKULTUR International Choir Competition bringing a city-wide celebration of song. One of the most exciting coastal discoveries of recent times was the finding of the wreck of the 17th-century HMS Gloucester off the coast of Great Yarmouth. A new exhibition, The Last Voyage of the Gloucester: Norfolk’s Royal Shipwreck 1682, showcases some of the finds and investigates the fascinating story behind the ship’s demise (25 February – 10 September). On the food front, Chef Harriet Mansell will open a wild bakery within her Dorset restaurant, Robin Wylde, this winter, inspired by the foraged ingredients of the Jurassic Coast.
A commitment to sustainable travel is still on the rise. 2023 is the year to tread lightly – on yourself and the planet. A crop of new walking trails, eco spas and hotels across England makes that easy. On the walking theme, March 2023 marks 50 years since the publication of Wainwright’s A Coast to Coast Walk guide: it remains an iconic route between St Bees in Cumbria and Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. Plus, the iconic South West Coast Path will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a new passport scheme which will allow walkers to record their journey along the 630-mile route by collecting stamps as they pass points of interest. Happier on two wheels? Check out Somerset’s new Pier to Pier Way, a 13-mile (21km) route linking Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon, or the North Downs Way Art Trail which will feature nine new works of art on the route between Dover and Farnham; feel free to hike or bike it. 2023 will mark 10 years since Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park became recognised as England’s first international Dark Sky Park and the largest of its kind in Europe. In celebration of this, Crabtree & Crabtree’s new stargazing collection will launch in January to include 10 stellar self-catering properties all located in and around the Dark Sky Park. Have some guilt-free pampering at Siverlake’s new eco-friendly al fresco spa in Dorset, or swim in the lake before retiring to your gorgeous cabin. Meanwhile in Gloucestershire, Elmore Court is set to open six new exclusive treehouses in May as part of the estate’s rewilding programme with views out to the newly developed wetlands. Sustainable accommodation isn’t limited to the countryside. Check out Manchester’s Treehouse Hotel and 1 Hotel London for new city accommodation with a conscience.
God save the King
The crowning of a new King will no doubt herald a surge of interest in all things Royal in 2023 – a trend helped, no doubt, by the announcement of an extra bank holiday (8 May) to mark the Coronation of King Charles III (6 May). It will also be interesting to see how His Majesty chooses to celebrate occasions such as Trooping the Colour (10 June). There’s plenty of spots to mark the occasion, from visits to Royal palaces and residences, especially those fondly associated with Queen Elizabeth II such as Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Windsor Castle, as well as Royal-themed tours. Lovers of horticulture can enjoy a tour of His Majesty’s Gloucestershire residence Highgrove’s gardens followed by a cream tea in the Orchard Room. Highgrove Gardens Tours are available from April to September.
Fancy a heritage beverage?
In 2023, we want our booze served with a splash of history. Few places will do this as immersively as Ad Gefrin, a museum and distillery opening in Northumberland in spring. It’s inspired by the nearby site of the Anglo-Saxon Royal Court of Ad Gefrin. Once you’ve checked out the AV-rich museum, tour the distillery. It makes whisky according to a 200-year-old local tradition. Later in the year, head to London’s Covent Garden. Guinness will bring back brewing to Old Brewer’s Yard when it opens its new 50,000 sq ft microbrewery here in autumn. Beer was first made in this corner of London in 1722, but we bet they didn’t have tours, tastings and a rooftop restaurant back then! If you can’t wait that long, Diecast is on the verge of casting its doors open in Manchester’s former Presbar Diecast foundry, which dates back to 1870. The old metals foundry is being reincarnated as, among other things, a brewery and beer hall.
Gotta have faith, faith, faith
A new faith attraction and accommodation, along with an important anniversary will help us reflect on the role of faith in 2023 – and across the centuries. When it opens in autumn 2023, Auckland Castle’s Faith Museum in County Durham will be the first museum in England to explore the story of faith in the British Isles, its implications and its meaning for us today. And in spring, Coventry’s Charterhouse, one of only nine Carthusian monasteries left in the country, will open as a new heritage visitor attraction and educational attraction following a huge four-year-long restoration. For a London stay with a touch of the spiritual, The Wesley will open in a converted Camden Town Methodist Church in January 2023, with 38 bedrooms housed above a floor dedicated to newly regenerated worship and community space. In Kent, the new ‘Way of Saint Martin’ pilgrimage trail from Dover to Canterbury launched in late 2022. Following in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims who travelled from the Continent to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, the route is split into six sections linked with public transport. Meanwhile, Thomas Wolsey 550 marks the 550th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Wolsey, whose failure to arrange an annulment for Henry VIII’s first marriage to make way for Anne Boleyn led to his spectacular downfall. 550 days of events, activities and performances will help highlight the surprising relevance of his story to our current times.
Notes to editors:
*News source: Booking.com Travel Predictions 2023
VisitEngland’s comprehensive What’s New in England 2023 overview can be downloaded here. Password is England2023.
Accompanying images can be downloaded here. Registration to the from the VisitBritain asset library is required to download images. Register here.
For more detail and to receive our comprehensive overview of What’s New and What’s On in 2023 please contact the VisitEngland PR team:
Louise Ferrall / Josie Self