Whether you are going to England, Wales, Scotland or any of its offshore islands, you will be greeted with a myriad landscapes hewn by time; a host of great towns and cities; a history with so many layers, and so many more. There are several fabulous British pubs, world class events and festivals, some very great British traditions (and several eccentricities as well), courtly mansions, imposing cathedrals, fairytale-like castles, charming thatch-roofed cottages and hundreds of parks and other attractions. The UK has been known as the birthplace of so many literary personalities, beautiful gardens, and of course, the royal family. Britain’s weather is mostly rainy, but the only month when the country has heavy rainfall is in November. The temperature though is another matter because it could range from 30°F to 110°F (-1°C to 43°C), with cool evenings even during summer. Overall, the UK is an all-year round destination with various offerings indoors and outdoors. If the weather is not very cooperative, there are several museums available to explore and some of them do not charge anything when they have regular exhibitions. There are squares, parks, adventure lands and outdoor sports facilities to cater to every age group and budget, too.
- Tate Modern
If you are travelling to London, be sure not to miss a visit to Tate Modern. It’s a national museum of contemporary and modern art from across the globe. It regularly does not charge any entrance fee except when the museum is holding a special exhibition or an event. You’ll be seeing some of the magnificent works of Bourgeois, Warhol, Pollock, Dali, Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard and Cézanne. The café on the top floor of the museum offers seasonal food from Britain for lunch and dinner. Tate Modern opened in 2000. It’s part of Tate Britain, which started in 1897 as one gallery housing 65 paintings of British artists. It had grown and diversified since then and now comprises Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate St Ives and Tate Liverpool. Together, these four museums have around 70,000 works of art in their collection. Tate Modern is open all days of the week starting at 10 AM. It remains open during bank holidays and only closes from the 24th to the 26th of December. It is open on New Year’s Day.
- Leicester Square
Also in London is the smallish Leicester Square, which is teeming with theatres, restaurants, cinemas and other attractions. Around it are the more known attractions like the West End, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown. Still, Leicester Square deserves its own recognition, since some of the most beautiful and oldest cinemas in the UK are here. It is the site of most premieres of British films, and the cinemas here are not cheap. In the evening, the square comes alive, both with locals and tourists out to have a great time. There are several clubs and bars, including the Sound nightclub at the Swiss Centre, which has a carillon that shows a Swiss mountain landscape. Every hour on the hour, the carillon plays its version of the Beatles’ hit songs. It’s served by a tube station located close to the square’s northeast portion, near Charring Cross Road.
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- Dinosaur Farm Museum, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight, which is nicknamed Dinosaur Island, had been a locale with very rich biodiversity that started about 120 million years ago. It had supported many tiny bacteria found in conifers, cycads and ferns as well as several carnivorous dinosaurs including Neovenator and Baryonyx. Across Europe, it is in the Isle of Wight where more dinosaur remains were found.
The Dinosaur Farm Museum houses a large collection of different fossils. Visitors could engage in several activities in this museum, including guided fossil hunts and free service for fossil identification. There are dinosaur rubbings, fossil sandpit and 3D dinosaur jigsaws to put together. The museum and its volunteers are putting together a life size model of a brachiosaurus from the fossilised remains found inside a huge 17th century barn that the farm owns. There are models of a Quetzalcoatlus that came from Texas, a Polacanthus, Eotyrannus and more. A paleoart painting activity encourages children and adults to join. Visitors are led on a dinosaur hunting tour around Brook Beach. The museum is open daily from 10 AM until 4 PM except of Thursdays. In September and October, Dinosaur Museum is open from 10 AM to 4 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
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- Ice-skate at Somerset House (November to early January)
For a wintry holiday, one of the most sought-after activities is ice-skating at Somerset House, which begins around the 18th of November until the 10th of January. The grand courtyard of the 18th century Somerset House provides a glorious and romantic backdrop to the 900-square-metre outdoor ice rink, especially during the evenings when the decorative lighting is turned on to highlight the festive occasion. It partnered with Fortnum & Mason to give all skiers and visitors a grand time. There are some extras you could avail of after you’ve tired yourself out from skating. You can have a lovely afternoon tea with your partner, or dine privately with champagne at the Fortnum’s Lodge. You can get tickets for Club Nights that features DJs from Island Records and the Ministry of Sound. Even without a ticket, you can still admire the skaters from the Botanical Bar. You can also do some shopping at the Christmas Arcade of Fortnum & Mason every Tuesday starting mid-November until the last Tuesday before Christmas.
- Picnic on Hampstead Heath
For a couple, going on a picnic is a blissful thing to do, as there’s fun and romance in it. There’s a variety of picnic spots in and around London that provide not only stunning landscapes but prime spots for a bit of relaxation amid natural beauty. The heath is one of the most favourite open spaces in London and Hampstead Heath in Camden is so vast it is easy to find a good, quiet spot. There’s also several attractions and amusement facilities around it, including a lido, some swimming ponds, various facilities for children, an education centre, an athletics track as well as a zoo. Check out the areas around the Pergola, located in the western part of Hampstead Heath.
- Zip wiring at 100mph through Snowdonia in North Wales
Adventure and thrill-seekers would be all jittery when they come to Zip World in Bethesda, because it now has Europe’s longest and most dramatic zip wire. Located inside Snowdonia National Park and strung over the former slate mine at Penrhyn Quarry at a height of 1,000 feet on a mountain, Zip World boasts a 1,600 yard-long zip line, carefully calibrated to safely carry zippers travelling at speeds of up to 100mph over the world’s largest slate quarry site in North Wales. According to its creator, Sean Taylor, a former sky diver for the Royal Marine as well as an instructor on jungle warfare, it is the next best thing to sky diving without doing it from a plane.
- Canyoning in Cumbria
Get your adrenaline pumping with this extreme but still a fun summer outdoor activity – canyoning. Although it requires you to be in the best of health to be doing this, for canyoning involves jumping off high banks and cliffs, jumping down waterfalls, plunging into pools, climbing over rocks, swimming and sliding. The Lake District in Cumbria is one of the best locations for this type of outdoor sport. Canyoning is the opposite of scrambling, since often times, you’ll be going down several gorges instead of climbing them. Tour services offer everything you need, from wet suits to rope, helmets, specialist equipment as well as waterproof jackets and trousers and hot drinks, too. All you have to bring are sturdy boots, a change of clothing including more than a large bucketful of nerves.
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