8 reasons to visit Great Britain and Northern Ireland before the year is out

You already know what some of the must-do-now experiences in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are, but with a plethora of festivals and special events – not to mention some of the best comfort food, nightlife and winter attractions in the world – there’s arguably no better time to visit Britain than during the latter part of the year.

Read on for reasons why you should visit Britain before the year is out.

 

1. See the stars at their brightest

Parts of the Scottish Highlands offer some of the best stargazing in the UK, with low levels of light pollution and quiet, and remote areas making it possible for glittering stars to sweep across the skies during the darker months of the year. The Isle of Skye, for example, has nine Dark Sky Discovery Sites, for stargazers exploring the island.

If you’re really lucky, you might be able to witness the magical Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis dancing across the skies too.

 

2. Hole up in a proper pub

Thanks to its affluent history as the one-time global hub of the cotton trade, Manchester has an outrageous number of beautiful, tile-adorned Victorian pubs. The Pevril of the Peak, The Briton’s Protection, The Marble Arch and Mr Thomas’ Chophouse all deserve a visit and make the perfect to capture for Instagram as the seasons change.

But Manchester is also home to one of the most exciting brewing scenes in the country. Cloudwater, which was ranked second in the world by RateBeer in 2017, now has a minimal Scandi-influenced taproom, and if you want to see the real ‘bees-knees’ of the local brewing scene, get down to Indy Man Beer Con (4 – 7 October 2018), held at the iconic Victoria Baths.

 

3. Experience a Victorian Christmas

Turn the clock back over 100 years in Bristol to see how we would have celebrated the Christmas season in Victorian times. The Victorian Christmas Weekend (9 – 10 December 2018) at Brunel’s SS Great Britain is a Dickensian dream. Expect a rag tag mix of Victorian characters sharing their seasonal stories and snow!

Or head out of the city to take in the atmosphere of grand, gothic Tyntesfield House as you watch the Gibbs family and servants make their festive preparations. Look out for Christmas crafting, special night time openings, Christmas concerts in the chapel as well as seasonal food and craft markets.

 

4. Watch cities come alive with colour

Autumn can come and go quickly, but at this time of year Glasgow’s beautiful public spaces are filled with red, gold, yellow and ruby hues, making you wish it would stick around. In Kelvingrove Park, stroll along walking trails and gaze at statues dotted throughout the park, before wandering past some of the West End’s impressive Glasgow University buildings.

Then go inside the Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery to embrace everything from Monet and Van Gogh masterpieces to organ recitals and designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

 

5. Get your skates on

Is it even Christmas without ice-skating? In London you’ll find some of the best and most iconic rinks in the world. From the courtyard of the glorious 18th century Somerset House or the magnificent views of Henry VII’s residence at Hampton Court Palace to laps around the Christmas tree at the Natural History Museum or even across rooftops at Skylight at Tobacco Dock (the only rooftop rink in Europe).

And after whizzing across the ice, what better way to warm up than to while away the afternoon with a traditional roast? The options are endless but if we have to name just three spots: The Spaniard’s Inn so that you can take a long walk around Hampstead Heath afterwards; The Bull & Gate for its renowned vegetarian and vegan options; or the aptly named Roast for it’s perfect location within iconic Borough Market.

6. Snap Iron Men at their most Instagrammable

100 cast iron statues stand along 3km of beach, staring moodily out to sea at Crosby Beach near Liverpool. Of course Antony Gormley’s Another Place statues are magnificent throughout the year, but in winter you’ll catch them at the optimal time – and if it snows, you’ll be on to Instagram gold.

After visiting the Iron Men, take a short walk from the beach to sample the intriguing mini-scene of Nepalese food in Waterloo. The suburb is home to three acclaimed kitchens – Da Gurkha, Da Mount Gurkha and Saffron – offering the very best of Nepalese cuisine and a tasty way to warm up.

 

7. Drink to the history of Welsh greats

Leave the car keys in your room when you visit The Dead Canary, a secret speakeasy in Cardiff that shakes up knock-out cocktails. To find it, look for a doorbell next to a fire door on Barrack Lane (hint: seek out the gold feather). Once inside, the menu will teach you about famous Welsh heroes of the past and present through celebrity-inspired cocktails.

The Dylan Thomas cocktail combines Glenmorangie Original whiskey, Ardbeg whiskey, Ramazzotti liqueur, coffee liqueur, chicory, lemon, egg white and – of course – poetry, while the Goldfinger cocktail, based on Cardiff’s Dame Shirley Bassey, mixes Ocho tequila, raspberry leaf and peach blossom tea, hibiscus, perry and lime.

 

8. Uncover where winter fell

The Winterfell set at Old Castle Ward in Northern Ireland really has to be see under snow to be fully appreciated. Providing an insight into the intimate nooks of the beautiful castle and the sprawling grounds, which all feature in the epic adaptation, it’s just one many Game of Throne filming locations to discover along the infamous 120-mile-route Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast Lough to Lough Foyle.

 

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