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The best UK travel 2024 – new openings, travel news and where to visit in the UK



The best UK travel 2024 – new openings, travel news and where to visit in the UK

Now Spring is firmly under way and the coldest months are behind us, it’s a great time to look forward to what the rest of 2024 holds.

And with some exciting new openings, major renovations and memorable experiences in store, you’ll find plenty of ways to fill your travel diary. Here are some of the best from across the UK.

The National Gallery’s 200th anniversary

The National Gallery marks its 200th anniversary on 10 May by sending some of its key pieces to 12 venues across all four nations of the UK, including museums in Newcastle, Liverpool, Cambridge and Brighton.

The National Treasures collaboration will see the venues opening free exhibitions featuring these world-class artworks, with more than half the UK population within an hour’s journey of a National Gallery painting this year. There will also be events at the National Gallery in London itself.

From 10 May. ​

Norwich Castle, Norwich

For the first time in its long history, the medieval keep at Norwich Castle will open to visitors after an extensive restoration — one of the largest heritage projects of its kind in the UK.

As well as having a chance to see the fortress through the eyes of Henry I, who stayed there during his reign, visitors will be able to enjoy views out across the city and explore a new gallery showcasing national medieval treasures plus items from Norwich’s own impressive collection.

The castle will also be the most accessible in the UK after the work is completed, with visitors able to reach all five levels, from basement to battlements.

Opening summer 2024.

Icons of British Fashion, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace’s biggest exhibition ever celebrates the works of world-famous designers. Set in the palace’s Grand Hall, there’ll be everything from archive drawings, patterns and prototypes to couture and catwalk pieces, in a show of appreciation for fashion in all its forms.

Highlighting links with changing culture, politics and royalty, displays will feature designers from Vivienne Westwood and Lulu Guinness to Barbour, Temperley London and Stella McCartney.

Runs to 30 June.

Cadbury’s 200th anniversary, Birmingham

Celebrate two centuries of chocolate at Cadbury World in Bournville this year, as the company marks 200 years since John Cadbury opened his first shop in Birmingham city centre.

There’s a new immersive chocolatey ride, called Cadbury Chocolate Quest, with visitors using lasers to collect all the ingredients needed to create a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk during a sensory experience that uses 3D sets and virtual screens, as well as sounds, light, smells and heat.

Opened 29 March.

​Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester

Discover 2,000 years of history at Leicestershire’s revamped Jewry Wall Museum when it reopens this autumn, using the latest technology to bring Roman Leicester to life.

One of the tallest surviving sections of Roman masonry in Britain, the wall of a bath house complex is more than nine metres high, and dates back to around 160CE.

There will now be a new multi-million-pound visitor attraction to create a more immersive experience, using the city’s Roman collection to tell stories of Roman Leicester and everyday life in what was then known as Ratae Corieltauvorum.

Opening autumn 2024.

​Co-op Live, Manchester

The UK’s music capital has a new jewel in its crown, with the opening of Co-op Live, set to be Britain’s largest new music arena.

With capacity for 23,500 fans, featuring 32 bars, restaurants and VIP lounges, the arena’s bowl-shaped structure has been designed to give each seat an amazing view and add an intimate feel to even the biggest gigs.

There’s already a stellar line-up for opening year, with performances from Take That, Liam Gallagher, the Jonas Brothers, Eric Clapton and Niall Horan, while Harry Styles is a key investor.

Opening April 2024.

Showtown, Blackpool

Roll up, roll up! Blackpool’s showbiz heritage is taking centre stage at a brand new museum, Showtown, celebrating the comedians, dancers, acrobats and characters who’ve brought their own touch of glitz to this seaside town over the decades.

Set in the Sands Venue Resort Hotel & Spa in the heart of the Golden Mile, there’ll be six galleries with archive photography as well as memorabilia and costumes, but also interactive singing and dancing exhibits.

Perfect for fans of Strictly Come Dancing as well as anyone who loves the cabaret and comedy of the Blackpool piers.

Opened 15 March.

​Inner Farne reopens, Northumberland

After a two-year closure (and disruption during the pandemic before that), Inner Farne in the Farne Islands is reopening again this spring. Home to seabirds, including puffins, Arctic terns, kittiwakes and razorbills, as well as to grey seal pups at certain times of the year, it’s a fantastic place for nature lovers.

There are various companies offering boat tours to the islands, administered by the National Trust, including award-winning Serenity Farne Island Tours.

Reopened 25 March.

​Robert the Bruce’s 750th Anniversary, Scotland

Robert the Bruce is regarded by many as Scotland’s most successful monarch, and 11 July, 2024 marks the 750th anniversary of his birth.

On the day itself, there’ll be a Robert the Bruce Heritage Day at Maybole in Ayrshire, where he’s said to have been born, offering plenty of family-friendly medieval fun.

But you can follow in his royal footsteps year-round by exploring the Robert the Bruce Trail in the south of Scotland and other locations connected to him, such as Scone Palace and Dunfermline Abbey.

Lost Shore Surf Resort, Edinburgh

Europe’s largest inland surfing destination will be opening in Scotland, with a state-of-the-art surf lake set within a 60-acre country park around 15 minutes west of Edinburgh that’s capable of generating up to a thousand waves per hour.

There’ll also be pods and luxury lodges to stay in at Lost Shore Surf Resort, along with walks and trails through the country park, a spa, plus shops and a food market to discover.

Opening September 2024.

​Perth Museum, Perth

After a £26.5million redevelopment project, the new Perth Museum has reopened its doors as a new cultural and heritage attraction.

Designed to highlight the objects and stories that put Perth and Kinross at the centre of Scotland’s history, you’ll be able to see everything from the Stone of Destiny — used to crown Scottish kings and returned to Perthshire for the first time in more than 700 years — and the 3,000-year-old Carpow Logboat.

Reopened 30 March.

Newport Transporter Bridge

For one of the most unusual days out in the UK this year, visit one of only six remaining transporter bridges in the world. Opened in 1906 as a solution to transporting workers from west of Newport across the river Usk, without disturbing traffic into the town’s busy port, Newport Transporter Bridge is also the globe’s most complete surviving transporter bridge.

Now, after extensive restoration, the bridge is reopening with a new visitor centre, exhibition gallery and community space

Reopening summer 2024.

​The Vulcan, St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

After four years, The Vulcan will be opening to the public at St Fagans National Museum of History in Cardiff this summer. Work started on re-erecting the Victorian pub in 2020, after it was dismantled brick by brick at its original home on Adam Street.

Built in 1853, the pub finally closed its doors in 2012 — and when it reopens, it will look just as it did in 1915, after a major refurbishment saw its distinctive green and brown tiles added to the frontage. You’ll be able to buy a pint inside too.

Opening summer 2024.

Belfast Year of Creativity and Culture

There’s a series of events and activities running throughout the year in Belfast as part of the city’s biggest-ever creative and cultural celebration.

The Year of Creativity and Culture will be themed around “people, place and planet” and will include a collaboration with Cornwall’s Eden Project, new city-wide public art installations themed on nature and sustainability, plus events inspired by Belfast’s marine heritage, such as a mass boat-building project at the Titanic dry docks.

Runs to November 2024.

​Peacemakers Museum, Derry-Londonderry

The new Peacemakers Museum in Derry/Londonderry is set to chronicle the Troubles and beyond, covering 1972 until 2007 and the key role played by former IRA terrorist-turned-politician Martin McGuinness and politicians John Hume and Mitchel McLaughlin, in developing the Good Friday Agreement.

Focusing on the Bogside area, the museum will also feature locals sharing their own memories of the conflict and the path to peace, as well as archive footage, displays and interactive features, plus information on the part played by female activists.

Opening summer 2024.

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