Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.
We’ve always been partial to the U.K., after all, London is the birthplace of Time Out. So to those who’ve never visited, or are only contemplating a return trip, we’re telling you now: If there was ever a year to go, this is it. At any time, Britain has some pretty spectacular sites, from Stonehenge in the south to Old Town Edinburgh in the north and the Tower of London in the capitol city. Consider its phenomenal history, to be found everywhere from Oxford to the Victoria & Albert; and the ever-present culture and style, from cutting-edge art at the Tate and brilliant theater in the West End, to inimitable British design on Oxford Street and the epitome of clubdom, Ministry of Sound, and the U.K. should be near the top of any traveler’s list.
So why visit now? 2012 is Britain’s year. First, the whole of the U.K. will celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee from June 2–5. When only the second monarch in history reaches 60 years on the throne, it is cause for a massive celebration, filled with the most breathtaking royal pomp a country can muster. The Queen herself will lead a 1,000-boat flotilla on the River Thames, which will carry some 30,000 cheering revelers, while all across the U.K., 2012 beacons will be lit. Everywhere you go, you’ll witness the celebration of this historic event.
Later this summer, London hosts the Olympics in the sparkling new facilities in the city’s East end. From July 27–Aug 12, the best athletes in the world will gather to run, jump, split, swim, vault and push their bodies to extremes in the most venerated sporting event on earth. Tickets might be hard to score, but you’ll easily feel a part of the action at venues all over town where events will be broadcast live.
If you’re feeling up for some activity yourself, head north, where the Wales Coast Path is set for completion in May, which will make Wales the only country in the world whose entire coastline can be walked. Along the way you’ll find 70 beaches, 15 ports and numerous secret coves.
If you’re hoping to take in a play while visiting Britain, you’ll be pleased to know that the World Shakespeare Festival runs throughout the U.K. through November, with troupes from all over the world performing the Bard’s full works. Try to make it to London before June 9 for the Globe to Globe festival, where Shakespeare’s works will be performed in the world-famous Globe Theater.
Globe to Globe is just one of myriad events taking place as part of the London 2012 Festival, itself the culmination of a three-year Cultural Olympiad. Throughout London you’ll find free concerts, plays, performance art and more to mark a spectacular year in the U.K.
For a full schedule of things to do in Britain, as well as travel advice, itineraries, recommended lodging and more, check out visitbritain.com. Cheers!