Faima is a freelance news and features writer for Time Out’s UK team. She was previously on staff at Metro and the Huffington Post.
The ‘world’s largest play structure’ has just opened in Northumberland
The ‘biggest play structure on Earth’ has just opened in the UK – and it celebrates Christmas all year round. The attraction, named Lilidorei, is billed as a fairytale wonderland featuring elves, dwarves, pixies and fairies, and it cost a whopping £15.5 million to build. The structure is in the grounds of the Alnwick Garden, Northumberland, which is home to more than 1,300 Nordic Christmas trees. Children are encouraged to let their imagination run wild while exploring the fairyland of grottoes and goblin lairs, which also features climbing walls, mazes, zip lines, giant slides and more. Photograph: Phil Wilkinson Photograph: Phil Wilkinson The attraction is the brainchild of Jane Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, who helped to transform the Alnwick Garden into a location used in the Harry Potter films. Lilidorei has aims to attract around 280,000 visitors to Northumberland each year, and will be open 365 days a year. Each session at Lilidorei lasts two hours 45 minutes and guests can book one of three slots between 9am and 7pm each day. Tickets for children aged under 16 years start from £16.50 and adult tickets start from £13.20, while children aged under two years go free. Find out more and book here. ICYMI: This former Midlands Ikea store is being turned into a massive arts venue. Plus: This majestic Shetland castle could be yours for £30,000 – but there’s a big catch.
Is S Club 7’s 2023 reunion tour still happening?
Just two months after the group announced a huge comeback tour, S Club 7 member Paul Cattermole died unexpectedly in early April at the age of 46. The cause of the singer's death has still not been confirmed, but police have said that it was not suspicious. Following Cattermole’s passing, the band released a statement which read: ‘We are truly devastated by the passing of our brother Paul. There are no words to describe the deep sadness and loss we all feel. We were so lucky to have had him in our lives and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. ‘He will be so deeply missed by each and every one of us. We ask that you respect the privacy of his family and of the band at this time.’ The group found fame at the turn of the Millennium, having been put together by music mogul Simon Fuller (who has worked with acts such as Spice Girls, Kelly Clarkson and Amy Winehouse). The last time S Club – known for hits ‘S Club Party’, ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ and ‘Reach’ – performed together was for their ‘Bring It All Back 2015’ tour. The tour was set to mark 25 years since the band first formed. Of course, S Club fans have been wondering what the fate of the tour will be following the news of Cattermole’s death. Here’s everything we know. Is the S Club 7 reunion tour still going ahead? Five members of the band took to Instagram to confirm that the tour is still going ahead. However, they announced that Hannah Spearritt, who was in a relationship with Cattermole while they
How you could play a starring role in King Charles’s coronation
Are you related to someone who took part in a historic royal coronation? If so, you can apply to be involved in the coronation of King Charles III later this year. The king will be maintaining 700-year-old tradition on May 6 as he as allows anyone whose ancestor has played a role in a previous coronation to apply to carry out similar duties this year. RECOMMENDED: Everything you need to know about King Charles’s coronation Any applicants will need to show proof of their hereditary right. A newly established Coronation Claims Office, set up by the Cabinet Office, will then decide on who the successful cohort will be after consulting with ceremonial and ecclesiastical experts. Hopefuls will need to put in their name, contact information and detail the claims – or duty – they hope to perform. They will then need to show how someone in their family performed the same task. The coronation claims submission form can be downloaded online but the application must be sent in writing or through email before 5.30pm on February 3. Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
When is the bank holiday for King Charles III’s coronation?
When Queen Elizabeth II died at Balmoral Castle in September, Charles automatically became King. During the First Proclamation at St James’s Palace on September 10, Charles was announced as King and given the title King Charles III. Now, the date of the new monarch’s official coronation has been announced – and the UK is getting another bank holiday to celebrate. Here’s everything we know so far. When will Charles be crowned King? The coronation of King Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey on Saturday May 6 2023. Camilla, the Queen Consort, will be crowned alongside the king in the historic ceremony. According to the royal family’s website, the ceremony is ‘an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is also a solemn religious ceremony, has remained essentially the same over a thousand years. ‘For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey, London. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose task this has almost always been since the Norman Conquest in 1066.’ Will we get a bank holiday for King Charles III’s coronation? Yes, it has been confirmed that we will be getting an extra bank holiday to mark the occasion. This is scheduled for Monday May 8 2023, two days after the service at Westminster Abbey. Will the May bank holiday be moved for King Charles’s coronation? A number of MPs had called for the May 1 bank holiday to be pushed back until Monday May 8, giving the country a long weekend. Meanwhile, other MPs
This UK Airbnb got more Instagram likes than any other in 2022
Who among us hasn’t spent hours scrolling Instagram on the hunt for the perfect holiday home? Very few, is the answer. And so if you’re wondering which properties are getting the most eyeballs of all? Airbnb has just listed the homes that were most liked on its Instagram page last year – and happily, one of them is right here in the UK. A historic property called The Granary in East Sussex came in at number ten on the global rankings. The one-bedroomed cottage on the Coes Estate has amassed more than 4,000 likes on the social media site. Located in a quiet valley in a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, Coes is a 50-acre farm with a vineyard, planted in spring 2021. Other properties that really racked up the likes included a cosy mountain cottage in Spain, a glass hut in a forest in Brazil, a cliff house in California and a boutique studio in Belgium. Here are the top ten most-liked homes on Airbnb’s Instagram page last year: 1. Casa de Sanchez (San José de Ocoa, Dominican Republic) – 20,467 likes 2. Glass hut in the forest (Santa Catarina, Brazil) – 15,434 3. The Step (Montgomery, New York, US) – 14,611 4. Cliff House (Monterey, California, US) – 14,045 5. Apartment with great view (Río Negro, Argentina) – 12,099 6. Villa Pairidaeza (Kalkan, Antalya, Turkey) – 13,414 7. Boutique Studio (Ghent, Belgium) – 7,681 8. Your Home in Paradise (Benalauria, Malaga, Spain) – 7,207 9. Nature’s Paradise (Chenggong, Taiwan) – 6,136 10. The Granary (Rotherfield, East Sussex, UK)
An abandoned airport in Kent could reopen and offer budget flights to Europe
Good news, UK holidaymakers: we might be getting a new airport that offers budget flights to major European destinations. Kent’s Manston Airport closed in 2014 after suffering huge losses, but could soon reopen with cheap flights to Spain, Cyprus and other Mediterranean hotspots. The airport, which was formerly known as RAF Manston, was first used during World War I and later WWII due to its location close to the Channel. Since then, it’s become a filming location, most recently starring in Sam Mendes’s blockbuster Empire of Light. If the reopening goes ahead, RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP), which owns the airport, has its work cut out. It will cost the company £500 million to reopen due to required infrastructure changes including more runways, terminals and roads to accommodate increased traffic. On the plus side, the expansion could allow Manston to offer in-demand morning slots which are already booked up at airports such as Stansted and Gatwick. That essentially means there will be loads more options available to flyers at convenient times. But don’t hold your breath: the airport won’t be opening its doors any time soon. With all the work that needs to be done, you won’t be heading to the Kent airport until at least 2028. Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
Now for sale: this stunning Cornish ‘micro estate’ with four separate houses
Looking to size up with your next property purchase but still want to keep things pretty manageable? This five-and-a-half-acre ‘micro estate’ in Cornwall has just hit the market, and the new owner will apparently get their hands of not just one but four whole buildings. (Okay, so it’s a pretty loose definition of the word ‘micro’.) The properties at Roskennals Mill, in west Cornwall, come surrounded by sprawling gardens, and aren’t all that far from holiday hotspot Penzance. The estate can be traced back to 1310, with the earliest known mill on the site dating to the seventeenth century. According to letting agents Lillicrap Chilcott, Rosennals was one of the last working grist mills in Cornwall until it closed in the 1980s. The current owners, who have had the properties since 2007, have recently done all of them up. The main house at Roskennals Mill has five bedrooms and is spread out over whopping 2,800 square foot. The three detached conversions are the Mill (1,384 sq ft), the Granary (926 sq ft) and Ella’s Pottery (351 sq ft) which could be used for hosting guests, rental income, studio space or offices. Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
Scotland wants to create ‘20-minute cities’ where everything you need is a walk away
Want to know what a freer, more eco-friendly future could look like? Well, turns out we should be looking at Scotland. First came the plans to make Glasgow first feminist city and now the country has launched a pioneering initiative that could help it reach its ambitious net zero goals. The basic idea is put walkable ‘20-minute cities’ at the heart of city planning. What that means is making sure basic services – shops, gyms, restaurants, schools – are all within walking distance, rather than a drive away. In other words, you’d never have to leave your neighbourhood. Scottish planning minister Tom Arthur said the reforms, which were approved this week, would ‘prioritise tackling the climate crisis and reaching net zero’. The new vision for city planning would also involve building fewer car parks, improving public transport and laying down more cycling lanes. A similar ‘15-minute city’ concept has already gained ground in other cities such as Paris and Melbourne. Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
Can you guess the official Children’s Word of the Year?
Children absorb a lot more information than we might give them credit for – especially when it comes to words. And now they’ve chosen just one to sum up 2022. In a poll by Oxford University Press, more than 4,000 children aged between six and 14 were asked to choose a word that represented last year. And the one they went with? ‘Queen’. It wasn’t just her death in September that may have inspired them. The UK’s longest-serving monarch also celebrated 70 years on the throne as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June. Of the group interviewed, 46 percent nominated Queen as their word of the year. OUP said the results highlighted how tuned in children are to current affairs. Previous Oxford Children’s Words of the Year have included ‘anxiety’ (2021), ‘coronavirus’ (2020), ‘Brexit’ (2019), ‘plastic’ (2018), Trump (2017) and ‘refugee’ (2016). Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
Now for sale: this epic house that comes with its own spectacular beach
Getting on the property ladder can be a bit of a headache, so if you’re going to put yourself through all that (and you’re lucky if you can), you might as well really go for it. So, how about this epic house with a beach in its backyard? The four-bedroom property is located between Barmouth and Harlech along the Gwynedd coast in Wales, and comes with 1.9 acres of land (if you include a private slice of beach). The house sits atop an elevated bit of land, so you’ll get stunning ocean views and a nice walk down to the shore, should you fancy a dip. Nearby, you’ll find a Grade II-listed Medieval church and a handful of cottages, and the historic town of Harlech is a short drive away. Off the shore, you may spot fishermen angling for dogfish, bass, flatfish and mackerel. Further along the coast, you could also grab a hot drink at the beach café. Understandably, the beach bungalow will cost you a pretty penny. Letting agents Monopoly Buy Sell Rent have put it up for sale for £2,250,000. Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK
EasyJet is launching super-cheap Amsterdam flights from this London airport
So you want to go to Amsterdam, but don’t fancy hitting up the usual Heathrow or Stansted service (or braving the Eurostar queues). So where might you go, we hear you ask? The answer is Southend. During the pandemic, EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz and other budget carriers stopped flying out of the seaside town, but now the former is returning. It will be operating flights to Amsterdam and tickets will apparently start from just £31.99. The airline is also offering trips to Malaga, Majorca and Faro. John Upton, Southend’s new CEO, said: ‘Passengers will also be able to make global connections from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to onward destinations across the world. ‘We hope that lots of people will see the benefit of a hassle-free route through London Southend to Amsterdam to connect for a long-haul flight, compared to flying direct through London’s other crowded airports.’ Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.
Where was ‘The Traitors’ filmed?
The UK version of The Traitors became a bit of an overnight sensation over the Christmas period. And now here comes the US version hosted by legendary Scottish actor Alan Cumming, which is streaming on BBC iPlayer now. The game of skill and deception – where the winner gets up to £120,000 (or $250,000 in the US version) – is based on Dutch series De Verraders. It essentially involves 22 strangers having to work out who among them was named a ‘traitor’ at the very start of the show. But it’s not just the game gripping viewers, but the stunning location too. Here’s what to know about where the series were filmed. Where is ‘The Traitors’ filmed? The Traitors is filmed in the nineteenth-century Ardross Castle, 25 miles north of Inverness in Scotland. The castle is in the Scottish Baronial style and set within beautiful formal gardens. It’s surrounded by more than 100 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Alness. Can you visit the castle? If you’re watching the show and want to give the castle a visit, the good news is you can, as it’s available for hire. However, this is only for parties and corporate events, with individual visits not allowed. If your workplace wants to hire it out for team-building, Ardross Castle also offers group activities including bike riding and guided walks. Who lived at Ardross Castle? In 1937, Austin Mardon purchased Ardross Castle, Lealty Farm and more than 80 acres of land. He lived there until 1983, when the estate was sold. In 1983, the M