Get us in your inbox

Search
Amazing things that happened in 2022
Image: Steve Beech / Time Out

22 actually amazing things that happened in 2022

From the 50th anniversary of Pride to the Lizzy Line and negroni sbagliatos, there was a surprising amount to smile about this year

Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
&
Ella Doyle
Contributor
Andrzej Lukowski
Advertising

What a year for the UK, eh? Not only did we have three prime ministers and, terrifyingly, the hottest summer on record, there was actually a fair bit of good stuff that happened as well. And while we’re not denying there was a lot of doom and gloom, we’re firm believers in remembering the positives: the viral sensations, the WTF moments and the once-in-a-lifetime events. The sort of stuff that makes you pause in your tracks and just smile, even if the world kind of is going to shit. 

Remember when everyone became obsessed with watching planes land at Heathrow during Storm Eunice? When Chloe Kelly scored the winning goal for England in the Women’s Euros? And when a certain iceberg lettuce became the talk of the nation? See, 2022 wasn’t all bad. From the awe-inspiring to the downright bizarre, below we’ve handpicked the 22 most amazing things that happened in the UK this year (in no particular order).

Stay in the loop: sign up to Out There, our free newsletter about all the best stuff to do across the UK.

Amazing things that happened in 2022

The countryside got that little bit wilder
Photograph: Donovan Wright

1. The countryside got that little bit wilder

You know something that’s not great? Wild animals going extinct because of pollution, hunting and all of the other pain that humankind has inflicted on the Earth. But the good news is groups all over the UK aren’t standing for it. This year has seen all sorts of rewilding initiatives, with beavers reintroduced to London for the first time in 400 years and bison arriving in Kent. A wild baby bison was even born here – the first in thousands of years. The eventual aim with these sorts of initiatives is that nature should take care of itself, but for now, rewilding groups are nurturing safe spaces for butterflies, kingfishers, owls and many bigger beasts to flourish. In other words, they’re making Britain wild again.

Eliza Rose was the first female DJ to reach number one in 20 years
Photograph: Stefy Pocket

2. Eliza Rose was the first female DJ to reach number one in 20 years

Eliza Rose and Interplanetary Criminal’s 1990s-inspired track, B.O.T.A was the undisputed song of the summer. It was blasted from cars zooming down the high street. It was played from tiny Bluetooth speakers in muddy festival campsites and was the closing song for seemingly every other DJ set. It had a run as the most Shazammed track in the UK and multiple members of the Time Out office are now often seen wearing B.O.T.A t-shirts. After it went viral on TikTok, the feel-good dance track shot to number one on the UK charts – making Eliza Rose the first female DJ to reach the top spot in 20 years.

Advertising
The mighty Edinburgh Fringe returned
Photograph: Edinburghcitymom / Shutterstock.com

3. The mighty Edinburgh Fringe returned

This August saw the return of the Scottish capital’s annual Fringe arts festival. For the first time since 2019, the city was once again full of flyers and street performers, the bars stayed open until the wee hours and tourists flocked from all over the world to see some of 3,000 weird and wonderful shows. From the stunning production of ‘Medea’ to breakout comics like Rosie Holt and Leo Reich, this year’s festival proved that the arts are still alive and well. And while the Fringe sure isn’t perfect, it was certainly nice to see Edinburgh feeling like itself again. Long may it continue.

The Lionesses brought it home
Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

4. The Lionesses brought it home

In a year filled with doom and gloom, the Lionesses’ victory for England at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euros crowned a day of nothing but unadulterated, sticky, beer-filled joy. The last time it came home was when the England team won the World Cup in 1966, when women weren’t even allowed to compete. And then suddenly there they were, winning trophy in hand after Chloe Kelly’s stellar winning goal against Germany. It was emotional, to say the least.

Advertising
The Commonwealth Games put Birmingham in the spotlight
Photograph: West Midlands Growth Company

5. The Commonwealth Games put Birmingham in the spotlight

This year’s Commonwealth Games wasn’t just a good time for sports fanatics. The games properly transformed Birmingham, with funding from the competition allowing the UK’s second city to invest in a ton of brand new bus routes, train stations, cycle lanes and homes. Council leader Ian Ward said that ‘for too long, Birmingham has been shy about itself’. The games themselves were also pretty spectacular, reminding us what a richly diverse and cultural city Brum really is.

We celebrated 50 years of Pride
Photograph: eyematter / Shutterstock.com

6. We celebrated 50 years of Pride

We hate to bring it up, but the pandemic really was a shitter. So thank goodness for 2022, when we finally got Pride back, and our streets were filled with flags, face paint and LGBTQ+ joy once again. And this year was bigger and better than ever, what with the 50th anniversary of the UK’s original Pride march. Events ran from April all the way through to September across the UK, painting the town technicolour from London to Belfast, with events celebrating all members of the LGBTQ+ community and calling on the government for urgent reform.

Advertising
The Elizabeth Line opened and it blew our minds
Photograph: John Gomez / Shutterstock.com

7. The Elizabeth Line opened and it blew our minds

Yes, the Elizabeth Line is a delightful shade of purple, it feels a bit like entering a space ship and its aircon is on point – but those aren’t the only reasons we love it. Named after the late Queen, its opening ended up being even more symbolic when Her Majesty died less than four months later. The uber-flashy new line, which is now fully linked up, had commuters from London and beyond flocking to be one of the first to make a journey (a million passengers used it in the first week, in fact). It’s made getting around the capital a hell of a lot easier, and the opening even came with its own drop of Lizzy Line merch. Chic. 

The four-day week became a reality for thousands of workers
Photograph: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

8. The four-day week became a reality for thousands of workers

Okay, so a few good things did come out of the ol’ Panny D. And one of them was that it changed the way we work (largely for good): what if a job doesn’t have to mean long, draining commutes to and from an office every day? It also got us seriously thinking about the four-day working week – and things are looking seriously promising. The UK’s biggest trial yet began in June with nine out of ten firms taking part absolutely loving it. We also spoke to British workers who saw improvements in their health and productivity since the switch. Come on 2023: give the people what they want.

Advertising
ABBA (sort of) made their live comeback
Photograph: Johan Persson

9. ABBA (sort of) made their live comeback

To the delight of pretty much everyone, ABBA made a comeback this May with their first ‘live’ show in 40 years: ABBA Voyage. Okay, okay, it wasn’t actually them: instead, we got 3-D digital avatars dancing around a purpose-built spaceship-sized venue in London, complete with 500 moving lights, 291 speakers and a ten-piece live band. But that didn’t matter. The visuals were mind-boggling, the 20-track setlist was close to perfection and the outfits were even more sparkly than you’d expect. Chances are, this is just the beginning for what this sort of technology will do for live music.

Scotland said yes to free period products
Photograph: Alina Kruk / Shutterstock.com

10. Scotland said yes to free period products

In August, Scotland became the first country in the world (the world!) to make period products free for all. The Period Products Act means that councils, schools and universities are now required by law to provide sanitary products ‘reasonably easily’. Yeah, it’s kind of ridiculous that it’s taken this long to come about, but given that nearly one in eight women in the UK have struggled to buy menstrual products in the past six months, we’ve got to applaud Scotland for this progressive step towards ending period poverty. Here’s hoping other countries follow suit.

Advertising
My Neighbour Totoro came to the stage
Photograph: Manuel Harlan

11. My Neighbour Totoro came to the stage

Studio Ghibli’s classic breakthrough ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ should be one of those movies that’s impossible to adapt for the stage: what the hell do you do about the eponymous house-sized furry forest spirit? Or the Catbus, aka a giant cat-bus hybrid? The RSC’s megabucks adaptation at the Barbican Centre in London was going to have to be extraordinary. Luckily, it was, replicating the whimsical charm of the film’s plot and blowing our minds with genuinely next-level puppets, all built by the legendary Jim Henson Creature Workshop.

Loads and loads of protesters took to the streets
Photograph: Dave Colman / Shutterstock.com

12. Loads and loads of protesters took to the streets

There are a lot of things to be sad and angry about in the world. But what’s good news is how many protests that have started to genuinely gather steam over the past year, all making noise about important issues. There was Enough is Enough, which saw thousands of people take to the streets to protest against the cost-of-living crisis and demand further support from the UK government. Then there was Don’t Pay UK, a campaign encouraging people to protest by refusing en masse to pay their ridiculously high energy bills. And let’s not forget Just Stop Oil, who made headlines after throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh's ‘Sunflowers’ at the National Gallery in London. They were basically asking why the hell the world cares more about a painting than impending climate doom, and they have a point.

Advertising
The Sugababes reunited for festival season
Photograph: Luke Dyson

13. The Sugababes reunited for festival season

If there’s one thing about us Brits, it’s that we’re suckers for nostalgia. So when it was announced that the original Sugababes lineup would be reuniting at both Mighty Hoopla and Glastonbury, it was expected that things would seriously go off. And off they went: at Worthy Farm, the crowds were big enough to shut down the entire Avalon field, despite a clash with Billie Eilish who was headlining the Pyramid stage. The girls played hit after hit after hit with tunes like ‘Round Round’, ‘Push the Button’ and ‘About You Now’, sending pissed-up millennials to new levels of euphoria. It was quite the scene. Spice Girls for 2023, yeah?

The internet discovered the existence of Big Jet TV
Photograph: Jed Leicester / Shutterstock.com

14. The internet discovered the existence of Big Jet TV

Okay, so Storm Eunice was actually a really bad part of 2022, for a number of reasons. But the content, people! The atmosphere was electric. And the highlight? None other than Big Jet TV, a YouTube livestream of planes trying to land at London Heathrow during the storm, with the world’s most excited plane enthusiast going absolutely wild on the live commentary. Other highlights included the O2 literally getting ripped to shreds while The Mound™ stayed utterly intact. Obviously.

Advertising
The Queue captured the nation’s heart
Photograph: Sean Aidan Calderbank / Shutterstock.com

15. The Queue captured the nation’s heart

Before Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, something spectacular happened. Thousands of people travelled to London to pay their respects and see Her Majesty’s coffin lying in state in Westminster Hall, and The Queue became a thing. At its peak, the wait time to see the Queen lie in state was more than 24 hours, and the maximum length was ten miles. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event: people of all backgrounds and ages joined in, and those brave enough to wait made new, unlikely friends, returning home with plenty of bafflling stories.

Notting Hill Carnival returned bigger and better than ever
Photograph: Daniel Samray / Shutterstock.com

16. Notting Hill Carnival returned bigger and better than ever

The cancellation of Carnival during the pandemic left a gaping hole in the hearts of Londoners. But this year, it returned bigger and better than ever: we welcomed back the sounds of 40 mega soundsystems, the smells of seriously good jerk and the sight of 50,000 performers and hundreds of parade floats taking over the streets. Our writer delved into the history of carnival to welcome it back.

Advertising
Everyone became obsessed with negroni sbagliatos
Photograph: YouTube/HBO Max

17. Everyone became obsessed with negroni sbagliatos

Our drink of choice in 2022? A negroni sbagliato. It might sound fancy, but it’s literally just a negroni made with prosecco instead of gin. It also became a social media sensation. In October, a clip of House of Dragon actor Emma D’Arcy answering a question about their favourite cocktail caused seismic waves on TikTok. People started asking tired bartenders all over the country to make the newly iconic drink, and the original clip has now been viewed more than 30 million times. Stunning.

Louis Theroux pivoted to hip-hop TikTok star
Photograph: BBC/YouTube

18. Louis Theroux pivoted to hip-hop TikTok star

If you have any form of social media, your brain will have spent many months of this year on a loop of TikTok sounds. And one of them will almost certainly be the sweet, sweet sounds of ‘my money don’t jiggle jiggle, it folds’, aka Louis Theroux’s rise to TikTok fame. The journalist had recorded the rap during a documentary he made in 2000, but it resurfaced when Amelia Dimoldenberg asked him about it on her Chicken Shop Date interview series. And then they made a whole song and music video of it dressed in fur coats, obviously. It was quite a moment.

Advertising
The UK came second (second!) on Eurovision
Photograph: Marco Bertorello/Getty Images

19. The UK came second (second!) on Eurovision

Eurovision was historically such a long-standing embarrassment for the UK, it was almost worse if you actually watched it on the telly. Not watching it saved seeing us come last (or get zero points, like we did in 2021). But then along came Sam Ryder, with his tune ‘Space Man’, and for some reason it captured the hearts of the whole of Europe. And suddenly there it was: United Kingdom, second place, with 466 votes. For the first time since 1998, no less. And as if it couldn’t get more exciting, Liverpool now gets to host it next year. Huge.

The Lettuce outlasted... what was her name again?
Photograph: Daily Star/YouTube

20. The Lettuce outlasted... what was her name again?

If you’d told us at the start of the year that we’d have had (ahem) three prime ministers, we probably wouldn’t have believed you. And if you’d have told us that we’d be applauding a wilting lettuce, we’d have laughed in your face. Yet here we are. In September, tabloid newspaper The Daily Star began a livestream of an iceberg lettuce (complete with googly eyes and a blonde wig), filmed next to a framed photo of (now former) prime minister Liz Truss, to see who would ‘last longer’. Truss turned out to be the shortest serving British PM in history, leading The Star to declare victory for the lettuce. Riveting stuff.

Advertising
Little Simz bagged the Mercury Prize
Photograph: Andy Parsons

21. Little Simz bagged the Mercury Prize

Little Simz’s fourth album, ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’, might just be close to genius. Released on Simz’s independent label, it’s full of straight-up bangers and tear-jerking lyrics, exploring everything from vulnerable personal themes to moving comments on race and gentrification. The 28-year-old north London rapper (deservedly) scooped the 2022 Mercury prize for her work, beating the likes of Harry Styles, Wet Leg and Sam Fender to the coveted award. Better luck next time guys.

... and Binley Mega Chippy became a national landmark
Photograph: Anita Maric/SWNS

22. ... and Binley Mega Chippy became a national landmark

Back in early June, an unassuming chip shop on the outskirts of Coventry was blasted into stardom seemingly overnight. Thanks to an account called @binleymegachippyfan53, the joint went viral on TikTok, complete with its own wildly catchy theme tune. To the delight of its owner, fans started queuing for hours and there were reports of people travelling from as far as Australia to get a taste of this bizarre culinary destination. Now, the Binley Mega Chippy hashtag has had 761.6 million searches on TikTok and it’s fair to say the place has become a British icon. The internet works in mysterious ways. But we’re definitely not complaining.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising

    The best things in life are free.

    Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

    Loading animation
    Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

    🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

    Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!