Whatever time of year you come to the UK for your holiday or honeymoon, you are guaranteed to come across one of the many events and festivals that take place throughout the year up and down the country, from the iconic Wimbledon in London to the world-famous Edinburgh festivals, via all kinds of regional delights- from island celebrations to Chinese New Year in Liverpool and Manchester.
Up Helly Aa
This unique festival, held in the town of Lerwick in the Shetlands every January, sees people dressing up as Vikings, including characters from Norse sagas, burning Viking boats and dancing the night away. This amazing spectacle is a celebration of Shetland history and a proud demonstration of the skills and enduring spirit of the islanders.
This yearly institution, which has been running for more than a century, is the UK’s most prestigious flower show. Taking place in May in the beautiful gardens of London's salubrious Chelsea, its beautiful showcase of ever-more creative garden designs attracts illustrious visitors from members of the Royal family to celebrities.
This iconic summer festival takes place every other year in June, bringing the stars of the music world to the fields of Somerset. With its impressive line-up and incredible atmosphere, it’s a must for music fans.
This very English of traditions takes place in beautiful Henley on the River Thames each July, and while there is boat racing involved, this is more about dressing up, people spotting and enjoying cream tea and champagne on the riverbank.
The world’s top tennis grand slam takes place on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club in London in July/August, featuring the tennis elite from across the globe. Settle down for the thrilling courtside action with some strawberries and cream, washed down with Pimms.
The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival take over this beautiful city every August, growing bigger and bolder every year. This colourful and chaotic event features performers from comedians who sell out the top venues to street musicians- everywhere you look, you’re guaranteed to find a show to enjoy.
Notting Hill Carnival
This annual Caribbean summer extravaganza takes place on the mansion-lined streets of Notting Hill in London at the end of August, on the last bank holiday of the year. From vivid parades to intoxicating music and exotic street food, this is one of London’s most popular and best-loved festivals.
The 5th of November sees spectacular fireworks displays across the UK, marking the day of the failed ‘gunpowder plot’ of Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. As well as fireworks, giant bonfires light up the sky, often with effigies of Guy Fawkes and other figures on the top.
The UK is a fantastic place to be at Christmas. The anticipation builds several weeks in advance as festive markets spring up all over the country, with large markets taking over city streets from Manchester to Edinburgh. Check out the inviting stalls lining the River Thames on London’s Southbank, and enjoy a glass of mulled wine as you browse for unique gifts. Take in the festive windows, lights and decorations of department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges before stepping inside for afternoon tea. There are also beautiful Christmas markets across Europe- why not hop across to Paris or Venice for an extra-special festive holiday?
When it comes to seeing in the New Year, nowhere does it better than Scotland. Edinburgh is a fantastic place to be at New Year, with its extravaganza of music, fireworks and street parties.
Chinese New Year, Liverpool
Liverpool has the oldest Chinese community in Europe, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, and a thriving Chinatown. The date of Chinese New Year changes every year, but is usually in January/February. Revelling starts early, with lion, unicorn and dragon dances, fireworks, t’ai chi demonstrations and delicious Chinese street food. Manchester is also a good spot for Chinese New Year festivities.