Visitors to Britain rarely have enough time to take in all its best bits. If they do manage to tour a palace, take afternoon tea, enjoy an ancient monument and whizz around even two of London’s museums, they’re doing well.
For many, wandering Norfolk’s wild countryside, shopping on Edinburgh’s Princes Street or tucking into fish and chips in Brighton must wait for their next trip.
2024 only serves to exacerbate this ‘problem’, with a range of new activities for holidaymakers. Here are some of the best things to do in the UK for the year to come.
Explore the UK’s extensive arts scene
London boasts some of the most renowned art and culture museums in the world, and 2024 will see exhibitions continue to expand.
Art aficionados should head to The Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House in London, which is set to display a series of Monet’s impressions of the capital for the first time in the UK. Throughout the year it will also show drawings by Henry Moore, photography by Roger Mayne and a variety of work by avant-garde artist Vanessa Bell.
There’s also a focus on fashion in the capital next year. At the Victoria & Albert Museum, a first-of-its-kind show will celebrate the work of iconic model Naomi Campbell. Opening on 22 June, it’s designed to showcase her influence in the industry and beyond through the work of leading designers and photographers.
It’s not all about London though. In Oxfordshire, Blenheim Palace will be opening the ‘Icons of British Fashion’ exhibition, featuring some of the UK’s best designers. Running between 23 March and 30 June, the collection of clothing, accessories, photography and patterns will be exhibited throughout the palace’s Great Hall and rooms. It’s a fantastic opportunity for visitors to enjoy an extensive exhibition at the same time as touring one of the royal residences.
Elsewhere, the annual Oxford Literary Festival will run for eight days in March, in partnership with Netflix, while the longest running literature festival in the world - the Cheltenham Literature Festival - celebrates its 75th anniversary in October.
Try a tipple with wine, beer and whisky tastings in the UK
2023 saw a boom in booze-making across Great Britain.
In Northumberland, an Anglo-Saxon museum and distillery - Ad Gefrin - opened its doors for the first time. Designed to celebrate the history and culture of the region, it immerses visitors in an AV-rich museum, which also contains unique historical artefacts, such as the Castle Eden Claw Beaker (on loan from The British Museum). An onsite distillery also produces whisky and gin, something the region was known for 200-years-ago and which Ad Gefrin aims to honour.
Down in London, stout titan Guinness is planning big things. In Covent Garden, a 50,000 sq ft space will squeeze in a micro brewery and ‘culture hub’ in an effort to celebrate the origins of beer in the city (which was first made there in 1722). Tours, tastings and a rooftop restaurant will be part of this elevated brewing experience.
Oenophiles can dip into the UK’s nascent sparkling wine industry. Viticulture is the country’s fastest growing agricultural sector, with production projected to reach 25 and 29 million bottles by 2032. There are over 900 vineyards in the UK (many in the southeast counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex), offering plenty of opportunity for visitors to sample the country's burgeoning new libations.
Enjoy panoramic views on England’s coastal walks
England’s seaside towns and coastal vistas are among the country’s many charms. Keen hikers can already trek the entire edge of Wales thanks to the Wales Coastal Path, which follows a continuous 1,400km trail around the edge of the picturesque country.
But there are bigger plans in the works. The King Charles III England Coast Path will open up 4,499km of route around the entire country, making it the longest coastal route in the world. Some sections are already open to the public - in parts of Northumbria, Suffolk, Kent and Cumbria - with many others under construction.
While the iconic white cliffs of Dover prove ever-popular with visitors, there are plenty of other great coastal regions in Britain to enjoy. The Jurassic Coast is a 90km UNESCO World Heritage site stretching through Dorset and Devon offering sandy beaches, green-topped cliffs and ancient fossils. For something more rugged, head to the Northumberland Coastal Path, which features castle ruins, rock outcrops and nature reserves.
Witness sporting history in the UK
Britain has a long and prestigious sporting history, so experiencing an event is crucial to any visit to the country.
For those keen for a classic ‘Day at the Races’, 2024 boasts a number of special events. Pop on a frock and a fascinator and head to The Gold Cup Centenary in Cheltenham, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on 15 March. Equine enthusiasts will want to stick around for the following month as well, when perhaps the most famous horse racing event of all takes place near Liverpool: The Grand National.
In the summer, the Royal Henley Regatta will see over 300 boat races take to the Thames over five days, while the prestigious Oxford/Cambridge boat race will see the universities battle it out once again in March.
More traditional sports abound too. The Six Nations rugby tournament will be coming to the UK in February and the UEFA Champions League will take place on 1 June at Wembley. The best talent in tennis will be present at Wimbledon in July and petrol heads can get their fix at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone on 25 August.
So whatever your sporting tastes, chances are there’s something for you.