The Sky In Scotland Is Lit. Like, Actually.

The Sky In Scotland Is Lit. Like, Actually.

< Scotland

Forget Norway and Alaska, Scotland offers incredible opportunities to see the Northern Lights, during the fall and winter months when the nights are longer and the air is crisper. While the northern reaches of Scotland are your best bet for spotting the “Mirrie Dancers,” the lights can be seen from any of the area’s Dark Sky sites when the right conditions are met.  

Please note that cloud cover and full moons may impair visibility of Northern Lights.

Shetland Islands
As the northernmost part of the British Isles, Shetland offers visitors fantastic opportunities to see the Northern Lights gracing its sky. Throughout the winter, there are frequent chances to catch both low-level displays as well as spectacular colors.

Galloway Forest Park
Although Galloway Forest Park is farther south in Scotland, visitors can still view displays of the Northern Lights on occasion. As Great Britain’s first Dark Sky site, the Galloway Forest Park offers visitors the chance to see over 7,000 stars and planets with the naked eye, as well as the beautiful Milky Way that arches across.

Cairngorms National Park
Head to the largest national park in Great Britain for a great shot of seeing the Northern Lights. In the northeast of the park, Glenlivet Estate (a recently designated Dark Sky Discovery Site), has some of the best views. The hood of your car will provide exceptional front row seating, and don’t forget the hot cocoa and warm blankets!

Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
If you’re visiting Edinburgh and fancy a climb, don’t forget about these vantage points that offer great views of both the city and sky. While it’s not as common to spot the lights in Edinburgh as it is in Northern Scotland, with the right conditions the Northern Lights have been spotted illuminating the city. In any case, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful cityscape vista.

Posted in Scotland

Cover Photo: Glenlivet Estate

These British Bites Will See You Through The Winter

These British Bites Will See You Through The Winter

< Food & Drink

Brits are famous for their traditional comfort foods, such as the popular Shepherd’s Pie, beloved Sunday Roast, and sweet Sticky Toffee Pudding. While we love these pub classics as much as the next local, we’re also excited about the new culinary scene and food experiences that are sweeping across Great Britain. Since we all know that fall and winter months are for eating, here are the places you should check out.

Glenfiddich Distillery, Dufftown, Scotland
There’s nothing like a wee bit of whisky to warm you up. As one of the last independent, family-owned distilleries in Scotland, Glenfiddich offers visitors a glimpse into not only whisky production, but also true Scottish heritage. Choose between three different tours at different prices and lengths, and sample their world-renowned, award-winning malts.

The Triangle, Bradford, Yorkshire, England
You can get crafty in more ways than one at The Triangle. First, try new and unusual beers from their selection of over 100 craft beers from around the world. Then, catch one of their artistic events which include spoken word sessions, book clubs, and music performances. If you’re looking for a quirky alternative to the corner club, be sure to visit this self-described “bottle shop/art gallery/record and curiosity shop/coffee and cake specialist”.

Choose from over 100 craft beers at The Triangle. Photo courtesy of The Triangle.

Choose from over 100 craft beers at The Triangle. Photo courtesy of The Triangle.

Prawn on the Lawn Padstow, Cornwall, England
With the catchiest name on the block, this fully-licensed fishmonger and fish restaurant is a sister to the original in Islington, London. Owned and run by husband and wife pair, Rick and Katie Toogood, Prawn on the Lawn serves up inventive dishes that change daily, depending on what’s been caught that morning. It’s the perfect place to experience Cornwall’s amazingly fresh seafood.

Delicious seafood at Prawn on the Lawn. Photo courtesy of Prawn on the Lawn

Delicious seafood at Prawn on the Lawn. Photo courtesy of Prawn on the Lawn

Botham’s of Whitby, Whitby, Yorkshire, England
What better way to warm up than with a spot of afternoon tea? Get cozy in the E. Botham & Sons tea room and try some of their famous Plum Bread or Yorkshire Brack. Botham’s, a local favorite since 1865, is now run by the great-grandchildren of Elizabeth Botham herself, and is still one of the best places to enjoy a post-lunch sweet treat.

Classic Afternoon Tea at Botham's of Whitby. Photo courtesy of Botham's of Whitby.

Classic Afternoon Tea at Botham's of Whitby. Photo courtesy of Botham's of Whitby.

Mercato Metropolitano, London, England
Eat well and do good by visiting Mercato Metropolitano, a food market space driven by a philosophy to champion local products and communities. You’ll find stellar Italian food here – think Neapolitan pizza, tiramisu, gelato and pastas – but there are also vendors selling dishes from around the world. Wander through the bustling community space, located in a former paper factory, and check out other cool offerings, such as the food workshops, live performances, exhibitions, and an urban garden.

Browse food stalls and enjoy the buzzy atmosphere at Mercato Metropolitano. Photo by: Sara Montali.

Browse food stalls and enjoy the buzzy atmosphere at Mercato Metropolitano. Photo by: Sara Montali.

Posted in Food & Drink

Cover Photo: Prawn on the Lawn

How To Do New Year's Away From Big Ben's Crowds

How To Do New Year's Away From Big Ben's Crowds

< Art & Culture

New Year’s Eve along the River Thames in London is a fantastic spectacle, but sometimes you’re better off avoiding the crowds and catching the televised display on BBC. Great Britain has countless other NYE celebrations because we Brits certainly know how to celebrate. Here are some of the best ways and places to ring in the new year:

Hogmanay in Edinburgh, Scotland
Why shouldn’t new year’s celebrations last three days? Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of the new year and, in Edinburgh, it’s a huge, passionate three-day party. Join the beautiful Torchlight Procession on December 30, as thousands of torch bearers march through Edinburgh and fireworks light up the sky. On December 31, enjoy the Hogmanay Street Party, which features live music, dancing, and outdoor bars. There are also ticketed concerts, such as Concert in the Gardens where #BritishFamous Rag’n’Bone Man will be performing. At midnight, watch fireworks over Edinburgh Castle and link arms with your neighbors as you join in the moving national sing-along of Auld Lang Syne. And there’s no better way to recover from the festivities than with The Loony Dook on January 1, which sees hundreds of people plunge into the freezing Firth of Forth waters.

Colorful celebrations in Edinburgh. Photo by: Chris Watt.

Colorful celebrations in Edinburgh. Photo by: Chris Watt.

Tar Bar'l in Allendale, Northumberland, England
It wouldn’t be a British celebration without fire barrels on people’s heads! On New Year’s Eve, Allendale’s streets fill with music and dancing as thousands of spectators turn out to watch a procession of local “guisers” carrying flaming barrel tops. Once the guisers have marched through the streets, they throw their barrels into a ceremonial bonfire in the middle of the town center, and welcome in the new year.

Guisers carry flaming barrels through Allendale. Photo by: R. Beedle

Guisers carry flaming barrels through Allendale. Photo by: R. Beedle

Nos Galan Road Races in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales
If fire doesn’t get your heart racing, why not take part in a 5K (3.1 miles)? Each year, thousands of runners from across Great Britain come to Mountain Ash to take part in this race that celebrates the life and achievements of Welsh runner, Guto Nyth Brân. A famous sports person – the “mystery runner” – begins the race by bearing a torch from Guto’s grave to the starting line. The series of races culminate in the early evening so that you can still head to the pub and ring in the new year in a more traditional manner! For 2017 celebrations, the races are already filled but come along to cheer on the runners and mark the date for 2018.

Cheer on the runners for a different type of New Year celebration. Photo courtesy of Nos Galan Road Races

Cheer on the runners for a different type of New Year celebration. Photo courtesy of Nos Galan Road Races

Fancy Dress in Newquay, Cornwall, England
Grab your neon tights and get ready to dance through the streets! Newquay is one of the best places to enjoy a good old Cornish cider in the company of thousands of costumed party people, welcoming in the new year with a burst of color and good cheer. Residents and visitors congregate in the central square for the midnight countdown, fireworks display, and customary rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Be ready to party into the morning, as the celebrations continue long after the last firework has faded.

The Blitz Party, London, England
Don your suspenders and best swing skirts at The Blitz Party held at Village Underground. While there are countless parties held across London to celebrate New Year’s Eve, this is a special one with a definitively British theme. Held in a venue next to an old railway viaduct, the setting – decked out with blackout curtains, sandbags, and recon maps – is perfect for a party that brings back 1940s glamor and celebrates British patriotism. Book tickets well in advance.

Celebrate nostalgia as you ring in the New Year! Photo courtesy of Bourne & Hollingsworth

Celebrate nostalgia as you ring in the New Year! Photo courtesy of Bourne & Hollingsworth

Posted in Art & Culture

Cover Photo: Hogmanay in Edinburgh. Photo by: Chris Watt

Burning Clocks And Barrel Rolls: Why We Love Great Britain For The Holidays

Burning Clocks And Barrel Rolls: Why We Love Great Britain For The Holidays

< Art & Culture

Get festive with these fantastic #BritishFamous traditions and fun pop-ups. Since it’s never too early to dream of the holidays, here are a couple of suggestions to kick start your planning:

Cardiff Christmas Market (November 9 - December 23) and Winter Wonderland (November 9 2017 - January 7 2018), Cardiff, Wales
Take a spin on the ice at the Winter Wonderland with views of Cardiff’s City Hall and warm up with some glühwein in the Alpine Village. Explore the fun fair before strolling over to the nearby Christmas Market where over 200 businesses will be selling food, drinks, arts & crafts, and holiday gifts.

Festive shopping in Cardiff. Image courtesy of Cardiff Christmas Market

Festive shopping in Cardiff. Image courtesy of Cardiff Christmas Market

Montague Ski Lodge (November 16 2017 - January 14 2018), London, England
If you can’t make it to the mountains this holiday season, the mountains will come to you. Visit The Montague Ski Lodge in the heart of London for a taste of chic alpine après ski. With pine trees, a log cabin, piste maps, warm blankets, and fairy lights, the Ski Lodge is wonderfully festive and the perfect place to hang out with friends.

Pretend you're in the mountains at this cozy ski lodge. Photo from: The Montague on the Gardens.

Pretend you're in the mountains at this cozy ski lodge. Photo from: The Montague on the Gardens.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice (December 21), Wiltshire, England          
It’s not every day that you get to join druid and pagan communities in their rituals. Head to the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge to celebrate the shortest day and longest night of the year with them. Stonehenge is more than just an arrangement of stones – it is thought to have been built by ancient Britons over 4000 years ago to study and celebrate the sun and moon. Watching the sun set between the stones, listening to incantations and standing with hundreds of other people is truly a magical experience.

Celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

Celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

Burning the Clocks (December 21), Brighton, England
This winter solstice celebration is a community event, during which locals make their own paper and willow lanterns and parade through the city in a beautiful display of art and light. When they reach Brighton Beach, the lanterns are passed into a blazing bonfire to symbolize the end of the year. With a huge firework display, fire sculptures, and over 20,000 spectators lining the beach, Burning the Clocks is a special and not-to-be missed event.

Witness a beautiful parade of light through Brighton. Photo by: Jeb Hardwick. Photo courtesy of Same Sky. 

Witness a beautiful parade of light through Brighton. Photo by: Jeb Hardwick. Photo courtesy of Same Sky. 

Grantchester Barrel Rolling (12PM, December 26), Cambridgeshire, England
One of many bizarre British Boxing Day traditions, the Grantchester Barrel Rolling race is, well, pretty much as you’d imagine. Four local teams roll large wooden barrels up and down the street in a relay race, cheered on by spectators who stand close to the action behind straw bales. Expect friendly competition, local spirit, and festive revelries at the nearby pubs after the event.

Up Helly Aa (January 30 2018), Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland
If you’ve ever wondered what an 800-strong Viking procession looks like, don’t miss Up Helly Aa, which takes place on the last Tuesday of January every year. Originating in the 1880s and steeped in ancient lore, this 24-hour festival features the Guizer Jarl (the head of the event dressed as a character from the Norse Sagas) leading over 800 men dressed as Vikings through the town. Carrying flaming torches alongside a Viking longboat, they parade through darkened streets and crowds of over 5000 spectators. Eventually, the longboat goes up in flames and the revelers visit a series of halls where, at each one, they dance, drink, eat, and be merry. The Scots certainly know how to celebrate.

Fiery celebrations at Up Helly Aa

Fiery celebrations at Up Helly Aa

Posted in Art & Culture

Cover Photo: Up Helly Aa

How To Have A Cardiff-erent Kind Of Experience

How To Have A Cardiff-erent Kind Of Experience

< Wales

The bustling Welsh capital is a popular #BritishFamous destination for many reasons, including its proximity to the water, its burgeoning food scene, great shopping, and exciting events. Here are the top things you should do, eat, and see on your trip:

Have tea at Sunflower and I
This beautiful, quirky flower studio-cafe-bar venue is a Cardiff gem. Visit for tea and enjoy the eclectic furnishings and Polish desserts. Check to see if you can catch an evening of live music on the weekend.

Music, tea, cakes and flowers...what more could you want? Image courtesy of Sunflower and I

Music, tea, cakes and flowers...what more could you want? Image courtesy of Sunflower and I

Catch live music at Clwb lfor Bach
Immerse yourself in Welsh culture at Clwb Ifor Bach, where you are likely to hear both English and Welsh spoken. This local favorite spot is a nightclub, music-venue, Welsh language club, and community center. With both live performances and varied club nights, Clwb Ifor Bach is where you should head for your music fix.

Catch a rugby match at Principality Stadium
Catch one of the Under Armour 2017 games at the Principality Stadium (previously known as Millennium Stadium). Welsh rugby may be world famous but you’ll only get that great British experience by watching a game at home with the fans.

Get ready to cheer with the fans at Principality Stadium. Photo from: Welsh Rugby Union

Get ready to cheer with the fans at Principality Stadium. Photo from: Welsh Rugby Union

Walk or run along the Cardiff Bay Trail
Get active and explore Cardiff on this circular 10K (6.2 miles) route that takes you around Cardiff Bay, past historic landmarks and iconic buildings, and over to the seaside town of Penarth.

Explore the beautiful Cardiff Bay

Explore the beautiful Cardiff Bay

Go fossil hunting in Penarth
While you’re over in Penarth, why not try your hand at fossil hunting along the coast? See if you can spot fossils in the Jurassic rock and take home a pre-historic souvenir!

Go fossil hunting alongside the bay. Photo from: UK Fossils Network

Go fossil hunting alongside the bay. Photo from: UK Fossils Network

Enjoy modern British cuisine at The Potted Pig
If you’re a meat lover, be sure to visit The Potted Pig. With its seasonal menus, a focus on Welsh produce, and a bar specializing in gin, The Potted Pig is the perfect place for a special dinner. If you’re in a group of eight or more, consider one of the Feasting Menus, which offers you the chance to enjoy a whole suckling pig.

Go plant-based at Milgi
If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, consider Milgi, which describes itself as a “plant-based restaurant and bar.” With a focus on creating hearty, healthy dishes, and with well-priced natural cocktails, Milgi is a great spot to grab a casual but delicious meal.

Eat vibrant and healthy dishes at Milgi. Photo courtesy of Milgi

Eat vibrant and healthy dishes at Milgi. Photo courtesy of Milgi

Posted in Wales

Cover Photo: Cardiff Bay

Sleepovers, Prisons, And Lots Of Digging. These Are The Most Unusual Museums In Great Britain

Sleepovers, Prisons, And Lots Of Digging. These Are The Most Unusual Museums In Great Britain

< Art & Culture

Wandering through galleries is not to be missed, but sometimes you want a little bit more action – like sleeping beneath the skeleton of a great blue whale or descending into an old coal mine.

Sleepover at the Natural History Museum, London, England
Yes, dreams can come true. If you’ve ever wanted to experience your very own “Night at the Museum,” Dino Snores for Adults is your chance to learn what really happens at night in one of London’s most iconic museums. Featuring tours around the exhibits, a three-course dinner, live music, edible insect tasting, alcoholic beverages, and an all-night movie marathon, you won’t want to fall asleep in the stunning Hintze Hall. Tickets sell quickly, so book in advance.

Wouldn't you want to wander these halls at night?

Wouldn't you want to wander these halls at night?

Go to jail at Tolbooth Prison, Aberdeen, Scotland
Visiting the Tolbooth Prison takes you back in time to life in a 17th century Scottish “gaol.” Wander through darkened cells, listening to the cries of prisoners, and see the original blade of Aberdeen’s 17th century guillotine.

Play games at the Science and Media Museum, Bradford, England
Who knew learning could be so much fun? Go back in time and play original versions of Pac-Man, Super Mario and Space Invaders in the free, permanent Games Lounge. Experience the evolution of digital gaming as you compete on original arcade machines and on some of the most popular consoles that have been released since 1972.

Indulge nostalgia in the Games Lounge. Image from: The Science and Media Museum

Indulge nostalgia in the Games Lounge. Image from: The Science and Media Museum

Ride the Mail Rail at The Postal Museum, London, England
The London Underground is cool but we’ve found another subterranean train worth riding. Journey beneath London’s streets on the Mail Rail – a 100-year-old underground train ride that takes riders into the former engineering depot of the Postal Service.

Go underground and ride a different kind of train. Photo by: Miles Willis

Go underground and ride a different kind of train. Photo by: Miles Willis

Go 300 feet underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, Wales
Dress as former miners once did with your helmet, cap lamp, belt, and battery, and then descend down the Big Pit mineshaft for a journey back in time. Tour the coal faces, engine houses, and stables with a former coal miner before ascending to explore a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine.

Go back in time at this subterranean museum. Photo: ©Big Pit National Coal Museum

Go back in time at this subterranean museum. Photo: ©Big Pit National Coal Museum

Go back in time at Beamish: The Living Museum of the North, Beamish, England
Wander through a farm on the Home Front during WWII or take a trip down into the Mahogany Drift Mine at Beamish, an open-air museum exploring life in North East England from the 1820s to the 1940s. This museum takes participation to a whole new level, as you can even book tickets to operate the Beamish Tramway for the entire day.

Ride through villages and towns at this open air museum

Ride through villages and towns at this open air museum

Posted in Art & Culture

Cover Photo: The Postal Museum (photo by: Miles Willis)

Break Out The Knits And Head To These Welsh Hotspots

Break Out The Knits And Head To These Welsh Hotspots

< Wales

Sweater season is almost here! While we’re looking forward to cozy nights in Great Britain, we’re also ready to get outside and enjoy those beautiful, crisp days. Here’s how to spend your winter in Wales. 

Warm up with whisky at Penderyn Distillery
Cold weather is definitely an excuse to drink whisky. Visit Penderyn Distillery, the home of award-winning single malt whiskies and spirits. Take a tour where you’ll see how the whisky is produced and sample the products at the Tasting Bar. If you really love whisky, consider booking a masterclass session, which combines the tour with a lesson on whisky tasting and a blind nosing activity. Book ahead for both the tour and masterclass to guarantee your spot.

Tour an award-winning distillery. Image courtesy of Penderyn Distillery

Tour an award-winning distillery. Image courtesy of Penderyn Distillery

Sip soup and sight starlings
During the fall and winter months at the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Newport Wetlands, thousands of starlings gather at dusk and swoop through the sky. At the peak of this experience, viewers can see up to 50,000 starlings of these feathered friends soaring in huge formations. Settle down at dusk with a cup of soup and learn about starlings from a local expert at one of the Soup and Starlings events.

Witness incredible starling murmurations. Photo by: David Kjaer. Image courtesy of RSPB

Witness incredible starling murmurations. Photo by: David Kjaer. Image courtesy of RSPB

Catch classics and discover new horror films. Image courtesy of Abertoir

Catch classics and discover new horror films. Image courtesy of Abertoir

Get spooky at Abertoir
Ready to scream? Head to Abertoir (The International Horror Festival of Wales), an annual horror film festival with a quirkily macabre lineup of films, concerts, theatre, and masterclasses. With a focus on both independent and big-budget horror films, visitors are able to pay tribute to cult-classics and discover new favorites.

 
Bike...

Bike...

Bike with beer at the Real Ale Wobble
We’re definitely down to exercise if it involves beer. This wacky biking and beer extravaganza celebrates the start of the Mid Wales Beer Festival. You’ll cycle along marked trails through the scenic Cambrian Mountains and receive locally-brewed ale at checkpoints along the routes.

...and drink beer! Images courtesy of Green Events.

...and drink beer! Images courtesy of Green Events.

 

There are courses for both serious and amateur bikers; although, if you’re more inclined to walking through the mountains and forest, check out the Real Ale Ramble held at the end of the Beer Festival. Register in advance for both events.

 

 

Experience the majesty of the Brecon Beacons
What about a hike through mountains, rock caves, waterfalls, and moorland? Head to the Brecon Beacons National Park, a European and Global Geopark, as well as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Winter is a great time to take a walk on the Glyn Tarell Geotrail, which takes you to the center of where the last great ice sheet in the region once was. You’ll also visit Craig Cerrig-Gleisiad, a National Nature Reserve with an impressive range of arctic alpine plants.

Hike through the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park

Hike through the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park

Posted in Wales

Cover Photo: Brecon Beacons

5 Ways To Experience Your Netflix Queue IRL

5 Ways To Experience Your Netflix Queue IRL

< Entertainment

From stately British homes to small flats in London, we’ve seen plenty of heroines bringing #BritishFamous locations to life. Their stories turn places into icons and destinations; who doesn’t want to walk the halls of Pemberley or hope to find love in a bookstore? Here are five heroines whose footsteps you can trace across Great Britain:

Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice
Follow Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which was used as Pemberley, the home of Mr. Darcy (played by Matthew Macfadyen). Chatsworth House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (since 1549) and is open to visitors who can explore the house, gardens, and enjoy afternoon tea. Journey on to visit Stamford, the Georgian town in Lincolnshire, that became Meryton Village.

Notable mention: Chatsworth House was also used during the filming of The Duchess, in which Keira Knightley starred as Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.

Explore the stately Chatsworth House and wander through the beautiful grounds

Explore the stately Chatsworth House and wander through the beautiful grounds

Bridget Jones in the Bridget Jones’ films
Stand outside Bridget Jones’ beautiful London apartment above the Globe Tavern pub in Borough Market. Take a walk around the bustling market, which is featured in scenes such as when Bridget shops for her “blue string” dinner party ingredients, and when she comes home from the Tarts and Vicars party. The first famous Mark Darcy vs. Daniel Cleaver fight scene was filmed on Bedale Street at Borough Market, and in the second film, it was filmed in Kensington Gardens. If you’re a Bridget Jones’ Baby fan, visit the London Aquatics Center, where Bridget takes pre-natal classes.

Experience the bustle and energy of Borough Market and try the fantastic foods on offer

Experience the bustle and energy of Borough Market and try the fantastic foods on offer

Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World
Relive Jane’s awkward date with a meal at the iconic OXO Tower Restaurant, then take a boat out to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to relive the action-packed final scenes of the film. Take a day trip out to Stonehenge (or head out for the Winter Solstice (link to Winter Events article)) to see where Erik Selvig was running around naked before being arrested.

Marvel at the stunning architecture of The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Marvel at the stunning architecture of The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich

Anna Scott in Notting Hill
Imagine your own British love story as you retrace Julia Roberts’ steps as Anna Scott through the picturesque Notting Hill neighborhood. Wander down Portobello Road on a Saturday to see the Main Market. The location for William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant) The Travel Book Co. was filmed at 142 Portobello Road, but the inspiration for the movie bookstore was a real store around the corner called The Travel Bookshop (now closed) at 13-15 Blenheim Crescent. Head to the famous Ritz to see where Anna stayed, to the Savoy Hotel for the location of her press conference, and to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath where she was filming her Henry James film.

Browse travel guides at this local bookshop made famous by the film, Notting Hill

Browse travel guides at this local bookshop made famous by the film, Notting Hill

The Crawley Women in Downton Abbey
The beautiful Highclere Castle is now famously known for its role as Downton Abbey, the home of the Crawley family. If you want to imagine yourself as Mary or Lady Grantham, be sure to book tickets to visit the house and grounds. If you want to see Downton village, you’ll have to head to Bampton in Oxfordshire.

Take a tour of the magnificent Highclere Castle, the fictional home of the Crawley family

Take a tour of the magnificent Highclere Castle, the fictional home of the Crawley family

Posted in Entertainment

Cover Photo: Portobello Road in Notting Hill

Muggle Or Not, Here's Where You Can Find Some Harry Potter Magic

Muggle Or Not, Here's Where You Can Find Some Harry Potter Magic

< Entertainment

Iconic locations such as King’s Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus, and Leadenhall Market are some of the most well-known Harry Potter filming locations in London, but the wizarding world extends far beyond the capital. In honor of the “Nineteen Years Later” epilogue, which would take place in 2017, we’ve rounded up a list of memorable Harry Potter filming destinations across England, Scotland, and Wales that you should visit.

Hogwarts Express: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber, Scotland
This viaduct, 100 feet above ground, is captured in several Harry Potter films on the route to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You can journey through this magical landscape just as Harry and his friends did, aboard the Jacobite steam train used as the Hogwarts Express in the movies.

The stunning Scottish scenery provides the perfect background for the Hogwarts Express

The stunning Scottish scenery provides the perfect background for the Hogwarts Express

Shell Cottage: Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales
This stretch of golden sand was the location for Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour’s Shell Cottage in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When Harry found himself inside the whimsical cottage he could hear nothing but the ebb and flow of the sea. Although the cottage was taken down after filming, the beach is still an incredibly beautiful and atmospheric place to imagine following in the footsteps of Harry and friends.

Imagine Shell Cottage as you stroll along this beautiful beach

Imagine Shell Cottage as you stroll along this beautiful beach

Hogwarts Library and Infirmary: Bodleian Library, Oxford, England
Oxford University’s magnificent Bodleian Library, dating back to 1602, starred in three Harry Potter films. The medieval Duke Humfrey's Library, part of the hallowed institution, was used as the Hogwarts library, whilst the elaborately vaulted Divinity School next door became Hogwarts’ infirmary.

Admire Oxford's steeples as you explore the university

Admire Oxford's steeples as you explore the university

Hogwarts Great Hall Staircase: Christ Church College, Oxford, England
At Christ Church College, a 10-minute walk away from Bodleian Library, you can see where we were first introduced to Hogwarts with Harry and the other first-year wizards ascending the 16th-century stone staircase to the Great Hall. The Hall at Christ Church College served as the inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall, with the filmmakers replicating it at the film studios.

See the inspiration for Hogwarts' staircases in Christ Church College, Oxford

See the inspiration for Hogwarts' staircases in Christ Church College, Oxford

Durham Cathedral, Durham, England
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was realized on film through a bewildering number of locations throughout Great Britain. One of the most spectacular is Durham Cathedral, one of Great Britain’s finest Norman buildings. Durham’s elegant cloisters became the snow-covered quadrangle, where Harry sets Hedwig flying in the first film, and is also the setting for Ron’s slug vomiting in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The cathedral chapter house is the venue for Professor McGonagall’s class teaching the young wizards to turn animals into water goblets.

Admire Durham Cathedral's magnificent architecture

Admire Durham Cathedral's magnificent architecture

Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, England
Look out for Nearly Headless Nick or Moaning Myrtle and see where Harry and Ron hid from the troll in the spooky corridors of 1,300-year-old Gloucester Cathedral – one of five locations used for Hogwarts.

It’s worth getting a tour guide to reveal some of the fascinating ways the cathedral had to be altered for filming. Electrical points were disguised under panels painted to look like the stone walls, whilst anything that would reveal the set as a church was concealed. For instance, halos on the stained-glass figures in the cloister windows were covered with colored plastic filter paper to blend in with the glass around it.

For signs of the cathedral’s ancient past, you can enter a wooden door that leads down to the old crypt, said to be haunted by monks from the old Gloucester monastery.

Go back in time as you wander through the ornate cloisters

Go back in time as you wander through the ornate cloisters

Posted in Entertainment

Cover Photo: Durham Cathedral Cloisters

These Indoor Gardens Will Have You Seeing Green This Winter

These Indoor Gardens Will Have You Seeing Green This Winter

<Art & Culture

We’re not ready to hibernate just yet. Great Britain’s gardeners are experts at designing year-round displays of plants and flowers – and our impressive glasshouses showcase flora from around the world. Take a trip to these indoor gardens to travel the botanical world and pretend it’s still summer.

Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge, England
Travel the world and see over 8,000 plant species across 40 acres at this garden that was founded in 1846. You can follow the seasonal trails outside before heading indoors to the Glasshouse Range that features plants from the daintiest alpine to exotic tropical climbers.

Thunbergia Mysorensis in the Tropical Rainforest Glasshouse. Photo by: Howard Rice. Courtesy of Cambridge University Botanic Garden. 

Thunbergia Mysorensis in the Tropical Rainforest Glasshouse. Photo by: Howard Rice. Courtesy of Cambridge University Botanic Garden. 

The Eden Project, Cornwall, England
It’s pretty cool to be able to say you’ve visited the world’s largest indoor rainforest. Housed within The Eden Project’s famous geodesic greenhouse domes, this rainforest transports you to four different environments. If you’re more in the mood for dry, temperate surroundings, be sure to walk through the Mediterranean biome where you can dine amongst the plants.  

Geodesic domes at the Eden Project. 

Geodesic domes at the Eden Project. 

The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland
Get handsy with plants in classes on topics such as plant identification, herbal first aid, and how to train plants in your garden. Or take a stroll through the numerous glasshouses that include Tropical Palms, Orchids & Cycads, and Rainforest Riches. If you’re heading there before Christmas, be sure to book your tickets for Christmas at the Botanics - an illuminated, botanical trail that leads you through the colorfully lit garden.

Wander through this stunning indoor garden at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Courtesy of Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. 

Wander through this stunning indoor garden at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Courtesy of Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. 

National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, Wales
This garden has celebrity status as it features the world’s largest single span glasshouse, designed by the famous architect, Lord Norman Foster. It also boasts the largest collection of Mediterranean plants in the Northern Hemisphere, beautifully planted among rocky terraces and sandstone cliffs. Explore the glasshouse with one of the garden’s curated trails and then head over to the Butterfly House that is home to butterflies from across the tropical world.

Walk inside the world's largest single span glasshouse.

Walk inside the world's largest single span glasshouse.

Kew Gardens, Richmond, London
Don’t miss the world’s oldest potted plant, collected from South Africa in the early 1770s, and now housed inside a stunning Victorian glasshouse. Kew Gardens, a UNESCO Heritage site, is known for its extraordinary collection of plants and varied architectural structures. Be sure to see the gigantic water lilies from the Amazon in the Waterlily House and then take a canopy walk on the Treetop Walkway.

Gigantic water lilies at Kew Gardens.

Gigantic water lilies at Kew Gardens.

Posted in Art & Culture

Cover Photo: Kew Gardens

Where To See British Famous Rockers Before They're The Real Kind Of Famous

Where To See British Famous Rockers Before They're The Real Kind Of Famous

< Music

Get ready to discover some #BritishFamous acts in Great Britain’s renowned music city. Manchester is the original stomping ground for many major bands, including Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Simply Red, and The Chemical Brothers, so it’s the perfect place to catch world-class live music. Don’t miss these venues:

Band on the Wall
Get ready to dance the night away at Band on the Wall, which was recently refurbished and engineered exclusively with live music in mind. You’ll be in good company, as this venue has one of the best reputations in the city for shows and club nights. And if you’re into that 1970s post-punk scene, you should know that the Buzzcocks, The Fall, and Joy Division all performed at Band on the Wall.  

Live music at Band on the Wall. Image: Dec Place, courtesy of Band on the Wall

Live music at Band on the Wall. Image: Dec Place, courtesy of Band on the Wall

Gorilla
With a Gin Parlour, late-night food and a club space, Gorilla is one of Manchester’s coolest live music venues. Located under railway tracks, Gorilla’s arched ceiling helps create awesome acoustics. Catch your favorite established artists one night, and discover a new emerging act the next.

Party under the railway tracks at Gorilla. Photo by: Jack Kirwin.

Party under the railway tracks at Gorilla. Photo by: Jack Kirwin.

Islington Mill
If you’re looking for unconventional creativity, head to Islington Mill where you can spend the day wandering through an art gallery before partying into the early hours of the morning. As an artistic hub and community, Islington Mill is home to more than 50 businesses and 100 artists. It’s also a B&B, so if you’re looking for an authentic experience, consider spending the night.

A Samarbeta Music Residency with the band Stealing Sheep at Islington Mill. Photo from: Islington Mill

A Samarbeta Music Residency with the band Stealing Sheep at Islington Mill. Photo from: Islington Mill

The Castle Hotel
It may be 200 years old but The Castle Hotel’s line-up is contemporary and fresh. Here, you’ll get to experience a Mancunian institution while enjoying some of the best comedic acts, literary events and live music the city has to offer.

Falling Ghost at The Castle Hotel in September. Photo by: Nathan Whittaker (@manc_wanderer)

Falling Ghost at The Castle Hotel in September. Photo by: Nathan Whittaker (@manc_wanderer)

Night and Day
Catch the next #BritishFamous act on their way to global stardom at Night and Day. Originating as a fish and chip shop in 1991, Night and Day has seen tens of thousands of stars grace its stage, including The Artic Monkeys, Mumford and Sons, and MGMT. This is the place where you’ll be able to say, “I remember when I saw them at Night and Day, way back when.”

Find the next #BritishFamous star at Night and Day. Photo by: Jay Taylor (@jaytaylor)

Find the next #BritishFamous star at Night and Day. Photo by: Jay Taylor (@jaytaylor)

Posted in Music

Cover Photo: Gorilla

6 Live Sporting Events You Won't Catch on ESPN

6 Live Sporting Events You Won't Catch on ESPN

< Sports

If you thought Wimbledon was quirky with its all-white dress code and penchant for strawberries and cream, you haven’t seen anything yet. In Great Britain, we like to stretch the typical interpretation of “sport” and our #BritishFamous sporting activities are ones that you can’t experience anywhere else. From throwing large, tapered tree trunks (the caber toss) to knocking conkers off strings, we certainly know how to have a good time.

Race the Train, Tywyn, Mid-Wales (August 19, 2017)
This contest between man and machine takes place alongside, as far as practicable, the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol. The Talyllyn Railway, a classic steam train, travels through picturesque hills and meadows. Runners race the train on a course that encompasses a mixture of public roads, lanes, tracks, agricultural land and rough grazing pastures. If you’re running, you should know that the terrain varies all the time, can be very wet and muddy in places, and involves some steep hills. If you’re watching, sit back, relax on the train and look for the places when you’ll be able to shout encouragement out of the window.

Runners race the Talyllyn Railway in Wales. Photo by: Doris O'Keefe

Runners race the Talyllyn Railway in Wales. Photo by: Doris O'Keefe

Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (September 2, 2017)
The Braemar Gathering is the most famous and best-attended Highland Games in Scotland, with a rich history that dates back 900 years. The modern Braemar Gathering pays homage to Scottish heritage and traditions and, since 1848, has been regularly attended by the reigning monarch and members of the Royal family. Its famous “heavy” events include Throwing the Hammer, Putting the Stone and Tossing the Caber. With bagpipe displays, competitors wearing traditional Scottish kilts, and a tug of war between different military service groups, the Braemar Gathering is not to be missed.

(Top) The Caber Toss at The Braemar Gathering. Photo from: The Braemar Gathering (Left) Throwing the hammer at The Braemar Gathering. 

(Top) The Caber Toss at The Braemar Gathering. Photo from: The Braemar Gathering

(Left) Throwing the hammer at The Braemar Gathering. 

 

World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, Lancashire, England (September 10, 2017)
Local legends claim that this competition dates back to the War of the Roses in the 15th century when opposing factions of the House of Lancaster and the House of York ran out of ammunition. Supposedly, they started throwing food at each other: black pudding from Lancaster and Yorkshire puddings from Yorkshire. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying the quirky nature of the modern day event (run since the 1980s) that sees competitors hurling black puddings at a pile of Yorkshire puddings atop a 20ft high plinth.

 
Adrian Zivelonghi, Gurning World Champion 2016. Photo from: Egremont Crab Fair

Adrian Zivelonghi, Gurning World Champion 2016. Photo from: Egremont Crab Fair

Egremont Crab Fair & World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, England (September 15, 2017)
The Egremont Crab Fair dates back to the 13th century when the local Lord of the Manor would wheel a cart of crab apples through the village of Egremont as a goodwill gesture to the poor. This year sees the 750th anniversary of the Fair which also hosts the World Gurning Championships. Gurning consists of contestants putting their heads through a horse collar and contorting their faces into the silliest expression possible. A totally normal sport. It’s said that the gurning competition originates from the faces the locals made when they bit into the sharp crab apples. Other events include concerts, wrestling, races, and pole climbing.

 

World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland (September 24, 2017)
Held on Easdale Island, the World Stone Skimming Championships attract competitors from all over the world. Due to demand, the number of contestants is limited to 350 but anyone can partake. Each competitor is allowed three skims using specially selected Easdale slate skimming stones. For a skim to qualify the stone must bounce at least three times; it is then judged on the distance achieved before it sinks.

Allan Laycock competing in The World Stone Skimming Championships. Photo by: Michelle Burgess

Allan Laycock competing in The World Stone Skimming Championships. Photo by: Michelle Burgess

World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, England (October 8, 2017)
These championships have been held since 1965, celebrating the simple but popular game of conkers. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. Players compete to become the King or Queen of conkers and often wear fancy dress.

Posted in Sports

Cover photo: The Braemar Gathering

The Eat, Lift, Play Guide To London

The Eat, Lift, Play Guide To London

< London

Cover photo: Sky Garden Yoga

From clean eating to fitness classes that get your heart pumping, London offers an increasing number of spots to make you feel your best. Whether you’re trying to sneak in a yoga class before a day of sightseeing or want to make at least one meal of the day a little bit healthier, here are some options to add to your itinerary.

The Detox Kitchen
Goop deems The Detox Kitchen as “the OG (and best) health food and detox delivery service in London.” With three deli locations throughout London and delivery right to your door, they make it easy to eat well despite a busy schedule. Their Fitzrovia location also features a fitness studio on the lower level with curated instructors teaching everything from yoga to ballet.

 

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Sunrise Yoga at Sky Garden
Combine incredible city views (from the 36th floor) with a dynamic, vinyasa flow yoga class for the best way to start your day in London. With luscious plants behind you and London's skyline in front of you, you'll feel both refreshed and inspired during this early morning, hour-long session. The class, which is open to all levels and abilities, ends with a healthy buffet breakfast served in the Sky Pod Bar.

 

Tiny Leaf
Tiny Leaf is London’s first and only organic, zero waste, vegetarian restaurant. Starting as a successful Notting Hill pop-up, Tiny Leaf now lives in Mercato Metropolitano, a vibrant space dedicated to the local community and celebrating small businesses. Tiny Leaf uses organic surplus food stock, generously supplied by local food suppliers and supermarkets, to create fresh and inventive dishes. Since the food is supplied on a daily basis, the menu constantly changes but diners can expect expertly crafted meals, such as buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, root tartare for lunch, and courgetti and almond pesto for dinner.

 

Another_Space
With no membership fee, Another_Space offers a variety of yoga, HIIT and cycling classes in a friendly environment under one roof. Grab a post-workout smoothie, snack or meal from Detox Kitchen and Natural Fitness in the café.

 

26 Grains
Inspired by founder Alex Hely-Hutchinson’s travels in Copenhagen, 26 Grains makes porridge (oatmeal) that is both delicious and healthy. With sweet and savory options, such as Hazelnut & Butter or Salmon, Wild Rice, Broccoli, you’re sure to have something that both tastes delicious and makes for a Insta-worthy breakfast pic.

 

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Heartcore Fitness
Heartcore offers Pilates, TRX, High Intensity Interval Training and ballet barre workouts at nine studios across London. In addition to traditional classes on the reformer, their new-ish Ride2Tone workout concept combines indoor cycling with yoga-inspired bodyweight moves, giving you the best of two workout classes in one.

 

Posted in London

This Celebration Started In 1606 And It’s Still One Of The Best Nights Of The Year

This Celebration Started In 1606 And It’s Still One Of The Best Nights Of The Year

< Art & Culture

Remember, remember the Fifth of November; the gunpowder, treason and plot. Also, remember those Guy Fawkes masks made famous by V for Vendetta and now a symbol of anti-tyranny? Contrary to popular belief, celebrating Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) does not traditionally involve us Brits marching to protest the government. Instead, we light things on fire and stand around burning effigies. Here’s the #BritishFamous reason we celebrate and the ways in which you can get involved.

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators hatched the Gunpowder Plot beneath the Houses of Parliament in 1605

Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators hatched the Gunpowder Plot beneath the Houses of Parliament in 1605

A Spark Notes Version of Why We Celebrate
November 5 commemorates the defeat of the November 1605 Gunpowder Plot against the Protestant English Government and King James I.

A group of Roman Catholic activists, led by Robert Catesby and including Guy Fawkes (or Guido Fawkes), wanted to protest the repressive religious policies of King James’ and his Parliament. They hatched a plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the night that King James would open a new session of Parliament. Having rented a house close to the Houses of Parliament, they built a tunnel into the cellar of the House of Lords and smuggled in 36 barrels of gunpowder. An anonymous letter tipped off the authorities and a search party found Guy Fawkes – the explosives expert – waiting to blow up the barrels in the cellar. Fawkes was tortured until he gave up the names of his co-conspirators and they were all found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death by being hung, drawn and quartered.

Since 1606, Great Britain has celebrated the defeat of the plot and, to this day, the Yeomen of the Guard still search the Houses of Parliament (with lanterns) before the state opening to maintain tradition.

How to Celebrate

Bonfires are a classic way to celebrate

Bonfires are a classic way to celebrate

Our #BritishFamous celebrations range from waving sparklers in our back gardens to watching enormous firework displays light up skies across the country. The fireworks represent the explosives that were never used by the conspirators. There are also parades that see effigies called “guys” carried through the streets. The effigies often represent the original Guy Fawkes but there are also models of contemporary political figures. Children ask passers-by for “a penny for the guy,” before the effigies are burned on bonfires.

 

Flaming Tar Barrels of Ottery St. Mary, Devon
Don’t miss this centuries old tradition in which men, women and children set fire to tar-lined wooden barrels and run through the streets with them on their head. While the spectacle draws great crowds, there is still a wonderful sense of community particularly because, in many cases, generations of the same family will carry barrels. It’s not for the faint-hearted – there are no barriers or safety nets and the heat of the flames is intense – but it’s certainly a sight to behold.

As the evening progresses, the barrels get larger and by midnight they weigh at least 30 kilos. Photo by: Lewis Clarke.

As the evening progresses, the barrels get larger and by midnight they weigh at least 30 kilos. Photo by: Lewis Clarke.

After Dark, Sheffield
This year, on November 3, After Dark returns to Sheffield with a concert, bonfire, food stalls, a giant funfair and a huge fireworks display set to music.

Amazing fireworks at After Dark. Photo from: Yellow Bus Events

Amazing fireworks at After Dark. Photo from: Yellow Bus Events

Lewes, Sussex
Lewes, the bonfire capital of the world, is home to seven Bonfire Societies which each put on a magnificent procession and bonfire display. The societies (some of which date back to the 1800s) all parade through different areas of the town and each society represents a different group of “pioneers”. These pioneer fronts provide representation to historic or persecuted groups of people– for example, the Commercial Square Bonfire Society's pioneer front is Native Americans while the Cliffe Bonfire Society’s pioneer front is the Vikings. The festivities also commemorate soldiers from the World Wars as well as the 17 Lewes martyrs who were burned at the stake in the 16th century. The parades are an astonishing sight with burning signs, larger-than-life effigies atop giant floats, hundreds of performers and up to 80,000 spectators. 

Commercial Square Bonfire Society around the War Memorial. Photo by: Peter Trimming.

Commercial Square Bonfire Society around the War Memorial. Photo by: Peter Trimming.

London Firework Displays, Various
There will be multitudes of firework displays across the capital on bonfire weekend but some of the best can be seen at Alexandra Palace, Blackheath, and Victoria Park. Or why not head up to Primrose Hill to see all of the displays light up the city?

A Catherine Wheel firework 

A Catherine Wheel firework 

Posted in Art & Culture

Cover Photo: Fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night

How About A Pony: The British Famous Guide To County Fairs

How About A Pony: The British Famous Guide To County Fairs

< Outdoors

Where can I watch a heavy horse display, a hound parade and learn about dry stone walling, you ask? Get out of the city and slip on your wellies to explore the Great British countryside and some of our oldest, most treasured traditions. From ferret racing to falconry, Great Britain’s county fairs showcase weird and wonderful customs that celebrate British heritage, agriculture, food, and local communities.

Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon, Argyll (August 24-26, 2017)
First held in 1894, the Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) is a fantastic celebration of Highland games and Scottish culture. This year sees CHG welcome a record 720 Highland dancers from across the world to compete in the World Highland Dancing Championship. If heavy athletics is more your thing, don’t miss the Cowal Championship in which the “heavies” battle it out in shotput, the hammer and the famous caber toss (in which competitors throw a large tapered pole) on Saturday. Yes, those are actual events and they’re topped off by the magnificent sight of 1,000 pipers and drummers saluting the Chieftain as the sun sets down the Firth of Clyde. We swear this is real life.

720 Highland dancers will compete this year in the World Highland Dancing Championship. Photo from: Cowal Highland Gathering

720 Highland dancers will compete this year in the World Highland Dancing Championship. Photo from: Cowal Highland Gathering

Chatsworth Country Fair at Chatsworth Park, Derbyshire (September 1-3, 2017)
What could be more picturesque than celebrating the British countryside and its traditional pursuits in front of the 16th century, historic and current home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire? Held on part of a 35,000 acre estate, the Chatsworth Country Fair features events such as highland dancing, sheepdog trials, hot air balloons and a good ol’ dog and duck show. If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show, catch Paul Hollywood (Friday September 1) and Mary Berry (Saturday September 2) at The Stoves Cookery Demonstration Theatre. Don’t miss the RAF fly-by or the daredevil acrobatic Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team.

The Hound Parade at Chatsworth Country Fair. Photo from: Chatsworth Country Fair

The Hound Parade at Chatsworth Country Fair. Photo from: Chatsworth Country Fair

Dorset County Show in Dorchester, Dorset (September 2-3, 2017)
Showcasing competitors across homecraft, horticulture, horses & ponies, livestock and vintage agricultural machinery (amongst other categories), the Dorset County Show brings together some of the finest animals and crafts in the South West. Stroll through the grounds that host over 330 trade stalls, watch an incredible stallion and falcon display in the Main Ring, and sample quintessential Dorset treats in the Dorset Food Hall.

Usk Show at Usk Showground, Monmouthshire (September 9, 2017)
The Usk Show has run every year since 1844 and celebrates the best of Monmouthshire farming and rural life. This year, over 300 traders will be present across the Food Hall, Craft Marquee and Shopping Mall, alongside livestock judging and show jumping competitions. Get up close to vintage steam engines and tractors as well as larger than life produce in the Heaviest Marrow, Pumpkin, and Potato competitions.

The Royal County of Berkshire Show at Newbury Showground, Berkshire (September 16-17, 2017)
With 20 arenas and over 2,000 animals, the Royal County of Berkshire Show (running since 1909) is one of the best agricultural shows in Great Britain. Wander through the grounds to see pigs, sheep, cattle, dogs, horses and llamas, and go back in time at the vintage Victorian fairground. Be sure to catch the Grand Parade of Livestock, the Scurry Driving Championship Final and the Heavy Horses show.

The Scurry Driving Championship Final. Photo from: Newbury Showground

The Scurry Driving Championship Final. Photo from: Newbury Showground

Nidderdale Show at Bewerley Park, Yorkshire (September 25, 2017)
Even though it traditionally marks the end of the agricultural show season, Nidderdale Show takes an unconventional approach to its special Main Ring attraction. Who knew you could watch camel racing in the Yorkshire Dales? You can still find classic events such as terrier racing, sheep dog trials and show jumping. You know what they say - come for the camels, stay for the speed shearing. 

Posted in Outdoors and Art & Culture

Cover photo: Nidderdale Show

Your Neighborhood Guide to Hacking Hackney

Your Neighborhood Guide to Hacking Hackney

London

Traditionally a working-class neighborhood throughout the 20th century, Hackney is now increasingly known for its instagrammable Sunday brunches, organic markets and hipster cafes. Yet you can still find its classic East London character when you stroll through the streets - listen to the voices, take in the diverse food stores, have a pint at the corner pub. Here are some of our favorite local spots that showcase a mix of the old and new:

Broadway Market, Broadway Market (Saturdays 9AM-5PM)
Broadway Market is one of our favorite London street food markets. With various stores and over 135 stalls selling everything from farm produce and artisan baked goods to vintage clothing, lingerie, and crafts from local designers, it would be hard not to find something special at this market. It’s also a great people watching spot.

Visit Broadway Market on Saturdays to stroll and shop. Image: Broadway Market, Hackney Gov.

Visit Broadway Market on Saturdays to stroll and shop. Image: Broadway Market, Hackney Gov.

London Fields, London Fields Westside
London Fields used to be where farmers pastured their livestock on their way to market in London. Now, instead of sheep and cows, you can find a heated lido, an outdoor gym, tennis courts and a stunning wildflower meadow. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the late summer sunshine.

Forman’s Restaurant, Stour Road
For a close-up view of London’s Olympic Stadium, take a trip to Forman’s Restaurant which sits just over the canal and opposite the stadium. Don’t miss their famous London Cure Smoked Salmon, which the H. Forman & Son Smokehouse invented and has been making since 1905. You can even take a look through the viewing gallery at how the smokehouse operates. Enjoy their riverside terrace and afterwards, stroll over to the Olympic Park.

The interior of Forman's Restaurant which serves the famous London Cure Smoked Salmon. Image: Forman's Restaurant.

The interior of Forman's Restaurant which serves the famous London Cure Smoked Salmon. Image: Forman's Restaurant.

Hackney Empire, Mare Street
Hackney Empire is a classic #BritishFamous institution. It was one of the first theaters to have electric lights, a built-in projector box and central heating, and continues to be at the forefront of innovation and entertainment today. Charlie Chaplin, Louis Armstrong and Ralph Fiennes have all graced the stage at points throughout Hackney Empire’s history and the theatre’s vibrant and diverse programme reflects the local communities which it serves. From comedy and drama to dance and pantomimes, there’s something for everyone.  

St Augustine’s Tower, St John's Church Gardens
As a Grade I listed structure and the oldest building in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower is a long-standing symbol of the borough. The tower appeared on the cap-badge of the 10th Hackney Battalion during WWI and currently appears on Hackney’s coat of arms. The tower is all that remains of the early 16th century church of St Augustine, which replaced the 13th century medieval church founded by the Knights of St John. Visit the Tower on the last Sunday of every month when it is open to the public and you can climb the narrow staircase to the roof for a stunning view of Mare Street and the City beyond.

St. Augustine's Tower is a proud symbol of Hackney Borough. Image: Hackney Historic Buildings Trust.

St. Augustine's Tower is a proud symbol of Hackney Borough. Image: Hackney Historic Buildings Trust.

East London Tours with Alternative London
It won’t come as a surprise that London's graffiti artists collectively upped their game in Hackney. Our favorite way of checking out the work of some of London's most famous street artists is with affordable and guided walking or bike tours. Alternative London is an organization that offers tours of the coolest spots in London, often led by local artists and creatives. If you’re in to East London’s incredible street art scene, check out their street art tours and workshops. If you’re hungry, try their new food tour.

Alternative London Bike Tours are the best way to explore the neighborhood. Here, cyclists capture photos of artwork by El Mac. Image: Alternative London. Artwork: El Mac.

Alternative London Bike Tours are the best way to explore the neighborhood. Here, cyclists capture photos of artwork by El Mac. Image: Alternative London. Artwork: El Mac.

Cat & Mutton, Broadway Market
Cat & Mutton, a neighborhood institution for over 300 years, is a traditional pub downstairs and a cocktail lounge upstairs. Come for a pint and upmarket pub grub, and watch a mix of old-time locals, yuppies and hipster crowds fill this sizeable watering hole. On Mondays, listen to live jazz and blues, on Tuesdays take part in the pub quiz, fill up on Wednesday steak nights, and dance to live DJs on Friday and Saturday nights.

Columbia Road Flower Market, Columbia Road (Sundays 8AM-3PM)
Okay, so we know this market is technically in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. But it’s just off Hackney Road and it’s one of our favorite places, so we’re making a small exception. This famous flower market is open every Sunday from 8AM-3PM and has been running, in some form or other, since 1869. Many of the stalls were established over thirty years ago with generations of family members working together. Traders - or barrow boys - still yell their prices in hearty East End accents and the market is one of the best places to get affordable and multitudinous varieties of plants. Be sure to check out some of the brick-and-mortar stores and listen to street music on neighboring Ezra Street, when you’re done smelling roses. Visit early to avoid the crowds.

Gorgeous blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market. Photo by: Zoe Baker-Peng

Gorgeous blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market. Photo by: Zoe Baker-Peng

Geffrye Museum 
The Geffrye Museum is housed in a stunning collection of 18th century almshouses on Kingsland Road. The museum focuses on the history of the home in both a physical and conceptual sense, and is a journey through English style, fashion and taste. The meticulously curated period rooms span 400 years, leading visitors from the 17th century through to the present day. Be sure to visit the beautiful garden reading room. Stroll through the period gardens and the herb garden (open April-October) before finishing your visit in the charming café to enjoy some afternoon tea. If all that sounds too good to be true, get this - it’s free to visit.

Geffrye Museum of the Home. Photo by: Jayne Lloyd

Geffrye Museum of the Home. Photo by: Jayne Lloyd

Crate Brewery & Pizzeria, Queen's Yard
Situated right on the River Lea that runs through Hackney, you'll find Crate Brewery & Pizzeria which is usually packed on sunny days. The Crate Bar has its own microbrewery and the homemade pizzas are wonderfully original and inventive. While Crate offers monthly menus, past pizzas have included the Kashmiri Dahl pizza (mozzarella, spinach, dahl, cumin seeds, chili, crispy shallots, mango chutney, Greek yoghurt, coriander and banana) and Sage & Truffle (mozzarella, grated potato, crispy sage, parmesan and truffle oil). Sit inside the eclectic bar space where materials like bed springs, ladders and railway sleepers are incorporated into the decor or head outside where you can sit alongside the herb gardens, water and moored boats.

Outside by the canal is the perfect place to sip a beer and chat with friends. Image: Crate Brewery & Pizzeria.

Outside by the canal is the perfect place to sip a beer and chat with friends. Image: Crate Brewery & Pizzeria.

Posted in London

Cover photo: Crate Brewery and Pizzeria

The Great British Baking Scene

The Great British Baking Scene

Posted in Entertainment and Food & Drink

You salivated over Victoria sponges, pot pies, and Bakewell tarts. Marveled at Paul Hollywood’s piercing blue eyes and admired Mary Berry’s top-notch jacket collection. At some point, you probably couldn’t believe that we Brits actually say things like “soggy bottom” with a straight face or that our idea of a cooking competition involves contestants actually helping each other out. And now you want to know where you can sample the best of the buns, breads and biscuits from the Great British Baking Show. Look no further for your guide to the best #British Famous bakes.

Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies, Cambridge
Perhaps one of the best moments for Chelsea Buns on the show was when Tamal made them the wheels of his famous “Breadcycle”. Traditionally a swirled, square-ish shape, the Chelsea bun supposedly gets its name from the Old Chelsea Bun House (an establishment favored by Hanoverian royalty), where it was first created in the 18th century. Chelsea Buns are sticky, buttery and sweet, filled with a mixture of currants, brown sugar and butter. Often the dough is flavored with lemon peel and cinnamon.

For classic Chelsea Buns, visit Fitzbillies which bakes them daily in its bakery. Founded in 1921, Fitzbillies, according to its menu, has been “fueling students and dons for nearly a century”. 

The famous Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies

The famous Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies

Cornish Pasties at Philp's, Cornwall (Multiple locations)
Golden, crimped and traditionally stuffed full of meat and vegetables, Cornish pasties are the national dish of Cornwall and serve as a hearty meal eaten either hot or cold. During pastry week in the first (US) season, Richard and Nancy both made their own versions, with Richard winning star baker partly due to his delicious minted lamb pasties. The Cornish pasty, since 2011, has retained Protected Geographical Indication status, meaning that true Cornish pasties must be prepared in Cornwall.

Philp's, a family-owned bakery accredited by the Cornish Pasty Association, freshly bakes their pasties every morning. Grab a couple (because one is never enough!) and, if you’re visiting one of their coastal locations, stroll out to the beach to get the full Cornish experience.

Philp's Famous Pasties

Philp's Famous Pasties

Shortbread at Pinnies & Poppy Seeds, Edinburgh
Shortbread makes regular appearances on the show, often during biscuit week when the bakers need a sturdy biscuit for their showstopper creations. Shortbread originates from Scotland and dates back to the 12th century, although Mary Queen of Scots is often credited with the refinement and popularization of modern shortbread. Shortbread is traditionally created either in one large circle which is divided into segments, individual rounds, or as fingers.

Visit Pinnies & Poppy Seeds, a small, artisan bakery which favors the rounds and bakes their handmade shortbread using local, Scottish ingredients. Be sure to try their Classic All Butter but don’t miss out on their more inventive flavors, such as pistachio and rose, which rotate daily.

Beautiful pistachio and rose shortbread from Pinnies & Poppy Seeds

Beautiful pistachio and rose shortbread from Pinnies & Poppy Seeds

Scones at Fortnum & Mason, London
One of the most loved and celebrated British treats is the faithful scone which graces tea tables across Great Britain. Indicative of their high standing in British baking, scones were part of the final technical challenge in season 1 which saw Luis, Nancy and Richard racing to bake classic teatime sweets. Scones can be made with or without fruit (usually raisins or currants) and can be savory or sweet. Some of the best scones in Great Britain are served at decadent afternoon teas (see our Outdoor Afternoon Tea guide for more inspiration) and are accompanied by clotted cream and fruit jam.

Fortnum & Mason’s afternoon tea is renowned worldwide and the scones are wonderfully light. You can choose either plain or fruit versions with Somerset clotted cream, Strawberry preserves, and lemon curd.

Perfect scones at Fortnum & Mason with jam and clotted cream

Perfect scones at Fortnum & Mason with jam and clotted cream

Meat Pies at Clark’s, Cardiff
We Brits love our pies whether they’re filled with game, steak and ale, pork and jelly, or four and twenty blackbirds. Just kidding. Meat pies are, indeed, a classic British dish, and were celebrated on the show in season 1 during Pastry Week when the bakers made three-tiered pies, as well as during the wonderful Victorian Week in season 3. We will never forget how casually Ian remarked on using roadkill for his game pies. Pies were originally introduced by the Romans who made their pie crust out of oil and flour. Traditional British pies were made with lard and butter and the thick crust was deemed perfect for preserving the meat and vegetable fillings.

Clark’s uses a closely-guarded family recipe that is over 100 years old and produces their “Clarpies” with a thick short crust pastry. Be wary of A Clark’s Tash (burning the upper lip) and The Hanging Gardens of Grangetown (burning the lower lip) as you eat your potato and beef pie.

Clark's Pies have been a Cardiff favorite since 1913

Clark's Pies have been a Cardiff favorite since 1913

Posted in Entertainment and Food & Drink

Cover photo: Poppies & Pinnies 

Beyond Wonderwall: The Best British Music Not On The Pop Chart

Beyond Wonderwall: The Best British Music Not On The Pop Chart

< Music

Summer is almost over and we know you’re having the festival blues. But fall brings music events that cater to a wide range of music interests and genres and are less about head-banging-light-pulsing-my-tent-is-a-swamp vibes.  Here are some of the best options for where you can find your perfect tune, whether it’s bluesy, jazzy or involves dancing alongside glitter and feather-clad performers.

BBC Proms 2017 and Proms in the Park, Hyde Park, London; Glasgow Green, Glasgow; Singleton Park, Swansea (July 14 - September 9, 2017)
The Proms, billed as the world’s greatest classical music festival, is an epic, two-month celebration of orchestral classical music with concerts happening both daily and nightly. Be sure to partake in the #BritishFamous tradition of “promming,” which involves standing in the Arena or Gallery areas of the Royal Albert Hall. A limited number of tickets for “prommers” are available on the day, between 9AM-12PM, for main-evening and Late Night Proms. Proms in the Park is part of the rousing finale of Proms season and features classical musicians as well as high-profile artists from other genres. Proms in the Park takes place in England, Scotland and Wales – and with big-screen link-ups to the Royal Albert Hall where the famous Last Night of the Proms concert will be happening, you’ll be able to join in the #BritishFamous last night sing-a-long as well as enjoy alfresco music.

Experience the energy of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall

Experience the energy of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall

Notting Hill Carnival, Notting Hill, London (August 26-28, 2017)
Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street festival, is a spectacle representing London's multicultural past and present. It's also a vital date in any party-lover's diary. Join the celebrations, add some sparkle and some dance moves- you’re good to go!

Flamboyant costumes and street dancing are just one of the festivites at Notting Hill Carnival

Flamboyant costumes and street dancing are just one of the festivites at Notting Hill Carnival

The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, North Wales (September 15-17, 2017)
Tuareg music from the Southern Sahara by EZZA. Mesmerizing melodies from Bahraini “psychonauts,” Flamingods. House, jazzfunk and hip hop beats from #BritishFamous Norman Jay. The Good Life Experience is nothing if not quirky and unexpected. Curated by four friends in “The Search of The Good Life,” this festival (celebrating its fourth year) brings together an eclectic mix of activities and entertainment. With axe-throwing, campfire cookouts, tree climbing, archery, leather-working, bushcraft and poetry also on the books, there’s something for everyone. Literally.

Ukulele class at The Idler at The Good Life Experience 2016. Image by: Nenad Obradovic.”

Ukulele class at The Idler at The Good Life Experience 2016. Image by: Nenad Obradovic.”

The Two Moors Festival, Dartmoor and Exmoor (October 13-21, 2017)
Where else can you find a music festival that hosts an event in a church which seats only 33 people, is over 1100 years old, is the smallest parish church in Great Britain, and is accessible only by foot on a 1.5 mile walk? The charming Two Moors Festival brings world-class classical music to Dartmoor and Exmoor, two of Great Britain’s national parks that are renowned for their rugged, natural beauty. At the aforementioned St Beuno's Church, listeners can attend Matins and experience beautiful classical guitar. Other performances include recitals by Barry Douglas and the Endellion String Quartet, which BBC Radio 3 will be recording.

St Beuno's Church hosts a service of Matins and classical music

St Beuno's Church hosts a service of Matins and classical music

BluesFest London 2017, O2 Arena, London (October 27-29 2017)
This three day celebration of blues and soul music brings both contemporary and classic performers to London’s famous O2 Arena. #BritishFamous star, Jack Savoretti kicks off the weekend while the legendary Steely Dan, with special guests The Doobie Brothers, close out Sunday.

Held at London's O2 Arena, BluesFest celebrates blues and soul music

Held at London's O2 Arena, BluesFest celebrates blues and soul music

Posted in Music

Cover photo: Notting Hill Carnival