Britain will be bursting at the seams in 2018 with activities and interesting opportunities for visitors – both new and refreshed versions of old favourites. And with all eyes set to gaze across the Atlantic thanks to a spring royal wedding (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) and another child due for Prince William and wife Kate, brand recognition is likely to be at its highest level since 2012 when the London Olympics and Queen’s Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee conspired to create a perfect storm of tourism interest.

Be sure to check out the January issue of CT magazine for a full accounting of what’s going in the U.K. travel industry, and read on for even more news and clues about how to help your clients make the most of their visits this year and beyond:
 
The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Fab Four’s classic White album in 2018 and open a new exhibit in February recalling the band’s visit to India in 1968.
 
Liverpool Biennial 2018, the largest festival of contemporary art in the U.K., will take over the city’s public spaces, galleries and museums with free exhibitions, large-scale artworks and events from July 14 to Oct. 28.
 
A newly restored Great Pagoda will be opening its doors to visitors in the spring at Kew Gardens, near London. Kew Palace itself will host a new interpretation to mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Charlotte’s death. Insider tip: Clients can explore the palace’s hidden cellars and spooky attics on a Curious Kew evening tour, £15 plus VAT per person (tour price extra).
 
Hampton Court Palace’s Tudor Kitchens will be reanimated in 2018 with culinary smells, sounds and sights, recreating the well-oiled machine that powered Henry VIII’s magnificent court. To complete the work, the kitchens will be closed from April 3 until the grand reopening on May 5.
 
In July, historic Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of the Royal Family when they are in Northern Ireland, will re-open with renovated gardens and castle interiors and new facilities for visitors.
 
Manchester is more than a city in northern England – it’s a hub, with greater numbers of visitors than ever travelling through its airport. As such, the city is capturing and catering to transit passengers through a of number of sightseeing tours from the facility, ranging from city hop-on/off tours to destinations a little further afield, like Chester, Liverpool and even York. The excursions are bookable and offer as much as 20 per cent commission to the trade. Go to visitmanchester.com/trade for more details.
 
 
 
 
wales hotelVisitors to Wales’ scenic Pembrokeshire Coast National Park no longer have to rough it with the opening of not one, but three, luxury boutique hotels in the park – located on St. David’s peninsula, five hours from London. “Rescued and restored” by local architect Keith Griffiths, Twr y Felin Hotel, Roch Castle and Penrhiw, were chosen for their importance to the area's culture, history and landscape and restored to contemporary luxury standards while preserving and protecting their historic fabric.
 
• Twr y Felin is Wales’ first contemporary art hotel is home to 21 bedrooms, including two suites, two-Rosette Blas restaurant, dedicated gallery space, Oriel Lounge and pre-dinner art lover’s snug, Cornel Bar. The meticulously restored and extended former windmill features contemporary design throughout, including more than 100 pieces of specially commissioned art inspired by the St. Davids peninsula and Pembrokeshire.

• Twelfth-century Roch Castle sits high above the Pembrokeshire landscape offering panoramic views over St. Brides Bay and the Preseli Hills. Six characteristic en suite bedrooms hide away within the protective walls, while the jewel of the castle, the Sun Room, located on the fourth floor, has floor-to-ceiling glass walls and an alfresco viewing platform, affording guests a scenic and special space to relax.

• Penrhiw, St. Davids, nestles in acres of private gardens, enveloped by woodland paths, river and meadow. Restored with care, original features subtly contrast the contemporary interiors, creating a welcoming atmosphere that extends into the seven en suite bedrooms and spacious ground floor suite.
 
Bristol’s newest attraction, Aerospace Bristol, offers a lofty diversion to the city’s ubiquitous maritime heritage, which includes perennial favourite, Brunel’s ss Great Britain – the longest passenger ship in the world in the mid 19th Century. The new industrial heritage museum, located on the 3.6-hectare Filton airfield site, has over 8,000 artifacts, including several vintage aircraft. The prize exhibit, however, is Concorde 216, the last supersonic jet to be built and be flown.
 
Opened in March 2017, Warner Bros. Studio Tours London’s new permanent Forbidden Forest attraction still undoubtedly harbours lost guests who defied Professor Dumbledore’s orders not to enter. Filled with an abundance of creatures, such as Hippogriffs and Acromantula among many others, visitors who dare to go in walk through five-metre tall trees with giant entwined roots and will even be able to control the weather using the same techniques created by filmmakers. The Warner Bros. studio is the site of much of the filming of the popular Harry Potter series and preserves actual sets and props from the movies for visitors to see.
 
A unique experience in the Scottish Highlands is the promise of Highland Tours Experience, which vows no “cookie cutter” fare on its programs. “I want you to know the best places in Scotland, not the standard places; the places I grew up!” says Michael Bremner, managing director of the Edinburgh-based company. Guests will experience “the best views, the best seafood restaurants, the friendliest people…” adds Bremner, who says his tours are ever-changing and boast experiences like a butcher-delivered breakfast. “It’s that level of detail that others can’t promise,” he says. (highlandexperience.com)
 
stonehenge PIXABAY
 

Led by Tourism Wiltshire with financing from the England Fund Project, a new tourism route, The Great West Way, is in development and is expected to be fully operational by 2019. Intended to “join up many of England’s iconic and destinations” along a 200-kilometre corridor from London to Bristol, it will include such must-see sites as Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. And while tourism officials “aren’t quite ready to shout” about the route yet, expect such collateral as maps and e-signage, web-based itineraries, local tour development, a travel trade program with bookable and commissionable product, and more. Stay tuned for more details.
 
Albion Journeys, which specializes in heritage tours of Great Britain and Ireland, is now represented in Canada by Toronto-based Cruises Strategies. Based in Cheltenham, England, Albion offers itineraries specially designed for North Americans ranging from eight to 10 days and featuring “behind the scenes” opportunities and expert talks. A new brochure is available; visit www.albionjourneys.com.
 
 
 
 
alnwick castle

Close to 700 years of British history is on display daily at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.

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