When it comes to travelling in the U.K., there’s plenty to see and do, from the spectacular scenery to the sprawling urban cities. Yet the best that the U.K. has to offer most often comes in the form of events and festivities — pop-up experiences that may only be around for a day or two. To not miss any of these events, you need to know what to look for, and the dates to arrive.
The rugby Six Nations runs into its 19th series this year but has been running in other formats since 1883. Current champions England return to defend against five of Europe’s greatest teams: Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy. The series runs from the 3rd February until the 17th March. A great game to catch would be between the two favourites England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium in London, though there are plenty of other games in London and elsewhere. Check the rugby Six Nations fixtures to find the games that you can attend.
Sports fans have plenty of choices in the U.K., so if you’re not into rugby, don’t despair. The FA Cup Final is held at Wembley on the 19th May, and although it’s impossible to know at this stage which teams will be competing, the football is always at its finest.
Tennis fans, however, can catch Wimbledon between the 2nd July and 15th July while even more sophisticated people can have fun emulating the upper class at the Royal Ascot from 19th June to 23rd June.
St. Patrick’s Day
The 17th March is St Patrick’s Day, one of the best saint’s days for a party. And the Irish like to push the boat out on this one! The streets are busy with events and punters in most major U.K. cities, but for the real experience, make your way to Dublin for four days’ worth of fun. Dress in green, grab a Guinness and celebrate with friends and strangers alike.
The summer months are busy in the U.K., probably because we have to cram a lot of festivals into a short window of sunshine. The Glastonbury Festival is the country’s biggest but can be a little overwhelming, and not to mention expensive and exclusive, so head to one of the smaller parties like Beatherder in Lancashire. If you prefer folk to rock and hotels to tents, the Cambridge Folk Festival is held from 2nd August to 5th August.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
August is also the month of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, a three-week long affair with over 50,000 performances. This is perhaps the U.K.’s biggest display of artistic expression, with comedy, dance, visual art, theatre, opera, music, spoken word and circus events happening all around the city, in bars and on the street.
Notting Hill Carnival
In late August, it’s time for the Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest street carnival in Europe with over two million attendees flocking to absorb the sights and sounds of the Caribbean. Expect calypso music (as well as dub and other modern-Afro influences), great food and an atmosphere that you won’t get anywhere else.
As the winter draws closer, the U.K. keeps its spirits high by holding several close-to-pointless festivals. Bonfire night is one such festival, and for anyone not from the U.K., it can be a wondrous night. Bonfires and firework displays scorch the land for your entertainment, and millions of pounds are blown up as people stand around chatting about social deprivation and cuts to the NHS. It’s awesome! Joking aside, it really is nice. So, if you’re not from the U.K., then head to any major city on the 5th November to get involved.