10 unmissable things to do and see in the UK this year

Published on February 16, 2024 by Andrew
A smiling man and a woman look at grapes on a vine in a vineyard.

With world-famous theatres, record-breaking music venues, iconic art galleries, and rolling landscapes that have inspired poetry throughout the ages, the UK has something for everyone.

But with so much to do and see just outside your door, it’s easy to miss some of the incredible things on offer.

So, to help you discover and navigate all the weird and wonderful events across the UK, here’s a pick of 10 unmissable things to see and do this year.

1. Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Montmartre in Bath

Although he died over 120 years ago, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec remains an icon of bohemian Parisian society.

This year, the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath will exhibit 30 pieces from his collection, including his original posters of the Moulin Rouge and the can-can dancers of La Troupe de Mademoiselle Eglantine.

The works of other masters from Montmartre will be on display alongside those of Toulouse-Lautrec, each presenting their own interpretation of the glamorous and debauched period known as the “Belle Époque”.

This is the only opportunity to see Toulouse-Lautrec’s complete collection of posters before they move to a permanent home at the Musée d’Ixelles in Belgium.

See the exhibition from 26 April to 29 September at the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath.

2. The National Gallery tour

The National Gallery turns 200 on 10 May. To celebrate the start of its second century, 12 venues across the UK will display 12 of the collection’s most iconic paintings.

Covering the length and breadth of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, over half of the UK’s population will be within an hour’s journey from masterpieces including Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’, Monet’s ‘The Water-Lily Pond’, and Caravaggio’s ‘The Supper at Emmaus’.

The tour begins on 10 May. You can find out more about the works on display and the venues near you by visiting the National Gallery website.

3. The Barbie exhibition

Hot on the heels of one of the biggest film successes of 2023, The Design Museum in London is set to ride Barbie’s resurgent popularity wave by celebrating the iconic doll’s 65th birthday with an exhibition.

Mattel has granted the museum special access to the extensive archives of their most famous creation. Displays of rare items dating from Barbie’s inception up to the present day will chart the meteoric rise and influence of the world’s best-known toy.

See the exhibition from 5 July 2024 to 23 February 2025 at The Design Museum, London.

4. The Hills of California by Jez Butterworth

Jez Butterworth occupies a rare position in the modern world as a famous living playwright. Since wooing audiences and critics alike with his Broadway and West End hit Jerusalem, he has become known on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer who seldom misfires.

Having penned several of the Daniel Craig era James Bond movies, Butterworth has once again teamed up with Sam Mendes (1917, American Beauty, Skyfall) who will direct his latest play, The Hills of California.

With the playwright and director sharing a wealth of Oscars, Tonys, and BAFTAs, among other awards, the West End could well be in for its next big hit. So, get your tickets while you can!

See The Hills of California between 27 January to 14 June at The Harold Pinter Theatre, London.

5. Spirited Away at the London Coliseum

After the huge success of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbour Totoro last year, another production inspired by the unparalleled imagination of Japanese animator and storyteller Hayao Miyazaki is set to hit the boards in London.

Described as a masterpiece of storytelling, Spirited Away tells the enchanting tale of Chihiro who, while travelling with her family, stumbles into a world of fantastic spirits ruled by the sorceress Yubaba.

The stage show will include giant puppets, a live orchestra, and stage magic. It is not to be missed!

See the show between April 30 to August 24 at the London Coliseum.

6. Visit a vineyard or wine fair

UK vineyards have been thriving in recent years and have finally made their mark on the world of wine. In the second half of 2024, Kent-based winemakers Domaine Evremond will be launching their visiting centre and tours of their winery.

For those in the capital, there’s the London Wine Fair from 20 May to 22 May. Norwich has an entire week dedicated to wine with Norwich Wine Week, held between 3 and 10 June.

And if you think your wine-tasting experience could be improved by being in the rolling hills of Yorkshire surrounded by Highland cows, then there are the “Herd it on the Grapevine” tours that take bookings throughout the year.

7. Hike the King Charles III coastal path

King Charles III is renowned for his love of nature, so what better way to mark last year’s coronation than by taking a hike around his eponymous coastal trail?

Once complete, the path will cover the entirety of England’s coast and span around 2,700 miles. Although there are still areas that are not yet walkable, much of it is already open.

You can find out more about the King Charles III coastal path on the National Trail website.

8. Catch a wave at Europe’s biggest inland surf resort

In September 2024, Europe’s biggest inland surf resort will open near Edinburgh. Lost Shore is 250 metres long and offers 20 kinds of waves as well as wave rides of up to 22 seconds.

Gone are the days of relying on the weather and the tide, Lost Shore guarantees you surf whenever you want it. It also offers a great opportunity to practise and, if you’re a novice surfer, you can literally dip your toes into the water before deciding if surfing in the crashing waves of a real ocean is for you.

There are also spa treatments available, and the land-based version of surfing known as surfskating.

Lost Shore opens in Edinburgh in September 2024.

9. World Indoor Athletics Championships

From 1 March to 3 March, Glasgow will hold the 19th meeting of the World Indoor Athletics Championships.

Some of the world’s greatest athletes will be hopping, skipping, jumping, and more, in the Emirates Arena. 10 years after hosting the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow is putting the UK on the global sporting map, and a convivial, party-like atmosphere guarantees to welcome you should you choose to join them for the event.

Visit the event from 1 March to 3 March at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

10. See world-famous artists at the new Co-op Live Arena

The UK’s next mega music venue, the Co-op Live Arena, will open in Manchester in April. Touted as the UK’s only music-first arena, the Co-op boasts the biggest floor space of any indoor venue in the country.

With the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Liam Gallagher, The Eagles, The Killers, and Eric Clapton already on the bill, there is something for everyone at the Co-op Live.

Co-op Live opens in April 2024.

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