From ‘giving back’ holidays and slumbercations to experiencing first-hand how travel in England has changed (or not) through the centuries, travel trends in England have taken a mindful turn for 2020.
- Experience the evolution of English tourism
With anniversaries marking the birth of tourism and new cutting-edge experiences that promise to blow holidaymakers’ minds, it’s a great year to experience holidays in England – past, present and futuristic.
Two hundred and fifty years ago, Reverend William Gilpin took a boat tour along the River Wye and was inspired to write Britain’s first tour guide, Observations on the River Wye. It wasn’t the catchiest of titles but the guide still managed to turn Ross on Wye into the Birthplace of British Tourism and start the fashion of picturesque travel. The Wye Tour became one of the first package holidays – and it’s still done today. Ross on Wye in the 21st century is just as picturesque, but now it has great vintage shopping, riverside walks, canoeing, paddle boarding and music, beer and cider festivals, too.
Meanwhile, as well as being William Wordsworth’s 250th anniversary, 2020 is the 200th anniversary of his Guide through the District of the Lakes, which marked the beginning of mass tourism to the Lake District. Dove Cottage & the Wordsworth Museum’s major project Reimagining Wordsworth is bringing the poet alive for contemporary audiences. There’s never been a better time to connect with the timeless landscape that inspired Wordsworth’s poetry and his travel writing.
Fast forward to the 21st century and it’s clear just how far British tourism has come since the heady days of the picturesque.
Launching in autumn, Wallace & Gromit: The Big Fix Up combines the latest in augmented and mixed reality to create an all-new Wallace & Gromit story. The interactive journey reaches a finale on the streets of Bristol, where the story plays out live in augmented reality, using smartphones as a ‘window’ into Wallace and Gromit’s world. The state-of-the-art storytelling is made possible by a consortium of British companies, Potato, Sugar Creative and Tiny Rebel Games, in partnership with Aardman, that has been awarded a multi-million-pound R&D grant to explore and pioneer cutting-edge immersive experiences as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s Audience of the Future programme.
Another brand-new activity that would have been mindboggling in Gilpin and Wordsworth’s time is the Aerial Flight above Honister, England’s last working slate mine. At one mile long, the new zip wire will follow the path of old industrial workings, transporting slate along the side of Fleetwith Pike via an aerial wire. Launching in summer, the modern version will be both an adrenaline-fuelled descent for people climbing the Via Ferrata and a way to bring walling slate, piled up by previous generations of miners, down the mountain.
- Give back on holiday
Tune in to the growing awareness that it’s not all about you – even on holiday. A burgeoning array of experiences in England are encouraging people to give back when they go on holiday, and it’s possible to make a difference whether you want to dedicate your entire trip, a day, or even just a few minutes to giving back.
If you want your whole break to be about giving back, check out WWOOF UK. One of the world’s first voluntourism and ecotourism organisations, WWOOF UK has noted a recent increase in interest, and has added two certified organic hosts in England to its books for 2020: Ahimsa Eco-Farm, Rutland, which produces organic raw milk and cheese, and Lower Withecombe Farm in Devon, which is looking for “woofers” to help milk their Jersey cows, bottle kefir and harvest salad and flowers.
With a day or so to spare, dip into one of The Conservation Volunteers’ projects, download the Plastic Patrol app and join a Plastic Patrol clean-up, or register to attend one of the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch beach clean events. The impact goes way beyond helping clean a beach – although that’s immensely satisfying too. Everything found is logged, and the data adds up to compelling evidence that has been used to change government policies, helping bring about the ban on microbeads and the 5p carrier bag charge.
It’s even possible to make a difference in the time it takes to type a hashtag. Use #Puffarazzi if you’re lucky enough to see a puffin with a fish in its bill and help the RSPB find out what’s causing the decline of these much-loved birds.
- Celebrate English creativity
Creative quarters are popping up in cities across the country in 2020. Get ready to explore Woolwich Works and Greenwich’s new Design District, and usher in Manchester’s next cultural wave. The latter heralds the completion of a major project at the Science and Industry Museum, the reopening of Contact theatre, the expansion of iconic music venue Band on the Wall, and the opening of Europe’s biggest heritage gardening project, RHS Garden Bridgewater – all hot on the heels of the opening of Cultureplex, the city’s newest hang-out for creatives keen to catch up over a coffee and a laptop or food and a film.
In Norfolk, creativity takes a literary turn in 2020. The Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia in Norwich turns 50 years old; alumni include Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Naomi Alderman. Celebrations for the UK’s most prestigious creative writing course begin in September 2020 with a series of events and activities leading to a public exhibition during spring 2021. 2020 also marks important cultural anniversaries for Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich Playhouse and Norwich Puppet Theatre. Naturally, it’s going to be a great year to get under the skin of this UNESCO City of Literature!
The UK’s largest contemporary art festival will again commission dozens of artists from around the world to create new work for the Liverpool Biennial (11 July – 25 October 2020), while Bristol’s street art scene goes mainstream as two galleries take urban art off the streets and into official exhibition spaces with plans for Graffiti and Street Art exhibitions at The Royal West of England Academy and the M Shed from June, celebrating Bristol as the birthplace of modern British street art.
Meanwhile, London’s National Portrait Gallery will display the first major exhibition devoted to David Hockney’s drawings in over twenty years. David Hockney: Drawing from Life (27 February – 28 June 2020) explores Hockney as a draughtsman from the 1950s to the present by focusing on depictions of himself and a small group of sitters close to him. It’s not all about urban creativity though. An interactive map launched by Visit Hull and East Yorkshire offers visitors to Hockney Country a chance to follow in the footsteps of the iconic British artist – the perfect way to dive deeper under the canvases on display in the National Portrait Gallery.
There’s also a creative new way to experience the dramatic coastline between the South Downs and the Thames Estuary. England’s Creative Coast, a collaboration between the region’s world-class galleries and arts organisations, will launch Waterfronts, a series of seven new site-specific art commissions that explore the border between land and the waters. The world’s first art digital geocache tour will run alongside it. The first artwork will launch in spring with the others following over the summer.
- Do some soul-searching on a pilgrimage
You don’t need to follow a faith to enjoy these experiences, just a contemplative nature that’s stirred by the layers of history wrapped around these storied places!
Six new trails across northeast England will move visitors in more ways than one, when they launch in spring. The Northern Saints Trails, with names such as The Way of Love, The Way of Light and The Way of Life, will help tell the story of the region’s saints against a backdrop of the North East’s best attractions, landscapes, foodie experiences and places to stay. At the trails’ centre is Durham Cathedral, which has long been a destination for pilgrims. 2020 has even been designated the Durham Year of Pilgrimage.
Pilgrims are at the core of Mayflower 400, too. Beginning in November 2019, the year-long commemoration marks the 400th anniversary of the perilous Atlantic crossing by the Mayflower in September 1620, with 102 Pilgrims on board. The journey is being remembered with major new events and exhibitions, as well as digital trails that tell the stories of the Pilgrims’ origins in 11 English destinations.
Two important religious centres that would have been equally familiar to the Mayflower Pilgrims are marking major anniversaries in 2020. Salisbury Cathedral celebrates its 800th anniversary, while the Abbey of St Edmund, Suffolk will observe the 1,000th anniversary of its founding by King Canute in 1020 with a number of events between May and St Edmunds Day on 20 November.
- Catch some zzzs on a slumbercation!
Settle in for the latest incarnation of the clean sleeping trend: hotels and holidays that put a good night’s sleep at the heart of your experience.
The flagship Zedwell, launching February in London’s Piccadilly, comes with a first-of-its-kind sleep-centred ethos, focused on creating the perfect environment for a deeper slumber. Expect doors that are more effectively soundproofed than those in most five-star hotels, calm-inducing colours, cosy furnishings, a “mindful absence” of in-room distractions such as screens and anxiety-inducing controls, and a constant flow of fresh air.
It’s a philosophy shared by Ruby Lucy, whose first international property will launch in London’s Southbank in January. The brand’s scientific formula for a good night’s sleep includes full soundproofing, blackout curtains and extra-large custom mattresses enveloped in high-quality linen.
If a sleep-centred bedroom isn’t enough to send you off to the land of nod, try a sleep retreat. Lucknam Park in Bath has created an exclusive sleep retreat with clinical hypnotherapist Fiona Lamb. Guided meditation, hypnotherapy, sound therapy and even equine-assisted therapy will all be on the cards to help guests drift off – and bring about long-lasting changes to sleep habits (17 – 19 January 2020).
For more information on what’s new in 2020 visit: www.media.visitengland.com
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Louise Ferrall/Patrycja Woda