2018 is here. Below are the top destination stories for what you can look forward to seeing in Britain in the new year - from the latest exhibitions and shows to new hotel openings and anniversaries.
1. Cultural Liverpool
2018 is a big year for culture in Liverpool, with the world-famous Terracotta Warriors arriving at the city’s World Museum (link is external) in February – their new home until October. This exciting exhibition will be a major part of Liverpool’s year-long 2018 celebrations, marking 10 years since the city was European Capital of Culture 2008. It will be the first time in more than 10 years that the spectacular warriors from the tomb of China’s First Emperor have been brought to Britain. Spanning almost 1,000 years of China’s history, the exhibition will include artifacts dating from 8th century BC to the 2nd century AD, along with remarkable recent archaeological discoveries.
The Liverpool Biennial (link is external) of contemporary art will also come to town from 14 July until 28 October 2018. Every two years, the city’s public places, unused buildings and galleries showcase thought-provoking contemporary art. Founded in 1998, the Biennial has commissioned 305 new artworks and presented work by more than 450 artists from around the world.
2. The V&A comes to Dundee
The V&A is one of London’s – if not the world’s – best museums, and Dundee in Scotland is getting a new outpost of the museum, due to open in early 2018. Unlike the original museum, V&A Dundee (link is external) will be uber-modern in design and is architect Kenzo Kuma’s first British commission. The new museum will showcase world-class touring exhibitions from the V&A, as well as the best of Scottish design.
3. Britain on the big screen
Britain is playing a starring role in several new 2018 movie releases, and providing the inspiration for the blockbuster remakes of two classic British tales: Peter Rabbit and Robin Hood.
Phantom Thread - 2 February 2018
Set in the fashion world of 1950s London, Phantom Thread revolves around the life of fashion designer Charles James, played by Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis. James was commissioned by royalty, and British and American stars including Marlene Dietrich. This will be Day-Lewis’s final film performance – the star recently announced his retirement. He’s been spotted filming in Lythe, a village located in the North York Moors National Park near Whitby beach. Other nearby filming locations include the Victoria Hotel at Robin Hood’s Bay and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Grosmont.
Gnomeo and Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes – 23 March 2018
This entertaining computer-animated fantasy sequel set in London sees main characters Gnomeo and Juliet (voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt) seek out legendary detective Sherlock Gnomes (voiced by Johnny Depp) to crack the mystery of a series of garden gnome disappearances in the city.
Robin Hood: Origins – 23 March 2018
According to legend, heroic forest-dwelling outlaw Robin Hood was a highly-skilled archer and swordsman who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood: Origins aims to give a new spin on the legend, starring Taron Egerton as Robin Hood, Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, and Jamie Dornan as Will Scarlet. Filming mainly took place in Dubrovnik (link is external), Croatia (link is external), but Robin Hood’s original stomping ground was Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, England. The forest is the setting for the annual Robin Hood Festival in early August – a medieval gala of entertainment, food and drink, activities, and live-action re-enactments. This will be the festival’s 34th year, and follow the reopening of the Sherwood Forest visitor centre in early 2018. For more content on Robin Hood-inspired forest adventures around Britain, see the VisitBritain media centre.
Peter Rabbit – February or April 2018 (TBC)
Beatrix Potter’s classic tale of a mischievous blue-jacketed rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer’s vegetable garden is getting a star-studded live-action and computer-generated motion picture remake. James Corden will voice the lead role of Peter, while Rose Byrne stars as Bea. The voices of Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie and Daisy Ridley (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will also feature. The majority of filming has taken place in Australia, with additional location scenes shot in the towns of Ambleside and Windermere in Lake District in Cumbria, north-west England, which was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Beatrix Potter (link is external) is synonymous with the Lake District – it was her home and its natural beauty and plentiful wildlife inspired many of her literary creations. Fans can visit her house, Hill Top (link is external), and in London, the V&A Museum (link is external) holds the world's largest collection of Potter's drawings, literary manuscripts and correspondence.
Han Solo: A Star Wars Story (title TBC) - scheduled for release on 25 May but may be pushed back to December
This upcoming second Stars Wars Anthology film, following the 2016 film Rogue One (link is external), will centre on the adventures of young Han Solo. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich (link is external) as Solo, alongside Woody Harrelson (link is external), Emilia Clarke (link is external), Donald Glover (link is external) and Thandie Newton. Filming has taken place at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, and a port scene was shot in Southampton, Hampshire.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 - Late 2018
The second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, with London as one of the key filming locations.
Mary Poppins Returns – 25 December 2018
It's been 53 years since the original Mary Poppins popped onto our screens with her magical bag and flying umbrella. In 2018, she's back – played by Emily Blunt – to visit the grown-up Banks children in this Disney musical sequel, which takes the action forward to London in 1935. Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury and Dick Van Dyke (who starred in the original film) also feature in the cast. London filming locations include St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and outside the Bank of England.
4. Museum updates
A host of British museums are getting new looks, new exhibitions, and new galleries for 2018.
Four new galleries at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Taking a lead role in Cook 250 – the 250th anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s first expedition from London to the Pacific and Australia (on 26 August) – the National Maritime Museum (link is external) at Greenwich is opening four new permanent galleries in 2018 in its East Wing. The new ‘Endeavour Galleries’ will expand the museum’s exhibition space by 40 per cent, with each one dedicated to different themes: Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers, and Sea Things. The museum holds the world’s largest maritime collection. While his expedition began from Plymouth, Cook spent his early life and career at Great Ayton, Staithes and Whitby in Yorkshire, where his boat the Endeavour was built, with a number of Cook-related attractions in the area.
New galleries for the British Museum, London
In autumn 2018 the British Museum (link is external) will open the Albukhary Foundation Galleries of the Islamic world and a new Japan gallery. The museum is also adding the Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia, which will open in November 2017.
RAF Museum celebrates the Centenary
The RAF Museum (link is external)’s RAF Centenary Program will transform its London site as part of the Royal Air Force’s centenary celebrations in 2018. Plans include a series of new permanent exhibitions which will open in the summer, with a particular emphasis on air intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and unmanned aircraft systems. The Now & the Future exhibit area will tell the story of the RAF from its earliest years in the First World War to its global role today.
New museum for Bristol
Bristol is getting a new museum dedicated to the life and works of the remarkable Victorian engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Located alongside the SS Great Britain, Being Brunel (link is external) is scheduled to open in February 2018 and will invite visitors to immerse themselves in Brunel’s story and achievements, brought to life with never-before-seen possessions and artifacts, including his 1821 school report.
5. New art
Britain’s art scene is getting a boost in 2018 with a number of gallery expansions and new exhibitions.
In January 2018, London’s world-renowned contemporary art space, the Hayward Gallery (link is external), will re-open in the Southbank Centre after major refurbishment. The opening marks its 50th anniversary, and will see the first major British retrospective of the work of acclaimed German photographer Andreas Gursky.
2018 also marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, (link is external) and the institution will reveal its new revamp in spring. Connecting the Royal Academy’s two buildings - Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens - for the first time, there will be new dedicated spaces for exhibitions and displays across the site, including a new Architecture Studio and café.
In March, more than 100 of Picasso’s greatest works of art are being brought together for a “once in a lifetime” exhibition, Picasso 1932, at Tate Modern (link is external). This landmark show is a collaboration between the Tate Modern and the Musée National-Picasso in Paris and will be the first solo exhibition of Picasso’s work to be held at the gallery. It focusses on 1932 - a pivotal year in the artist’s life, and marked the height of his affair with young lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, who he immortalised in his famous Le Rêve (The Dream), which has never before been shown in Britain.
Bristol, in south-west England, is getting a new arts trail for summer 2018. Children’s hospital charity Grand Appeal (link is external) is partnering with Aardman – creators of the beloved British animated characters Wallace and Gromit – to create the new public arts trail throughout Bristol and the surrounding area.
6. Lumiere London is back for 2018
After its debut in 2016, the capital’s largest night-time festival, Lumiere London (link is external), is back in 2018 - bigger, brighter and bolder. More than 40 British and international artists will transform the city and offer new perspectives on the capital’s iconic architecture, streets and landmarks. Taking place over four nights between 18 and 21 January 2018, festival locations will include King’s Cross, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Piccadilly, St James’s, Fitzrovia and Westminster. Covent Garden, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo are being added as new destinations for 2018.
7. Championship sport
Britain is world-renowned as a host of major sporting events. In 2018 the following championships will take place:
2 – 12 August 2018
Glasgow 2018 is part of a brand new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - plus a brand new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. At the same time, Berlin will host the European Athletics Championships.
World Indoor Athletics Championships 2018 (link is external) – Birmingham, England
1 – 4 March 2018
One of the biggest sporting events of the year, this indoor athletics championship will feature more than 400 competitors from 150 countries at the Arena Birmingham.
Women’s Hockey World Cup (link is external)– London, England
21 July – 5 August 2018
The world’s best female hockey teams from 15 nations take to the field at London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Center in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This will be the first time England has hosted a Hockey Women's World Cup, and will be the biggest standalone hockey event the United Kingdom has ever seen.
8. Charles Rennie Mackintosh celebrations in Glasgow
2018 marks the 150th anniversary of famed Glasgow-born architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth, which will be commemorated by Glasgow Museums with a new exhibition of unseen works by the architect in the summer. As part of the city’s celebration, the original Mackintosh Willow Tea Rooms and the famous Salon de Luxe are being renovated and will reopen with a new visitor centre on 7 June 2018. There will also be an exhibition celebrating the business, social history and success of Miss Cranston, who originally opened the famous tea rooms in 1903.
9. Hot hotel openings
These exciting new hotels are opening their doors in 2018 across Britain:
Easter 2018: Royal Yacht Britannia’s new Boat Hotel - Edinburgh, Scotland
A floating 'boatique' hotel aimed at luxury travelers is putting its anchor down next to the Royal Yacht Britannia, the former royal yacht of Queen Elizabeth II and one of Edinburgh’s biggest tourist attractions. The lavish new 23-room hotel will feature balconied cabins, plush duplex apartments and Art Deco-inspired interiors.
Summer 2018: Britain’s first Hard Rock Hotel, Marble Arch, London
Hard Rock International is opening its first London property inside the existing Cumberland Hotel in Marble Arch, transforming it into the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London. The hotel will follow the music theme, featuring rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and offering a new live performance venue.
The Peninsula, London (opening date TBC)
This luxury new hotel from The Peninsula Group (link is external) will be located in Belgravia, steps away from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace - a prime location to explore the capital’s cultural highlights.
Eden Project Hotel, Cornwall, south-west England (opening date TBC)
A £6million hotel is opening at the Eden Project in 2018. The Eden Project Hotel (link is external) will have 115 bedrooms and has been designed to blend into the countryside, with access to the main Eden Project site.
10. New theatre shows to check out in 2018
It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for theatre in Britain with hot new shows and A-listers galore.
Hamilton: An American Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre (link is external), London
21 November 2017 – 30 June 2018
Following unanimous critical praise, 11 Tony Awards, and playing to audiences full of celebrities, politicians and members of theatre royalty, sensational Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical (link is external) is coming to London’s West End. The musical is about the life of American Founding Father (link is external) Alexander Hamilton (link is external) and incorporates hip-hop (link is external), rhythm and blues (link is external), pop music (link is external), and traditional-style show tunes (link is external).
Network by Lee Hall, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London
November 2017 – March 2018
Good news for fans of Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston – he’s making his British stage debut in the new adaptation of the Oscar-winning film Network (link is external), by Paddy Chayefsky. Cranston recently won a Tony Award for his Broadway role in All The Way.
The Band, Britain-wide tour
8 September 2017 – 14 July 2018
This new musical celebrates the music of hugely popular British boy band Take That, featuring their best hits. The show premieres in Manchester in September and then tours around Britain. For full tour dates, visit the website (link is external).
9 December 2017 – 27 January 2018
Matthew Bourne's sell-out interpretation of classic fairy tales into bold modern ballets are critically acclaimed. His new show at Sadler’s Wells (link is external) transforms the Cinderella story into a war-time romance: a chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.
Pinocchio by Dennis Kelly, at the Lyttelton Theatre, London
1 December 2017 – 7 April 2018
The world premiere of John Tiffany’s new musical production of Pinocchio (link is external), which has been specially arranged for the stage, with songs and score from the Walt Disney film and expert puppetry.
15 January – 31 March 2018
Following a critically acclaimed, sold-out season at the Almeida Theatre in 2016-17, Robert Icke’s adaptation of Mary Stuart will transfer to the Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited run.
Macbeth by William Shakespeare, at the Olivier Theatre, London
Rufus Norris will direct A-listers Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff in Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy.
And a boost for two of Bristol’s finest music and theatre venues…
The redevelopment of the Bristol Old Vic (link is external) – Britain’s oldest continuously working theatre, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016 – will be complete in 2018. The revamped, access-friendly King Street entrance will have a new glass-fronted foyer.
World-class music venue St George’s Bristol (link is external) is also transforming its visitor experience for 2018, with a new garden pavilion extension, a fully-accessible concert hall, and a three-metre-tall glass sound wavesculpture suspended in the foyer, based on a musical score composed by Philip Glass.
In 2018 Bristol will also be celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Bristol Balloon Fiesta (link is external), which sees a flock of colourful hot air balloons take to the skies. It’s the city’s largest outdoor event and the biggest of its kind in Europe.
11. The Great Exhibition of the North
Newcastle and Gateshead in north-east England will host the Great Exhibition of the North: a major exhibition showcasing art, culture, design and innovation from the north of England. The 77-day exhibition will start with an opening ceremony on 21 June 2018 at the Quayside, featuring a bridge of illuminated drones over the River Tyne. During the event, three themed walking routes will guide visitors to venues and attractions: The Arts Circuit, Design Circuit and Innovation Circuit. The Baltic art gallery will invite five northern and five international artists to create work on the exhibition's themes.
12. Scotland – The Year of Young People 2018
2018 will be Scotland’s Year of Young People (link is external) – an opportunity to celebrate amazing young personalities, talents, and achievers, and inspire the nation with new ideas, attitudes and ambitions. The year-long program of events, activities and ideas will be based around core themes including enterprise, education, and culture. Details of themed events and celebrations happening in Scotland throughout 2018 will be confirmed in due course.
13. Wales – The Year of the Sea 2018
In 2018, Wales is celebrating its epic coastline, fringed with rugged cliffs, wide sandy bays, and the adventures to match. Its coastal sports include coasteering (invented in Wales), wakeboarding and rib ride boat rides, as well as the world renowned 850 mile/1,400 km trail of the Wales Coast Path. Wildlife spotting includes puffins and dolphins, while the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno inspired the stories of Alice in Wonderland. Details of themed events and celebrations happening in Wales throughout 2018 will be confirmed in due course.