After you’ve survived the short days and long nights of winter, there’s no shame in wanting to top up your vitamin D levels. For most of us, the Easter weekend is the first chance of the New Year to escape somewhere exotic.
But new stats suggest that we Brits are made of sterner stuff. These 13 English places have seen the sharpest rise in bookings for Easter 2016. So who needs the Bahamas when we’ve got Birmingham? Let the countdown to the top spot begin…
It’s the city famed for its swashbuckling football team and for being the resting place of the last Plantagenet monarch, Richard III. Recent interest in Leicester has spiked, with tourists flocking from far and wide to the cosmopolitan Midlands city.
Experience blockbusters from Hollywood to Bollywood at the various independent cinemas and art centres across the city. Sample cuisines from every corner of the Commonwealth and wash it down with a pint of real ale from one of Leicester’s atmospheric pubs.
But for something truly out of this world, we recommend a trip to the National Space Centre. It’s the largest attraction dedicated to space science in the whole country.
Once England’s second city, Norwich was behind only the capital in terms of size and influence in the kingdom. A thousand years in the making, the city has developed a unique character. Its secret? Maybe it’s the blend of new and old; of history and modernity.
Learn more about the local heritage by visiting the sublime Caen stone cathedral and 12th century castle. Love to shop? The wonderfully elegant Royal Arcade should never be missed on any trip to Norwich.
And for a foodie feast, sample some of the fresh local produce at one of city’s famous gastro pubs. You’ll be spellbound.
Brighton combines the energy of a modern urban metropolis with the freedom of the seaside. Blessed with one of the UK’s most iconic beaches, travellers from far and wide visit the south coast resort to unwind on the pebbly sea front. Traditionalists will adore taking a relaxing stroll along Brighton Pier and watching children play on the amusements.
But Brighton has much more to it than just the promenade. Visit the spectacular Royal Pavilion, the lavish seaside residence of George IV that’s become synonymous with the city. Explore the quirky shops and twisting alleyways of The Lanes (Brighton’s historic heart), seek out some live music or simply enjoy views of the iconic pier from one of the many fine bars and restaurants.
There’s so much to do in Brighton you couldn’t possibly squeeze it all into one day…
If you’ve a passion modern art or protected foods, you need to visit Wakefield. See pieces by some of most-respected British artists of the 20th century (including local-born Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth) at The Hepworth Wakefield. Or take a trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park; it’s set in 500 acres of sheer beauty so you’ll see exactly where Moore and Hepworth got their inspiration.
Also no trip to this corner of Yorkshire is complete without sampling the area’s delicacy: forced rhubarb. Grown in complete darkness and known for its bright pink stems, this variety has recently become protected, so it’ll soon become as synonymous with the region as Cornish clotted cream and Jersey royal potatoes are with theirs!
The happening Hampshire town of Basingstoke has plenty to offer all year round. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll love experiencing the thrill of indoor skydiving at Airkix. It’s like jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet… only much safer. Skiing more your style? Skiplex offers a revolving indoor ski slope to replicate a real piste, without having to leave Hampshire.
As well as these top attractions, Basingstoke also hosts popular cultural events like the Basingstoke Festival and the Half Marathon. So while you’re in town, you’ll always have something to keep you (very) entertained.
Bolton’s great location makes for a super place for a day out or a staycation. Follow in the footsteps of local mechanical enthusiast Fred Dibnah with a visit to the Bolton Steam Museum to see the largest collection of working steam engines in the UK. Prefer your surroundings a little more serene? Take a turn around Queen’s Park and enjoy seeing the flowerbeds and duck ponds come to life in spring.
This part of Lancashire is also blessed with miles of breathtaking countryside, including the rich valley of the River Ribble which inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. So if you love a good ramble, pull on your hiking boots and explore the great outdoors.
The historic city of Lincoln is the jewel in the crown of Lincolnshire. Dominating Lincoln’s skyline is the great cathedral. The Gothic structure was once the tallest in the whole world, inspiring the acclaimed writer John Ruskin to proclaim it Britain’s “most precious piece of architecture”.
Just a stone’s throw from the 13th century cathedral is the wonderfully unique Steep Hill. As you climb its cobbles, you can’t help but be charmed by its rows of colourful vintage boutiques and quaint tea shops.
But be warned: it isn’t called Steep Hill for nothing. Chances are you’ll enjoy the journey down more than up…
The city of Chelmsford has a rich and colourful past. Founded by the Romans and developed by the Saxons, this prosperous settlement was once the capital of England… if only for five days. Find out more about the area’s history at the fascinating Chelmsford Museum, and explore the ornate cathedral, famous for being the second smallest in Britain.
If you have little ones in tow, the city is also full of outstanding family-friendly attractions. Meet the new born lambs at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park or learn about the critters at Tropical Wings Zoo.
The flourishing city of Plymouth on Devon’s south coast is a destination to watch in 2016. Enjoy a nautical-themed jaunt through the port’s seafaring heritage. There’s the City Museum and Art Gallery, Smeaton’s Tower (a 72-foot restored Eddystone lighthouse) and the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrim Fathers are said to have left England for the Americas. And when you’ve worked up an appetite, check out the numerous restaurants, bars and cafes in the Barbican, the redeveloped old harbour area of the city.
There’s so much to do in Plymouth you might not be able to weigh anchor for a while.
The developing Surrey town, on the outskirts of Greater London, has emerged as a growing alternative to the capital in recent years. 2012 saw the opening of Jubilee Square; a stylish public space in the centre of Woking, full of cosmopolitan restaurants and cafes. When the sun shines, visitors can dine al fresco like our friends on the continent.
Cultural connoisseurs also have plenty to keep them entertained in Woking. Enjoy browsing the thought-provoking exhibitions at The Lightbox gallery during the day before taking in a play or concert at the New Vic, Woking’s acclaimed theatre.
In the 19th century, Dudley was at the heart of the most industrialised area of Britain. Often referred to as the capital of the ‘Black Country’, its landscape was a mosaic of coal mines, towering chimneys and crowded canals. Over a century on, the smog has lifted to reveal a picturesque town, packed with interesting attractions waiting to be discovered.
Step back in time to learn about life during the Industrial Revolution at the Black Country Living Museum. But if you like animals, you’ll love exploring the Dudley Zoological Gardens – it’s set in the grounds surrounding an 11th century castle.
The Hampshire town is perhaps best known for its international air show, but for aviation aficionados, there’s fun to be had all year round. Opposite the airfield, the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum showcases historic planes and simulators. It’s the highest rated attraction in the town on TripAdvisor, so it must be worth a visit.
Did you know that a French Emperor is buried in the centre of town? Saint Michael’s Abbey was built as a mausoleum for Napoleon III in 1881 and remains an active monastery. It’s a fascinating place and fully open to the public, so why not take a trip and see it for yourself?
Birmingham is a city built on a rich history of manufacture and trade. Today it’s a vibrant and exciting place to explore with something for everyone to enjoy. Wander through the city and you’ll see beautiful buildings alongside groundbreaking contemporary architecture.
Mile for mile, Birmingham has more canals than Venice. In recent years, its waterways have undergone extensive development to become a hub of cool, urban culture with cafes and pubs aplenty.It’s also renowned for shopping with the Bullring, Grand Central, Pavilions and Mailbox shopping centres all within a few minutes’ walk of each other.