As London prepares to pull out all of the stops as hosts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the rest of Britain has followed suit for what is set to be a blockbuster year of experiences only to be had in 2012. Whether you are a sports lover, a history buff, a Royal watcher or music lover, it’s Britain, it’s 2012 and you’re invited.
1. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, 2 – 5 June
In honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the throne, many exciting events will be taking place across Britain. A program which will include a flotilla with 1000 boats along the River Thames, a concert at Buckingham Palace, the lighting of 2012 beacons and a Big Jubilee Lunch, have already been confirmed with the majority of events taking place over the extended weekend from 2 – 5 June. Exhibitions including The Queen: Sixty Photographs for Sixty Years at Windsor Castle and Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomy at the Queens Gallery will also be taking place during 2012. Queen Elizabeth II is only the second monarch, after Queen Victoria in 1897, to reach this 60 year milestone. More celebration information will be available online throughout 2012.
2. Charles Dickens 200th Birthday, 7 February
Kent will be celebrating the bicentenary of his birth in 2012. Organisations in England and worldwide are planning festivals, exhibitions and other events in honour of one of literatures best loved authors. On 7 February, Dickens’ birthday will be celebrated with a range of activities and celebrations including street performers, musicians, food, craft activities and readings. There will also be free admission to the Birthplace for timed slots during the day. In addition, the year of the bicentenary will see new commemorative initiatives, including exciting legacy projects and heritage trails. For more information and to keep updated with the bicentenary events visit:
3. The Wales Coast Path, May
Coastal Wales is the greatest region on Earth to visit in 2012, according to Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel. Wales is set to become the only country in the world where its entire coastline can be walked. The Wales Coast Path, due for completion in May, 2012, includes 70 sweeping beaches, 15 picturesque ports and innumerable secret coves. Whether an avid walker or up for a new adventure, visitors of all walking abilities will want to explore the Wales Coast Path, 85% of which is within the National Parks.
4. Cotswolds Olympicks, 400th Anniversary, 1 June
At the time of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, England will also be celebrating the 400th anniversary of its Olympic roots – Robert Dover’s Cotswolds Olympicks. Started by a local barrister, Captain Robert Dover, the world’s inaugural Olympick Games were staged on a Cotswold hillside in 1612. Today the annual event, held at the start of June, attracts thousands of spectators as ‘athletes’ partake in country-side games such as obstacle courses and tug-of-war, in addition to unique sporting competitions such as shin-kicking. The day is brought to a close with fireworks and a torch lit procession into Campden followed by dancing in the square.
5. The Sailing of the Titanic, 100th Anniversary, April
April 2012, marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and to commemorate this moment in history, the city of Belfast will be unveiling the ‘Titanic Signature Project’ set to make the city’s Titanic Quarter the largest waterfront development project in Europe. The new ‘Titanic Belfast,’ a state-of-the-art building in the heart of the Titanic Quarter, will include a ‘Titanic Experience’ exhibition, an ‘immersive theatre’ diving underwater to explore the wreck, and a Titanic-themed banqueting suite. The project will also include the restoration of the Titanic and Olympic slipways, the Thompson Dock and Harland & Wolff’s former Headquarters building. Belfast will also host the Titanic 100 Festival from 31 March – 31 May..
6. The World Shakespeare Festival, 23 April – November
The World Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international program produced by Shakespeare’s Globe. Thousands of artists from around the world will take part in almost 70 productions, plus supporting events and exhibitions, right across the UK including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle-Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland as well as online. The festival forms part of London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.
7. The Olympic Torch Relay, May – July
18 May is the date the Olympic Torch is set to arrive in Britain, when it will travel across every nation and region on a 70 day, 8,000 mile journey. The Olympic flame will travel within one hour of 95% of the UK population and only in 2012 is there chance to join more than 1,000 communities in welcoming a historic Olympic tradition to Britain. The exciting Torch Relay will include some breath-taking spectacles and rather unusual modes of transport: horseback, steam train and even a zip wire are all in the plans, with more to be announced between now and 18 May. Celebrations and events across Britain will mark the flame’s arrival, creating unique local experiences across the UK. The Olympic Torch relay is a must for any 2012 Britain itinerary.
8. Great British Music
Liverpool is the birthplace of the Beatles and the city that shaped their lives and early music. One of Britain’s best exports has always been its music heritage. From the Beatles to Ed Sheeran, you can still experience much of it today on your next trip to Britain our with your next gift experience.
9. London 2012 Festival, 21 June – 9 September
The London 2012 Festival, taking place 21 June –9 September is the finale of the four-year Cultural Olympiad. Complementing the sporting events at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the festival will be the biggest party the UK has ever seen with over 1,000 events taking place all over the UK – many of them free. Famous headliners include Cate Blanchett and Jude Law, while some of the highlight events include the World Shakespeare Festival; Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend – the national radio station’s biggest free concert ever; and West End Live where you can experience the best of London theatre for free in Trafalgar Square. More high profile events will be announced in January 2012 and over 70 productions will take place all around Britain.
10. WorldPride, 23 June –8 July
The eyes, ears and rainbows of the world will be on London in 2012 as it hosts WorldPride. What promises to be an event on a truly mammoth scale, WorldPride is expected to attract over one million visitors. The two week festivities known as ‘Festival fortnight’ will take place from 23 June – 8 July with the main parade held on 7 July. Organised by InterPride, WorldPride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities.
11. National Football Museum, May
Britain is the home of football and the English Premier League, which is now the most watched football season in the world, broadcasted live in 212 territories globally. The National Football Museum, opening in Manchester in May 2012 is set to become one of the city’s ‘must see’ attractions. Highlights include a shirt from the world’s first international match, played in 1872; the 1966 World Cup Final ball; and the shirt worn by Maradona during the 1986 ‘Hand of God’ quarter final match between England and Argentina. In 2012, the Olympics will see football matches in some of Britain’s world class sporting venues including Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium. The National Museum of Football is a must for anyone with an interest in the game.
12. London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games,27 July – 12 August and 29 August – 9 September
While tickets to the Olympic Games may be few and far between at this point in the year, there are still plenty of ways to be a part of the excitement in London and Britain during Games time. Host cities will be buzzing with excitement creating an unbeatable atmosphere of celebration. Soak up the excitement at one of the 22 Live sites across the UK or get yourself to one of the many non-ticketed events and cheer on your home-town hero. Non-ticketed events include Road Cycling, Marathon, Marathon Swimming, Race Walk, Triathlon and Sailing.