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United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > Famous festivals in the UK

Famous festivals in the United Kingdom.

Find hereunder an overview of some of the most famous festivals and events in the United Kingdom.

Glyndebourne Festival, Sussex

Indulge in some of the finest operatic performances with a ticket to the annual Glyndebourne Festival, which runs from 21 May - 28 August in the county of Sussex, just over an hour by train from London. Offering a programme of six operas covering 120 performances in a state-of­ the-art auditorium, Glyndebourne is also known for its fun social atmosphere.

Opera buffs have the chance to relax, socialise, picnic and drink champagne in the beautiful grounds during the long mid-performance interval of 80 minutes. Here you'll see festival goers of all ages dressed in their finest - a great chance to see and be seen!  Web:

BBC Proms, London

The crowning glory of classical music in Britain during the summer is the BBC Proms, which take place in the Victorian splendour of the Royal Albert Hall in London. For more than two months orchestras and soloists from around the globe perform nightly to classical music's most appreciative audience. Web:

The horse races

Epsom Derby, Surrey

Kicking off the horse-racing season in grand style is the Epsom Derby (3 - 4 June), a horse meet that has been thrilling racegoers since 1780. Held at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey, less than an hour's train journey on frequent services from London, you can go as luxurious or as purse-friendly as you want. For the latter option you can put a bet on for as little as £2 and enjoy all the action.

But if you're channelling lavish and glamorous, choose to visit on Ladies' Day on 3 June, the perfect opportunity for the girls to put on their finest. If you buy a ticket to the Queen's Stand on either of the derby days, the men have to sport black or grey morning dress with a top hat or national costume, while ladies are expected to wear a fascinator or a hat. And there's always the chance you may get to spot a royal or two. Web:

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot (14 - 18 June) near Windsor is, of course, a notable event for royal-spotting. The Queen attends with various members of the royal family (she has done so every year since 1945), arriving each day in a horse-drawn procession from Windsor Castle. There have been royals in attendance since Royal Ascot was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and has been attended by 11 monarchs since the 18th century.

The event is as well-known for its stylish dressing as for the horse racing, particularly on Gold Cup Day when spectacular hats often make the news headlines. If you're fortunate enough to have entry to the Royal Enclosure (and you really do need fortune on your side - to apply for entry you have to be nominated by someone who has attended the enclosure for at least the last four years!), this is where the most luxurious, stylish dressing is expected. Web:


Glorious Goodwood, South Downs
Propping up the end of the summer racing season is Glorious Goodwood (26 July - 30 July), set in beautiful countryside in the South Downs, near Chichester (a two-hour drive from London). This is a five-day festival meeting with a rich horseracing heritage - it's been hosting the Sport of Kings - as horseracing is sometimes referred to - for 200 years. Goodwood is one of Britain's great estates and historic homes whose horseracing roots started life as a flat horseracing course for local officers in 1802. Web:

Heritage Open Days

There's no better time for history lovers to visit Britain than in September, when the annual Heritage Open Days festival takes place. Separate festivals take place in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London, but all are dedicated to opening up historic buildings that aren't normally accessible to the public - private homes, offices, cellars, hidden rooms and tunnels.

Historic buildings that are normally open put on special events - cinemas and theatres offer backstage tours, museums open up their archives and towns and villages around the country hold programmes of walks, talks, and history-themed events. Every event is completely free, including access to more than 150 National Trust properties and iconic buildings such as the Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Web:

Highland Games, Scotland

Each summer, across Scotland, villages and towns hold Highland Games. You'll always find pipe bands, plus sports including tossing the caber and Scottish dancing. The largest is held in Dunoon in August in Argyll on the west coast of Scotland; the nicest way to reach it is by bus or ferry from Glasgow - it takes around two hours. Web: You can find out more about Highland Games across Scotland on

Eisteddfods, Wales

Wales has Eisteddfods - both large and small - which are gatherings of poets and musicians. The biggest, the National Eisteddfod will be held between 29 July - 6 August 2016 in Abergavenny, the famously foodie town on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, with more than 6,000 participants and 160,000 spectators. Getting there takes under three hours from London by train. Web:

Westmorland Show, England

The Lake District, in north-west England has its own traditional games each summer. One of the best known is the Westmorland Show, which will be held on September 8 this year. Here, you'll be able to see Westmorland wrestling - participants wear traditional white costumes - plus there are show jumping and livestock displays. The show has been in existence since 1799. Getting to Kendal takes about three hours by train from London Euston, changing at Oxenholme. Web: westmorlandshow.

The 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death

In April 2016, it will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. In his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, west England, his old schoolroom will open for the first time to the public, there'll be a special immersive exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Company and his final home at New Place will open after a major refurbishment that includes the building of a new exhibition centre.

The Bard's birthday celebrations on 23 and 24 April will see actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, plus foreign diplomats, take part in a 1,000- strong parade that weaves through this Warwickshire town before flowers are laid at the grave of Britain's most famous playwright.

It isn't a sombre occasion though - you'll also find traditional street performers such as Morris Men - and anyone can join in the procession. Getting there takes around two hours from London's Marylebone station. Web:


Shakespeare would have seen one of Britain's quirkiest ceremonies. Swan-upping has been taking place on the River Thames for more than 800 years - including the period that Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Always held in the third week in July, it marks the fact that the British monarch technically owns all the mute swans in Britain. These days, it's a chance to check on their health but it's done in full ceremonial uniform on special boats. There are more logical ways to count animals, but this is definitely the most colourful. Web:

Veteran Car Run - Britain's oldest cars on  the road

Head out from London on to the Sussex coast for one of the best vintage car experiences in the world - the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. The event celebrates its 120th anniversary in 2016 and takes place each year on the first Sunday in November.

This car run involves pioneering, pre-1905 cars travelling from Hyde Park in the capital to make the 60-mile journey to the Sussex coast where they meet up on Brighton seafront. It is the largest parade of veteran cars in the world and at the 2015 event 380 cars took part. Web:

Regent Street Motor Show

Visitors are recommended to make the journey to London on the Saturday before the event when some of the vintage cars taking part will be on show at the Regent Street Motor Show, the largest free to view motor show in Britain. Here the West End shopping street is closed for a mile to showcase 125 years' worth of automotive history. Web:

Author: Visit Britain

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Find here an overview of some of the most famous festivals and events in the United Kingdom. Travel guide to the United kingdom.