History is made: 10 new UK attractions for day trips and short breaks

Show caption The Burrell Collection includes ancient Chinese ceramics. Photograph: Shepherd/Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collections United Kingdom holidays History is made: 10 new UK attractions for day trips and short breaks From a Merseyside Shakespeare theatre to a Vagina Museum in east London, here are brand new or revamped visitor attractions to check out this year Rachel Dixon Thu 24 Mar 2022 07.00 GMT Share on Facebook

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The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

The Burrell Collection is reopening after a six-year, £68m refurbishment, with a third more gallery space and new displays. The storerooms on the lower ground floor will be open for the first time, showing how objects are cared for, and a new outdoor space will make the most of the museum’s setting in Pollok country park. The 9,000 objects acquired by the shipping magnate William Burrell make up one of the biggest privately amassed collections in the world, and the new-look galleries will focus more on the people who made the artworks and originally owned them. Highlights range from ancient Chinese porcelain to 20-plus paintings by Degas.

Opens 29 March, free entry, burrellcollection.com

Game of Thrones Studio Tour, Banbridge, County Down

Stark history … the Winterfell Crypts. Photograph: Game of Thrones Studio Tour

An immersive, behind-the-scenes tour has just opened at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, County Down, one of the Game of Thrones filming locations. Visitors can step inside sets including the Great Hall at Winterfell, the headquarters of the Night’s Watch and the Hall of Faces. They will learn about the special effects used to bring dragons to life; see the makeup and prosthetics used on the White Walkers, Wildlings and more; examine dragon eggs, drinking horns and other props; check out swords and crossbows in the armoury; and get close to costumes such as Sansa’s wedding dress and Jon Snow’s furs.

£39.50 adults/£27.50 children, gameofthronesstudiotour.com

Clifford’s Tower, York

Photograph: English Heritage/PA

This 800-year-old tower is all that remains of York Castle, established by William the Conqueror. It was variously a treasury, exchequer, mint and prison, but its interior has been an empty shell since it was gutted by fire in 1684. Now, after a £5m project by English Heritage, the ruin is reopening with a protective freestanding wooden structure within it. Aerial walkways will replace the lost first floor and open up rooms hidden for centuries. The spiral staircases and the chapel are also accessible again. A new roof deck will provide views of York Minster, the city and the North York Moors beyond.

Opens 2 April, from £8.10 adults/£4.80 children, english-heritage.org.uk

Vagina Museum, east London

There is a penis museum in Iceland, but there was no vagina equivalent anywhere in the world – until a pop-up museum began holding events around the UK in 2017. That led to a bricks-and-mortar museum in Camden, north London, in 2019, which attracted more than 150,000 visitors over two years. Now the new Vagina Museum is opening in Bethnal Green, east London. It is three times bigger than the previous incarnation, and has a permanent exhibition about the gynaecological anatomy, an expanded temporary exhibition on periods, plus a community gallery, events programme and cafe.

Opens 19 March, free entry, vaginamuseum.co.uk

Rig Climb Experience, Greenwich, south-east London

Photograph: Adrian Seal/Alamy

The Cutty Sark, one of just two surviving tea clippers in the world, is launching a new experience in April. For the first time, visitors will be able to climb the masts. Would-be sailors will step from the main deck on to the ratlines, climb up the shrouds, traverse one of the yardarms and arrive at the tops platform, more than 20 metres above deck, for a bird’s-eye view of London. They will hear tales of life at sea in the 19th century and the treacherous conditions sailors had to work in, before a controlled descent, via zip line, whisks them back down to street level.

Opens 2 April, from £41 adults/£26 children (includes general entry to the ship), rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark

The Shakespeare North Playhouse, Merseyside

An artist’s impression of Shakespeare North Playhouse. Photograph: Austin Smith Lord

A new William Shakespeare theatre is joining the Globe in London and the Royal Shakespeare theatre and the Swan in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Shakespeare North Playhouse is in Prescot, 10 miles east of Liverpool, which was the site of one of the earliest purpose-built theatres outside London. As there are no surviving plans of the Prescot Playhouse, the 350-seat theatre is inspired by the 17th-century Cockpit-at-Court by Inigo Jones. It will also have an outdoor performance garden and exhibitions celebrating the patronage Shakespeare received from the earls of Derby at nearby Knowsley Hall, where some of his earliest plays are thought to have been first staged.

Opens in summer, shakespearenorthplayhouse.co.uk

Ad Gefrin, Wooler, Northumberland

Photograph: Sally Ann Norman

The archeological remains of a great Anglo-Saxon palace were discovered at Yeavering in Northumberland in the 1950s. Now its Great Hall is being recreated four miles away at Ad Gefrin, a £10.4m cultural centre and whisky distillery. An immersive exhibition will tell the story of the people who lived at the palace during the region’s seventh-century golden age, and display artefacts from the dig. The centre will also include a bistro, bar and shop, and eventually the distillery will run tours and tastings of the first Northumbrian English single malt (when it is ready in 2025).

Opens in October, adgefrin.co.uk

The Intelligence Factory, Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire

A newly restored wartime building at the heart of Bletchley Park is opening as the site’s biggest ever exhibition space this spring. The Intelligence Factory in Block A will focus on the years 1942-45, when 9,000 staff (75% of them women) gathered intelligence to help win the second world war. The permanent exhibition will include objects, personal stories and interactive elements, showing how operators tracked allied and enemy positions and handled huge amounts of information, as well as how staff were recruited, fed and housed. There is also a space for temporary exhibitions – the first is on data visualisation.

Opens 28 April, £21 adults/£12.50 children, bletchleypark.org.uk

First Light Pavilion, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

A 76 metre-diameter, grass-topped pavilion is opening at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre this summer. The £21.5m subterranean First Light Pavilion is inspired by the Lovell Telescope and is designed to act like a giant sundial. Inside, interactive elements allow visitors to experience a meteor shower, drive a steerable radio telescope and launch a digital Sputnik. A Space Dome will show films about the universe and displays will tell the history of the site – the earliest radio astronomy observatory still in existence – and there will be guided tours.

Opens 4 June, £8.50 adults/£6.50 children, jodrellbank.net

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, Shropshire

Photograph: Steven Baker/Historic England Archive

The world’s first skyscraper wasn’t in New York, but … Shrewsbury. The main mill at Flaxmill Maltings was built with a pioneering iron frame in 1797, paving the way for modern skyscrapers. It is one of eight listed buildings on the site, which is now owned by Historic England. The smithy and stables have already been restored, and the site will open to the public when the main mill and kiln are completed later this year. A visitor centre will tell the story of one of the most important buildings of the Industrial Revolution, and there will be a new cafe and shop. Future plans involve restoration of the four remaining buildings: the apprentice house, cross mill, dye house and warehouse.

Opens later this year, shrewsburyflaxmillmaltings.org.uk