From working holiday pilgrimages to European summer trips, Australians have long heeded the call of Britain’s shores. And with non-stop Qantas flights from Perth to London set to take off next year*, there’s never been a quicker (or easier) way to hop across the pond. Whether you’re in town for a couple of hours, a few days or a week, allow yourself to be swept up by Britain’s allure.  

London and surrounds offer an irresistible cacophony of nightlife, food and drink, natural wonders and world-leading culture for you to check out. We’ve delved into London and its neighbouring cities of Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester – all within approximately 2 hours – to unlock their best-kept secrets. Here’s where to go and what to do once you arrive.

Britain Unlocked Overview

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48 Hours In Brighton

Words by Cam Hassard

Brighton has been a favourite seaside getaway for Britons for decades, and for good reason. Just an hour by train, Brighton is a choice weekender for Londoners; from colourful boho buildings to historical beauty and of course, the beach: picture summertime sunsets over the glistening English Channel, peaceful pebble beaches and an amble down the 120-year-old pier at dusk. The recipe is just right: a sprinkle of romance, a touch of mystery, pinches of eccentricity, hedonism, cosmopolitanism and kitsch – and the food is pretty incredible too.

That Little Tea Shop in the Lanes

17 Meeting House Lane, Brighton

Choccywoccydoodah

3 Meeting House Lane, Brighton

North Laine

Between Church Street and Trafalgar Street, Brighton

Brighton Palace Pier

Madeira Drive, Brighton

Absolute must-dos

Rivalling the capital for quality and buzz, Brighton’s food scene has elevated to seriously sophisticated levels in recent years, so sampling the gastro goods is your first point of order.

For something resolutely British, we recommend That Little Tea Shop in the Lanes. Situated at the very heart of the famous Brighton Lanes, step back in time via sponge cake, homemade soup and Devon cream tea and scones.

Among the twisting alleys lies Choccywoccydoodah, a refuge for sweet-toothed lovers of the cocoa bean. For a more substantial meal – or meals – the cultural quarter North Laine is your next stop. Once a slum district, this bohemian hub offers an essential taste of the Brighton experience, with a weird and wonderful melange of more than 400 independent boutiques, eateries and nightlife venues.

Above all, no trip to Brighton is complete without experiencing the glory that is the Brighton Palace Pier. Though extra touristy in the high season, Brighton’s Victorian waterfront has been wowing weekend trippers for decades with its throwback vintage atmosphere. Take in the array of excellent bars, fresh fish and chips, and old-fashioned amusement park-style attractions, including the Turbo Coaster, Dragon Fly and the Horror Hotel. If the weather’s on your side, you might even be interested in renting a paddleboard for a relaxing dip in the water.

Photo: 64 Degrees

Photo: 64 Degrees

Bill’s

100 North Road, Brighton

Marwood Bar & Coffeehouse

52 Ship Street, Brighton

Cloud 9

15 Brighton Place, The Lanes, Brighton

Rock Ola

29 Tidy Street, Brighton

La Choza

36 Gloucester Road, Brighton

Terre a Terre

71 East Street, Brighton

64 Degrees

53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton

Silo

39 Upper Gardner Street, North Laine

Coal Shed

8 Boyces Street, Brighton

The Salt Room

106 King’s Road, Brighton

Lion & Lobster

24 Sillwood Street, Brighton

Brighton Sausage Co

28 Gloucester Road, Brighton

Where to eat

Still hungry? You’re in for a treat. Enjoy breakfast or brunch at Bill’s, coffee at Marwood Bar & Coffeehouse, and a cheeky brownie or two at Cloud 9 – and that’s all before midday.

For a classic diner complete with jukebox, Rock Ola dishes up fun and burgers in equal measure, while North Laine favourite La Choza is the ultimate stop for super cheap, mouth-watering, authentic Mexican street eats. Meanwhile, vegetarians are well and truly looked after at Terre a Terre, purveyors of some of the most indulgent non-carnivorous fare around.

Treating yourself to something extra classy? 64 Degrees is renowned for its class and quality, much like the innovative, pre-industrial stylings of Silo. Steak lovers will get their kicks from the exquisite cuts at the Coal Shed, while its award-winning sister venue The Salt Room is perfect for seafood connoisseurs.

Should you find yourself in town on a Sunday, head to rambling traditional Lion & Lobster, at which you’ll find a day-transforming pint – yes, pint – sized Bloody Mary.

If visiting the city wasn’t enough, you can take Brighton home with you, too. Locally sourced meats and world-class stilton (among other delicious dairy offerings) are available at the proudly free range Brighton Sausage Co. The sausage rolls here are next level too.

Photo: Unsplash

The Office

8 Sydney Street, Brighton

The Great Eastern

16 Madeira Place, Brighton

The Saint James

16 Madeira Place, Brighton

Sticky Mikes

9-12 Middle Street, Brighton

BYOC

41 Meeting House Lane, Brighton

Plateau

1 Bartholomews, Brighton

The Ginger Pig

3 Hove Street, Brighton

The Ginger Dog

12-13 College Place, Brighton

The Plotting Parlour

6 Steine Street, Brighton

Where to drink

Considering the quality and quantity of incredible eateries, it’s unsurprising that there are just as many watering holes to sample.

For gin lovers, The Office delivers with more than 40 different varieties from all over the world. Whisky more your thing? Head to The Great Eastern and test out a few of their 60+ varieties. Meanwhile, rum aficionados should make a beeline for The Saint James, home to at least 80 different kinds. For an eclectic list of craft brews and classic long drinks, Sticky Mikes is the place to hang.

The speakeasy-style BYOC is one of the most essential stopovers, if only to experience what it’s like to bring your own bottle to the bar. Here, thirsty patrons provide their drink of choice, with in-house bartenders at the ready for made-to-order cocktails. The prohibition-era vibes (sans BYO) continue at restaurant and bar Plateau, while The Ginger Pig and The Ginger Dog (both wings of the Gingerman Group) offer excellent high-end cocktails and fresh eats to match. Lastly, for some of the most satisfying cocktails around, Kemptown’s The Plotting Parlour offers an authentic 1920s swing-era atmosphere – so don’t forget your flapper dress.

Photo: The Royal Pavilion/Wikimedia Commons

Royal Pavilion

4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton

Brighton Dome

Church Street, Brighton

Where to get your dose of culture

Simply breathing the Brighton seaspray could be considered a cultural experience; there’s so much of the stuff to go around, it’s impossible to see it all in just 48 hours. No trip is complete without a glimpse at the show-stealing and impressively incongruous Royal Pavilion, a 19th Century mock-Mughal pleasure palace built for the Prince Regent, later King George IV (a man for whom ‘subtlety’ held little sway).

Within the Regent’s old stable complex you’ll find the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery (free entry!), home to a dynamic range of classic, contemporary and local art. The nearby Brighton Dome is also worth a visit. Not only does it host an eclectic year-round array of cultural shows and events, but it’s ground zero for ABBA’s 1974 Eurovision Waterloo coup.

A place for all-seasons, a hub full of flavours, a city for all tastes: with unrivalled scenery, history, culture and gastronomic delight, Brighton always delivers. A beautiful getaway all year round, there’s no time like the present to discover what all the buzz is about.

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Bristol_Unlockedv2

48 Hours In Bristol

Words by Cam Hassard

If you’ve taken the M4 out of London and rolled into Bristol, our sincere congrats: you’re in for something splendid. The south-western city – oft overlooked in favour of London’s hustle and bustle – continues to build a rep as one of the most eclectic, exciting cities in the UK. With a rich maritime legacy, historical mores, thriving local culture and a renowned nightlife, Bristol is home to a thousand exciting adventures and new discoveries. From Leigh Woods to Cabot Tower, Stokes Croft to the Harbourside, here’s the lowdown on getting the most out of the UK’s freshest weekend playground.

M Shed

Princes Wharf, Wapping Road, Bristol

Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Great Western Dockyard, Gas Ferry Road, Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Bridge Road, Bristol

Temple Meads Station

Bath Road, Bristol

The Orchard Inn

Hanover Place, Harbourside

Arnolfini

16 Narrow Quay, Bristol

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

10-13 August, 2017

Where to get a dose of culture

The adventure begins beneath the shimmering sun of the Bristol Harbourside. The old city centre is a newly revamped hub for cool stores, food digs, historical hotspots, cafes and bars. While it wasn’t always this trendy, the Harbour has had a rich, storied history since the Middle Ages. An active port since the 14th century, it was later used as a kick-off point for pioneer voyages to the New World (y’know, those little countries we call Canada and North America today).

Learn all about that and more at M Shed on Spike Island, the city’s main museum and immersive maritime experience. A short wander down Museum St takes you to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the great-great-grandmother of all modern ships, and one-time longest passenger ship in the world. Isambard Brunel, the engineer behind the feat, also built the city’s impressive and iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge and Temple Meads Station, both worthy additions to your Bristol bucket list.

To shift gear from yesteryear meanderings to cutting edge modernity, head to the nearby Dockside Studios to catch world-famous Banksy street art, The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum. While you’re at it, take a moment to reflect over a cheeky drink at The Orchard Inn.

Walkability is one of the Harbourside’s many charms – a short trundle back along the Quay takes you to the Arnolfini, the city’s acclaimed International Arts Centre, home to an exciting roster of year-round exhibitions and events. Immerse yourself in the alternative Bristol culture with a little art, an artisanal coffee or a bevvy at the in-house bar, all the while taking in the gorgeous harbour views.

The UK is famous for its summertime festivals, and Bristol certainly plays its part when it comes to a raucous party. The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is so unique that it can’t be missed. Europe’s largest meeting of hot air balloons takes place this year from August 10-13, with live music, fireworks and more to enjoy among the helium-filled hootenanny. Suffice to say, there’s nothing like it in the world.

Photo: Cabot Tower/Visit Bristol

Cabot Tower

Brandon Hill Park, Great George Street, Harbourside

Leigh Woods

Valley Road, Bristol

The best of Bristol’s outdoors

The outdoor splendour of Bristol is as notable as its culture – and you can take it all in at Cabot Tower, offering a spectacular, panoramic view from 32 metres above ground.

For those more comfortable with their feet on solid earth, enjoy the outdoor resplendence at Leigh Woods Reserve on the southwest side of the Avon Gorge – trust us when we say it’s one of the most beautiful stretches of woodland you’ll see this close to a city centre.

If you’re a little tired after a day of adventuring, catch the city from the waterside with a relaxing boat trip up the River Avon. The more energetic travellers among us even have the option of hiring a canoe, rowing up and down the idyllic stretch. If that doesn’t tire you out, head to one of Bristol’s famed skate parks, where you can see seasoned skaters defying gravity.

Somerset_House_1

Photo: Somerset House

Mud Dock

40 The Grove, Bristol

Café Du Jour

11 Park Street, Bristol

Somerset House

11 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton

The Canteen

80 Stokes Croft, Bristol

Biblos

62A Stokes Croft, Bristol

The Love Inn

84 Stokes Croft, Bristol

No. 1 Harbourside

1 Canon’s Road, Bristol

Harbourside Market

1 Canon’s Road, Bristol

Where to eat

Bristol is blessed with several culinary districts, perfect for any avid foodie. For a tasty brunch, check out the two-wheel-inspired Mud Dock or the French trimmings of Café Du Jour. Should you find yourself out around the northern Clifton neighbourhood, you can’t look past Somerset House for a fresh, delicious lunch.

Once Bristol’s best-kept secret, the buzzing Stokes Croft may well be the hippest corner of the city. Home to Bristol’s iconic street art, pubs, nightlife and hot food, our personal favourites include cultural institution The Canteen (which is right nearby another Banksy piece, Mild, Mild West), Mediterranean-Caribbean fusion restaurant Biblos, and southern American smokehouse The Love Inn & Stovemonkey

For weekend visitors, soak up the best local fare (and your newfound knowledge of Bristol’s maritime mystique) with a wander through No.1 Harbourside – open from 10am to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, the famous Harbourside Market is home to some of Bristol’s best street food, alongside an array of live music and local arts and craft.

Gallimaufry_1

Photo: The Gallimaufry/Facebook

Zerodegrees

53 Colston Street, Bristol

Small Bar

31 King Street, Bristol

Lost and Grounded Brewery

91 Whitby Road, Bristol

Gallimaufry

26/28, The Promenade, Gloucester Road, Bristol

The Crofters Rights

117-119 Stokes Croft, Bristol

Pipe & Slippers

118 Cheltenham Road, Bristol

The Bootlegger

233 Cheltenham Road, Bristol

Her Majesty’s Service (HMSS)

Whiteladies Gate, Whiteladies Road, Bristol

Hausbar

52 Upper Belgrave Road, Clifton, Bristol

Where to drink

Bristol is a renowned bastion of fine craft brewing. Should you venture southside to the rainbow-hued terrace houses of Totterdown, consider straying a little further east down the Avon to local microbrewery Zerodegrees and Small Bar, as well as Lost and Grounded Brewery for all your Belgian and Deutsch-style brewing needs.

The local vibes continue at any one of Stokes Crofts’s well-frequented watering holes. We recommend a little barhop adventure, beginning at the beloved Gallimaufry, before heading south down Cheltenham Rd to Crofter’s Rights and Pipe & Slippers, with a final nightcap at Speakeasy-style bar The Bootlegger.

If aperitifs and cocktails are more your thing, indulge yourself up north at Her Majesty’s Service HMSS, or the pre-war Berlin-style Hausbar.

There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures, events, entertainment, history and culture to take in around Bristol throughout the year; 48 hours isn’t nearly enough – but it’s just enough time to start.

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48 Hours In Liverpool

Words by Matilda Edwards

Given Liverpool’s history as an industrial epicentre with a busy port trade from the Irish Sea, its standing as a culturally thriving and youthful city might be hard to believe at first. Chances are, if you’ve been to Liverpool, your main cultural experience entailed Beatles-themed tour the Beatles Story and maybe a football match, but there’s so much more to Liverpool than Pop and Steven Gerrard. 48 hours in the UK’s fifth biggest city will easily be filled by world-famous art, historic docks and – just for good measure – a visit to the club that saw the Fab Four’s formative years.

Tate Liverpool

Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool

Albert Dock

34 The Colonnades, Liverpool

International Slavery Museum

Albert Dock, Liverpool

Merseyside Maritime Museum

Albert Dock, Liverpool

The Smugglers Cove

Britannia Pavillion, Albert Dock, Liverpool

British Music Experience

Cunard Building, Liverpool

Hard Day’s Night Hotel

Central Buildings, North John Street, Liverpool

The Beatles Story

Britannia Vaults, Albert Dock, Liverpool

Where to get a dose of culture

While the early morning Merseyside air is no doubt chilly, tuck yourself away at the Tate Liverpool, sister establishment to London’s world-renowned Tate Britain and Tate Modern. One of the largest modern and contemporary galleries in the UK, the Tate is full of amazing permanent and seasonal exhibitions from local and international artists, as well as plenty of daily talks, tours and short courses for those extra-keen in creative learning. After a good stroll around the gallery, refuel at the gallery’s specially designed café, overlooking Liverpool’s waterfront while taking in the artistic surrounds.

Conveniently, it only takes a single step out of the Tate to arrive at the Albert Dock, where history meets modern culture at Liverpool’s old trading hub. Built in the 1840s, the dock was revolutionary in its design in that it permitted large ships to deposit their wares right at the warehouse doors along the dock. After heavy usage in World War II, the dock was abandoned for decades before being rebuilt under UNESCO World Heritage classification, becoming a central Liverpool attraction. Spend the afternoon wandering around the dock’s shopping precinct, take a ride on the historic Victorian carousel or visit the fascinating International Slavery Museum and Merseyside Maritime Museum for an engaging, and at times, harrowing look at the North West’s history.

The Albert is also home to more than a dozen restaurants and bars, the ideal spot for a well-deserved dinner. For a post-meal tipple, we recommend The Smuggler’s Cove, with more than 100 different rums, speciality rum cocktails (and a huge selection of beer and wine) and live music every night for a true Scouse pirate experience.

The British Music Experience, the UK’s only museum dedicated to pop music, has just relocated to Liverpool’s iconic Cunard Building and is also worth a visit. Charting music from the birth of rock ‘n’ roll through to punk and pop, there’s plenty to see, from Bowie’s outlandish Ziggy Stardust costumes to Spice Girls outfits and Noel Gallagher’s Epiphone Union Jack Sheraton guitar.

Look, we know we said there’s more to Liverpool than the Beatles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the city’s immense pride in their all-time greatest musical export. Far from just a touristy gimmick, the Hard Day’s Night Hotel is a sophisticated hotel albeit one with subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to the Fab Four; think a Yellow Submarine print on the wall, or the adorably pun-filled cocktail names. “Daq in the USSR”, anybody? It’s the perfect place to splash out for a night among the Beatles nostalgia, and it usually provides an escape from the huge crowds who flock to the citywide tours.

Photo: Unsplash

Baltic Bakehouse

46 Bridgewater Street, Liverpool

Camp and Furnace and Blade Factory

67 Greenland Street, Liverpool

District

61 Jordan Street, Liverpool

Constellations

35-39 Greenland Street, Liverpool

Where to eat

Just a 15-minute walk from the city centre lies the Baltic Triangle, an old factory and workshop precinct from the slave trade era. The Baltic is currently being developed as an epicentre for Liverpool’s independent and creative industries, and there are already countless delights waiting inside.

First, food. The Baltic Bakehouse is a haven for bread-lovers. Consistently named one of the best bakeries in the UK, it offers more than 20 types of freshly-made bread and pastries and is the perfect place to stop for a lazy lunch. Their chocolate salted caramel tarts or toffee-filled crack pies (named as such because they’re dangerously addictive) are next level desserts, and it’s almost impossible to leave without a handful of signature Baltic Wild loaves.

For entertainment, the many warehouses in the Triangle like Camp and Furnace and Blade Factory, District and Constellations often play host to live music and raves, and are a regular hangout for the artsy crowd. For those keen to get down with the locals, this is the place to be.

vintage_clothes_unsplash

Mooshy La La

322 Smithdown Road, Penny Lane, Liverpool

Quiggins

35 Renshaw Street, Liverpool

Where to shop

Liverpool has a brilliant vintage shopping scene – from clothes to records, its place in pop culture history has given it a distinctive style. Just outside the main city, right near Penny Lane (yes, it’s a real place!), lies Mooshy La La. Even for those who aren’t looking to shop, it’s well worth a visit to enjoy the breathtaking interior: we’re talking Aladdin’s cave-level wonders right here.

The vintage wear doesn’t stop there – even more can be found at the old marketplace Quiggins, overflowing with stores housing everything from fashion and video games to vinyl, hairstylists and more. The building itself is worth a visit too even if you’re all shopped out.

Photo: The Cavern Club/VisitBritain

Cavern Club

10 Mathew Street, Liverpool

OK, OK – here’s where to get your Beatles fix

All right, we couldn’t go past one last Beatles-centric attraction. An old air raid shelter from WWII, the Cavern Club is where Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ first manager, first saw them play and subsequently secured their first recording contract. The club has live music every day from mid-afternoon through the night, making it a great spot any night of the week for a delicious ale and some local live music. The atmosphere itself has an amazing feel to it; you really do feel like you’re stepping back in time as you duck your head into the old air shelter and enter the world of ’60s pop.

Liverpool might be an oft-overlooked spot for travellers, but there’s so much to offer, from music and culture to military history, drinking and dining establishments and more. It’s well worth a weekend visit.

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London_Unlockedv2

48 Hours In London

Words by Siggy Jatvotnik

What makes London one of the world’s most inspiring capital cities? Is it the classic architecture? The distinctive boroughs? The excellent bar scene? All of the above and more: London is a city filled with inspiring people. In music, art, food and fashion, there are countless creative personalities that make the city hum. If you’re planning a trip, there’s no better way to explore London than by following in the footsteps of the city’s game changers: step into the eateries, bars and cultural hubs they’ve created… chances are you’ll never want to leave.

Ottolenghi

63 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill

Nopi

21-22 Warwick Street, Soho

Sanderson Hotel

50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia

Balls & Company

58 Greek Street, Soho

Where to eat

There’s no shortage of incredible food in London, not least because it’s where Yotam Ottolenghi calls home. The Israeli-born chef has a global reputation for his restaurants and recipe books, including the all-veggie tomes Plenty and Plenty More. Ottolenghi’s London delicatessens have made their mark in Notting Hill, Islington, Belgravia and Spitalfields, and in 2011 he opened the more formal Nopi in Soho. Equal parts fresh, wholesome and uniquely inventive, his one-of-a-kind take on Middle Eastern food is the perfect culmination of a modern, multicultural Britain.

If you’re after something more traditional, look no further than the classic British culinary experience: afternoon tea. Executive chef Matthew Marshall has crafted one of the most memorable gastronomic experiences in the city with his “Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea” at Fitzrovia’s luxe Sanderson Hotel. Combining his love of Lewis Carroll with a whimsical flair and a passion for fresh ingredients, Marshall has transformed what was originally a one-off event into a charming, beloved foodie destination, which now serves some 1500 afternoon teas per week.

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without bumping into a fellow Aussie (or two). Leading the Australian culinary contingent is Sydney-born Bonny Porter, who cut her teeth at Manly Wine by Gazebo, undertook a three-year apprenticeship with Neil Perry, and became Masterchef’s youngest ever finalist in 2012 before moving to London. She’s now responsible for the popular Balls & Company in Soho, London’s first gourmet meatball restaurant. Adding to her success, Porter has also opened speakeasy bar Company Below, located just downstairs from the eatery.

Photo: Dandelyan

Shoreditch Grind

213 Old Street, London

The Vault

3 Greek Street, Soho

Milk & Honey

61 Poland Street, Soho

White Lyan

153 – 155 Hoxton Street, London

Dandelyan

20 Upper Ground, London

Where to drink

Perched on the cusp of the famed Old Street Roundabout, you’ll find the Shoreditch Grind, Aussie Kaz James’ popular coffee joint and recording studio. The café serves up classic breakfast and lunch dishes by day and sourdough pizza by night, alongside small-batch coffee and inventive cocktails. In 2012, James – a Melbourne native who moved to London after being signed to Universal Records – installed an international grade recording studio above the café, where artists including Sam Smith and FKA Twigs have recorded. The Grind now has outposts across London in Covent Garden, Clerkenwell, Whitechapel and more.

Cocktail making is an oft-underappreciated art form in itself, but at Soho whisky bar The Vault at Milroy’s, head barman Chris Tanner gets to show off his unique talents on a daily basis. Seduced by the London nightlife, Tanner moved to the city from Paris to craft cocktails at speakeasy bar Milk & Honey before moving to The Vault, where, under his direction, a delightfully strict ‘no dickheads’ policy, a mouth-watering cocktail menu and delicious eats to match has made this one of London’s best-kept secrets.

Photo: Ryan Chetiyawardana, White Lyan

Ryan Chetiyawardana (AKA Mr Lyan), is another heavyweight on the London bar scene. The mixologist was twice crowned the UK Bartender Of The Year and took out the title of International Bartender Of The Year in 2015. In London, you can experience his innovative cocktails at Hoxton’s White Lyan, the first bar in the world that uses no perishables (so no ice and no fresh fruit). All of the spirits and cordials are house-made, making for truly one-of-a-kind drinks. You can also try Mr Lyan’s unusual take on classic cocktails at Dandelyan, a bar located in the Mondrian London hotel that overlooks the Thames.

Photo: Lights of Soho

Lights of Soho

35 Brewer Street, Soho

BoxPark Croydon

99 George Street, London

Bush Theatre

7 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush

 

Where to get a dose of culture

What happens when three incredibly creative minds come together to design an innovative new art space? Lights of Soho, that’s what. Those three minds belong to Londoners Dudley Nevill-Spencer, Hamish Jenkinson and Jonny Grant. Together, they’ve built a space that most of us only dream of – a year-round hub for music, art, fashion and theatre – not to mention food and drinks created in consultation with Michelin-starred chefs. From Mumford & Sons to Banksy protégé Dran, the trio is responsible for one of the hottest London spots for all kinds of creative talent.

Photo: Backyard Cinema/Facebook

The popularity of unusual film screenings in London may very well have started in Dominic Davies’ London backyard. After projecting Jurassic Park onto a bed sheet in his backyard, Davies discovered his mates and neighbours loved watching films outdoors, and Backyard Cinema was born. Backyard Cinema screenings of cult favourite films now run year-round at locations across the city, complete with deckchairs, live DJ sets, actors and set builds, making it a must-do for film lovers.

Markets have been a fixture of London life since the middle ages, and from the eclectic fare at Camden to the highly Instagrammable Columbia Flower Market, no other city does them quite as well. Roger Wade got in on the action in 2011, shaking up the scene with BoxPark Shoreditch, a market housed entirely in shipping containers. Wade’s now turned his attention to South London, opening BoxPark Croydon. A haven for foodies, the market features the city’s cult-favourite eateries like The Breakfast Club, MeatLiquor and Dum Dums Donutterie, alongside a program of over 200 events a year, including spoken word nights run by Well Versed, reggae Sunday sessions and acoustic afternoons featuring local talent.

If you’re more of a theatre buff, take note. There’s a new artistic director in town who is pushing for a more diverse representation of the city’s population on stage. Thirty-five-year-old Madani Younis is the first non-white artistic director in a major London theatre company. In his role at the newly refurbished Bush Theatre at Uxbridge Road, Younis kicked off the 2017 season with Black Lives, Black Words, a sold-out series of plays inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. At least 50 percent of the shows staged at the Bush Theatre this season feature the work of minority and refugee writers.

London is known for being one of the world’s greatest cultural hubs – but more than its history, art, music and innovation, it’s the people that make all the difference to this great city.

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Manchester_Unlockedv2

48 Hours In Manchester

Words by Clem Bastow

Just a couple of hours from London via train, Manchester has long nipped at the heels of its capital cousin when it comes to music, art and nightlife. The city that brought us The Smiths, New Order, Oasis and the entire “Madchester” explosion continues to stake its claim as one of the UK’s most exciting cultural centres. Two days is barely enough time to scratch the surface of all Manchester has to offer, but here’s a 48-hour Warehouse City tasting menu that’ll keep you coming back for more.

Bijou Club

1-7 Chapel Street, Manchester

Manchester Gay Village

Canal Street, Manchester

Vanilla

39-41 Richmond Street, Manchester

G-A-Y

Canal Street, Manchester

Night & Day

26 Oldham Street, Manchester

Matt And Phreds

64 Tip Street, Northern Quarter

Where to party

Want to rub shoulders with the rich and famous? Follow in the footsteps of Justin Bieber, Drake, and countless other notables by getting your drink on at Bijou Club. With a strict door policy (dress fancy – like, really fancy), Bijou Club is one of the Deansgate area’s most prestigious club experiences. It’s the place to be if you love spotting the odd celebrity – or if you’re in the mood to act like one yourself.

Canal Street and the Manchester Gay Village is not only the place that inspired Queer As Folk – it’s one of the world’s most famous LGBTQI centres. There’s plenty to do in the Village, with more than 40 venues catering to every whim, from fun-loving lesbian club Vanilla and the Manchester contingent of famed London mega-club G-A-Y, to cosy cafes, bars and intimate live music venues.

Described as “The jewel in Manchester’s crown” by Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Night & Day has been a key player in the city’s music scene since 1991. First and foremost is music: from club nights to live music and from upcoming local acts to world-conquering stars, the club caters to everyone Night & Day never forgets to acknowledge its roots as a humble cafe: the Night & Day Kitchen will feed your stomach as well as your ears.

If jazz is more your thing, head over to the infamous Matt And Phreds. The club offers up to six gig nights each week, but is perhaps best known for its monthly Blues Jam, the most raucous Monday night you’ll find – guaranteed. The stage and house band open their collective arms to anyone game enough to bring down their instrument – or voice. If you’re lucky, you might even witness the birth of a star: a young lady by the name of Adele has graced the Matt And Phreds stage.

Photo: Unsplash

Proper Tea

10 Cateaton Street, Manchester

V Rev Vegan Diner

Ballin House, 20-26 Edge Street, Northern Quarter

Foundation Coffee House

Sevendale House, Lever Street, Manchester

Soup Kitchen

31-33 Spear Street, Manchester

Cafe Football

Sir Matt Busby Way, Stretford, Manchester

Where to eat

Hankering for a spot of tea, and maybe a slice or two of Victoria sponge? Not only is Proper Tea a pun-tastic name, it’s a fun, contemporary spin on the classic British tea-room, perfect for anyone looking to soak up that traditional English experience. From toasted sarnies to scones to the full British afternoon tea (yes, with the little sandwiches, three tiers of sweet treats and everything else you’ve ever dreamed of), there’s plenty to feast on indeed – but most importantly, be sure to indulge in the extensive loose-leaf tea menu that will make your own tea collection look positively tiny.

Manchester has a thriving vegan scene, with a smorgasbord of options from healthy curries and falafel all the way to junk food, which is where V Rev Vegan Diner comes in. The all-vegan diner, located in its new home in the retro-cool Northern Quarter since late last year, has gone from strength to strength since its inception, and now offers a mind-boggling range of baked goods, burgers, sandwiches and more. Stick to this bohemian area in the backstreets of Manchester and you’ll also discover a wealth of great coffee joints (try Takk or Foundation Coffee House), plus vintage and vinyl stores to explore once you’ve got your caffeine fix.

Can’t decide between a delicious dinner and night out on the town? Swing by the Soup Kitchen for a bit of everything. As the name suggests, it’ll certainly fill your stomach, with seasonal fresh food, craft beers and cask ales. More than that, the award-winning canteen doubles as a killer music venue, with two floors of live music and club nights all week long.

We can’t talk about Manchester without mentioning one of the city’s greatest loves: football. Though it’s well worth going to a match in person, if you don’t manage to get your hands on tickets, head to Cafe Football, a (you guessed it) football-themed eatery at Old Trafford owned by Manchester United icons Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. The food is levels above what you’d find at a stadium stall: dig into upmarket blood pudding and pork shoulder sausage roll and catch a game on one of the huge screens.

Photo: Fred Aldous

Fred Aldous

37 Lever Street, Manchester

Museum of Science and Industry

Liverpool Road, Manchester

Islington Mill

James Street, Salford

 

Where to get a dose of culture

We know, we know, there’s so much eating and drinking and dancing to do that it might be hard to get your fill of culture – but creative types owe it to themselves to visit the venerable Fred Aldous. Established in 1886, the big, cheerful building is crammed to the brim with all manner of art and craft supplies (there’s even a resident laser cutter!) and bustling with artists and knowledgeable staff alike. If you feel really inspired by your time in Manchester, you might even decide to rent an easel for a bit of creativity en plein air.

Photo: Museum of Science and Industry/Facebook

If you’re hoping to live out your wildest 24 Hour Party People dreams, alas, “Madchester” icon the Hacienda closed two decades ago. That said, the Museum of Science and Industry now hosts a sentimental collection of Hacienda and Factory Records memorabilia – you can even make an appointment to look through the Factory archive. It’s not quite an acid house rave, but it’s a really unique opportunity to cop an up close and personal look at the legendary institution.

Photo: Islington Mill/Facebook

Though it’s officially in Greater Manchester (in Salford, to be precise), it’s only a short skip across the river to visit Islington Mill, a sprawling, ever-evolving creative hub and arts community housed in a collection of heritage buildings. With an inspiring range of artists in residence, the peer-led Art Academy, and even a lovely bed and breakfast, it’s a must-see for anyone who is or would like to be an artist. Islington Mill is also where you’ll find an intriguing variety of music events.

One of the most exciting, thriving entertainment hubs in the UK, Manchester is a must-visit location for any music, food and arts-loving holidaymakers. With an endless array of clubs, pubs, restaurants, and more, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend, a week or longer stay.

For more information on your next trip to Britain, check out visitbritain.com/britainunlocked.

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