Need a reason to visit England in 2015? Here’s 10

Like most Irish people, I’m willing to bet, my first foray outside of Irish soil was to England, to London to be precise (no awards for originality here). So, I’ve always had a soft spot for visits to England, from the Georgian gorgeousness of Bath to the quaint countryside of Windsor. There’s always a reason to visit England – major sports events, fashion and art exhibitions, music extravaganzas, historic anniversaries, food festivals – you name it, it’s happening in England.

So here’s 10 things to see and do in England in 2015, if you needed an excuse to visit:

  1. SPORT – Rugby World Cup 2015, (18 September – 31 October 2015)

The world’s third largest sporting event hits England in 2015 and the six week-long tournament is the perfect excuse for a road-trip around the English countryside, including ample opportunity to see the best of the ten host cities: London, Brighton, Gloucester, Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Exeter and Manchester. www.visitengland.com/rugby www.rugbyworldcup.com

  1. LITERATURE – 150 years of Alice in Wonderland, Oxford (26 November 2015 / year-round)

White rabbit! White rabbit! As well as inspiring one of the best songs of all time, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has left an indelible cultural footprint. This much-adored book is 150 years old in 2015 and fans of Alice, the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat can celebrate Alice Day on 4 July at The Story Museum at the University City of Oxford, birthplace of the trippy tale. Alice Day will include a Mad Hatter’s tea party, exhibitions, storytelling, promenade theatre and Alice-themed walks and talks. Magical. www.storymuseum.org.uk www.aliceinwonderlandshop.co.uk/tours

  1. HISTORY – 800 years of Magna Carta, (15 June 2015 / year-round)

Long before the tepid Jay Z record, 800 years to be exact, the Magna Carta was sealed by King John and his barons and this hugely important document outlines ideas of freedom, democracy and rule of law which influenced both the US Bill of Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights. The four original copies of the Magna Carta will be reunified at the British Library and there’ll be more celebratory activities around the country. www.magnacarta800th.com www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/magna-carta

  1. SPORT – Women’s and Men’s Boat Races Combined, Henley-on-Thames and London (11 April 2015)

In a revolutionary move that breaks with 183 years of tradition, the Women’s Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge will achieve equal billing with the more famous men’s event in 2015 as the two events are combined. Instead of kicking off at Henley-on-Thames, the women’s race will move to the traditional race location of Tideway in 2015. About time, right? www.theboatrace.org

  1. CULTURE – New shows at London’s West End 

Like Broadway in New York, a night out to a show in London’s West End is a must-do on any LDN expedition. 2015 has some exciting new shows well worth your sterling. First up, exactly 30 years after the original Back To The Future film made its cinematic debut, the time-traveling adventure returns, this time as a stage musical. Can’t wait to check out those hoverboards! On a more magical note, the early years of wizard Harry Potter will be explored in a new stage play, co-produced by author JK Rowling and set to feature all your favourite characters from the Harry Potter series. Finally, Broadway’s high-heeled musical smash Kinky Boots graces the UK next year. With music by the legendary Cyndi Lauper, this show tells the tale of a struggling shoe factory owner, Charlie, who forms an unlikely partnership with ultra-glam drag queen Lola to save the business. Sounds AMAZING. Go to www.visitlondon.com.

  1. MORE LITERATURE – 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth (15 September 2015)

Long before Metronomy christened their third album with the name, The English Riviera was famous for another reason – Agatha Christie. From the Agatha Christie Mile to September’s International Agatha Christie Festival and her beloved estate at the National Trust’s Greenway, Christie’s legacy is best discovered on the English Riviera, South Devon’s beautiful bay. www.englishriviera.co.uk/agathachristie www.agathachristiefestival.com

  1. WWII – 50th Anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s Death (24 January 2015 / year-round)

Discover Churchill’s England by visiting his birthplace in Blenheim Palace just outside Oxford, where Churchill enthusiasts can visit the room in which he was born and the romantic gardens where he popped the question to Clementine. War aficionados will love Churchill War Rooms in London where you can see the Cabinet War Rooms, the bunker where Churchill and his government sheltered during the Blitz and hear some of his rousing speeches. www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms / www.churchillcentral.com

  1. FILM – Far From The Madding Crowd (released 1 May 2015)

Expect a flurry of film enthusiasts to descend on Dorset in summer 2015 after the release of Far From the Madding Crowd. 141 years since the publication of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, the Hollywood adaptation features a stellar British cast including Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge. However, the film’s biggest star will be Dorset locations Beaminster, Bridport and Mapperton House. www.visit-dorset.com / www.mapperton.com

  1. THEME PARK – Dreamland opens in Margate (Phase One pencilled to open in spring 2015)

Back in the day Dreamland was one of the UK’s best-loved amusement parks and in 2015, the popular theme park is set to come alive again. With award-winning designer Wayne Hemingway leading the way, Dreamland version 2.0 is a must for lovers of good old-fashioned amusement rides. www.dreamlandmargate.com

  1. ECO – Bristol, European Green Capital (throughout 2015)

Long respected as one of the UK’s leading green cities, Bristol now has the official title to boot. Highlights of the ‘green’ themed year include Bristol’s Big Green Week, Festival of Nature, Bristol’s Biggest Bike Ride, Bristol Green Doors and Bristol Cycle Festival. Check out my guide to Bristol here. www.visitbristol.co.uk/european-green-capital

Keep an eye on www.visitengland.com for more information on these events and many more.  And, here’s a selection of snaps from my favourite places in England…

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