Centuries of Celtic Kingdoms, Roman occupation, Viking raids and Saxon settlements have left a wealth of historic sights across Great Britain and Ireland. Thousands of visitors come to these countries each year to discover the history and culture of the British and Emerald Isles, many in search of their ancestral roots. In our readers’ poll, we asked which historic sights you would most like to visit on a trip to Britain. The ancient stone circle, Stonehenge topped the list followed by the Scottish Highlands, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Blarney Castle. Legendary Loch Ness and the observation wheel, the London Eye also placed well in the results.
You are never far from history when travelling in Great Britain and Ireland. It seems that down every country lane and on every city block there is something of historical interest if not a sight of major importance. This makes walking a very popular way to explore. By walking the city streets or across the countryside you can directly encounter much to inspire you.
The strong appreciation for cultural heritage and traditions also delights visitors. From the Changing of the Guard in London to the Highland Games in Scotland, Irish step dancing to Welch choirs, traditions are kept alive wherever you travel.
These ancient lands are not stuck in the past however. 21st century and modern European influences are evident as many changes take place.
- The return of the governing parliament to Scotland has brought with it renewed national pride. Amongst the many fresh new architectural achievements is the unique Scottish parliament building in Edinburgh.
- The local English cuisine, once maligned for being greasy and bland, is now on the culinary map with the New English Cuisine while the Irish and Scottish culinary renaissance is drawing on local, high quality ingredients for use in new and imaginative dishes.
- Ireland’s successful technology sector has made it a European leader in the high tech field.
- The shopping scene has also been evolving with everything from new designers to new markets. Selfridges, the famous department store and one of the grand old ladies of Oxford Street, is now in the fashion and design frontlines with a new look and a range of events featured in-store art competitions, cooking demonstrations, exhibitions. For the start of this year’s Formula 1 season you can drive the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes simulator in the men’s formal wear department.
Innovation and Enhancements
Innovative attractions plus enhancements to traditional sights continue to appear giving visitors something exciting to experience each year in Great Britain and Ireland.
- London’s revitalized South Bank/Bankside district has changed the look of Thames side. The $91 million facelift called Festival Riverside includes a wide promenade dotted with art installations, cafés, galleries, shops, and open-air performance spaces, replacing the once bleak area.
- Public places in England and Great Britain are now smoke-free. Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, restaurants and even pubs now observe the no-smoking policy. Smokers will have to sit at outdoor patios when dining.
- One long term plan is to move the road that passes close to Stonehenge so the ancient sight can be more peaceful and remote on the Salisbury Plain. A new visitor’s centre will be added.
- Scots and those who love Scotland are invited to return in 2009 for “Homecoming Scotland” a year of events to celebrate the many great contributions this tiny country has given the world amongst them Golf, Whisky, the Enlightenment and Innovation, and of course the national poet, Robbie Burns – 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of his birth. The largest gathering of the clans in history takes place in Edinburgh, July 25 & 26, 2009.
- Belfast has opened a 60 metre high observation wheel, similar to the London Eye. Situated at the City Hall grounds in the middle of town, it takes 330 passengers at a time on a 15 minute ride.
- The spectacular Cliffs of Moher rise 214 metres from the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s west coast and are Ireland’s most visited attraction. The exciting new interpretive centre, Atlantic Edge has been built underground. It features interactive exhibits and displays exploring four elements of the Cliffs; ocean, rock, nature and man. An aerial tour entitled The Clare Journey is shown on a central screen.
There’s plenty to see and do that will inspire you in Great Britain and Ireland.
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