The best staycation activities in the North and Scotland
Tuesday 02nd July 2019
Throw out your passport. Forget the 5am dash to the airport. There are so many great things to see and do in Britain this summer that the smart move is to stay put, sleep in your own bed and plan the world’s greatest daytrips instead. Here are eight great reasons to hop on a TransPennine Express train and make Northern England and Scotland your playground this summer.
Whether you watched the original back in the ’90s, or love the reboot with Richard Ayoade, you no doubt spend every episode shouting at the TV and despairing of the hapless contestants on this fiendish puzzle game. Now’s your chance to prove your own escape chops in Manchester’s recently opened Crystal Maze Live Experience, testing brain and brawn in the Medieval, Industrial, Aztec and Futuristic zones – then flailing for tokens in the iconic Crystal Dome. Whatever you do, don’t get locked in…
With the Reds flying high after their nail-biting Champions League victory, there’s never been a better time to take a guided tour of the mighty Anfield stadium. Psych yourself up into the team dressing rooms. Scream yourself hoarse in the manager’s dugout. Tap the lucky-charm This Is Anfield sign. Or simply stand pitchside on the Kop stand, throw back your head – and breathe in the sporting history that has played out on this hallowed turf since 1892.
If you’re wowed by GoMA’s neo-classical architecture, just wait until you get inside this powerhouse of Scottish contemporary art and feed your mind with four galleries including this year’s TASTE! exhibition. But your culture-vulture daytrip doesn’t have to end there. Make your next stop the newly opened roof terrace of Mackintosh At The Willow, the none-more-stylish tea room set in a building designed by fabled Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Slake your thirst for knowledge at the Edinburgh treasure-trove that makes other museums feel nervous and insecure. Coax your kids off their smartphones in the hands-on technology zone. Gawp at genetic-science icon Dolly The Sheep and skedaddle to keep up with the human hamster wheel. Plus, don’t miss this summer’s newly opened Wild And Majestic collection that showcases images of Scotland, and the Body Beautiful exhibition that examines diversity on the catwalk.
The steel city suddenly seems much softer when you visit this world-class wildlife centre. The kaleidoscope of exotic butterflies might take top billing, but there’s plenty more to stroke here, whether you prefer the plushy inhabitants of Lemur Heights and Meerkat Mansion – or the flesh-creeping critters from the Tropical House. A daily programme of Animal Encounters runs from 11am – but visit in the summer holidays to see a cast of trained skunks, rats and birds perform in the madcap pantomime.
With all that money you’ve saved on airfares, you can justify a little retail therapy – and the Leeds Corn Exchange is one of the North’s hippest shopping hubs. Built in 1864, this domed beauty is a world away from faceless retail parks – and the same goes for the quirky indie boutiques selling the threads you’ll never find in the chain stores. Once you’ve shopped, flop in the Little Leeds Beerhouse, the Ground Up Coffee Company or on-trend hummus bar Humpit.
You can’t miss the Baltic: it’s the eye-catching former flower mill on the banks of the River Tyne, where heavy industry has now made way for head-turning modern art. Open from 10am daily, there’s always a happening: swing by this summer for Mick Peter’s playful To Me To You exhibition, the Woman evening of South Asian film and the Baltic Is Curious event’s drag performances and examinations of gender.
There’s nothing quite so quintessentially British as sitting back in the sunshine, sipping something cool and cheering a top-flight cricket team as they slog their way to victory. This summer, switch off the TV coverage and take your friendly TPE train service to the Emirates Riverside stadium, where upcoming home fixtures include clashes with Worcestershire and Leicestershire – and pundits predict sixes galore.
If you're inspired to head off on a staycation then book your Advance Train Ticket today. You could save over 50%.