For a lot of Americans traveling to the UK, it’s easy to get caught up in activities that can be labeled as “touristy.” You may spend a few days and nights in London experiencing the city, taking photos of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and exploring various museums. You may book a tour that takes you through some of the beautiful countryside and not-so-remote castle ruins. Or, for a slightly more adventurous trip, you may venture to an historic site like Stonehenge, or a national park area like the Lakes District. All of these are perfectly worthy activities that can expose you to beautiful and fascinating locations. However, none of them really exposes you to the culture and atmosphere of the country.
This is why it’s also a good idea to find a few specific events to take in when booking a trip to the UK. Festivals, gatherings, athletic contests, etc. are often some of the best places to enjoy yourself abroad. So, while you should absolutely take the time to see the famous sights while visiting the UK, consider planning your trip around one (or a few) of these annual events as well.
Up Helly Aa
Two words: fire festival. You won’t find many gatherings as unique, strange, or oddly enjoyable as Up Helly Aa, which is essentially a Scottish celebration of Viking culture and heritage. Held each January in Lerwick—it’s an area that once belonged to Vikings—the celebration is like diving back in time for 24 hours. There are Viking costumes, lit torches, various fire-related displays, and a main event that consists of lighting a replica Viking ship aflame out on the water. The Telegraph’s incredible gallery of images from events past will give you a clear idea of what sort of atmosphere to expect.Continue Reading...