the most popular visitor attractions in the UK
The results of the UK’s favourite tourist destinations were recently released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA). ALVA is divided into three group, Gardens & Leisure, Heritage & Cathedrals, and Museums & Galleries. Therefore, because venues such as Madam Tussauds and Alton Towers are not members, they don’t appear on the list.
The British Museum has been named as the UK’s most popular attraction for the tenth year in a row. The top ten entries are all based in London while the top attractions outside the capital were Chester Zoo, the National Museum of Scotland, and Edinburgh Castle.
The British Museum is one of the largest museums in the world, covering an area of over 92,000 m2 with over 100 galleries open to the public. Its permanent collection includes 8 million works dedicated to human history, art, and culture. You can journey through ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and study priceless collections from every continent on the planet.
The latest exhibitions include: The American Dream pop to present, tracing sixty years of the USA’s superpower history through giant prints from American artists such as Andy Warhol, running until June 2017.
The National Gallery sits in the heart of London at Trafalgar Square and is open for 361 days a year with free entry. It houses works by some of the greatest and most famous artists in history, and contains over 2,300 paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries. The current highlight exhibition features masterpieces by Michelangelo and Sebastiano del Piombo, running to June 2017.
The Tate Modern is one of the largest modern art museums in the world and opened a new 10-storey extension in 2016. It’s located in a former power station close to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Turbine Hall once housed the station’s power generators but now hosts large-scale specially-commissioned works each year from artists such as Damien Hirst. It even supports music concerts and was a venue for a temporary residency by Kraftwerk.
Where else would you find dinosaurs in London? The National History Museum contains almost 80 million items from the animal and natural kingdoms across five collections, including those obtained by a certain Charles Darwin. Perhaps the most famous object is the gigantic Diplodocus skeleton cast at the entrance of the museum. “Dippy”, the 70ft replica made up of 292 bones, was taken down for repair in January 2017 and will tour museums throughout the UK in early 2018.
The multi-venue centre on the banks of the Thames is a year-round hive of activity presenting countless festivals of art, culture, theatre and music. It hosts over 5000 events catering to every taste from world-famous artists and performers. Currently, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery are closed for refurbishment but will re-open in 2018. London’s South Bank itself is a throng of bars, café, pop-ups, and festivals.