Days out 2009: Not much time to spare? How about an awayday

This year's crop of new visitor attractions proves you don't need to go far to enjoy a break. Simone Kane rounds up what to see and do


1. Homecoming Scotland 2009


This is the year to head north of the border, where a countrywide programme of events and activities celebrating Scotland's contribution to the world takes place throughout 2009. Festivities kick off on the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns and continue until St Andrew's Day. Highlights include the Burns Light Festival in Dumfries and the Edinburgh International Science Festival.



Details: 25 Jan to 30 Nov ( www.homecomingscotland2009.com).



2. Norwich Dragon Festival

Once England's second city, Norwich will be celebrating its historical and cultural links with the mythical dragon in a new three-week festival, with events taking place in some of its most beautiful and ancient buildings. The programme includes sculpture exhibitions, talks on how the dragon became such a powerful symbol in the city's history, and children's events.

Details: 31 Jan to 22 Feb (01603 305575; www.norwich12.co.uk/dragonfestival).



3. Down House, Kent

One of the most significant centenaries being marked this year is Darwin200 (darwin200.org), celebrating the 200th anniversary of the scientist's birth. Down House was his home for more than 40 years and will reopen in February. In a revamped visitor experience, new technology such as handheld multimedia tours and on-site and online interactive displays will explore his life and work.

Details: from 13 Feb (01689 859119; www.english-heritage.org.uk/downhouse).



4. Wallace & Gromit, London

The Science Museum will be putting on a full programme of events throughout the year in celebration of its 100th birthday. But one of its biggest draws will be the special exhibition, Wallace & Gromit Present ... A World of Cracking Ideas. In a fun family experience, inimitable inventor Wallace and his lovable sidekick, Gromit, will take visitors on an "inspirational and sensory journey of discovery" through some significant inventions.

Details: 28 Mar to 1 Nov (0870 870 4868; www.sciencemuseum.org.uk).



5. Snowdonia

The 350,000 people who reach the summit of Snowdonia annually will be able take a well-deserved rest at the new visitor centre and café from later on this year. Hafod Eryri, designed by Ray Hole, will withstand extreme weather, the roof will bow to preserve the landscape, while two glass walls will offer views up to the cairn and down the valley. Also opening this year is a new stretch of railway between Caernarfon and Porthmadog, making Snowdonia truly accessible without a car for the first time.

Details: from spring/summer (01766 770274; www.eryri-npa.gov.uk).



6. Kenilworth Castle

May sees the official opening of the Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Once one of the greatest gardens of the Elizabethan age, it was commissioned by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The garden has been designed to be as close to the splendour of the original as possible, featuring a bejewelled aviary and a marble fountain.

Details: from May (01926 852078; www.english-heritage.org.uk).

7. Hadrian's Wall

For the first time in almost 1,600 years, Hadrian's Wall will be garrisoned once more. In May, historical re-enactors will be stationed at Mile Castles and Forts along the World Heritage Site, in one of the largest human interactions with the Northumberland and Cumbrian landscape. Later in the year, the entire 73 miles of the wall will be illuminated in another first.

Details: The Living Frontier, 28-31 May (01434 322002; www.hadrians-wall.org); Lighting of the Wall, to be scheduled in November or December ( www.northumberlandlights.com).



8. Ulster Museum

The touring collections of the Ulster Museum will be able to set down roots again when their permanent home reopens after a two-and-a-half-year redevelopment. The Belfast museum will have a further 1,225 metres of exhibition space in which to display its art, archaeology, local history and natural science collections. Additions include a Hall of Wonders, a new rooftop gallery housing its glass, jewellery and silverware, a bespoke lecture theatre, and a glass-fronted restaurant.

Details: from June 2009 (028-9042 8428; www.ulstermuseum.org.uk).



9. Manchester Festival

This year sees the second instalment of the biennial festival, which was launched to great acclaim in 2007. The only commissioning arts festival in the world has just announced the first three shows to feature in its 2009 event. Highlights include Rufus Wainright's debut opera, Prima Donna.

Details: 2-19 July (0161-238 7300; www.mif.co.uk).



10. River Tone Boat

From summer, visitors to Taunton will be able to board a solar-powered boat to enjoy short trips from the town up the river Tone and longer jaunts on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. The sustainable, silent boat will provide an accessible as well as innovative and unobtrusive way to enjoy the river environment.

Details: from summer ( www.somerset-waterways.org).

Sue MacGregor, Broadcaster

"My favourite cultural space is The Lightbox, in Woking, which is set in an unlikely place for a modern art gallery and local history museum. The building is an inspired design. The contents are intriguing, well-chosen and fun and local volunteers with knowledge and enthusiasm guide visitors ."

The Lightbox (01483-737800; www.thelightbox.org.uk) won The Art Fund Prize for Museums and Galleries 2008. Sue MacGregor chaired the panel of judges. This year's award will be made on 18 June at RIBA in London.

Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
VIDEO
Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Fresh hope: Ruth Womak and her dog Jess. A free training course in basic computing skills changed Ruth’s life
educationHow a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
News
Rohff is one of France’s most popular rappers
people
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

    Sports coaching volunteer jobs

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Kaya Responsible Travel offer a variety of sp...

    Turtle Nesting and Coral Reef Conservation in Borneo

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: Volunteer with Kaya in Borneo and work on a p...

    Elephant research project in Namibia

    Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: If you have a passion for elephants and want ...

    Day In a Page

    Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    The Poles who brought prosperity
    Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

    Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

    The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
    Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

    Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

    Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
    The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

    Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

    South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
    Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

    Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

    The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
    Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

    Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

    Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 (£17,800) to $250,000 (£149,000) for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
    The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

    World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

    Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
    Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

    Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

    The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

    It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
    Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world