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London voted favourite destinati on for Arts and Culture at Condé Nast ME Traveller Readers’ Awards

The ceremony was held on 11 November 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Dubai Palm Jumeirah, where VisitBritain’s Regional Director, Sumathi Ramanathan received the award.

Ramanathan said: “We are extremely proud that the UK has won this award and featured in the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice selection.  We are particularly honoured to receive this award as it constitutes a direct vote of confidence from our GCC customers.  With its unrivalled mix of history, culture, culinary gems and cutting-edge creativity, I’m confident that these accolades will keep coming as Britain continues to surprise and excite more visitors from the GCC.”

Visitors from the GCC markets have indicated their growing love of Britain as a holiday destination with record numbers visiting during the first six months of 2015.  The latest results from the Office of National Statistics International Passenger Survey recently revealed that across the first six months of 2015 there were increases in visits, nights and spend from the GCC.  Visits rose 2% set further a first 6 month record (282,000) while spend was up 3%, reaching new heights (£677 million).  This surge in visitor numbers reflects the ever evolving and expanding tourism offer in Britain, from world class exhibitions, blockbuster entertainment and major sporting and cultural events.


While London remains to a leader in the tourism space, the cultural offering of cities outside the capital is world-renowned, and visitors will quickly discover that whether their preference is for old or contemporary, for art, dance or theatre – or even street art, street dance or street theatre – a vacation to Britain will entertain, inspire and engage them.


What’s new for 2016?

The cultural attractions of Britain are dynamic and always offer something new. 2016 is set to be another strong year for arts, theatre and film lovers, as well as for families.

Shakespeare: In commemoration of the 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare, Shakespeare\'s England will host a range of new exhibitions in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016, as part of the celebrations of Shakespeare\'s legacy. These include a new immersive theatrical experience at the Royal Shakespeare Company; a reimagining of New Place following a major restoration project, and Shakespeare\'s School room will be open for the first time at King Edward VI School. Meanwhile, at the RSC, a new exhibition will open, highlighting the work of the directors, writers, actors, designers and creative theatre makers who have shaped the RSC in its 130-year history.www.shakespeare.org.uk 


The National Museums of Scotland will open ten new galleries in 2016 displaying National Museums Scotland’s internationally important collections of Science and Technology and Art and Design, showcasing more than 3,500 objects (www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/discover-the-museum/new-galleries). London’s Design Museum will be moving to the former Commonwealth Institute in London’s Kensington and under its copper-clad hyperbolic roof, this Grade II-listed building will boast snazzy new interiors by John Pawson (http://designmuseum.org). Beautifully located overlooking Porthmeor Beach in Cornwall in south-west England, Tate St Ives is undergoing refurbishment that will see the gallery space double and visitor experiences improved (www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/tate-st-ives-phase-two). And put 2018 in your diaries for the opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Dundee, Scotland. It will be uber-modern in design and is architect Kenzo Kuma’s first British commission. www.vandadundee.org


There’s plenty to get excited about in the art world towards the end of 2015 going into 2016. Liverpool will host the ninth edition of the largest contemporary art festival in Britain, Liverpool Biennial, which takes over the city for ten weeks (www.biennial.com). Birmingham’s Museum & Art Gallery in central England will show Enchanted Dreams: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Edward Robert Hughes (17 Oct 2015 – Feb 2016 – dates TBC), the first exhibition dedicated to Hughes and his work in more than a century (www.bmag.org.uk). The first-ever exhibition focusing solely on the portraits of Goya will run at London’s National Gallery (7 Oct 2015 – 10 Jan 2016) (www.nationalgallery.org.uk), while the Life Science Centre in Newcastle, north-east England, will host a new exhibition of the wonders of the ancient, modern and natural worlds built out of Lego – Brick Wonders (28 Nov 2015 – 31 Jan 2016).


Tarzan: Tarzan, now living in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle, a plot that has led to filming taking place in several British locations. A visit to these destinations demonstrates Britain’s diversity as a film location. Windsor Great Park is 5,000 acres of parkland, comprising a Deer Park, formal avenues, gardens, woodland and open grassland. Kedleston Hall, close to the city of Derby, is a National Trust-owned 18th-century mansion, while Dinorwig Quarry in Llanberis, north Wales, is a former slate quarry and also home to the Welsh National Slate Museum. www.thecrownestate.co.uk/windsor/windsor-great-park   www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kedleston-hall, www.museumwales.ac.uk/slate

Through the Looking Glass: In May 2016, Disney will release Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland, with filming rumoured to be taking place in Britain. The Alice in Wonderland story was originally written by English author Lewis Carroll and Oxford is considered the birthplace of the story as Carroll lived there for most of his life. Create your own Alice adventure; download the app, Follow the White Rabbit, and follow a digital 3D audio-visual trail through Llandudno in north Wales where the real Alice used to holiday. www.alicetowntrails.co.uk


Roald Dahl classic, the BFG, is coming to the silver screen in 2016 and this year will mark the centenary of Welsh author Roald Dahl’s birth. Learn more about the author at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire, south-east England, or visit Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, and visit the Little Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay where Roald Dahl was baptised. www.visitwales.com, www.roalddahl.com

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