London—like New York City, Paris, Tokyo—is never not buzzing with something new, something headline making. But the year 2023 is poised to be a special one for the entire United Kingdom, starting as early as next month with major events across London, Manchester, and Liverpool, to name a few. Here’s what to know before planning a trip to the U.K. this summer.
Something about a king . . .
Even if “witnessing the Coronation of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen Consort” is way down your to-do list, the coronation weekend is one to bookmark for trip-planning purposes. The May 6 ceremony will begin with a 1.3-mile procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey, where the coronation takes place at 11 a.m., and then back again for the traditional waving from the balcony. King Charles III wants the whole ceremony to be “lower key,” reports the Associated Press, so the procession will be shorter than his mother’s, which wound 5.5 miles through London in 1953; this route will go past Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square, and the houses of Parliament. A Coronation Concert, airing on BBC, will take place on Windsor Castle’s East Lawn on May 7.
London tube transit will run per usual, though some streets will be closed and bus routes altered. Transport for London recommends baking in more time to all your travels from May 5 to 8.
Naturally, some businesses are leaning into the coronation theme. One Aldwych, a Covent Garden luxury hotel known for its family-friendly programming (like a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea), has a Royal Jewels and Iconic Sights experience (now through September 30) that includes a Thames boat ride and private viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, along with two nights in a luxury suite. (Those suites have been beautifully redone, if I may say.) Get even closer to the action at the Guardsman, a five-star Preferred boutique hotel smack in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, offering its own “New Guard” package.
Eurovision finals come to Liverpool
My exposure to Eurovision is limited to the Netflix comedy starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, but I plan to change that this year by following the finals, staged in UNESCO City of Music Liverpool, May 9–13. The whole point behind the Eurovision Song Contest, going back to the late 1950s, was to unite the continent with a live, simultaneous, transnational broadcast—one of the earliest TV events. Per Eurovision lore, the first contest saw seven nations compete: the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, and Italy. “Austria and Denmark wanted to take part but missed the deadline, and the United Kingdom sent their apologies as they were busy with their own contest that year.” No such declined invitations this year: Liverpool will host on behalf of last year’s winner, Ukraine, with a Eurovision Village set up at Pier Head on the city’s waterfront. General tickets are sold out but hospitality suites and related events at the Village are still available.
Where to stay: Pullman Liverpool
The Manchester art scene caught my eye this year, especially since I learned about the programming for this summer’s Manchester International Festival (June 29–July 16), a boundary-blurring new works fest that features a three-day Janelle Monáe residency (June 30–July 2) and the city’s largest-ever Yayoi Kusama exhibit (You, Me and the Balloons). I dream about bouncing from this festival to Edinburgh Fringe in August for the ultimate U.K. art crawl. And yes, I will happily pay the effective-April-1 tourist tax levied on a night’s stay in Manchester (£1) for the privilege.
Also opening in time for the festival is Factory International, a 140,000-square-foot home for the biannual MIF event and year-round programming: theater, dance, music, performance art, visual art, and studios. Years in the making, the space is a work of art in itself, designed by Ellen van Loon of the Rem Koolhaas–founded Office for Metropolitan Architecture.
Where to stay
World cycling championships arrives in Scotland
For 11 days this August, it may seem everyone in Scotland is on two wheels: The UCI Cycling World Championships (Aug 3-13) debuts in Glasgow in epic fashion. There will be track, indoor, para-cycling, and BMX in Glasgow arenas, mountain biking in Glentress Forest, and road racing up to Stirling and across the Highlands. More than 2,600 athletes will compete for world titles—if seeing all these cycling phenoms doesn’t inspire you to hop on a bike, I don’t know what will.
Where to stay Virgin Hotel Glasgow
More hotels, more direct flights
British Airways has added daily nonstop flights between London Heathrow and Portland, Oregon (PDX), as well as a new direct route between Heathrow and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Boeing 787 Dreamliners, as Barbara Peterson reported in her roundup of new international flight routes we’re excited about this year. Virgin Atlantic will connect London to Austin and Tampa; Delta will fly direct daily between Atlanta and Edinburgh as of May; United will fly twice daily from Newark to Edinburgh; and Manchester now has direct flights to New York–JFK, Orlando, Houston, and Atlanta.
Once in London, there’s a veritable hotel boom happening: The opening of the Raffles London at the OWO is the biggest news, though we also have our eyes on the new Mandarin Oriental in Mayfair, St. Regis London, Peninsula London, Park Hyatt London River Thames, and 1 Hotel Mayfair, the first of the sustainable hotel brand to arrive in the U.K. More to come soon with our list of the best hotels in London right now.
This article was originally published on April 13. It has been updated with new information.