Whilst young people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland took almost 1.4 million fewer holidays at home in the UK last year compared to a decade ago, millennials the world over are flocking in their droves to travel our shores (12.37 million in 2016). As VisitEngland, in partnership with the national tourism organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, launches its latest domestic campaign to encourage young people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Join the World and discover the UK by seeing it through the eyes of their international peers, we take a look at how millennials can follow in their footsteps.
A hotspot for international Millennials, the lure of London’s shopping, sights and food scene makes it the top UK destination for young visitors from all over the world. It’s young Europeans most lured by the capital with French, Germans, Italian and Spanish making up four of the top five visitor markets, with American Millennials taking the second spot. And when they’re here our visitors are not just forming an orderly queue to watch the changing of the guards, with shopping and eating out scoring highly as must dos in the city*
This 24 hour city never runs out of new diverse experiences, with hidden gems around every corner. Those who feel like they’ve ticked off the icons (although that’s an impossible task) should head into the capital’s neighbourhoods for a whole new city break experience – whether it’s Hackney’s Netil Market – a creative hub of bespoke designer wares, street food and rooftop bar in London Fields; hopping on a Go Boat to explore the north of the city from its canals through the exotic Little Venice, or heading to Pop Brixton to catch the latest band in a shipping container.
The Midlands prove popular with young Poles with 15% and 14% respectively of the millennial visits to both the West and East Midlands coming from Poland in 2016.
Arrive hungry to Birmingham, England’s second-largest city, because it’s home to a quintet of Michelin-starred restaurantsand an enticing Balti Triangle. Hit the colourful Custard Factory to find independent shops, pop-ups and craft beer bar Clink. Stratford-upon-Avon in the West Midlands is, of course, the birthplace of Shakespeare, where you can tour the Bard’s variousfamily homes and watch a performance of one of his plays by the Royal Shakespeare Company; the theatre is home to aRooftop Restaurant where cocktails in honour of the playwright are served and you can even learn the art of expert cocktail-making – Measure for Measure..!
EAST OF ENGLAND
The eastern counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk also prove a hotspot for millennial Poles, hotly followed by young visitors from Germany, France, the US and Ireland.
Immerse yourself in Norwich, England’s first UNESCO City of Literature, whose university has bred talents from Ian McEwan to Kazuo Ishiguro; dine at The Library to get in the mood. Heading out of the city, visit the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art and get up close and personal to great artworks; pick up a bottle of wine and a picnic from Louis Deli in Norwich beforehand to enjoy in the grounds among striking Anthony Gormley statues. For more town and country japes, combine a visit to Cambridge with a boat trip out to Grantchester; take tea at The Orchard, where Virginia Woolf and other luminaries once relaxed.
Much like London it’s Millennial visitors from France, Germany and the US who made up the top three visitor markets to the South East of England in 2016.* The rural and coastal delights of the South West are a big draw for Germans, with 12% of all millennial visits to the region coming from the country in 2016 and the region as a whole proving popular for its countryside, quintessential villages and cracking coastline and beaches amongst international visitors.*
What’s hot South West?
The South West is home to handsome Bath and happening Bristol, connected by an artwork-studded walking and cyclingpath that winds through gorgeous countryside. On the Bristol side, head on a walking tour to take in the city’s street art highlights, while in Bath, ogle sumptuous architecture from up high at Thermae Bath Spa’s open-air rooftop pool – then soak up the Bath Gin cocktails at The Canary Gin Bar. When the surf’s up, Cornwall’s beaches are dotted with wetsuit-clad thrill-seekers; choose from an array of stunning beaches to take your first lesson, or head to Tate St Ives for a spot of culture overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
What’s hot South East?
Skip off to the seaside at Brighton and throw yourself into the Lanes, a rabbit warren of streets sheltering record stores, vintage boutiques and indie cafés; come evening, catch comedy and cabaret at Komedia, then dance the night away in Kemptown. Along the coast is Hastings, a magnet for artists and makers and home to the Jerwood Gallery, while the arty theme continues in Margate, Kent, where JMW Turner used to holiday and the ultra-sleek Turner Contemporary stands today – it’ll house the Turner Prize for the first time in 2019. Oenophile? South East England is strewn with vineyards where you can have a tour and a tasting of award-winning English wine.
It’s young Irish topping the tree as the number one millennial visitor market to both the North East and North West of England. Representing 14% and 13% respectively of all Millennial visits to the regions in 2016, they’re perhaps attracted by the warm Northern welcome with international visitors as a whole citing socialising with locals in the North West and going to pubs in the North East as amongst their top activities when visiting the regions.*
What’s hot North West?
Feel like a local in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, selecting from the many inviting coffee shops until you find your perfect fit. Settle in for cultural entertainment at the vast HOME multi-arts venue, and get your footie fix at the free National Football Museum. Liverpool boasts its own Tate, the British Mu+sic Experience and, of course, all things The Beatles. Plus, people-watch and vintage-shop on the city’s lovely Hope Street. Within easy reach of both cities are the Peak District and newly crowned World Heritage Site Lake District National Parks, where you can hike, cycle and be inspired.
Stay: Manchester has its own Beautiful Game-themed Hotel Football, a new budget easyHotel close to Piccadilly Station and modern home-from-home aparthotel Roomzzz. Liverpool’s Hatter’s Hostel offers nightly entertainment, while the StayCity is a smart aparthotel option.
What’s hot North East England?
England’s North East combines thriving cultural cities with drop-dead gorgeous countryside. Newcastle ticks all the boxes, with fabulous galleries such as the BALTIC (check out the city views from its sixth-floor cocktail bar), amazing restaurantsand brilliant nightlife, from live music to top clubs. Just a short train ride away is Durham, with its grand UNESCO World Heritage Site that combines its Castle and Cathedral, whose cloisters you may recognise from the Harry Potter movies. When it comes to countryside, hike and bike your way past thousands of years of history along Hadrian’s Wall, the mighty Roman Empire’s northernmost frontier.
From dales and moors to cultural capitals, Yorkshire is a top draw for European millennial visitors, particularly the Germans, Dutch and Polish who make up three of the top four visiting markets for the age group alongside the Irish.
What’s Hot? Yorkshire isn’t nicknamed ‘God’s Own Country’ for nothing – it’s spectacularly beautiful, dotted with world-class art and home to thriving cities. Visit York’s famous Shambles, a fascinating (and very Instagrammable) medieval shopping zone that was named Britain’s most picturesque street. Hull is currently enjoying its wildly successful turn in the spotlight asCity of Culture 2017; check out theatre, free art and the Fruit Market cultural quarter. Prefer your art in the countryside? Head to the amazing Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see Henry Moore artworks amidst stunning rural backdrops; then join the corners of Yorkshire’s Sculpture Triangle and visit three other incredible venues.
The spirit of Scotland is strong for international Millennials, proving particularly popular among Germans and Americans who represented 15% and 11% of the millennial visits to the country in 2016.
Edinburgh is an entertaining city during its festivals and year-round; head to The Stand for a fix of the comedy the city’s famed for. Stray off the beaten path and explore buzzy Leith and leafy Stockbridge along the pretty Water of Leith. See a different side to Glasgow on a tour led by a student from the Glasgow School of Art, spend the evening bar-hopping in trendyFinnieston and treat your ears at a plethora of music venues. Outside the cities, the Highlands beckon road trippers and Nessie-hunters while the islands promise adventures galore, beginning with a landing on the world’s only beach airport, on Barra, in the Outer Hebrides…
It’s the Rugby nations leading the scrum into Wales with French, Irish and Aussies amongst the top four visiting millennial markets last year.
Wales may be a small country, but it’s mighty, packing in the fun with a vibrant capital city and three National Parks. Cardiff’s cultural menu spans the world-class Wales Millennium Centre to tucked-away Clwb Ifor Bach, home of hot home-grown acts. Head up the road to Tiny Rebel, the brewery that began in a garage and is now one of the city’s best-loved craft beer spots. Want to get the adrenalin pumping? North Wales is home to Zip World, Bounce Below and Surf Snowdonia, while Pembrokeshire is a prime coasteering hotspot – the sport was pioneered here. Feeling romantic? The Brecon Beacons an International Dark Sky Reserve, ideal for a night of stargazing.
The Celtic connection shines through with 16-34’s from the US and Canada making up the top two markets visiting Northern Ireland in 2016, representing 17% and 12% respectively of all Millennial visits to the country last year.
Happening culture? Check. Beautiful coastline? Got it. The Kingsroad? Of course – this is Game of Thrones® country! Since the HBO series first aired, GOT® fans have flocked to the many filming locations and themed experiences in Northern Ireland’s rugged countryside to find Winterfell Castle and Riverrun. But the Giant’s Causeway has been legendary since long before – marvel at this geological phenomenon. Northern Ireland is a hotbed of energy and cultural activity, with its capital Belfast home to the fabulous MAC arts hub, the world’s leading tourist attraction Titanic Belfast and the Oh Yeah Music Centre, and former UK Capital of Culture Derry~Londonderry home to fantastic year-round events. Northern Ireland’s rugged coastline, serene waters and thriving wildlife make for unique watersport experiences. From fascinating scuba dives to big wave surf, get in on the action on these must-do water sports.