17 things to do – best of 2018

Museum of Zoology displays thousands of specimens spanning the entire animal kingdom, from elephants, giant ground sloths and giraffes, to birds and reptiles.
What a fabulous heritage year! From botanic gardens to exquisite design, 2018 has been full of fantastic and fascinating heritage openings, events and projects.

We looked back over the year to highlight some of our favourite National Lottery-funded heritage things to do.

1. Temperate House at Kew

One for the bucket list? Make sure you visit the Temperate House, one of the largest Victorian glasshouses in the world. It is home to 1,500 plant species from five continents including some of the world's rarest and most threatened temperate plants.

2. V&A Dundee

Are you ready to delight in design? Discover the best of Scottish creativity alongside global design at the spectacular V&A Dundee. Pop in to see furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics and more, including a 15th-century Book of Hours.

3. Whitley Bay Spanish Dome

Visit one of the North East’s most iconic venues. Created as a smaller version of Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, it opened in 1910 as a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom. It later became a ballroom and funfair!

4. RAF Museum

The newly opened Hangar One is home to 100 years of RAF history. Many of the exhibits have been in storage until now, including a Westland WS-61 Sea King helicopter that served in the same squadron as Prince William.

5. Charleston

Follow in the footsteps of the Bloomsbury set at Charleston in Sussex, home of artists Vanessa Bell (1879–1961) and Duncan Grant (1885–1978). It is the only completely preserved Bloomsbury interior in the world.

6. International Bomber Command Centre

During the Second World War over one million people from 62 nations served as part of Bomber Command, the unit responsible for all RAF bombing activities. The controversial nature of their operations meant their stories remained largely untold - until now.

7. New Galleries at Royal Museums Greenwich

These new exhibits relate to exploration in its widest sense – an investigation, a discovery, a way of thinking. Explore Pacific Encounters, Polar Worlds, Tudor and Stuart Seafarers and Sea Things.

8. Belfast Botanic Gardens

‘Tropical’ is not a word usually associated with Belfast. However, inside The Tropical Ravine, a listed building which dates back to 1887, there are exotic plants thought to be 150 years old. There are loads of reasons to visit Belfast – this is another one.

9. Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. 

The museum has a two million-strong collection including the world’s most complete dodo skeleton and an elephant that had a starring role in 2001: A Space Odyssey. “An absolutely brilliant day out” according to a recent review on TripAdvisor. We couldn’t agree more.

10. Kettle's Yard

Once four ‘tumbledown’ cottages, former Tate curator Jim Ede bought Kettle's Yard with his wife Helen in 1956 and restored them as a home for his family and his art collection. It’s now a gorgeous house packed full of modern and contemporary art, and reopened in 2018 after a two-year redevelopment.

11. St Fagans

Bryn Eryr is a brand new reconstructed Iron Age farmstead at St Fagans National Museum of History, just outside Cardiff. St Fagans is Wales’ most popular heritage attraction – it also happens to be the recipient of the largest-ever National Lottery grant for Welsh heritage.

12. Southbank Centre

From the day they first opened in 1967, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, part of London's Southbank Centre, have hosted some of the capital's most memorable events that have pushed the boundaries of art and culture.

13. Mackintosh at the Willow

The fabulous Glasgow tearooms were designed inside and out by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and have recently reopened after a complete refurbishment. We think this is the most beautiful place in the UK for afternoon tea. There’s also breakfast and an all-day menu…

14. Alexandra Palace

The historic theatre has made its London comeback after an 80-year hiatus! Originally opened in 1875 and still with all its Victorian character and charm, Alexandra Palace's theatre is ready to welcome modern performances and audiences.

15. Brompton Cemetery

Visitors can submerge themselves in the architectural splendour and abundant history of one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries. Brimming with mausoleums, tombs and gravestones, historic cemeteries are usually associated with bereavement or gothic horror. However today, Victorian cemeteries are being revived as places for communities to relax and connect with nature.

16. Horniman Museum

Encounter global cultures through touch, smell, sound and sight at the Horniman. The new World Gallery exhibits over 3,000 objects from all five inhabited continents, nearly all of them shown for the first time in a generation.

17. Brunel Museum Bristol

'Being Brunel' brings together the heritage of the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, making the fascinating collections publicly accessible for the first time. It aims to inspire the next generation of young scientists and engineers – amazing!

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