Looking for a 2021 travel story?

Well, where did that year go?

An incredibly difficult year closes with yet more challenges and uncertainty about how restrictions will impact destinations and attractions, and for how long. But at last there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel, with the prospect that things may start to approach normality after next Easter. With that in mind, we’ve come up with yet another array of story leads for 2021.

What’s in a date? England’s first chief spymaster turns 500… again

Burghley, one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses, will be marking the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of Elizabethan England’s most powerful figures – and the man who built the Lincolnshire country house. While 2020 was planned as a celebration of the life of William Cecil, the Queen’s most trusted minister and the country’s first chief spymaster, events had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. Now Burghley is to mark the anniversary in 2021 – and can claim good reason for doing so. As a keeper of secrets, Cecil gave two dates for his 13 September birth – 1520 and 1521. So, Burghley is making 2021 the year to celebrate a man who helped shape British history. https://bit.ly/2JA1jWZ

A flying start to 2021 for Stoke-on-Trent…

Stoke-on-Trent’s famous Spitfire is set to be officially unveiled in a stunning new, £6m home, at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, in the summer of 2021. The glass fronted gallery is being added to the city centre’s Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, to allow the iconic plane – based on Reginald Mitchell’s famous design – to become more viewable to the public, as well as inspire generations to come. Featuring glass walls at the front and back, so the public can see the plane lit up at night, the new gallery is set to become one of the area’s top attractions and further add to the city’s cultural heritage. The city is forever linked with the Spitfire thanks to one of its most famous sons, aircraft designer Reginald Mitchell. The Spitfire, manufactured in 1945, is unusual in that it still has most of its original parts. https://bit.ly/2HJLxrA

Site of world’s first factory to open as Museum of Making, in Derby

Past. Present. Future. Derby is set for a triple celebration in 2021, marking its remarkable creative and manufacturing history that helped make the city one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. It will mark the 300th anniversary of the creation of the world’s first factory, at the Silk Mill, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Derwent Valley Mills becoming a World Heritage Site. And Derby’s rich history of making will be celebrated still further when the city opens The Museum of Making, on the very site of that first factory. Run by Derby Museums, the new attraction will celebrate the area’s rich history of innovation, telling Derby’s 300-year history of making. https://bit.ly/35YZnAu

And it will be the year of the Ram in 2021, too…

Thirty decorated rams will appear in Derby creating a brilliant public sculpture trail across the city centre. The five-foot-high fibreglass sculptures are made in the shape of Derby’s mythical ram – which, according to legend, was 10 yards high with enormous horns and a huge flowing fleece. The story goes that people travelled from all over the country to see the huge ram, and the hope is that the new trail will do the same. https://bit.ly/328SU3j

… while 2021 will also mark the 25th birthday of Lara Croft

One of the stars of an augmented reality self-guided trail around Derby, Lara Croft may be fictional, but the intelligent and athletic archaeologist – beloved by millions in games and films – was “born” at Core Design in Derby. Lara first appeared in the video game Tomb Raider in 1996 and after a couple more games, Crystal Dynamics took over the series in 2003. She holds six Guinness World Records, and was the first video game to make the transition to film. Her home city celebrated her success in late 2019 when it added a Lara Croft star to the Hollywood star-style walk of fame, Made in Derby. https://bit.ly/3dZ8aDp

Historic “lost garden” marks 20th anniversary

Lincolnshire’s very own “lost gardens” celebrate 20 years of restoration in 2021. From dereliction to a nationally important garden, the revival of the 450-year-old Easton Walled Gardens is a story of determination and survival. Owned by the Cholmeley family for over 400 years, by the 1900s the original Tudor styled gardens had become so admired that they even drew praise from future US President Franklin D Roosevelt. who described the gardens as ‘a dream of Nirvana… almost too good to be true’. The gardens were abandoned to nature for 50 years, until in 2001 Ursula Cholmeley began restoring them to their former historical importance, but with contemporary twists. https://bit.ly/31pPmZS

“GW301” to celebrate world’s first ecologist, in Hampshire

Many may not have heard the name the Rev. Gilbert White before, but this parson naturalist helped to shape the modern scientific approach to natural history and inspired naturalists from Charles Darwin to David Attenborough. July 18 2021 marks 301 years since his birth and his Hampshire home, in Selborne, still displays his original manuscript of the Natural History of Selborne and other treasures. There were big plans to celebrate the tercentenary with a programme of activities throughout Hampshire and across the UK in 2020. Often called “the first world’s ecologist”, White is a hero amongst naturalists, and this incredible story will now be told through a full programme of rescheduled events and activities in 2021. https://bit.ly/327vT0x

UK’s centre of remembrance turns 20 in 2021

Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum – the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance – will be marking its 20th birthday in 2021. Since planting began in 1997, the NMA has honoured those who have served, and continue to serve, with the 30,000 trees and more than 300 memorials creating a living tribute to the sacrifices made by the UK’s Armed Forces and civil services. It marks the 20th anniversary of being officially opened on 16 May 2021. https://bit.ly/3lhu1tC

20 years after ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie, follow in Tolkien’s footsteps

Tolkien fans are eagerly awaiting a new small screen version of the Lord of the Rings from Amazon Prime, which could air in December 2021 – the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of the original ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ movie. Filmed in New Zealand, the new series is bound to rekindle worldwide interest in all things Tolkien. J R R Tolkien spent about 18 months in East Yorkshire during World War 1 and today, visitors can explore the ‘Tolkien Triangle’ (https://bit.ly/389Wdea). The author also spent time in Staffordshire, where in 1917 he created his first mythological stories, partly inspired by his time there. Follow ‘The Tolkien Trail’, three linked walks on and around Cannock Chase (https://bit.ly/35MLJPg).

Hidden history to be revealed at Lincoln Cathedral

A £16.5m project to bring new visitor facilities to Lincoln Cathedral, one of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings and once the world’s tallest, is set to open in spring 2021. The Old Deanery has been transformed into a state-of-the-art visitor centre, with a shop and café. On display will be some of the Cathedral’s many treasures, including some unearthed during the major construction and renovation works. The newly landscaped Dean’s Green will also open to the public for the first time in decades. https://bit.ly/3f0KTB6

More fizz for Hampshire vineyard…

One of England’s top wine producers, Hambledon Vineyard, is spread across more than 200 acres and is the only gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery in the UK. It now plans to continue its expansion, and in 2021 will open a new tasting room and visitor centre. Work is already well under way on extending wine storage capacity in an underground cellar, with the new visitor centre located above – overlooking the vineyards nestled on the edge of the South Downs. https://bit.ly/385waoz

… and treetop treats at award-winning Black Chalk vineyard

Hampshire’s Black Chalk, which launched in 2019 offering small-batch English sparkling wine, lies on the banks of the River Test, making it a beautiful venue to visit and taste some of England’s finest wines. Crowned Newcomer of the Year in the 2020 WineGB Awards, it offers tours around the stunning vineyards with its resident expert, followed by a relaxed tasting of the current range of wines. The vineyard is also flanked by a development of luxury treehouses, operated by Wild Escapes. The four treehouses, which opened in September 2020, are the vision of Will Hardy, a master craftsman who has created four incredible spaces in the woods of Fullerton Farm, bringing together stunning design, sustainability and the sparkle of some very local wine. From £260 per night. https://bit.ly/3e9ls1j

New interactive Anglo-Saxon gallery at Staffordshire’s Tamworth Castle

Building work is now complete at Tamworth Castle, in Staffordshire, for a new ‘Battle and Tribute’ exhibition that will transform the top floor of the castle to an Anglo-Saxon, interactive tribute. The new gallery will be opened when Covid-19 restrictions allow, and expected to be spring 2021. https://bit.ly/3e7WjTI

40 years of the Humber Bridge in 2021

Once the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge, the Humber Bridge celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021. Spanning the Humber Estuary linking Hull with Lincolnshire, its 4,626ft centre span made it the world’s longest until Japan’s Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in 1998. Although plans for a bridge were drawn up in the 1930s, work started in July 1972 and it opened to traffic on 24 June 1981 before being officially opened by the Queen on July 17. It is still the world’s longest bridge that can be crossed on foot or by cycle. https://bit.ly/31b2XoE

A surprising coastline…

The National Trust’s first coastal nature reserve in the Midlands and a new viewing platform are set to raise the profile, in 2021, of one of Lincolnshire’s best kept secrets, its natural coastline. Best-known for its popular resorts, Lincolnshire’s less recognised natural coastline often comes as a surprise. A former golf course at Sandilands will become a National Trust reserve (https://bit.ly/2WPJgiA) while a new beachfront café and rooftop viewing deck will also welcome visitors in 2021 (https://bit.ly/381Le6C).

‘Tornado’ springs a blast of family fun in Hampshire

Family theme park, Paultons, is planning to launch its most ambitious project yet – a 1950s Americana themed world of attractions called ‘Tornado Springs’. Set in a midwest desert resort town, it will feature eight new rides and experiences. Delayed from 2020, Tornado Springs is expected to open at the Hampshire park in March. Designed to appeal to a wide range of ages from 3 to 14, it will become the fifth themed world there, joining the UK exclusive Peppa Pig World, Critter Creek, Little Africa and the Jurassic-themed attraction of Lost Kingdom. https://bit.ly/2SirLWj

New event to celebrate the ‘Great Outdoors’ in Lincolnshire

A new Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival is set to launch in spring 2021.  Celebrating the great outdoors, the new event will run for the whole month of May featuring traditional outdoor pursuits such as walking, cycling and horse riding, but also plenty more besides, from fishing to yoga, and golf to photography. Designed to showcase everything the Lincolnshire Wolds has to offer, the event aims to encourage locals and visitors alike to take part in leisure activities while exploring the countryside. More details will be revealed early in 2021 at https://bit.ly/2G5uz6g


Photo: Derby’s historic Silk Mill will be the site of the new Museum of Making, opening in 2021 (Derby Museums Trust)