Our top stories for 2023…

Welcome to ‘Hullywood’

Dubbed ‘Hullywood’ thanks to its growing list of TV and movie credits, Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen has become the latest moviemaker to boost the city’s set-jetting credentials. Fresh from starring roles in smash-hit Netflix productions, The Crown and Enola Holmes 2, as well as cinema hit The Extraordinary Life of David Copperfield, Hull is back in the spotlight. His new movie Blitz, from streaming giant Apple TV+, tells the story of how Londoners survived the German bombing campaign in World War Two with filming taking place at locations across the city, including Hull Old Town and Hepworth Arcade.

Photo: Paul Scofield


Hide and Secrets is child’s play at England’s greatest Elizabethan house

Stately code breaking will be child’s play in 2023 as the Elizabethan home of the nation’s first chief spymaster unveils a new themed play attraction. Part of the grounds at Burghley House, built over 500 years ago by William Cecil, Elizabeth I’s most trusted minister, has been transformed into a woodland adventure play attraction. Set to open on 29 April, Hide and Secrets features a series of imaginatively landscaped play zones leading to the Hidden Towers with slides and rope bridge. Youngsters will also be able to complete their own top-secret missions – discovering hidden wooden mole carvings, and a spot of cypher code breaking.


World famous floral festival is ready to bloom once again

A world-famous Lincolnshire flower festival, which ended a decade ago after 54 years, is set to return in 2023. The fields around the riverside market town of Spalding were once awash with dazzling spring colours, thanks to the area being at the centre of Britain’s tulip growing industry. It was a crop celebrated each spring for more than half a century with an internationally renowned Flower Parade, but the 2013 event became the last. Now, the Spalding Flower Parade looks set to make a colourful return in May 2023.


Visit the home of The Great Pottery Throw Down

It’s become one of the must-see highlights of winter TV, and The Great Pottery Throw Down, which has just finished its sixth season, has been another hit with viewers. For budding potters Stoke-on-Trent, the spiritual home of British ceramics, is not only where the series is filmed, but also where visitors can follow in the footsteps of the TV contestants and have a go at the wheel themselves at the very same historic pottery. The only city in Britain to be named after its primary industry, The Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent will also have plenty to shout about in 2023, including a “homecoming” for the Spode Museum collection, and the return of the UK’s largest contemporary event, The British Ceramics Biennial (BCB), in September.


Stoke-on-Trent’s ‘jewels’ set to crown coronation

Britain’s spiritual home of ceramics is set to play a leading role once again in celebrating a royal milestone with the launch of a King Charles III Coronation collection, all made in Stoke-on-Trent. Popular lifestyle brand Emma Bridgewater, has launched its first ever collection to mark a royal coronation ahead of the ceremony on 6 May 2023 And for those keen to sneak behind the scenes of this canal-side Victorian factory, tours offer a chance to see the craftsmanship that goes into every piece of Emma Bridgewater pottery. Another famous Potteries name, Spode, has also unveiled a new collection to celebrate the King’s coronation – again, made in Stoke-on-Trent. As well as being produced in the city, the seven-piece collection – including a nine-inch commemorative plate, a souvenir mug and a teapot – gives a nod to the manufacturer’s most famous designs by featuring details synonymous with the monarch, all in Spode’s iconic cobalt blue.


Jane Austen’s House aims to branch-out for 250th anniversary

A new literature-inspired orchard is set to spring up at Hampshire’s Jane Austen’s House in 2023, to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the author’s sister Cassandra. Celebrating her life and role in the creation of Jane’s novels, the new orchard in the courtyard of Jane Austen’s House – her final home and where she wrote and revised all her novels – aims to have a tree for each of Jane’s books.


Stoke-on-Trent becomes home to England’s largest beaver enclosure

One of the country’s top garden attractions is now home to England’s largest beaver enclosure after a family of the once extinct UK native species was released into the historic landscape. The Eurasian beavers, two fully grown adults and one kit, will freely roam 182 acres at Trentham Gardens, a green oasis on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent. The 18th century parkland and gardens – designed by Capability Brown – have undergone a huge regeneration since re-opening to the public in 2004, including steps to increase biodiversity. Unlike many beaver enclosures, footpaths and visitor facilities sit within this site, so it offers a chance for visitors to perhaps catch a glimpse of the new arrivals. Photo: The Trentham Estate.


Chalk up a half century in the Lincolnshire Wolds

Celebrations are set to mark 50 years of the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 2023. Designated in 1973, the half century milestone is being marked across the year, with ’50 for 50’, a programme of 50 special events, launching on the anniversary date of 17 April and running through to December. Events include activities such as guided walks, including a tour of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s birthplace, Somersby, while other highlights include practical conservation events and heritage days. And after a successful launch last year, the Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival, returns 20 May to 11 June, showcasing everything from walking, cycling and horse riding, to fishing, yoga and water sports.


The sky’s the limit as Portsmouth landmark comes of age 

Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower turns 18 in 2023. At 170 metres tall, it offers views of up to 23 miles on a clear day, overlooking the harbour and city, and across to the Isle of Wight. There are three sky-high viewing decks, a glass ‘Sky Walk’ 100 metres above sea level, and an open air ‘Sky Garden’. You can even enjoy a High Tea in The Clouds, with afternoon tea, or brunch, while for thrill seekers, abseiling days are also staged.


Lincolnshire ‘piers’ into the past

Cleethorpes will celebrate 150 years of its Pier – home to the ‘world’s biggest fish and chip restaurant’ – and the 75th anniversary of one of Britain’s oldest seaside miniature railways. Opened in August 1873, Cleethorpes Pier was originally 370 metres long, and its long history includes becoming the Pier 39 nightclub, and in 2017, home to Papas restaurant. The resort will also mark Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway’s anniversary year.


‘Tree-mendous’ anniversary celebrations planned for Staffordshire

A new forest of lime trees, and a year of events and exhibitions, are amongst the plans to mark the 850th anniversary in 2023 of the granting of a Staffordshire market town’s first charter. Newcastle-under-Lyme was awarded its first royal charter of incorporation in 1173 by King Henry II. Celebrating its market heritage and charter milestone, events and activities are being planned for every month of the year in 2023, each with a different theme.


Peppa Pig to join in Ruby celebrations

Dubbed the UK’s number one family theme park – and home of the UK’s only Peppa Pig World. Hampshire’s Paultons Park will be throwing a party for its 40th anniversary in 2023. Set within 140 acres of parkland on the edge of the New Forest National Park, Paultons has over 70 rides and attractions as well as Peppa Pig World. It opened to its first visitors on 17 May 1983.


Hull tunes up to become an international city of song

Flash mob-style street singing, choirs from across the world and a city-wide celebration of song are set to make Hull a global centre of choir music in 2023. Becoming Britain’s ‘Singing City’, Hull will host the INTERKULTUR International Choir Competition – the first time the contest will have been held in the UK. Hull hopes to bring the city’s public spaces alive with the sound of music, from 27 April to 1 May 2023.


Maritime heritage lights the way in Hull

Visitors will get a first glimpse of Hull’s future as a world-class ‘Maritime City’ destination when one of its top tourist attractions opens again in summer 2023. Following restoration, the Spurn Lightship returns to its newly designed berth in Hull Marina, becoming the first of the four new and improved visitor attractions of the £30.2m Hull Maritime project to make 800 years of seafaring history a key part of the city’s tourism offer. The other attractions are set to open in 2024 and 2025. Photo: Hull City Council.


Thelwell centenary celebrations will draw the crowds

Hampshire will be marking the centenary of the birth of local artist Norman Thelwell, one of Britain’s most popular cartoonists. Thelwell (1923-2004), who made Hampshire his home for more than three decades, is most famous for his ‘fat ponies’ cartoons, set to be brought to life in a new live-action feature film. Meanwhile, Mottisfont will be celebrating his legacy with a ‘100 years of Norman Thelwell’ exhibition (21 January – 7 May 2023). Photo: Mottisfont ©Simon Newman