The UK’s top cultural events

No matter what the time of year, there is always a major cultural event taking place somewhere in the UK. Music festivals range from opera at Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House to rock and pop at Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight. Art lovers have major exhibitions to choose from in London, and sports fans are spoilt for choice, with Premier League football, international rugby, athletics meetings and world championship motorsport events to savour.

One of the biggest sporting events of the year is undoubtedly the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone. This circuit is one of the fastest on the Grand Prix calendar, with cars reaching speeds of up to 200mph on the straights. In addition to the excitement of the race itself, which takes place on the Sunday, there are two practice sessions on the Friday and a third on the Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon sees the tension begin to build as drivers try to put in ultra-fast laps to qualify for the all-important grid positions. Along with the Grand Prix itself, spectators are entertained by support races, pop concerts and a whole range of trackside activities.

Over the years, the UK has built an enviable reputation for producing world championship-winning drivers, including current champion, Lewis Hamilton. The country is also home to the majority of F1 teams, including McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes, while Englishman Max Mosley was president of the sport’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), between 1993 and 2009. Mr Mosley has made a huge contribution to F1 over the years, including improving safety and making the Grand Prix an even greater event to attend.

London is undoubtedly the place to be for art lovers. At Tate Britain, a major exhibition of Barbara Hepworth’s works will run from June to October. Over at the Royal Academy of Arts, a retrospective of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s work runs from mid-September to mid-December; the big question is will the Chinese government allow Weiwei to attend? From September to January, Tate Modern is brightening up the dark autumn and winter days with an exhibition celebrating pop art. Featuring 200 works by artists from around the world, this is the first time such a diverse collection of this dynamic and vibrant style has been displayed together.

The biggest and brashest of the year’s music festivals has to be Glastonbury. Unfortunately, tickets sold out within minutes, but for those who missed out, there are quite a few impressive alternatives to check out. In June, artists and groups as diverse as Taylor Swift, Blur, The Strokes, Kylie Minogue and The Who will be taking to the stage at the Barclaycard British Summer Time concerts in Hyde Park. The Isle of Wight Festival takes place between 11th and 14th June, and features acts including Fleetwood Mac, Pharrell Williams and The Prodigy. For opera buffs, the Glyndebourne Festival runs from May to August and features a range of concerts, events and talks.

The UK is awash with cultural events to suit all tastes. When planning to visit any world-class concert, art show or sporting event, it is essential to book tickets and, if necessary, accommodation as early as possible in order to avoid disappointment.