Scenic landscapes, diverse people and unique cities make up the beautiful countries of the UK. From rugged mountains, serene coasts, quaint towns and urban city centers each region offers unique travel experiences throughout the year. While summer is a peak travel time, each season in The United Kingdom provides must see travel adventures for LGBTQ+ travelers. Out editors share their top destinations and recommended activities for each season to be out and about from summer through spring.
Brighton in the Summer
Brighton, one of the queer capitals of Britain hosts the country’s largest LGBTQ+ festival taking place each August. This coastal city is a perfect summer destination for visitors looking to enjoy the sun, sand and sea breeze during the day and experience the many gay bars that the Brighton nightlife scene has to offer.
Into watersports? There are plenty of water activities in Brighton so fishing, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing are easier than ever thanks to the many friendly rental and tour companies who welcome all visitors to dive right into summer in Brighton. If you’re looking to stay dry, there are still plenty of activities, shops to explore and casinos to test your luck at along the pier. If you prefer to take in the scenes at your own pace, rent a bike and head to the ornate Royal Pavilion, the former royal summer retreat of George, Prince of Wales, built in 1787. Be sure to tour the grounds of the Royal Pavilion Gardens, stopping to enjoy the various street performers or grab a bite at the café.
As the sun sets, mingle with the locals at any of the many gay bars along St. James Street in the Kemp Town district which is located just east of the pier. Start your evening at the trendy ‘Charles Street’ before continuing your night bopping around to the many nightclubs in the city’s ‘Gay Quarter.’ If you are looking for a gay-friendly accommodation right in the heart of Kemp Town, check out ‘Nineteen,’ a boutique hotel featuring local art and a Courtyard room featuring a private outdoor hot tub, perfect for a romantic escape.
Wales in the Fall
Located in southwest Great Britain, Wales is home to many rugged mountains which turn into beautiful shades of red and orange as the weather cools down and autumn rolls in. The mountains of Wales are also home to many nature preserves and fall is the perfect time to witness some once-in-a-lifetime wildlife spectacles. An autumn visit to Margam Park will allow you the opportunity to see the mating rituals of various species of deer first-hand. Wales is also the year-round home to many seals, but autumn is the only time where you can see the newborn pups as almost 600 new seals are born each year across the many islands of the Welsh coast every fall.
Expand your adventures in Wales and nibble on some authentic Welsh bites at one of the many fall food festivals throughout this unique country. The most well-known festival is the Abergavenny Food Festival. This welcoming festival held from September 21-22 sets out to change the way visitors think of food. Programming includes, tastings, kids’ activities and hands-on lessons and masterclasses to understand the future of food in Wales. Newtown Festival and Narberth Festival are some others taking place in September but festival season continues through October with the Neath Food and Drink Festival, Newport Food Festival and Gwledd Conwy Festival so be sure to plan your culinary expedition accordingly.
Scotland in the Winter
Scotland is a truly magical place to visit at any time of the year but only the most seasoned travelers know that winter is only the beginning of thrilling outdoor activities in Scotland. As the mountain peaks transform into a winter white scene seemingly pulled straight from a postcard and the grassy fields glaze over with glistening frost, visitors can soak up the scenes inside while sipping local whisky next to a crackling fire place, hit the ski slopes or embark on a trek through the many hiking trails across the Highlands of Scotland.
Torridon – a small village in the Northwest Highlights of Scotland, is one of our favorite destinations to visit in the winter. As autumn rolls in and the summer visitors head out, this quiet and serene village is perfect for any LGBTQ+ travelers seeking both adventure and relaxation. With adrenaline-pumping winter programming ranging from archery or nature walks to luxurious resorts with cozy fire places and award-winning restaurants, this makes for the perfect romantic winter escape. If it is luxury that you are seeking, The Torridon Resort is where you should stay. Whether you stay in the hotel, inn or one of the private cottages, you won’t be disappointed. With many distilleries in the Highland region who take advantage of the fresh mountain springs, be sure to order a local whisky at one of the restaurants on-site.
To continue your winter tour throughout Scotland, head approximately two-hours east to Moray. The coastline of Moray is home to a series of charming fishing villages and is one of the best places in the UK to watch the Northern Lights.
Northern Ireland in the Spring
Northern Ireland is known for its scenic landscapes that provide visitors with unique sights and views that are particularly beautiful in the spring. As the country warms up starting in late March, the spring weather is a warm welcome making Northern Ireland a fabulous and picturesque spring expedition.
Take advantage of the nice spring weather which is perfect for sightseeing adventures — and if you only have time for one excursion, then Giant’s Causeway is all you need. Take a day trip to Giant’s Causeway and learn about the mythical giant, Finn MacCool who built this causeway as a tactic to meet and beat rival Scottish giant, Benandonner. Though we know there are two sides to every story so while visiting Giant’s Causeway make sure to be open minded as some believe its creation is a result of heavy volcanic activity over 50 million years ago. Be sure to get the full experience and walk (parts of) the 11-mile coastal path that is connected by the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge as you admire the breathtaking cliff scenery and listen to the songs of nearby seabirds. For Game of Throne fans, drive for 20 minutes to the Dark Hedges, aka King’s Road in the show. This GOT spot is a “tunnel” made of about 150 imposing large beech trees that were planted to form an avenue to a mansion in the late 1770s. In the spring, all the trees grow their green leaves back, creating a beautiful spring foliage. With this Instagram worthy content at your fingertips, Northern Ireland is enough to spark some serious FOMO among your friends back home.