Visit England - 2013: Year of Culture

Thursday 31, January 2013


Visit England - 2013: Year of Culture


If 2012 was England’s year of sport, then 2013 is shaping up to be the year of culture. With anniversaries, festivals and new openings spanning the visual arts, theatre, literature and music, VisitEngland looks forward to a year celebrating the best of English culture.


Today, 28 January 2013, marks the 200th anniversary of one of England’s most popular novels – Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. From the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, to special exhibits at Winchester Cathedral and Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, celebratory events are planned throughout the year.


D H Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, another eminent English novel, turns 100 this year. The annual ten day D H Lawrence Festival in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire includes a full programme of talks, exhibitions, readings and workshops celebrating Lawrence’s works. This year’s event will focus on the Sons and Lovers centenary, a novel that caused controversy when released but is now considered one of the best novels of the 20th century. While in the area, explore more of D.H. Lawrence’s life and inspirations by visiting some of the sites that inspired his writings. Take a stroll through the town of Eastwood and browse the market. Head to the Moorgreen Reservoir, a pretty and melancholic stretch of water which appears in many of Lawrence’s novels, such as Women in Love, under different names. The nearby Teversal Manor is said to be the model for Wragby Hall, the home of the Chatterleys in D.H. Lawrence’s most famous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.


Two other literary anniversaries fall in 2013 – the 50th anniversary of the death of CS Lewis, and the 40th anniversary of the death of J R R Tolkien.  These two literary greats were close friends at Oxford University, and The CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien Official Guided Walking Tour conducted by Blue Badge guides is an excellent way to visit the places they knew and loved in central Oxford. The CS Lewis Jubilee Festival will run in Oxford 19 – 22 September, commemorating the life of the Oxford scholar, and will include a talk by Lewis biographer Alister McGrath, a play by Susie Stead, guided walks and special church services.  

Cumbrian-based arts organisation Eden Arts has launched a new visual arts project for 2013, CANOPY, which will result in a spring /summer exhibition of artworks displayed in trees and woodland throughout the Eden Valley. Schools, groups and individuals are invited to get involved in the project by making artworks throughout 2013, starting with an impressive large scale ‘Woollen Woods’ installation, which will celebrate the wool craft industry and feature knitted birds, felt bats and crochet dragonflies. The deadline for submitting artworks for the Woollen Woods installation is 28th March.


Norfolk’s Houghton Hall is set to host Houghton Revisited: The Walpole Masterpieces from 17 May to 29 September 2013.  Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, originally assembled the collection of paintings at Houghton but later sold them to Catherine the Great, upon which they became part of the collections in the Hermitage. Unseen in England for 230 years, this collection of paintings will be shown in its original setting at Houghton, and will include works by Van Dyck, Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt and Velasquez. In addition to the Hermitage, works have been gathered from other locations including the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the National Gallery in London to compile this comprehensive exhibit.  


Meanwhile Yorkshire’s ‘Sculpture Triangle’, which encompasses four major sculpture venues within close proximity – the Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park – has unveiled ambitious plans to make Yorkshire the sculpture capital of Europe. The joint initiative aims to raise the profile of Yorkshire’s unique sculpture heritage and to establish the area as the best place to see sculpture in the world.  There will be an impressive programme for 2013 including: an exhibition of sculptures by Dennis Oppenheim featuring fireworks and flares at The Henry Moore Institute; Leeds Art Gallery will host the prestigious Northern Art Prize; Yorkshire Sculpture Park will host the biggest UK exhibition to date by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, and The Hepworth Wakefield will present the UK premier of a dynamic new performance piece by artist Linder Sterling. It will include collaborations with Northern Ballet, British fashion designer Pam Hogg, and musician Stuart McCallum.

Britten 100, marks the centenary of Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976), the world’s most performed opera composer born in the 20th century. While the anniversary falls in November, events and activities will take place throughout the year and millions are expected to join Britten 100, the widest ever global celebration of an English composer. At the epicentre of Britten’s performing legacy is Aldeburgh, the Suffolk coastal town where he lived and worked for most of his life. A new Britten Trail, developed by the Britten–Pears Foundation and local community groups, will link various Britten-associated sites together in a walking tour around the town from Easter 2013. Other Britten related locations in Aldeburgh include The Maltings at Snape, The Red House (see below), Aldeburgh Parish Church, Blythburgh Church, Orford Church and Jubilee Hall.


The Royal Philharmonic Society is will celebrate its Bicentenary in 2013. In the past ten years alone, the Royal Philharmonic Society has commissioned new music from over 60 composers – from the centenarian Elliott Carter to the brightest talent of a new generation.  16 new commissions will form the foundation stone of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentenary Year in 2013.


The first ever Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival will take place in the city during the weekend of 1 – 3 March 2013, welcoming internationally acclaimed artists to the stage at Colston Hall. The line-up includes Arturo Sandoval from the US, renowned as one of the world’s foremost trumpet stylists. A former protégé of the great Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval has recorded over 40 albums and collaborated with artists including Tony Bennett, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, and Frank Sinatra and recently performed at the White House for President Obama.


October 2013 marks 50 years since the National Theatre Company opened at the Old Vic with its first production of Hamlet starring Peter O’Toole and Michael Redgrave. A permanent exhibition, Stage by Stage, on the history of the National is open to the public on the third floor of the National Theatre in the Olivier Circle Gallery.


Founded 100 years ago in 1913, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (REP) is one of the country’s leading producing theatre companies. The REP has been performing at different venues across the city while its building in Centenary Square has undergone refurbishment as part of the new joint REP/Library of Birmingham development. The REP returns to the theatre this year as it celebrates its 100th birthday. Taking place 16 February – 30 March, Behind the Scenes REP 100 backstage tours will be a fascinating insight into the early days of the company. Other exhibits to mark the anniversary, such as Bricks and Mortar and Hidden Histories, are planned for spring. 


On 3rd September 2013, the new Library of Birmingham will open right next door to the REP in Centenary Square, becoming the largest library in Europe. This £188 million project will also see the REP, which is joined to the library at Box Office level, open a 300-seat studio and an improved foyer and backstage facilities.


For other cultural breaks and activities in England, visit



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