England Still Merry

Despite looming war, tourism chugs along nicely

By: Lisa Jennings

Despite the uncertain world situation, British tourism officials are keeping their chins up with enthusiastic promotions of new attractions for the 2003 travel season, including:

Royalty Reigns: It’s another year to focus on Queen Elizabeth the first one. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Good Queen Bess and the end of the Tudor dynasty.

Castles and palaces around the kingdom will stage re-enactments and Elizabethan-style productions will continue to be featured in London at the Shakespeare’s Globe (www.shakespearesglobe.org), the reproduction of the Bard’s theater.

The National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (www.nmm.ac.uk), the palace where Elizabeth was born, will feature a collection of her personal belongings and paintings. Hatfield House (www.hatfield-house. co.uk), north of London on the site of the palace where she grew up, stages regular Elizabethan-style banquets. And Hampton Court Palace (www. hrp.org.uk) will offer food and entertainment of the period.

From May 23 through April 18, 2004, Kensington Palace State Apartments in London will feature “Hats and Handbags: Accessories from the Royal Wardrobe.” These are the accessories of the current Queen Elizabeth, who has considered them a vital part of her working wardrobe over the years.

Pigeons to pedestrians: Trafalgar Square is being transformed into a pedestrian space, which London city planners hope will reduce noise and pollution. A staircase will link the plaza directly to the National Gallery, where new areas of the building will soon open to the public. Open-air entertainment, a café, public restrooms and elevators for the handicapped all are being added. Officials say the project will open in late summer.

Museums: It’s the 250th anniversary of the British Museum in London. Celebrations will begin on June 7, founding day, with free admissions. From May 23 through November 23, “London, 1753” exhibits will look at the city as it was when the museum opened and London was the largest city in the world.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, the Art Deco style of the early 20th Century will be featured.

A new Fashion and Textile Museum is scheduled to open in May at 83 Bermondsey St. in southeast London. It will feature the work of local and international designers, as well as rotating exhibits. www.ftmlondon.org.

Bath: Five historic buildings in this city of Roman baths have been restored as part of the creation of the new state-of-the-art Thermae Bath Spa, scheduled to open in May.

This spa will have an open-air rooftop pool, fed by the area’s natural thermal waters, with a view of the surrounding countryside. www.thermaebathspa.com

Beatlemania: John Lennon’s childhood home in suburban Liverpool is scheduled to open to the public in April, under the stewardship of the National Trust.

Walking tours: In May, visitors will be able to walk the new Hadrian’s Wall National Trail, which marks the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Built around A.D. 122, the 73-mile-long wall runs from Wallsend-on-Tyne to Bowness-on-Solway from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Walking and driving tours are available, and there are plenty of accommodations along the way, which welcome wall explorers. www.hadrians-wall.org