Take Our Tour of the UK’s Most Iconic Locations from Film and TV: The Favourite, Harry Potter, Queer As Folk, Downton Abbey and More!

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. ©VisitBritain

With its picturesque, pastoral vistas, rocky shores, lavish castles and centuries of art and history, there are plenty of reasons why the United Kingdom provides the backdrop to some of the most iconic moments in film and television.

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This year alone saw big Academy Award wins for movies filmed or based in the United Kingdom, including The Favourite and Bohemian Rhapsody. From historical biopics to some of the most sweeping period romances ever captured on film, all the cinematic glory of the United Kingdom is awaiting travelers in 2019. Queue up your Netflix, and prepare yourself to see some the sites from your favorite films and television shows, including our highlights below.

Highclere Castle, Newbury, Berkshire, England

It’s hard to find a more quintessentially English series than Downton Abbey. The beloved drama, with its focus on the aristocratic Crawley family upstairs and their servants working downstairs, captured audience’s attention with its intense drama, intrigue and gorgeous set design for six seasons. A highly-anticipated film adaptation is due out later this year picking up where the series left off in the roaring 1920s. You can get a glimpse at the glamour in the upcoming film in these recently released posters.

Take a trip to Downton with a visit to Highclere Castle, the Jacobethan country house in Hampshire, England used as the series’ primary filming location. The stunning exterior should be immediately recognizable, but interiors like the great hall and several bedrooms will seem familiar to viewers of the show.

Highclere had quite a history before Downton. The 5,000-acre estate served as the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon and was the location where the British North America Act of 1867 was drafted, leading to the foundation of present-day Canada. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was the one to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, which accounts for the exquisite collection of Egyptian artifacts at Highclere. Most of the Earl’s acquisitions were sold to the Metropolitan Museum of New York after his death in 1923, but his family rediscovered items left behind in 1987.

These days, you can find guided tours and special concerts held at Highclere, including a special Downton Abbey Live concert hosted by Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) this June. Be sure to check the website for available dates, and pre-book your tickets for the castle.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England

Before Downton, many considered Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice the definitive English period romance. Keira Knightley earned an Oscar nomination for her role in the 2005 film adaptation, also starring Matthew Macfayden. Filmed in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Kent, it’s the stately Chatsworth House that stood in for Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley in the film.

A longtime favorite country house and the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth is home to an impressive collection of art, including works from Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese. Visitors can explore more than 30 exquisite rooms, but a true winter fantasy awaits those making their journey between November and January when things get festive at Christmas at Chatsworth.

CHECK THIS OUT: Here’s Everything Gay Travelers Should Drink, Dine and Do Right Now in Urban Scotland

Ten years earlier, the BBC produced another beloved adaption of Pride and Prejudice, this time starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. The six-episode series features the iconic scene of Firth emerging dripping wet from a lake, this time with Lyme Park in the background standing in for his Pemberley. The impressive estate is the largest in Cheshire and includes a 1,400 acre deer park featuring guided walks.

Perhaps you prefer your romance with a side of comedy. For a lighter-hearted take on love across the pond, fans of the film Love, Actually can walk the streets of some of their favorite scenes in London. From the opening in Heathrow Airport to Gabriel’s Wharf (where Liam Neeson had a heart-to-heart with his stepson), the city is chock full of recognizable locations. True fans will want to swing by Selfridges, the site of the film’s most memorable scene, where Rowan Atkinson took a comically long time to pack up a necklace for the late, great Alan Rickman.

A new Bond film, Bond 25, is expected in 2020, so it’s great time to get reacquainted with the world’s most famous spy. Of course, there are famous locations spotted in the most recent Bond flick, Spectre, like the London Eye, but if you want to dive deeper, peruse props at the London Film Museum or the see the Jaguar XRK from Die Another Day at the National Motor Museum. You can even grab a martini — shaken, not stirred, of course — at the bar Bond author Ian Fleming liked to frequent, Dukes Bar in Mayfair.

Jacobite steam train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct, Inverness-shire, Scotland.

Travelers with children (or children at heart) can leave Muggle life behind. Stop by King’s Cross Station to see the Harry Potter series’ famed Platform 9 3/4, prominently marked with a sign and a cart disappearing across the magic barrier. Envision yourself walking the cobblestone streets of Diagon Alley at London’s Leadenhall Market, a covered Victorian market used for exterior shots of the magic shopping center. Pay a visit to Hogwarts, filmed at Alnwick Castle where they host “broomstick trainings” throughout the summers. To really get a sense of student life at Hogwarts, book a room at the B&B at Christ Church College, which includes breakfast in the Great Hall, the inspiration for Hogwarts Hall. All aboard the Hogwarts Express; you can ride a steam train over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland. You’ll recognize the iconic railway from the film, overlooking the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel. You can see actual sets, props and costumes from the Harry Potter films at the Warner Brothers’ Studio Harry Potter tour.

Of course, some of cinemas greatest heroes are actual people. Take pioneering gay computer scientist Alan Turing. Portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, the father of artificial intelligence was hardly recognized for his achievements due to his homosexuality until recently. You can learn more and see the Bombe that broke Enigma at the National Museum of Computing. The museum is housed at Bletchley Park, where Turing and company famously worked. The once top-secret home of code breakers during WWII is now open for visitors a short walk from the Bletchley Train Station (under an hour from London Euston).

Garden Lodge, Freddie Mercury’s home, London Rock Tours

Last year’s Academy Award-winning film, Bohemian Rhapsody, also highlighted another queer pioneer, Freddie Mercury. Queen fans make pilgrimages to Mercury’s home the Garden Lodge in Kensington. He bought the home while with the band and passed away there in 1991. Although fans can’t see beyond the large privacy walls, visitors have long left flowers and other mementos at the gate, though Mercury’s ex Mary Austin (who still resides at Garden Lodge) strongly requests they don’t.

For a more immersive experience, take a half-day for the Queen ‘We Will Rock You’ tour, presented by London Rock Tours. In addition to a stop at Garden Lodge, the tour will take you by where the band met, recorded and performed.

Of course, Queen’s most famous performance was at Live Aid. The concert, painstakingly recreated in Bohemian Rhapsody, took place at Wembley Stadium in 1985. You can tour the ‘Walk of Legends,’ changing room, players’ tunnel and more on the Wembley Stadium Tour.

When it comes to real-life inspirations and biopics, there are countless historical figures to get the royal film treatment. Another Oscar winner, The Favourite shot at locations at Hampton Court Palace, including the scene where Queen Anne (Elizabeth Coleman) shouts at a group of musicians playing in the Fountain Court. However, the majority of the movie, 85 percent of its scenes, were filmed at the Hatfield House, which opens to the public April through the end of September.

Hatfield House, Hatfield, England

Hatfield House was also a location for the critically-acclaimed Netflix series, The Crown. The hotly-anticipated third season dropping later this year features a new cast, including Academy Award winner Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret. The Old Palace at Hatfield House is actually where Elizabeth was raised and where she learned she would ascend to the throne. When the series portrayed Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Phillip, they used Ely Cathedral as a stand-in for Westminster Abbey. The Cathedral, with a history dating back to 672 AD, was also used in The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth: The Golden Age and The King’s Speech.

Royal drama isn’t contained to England. Mary Queen of Scots stars Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan as Queen Elizabeth I and the titular Scottish queen, respectively. Parts of the movie were filmed in Derbyshire (interiors were filmed at one of the most stunning Elizabethan houses, Hardwick Hall), Oxford and London. However, if you’re in Scotland, you can visit Mary’s birthplace, Linlitgow Palace, or Edinburgh Castle, where she gave birth to her only child. (You’ll have to travel to England to visit the site of her execution, the ruins of Fotheringhay Castle.) Explore more of Mary’s tragic history at the Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre in Jedburgh or peruse artifacts (including her death mask) at Lennoxlove House. Mary has quite a history at the Palace of the Holyroodhouse, where her private secretary David Rizzio was murdered in the supper room. He was stabbed 56 times, and it’s said that you can still see the bloodstains in the outer chamber.

Of course, not all queens wear crowns. Russell T Davies’ ground-breaking gay series Queer As Folk took place in Manchester’s Gay Village. Many parts of Canal Street will feel familiar from the series, but if you’re looking to dance like a night at “Babylon,” swing by Cruz 101, which was used for the exteriors of the show’s fictional bar. The pioneering series, which was already rebooted with an American setting in 2000, is reportedly being relaunched again on Bravo.

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British Bears, Beaches, and the UK’s Biggest Pride Make Brighton a Must on Your Gay Summer Agenda

Spring has sprung, which means it’s the perfect time to start planning for two things: summer bodies and summer travel. You’re on your own for the former, but when it comes to picking a vacation destination, set your sights on the shores of the United Kingdom.

Brighton is something like the Provincetown of Europe. The seaside resort town has long attracted visitors from the cosmopolitan London scene (it’s just a quick — less than an hour — train ride away), and the resulting population is one of the most progressive in the United Kingdom. Queer literary greats like Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde were frequent visitors to the area to soak up the sun.

Today, Brighton is considered home to the highest proportion of same-sex households in Britain, with some estimates claiming as many as 11-15 percent of the city’s population over the age of 16 identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

This summer in particular is a good one to take a holiday to Brighton. The city’s Pride celebration is the largest in the United Kingdom, and this year’s line-up is a doozy, boasting performances from Clean Bandit, Grace Jones and Kylie Minogue. The festivities will run from Aug. 2-4.

If you’re looking to get an earlier jump on your summer celebrations, skip the waxing appointment and fly in for Brighton Bear Weekend June 13-16. It’s four days of fur, fun and frolic with proceeds benefitting local HIV/AIDS grant-giving organization, the Rainbow Fund. Most events are free and include quiz nights, discussion groups, cabaret, bear-a-oke and more.

Gay couple sit at a table in a bar in Brighton.

Of course, there’s plenty for gay travelers to enjoy in Brighton throughout the whole year. While the entire city is overwhelmingly accepting of LGBTQ people, most consider Kemptown to be the local gayborhood, flush with LGBT bars and clubs. For a pint with friends, Brighton’s longest-running gay bar, The Bulldog, is a perfect pub. Bears, cubs, wolves, otters and the men who love them often gather at The Camelford Arms, a favorite for the hirsute.

Club Revenge has been drawing huge crowds to its three floors since 1991. Pack an extra set of dance shoes to bump and grind the night away at the Basement Club (downstairs from the lovely terrace bar Legends).

For a more theatrical evening, swing by The Marlborough Pub & Theatre for work elevating LGBTQ performers and themes with particular attention to trans and queer artists. Or you can sing along with your favorites at Bar Broadway, where show tunes are always on the menu and the beach is just a short walk away.

Brighton’s love for the LGBTQ doesn’t stop at the bar scene. Brighton Museum and Art Gallery’s LGBTQ trail is a guide to some of the collection with queer connections. Curated by Robert White and Kelly Boddington, the objects include Glyn Philpot’s Acrobats Waiting to Rehearse, The Devil’s Altar by Gluck and more. Visitors can pick up a guide at the museum entrance or download it from the website here.

TAY – The Brighton AIDS Memorial Unveiling Ceremony by Dominic Alves (CC BY 2.0)

A permanent AIDS memorial sculpture is on display at New Steine Gardens. The bronze piece was created by Brighton-based artist Romany Mark Bruce, and its two intertwined figures project the shadow of an AIDS Ribbon. The landmark has become one of the most iconic sights in Brighton.

The best way to see all the LGBTQ sights is on the Piers & Queers tour. The 90-minute walking tour covers 200 years of history, including tales of Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Dusty Springfield and more. Some highlights include the tale of Brighton’s first same-sex wedding in 1923 and the story of a pioneering doctor who hid her gender back when women weren’t allowed to practice medicine.

The Royal Pavilion at dusk

LGBTQ history is everywhere you look in Brighton. Even the Royal Pavillion — one of the most visited sites in Brighton — has a stake in queer history. The extravagant former royal residence, with its striking Indian-inspired exterior and lavish Chinese and Indian decor, hosted some of the earliest legal same-sex marriages in England.

Gay sunbathers tend to flock to the official nudist portion of Brighton Beach. Keep in mind, these are not the soft, white sand beaches of the Caribbean. Brighton beach is rocky, comprised of more than 614 MILLION individual pebbles. It doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but it does mean you should bring a sturdy flip-flop or water shoe.

Illuminated Palace Pier in the evening.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite on the sea and shore, stroll on over to Brighton Palace Pier for some fish and chips. The Victorian pier boasts two arcades, concessions and fairground attractions to give you an English spin on the classic boardwalk experience.

Further West, the British Airways i360 has quickly become one of Brighton’s most must-see attractions. Opened in 2016, the stunning glass viewing pod rises 450 feet into the air and provides 360-degree views of Brighton. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Isle of Wight. The best part? You can do it all with a cocktail from the Nyetimber Sky Bar, named for their award-winning sparkling wine.

British Airways i360 boarding deck

After all these incredible experiences, you’ll inevitably want to bring a little bit of Brighton home with you. No visit to Brighton is complete without a trip to the maze of alleyways known as The Lanes. Independent shops offer everything from funky finds to high-end designer fashion. Nestled among the bespoke, antique and vintage shops are some of the most charming restaurants and cafés in the world. Set aside an afternoon to leisurely explore the Lanes, allowing plenty of time for discovery and delight.

North Laine

For a little extra edge, spend some cash at Brighton’s North Laine where more than 300 boho, retro, exotic and unique retailers can be found in an area less than half a square mile. The hipster shopping mecca is also home to artists’ studios where you can chat up the creators of one-of-a-kind sculpture, jewelry, glasswork and more.

Once you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, there are plenty of places to rest your head. If you want to stay in the thick of the gay scene, Legends Hotel is one of the city’s most popular gay-friendly spots. Just upstairs from the Legends Bar and Basement Club, you’ll have the shortest commute after a night of drinking and dancing.

For a more relaxing retreat, Queens Hotel and Spa offers beautiful beach views and a variety of spa treatments. Guest can also indulge in their sauna or a dip in Brighton’s largest hotel pool. Spa treatments are also available at Nineteen, a Victorian townhouse converted into a seven-room bed and breakfast.

Enjoy a stylish stay at the chic boutique hotel My Brighton. Design nerds will go gaga for the sleek design, flush with organic curves, crystal and handmade furniture. Even if you opt to stay elsewhere, both their gorgeous bar, Merkaba, and delicious modern Indian restaurant, the Chili Pickle, are worth the visit.

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Here’s Everything Gay Travelers Should Drink, Dine and Do Right Now in Urban Scotland

When you think of Scotland, you may think of a rustic, romantic countryside with rolling hills and majestic Lochs. But in addition to the country’s picturesque pastoral views, there’s tons to discover in Scotland’s urban centers.

LGBTQ travelers in particular should put Scotland at the top of their travel to-dos. Scotland has been considered one of the best countries in all of Europe for LGBTQ equality, legalizing same-sex marriage in 2014 and banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2010.

Scotland’s urban centers boast outstanding culinary options, vibrant nightlife, world-class arts and thriving LGBTQ communities.

Check out some highlights of Scotland’s urban metropolises below, and visit VisitScotland to plan your trip today.

Edinburgh, Scotland.


Home to the world’s largest arts festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland’s capital is the perfect place to see the most exciting artists of today and tomorrow alongside a city so rich with history its Old Town and New Town have been designated World Heritage sites by UNESCO.

Much of Edinburgh’s LGBTQ culture is concentrated in what is known as the “Pink Triangle” — an area that runs off the main thoroughfare, Leith Walk.

DRINK: No visit to Edinburgh would be complete without a drink at CC Blooms, one of Edinburgh’s oldest and most popular gay bars. (Yes, it is named after Bette Midler’s character in Beaches.) It’s got great cocktails and cuisine by day, but at night the dance floor becomes one of Edinburgh’s hottest spots. You can also get down Fridays and Saturdays at The Street‘s downstairs nightclub, but there are laid-back drinks and food upstairs daily (and a pretty patio to enjoy nicer weather). Even more chill is The Regent Bar, a traditional-style pub with no loud music or dance floor.

Canny Man’s, Edinburgh, Scotland.

DINE: What’s vacation without brunch? Belly up to one Scotland’s best benedicts at The Pantry, where seasonal flavors reign. For a bit more of Edinburgh’s signature eclectic taste, stop by Canny Man’s where the decor alone is worth the Instagram post. The ceilings and walls are chockablock with tchotchkes and bric-à-brac to observe while you enjoy fresh seafood and sandwiches. Some of Scotland’s best seafood can be found at The Ship on the Shore, a seafood and champagne bar famous for its breakfasts, served with bubbly, of course.

The Ship on the Shore, Edinburgh, Scotland.

DO: Lovers of modern art must make time to swing by the National Galleries of Scotland where you can catch a special collection of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, coinciding with the 30-year anniversary of his death. It’s worth rubbing elbows with fellow tourists at Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy spectacular views of Old Town and New Town, a welcoming tea room and a hearty helping of history via knowledgeable tour guides or easy to follow self-guided audio tours.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Edinburgh celebrates Pride June 22nd this year. The first Pride in Scotland started in Edinburgh in 1995. Last year’s celebration drew thousands of attendees.

Of course, if you want to experience a truly unique Edinburgh phenomenon, schedule your visit for August when Edinburgh Festival Fringe is in full swing. The arts festival boasts tens of thousands of performances of thousands of shows across hundreds of venues. Artists of all mediums and experience levels flood the city for a one-of-a-kind celebration of culture.

Enjoying the view over Glasgow, Scotland.


While Edinburgh is the Scottish capital, Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city — and it has its largest LGBTQ community. The nightlife is revered the world over, and the city has turned post-industrial grit into a hip haven for travelers, students and artists alike.

Delmonica’s, Glasgow, Scotland.

DRINK: For nearly 30 years, Delmonica’s (or Del’s to the locals) has been a go-to favorite gay bar in Glasgow’s own gay triangle neighborhood. You’ll find fun at Del’s seven nights a week, including drag, karaoke, pub quizzes and more. The Waterloo is Glasgow’s longest-running gay bar. (Their website proudly proclaims “50 Years and still going strong!”) It’s a great place to chat up the locals and regulars who call it home. If you’re more interested in beats than beers, dance it up at The Polo Lounge, one of Scotland’s largest LGBT clubs spinning “pop, sleaze, cheese and disco” seven nights a week.

The Ox and Finch, Glasgow, Scotland.

DINE: Chic cocktails are served alongside well-constructed bar bites and burgers at Speakeasy, centrally located in the gay neighborhood. This hipster enclave serves great food during the day, but turns fully up to party on weekends. Foodies must not miss a trip to Platform at Argyle St. Arches where Scotland’s best street food traders line up from noon to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Gather your friends for small plates at the tapas-style, creative contemporary spot, Ox and Finch. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as a robust cocktail menu sure to satisfy the mixology snob in your life.

Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.

DO: Spot works by Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of Glasgow’s most popular free attractions. Catch a daily recital from the massive, gorgeous organ, built in 1901. Feast your eyes on art, architecture and design at The Lighthouse, or take a small piece of one-of-a-kind art home from The Barras, a street market on the East End.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: There hasn’t been a date announced for Glasgow’s enormous Pride Festival, but last year’s event was held in July and featured performances from Courtney Act, Tom Urie and the Spice Girls’ Mel C.

Other Cities

The vibrant culture and community isn’t limited to Scotland’s two largest cities. In Aberdeen, they celebrate “Grampian Pride,” with a parade down Union Street and Pride Village at Queen’s Links. There’s also lots of activity at Cheerz, a friendly gay bar with deep roots in the local queer community.

Dundee held its own first Pride celebration just last year, and they’re gearing up to do it again in 2019. Klozet, a no-frills gay bar in Dundee, was named the city’s Best Independent Bar, while Dundee dances at the nightclub Pout. It’s worth popping over to Dundee to also check out the new Victoria & Albert Museum — the first outpost of the V&A in London.

When you’re done playing princess in the castles of Stirling, sit down for a pint at Katie’s Bar & Bistro. A sister site to the popular Glasgow spot, the dirt-cheap pub is the best deal around for a quick drink or bite close to the train.

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