Whether it’s images of the famous clocktower Big Ben, endless lush green hills and golden coastline or historic castles that conjure up the essence of the British Isles, it certainly packs a lot into its 121,684 square miles, spread over 6000 islands!
The largest two islands being the United Kingdom of Great Britain, incorporating the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, all of whom possess their own distinct customs, cultural identity and a total of 33 UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is the love of music and the arts that truly unites the countries as one nation and we are renowned the world over as a cultural ‘superpower’ in music, cinema, festivals, art, theatre, comedy, media, television, philosophy and architecture. Come and see for yourself what is on offer in this North Western part of Europe and you can be guaranteed a very warm welcome!
The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sustain and encourage them. Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.
Winston Churchill in 1938, British Prime Minister 1940-1945 and 1951-1955
UK and Ireland Regions
Essential information: Great Britain and Ireland
- Location: North-western Europe
- Population: 71,881,243 (2018)
- Area: 315,159 km2 (121,684 sq mi)
- Capital cities: London, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; Cardiff, Wales; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Dublin, Republic of Ireland
- Currency: £ sterling (UK), Euro (Republic of Ireland)
- Weather: Best time to visit May-September, temperatures from 15°C-30°C
- UK entry: EU citizens require a passport or identity card. US, Canadian, South African, Australian and New Zealand citizens can stay for up to six months without a visa, provided they have a valid passport. Many other nationalities require a visa, see https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration for current information.
Top 10 Facts: Great Britain and Ireland
- The UK and Ireland has 33 UNESCO world heritage sites in total with London being home to 4 of these including the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, the most visited attractions in the UK.
- Windsor Castle in South East England is the largest royal home in the world.
- It is claimed that you are never more than 70 miles from the coast!
- The Shakespeare play, Macbeth is the most produced play ever written. On average, a performance is staged every 4 hours somewhere in the world.
- The first fish and chip restaurant opened in 1860 in East London and this delicious dish is deemed a national institution.
- The British invented the world’s earliest railways and the immense Titanic ship built in Belfast!
- Regional accents across the UK and Ireland change noticeably every 25 miles (45 km).
- The longest place name in Ireland is ‘Muckanaghederdauhaulia’ but the longest place name in the British Isles is ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ in North Wales!
- The national symbol of Ireland is the Celtic harp, not the shamrock and is known as the Emerald Isle, thanks to its lush greenery.
- This is one of the world’s most multi-ethnic places, made up largely of people of Anglo-Saxon, Scots, Welsh and Irish descent, but with sizeable communities from the Caribbean, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.
From cathedrals and abbeys, churches and stately homes, all steeped in centuries of history, some in Roman Towns others in quintessential English ‘picture postcard’ villages, every choir and musical ensemble should spend a tour exploring the United Kingdom and Ireland. From a musical perspective it provides the opportunity to explore the English Choral heritage, following in the footsteps of some of the great names of English church music and be inspired by buildings, some where the daily heartbeat of Choral music has been beating for nearly 500 years. Explore the magical atmosphere of singing in one of our Abbeys, bringing history to life, and lap up the widest variety of regional cuisine, each area of the country offering different dishes.
Come especially to Yorkshire and the North. I have worked as a composer and Conductor in this part of the UK for over 30 years, our choral and brass band heritage is distinguished, our people are warm and welcoming and our scenery breathtaking or do it all! Whatever part of the country you to choose to visit, by working with a knowledgeable team of people who know the regions inside out from both a tourism and musical perspective, you will be guaranteed the richest of touring experiences
Tim Knight, British composer and Choral Director