Yes, Brexit has been — and continues to be — ugly but the UK still has plenty to offer the curious traveller. Shandelle Battersby suggests nine reasons why we still want to visit Britain, regardless of what happens on October 31.
HIT THE BEACHES IN CORNWALL
Swimming is not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of England but on the country's rugged southwestern tip are some really beautiful beaches where surfing is part of everyday life and the water is a gorgeous hue of blue.
The county of Cornwall can boast more than 400 beaches on its shores that are surrounded by the English Channel and the Celtic Sea. The must-sees include St Ives, Porthcurno, Newquay, Kynance Cove (a favourite of Lord Alfred Tennyson), Gyllyngvase and Pendower.
While you're in the area, it's also worth checking out the Eden Project, the world's largest indoor rainforest set inside two enormous biomes, with outdoor gardens on site.
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ADMIRE THE STREET ART IN BRISTOL
The southwest English city of Bristol is the former home of provocative street artist Banksy and the local art community has taken up the mantle when it comes to creating interesting, vibrant pieces of work on the city's walls and alleyways. Join a street art walking tour or head to Stokes Croft, Bedminster, the Bearpit and North St to see a large concentration of dynamic works; there's also a "Banksy Bristol Trail" app to help you find what's left of his art around town. Every July the city hosts Upfest, Europe's biggest street art festival, which sees live painting being created around town.
HIKE THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
The iconic landscapes of Scotland's glorious Highlands attract more than a million visitors every year - luckily there's plenty of room - and have provided inspiration for film-makers, writers, poets, photographers and playwrights for centuries. Think wild, empty expanses, craggy mountain peaks, calm lochs and low-lying mist and you'll understand why.
Walking holidays through the region are a popular way to experience its beauty and there are tracks and trails to suit all levels of fitness. As well as adventure-seekers who have Ben Nevis, the UK's highest mountain, in their sights, the Highlands are ideal for history lovers with lots of castles and forts to explore. A particular highlight are the 5000-year-old Neolithic Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis.
ROCK OUT AT GLASTONBURY
One of the world's most famous music festivals celebrates its 50th birthday next June and its Sunday night legends slot will be headlined by soul icon Diana Ross. The five-day extravaganza in Pilton, Somerset, which attracts 200,000 people annually, also features comedy, theatre and dance among other arts but it's the huge stars that keep the festival current year after year. Attendees, who travel from all over the world, camp across several sites and most of the proceeds from the festival go to various charities.
You have to get in quick for the hottest tickets on the music festival calendar however, and the first release of tickets for 2020 sold out in less than 35 minutes when they went on sale in early October. There will be a resale of any returned ticket packages on Thursday, April 16, followed by a general admission resale on Sunday, April 19. Make sure you register on November 1 to be in with a chance. glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
VISIT THE POSTMAN'S PARK, LONDON
A little gem in central London is a public garden not far from St Paul's Cathedral that pays tribute to the bravery of ordinary people who died saving the lives of others. Postman's Park, so named for the workers of the nearby General Post Office who frequented it, opened in 1880 on the site of a former churchyard and burial ground. In 1900 it was taken over by artist George Frederic Watts for his Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice.
Constructed in the form of a loggia, the memorial features dozens of ceramic memorial tablets sporting such tragic but wonderfully detailed tributes such as, "Alice Ayres, daughter of a bricklayer's labourer who by intrepid conduct saved 3 children from a burning house in Union Street, Borough, at the cost of her own young life April 24, 1885" and "Harry Sisley of Kilburn aged 10 drowned in attempting to save his brother after he himself had just been rescued May 24, 1878". The park also played a starring role in the 2004 film Closer, starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts.
GO TO THE RUGBY IN CARDIFF
If you thought a crowd of All Blacks' fans baying for victory at Eden Park was passionate, you should check out the 70,000-strong Principality Stadium in the centre of Cardiff come game time. From the moment the Welsh Dragons belt out their stirring national anthem to the chirp of the final whistle, the atmosphere at Wales' national stadium is electric and a heck of a lot of fun. And following several years of loutish behaviour in the stands, there are now sections of venue that are permanently alcohol-free, if that sounds more appealing to you.
PAY HOMAGE TO THE BEATLES IN LIVERPOOL
Visiting Liverpool and not engaging in a little Beatles tourism is akin to going to Memphis and ignoring Graceland or not embracing country and western music in Nashville. A pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Fab Four can be as immersive as you fancy, with your minimum port of call The Beatles Story museum on the Albert Dock. After that you can take a two-hour Magical Mystery Tour bus ride visiting the band's most important landmarks such as Penny Lane, visit the former homes of Paul and John and catch some live music at the legendary (but not original) Cavern Club where the band played 292 times.
If that's not enough Fab Four for you, book either the McCartney or Lennon suite at the nearby Beatles-inspired Hard Day's Night Hotel.
WATCH A COMEDY SHOW AT THE EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL
The capital of Scotland comes alive for almost a month every August when the world's largest arts festival takes over the city's streets, theatres and bars. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival features nearly 60,000 performances during this time across all disciplines, from theatre and opera to circus and spoken-word, but it's the comedy programme that gets most of the attention.
Some of the Kiwis who have regularly performed include Flight of the Conchords and Dai Henwood, while Rose Matafeo took out the award for Best Show last year. It's bound to be hit and miss but you might just end up seeing the next big funny thing in a tiny venue with 10 other people - at the very least, you're guaranteed some belly laughs.
TAKE THE WATERS IN BATH
Regularly cited as one of the jewels in England's crown, the Somerset city of Bath has attracted visitors to its Roman-built thermal baths for centuries. Millions flood the area every year to take a dip in the well-preserved complex where the water reaches a steaming 46C each day. After their soak guests can browse the site's extensive ruins and interactive museum.
Bath, the only UK city to be deemed a Unesco World Heritage site, is also home to spectacular examples of Georgian architecture, the Jane Austen Centre honouring one of its most famous residents, plus fantastic art galleries and museums. It makes for a perfect overnight trip from London, which is just over two hours' drive to the east.
And if that's not enough, here are two bonus ideas for Ireland, which will still be a part of Europe, whichever way Brexit goes ...
DRINK A BEER AT THE GUINNESS FACTORY, DUBLIN
The drink du jour for the Irish around the world pays tribute to its roots at the Guinness Storehouse at St James' Gate Brewery in Dublin. This massive complex is housed on a historic site with a 9000-year-lease signed by founder Arthur Guinness in 1759.
With a glass atrium shaped like a pint of the heavenly drop at its centre, the Storehouse attracts more than a million tourists every year who come to enjoy its interactive exhibition areas that tell the history of beer. Once you reach the bar on the seventh floor at the top you can enjoy your pint of Guinness included in your entry fee.
If that doesn't sate you, head down to Level 5 to The Brewery Bar, which serves Irish cuisine made with the beer and offers Guinness matches too.
STAR GAZE IN COUNTY KERRY
Located in one of the prettiest parts of Ireland with beautiful mountains, lakes and coastline, the region of County Kerry is the best place in the country to see stars with the naked eye. Kerry's Dark Sky Reserve sits on the Wild Atlantic Way tourism trail, and is unique in that you can enjoy the night sky while listening the pounding waves of the North Atlantic Ocean as they crash into Ireland's southwestern shore below.
Interestingly, the area is one of only three Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserves in the world, with the other two located on a game reserve in Namibia and here in New Zealand's South Island, the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve.