From famous films and TV shows to literature and music, it’s no secret that we’re a nation of culture vultures! But did you know that 51% of people in the UK have embarked on a modern-day pilgrimage to visit a favourite cultural landmark inspired by films, TV shows, literature, art or music?
Pop culture pilgrimages are all the rage – here’s our list of some of the best UK sites to visit!
Our recent research into the power of pop culture in the UK revealed that of the 2000 adults we asked, 21% have recreated famous scenes from TV shows and movies when they’ve visited a cultural hotspot, while 12% admitted to travelling 250 miles or more to get there! Additionally, nearly two thirds had visited famous spots just to see what they look like in real life, while 44% go just for the photo opportunities.
Popular sites which draw visitors from across the country include the Abbey Road zebra crossing made famous by The Beatles, murals created by graffiti artist Banksy and Princes Street in Edinburgh – which featured in an iconic scene from the film Trainspotting. Other cultural landmarks include 23 Heddon Street in London, as featured on the cover of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album, Castle Howard near York, where the classic Brideshead Revisited was filmed, as well as several locations in Birmingham thanks to the success of the Peaky Blinders series.
Dr Adams’ list includes the ‘Narnia Door’ in Oxford – the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’s iconic book series – and the village Portmeirion in Wales, site of the cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner. In the capital, London’s Portobello Road – which features in both Paddington movies and houses Will’s bookshop from the movie Notting Hill – is also named in the top 10.
Dr Ruth Adams says:
“Visits to TV, film and musically significant locations are modern pilgrimages. For a small country, the UK punches well above its weight as both a tourist destination and a cultural powerhouse. We create world leading art and popular culture – from literature to film, television and music, and many people like to plan their holidays around pilgrimages to sites of cultural significance to get closer to their idols and fantasies. Going to locations that The Beatles or David Bowie not only visited but made iconic on album covers can bring fans closer to the ‘aura’ of these stars.”
For some, that aura has a life-changing impact – around 12% of those we surveyed even claim to have moved to a town or city purely because of its connection to a piece of culture they adore. One in 10 even named their child after a beloved character in a film, book, TV show or other piece of culture, while 13% used this as inspiration for naming their pet.
Our Managing Director Simon Ewins said:
“Modern day pilgrimages to places made famous through popular culture are becoming even more popular and there are so many of these hidden gems in the UK that make perfect locations for holidays and short breaks. There are many that may not have even realised the places they are visiting are famous backdrops. While many, like Battersea Power Station, are well-known to fans of Pink Floyd and beyond, there are many that are much more unassuming but well worth a visit. We hope with the creation of our interactive map, visitors can create exciting plans this year to visit some of their favourite spots across the UK and make the most of what the UK has to offer.”
Dr. Ruth Adams' Top 10 Cultural Tourism Locations
1. Abbey Road
2. Giant’s Causeway
This extraordinary landscape, composed of around 40,000 columns of basalt rock, is located on the coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 but is probably best known to rock music aficionados for appearing on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy.
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Giant's Causeway
3. Portobello Road
Portobello Road in West London is home not only to the world’s largest antique market, but some of the most famous shops in cinema. Here, you can visit the real-life sites behind Gruber’s Antique Shop which featured in Paddington and Paddington 2 and, of course, Will’s bookshop from Notting Hill.
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Portobello Road
4. Princes Street
One of the best places to go shopping in Edinburgh was also used in the opening scenes of Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation of Trainspotting. Princes Street has featured as a location in numerous other films too, including Cloud Atlas and The Illusionist.
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Princes Street
5. The Angel of the North, Gateshead
Sir Antony Gormley’s massive steel statue – 20 metres high and a wingspan of 54 metres – dominates the skyline of Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Not only is it instantly recognizable, but it’s also visible from the A1 and the A167 if you happen to be driving past, and from train windows on the East Coast Main Line. Its status as a local icon was cemented in May 1998 when it was draped in a giant football shirt bearing the name and number of another local legend, Alan Shearer!
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Angel of the North
6. Fern Cottage, Port Isaac
Fern Cottage is famous as the home of Doc Martin, protagonist of the hugely popular ITV drama series starring Martin Clunes. You’ll find it in the picturesque fishing village of Port Isaac on the north coast of Cornwall, which doubles for the fictional location of Portwenn.
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Fern Cottage
8. Narnia Door, St Mary’s Passage, Oxford
This decorative wooden door is widely believed to be the inspiration for The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis! Lewis, who studied at Oxford and was elected a Fellow of Magdalene College in 1925, taught in the area for three decades. The door is embellished with carvings that look just like Narnia characters Mr Tumnus and Aslan the lion – and there’s even an old-fashioned lamp post nearby, just like the one from the novel!
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Narnia Door
9. The World of Beatrix Potter
The World of Beatrix Potter is an incredible attraction in the Lake District that lets visitors immerse themselves in the wonderful world of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck. The family friendly spot in Cumbria even features a real ‘Peter Rabbit Garden’, designed by a Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winner!
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to The World of Beatrix Potter
10. Banksy Street Art, Bristol
While the identity of the UK’s most famous street artist remains a closely guarded secret, we do know that the artist is a proud Bristolian. His work now sells for hundreds of thousands of pounds in prestigious auction rooms around the world, but the good news is that it can also be seen for free on the city’s walls! Don’t miss famous pieces like The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum and the Mild Mild West.
Nearest Premier Inn hotels to Banksy Street Art