Llys-y-Frân reservoir, Pembrokeshire
Llys-y-Frân Lake in Pembrokeshire is being redeveloped into an activity centre. There will be about nine miles of cycle trails around the reservoir, a pump track to practise BMX and mountain-biking skills, and new watersports such as paddleboarding and pedalboarding (ie, a pedal-powered paddleboard with a handrail). Other activities include walking, fishing, archery and axe-throwing. Visitors can stay on the new 50-pitch campsite and eat at the refurbished cafe. The 142-hectare (350-acre) site is near the foot of the Preseli Hills, about 11 miles from Haverfordwest.
Free entry, opens later in spring, date tbc, llys-y-fran.co.uk
The long-awaited reopening of Nottingham Castle is expected this spring – work began in 2017 and the castle has been closed to visitors since July 2018. During the £24m project, the grounds have been remodelled to reveal more of the medieval site and improve views across the city, and a new visitor centre has been built. The Ducal Palace has been returned to its 19th-century layout and a gallery devoted to Nottingham’s most famous son, Robin Hood, has been added. More of the castle’s caves have been opened up – the city is built on more than 500 caves – and the displays in the 17th-century Brewhouse Yard cottages have been improved. There will be a year-round programme of outdoor events in the castle grounds. Heritage buffs can sign up to the mailing list to be the first to know when tickets go on sale.
Opens later in spring, date tbc, nottinghamcastle.org.uk
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, Bath
Don’t expect a sedate literary museum devoted to the life and times of Mary Shelley. The new House of Frankenstein is an immersive, multi-sensory attraction focused on her infamous creation: the monster. It is set in a four-storey townhouse in Bath, with a dark, dank basement, ominous audio and visual effects, assorted body parts and “some scenes of a disturbing nature”. There is also an escape room, set in Victor Frankenstein’s attic. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and it may not be suitable for under-12s.
Opens in June; from £11.25, tickets on sale now in the form of a voucher code, houseoffrankenstein.com
Wave Garden Spa, Snowdonia
A new indoor/outdoor spa is opening at Adventure Parc Snowdonia in the Conwy valley. As well as an indoor waterfall pool and thermal rooms, there is an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, barrel sauna, yoga studio, relaxation pods and firepits. The park already has a surf lagoon, indoor adventure courses and outdoor ziplines, plus glamping pods to stay in, and a new hotel and restaurant will open on the same day as the spa. “Thrill and chill” packages will be available for guests who want to combine surfing with a spot of pampering.
Opens later in spring, date tbc, gift vouchers on sale now, adventureparcsnowdonia.com
Northern Roots, Oldham
A 65-hectare green space in Oldham is being turned into the UK’s biggest urban farm and eco-park. The site is five minutes from the town centre and stretches from Alexandra Park in the north to Bankfield Clough in the south, with woodland, moorland and wetlands. It is already a place for walking, running, mountain biking, horse-riding and birdwatching, and there are plans for more activities, such as a high-wire course, as well as community projects including beekeeping, animal husbandry and forestry. Green ambitions include generating renewable energy, becoming a “carbon farm” (sequestering atmospheric carbon into the trees) and increasing wildlife by 25%.
Chester Zoo – April
To celebrate its 90th birthday, Chester Zoo is opening a Latin American Wetland Aviary. The walk-through aviary will recreate the wetland plains of South and Central America, and will house spectacular birds, such as Caribbean flamingos, scarlet ibis, roseate spoonbills and saffron finches. Visitors can see the birds in flight, and learn about their origins, the threats they face in the wild, and the community-based conservation projects the zoo supports.
Reopens 12 April (subject to Covid rules), sign up to the mailing list to find out when tickets go on sale, chesterzoo.org
Ceramic Trail, St Austell, Cornwall
The Whitegold public art trail will comprise 14 ceramic commissions across St Austell town centre. Three are already complete: the Cornish Honeybee mural, made from more than 11,000 handmade ceramic tiles; As Above, So Below, black-and-white tessellated tiles on the walls of a covered walkway; and a mosaic spaceman made from recycled porcelain. Future artworks, to be unveiled this year, include mosaic seats, a wall tiled with fragments of pottery found on the beach, and a mystery major ceramic installation. The trail is being curated by the Austell Project, which aims to regenerate the area through a cultural celebration of the local China clay.
Rye Harbour Discovery Centre, East Sussex
The Rye Harbour nature reserve has a new discovery centre, with information about the reserve and its wildlife, exhibitions, events, a cafe and a shop. The building was designed by the architects behind the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, and is as sustainable as possible: it has locally sourced sweet chestnut cladding, natural light and ventilation, photovoltaic panels on the roof and air-sourced heat pumps. There is a community wildlife garden outside. The centre has great views over the reserve and is close to three different habitats – grassland, saltmarsh and shoreline – and a birdwatching hide. The 465-hectare reserve, which is on the coastal boundary of East Sussex and Kent, is home to 4,275 species of plants and animals, including more than 200 rare or endangered birds and mammals.
Opens late May, date tbc, ryeharbourdiscoverycentre.org.uk
The BeWILDerwood Norfolk woodland adventure playground, inspired by the children’s books by Tom Blofeld, is opening a second site near Nantwich in Cheshire. Like the original, it will feature treehouses, zipwires, rope bridges, slides and giant swings, plus storytelling and crafts. There are two cafes but families are also welcome to take their own food – there are lots of picnic areas. The activities are suitable for ages two to 12: the areas for young children, Toddlewood on the Hill and Tiptoe Valley, have miniature versions of the play equipment – even basket zipwires suitable for toddlers.
Opens 12 April, tickets on sale now, priced according to height: over 105cm £19.50, 92-105cm £17.50, free for people under 92cm, cheshire.bewilderwood.co.uk
RHS Garden Bridgewater, Salford