Lonely Planet highlights Sri Lanka as the top country to visit in 2013, National Geographic says the Harbin Ice Festival in China should be on your list next year and Wanderlust reckons “Burma is the hottest destination in travel” right now. But we think somewhere a little closer to home might be tipped for big things very soon.
England is set to provide the backdrop for the hottest films in the coming year, starting with "Great Expectations," due for release at the end of this month. Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes and David Walliams, the film marks the end of Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday year and is set in some of the country’s best-known southern locations. Englefield House in Berkshire served as Miss Havisham’s house, Grade II-listed Wrotham Park in Barnet was used for the scene when Estella dances in the ballroom and Swakeleys House in Uxbridge was used as Pip’s Mayfair apartment.
In the same area, Hedsor House & Park in Buckinghamshire was the backdrop for "Quartet," an upcoming film about a retirement home for opera singers played by acting heavyweights Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon. This isn’t the first time the Georgian country house has been used as a movie location -- “Brighton Rock”, "The Boat that Rocked" and Nicole Kidman’s "The Golden Compass" were all filmed there -- and Buckinghamshire has a score of movie credits under its belt, including "Harry Potter", "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Casino Royale".
Explore the area from a hotel recommended by Esquire, The Independent and Marie Claire with this £169 overnight stay. The package includes an upgrade and a 3-course à la carte dinner in the 3-AA-Rosette Garden Room -- and who knows, you might even stumble across the next big film set.
Even further south, much of the filming of "The Hobbit," based on JRR Tolkien’s prequel trilogy, took place in Somerset (Tolkien honeymooned in the south western county). The Queen even gave the film, and its set location, her seal of approval by selecting it for the 65th Royal Film Performance. Expect to see it in cinemas on 14 December.
Heading north, "Spike Island" was filmed in and around Bolton, Salford, Manchester and Stockport. Set to be released in spring 2013, the film is based on the 1990 gig by Manchester band The Stone Roses, and it’s rumoured that the musicians might make a movie cameo. Check out the spots where the movie was filmed, including Bolton’s 19th-century market hall, and then relax at a spa in Manchester's tallest skyscraper. You’ll get a 60-minute bespoke massage or a 60-minute hydralessence facial and use of the spa facilities, for £39.