A computer generated image of the outdoor gallery at the new Stonehenge visitor centre

A computer generated image of the outdoor gallery at the new Stonehenge visitor centre

GTW turns the spotlight onto brand new and improved visitor attractions in the UK, all of which will be world-class tourist destinations when they open from 2014 onwards.

The much-anticipated new visitor centre and landscaping works at STONEHENGE are on track to be completed at some point next year. Designed to improve both the facilities and viewing of the site, the landscaping part of the project will be finished in June 2014, after which visitors will be able to approach and view the monument from the best aspect. Interestingly, a detailed laser analysis of the stones' surface by English Heritage has further confirmed that this approach from the north-east was intended by Stonehenge's prehistoric builders. The Stonehenge director, Loraine Knowles, has said that: "The stones have never failed to impress visitors, but for too long their setting has marred people's appreciation and enjoyment of this special place. At last, this is going to change."

The new visitor centre has been designed to fit discreetly into the landscape, with two ‘pods’ beneath the gently rolling roof. A glass pod will house the café, shop and education space, while a sweet chestnut clad pod will contain exhibition galleries, a membership area and toilets. Outside, an external gallery will include three reconstructed Neolithic houses. Using archaeological evidence and authentic materials, the buildings will provide a real and tangible link for visitors to the distant past; visitors will be able to walk into the houses and see how people may have lived 4,500 years ago.

DISCOVER ROBIN HOOD is set to be a comprehensive and exciting attraction in Sherwood Forest, designed to upgrade current facilities and promote the legend, life and times of Robin Hood. The £13m plan is aimed at protecting the historic forest as well as providing a major boost for the local economy, with around 100 new jobs and hopes for visitor spend in the local area as well.

A fantastical medieval castle complete with fortified ramparts made from local materials will set the scene, with a large courtyard offering tasters of medieval activities. Interactive and futuristic features will complement the natural surroundings and act as a gateway, as Sherwood Forest itself will retain free public access. The first phase of the project, which includes a new visitor centre, café and shop to replace the existing facilities, will open in summer 2014. The main Discover Robin Hood attraction will welcome its first visitors in spring 2015.

The BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN VISITOR CENTRE is being constructed to mark the 700th anniversary of the battle. A temporary exhibition is in operation on the site in the meantime, with the full centre due to open in March 2014. The new centre will use state-of-the-art 3D battle simulation to bring history to life in a compelling and realistic way, as visitors will witness the sights and hear the sounds of medieval battle first-hand, including ancient battle strategies, weapons and armour. Led by a ‘battlemaster’, the interactive 3D simulation allows visitors to take command of the knights and soldiers who fought in 1314, pitting them against fellow visitors on the virtual battlefield. Outdoors, the landscaping and parkland around the centre will allow visitors to appreciate the battleground and restored commemorative monuments, including an iconic statue of Robert the Bruce cast in shimmering bronze.

Do you know about a new attraction, venue, destination or ride opening in 2014? Let us know at editorial@grouptravelworld.com!

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