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Top sci-fi experiences in the UK

Elizabeth Yu / 04 March 2016 ( 16 July 2019 )

You might never ever blast off into space, but with our round-up of the top sci-fi experiences in the UK you can still head to the stars and space...

Night sky over the Kielder Observatory
See the stars - the night sky over the Kielder Observatory, Northumberland

Were you captivated by British astronaut Tim Peake’s adventures in space? Can’t wait for the next Star Wars instalment? Then indulge your inner spaceboy or spacegirl with these sci-fi inspired days out in the UK. These experiences are perfect for trips out with the grandchildren too. 

Go UFO hunting in Suffolk and Wiltshire

Are we alone in the universe? It’s a question that fascinates mankind – and particularly The X-Files’s Mulder and Scully. So decide for yourself if anyone is out there with a spot of UFO hunting. 

Dubbed ‘Britain’s Roswell’, several sightings of a UFO was reported in Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk over a series of nights in December 1980. Today you can follow the Rendlesham UFO Trail and use your imagination to imagine a UFO in the night sky. Look out for the strange symbols on the posts and decode the message on the trail to find out what really happened on those December nights.

Another must-visit destination for UFO sightings is Warminster, reputedly Britain’s UFO capital and home to unofficial UFO observatories.

In the 1960s a number of locals reported sightings in the area and visitors from across the UK hunt across Cradle Hill and neighbouring Stonehenge for alien action. Mysterious noises, intriguing balls of light and odd shadows - who knows what you will find…

Nearby is the Warminster Alien Portal Destruction, a popular UFO-themed walking trail that also takes in the historical architecture and surroundings of this delightful market town.

Space – the final frontier

The exploits of British astronaut Tim Peak in space has transfixed the nation. Unfortunately you probably won’t be able to follow Tim’s footsteps and blast off into space (unless you have pre-booked your seat on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceline).

However – even though your feet will still be firmly on the ground - you can still (sort of) explore space with the following days out.    

The Summer of Space exhibition at London’s Science Museum celebrates the history of human space exploration and takes a look at where future endeavours might take us..

There are weekend family festivals, evening events and you can watch the lift off, landing and return of Apollo 11 on one of Europe's biggest cinema screens. The Summer of Space exhibition runs until September 2019. 

Related: Ten things you probably didn't know about the space race

Breathtaking discovery and interactive fun can be enjoyed at the award-winning National Space Centre in Leicestershire, the UK’s largest attraction dedicated to space.

Discover whether you have what it takes to become an astronaut, blast off on a stunning 3D SIM journey to the ice moon Europa and explore the 42 metre-high Rocket Tower. The Rocket Tower is home to the Blue Streak and Thor Able rockets, as well as the Apollo Lunar Lander and real moon rock.

Another destination where you can also take an inspirational journey through space is the Spaceport in Liverpool. Become a virtual astronaut in the incredible 360-degree, fully-immersive Space Dome show; fly through the galaxy in the Space Explorer craft; admire the Solar System and Milky Way, or venture into the Alien Zone.

Science and space

Exploration and education go hand in hand at We The Curious, Bristol's science and arts centre. You can discover the universe at the planetarium, with a host of activities for all ages. 

There are special activities for the under 6s including Space Explorers experience and the Rocketship Adventure, and for those aged 6+ there's the Solar System Odyssey in the 3D planetarium.

The over 16s+ have plenty of events running till 30 August 2019 including Planetarium Sounds, In the Steps of Apollo a fusion of specially commissioned music and stunning space photography, plus Holst's Planets 3D accompanied by amazing visuals of each planet. Learning about space has never been more fun!

Go star-gazing

Light pollution in many parts of the UK has spoilt having a clear night sky for star gazing.

But Northumberland International Dark Sky Park offers some of the finest dark skies in England. The unpopulated nature of its 572 square miles means you will be amazed by the number of stars you can see on a clear night – with not a street light in sight. The Northumberland Dark Sky Park comprises the whole of Northumberland National Park and most of Kielder Water and Forest Park.

Perched above 1,200 feet above forest and moorland in Kielder Water and Forest Park is the Kielder Observatory, a public astronomical observatory which is second to none.

The observatory is generally only open when an event is on and you need to book in advance. But it’s well worth it for an unforgettable view of the stars.

There are a variety of events and the expert team is on hand to show how the telescopes work – you can find out about their packed programme of events.

Star Wars continues…

The continuing Star Wars saga (hands up who can't wait for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?) has reignited our passion for the franchise. If you can’t wait until the next instalment in December 2019, why not sate your appetite with these Star Wars experiences?

LEGOLAND in Windsor is home to a 500,000 brick LEGO® Star Wars™ recreation of Darth Vader’s ultimate superweapon, The Death Star. It's the centrepiece of the hugely popular LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display.

The LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display itself brings to life seven iconic scenes from the films, and the displays are made from a whopping 1.5 million bricks.

Filming for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens took place at Puzzlewood’s forests in Gloucestershire. Take a wander around the maze of moss-covered rocks, twisted roots of yew trees and look outs, and imagine yourself defeating the ‘Dark Side’ as you explore these ancient woods – may the Force be with you!

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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