Britain’s art scene is overflowing with creativity, making it easy for visitors to immerse themselves in graffiti-drenched cities that bring the country’s urban history to life. From industrial buildings transformed into cool artsy spaces, to international graffiti festivals in the home city of Banksy and artistic workshops, there’s plenty of opportunities to let their creative juices flow.
Visitors can pick up the paint for themselves with hands-on classes from top artists. Or for a look back, they can head to the likes of Bristol, Birmingham and Coventry to discover the long-lasting legacies of past graffiti festivals. Whatever takes their fancy, they’ll find bright pops of colour and vibrant works adorning many of Britain’s street corners.
Step into creative streets and colourful murals
Recognised for its eclectic creativity and flamboyance, Brighton continues to leave its mark on the street art scene. In a collaboration between street artist REQ and Enter Gallery, visitors can embark on a two-hour guided tour through the city’s eccentric art. From famed murals to wandering down the backstreets for hidden artistic gems, they’ll see another side to Brighton.
Hailed as Manchester’s hipster hotspot, the city’s Northern Quarter boasts street art that tells tales of its industrial past. Join Skyliner’s award-winning tour for an authentic urban experience that shines a light on the people and places behind the city’s unique art. Led by proud northerner Hayley Flynn, visitors are sure to get a feel for local life and urban history.
Discover urban art on two wheels
Hit London’s streets on two wheels on Tally Ho’s Landmarks and Gems tour and finish in Leake Street Tunnel – the place where Banksy once held the Cans Graffiti Festival. Visitors even get the chance to add a pop of colour to the artsy space with their very own can of supplied spray paint.
In Edinburgh, look to Colinton Tunnel for a kaleidoscopic subway full of dazzling rainbows and a whole host of stories to discover. To see Scotland’s largest mural, visitors should hop on a bike for a two wheeled adventure along the city’s Union Canal using National Cycle Network’s Route 75.
Get stuck into art
If snapping Bristol’s street art has left visitors wanting to show off their creative flair, they can grab a spray can and give graffiti a go at one of Graft’s workshops. Here they’ll create their own tag and learn about how the graffiti scene developed from its roots in the USA to the world stage. Or for a crash course in stencil art – made famous by Banksy – experience one of Where the Wall’s spray sessions.
To really immerse themselves in London’s art scene, an AlternativeLDN street tour and workshop has visitors covered. See the capital come alive with vibrant designs while travelling through the city’s East End, finishing at an in-house workshop where visitors will be left poised with a spray can and their imagination.
An artsy festival scene
Britain is bursting with annual events that transform industrial areas, hidden neighbourhoods and city centres into hip, creative spots. Often popping with cool designs, many of these festivals also welcome some of the art scene’s biggest names.
Home of graffiti icon Banksy, Bristol’s Bedminster district sees the annual UPFEST bring 400 artists to its urban landscape (canvas). Expect indie stalls, street food and creative workshops, alongside plenty of eye-catching art. Those visiting now can see street art from previous years, including local artist Cheba’s cosmic building, and Andrew Burns Colwill’s reflective pieces that shine a light on the environment, politics and society.
In Paint We Trust brought bold colours and unique stories to Coventry, in Warwickshire, as part of the city’s year as UK City of Culture 2021. Featuring local artists and international names, the legacy of the festival lives on in the West Midlands. Visitors can weave through Coventry’s streets to discover splashes of colour in some of its most unique places – such as Dreph’s poignant homage to Britain’s first black theatre manager, Ira Aldridge, on the city’s Belgrade Theatre.
Staying in the West Midlands, Birmingham’s quirky neighbourhood Digbeth boasts a number of colourful art pieces. Once an industrial hub, it has since hosted major street art and graffiti festivals City of Colour and High Vis Street Culture. Take time to wander through the area known as Birmingham’s creative quarter for graffiti-soaked buildings, indie shops and tasty street food.