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Affordable UK travel ideas to get you through January

Money worries are no joke in January, and we’re all feeling the pinch more than ever this year. But getting out and about can be a great way to ward off the January blues – which is why we’ve sought out some affordable UK travel ideas for you to make the most of in the chilly winter months. From free things to do in top cities like Birmingham and Manchester, to cheap eats and budget treats, there’s something for even the tightest of travel budgets this January. And if you take a coach to your destination with megabus you’ll save money on transport costs, too, without having to worry about extra spends like parking or motorway tolls.

See cutting-edge art in Manchester
Visiting Manchester in January? You literally can’t miss First Breath, a light installation that pierces the city’s skyline from 1 to 29 January, 2023. The installation, designed by visual artist Luke Jerr, sends powerful beams of light that slowly pulse to represent a newborn baby’s first breath of air. You’ll find it on the construction grounds of the new Factory International building – another nod to new beginnings – and although you’ll be able to see it from miles away, you can also visit up-close and walk right through the giant beams.
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Hang out at Nottingham’s Lace Market
Nottingham’s central Lace Market was once the beating heart of the British Empire’s lace industry, and the area is now officially the city’s coolest place to hang out. The warehouses here house everything from quirky boutiques to hipster pubs, and there are plenty of museums and galleries within walking distance, too. That includes Nottingham Contemporary, which is a must-visit when you’re in this neck of the woods. One of the biggest contemporary art galleries in the country, it hosts all sorts of events and exhibitions – and entry is completely free.
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Go on a film and TV tour of Bristol
If you’re a movie buff or a TV addict, you’re in luck – because we’ve teamed up with Alex Zane to create a series of downloadable travel guides that showcase the best places to visit for a silver screen fix in London, Edinburgh, Bristol, Manchester, and Birmingham. Head to Bristol, for example, download our Showstoppers guide, and you can visit filming locations from Casualty, Dr Who, Only Fools and Horses, and Skins – to name just a few.
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Visit the Frost Fair at Bankside London
From the early 1600s to 1814, the surface of the River Thames froze more than 24 times – so the people of Bankside took to the ice with Frost Fairs. These included everything from markets and pubs to food and drinks stalls, and the Frost Fair experience has been recreated at Bankside this winter. Download an AR app and the Frost Fair map and you can follow free street art trails and take in immersive augmented reality installations without spending a penny. The local bars and restaurants have lined up special Frost Fair offers, one-off cocktails, and themed dishes for the event, too, so you can fuel up along the way.
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Get a culture hit in Birmingham
Birmingham has no shortage of free museums and galleries, but this January we’re making a beeline for Grayson's Art Club: The Exhibition at the Midlands Art Centre, which kicked off on 30 December 2022 and runs to April 2023. The exhibition showcases more than 100 artworks chosen by Grayson and Philippa Perry, and guest celebrities during season three of the TV series, Grayson's Art Club. You’ll spot work by the public as well as celebrities like Joe Lycett and Jo Brand, and although you do need to pre-book your time slot, the event is pay what you choose.
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