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10 British cultural events for international students

UK culture and traditions are rich and diverse – and it’s not all about drinking tea at 5 o’clock, we promise. There are lots of British festivals and events, and you’ll never find yourself stuck for things to see and do. If you’re studying at a British university, you’ll definitely want to make your time as memorable as possible.  

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best cultural events and festivals in the UK. You can take a break from your studies and go exploring at weekends throughout the academic year.  

With everything from flower shows to fashion shows - you’re sure to find a UK festival that suits you.  

Read on to discover the best 10 British cultural events for international students. 

1. London Fashion Week  

Are you an international fashion student studying in London? Or someone with an eye for the latest trends? If so, London Fashion Week may be one to check off your list. 

Watch world-class designers showcase their newest collections, attend one of the live catwalk events and meet famous fashion influencers. Or simply take the opportunity to do a bit of designer shopping!  

London Fashion Week happens twice a year in September and February. (The last two seasons have been available to watch online for the general public). Find more information on the next LFW here. 

2. Dark Skies festival  

The Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors is the largest protected area in the whole of the United Kingdom. It’s also home to some of the darkest places in England. Hence, why they’ve created a Dark Skies Fringe Festival for the second time this year. 

So, if you like star-gazing, free from light polluted skies, why not try one of their events?  

They include night walks with telescopes in the national parks. Alongside this, are talks from astronomers, authors, and outdoor enthusiasts.  

Dark Skies Festival happens twice a year in October/February. Find the full programme on their website

3. Diwali in Leicester  

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a five day festival celebrated in different Sikh, Hindu, and Jain communities around the UK. And if you attend university in Leicester, you’ll be sure to witness some of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India! 

Spectators can enjoy vibrant street parties, light displays, lanterns, and sweet treats. Not to mention there’s an array of firework displays that happen throughout the city, which represent the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.  

Diwali celebrations start in late October or early November. Find the full program for Diwali in Leicester here. 

4. Glasgow Film Festival  

Are you a film buff? You definitely shouldn’t miss out on the annual Glasgow film festival.  

Located in Scotland’s largest city, this is one of the UK’s top film events, where audiences can watch the best of local and international cinema. They show a wide range of film genres, from art-house to horror to cult classics, and even have some guest appearances from famous stars like Hot Fuzz actor, Simon Pegg.  

Glasgow Film Festival starts at the end of February. See the full program here. 

5. Chelsea Flower Show  

If you like plants and flowers then this event is a must! Regarded as the most important flower show in the world, the Chelsea Flower Show is now a British tradition. It happens every spring in London. Due to its prestige, it is even attended by members of the British Royal Family.  

Expect to see ultra-modern gardens, impressive flower displays, and the most recent advances in sustainable horticulture.  

The next RHS Chelsea Flower Show is in May. Buy tickets here. 

6. Hay Festival  

Have you heard of the Hay Festival? If you’re studying literature, or just love reading, this may be one for you.  

Hay Festival brings together readers and writers for ten days of storytelling in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Performers share poems, books, plays and speeches. And guests are often some of the most well-known authors of the year.  

Hay Festival normally happens in May/June. Find more information here. 

7. Glastonbury Festival  

With over 200,000 people attending the five-day festival, Glastonbury is one of the world’s biggest and most famous music events. 

Worthy Farm in the town of Pilton transforms into a small city, full of hundreds of stalls and stages and over 30 campsites. It’s an incredible place to wander about and take in the sights and sounds.   

The festival has also hosted some of the best live music acts such as Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, and Beyoncé.  

You can buy full camping or single day-entries. But, be warned, Glastonbury tickets can be difficult to purchase and sell out in minutes. So, make sure you register in advance and follow the sign-up steps carefully.  

Glastonbury festival is normally held on the last weekend of June. Find the latest information on dates and lineup here. 

8. The Proms 

Fans of Mozart, Beethoven, and Mendhelson will love tickets to The Proms. This is an eight-week summer of classical music concerts and events, and one of the most significant in the classical music calendar. 

‘Proms’ is short for Promenade concerts, which were originally a series of outdoor concerts, sold for low-cost tickets.  

Although the concerts are now held at The Royal Albert Hall, the organisers still aim to present the best music to the biggest possible audience for an affordable price. Tickets start at £6!  

The Proms are held from August to September. Find more information on how to buy tickets here. 

9. Edinburgh Fringe  

Arts and drama students will definitely love the Edinburgh Festival. Each year Scotland’s capital turns into the largest arts festival in the world.  

With over 40,000 performances and hundreds of stages across the city, there’s something for everyone. So you can enjoy a range of acts from arts, crafts, music, dance, comedy, opera, spoken word to cabaret to your heart’s content! 

The Edinburgh Fringe takes place in August. Find out more information here on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website.  

Top Tip: This festival happens at the same time as the Edinburgh International Festival, another top event, featuring opera, music, theatre, and dance, for visitors from all over the world.  

10. Notting Hill Carnival 

Every year, the streets of west London burst into color with the arrival of Notting Hill Carnival. The carnival was held for the first time in 1966 – and has since grown in popularity. Attracting over two and a half million people, this is by far Europe’s largest street festival.  

Revellers will see the streets lined with colorful processions, vibrant costumes, steel drums, and live stages with gigantic sound systems – all inspired by West Indian culture.  

Don’t leave until you’ve danced to the sounds of reggae and salsa, and tasted some of the most delicious food from one of the hundreds of Caribbean food stalls! 

Notting Hill Carnival happens on the August bank holiday. Find out more here. 

Study in the UK with PTE Academic 

To study for a degree at a university in the UK, you’ll first need to prove you have the right English proficiency to do so.  

PTE Academic is accepted by 99% of UK universities, and you can use it for your student visa application from the UK Home Office. Find out more about booking your test today and planning for your study abroad experience in the UK.