VisitEngland has revealed its annual survey for 2021, showing gardens and museums were once again popular, along with Brighton Pier and a number of wildlife attractions.
The survey, which gathered information from more than 1,100 English attractions, shows the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in England last year was the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It’s the the second year in a row that the attraction has topped the table, with two million people visiting in 2021, up 61% on 2020. Chester Zoo was second with 1.6 million visitors and RHS Garden Wisley third with 1.4 million, which was up 14% on 2019.
Topping the list of free attractions in England last year was Brighton Pier with 4.3 million visitors, up 4% on 2020. Second was the Natural History Museum with 1.6 million visitors and the third most visited free attraction in England in 2021 was the British Museum with 1.3 million visitors.
VisitEngland director Andrew Stokes said: “From our world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to our rural, wildlife and outdoor attractions, our outstanding visitor attractions are crucial to our tourism offer, also boosting local economies across England.”
The top 20…
|Rank||Name of ‘paid for’ attraction||2021 visitors||Name of free attraction||2021 visitors|
|1||Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew||1,963,171||Brighton Pier||4,260,485|
|2||Chester Zoo||1,601,327||Natural History Museum||1,571,413|
|3||RHS Garden Wisley||1,410,785||British Museum||1,327,120|
|4||Windermere Lake Cruises||1,065,707||Abbey Gardens (Bury St Edmunds)||1,276,864|
|5||Trentham Gardens||772,678||Tate Modern||1,156,037|
|6||ZSL Whipsnade Zoo||754,896||Somerset House||984,978|
|7||ZSL London Zoo||742,359||Science Museum||957,223|
|8||Tatton Park||740,000||Victoria and Albert Museum||857,742|
|9||Longleat Safari & Adventure Park||727,800||Clacton Pier||741,000|
|10||Blenheim Palace||599,601||National Gallery||708,924|
|11||Beamish, The Living Museum of the North||593,985||The Horniman Public Museum & Public Park Trust||653,200|
|12||Eden Project||577,929||Wollaton Hall and Park||651,602|
|14||Westonbirt, The National Arboretum||552,230||British Library||403,312|
|15||Chatsworth||540,927||Needham Lake and Nature Reserve||390,212|
|16||Attingham Park||536,382||National Railway Museum||346,313|
|17||Tower of London||525,569||World Museum Liverpool||330,593|
|18||Dunham Massey||522,346||Imperial War Museum London||320,542|
|19||Royal Academy of Arts||468,693||Midlands Arts Centre (MAC)||306,268|
|20||Land’s End||429,886||The Station (in Richmond)||294,535|
Four wildlife attractions made the top ten in the most visited ‘paid for’ attractions, proving wildlife experiences are on the rise. Chester Zoo finished in second spot, with both ZSL zoos (Whipsnade and London) in sixth and seventh spot, as well as Longleat Safari & Adventure Park in ninth.
London visits dominated the free attraction list, with seven out of the top ten located in England’s capital. The Station (in Richmond) saw an increase in visitors across 2021 with just under 300,000.
The survey also shows that while visits to visitor attractions in England increased by 30% overall last year compared to 2020, as attractions began to reopen and build back from the pandemic, 2021 visitor numbers were still down from 2019.