The UK’s best outdoor art exhibitions

From England’s capital to the heights of Scotland, here’s the best outdoor art spots to visit in the UK this spring

Don’t get us wrong, we love days spent wandering around galleries pretending to know our Monets from our Van Goghs (and splashing the cash in the gift shop afterwards, of course). But, with warmer weather firmly on the horizon, we’ve decided we’d much rather get our creative fixes outdoors.

Thankfully, with things finally promising to re-open for good this summer, the outdoor art world has sprung into action. Cue an abundance of amazing exhibitions, events and immersive walks to soak up across the country. From a sculpture park in Scotland to a woodland trail in Wales, here’s our list of the top outdoor art spots to explore this season.

Image: Forestry England (Left) and Andrew Theobold
Forest of Dean, Wales 

The best light for looking at sculpture? ‘Komorebi’, aka ‘the dappled light that shines through the trees’ in Japanese. See it for yourself at Beechenhurst, a woodland which sits on the Welsh borderlands in the Forest of Dean. Here, the free four mile outdoor sculpture trail features works by artists inspired by the surrounding area, some of which are temporary, while others are designed to evolve into parts of the forest themselves. Don’t miss Kevin Atherton’s stained glass piece (pictured) – best viewed in that dappled light….

Image: Jupiter Artland
Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh

Sculpture parks tend to be located in pretty spectacular settings, but Jupiter Artland’s might just be the winner. Found in the grounds of Edinburgh’s Bonnington House, the sculptures here are surrounded by incredible Scottish landscapes at every turn. Over the summer, the park comes alive with cultural events, including brand new festival Jupiter Rising, but the pieces by world-renowned artists such as Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley have year-round appeal.

Image: Jason Hawkes
The Illuminated River, London

One for the capital’s night owls. The Illuminated River is a free public art installation from artist Leo Villareal which spans nine of London’s bridges, snaking its way from Blackfriars Road through Westminster to Lambeth Bridge. Drawing inspiration from the architecture it illuminates, the lights display a different, never repeated algorithm so that whenever you cross as part of an evening stroll along the Thames, the view is guaranteed to be different. 

Image: Emily Lovell
The Line, London

Why focus on one of London’s outdoor art spots when you could visit them all at the same time? London’s first dedicated public art walk, The Line spotlights some of the city’s most famous sculptures and murals along a three mile route. Starting in Stratford at Anish Kapoor’s celebrated olympic ArcelorMittal Orbit, it heads south across the river, crossing off nineteen art havens enroute until it finishes in Greenwich. All you need is a comfy pair of shoes…

Grizedale, Lake District

It’s an easy sell: a woodland art exhibition situated right in the heart of the stunning Lake District. The sculptures at Grizedale have been carved out of trees to create woody figures and shapes that tell a story. The main draw is exploring these larger-than-life forest sculptures by bike or by foot (they offer a convenient seat if you’re particularly puffed out from all the exercise), but there are also seasonal exhibitions on offer, too. 

Image: Bring the Paint -@bring_the_paint
Bring the paint, Leicester 

Art lovers: get your calendars out now. Bring the Paint, Leicester’s outdoor street art festival, will take place on 23rd-29th May this year, and will see 48 large scale murals appearing across the city to create an immersive urban artistic experience. Plus, if you’re partial to a spot of skateboarding, breakdancing or BMX (you brave thing), there’s a bit of that, too. Perfect for anyone looking to explore the vibrancy and joy of grassroots street art in the UK.