Lesson 99: What to do in the United Kingdom if you’re a translator or interpreter on holidays?

Lesson 99: What to do in the United Kingdom if you’re a translator or interpreter on holidays?

Following a question and a short discussion I had with one of our colleagues and readers of my blog, I decided to compile a shortlist of things to see, do and experience if you’re a translator or interpreter on holidays in the UK.

Being based in London, my idea of holidays is getting out of the United Kingdom and visiting other places. But I do know and appreciate the fact that not only London but the whole country has many wonderful attractions for people like you and me: passionate about languages and translation. So please do enjoy this little list of things to see, do and experience, either when planning your this year’s trip, or as an inspiration to visit. Of course, this list is very subjective and based on my taste, and also a bit London-centric, so feel free to add your suggestions from other places!

British Museum

Visiting British Museum is a must if you’re coming to the UK. Immerse yourself in English literature and culture – it’s a very moving experience! Don’t forget to check the list of events, as there may be something related to translation scheduled.

Shakespeare’s Globe

Check what’s on in advance and book tickets for as little as 10 pounds. Watching a play at The Globe is a great experience, but make sure you have a raincoat in your bag just in case: the central part has no roof.

Go on a literary walk… or two

London is full of literary heritage, so plan a day following the lives of writers, poets and their fictional characters. There are plenty of guides available online, including this one that I have and sport every now and then. You can also go on a guided literary London walk. More inspiration here.

Visit Old Hampstead Village

London’s first ever literary salon, Keats of course, Dickens, John Fowles, Daphne Du Maurier, D.H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.G. Wells, Wilkie Collins, Compton McKenzie, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Galsworthy, the list just goes on and on.

Check International Calendar of Events

Visit ICE and find professional events taking place in London. There’s always something lined up, from one-day events through to longer courses.

Check university websites

There’s a range of universities in the UK offering translation degrees and many of them schedule events and training courses in the summer. In 2014, for example, London Metropolitan University had a symposium on translation in the digital age on the 17th of July, free of charge.

Summer schools

Many universities offer summer schools in translation or interpreting, but it’s also worth checking out the British Centre for Literary Translation and English Pen.

London literary pub crawl

“Explore the watering holes of some of London’s most famous writers in the company of the ghosts of Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf on a new guided walking tour” – with this invitation from The Guardian, I don’t have to say much more.

London’s finest bookshops

If, like me, you’re still attached to printed books, you have to visit some of the amazing London’s bookshops. Some of them have real bargain prices for second-hand books. Don’t forget to visit Charing Cross Road bookshops, too.

Dine in a literary restaurant

You can find some great and inspiring places to dine out with a literary spirit, like Story or Rules.

Come along to a tweetup

If you want to meet colleagues in the UK in a relaxed atmosphere, there’s nothing better than a tweetup in London, the north, or the west.

Check what’s on at the Free Word centre

Visit the centre hosting popular translation duels for a course or event related to translation, for example The Business of Literary Translation taking place on the 21st of July 2014.

Work away at the translation coffice

A budding project in 2014, The Translation Coffice aims to collect translators and interpreters wishing to try out co-working in quiet and work-friendly cafes. The first coffice is taking place on the 25th of July 2014.

Literary tour of Great Britain

Book yourself on a longer trip around Great Britain, for example to Dorset, through life and works of Agatha Christie, or the Brontës Literature and Countryside. Here’s just one tour operator who can do it for you. You can also try the Literary Tour of England with the National Trust featuring George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen.

Go to a literary festival

Many of them feature literature in translation, not to mention making potential contacts with publishing houses. Here’s a list of 300+ festivals in the UK.

Meet up with a colleague

If you’re travelling to the UK, reach out to colleagues based there and meet up. There’s nothing better than exchanging ideas and insights into working practices in a relaxed atmosphere.

Over to you!

Have you visited the United Kingdom and experienced something that other translators and interpreters would enjoy? Please add it in a comment!


  1. Emeline Jamoul , on Jul 18, 2014 at 06:31 Reply

    That’s a great list, I’ll write down a few ideas of yours for the next time I’m in London/the UK if you don’t mind, Marta!

    I always like to go to the British National Library whenever I’m in London – seeing old manuscripts of the literary works I have studied at university just before my eyes is an incredible experience!

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 19:09 Reply

      The National Library is a treasure, I get goosebumps whenever I’m there!

  2. Sherif Abuzid , on Jul 18, 2014 at 08:19 Reply

    You missed the science museum. I really enjoyed it 🙂 I have known a lot about the English and European culture through it.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 19:08 Reply

      I’ll be sure to visit it next time when I have the chance. Thank you!

  3. boulce , on Jul 18, 2014 at 08:58 Reply

    The Globe: I saw Richard III at The Globe and it was one of my best memories of London (ok, not hard as I love London and I love Richard III)
    And I love the fact that the British Museum is free.
    I can add: visit the British Library and adopt a book
    and visit the Sherlock Holmes museum!

  4. Daniela , on Apr 7, 2015 at 18:29 Reply

    I’ve come to this article many times lately, even translated it into Spanish for the NVT course. And I cannot believe it now that I’m using it as a guide for myself, for next week!

    And as a translator mom travelling with a child, I hope to do the Paddington Bear literary tour, too. My girl loves the bear’s stories I read to her, so we will certainly look for him when in Paddington. I’m still researching on literary tours specifically, but here we have some good general information to depart from:

    See you soon!

Leave a Comment