British culture refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with the United Kingdom and its people. In its broadest sense, the term applies to the shared experience that comes from a dynamic mix of ages, races, regions, genders, income levels and interests.
The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of these countries have preserved and distinct customs, cultures and symbolism. As a result of the British Empire, the UK is also populated by many people from the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Asia. Communities uprooted from Cyprus and Vietnam all add to the myriad of cultural identities, while others from Eastern Europe have taken up residence in the UK. English is spoken by 95 percent of the population.
Sport plays a prominent role in British culture, with many people making an emotional investment in their favorite spectator sports. The most popular professional sport is football, followed by rugby and cricket. Major individual sports include golf, tennis, athletics, motor sport and horse racing. The UK also enjoys a range of other international sports such as squash, badminton, hockey, Formula One motor racing, boxing, snooker, pool, athletics, swimming, cycling and curling.
Music is an important element of British culture and is currently worth over 4 billion dollars to the UK economy. It forms a large part of the social and communal experience and can be heard live in a variety of settings, ranging from pubs to concert venues and football stadiums. In the summer months, music festivals such as Glastonbury in the South West of England take place. The Notting Hill Carnival in London is Britain’s biggest street party. Music broadcasting is well established throughout the national and regional media.
Literature enjoys a reputation as one of the most prestigious of arts within Britain, which has been the birthplace and subject for many of the world’s most illustrious authors. These include Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. Their works are studied extensively in schools, colleges and universities in Britain and around the world. Publishing is a major industry in the U.K. with over 6,000 new fiction titles appearing each year. There are many literary awards for authors, such as the Whitbread Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize and the highly acclaimed Booker Prize.
British theater is universally admired for its variety and the caliber of its performances. Traditional productions, novel reinterpretations, musicals and pantomime are all elements of contemporary theater. Plays are performed in many different settings, which vary from village halls to the Royal National Theater in London. Britain is home to more than 300 theaters, known as repertory theaters, which can be found in every major city.
The UK is home to several fine art collections. The National Gallery currently holds over 2,000 works of Western paintings from the 13th to the 19th century. Modern art and sculpture is housed at the Tate Gallery, which opened in 1897. Portraits and photographs of distinguished figures from British history can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery, which opened in 1856. The majority of galleries are located in central London, although numerous regional collections are based in towns and cities across the United Kingdom.
The UK has a very old culture. Along with the development of the society, its culture has become better and more unique. Therefore, British is an attractive destination for tourists all over the world. Only when tourists come to UK can they experience the best of British culture.