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Interest in trainspotting surges since the pandemic, according to Google

Brits are a nation easily influenced by social media and pop culture when it comes to picking up new hobbies, according to new research by Using Google search data, the magazine subscription site found that trainspotting and roller skating are some of the more popular hobbies being Googled by Brits since the start of the pandemic.

Reviewing Google data for the UK and 20 of its largest cities, experts at analysed 84 hobbies – from baking and birdwatching to those more influenced by pop culture like roller skating and trainspotting – to determine how Brits enjoy spending their free time. The analysis compared pre-pandemic data from March 2019-February 2020 to the latest data at the end of 2021, to reveal how interests have changed since before we all went into lockdown.

The top trending hobbies in the UK

When comparing search data before March 2020 (when COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO) with 2021, the analysis revealed that adventure activities dominated the top trending hobbies with rock climbing, paddle boarding, open water swimming and canoeing all making an appearance in the top five.

The research suggests a correlation between Brits’ hobbies and TikTok and other social media trends, with roller skating seeing a 55% increase in searches, which may be down to the viral TikTok trend started in 2020 by Ana Coto which was viewed over 3 million times.

Not surprising, there was also a massive increase in trainspotting with searches up 33% since before the pandemic, thanks to the nation’s sweetheart Francis Bourgeois and his 3+million-strong fan base across TikTok and Instagram, and his viral trainspotting videos everywhere you look. In 2019 Google recorded just shy of 50,000 searches per month, while by the end of 2021 this figure was closer to 74,000, placing this hobby in the top three trending up post-pandemic.

The UK’s most searched hobbies

From knitting, to learning a musical instrument, to painting, there are no limits to the hobbies we are able to explore but it seems Brits are still into the more traditional hobbies such as drawing, reading, and sketching.

The most popular hobby among Brits is drawing with an average of 246,000 Google searches per month, followed by golf with 201,000 searches. Reading, DIY, gardening and painting also appeared in the most searched hobbies in the UK.