Archive for category Festivals

Easter events in Devon 2014

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Here are some family friendly events taking place this Easter in Devon. If you haven’t already booked your accommodation, make sure to visit our Devon holiday cottages.

Easter weekend at Living Coasts, Torquay’s costal zoo and aquarium. Meet the cute little chicks and take part in the Easter egg trail, games and craft activities, as well as meeting all the playful penguins and many more fascinating creatures!

Visit Kents Cavern, prehistoric caves in Torquay for a Dinosaur themed Easter. Piece together the Dino facts around the caves, solve the T-REX riddles and see if you can win an Easter surprise.

Easter egg trails at Coleton Fishacre, Dartmouth. Part of the National Trust, you can explore this lovely RHS accredited garden with winding paths through glades, past tranquil ponds, and see many wonderful plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thriving in this sheltered valley.

Go ‘Beyond the Book‘ in Bovey Tracey at this exhibition of artists that examine the book as a physical form as well as a container of ideas and concepts. Expect a variety of sculpture, installation and jewellery.

Family Rock Days in Okehampton. Suitable for ages 8 and up, this tour of some of the famous Dartmoor tors will cover a range of activities such as rock climbing, weaselling and bouldering.

Also in Okehampton is the Finch Foundry rag rug making workshop on Easter Monday.

The Big Sheep near Bideford, North Devon, is holding an Easter egg hunt to end all Easter egg hunts. Over 30,000 miniature chocolate eggs will be hidden throughout the site, plus, if you find three of them, you can claim a big egg! The Easter Bunny will also be making an appearance for a special breakfast!

 

 

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Eggcellent Cornwall this Easter

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

The Easter holidays are nearly upon us! So, if you still haven’t planned your activities, here are a select few of the things going on in Cornwall with suggestions of where to stay nearby.

 

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth 5th-21st April

Inspired by the new Smuggling exhibitions, enter the smugglers’ den to make your own flintlock pistol, pop-up smuggler and secret chest with a concealed compartment. Plus, search for the concealed contraband hidden around the Museum with the Free Traders’ Trail. Plus, on Easter weekend, make your own bunny and chick masks and pour your own mini chocolate Easter egg.

Stay at this spacious first floor apartment situated in a prestigious waterside development on Falmouth Harbour (sleeps 6).

Wild Futures, Looe 5th-21st April

Take a tour of the monkey enclosures and learn about these fascinating creatures at the Monkey Sanctuary. You can also take a gentle stroll around the woodland gardens, and let the children swing like the monkeys in the play area. Have lunch at the award-winning Treetop café and when the day is done, go back to this lovely 4 bedroom house (sleeps 8) with views over Looe Bay and out to sea.

Eden Project, St Austell 5th-25th April

Chocolate Unwrapped is the Eden Project’s festival telling the story of chocolate, how it was found and how it became so popular in Europe. Visitors will be taken on an interactive journey through the Rainforest Biome to see real cocoa trees and meet characters along the way. Children can also make their own chocolatey creations, and adults will be able to take special chocolatier workshops.

Eat your chocolate delights back at this newly refurbished 3 bedroom house (sleeps 6) with stunning views over St Austell Bay.

Cornwall’s Crealy Great Adventure Park, Wadebridge 5-21st April

The Park is unveiling a £300,000 investment in attractions for the 2014 season. One of its most exciting projects is a new area for toddlers and pre-school children open in time for the Easter holidays. Swampy and Dina Land is a 2,000 sq m enclosed area with rides and play areas for children under the age of five.

Stay at this 2 bedroom apartment (sleeps 4)  with a sun trap patio situated in the idyllic hamlet of Little Petherick. Close to the famous Camel Trail and the fishing village of Padstow.

Newquay Zoo, Newquay 5th-20th April

With a programme of family activities including duck races, egg hunts and animal workshops, there’s lots to do at the Newquay Zoo. On 14th April Michaela Strachan will be there with her Wild Adventures Show, which visitors can go to at no extra charge. On the Easter weekend there is an egg trail in the Dragon Maze, and don’t forget to join the Easter Bunny tea party at 1pm on Sunday 20th April.

Close to Fistral beach and Newquay town centre, stay at this 2 bedroom mews house (sleeps 4). Perfect for beach holidays and a spot of golfing.

Tintagel Castle, Tintagel 18th-21st April

Get hands-on with history this Easter weekend. Young adventurers will be needed to crack clues and explore hidden corners of Tintagel Castle on this exciting quest. Those who succeed will receive a delicious chocolate reward.

Take your prize home to this smart detached cottage (sleeps 6) a mile west of Tintagel.

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Exeter Vibraphonic Festival 14th-29th March

Exeter is hosting the Vibraphonic Festival for two weeks starting this Friday 14th until Saturday 29th March.

The festival covers reggae, soul, urban, jazz, funk, blues, hip hop, drum & bass, electronica and experimental music across the city. There are around 20 live music venues taking part, including the Exeter Phoenix, the Cavern, Barnfield and many more.

A wide variety of artists and DJs are expected and there are also workshops, demonstrations, dance performances, films and graffiti art.

The first acts announced are Dreadzone, Son Of Dave, Get Rich Quick & Festival Scratch Orchestra, Larry Miller, Craig Charles, Lee Scratch Perry, Tcha Limberger’s Budapest Gypsy Orchestra, and Salsa Celtica. Ticket prices vary and can be bought at the venues or through local ticket outlets.

Once you’re all danced out, you could rest your weary feet at nearby Ottery St Mary in this lovely Helpful Holidays Grade II listed town house (sleeps 4). Smart and comfortable with wooden floors throughout, a long, elegant hall leads to an L-shaped living/dining room and kitchen. French windows open to a small patio area. There’s a downstairs loo then oak stairs lead to the first floor with with one double and one single room and a luxurious bathroom. On the second floor there is another double bedroom with en suite shower room with 2 steps to a small, private roof terrace with views over the town.

Situated right in the heart of Ottery St Mary, you are minutes away from shops and have a perfect base for exploring the gardens and beaches of East Devon.

Front view

Kitchen/dining area

Double bedroom

Beautiful private roof terrace

 

 

 

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Falmouth Spring Festival

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Falmouth picture by Flickr user Nigel_Brown

Enjoy an array of happy springtime events from 13th-30th March as part of the Falmouth Spring Festival in Cornwall, perfect for a pre-Easter getaway. 

The festival celebrates Falmouth’s open and green spaces through music, dance, community activities, sport and art. A large town, port and resort beside one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours, Falmouth is a brilliant place to visit for beaches, sailing and sightseeing.

On the 13th, pupils from local schools, together with students from Falmouth University, will paint the town yellow with displays of daffodils and decorations in over 100 shop windows.

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd March is a free games event called Mar Games on the Moor. From 10am to 4pm, you and the family can enjoy dodging a swing ball, playing giant snakes and ladders, connect 4 or quiots. Also on that weekend is the Mar Cider and Folk Fayre, with a great range of bands and a choice of over 20 scrumptious ciders from across the West Country. Events Square will also host a marquee full of food and craft stalls and children’s activities from 10am until late.

Throughout the festival there will also be lots of different guided walks covering topics such as foraging for food, astronomy, nordic walking, beach-combing, wildlife and history. Different grades and duration mean there will be something for everybody!

For more information on these and the many other activities taking place, visit the website.

Sitting on the edge of Falmouth and only a five minute walk to Swanpool beach and seven minutes to the beautiful Gyllingvase beach by cliff and coastal paths is this lovely private apartment on the first floor of a private house. The comfortable accommodation offers a terraced garden (with table/chairs, loungers and gas barbecue) and 180 degree views across to Swanpool and Falmouth Bays. There are two bedrooms (one double, one twin), a living/dining room, fitted gallery kitchen and bathroom (suite plus bath-shower). The friendly owners live unobtrusively in the main house and are delighted to offer advice on days out etc if requested.

 

View from living room

Living room

 

Double bedroom

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e-Luminate Festival Cambridge

'Colour Shift' at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

‘Colour Shift’ at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge for the annual e-Luminate Festival of light art and technology this weekend (the festival continues until 23rd February).

It was my first time in the pretty city and it was a flying visit, quite literally at times, as it was windy! We started with a Trail of Light, a walking tour of the Cambridge College Chapels. All participants were given an LED flashing light to create a line of light as we walked across from chapel to chapel. Once inside, we were given a performance by either a choir, or my personal favourite, organ music, which echoed through the candlelit chapels and their high vaulted ceilings.

There were quite a few light installations and projections throughout the city, the most impressive was Colour Shift by Susie Olczak, a wash of changing colours across the facade of King’s College. It really highlighted the architecture, creating harsh shadows to emphasise the detailed cuts of the stone.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, and really gave us the chance to explore and get a feel for the place. There was a market selling local produce, second-hand LPs, clothes and jewellery. The city is famous for its literature festival and in keeping with this, there were plenty of bookshops to be discovered down tiny side streets and in hidden courtyards, many selling rare books of antiquity.

We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips at The Eagle pub. Dating back to 1667, the pub is most famous as the place where James Watson and Francis Crick first announced they had ‘discovered the secret of life’ – DNA. Regardless of that, it was popular yet cosy once you found a seat. We were quite lucky to get one, and would advise getting there just after midday if you’re to find a table also, as many visitors who arrived after 12.30pm were disappointed.

All in all my visit to Cambridge was a success, and anyone interested in interesting architecture, particularly religious buildings, would do well to visit. I think it would work well as part of a longer visit to the area, so it would be a good idea to rent a holiday cottage outside of the centre to allow for visits to the surrounding countryside. 

Orchard Cottage (sleeps up to 7) is a beautifully restored and tastefully furnished 18th Century cottage with half an acre of garden of mainly trees and lawn where you can, if you wish, play croquet, badminton and quoits. It is in a rural situation with a farm opposite and fields around, but is close to travel to Cambridge, Rutland Water and Stamford.

The cottage has three double bedrooms (master bedroom has en suite shower room), study, sitting room with inglenook fireplace and well-concealed television; large kitchen with Rayburn, microwave oven, dishwasher, washer/drier etc, and conservatory. The furniture is antique even the bathroom has Victorian fittings.

Orchard Cottage

Orchard Cottage

Beautifully presented bedroom

Beautifully presented bedroom

 

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“Ghost Peloton” to celebrate Grand Depart

Fifty cyclists lit with LEDs will take part in a “ghost peloton” in Leeds as part of a festival to celebrate and welcome in the Tour de France Grand Depart.

The £2m Yorkshire Festival will include 47 different bicycle-themed projects, including installations, performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

The festival will run from 27th March to 6th July, with the Tour’s Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July before spending two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

Yorkshire Festival executive producer Henrietta Duckworth said: “The race is not just about those two days of epic exertion by men in lycra.

“This is an opportunity to engage people with a programme of work that will capture the imagination, trigger some excitable and enjoyable activities and give people a chance to get involved in the Grand Depart in the 100 days leading up to the actual race.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Two new sculptures by Thomas Houseago, one for Leeds city centre and the other for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • A “tour de cinema” will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • A songwriting relay will create folk songs and take them from town to town by bicycle.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with a play about cyclist Beryl Burton.
  • The White Cloth Gallery in Leeds will host an exhibition of photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.

After the Tour’s opening two stages in Yorkshire, the third stage will go from Cambridge to London before the race moves to France.

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Hurling the Silver Ball

It’s back for another year, the annual Cornish event of the St Ives Feast and Hurling the Silver Ball!

We’ve covered it before, but it’s such an exciting tradition and spectacle, we thought we’d cover it again so that you can go to watch this 10th February.

The St Ives Feast celebrates the anniversary of the consecration of the Parish Church of St Eia in 1434 AD. It starts with the mayor’s civic procession for the blessing at St Ia Well near Porthmeor Beach, and is followed by the hurling of the silver ball, when participants try to win the ball from one another throughout the town. The winner is whoever returns the ball to the mayor on the steps on St Ives Guildhall on the stroke of midday, where they will receive a silver coin.

Rest your head at The Salt Lodge in the extremely popular Downalong area of St Ives. A 4 bedroom Grade II listed cottage sleeps 8 (plus a baby) and is perfect for a large family or two families holidaying together. There are two beaches just a few steps away from the cottage and it is situated in a quiet part of this lovely fishing village.

 

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Top events for 2014

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre timeline picture by Flickr user Dysanovic

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre timeline picture by Flickr user Dysanovic

We’re speeding through January now, so let’s have a quick look at some of the main events in the UK for 2014!

1. This year will be the 450th birthday of England’s greatest poet and playwright, Shakespeare. Celebrations have already kicked off this month at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Candlelit plays, operas and concerts will be performed in the new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. On Shakespeare’s actual birthday, 23rd April, during ‘Shakespeare Week’ The Globe will stage its first performance of Hamlet to start a two-year world tour.

2. 5th July will see Stage 1 of the Tour de France Grand Départ get underway in Leeds, Yorkshire. It will continue on through some of the most stunning countryside in the Yorkshire Dales through to the spa town of Harrogate. Stage 2 starts in the medieval city of York, finishing in my home town, Sheffield! Stage 3 sets off from Cambridge, cycling through the Essex countryside to London, leading to a spectacular finish at The Mall. An exciting sporting event, and great to use the route to explore different areas of the country.

3. Scotland gears up for a summer of sport with the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, and the golf championship, the Ryder Cup, at Gleneagles in September.

4. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Henley Royal Regatta. For five days from 1st July, teams from across the world will compete in this traditional rowing event across the River Thames. A great event to sit on the riverbank with a picnic in the sunshine.

5. Another anniversary this year, too; the centenary of Wales‘ greatest poet and writer, Dylan Thomas. The actual centenary is 27th October, but year-round events, exhibitions and festivals will celebrate Thomas and showcase Wales as an extraordinary land of artistic excellence.

 

Keep up to date with upcoming events around the UK featured on this blog, or search particular dates and places at the tourist board, VisitBritain.

 

 

 

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Homecoming Scotland 2014

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Fort William photo by Flickr user Hotfield

Scotland is marketing itself to itself in a new £500,000 campaign, ‘Homecoming Scotland 2014’.

The campaign will encourage fellow Scots, northerners and the Northern Irish to visit the various events happening throughout the year, right on their doorsteps. There will be a 30-second TV advert, radio, digital, press and other promotional activity to highlight the 430 family-friendly Homecoming events. These include the Islay Festival of Music and Malt, Lochearnhead Highland Games, and the Wickerman Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.

Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said: “This year, Scotland will also play host to the Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and the MTV Europe Awards – which will broadcast to nearly 700 million households through MTV’s global network of channels.

“2014 will be an extraordinary year for Scotland and this advert, alongside the Homecoming app and enhanced information on the wider events programme which are also now available, will help us to share it with as many people as possible.”

So with all these brilliant events going on, what better time than to highlight the Scotland section of our Holiday Cottages!

We have lots to choose from, but to start, how about The Logs, a detached Norwegian-style log house (sleeps up to 10) 3 miles north of Fort William. It has panoramic views of Ben Nevis and the ski slopes of Aonach Mor.

The comfortable accommodation includes a spacious lounge with gallery sitting room, dining room, well-equipped breakfast kitchen, 6 bedrooms (2 en suite) and a bathroom. There is a wood-burning stove in the lounge, gas central heating, 2 TVs, DVD, video and CD player. The large garden and patio area is bordered by the remnants of the old Caledonian pine forest. Plus, there are over 70 events and activities listed on the Homecoming Scotland 2014 website including tours, cycling, fishing and lots more!

The Logs outside

The Logs outside

Cosy living room

Cosy living room

 

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2013 round up

Happy New Year from all of us at Holiday Cottages! Before we start on the news and reviews for 2014, here’s a some highlights of what we covered on the blog in 2013:

We started the year with a report that we Brits are creatures of habit with our holiday choices, often returning to a previous destination and holiday cottage when we’ve had one good holiday there before. Last year was the Year of Natural Scotland, and was launched with an advert featuring Shetland ponies wearing onesies!

In February we found that 50% of Londoners prefer holidays in the sunshine, with many also stating that their holidays in the UK were some of the happiest they have had. We also gave you a run down of some of our most splendid cottages with pools, which are all still available now and could be great for a summer holiday vibe in winter!

Flybe announced flights from Manchester to Scotland in March, making for a quick and relatively cost effective way of taking a short break in Scotland. The Easter holidays were blighted by bad weather sweeping across the country. It didn’t affect Cheshire, though, as I shared my photography adventure in Tatton Park over the Easter weekend.

Our friends at Helpful Holidays swept the board at the Which? Travel magazine member survey in April. Meanwhile, in May, Blackpool was named the most popular British seaside resort at the TripAdvisor Choice Awards.

In June, research by VisitBritain found that more overseas visitors to the UK prefer visiting open green spaces such as parks and gardens than they do museums and galleries.

July started with the news that a change in the law in 2015, which means schools will decide their own term dates, will very likely drive up the prices of holidays year round. There was a rise in visits to UK attractions, helping to bolster domestic tourism.

We gave our top tips for festivals and activities over the August Bank Holiday; we also reported on the large number of UK piers under threat of coming under a state of disrepair if funding isn’t found.

September was a time for activities such as the Devon Open Studios, Frome Cheese and Agricultural Show, and pickling at Powderham.

In October, inbound tourism was on the up, and also Yorkshire was voted one of the top 10 places to visit in the world!

In November we recommended the North Devon Clovelly Herring Festival and reviewed the light fantastic Lumiere Festival, Durham. There was good news for Hull, as it was named the next UK City of Culture 2017.

Finally, in December, we found that we Brits are flavour of the month with Americans, as tourists from across the Pond have been increasing in number year on year. Christmas was also a great time for UK tourism as the number of overnight stays and short trips increased substantially over the festive period.

So, that’s it for 2013! Keep up to date with news and reviews in 2014 by following the blog, or you can like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

 

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