Window on Britain | TravelResearchOnline

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Window on Britain

If you, like me and around 2 billion others around the world, watched Saturday’s magnificent Royal Wedding here are a few very good reasons why you should choose the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead as a hub for tours in Britain. Indeed, Windsor is worth very serious consideration as the starting point for tailor-made tours and pre- and post-cruise extensions.

Traditionally, when you get to Heathrow, you then join the weekday traffic jam heading into London. The alternative suggestions in my top three stories will resonate with all your anglophile, frequent travellers to these shores.

If you head in the opposite direction, the M40 motorway will take you swiftly to Oxford, the gateway to the Cotswolds. To get the best out of this huge region, take a look at three of the ideas I’ve come up with.

Finally, check out the 3 eye-catching Festivals I’ve highlighted, and the one for the alfresco staging of the York Mystery Plays.

Worship in the Royal Wedding Venue

Last year, one of my customised tours arrived on a Sunday morning and they said ‘yes’ to attending the service of Matins in St George’s Chapel, the burial place of 10 monarchs and one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England. It’s where Prince Harry and Meghan were married making it a great Sunday start to any UK tour. Don’t forget that Choral Evensong takes place at 5:15pm on most weekday afternoons. Preceded by a tour of Windsor Castle, it provides a memorable conclusion to an unforgettable day.

Windsor As a Royal Rendezvous

Being only a short hop from London Heathrow, I have successfully used Windsor as the rendezvous point for garden tour groups before they head out into the English countryside. I’ve also used it for pre-cruise extensions as the base for a day trip into London before heading to Southampton, Dover or Harwich. Did you know that there’s a shuttle service between Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace?

Changing the Guard

It’s one of the highlights of any visit Windsor visit. Subject to the weather, a band usually accompanies the Guards and you can watch them as they march up the High Street and into the Castle. To see the actual 11am “changing” ceremony you need to have paid to go into the Castle, and it takes place outside the Guardroom in the Lower Ward. If your clients’ flights arrive before 8am, they’ve every chance of getting there on time to see it.

Castles in the Cotswolds

This bright idea can start with the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle before offering an imaginative, crenellated look at 5 great castles in the Cotswolds with an English Afternoon Tea in the sumptuous surroundings of one of them. I’ve added George Washington’s ancestral home and the tour finishes with a breath taking few hours at Blenheim Palace.

Tastes, Flavours and Essences of the Cotswolds

If you’re into foodie tours, your clients will love this 4-night itinerary as it brings together a fascinating, palette-tingling and tasty collection of edible and drinkable experiences including a close encounter with the Herb Society and a Parade of Puddings. It’s further enriched with visits to privately owned gardens and stately homes (with a home-made cheese tasting at one of them) and some carefully selected, ancient coaching inns.

Strawberries, Lavender and Roses

Picture-perfect villages, honey-coloured cottages, real ales in 16th century pubs, narrow streets, quintessential English tea rooms, antique shops, and treasure filled stately homes and castles. Welcome to the Cotswolds. Back in London, add a day at the Hampton Court Flower Show for late June to mid-July when lavender, strawberries and roses are at their peak of colour and fragrance.

Bloom in York

Bloom is a new addition to York’s long list of eye catching festivals, designed to attract green-fingered gardeners, flower enthusiasts or cactus-loving novices. From 5th-8th July, you’ll discover secret green spaces hidden behind the walls of some of York’s historic buildings, make your way through some of the less visited gardens of the city and witness a floral master at work.

The Illumination Festival of Flowers

The Winchester Cathedral Illumination Flower Festival takes place between 5th – 9th September with an exuberant array of flower arrangements inspired by the striking and floral displays evoking the Winchester Bible’s exquisitely illuminated initials and decorative schemes. Add the RHS Garden Show at Wisley and a Dahlia Day at Pashley Manor 4th – 9th September for an unforgettable late summer stately homes and cathedrals tour.

Jane Austen Festival

As you, and your clients, have spent Sunday evenings watching Masterpiece Theatre productions of Jane Austen’s novels, start planning a tour to the popular Jane Austen Festival, which returns to Bath from Friday 14th–Sunday 23rd September 2018. This year’s Festival will celebrate her novel Persuasion – much of which is set in the city – 200 years after its publication. You can also hire costumes if you want to join their world famous Grand Regency Costumed Promenade.

York Mystery Plays

Being staged on pageant wagons in the city’s streets, the York Mystery Plays are a significant cultural treasure. Beyond their religious importance, they represent the values of community and togetherness as they draw on the talents of local people gladly giving their time to present these iconic plays. In 2018, and for the first time, there will be an additional torch-lit evening performance.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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