A travel counsellor recently asked me for a UK garden tour that her clients hadn’t seen before. My suggestion combined the Journées des Plantes in Paris and the Chelsea Flower Show in London. She’s now promoting this programme and shooting for a small group of 12-15 for late May 2020 and it’s my top story.
Other eye-catching updates include two new attractions in the Viking city of York, news of a major ceramics event in the World Capital of Ceramics aka Stoke on Trent, and the annual re-enactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The improved dollar/sterling exchange rate offers possibilities for UK shopping trips and I’ve added a couple of bright ideas for November/December Christmas tours. Bon Voyage!
|A Horticultural Tale of Two Cities
The Journées des Plantes is the go-to event in the world of French gardening. It takes place between 15th-17th May at the Domaine de Chantilly just north of Paris, the week prior to the Chelsea Flower Show in London. If you apply some creative thinking to this Paris and London combination, you can bring them both together in a way that many of your green-fingered clients won’t have seen before.
|Northern Lights in York Minster
After selling out all their performances last year, the amazing light show Northern Lights’ will return to York Minster’s glorious Nave from 24th-31st October. Created by the world-renowned The Projection Studio, the spectacular shows are taking place to help raise funds to preserve the Minster’s precious medieval stained glass; the largest collection in the world dating back over 600 years.
|Van Gogh – The Immersive Experience
This brand-new attraction in the Viking city of York enables you to step inside the paintings of Van Gogh, one of the world’s greatest artistic geniuses. Take an awe-inspiring journey into his imagination, his life and secrets, through cutting-edge 360-degree digital animation, optical illusion, and a uniquely atmospheric light and sound show. A UK premiere – nobody leaves unmoved.
|British Ceramics Biennial Returns To Stoke-on-Trent
This major celebration returns to its spiritual home from 7th September to 13th October 2019. Easily accessible with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Orlando to the northern gateway of Manchester – the international festival will bring together more than 300 contemporary artists in a vibrant programme of exhibitions, installations and events in different venues across the city. Check the flight schedules. There may be more Manchester non-stop flights than you think.
|Relive The 1066 Battle of Hastings
Fans of living history re-enactments will love this annual event. On 12th-13th October, hundreds of soldiers and knights on horseback clash in a remake of the Battle of Hasting, the most famous battle in English history. Re-enactors will bring the atmosphere and tension of the 1066 conquest to life as King Harold and his Saxon army take on Duke William and his Norman soldiers in a fight for the English throne.
|Antiques, Collector’s Fairs And London Markets
With the dollar/sterling exchange rate moving very much in your favour, starting in Brighton and finishing in London, this shopping trip focuses on the 1700 indoor/outdoor stalls at the International Antiques and Collectors Fair at Ardingly (next on 3rd – 4th September and 5th – 6th November) and the London markets at Bermondsey, Portobello Road and Petticoat Lane. I’ve added the exotic Royal Pavilion in Brighton and a visit to a privately owned castle. Ask me for details.
|Colourful, Cosmopolitan Brighton
This stylish seaside city is renowned for its excellent shopping centered on the famous ‘Lanes’ and its antiques and jewelry shops, high fashion boutiques, fine restaurants and lively bars. It’s also home to the Royal Pavilion, one of the UK’s most dazzlingly beautiful buildings in the British Isles. From Heathrow, it takes around 90 minutes and less than an hour from Gatwick. From Dover, it’s around 2.5 hours and to/from Southampton, around 2 hours.
|Pirates Christmas in Clovelly
Our Pirates travelled the known world, so the annual Clovelly Pirate’s Jamboree has always been unique. The grog comes from a time-honoured recipe, the locals tell me their cloths are costumes, but they fit too well! The food is an international gastronomic delight. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean) judges the costumes, the fireworks are amazing along with music to dance the night away. In case you’ve not heard of it, Clovelly is a picturesque, cliff side fishing village on the North Devon coast.
|Bring On The Glühwein
This festive 3 nighter showcases the Manchester Christmas Market, the biggest and arguably the best in Britain, the more intimate celebration in the ancient walled city of Chester and the treasure filled Chatsworth House, fully and stunningly decorated for Ch6ristmas. With careful timing, you can also add 2-3 days fully engaged with the Dublin Christmas Market. In one way, out the other, this is an idea that’s well worth closer scrutiny.
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 email@example.com