Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, William Shakespeare, and Downton Abbey | Travel Research Online


Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, William Shakespeare, and Downton Abbey

I know that during November and December, thoughts turn to either staying closer to home or heading for sunnier climes. Given the pent-up demand for UK-bound travel among many of your anglophile clients, use some of these ideas to start conversations about spending a few days in the UK, either side of Thanksgiving.

Several of them might be tempted sampling their favourite single malts among other aficionados at the Malt Whisky Festival in northeast Scotland, while others (like me) will be attracted to the baroque tones at the Mozartfest in the Georgian city of Bath. Others will like the of combining great stately homes and castles imaginatively dressed for the festive season with gluhwein, bratwurst, and mince pies at Christmas Markets in historic settings. Families will certainly enjoy taking a spin in some pretty spectacular locations in and around London.

Look closely. Think carefully. Opportunities to sell these brilliant ideas have been missed in the past. Don’t let them happen in the future. With so much to choose from, let’s fine-tune your choice, add a few more bells and whistles, and gift wrap it for your customers.



On Location In Oxford

With an on-time LHR arrival, your clients could be in Oxford by 11am. With their accommodations not yet ready, offer them a walking tour that follows in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien with a pub lunch at the Eagle and Child (reopens spring 2022). Alternatively, go On Location with Endeavour, Lewis and Inspector Morse, or combine Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland at Christ Church College with an option to stay on for Choral Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral.

Christ Church Dining Hall



Browsing Around The Bodleian Library

Founded by Sir Thomas Bodley, and officially opened in 1602, ‘the Bod’ has grown to be the largest academic library system in the UK. In its reading rooms, generations of famous scholars have studied through the ages, amongst them monarchs, Nobel Prize winners, British Prime Ministers and writers including Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. A guided tour will reveal historic spaces that you might recognise from popular films and TV series such as Harry Potter and A Discovery of Witches.


Explore The Story Museum

The Story Museum has a surprise around every corner. Where else would you find the Hundred Acre Wood, Narnia, and Wonderland under one roof? Younger visitors will enjoy exploring favourite picture books and stories in Small Worlds, while older visitors will enjoy the Galleries where they’ll explore the history of oral storytelling in the magical Whispering Wood. All this before heading up to the Enchanted Library, where an immersive story space is hidden behind every bookshelf, including Horrid Henry’s bedroom and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

photo (c) John Cairns



Take Part In Alice’s Day

Step into Wonderland on 4th July and take part in this annual celebration of Lewis Carroll’s much-loved book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This unforgettable one-day event, inspired by the classic story includes tea-parties, croquet, workshops and storytelling. Make it the focal point of a tour that includes the Warner Brothers Making of Harry Potter, the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. Finish with the Wind in the Willows Exhibition near Windsor, a dash of Paddington Bear and a performance of Matilda, The Musical.



Discover The Cotswolds

Sheep-clad hillsides, honey-coloured cottages, real ales in 16th century pubs, quintessential English tea rooms, antique shops, and treasure-filled stately homes and castles. Oxford is the eastern gateway for a day in the Cotswolds and, although there are several ways of enjoying this lovely corner of England, my recommendation takes in the picture-perfect market towns of Burford, Stow on the Wold, the award-winning gardens at either Bourton on the Hill, Kiftsgate Court or Hidcote Manor, Chipping Campden, Broadway and Bourton on the Water.



Experience Tudor England

With Stratford upon Avon about 1 hour away, you can include a visit to Shakespeare’s Family Homes and discover the people and places that shaped William Shakespeare, the ordinary boy from Stratford-upon-Avon who went on to do extraordinary things. The day can also be adjusted to visit the Birthplace and Shakespeare’s New Place where you can uncover the fascinating story of the house that isn’t there prior to an afternoon matinee performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. You’ll be back in Oxford by 7pm.



Turn Fiction Into Reality At Downton Abbey

As you and most of your anglophile clients will have watched every single episode of Downton Abbey, and may well have boxed sets of each series, being only 35 miles south of Oxford, make an On Location side trip to some of the picture postcard villages used in the filming of several episodes and enjoy lunch in a pub that was part of the original Downton Abbey set. Then visit Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey, the family home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

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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