Looking for the best things to do and places to visit in the UK during the spring season? Your search ends here. Taken from C&TH’s Great British & Irish Hotels Guide, we’ve rounded up the best seasonal sojourns from every corner of the country…
Devon, Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly
Buy bouquets of Cornish flowers that have been selected by their meaning. As such, no two bunches are ever the same.
Step back to a simpler time on Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. Here you’ll find puffins, seals… no cars. Bliss. You can stay in castles, old school houses and lighthouses through the Landmark Trust.
The West Country
Lyme Regis Jazz and Blues Festival during the May bank holiday is a great way to see live, traditional and modern jazz. The backdrop of the pretty Dorset coastal town makes it even better.
See Bristol from the water and float up the Avon Gorge, beneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge and through the famous Bristol floating harbour.
Whether it’s fish and chips or oysters and champagne, head to Weymouth and sample its amazing seafood while looking out over the old harbour.
Hampshire & The Isle of Wight
Avoid the crowds and the summer heat and get fit at the same time by taking park in the Isle of Wight‘s annual walking festival each May. For those up for the challenge, you can walk round the whole island (72 miles) in 24 hours. New for 2017 is a running festival too, in June.
See winter shake off its torpor and the year really come alive at Exbury Gardens, the vision of Lionel de Rothschild, who planted copious colourful rhododendrons and azaleas, which are best seen in May.
The Home Counties
Between April and May, follow the woodland path on the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, admiring the springtime carpet of bluebells as you go.
Count counties from Leith Hill Tower in Dorking on a clear morning. It’s the highest point in south-east England, which means you might even spot a boat on the Channel.
Pick up a book at the Charleston Festival, held each May at the Bloomsbury Group’s spiritual home.
Who said you need to leave London to soak in some nature? Deptford Creek is one of the last natural creeks in the UK and it’s bursting with 120 species of wild flowers.
For one weekend in May, London’s best art institutions throw open their doors to showcase their collections in unusual and innovative ways.
The Cheltenham Festival heralds the start of the British Social Season. While it doesn’t have the pomp and ceremony of Ascot, it’s a serious sporting event and you can always wear a hat if you wish (but you may prefer a flatcap).
Ever rolled a cheese down a hill? Perhaps not, but each May health and safety goes out the window and runners hurtle down the exceedingly steep Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire after a 7lb Double Gloucester. You may well ask…
Forgo the long-haul flight to Kyoto and head to the Japanese gardens at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens instead. The Cherry Blossom Festival in March is not to be missed.
Pig out on Melton Mowbray’s most famous export at the Great British Festival of Pies, held in the town centre each March.
Pay tribute to the Bard on his birthday at Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, where you can tread the floorboards of the home where he was born and admire the gardens of Anne Hathaway’s cottage.
Crabbing season starts in late April. While Cromer is the obvious choice, gillying in Blakeney Quayside and Wells Harbour is also popular. Wait for high tide and use bacon as bait if you’re using a line.
Hop in a boat to Havergate Island in the middle of the River Ore to spot wading birds. It’s best-known for breeding avocets and terns at this time of year. The boat goes out at 10am on the first Saturday of every month, taking just 12 people, so plan ahead for a birdwatching experience that’s far away from the crowds.
Visit the stunning formal gardens of Alnwick Castle, redeveloped by the Duchess of Northumberland, which has its very own poison garden and a fantastic restaurant in a treehouse.
Step back in time on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, Northumberland, and marvel at all that has been preserved. From ponies to seals, the wildlife on the island is also spectacular.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, set in the glorious parkland of Bretton Hall estate, displays works by leading sculptors of the 20th century and is an absolute must-see.
Wales & The Marches
At the end of every May, join the literati at the UK’s favourite book festival in Hay, where the small town, with more than its fair share of bookshops, attracts names as diverse as Eddie Izzard, Miriam González Durántez (and her husband Nick Clegg), Helen Fielding and Colm Toíbín.
Celebrate Wales’ most famous literary son on International Dylan Thomas day also in May. As well as a whole series of events, do make sure you visit his boathouse in Laugharne, where he wrote many of his most famous works.
Jupiter Artland, set in the grounds of a Jacobean manor house, is an eclectic and fascinating collection of modern art, great for a day out with a difference.
Hop aboard a steam train and take in the Scottish landscape from the comfort of a railway carriage. Harry Potter fans will be delighted to cross the Glenfinnan viaduct, recognisable from the films.
Beltane Fire Festival marks the changing seasons with drums, fire and theater atop the iconic Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Watch the May Queen as she makes her way around the hill and through the great arch of fire.
Abandon all table manners and get stuck in at the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival each March, which overlooks Howth’s stunning harbour.
Take a jaw-dropping walk 100 feet above the sea to Carrick-a-Rede Island, home to a single building- a fisherman’s cottage, in County Antrim. Each March, the National Trust holds an open day with free access to the rope bridge and free guided tours of the lone fishery.
Go wild on The Burren- the lunar landscape in County Clare is a sight to behold year-round, but particularly arresting in April when the wildflowers begin to poke through its stony crevices.
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