Relive 1066, feast on garlic beer, enjoy the sublime tones of Elgar or let the Red Arrows send a tingle down the spine. A look at what’s on around the UK
What’s great outdoors?
- Those attuned to a more sedate way of seeing the world should flock to the UK Motorhome and Caravan Autumn Fair (3-4 September) at Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire. Go to www.ukautumnfair.co.uk/home.html
- If feats of strength on dry land float your boat, look no further than the Braemar Gathering and Highland Games (left)on 3 September usually attended by the Queen, who stays at nearby Balmoral during the summer. Visit www.braemargathering.org
- It’s a landmark year for the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (above at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, 1-4 September). Not only is the event celebrating its 50th anniversary but also competition should be particularly fierce as Burghley is a qualifying show for the 2017 London Olympics. See www.burghley-horse.co.uk
- There’s a full calendar for those who enjoy watching others messing about on the river, creek and gully. At the Fowey Royal Regatta in Cornwall (seven days from 14 August, www.foweyroyalregatta.co.uk) attractions include the Red Arrows, a colourful procession around the town and, of course, the sailing races. Torbay Week (19-24 August, www.torbayweek.co.uk) features racing for a wide variety of sailing vessels, along with tons of after-sail fun at Torbay’s sailing and yachting clubs.
Glorious, glorious food
- If you’re looking for a summer event with a unique atmosphere, then the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival should be to your taste. Held over the weekend of 20-21 August at the evocatively-named Fighting Cocks Crossroads site near Sandown, the festival is, according to Colin Boswell who runs the island’s Garlic Farm, “a nice blend of 1960s and ’70s pop festival with the feel of a country fair and little bit of leading edge foodie experience”. Around 25,000 people are expected through the gates to enjoy the tastings, sideshows, displays and demonstrations. “We do the usual things like garlic ice cream and garlic beer,” says Boswell. “For the beer, you crush garlic in a glass and pour ice cold lager on it so you drink through a skin of garlic. It reaches the parts other beers cannot reach. The Isle of Wight’s garlic history goes back to the war when a Free French brigade was stationed on the island and became disenchanted with the bland food they were offered. A local farmer managed to import some garlic from the Auvergne. The islanders found it grew really well and it kept the French happy for a while. And is the Garlic Festival the event you can experience before you reach the Garlic days on the Isle of Wightsite? “In August when we have 100 tons of garlic on the floor and we’re busy cleaning, drying and doing things with it, then I’m sure there’s a sweet aroma in the air, not a harsh one,” says Boswell. For festival details see www.garlic-festival.co.uk
- The Wirral Food and Drink Festival (28-29 August) features an appearance by Claire Lara, the first female winner of TV’s Masterchef: The Professionals who grew up in the area. “My life is just cooking. It’s a brilliant, brilliant job,” she says. “I teach youngsters, we give them a trade, give them an opportunity, give them options. I get a lot of satisfaction from passing on knowledge, I just really enjoy it.” Visit www.visitwirral.com
Tales of the centuries
It’s not merely music fans who spend summer weekends in wet and windy festival fields being bombarded by noise and enduring often indifferent living conditions.
Thousands of history re-enactors get away from it all by donning the costumes, eating the food and wielding the weapons of centuries gone by during staged events at many of the country’s castles and stately homes.
Those not brave enough to slip into something a little less comfortable such as sackcloth or suits of armour can go along to see historical characters brought back to life, turning points of our past re-visited and traditional crafts re-interpreted by an armyof enthusiasts.
Jasmine and Mike Richards (below) have been re-enacting for 40 years and this summer’s battle plans include the Eve of the Battle event at the National Museum of Wales in St Fagan’s, near Cardiff, on August 13 and 14. The museum site is close to one of the Civil War’s bloodiest encounters. “We’ll be part on an extended family based in a house in the woods, cooking, carrying out crafts and coming to terms with our daily lives having been taken away by the invading Army,” says 72-year-old Jasmine.
Former teacher Jasmine was bitten by the history bug when her 11-year-old son – now a computer programmer in his late 40s with his own Civil War re-enacting group – asked for some Napoleonic costumes for a history project. It was a short cavalry ride from there to the brigades of folk re-enacting the Civil War. When they retired in 1994, the Richards were ready for full-time duty.
She remembers watching her 67-year-old husband getting caught in the thick of the action during one campaign, hiding in a ditch with his camera with horses leaping over him. “On re-enactment weekends, you lose all sense of time; you have jobs you know need doing but there’s really only daylight and night-time with the odd church bell now and again.”
- If bows and arrows appeal more than muskets and drums, you can re-live the atmosphere and tension of medieval battle in the annual re-enactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings on the very field where it took place over the weekend of October 15-16. There are also medieval encampments, cavalry and falconry displays and a chance to make your own chain mail. See www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/1066-battle-of-hastings-abbey-and-battlefield
- The Vikings come back to life at Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland on 20-21 August. Don’t forget, however, that the site is an island at high tide; get your timings wrong and you could be stranded overnight with some of the most fearsome hordes in history (above). Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/lindisfarne-priory
- Delving back further through history, Verulamium Museum in St Albans is invaded every second weekend in the month by Roman soldiers who demonstrate the tactics and equipment of the Imperial Army. Tel 01727 751 810.
- The Cannock Chase Military History weekend on August 20-21 celebrates Staffordshire’s military connections from the Civil War to the present day with static and arena demonstrations from both historians and service veterans. Tel 01543 876741.
- Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire steps back in time to the 1940s over the weekend of 24-25 September with song and dance, military and civilian living history, cooking demonstrations, entertainments such as Mr Punch taking on Adolf Hitler and classic cars and bikes. Go to www.wimpole.org
- If staying indoors is more your thing, the State Rooms and Buckingham Palace are open to the beginning of October. Besides the treasures of the royal collection, there’s a chance to enjoy a slice of very contemporary history in the form of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress. Visit www.royalcollection.org.uk
- And during the summer recess, there are 75-minute guided tours of the Houses of Parliament. See www.parliament.uk/visiting
Music, words and numbers
- English music is at the heart of the Three Choirs Festival which this year takes place in Worcester Cathedral (below) until 13 August. Featured works include Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius and Vaughan Williams’ An Oxford Elegy. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is marked with a performance of John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned in 2002 and recalling the fall of the World Trade Center in New York. See www.3choirs.org
- This year’s Glyndebourne Festival culminates (11-28 August) with its renowned production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw in which two orphaned children and their governess are spooked out of their wits in a remote country house. Go to www.glyndebourne.com
- And don’t forget the Proms run until 10 September at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/proms
- On the literary front, the Edinburgh International Book Festival rounds off the city’s cultural extravaganza (13-29 August) and features Man Booker long-listed authors Sebastian Barry and Alan Hollinghurst. Visit www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival
- The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (21-30 October) unites the Scottish Isles with the shores and islands of the Mediterranean in an exchange of cultures and traditions, tracing the story of travel through the voyager Odysseus. Meanwhile, old routes are reconnected in the Year ofScotland’s Islands with Island Nights evenings offering up the best of live entertainment. See www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk
- This year’s Canterbury Festival (15-29 October, www.canterburyfestival.co.uk) is branching out from its traditional line-up of music, theatre and arts to dip a toe in scientific waters.Events this year include Lord Robert Winston examining the relationship between science, society and religion, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker’s “Your days are numbered” and rock physicist Dr Mark Lewney who provides a guided guitar tour through the science of music. The magnificent cathedral hosts an opening day concert by the Soweto Gospel Choir (above) while Shirley Hall hosts prog rock legends Caravan (above right). Find out more at www.canterburyfestival.co.uk