The UK’s Best Ice Cream Parlours

Three ice cream cones

Maybe you’d prefer Cotton Candy and Bubblegum flavours…

We’d eat ice cream every day of the year if we could, but July gives us the best excuse to – it’s National Ice Cream Month! The tradition was started in 1984 in the United States by the President at the time, Ronald Reagan. With temperatures soaring across the UK, what better time to take advantage of some of the incredible ice cream on offer? The UK is home to some of the world’s best ice cream, and here are five places to sample the best…

The Pudding House, Lancashire.

Wallings Farm is located in Cockerham, just outside Lancaster. The ice cream parlour is extremely popular with the locals, so be prepared to queue – especially if it’s a nice day. It’s positioned in beautiful countryside, with alpacas grazing in the adjoining fields. The perfect location for enjoying your ice cream! The parlour is situated at the front of the Pudding House café, and stocks a huge range of around 40 flavours. Traditional flavours are available, but what really sets Pudding House apart as one of the best is their incredible range of unique, innovative ice creams. The Lemon Meringue Pie flavour is a popular choice, with real meringue pieces nestled between delicious lemon ice cream and ripples of lemon curd. Alternatively, if you’re feeling festive, why not try their Christmas pudding flavour? With delicious ice cream, generous serving sizes and an idyllic setting, you won’t be left disappointed after a visit to Lancashire’s most loved ice cream parlour and farm.

Billy Bob’s Parlour, North Yorkshire.

Finding an ice cream parlour in the Yorkshire Dales can be a difficult task, as there are so many to choose from. Billy Bob’s parlour, situated just outside the beautiful town of Skipton, is a popular choice with locals and tourists alike. The parlour boasts a fantastic 30 flavours, with something on offer for everybody. Traditional flavours, such as Vanilla and Strawberry, compete against some more extravagant choices, like the Cotton Candy and Bubblegum flavours. As well as the tasty ice cream, Billy Bob also serves a full range of delicious fast food, from burgers and hot dogs, to pancakes and waffles. An excellent choice if you’re travelling with children, the parlour also boasts an outdoor play area as well as an indoor play barn. No matter what the weather, Billy Bob’s ice cream parlour is a fun day out for the entire family. Plus, when you’re finished, you can continue your adventures in the Yorkshire Dales.

Aplin’s Farm, Devon.

Otter Valley Dairy in Devon have won numerous awards, and it’s not hard to see why. The small, family-run business has been around for four generations, refining their range of ice cream to create new, mouthwatering flavours. There are 21 flavours to choose from, including Rhubarb and Ginger, Cream Tea, and Devon Rice Pudding with Raspberry Jam, as well as four varieties of sorbet for those looking for something a little different. The ice creams are made in house, using milk from their own herd of cows, and the recipe is based upon Italian Gelato. Off the beaten track, Otter Valley Dairy can be difficult to find but a visit is worth the trip. Tucked into the breath-taking valley, the summerhouse offers fantastic views of the Devon countryside. If the weather permits, you can enjoy your ice cream outdoors in the designated picnic area, beside the very same cows that helped to create the wonderful ice cream.

Broughty Ferry, Scotland

Visocchi’s Café, in Broughty Ferry, has recently been awarded the title of the best ice cream in Scotland. Located just outside Dundee, the café specialises in two Italian delights: pizza and ice cream. All handmade at the premises, their ice creams attract huge crowds during the summer. Exceptionally creamy, and with inventive flavours, you get luxury ice cream at affordable prices. Broughty Ferry itself is located on the Firth of Tay. It’s a historic river town, with plenty to see and do, including Sandy Beach and its Esplanade, Barnhill Rock Gardens, and Broughty Ferry Castle.

Blaze Farm, Peak District.

Blaze Farm boasts the best ice cream in the Peak District. The ice cream is well known, having won several awards, and is all made on site using milk from its own herd of dairy cows. With an impressive range of flavours, you can choose from traditional varieties or the more inventive, such as the Turkish Delight with White Chocolate Chip. In addition to the amazing ice cream on offer, Blaze Farm has nature trails that can be enjoyed by the whole family. With plenty of wildlife and incredible countryside views, it’s not to be missed! If you visit in the springtime, you may even get to watch the lambing take place on the farm. There’s lots of interactive fun for the children, too, with cows milked daily in the parlour. There’s no admission fee for the farm, so it’s the perfect family day out for those on a tight budget.

The UK’s best TV filming locations

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Ted on set of ‘The Village’

With so many great dramas, comedies and adaptations hitting our screens over the last few years, the UK is now awash with interesting and beautiful TV filming locations for us all to visit. Although not all of them are available to tour directly, they still make great holiday locations where you can soak in the atmosphere, feel and aesthetics of your favourite TV programmes. But with so many to choose from, and each with their own visitation limitations and restriction, how will you ever decide on which ones to visit? Well don’t worry, we’ve picked out some of the most famous, beautiful and interesting TV filming location in the UK to help you make up your mind. So here you are, five of the best TV filming locations to visit in the UK:

Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle

First on the list is probably the most famous. Downton Abbey has been a revelation not only in the UK, but also in America where its popularity has exceeded expectations. The show is revered for its accurate historical costume and setting, and critically acclaimed for its realistic representation of social relations in the Edwardian era, and now you can visit the abbey itself. Whilst many of the indoor scenes are filmed in specially constructed studio sets, the outdoor shots of the Abbey are filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. You can visit the castle most days of the year, and since the show has attracted considerable tourist attention.

If Highclere Castle isn’t enough for you, you can also visit the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, which is the setting for Downton Village. There is a scheduled tour of the village, or if you prefer you can walk around at your leisure and experience the setting for some of the major plot developments in the show. You can also get access to some of the closed off filming locations and see the Crawley House, Downton Hospital and St Mary’s Church.

Sherlock: The Hound of the Baskervilles – Hound Tor and Dewer’s Hollow

Hound Tor is the site of a deserted Medieval village on Bodmin Moor, and was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s story The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s fitting, then, that when the BBC came to adapt the story for the new series of Sherlock that they decided to film some of it there. The location has a history of being used as a TV location, being featured in Doctor Who in the 1970s and The Sontaran Experiment. This historical and archaeological landmark lies within the rugged woodland of Bodmin Moor, and offers beautiful views across its expanse.

Scenes for this episode were also filmed in Three Bears Cave in Forest Fawr Country Park near Cardiff, which was used to represent Dewer’s Hollow. Again a rugged and traditionally British woodland, this provided the dark eerie backdrop for the sighting of the hound, and has also been used in various other BBC TV programmes, such as Torchwood and Merlin. The woodland expanse of the country park is a beautiful walking holiday destination, which also allows you to take in some TV history whilst you’re at it!

Jamaica Inn – Cornwall

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The BBC remake of Jamaica Inn divided opinion, but whatever you think of the shows recent foray onto our screens, Jamaica Inn remains one of the defining novels in history. Although the TV programme itself was filmed on a number of locations, including Cornwall and Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, fans of the show, book or film adaptations can still visit the famous Jamaica Inn itself, from Daphne Du Maurier took the name of her novel – in fact, the Inn is now so famous it has been given Grade II listing status by English Heritage. Located in the middle of Bodmin Moor, the inn has been on the site since the 18th century, when it was used a resting house for smugglers and pirates in the area. Because of this interesting history, it has also been named one of the most haunted places in the UK.

Regardless of this connection with the novel and various TV and film adaptations, the Inn as a beautiful and historic site in its own right, and the nearby village of Bolventor and the surrounding moorland are typical of the rugged and sublime north Cornish landscape.

Doc Martin – Port Isaac

Nestled on the north coast of Cornwall, the small fishing village of Port Isaac has found fame in the last ten years as the filming location of Doc Martin. Called Port Wenn in the show, all the exterior scenes are filmed in the village, and can be visited all year round. Many of the interior scenes were also shot in the village, but in a converted barn on a local farm, which you can also visit. The village has a history as a TV filming location, having previously been the location of Poldark in 1970s, which is due to make a comeback on our screens next year. As well as a must for fans of the show, this picturesque fishing village is a great holiday spot regardless of its TV associations.

Broadchurch – Dorset

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Slightly less cheerful coastal comings and goings took place in ITV’s drama series Broadchurch. The serial made good use of Dorset’s stunning coastline to tell a gripping tale of the dark secrets underlying a seemingly idyllic community. Thankfully, while the script (and the titular location) was a work of fiction, the beautiful landscape on England’s south coast is far from, with breath-taking landscapes, stunning scenic vistas and warm welcomes aplenty.

The success of Broadchurch has already prompted an increase in screen tourism to the area, but thanks to the abundance of tranquil beauty in Dorset we’re fairly sure that you won’t notice the increased numbers. Of course that may chance when they screen series 2!

Doctor Who – Cardiff

Doctor Who is known for inspiring serious levels of fandom, and its filming locations around Cardiff have become the stuff of legend. Although you can’t get access to any of the sets, you can take an unofficial tour or use the tour app to discover and visit the filming locations of the show. Cardiff is a great city, with fantastic scenery, architecture and museums, and is a great holiday destination even if you’re not a fan of the Doctor.

Aside from the location featured here, there are a whole host other beautiful, history and rugged TV filming locations which make great holiday destinations. It’s the perfect way to fulfil your TV fandom whilst having a great holiday at the same time. With cottages4You you can do both, staying in self-catering accommodation whilst visiting the famous locations of your favourite TV shows.

Provincial pubs: a guide to the UK’s best

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If you’re looking for a self-catering holiday in the UK, you’ll no doubt be looking to book somewhere that has all of the local facilities that you need. Good local food shops are crucial, and families will want to stay in a location that has plenty to keep the children occupied. For many, a great local pub is essential, providing you with a taste of local life, good drinks, great food and a welcoming atmosphere.

Great food can be found at pubs all over the UK, but if you want to try a Michelin starred menu, a pub can be a great place to do so without breaking the bank. If you’re visiting Kent, a trip to The Sportsman is a must. The Michelin-starred pub has a true focus on local ingredients, with Whitstable oysters, lamb from across the road and home churned butter all on the menu. At the time of writing, you could enjoy a main course for around £20 or a tasting menu for £65 – and without the pretentiousness of many Michelin-starred restaurants.

Alternatively, head to Somerset’s Chew Valley to The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna: a multiple award-winning country pub owned by brother and sister team Josh and Holly Eggleton. The Pony & Trap has held its Michelin star since 2011, offering everything from pub classics such as ham, egg and chips at lunch times to special six course seasonal menus for £50 a head. The views of the rolling countryside from the back garden are fantastic too.

Real ale lovers should head to the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, which was given the title of National Pub Of The Year by the Campaign for Real Ale in February 2014. The tiny pub offers draught beers such as Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin, in addition to a range of guest ales from microbreweries that include Salamander, Dark Star and Phoenix. The Swan With Two Necks also sells local cider that is produced from apple trees owned by the pub itself.

If you want to visit the best cider pub in the UK (according to CAMRA), you’ll have to head to a railway station in Norfolk. The Railway Arms in Downham Market, Norfolk, describes itself as a “micro-pub and café”, and is located on the platform at Downham Market Station. Stocking cider from local producer Pickled Pig among others, The Railway Arms is also known for its good selection of real ales.

For a remote pub experience, try The Carpenters Arms in Walterstone, Herefordshire, under the Black Mountains’ eastern ridge. Popular with walkers and cyclists, The Carpenters Arms offers good home cooked food and a warming environment thanks to landlady Vera, who has run the pub for 35 years since taking it over from her mother.

Those wanting a truly remote pub visit (as certified by the Guinness Book of Records) should head to The Old Forge in Inverie on Scotland’s north west coast, which has the claim to fame of being the most remote pub in mainland Britain. Accessible only via a 7 mile sea crossing or an 18 mile hike (there are no roads to the pub), those who make it over there will be rewarded with a great atmosphere, honest local food, great local beers and quality live music. There is no mobile phone signal in the pub and The Old Forge switch off their WiFi at 6pm, making it a truly sociable place.

If you’re looking for something a little more quirky, then consider a trip to the Crooked House just outside Himley, near Dudley, Staffordshire. Built in 1765, it used to be a farmhouse – and its quirkiness comes from the fact that the whole building is leaning to one side. One side of the building is four feet lower than the other thanks to subsidence caused by the mining industry back in the 1800s, but structurally, it is perfectly safe. While the floors are level, the walls lean, leading to optical illusions such as glasses sliding across tables, and marbles rolling uphill.

Card players should also head to the Pack o’ Cards in Combe Martin, a seaside town in Devon. Not only was it built to look like a deck of cards, but the plot of land on which it was situated is 52 feet by 52 feet, it has four floors (one to represent each suit), 13 fireplaces and 13 doors on each floor. The reason for this? The building of the pub was funded by winnings from a card game!

From great food and drink to award-winning beers and ciders, from truly remote pub trips to some very quirky venues, the range of rural pubs in the UK is huge, offering something for everyone.

Our 5 Most Popular Destinations for 2014

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The beautiful Fistral beach

After a fantastic summer, many people are booking early for next year with coastal locations proving to be extremely popular. When the sun is out the UK coast is very hard to beat and people are looking to make sure they secure their favourite spots. With encouraging recent news from the British economy and hopefully more of that long hot sultry weather, 2014 is looking to be a great year for holidaying in the UK. Add to that the prospect of some great events, not least the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and it’s clear that this is a great time to be looking at availability for your next UK cottage holiday. To help you we are going to take a look at the 5 most popular booking locations for 2014.

5. Windermere, Lake District

Windermere, situated close to England’s iconic largest lake, features at number 5 on our list. Apart from its majestic elevated position close to the shore of Lake Windermere, the town is well positioned to explore the exquisite natural beauty of the National Park in southern Lakeland. With the bustling resort of Bowness close by as well as attractions such as ‘The World of Beatrix Potter’ and ‘Brockhole’ there is plenty to do in what is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Britain. The lake itself now has a 10mph speed limit adding to the tranquillity of a body of water forged by glaciers thousands of years ago. A great way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings is to take one of the regular boat trips from Bowness to the delightful Ambleside. For those of you intent on enjoying a more energetic holiday, Windemere is a great base for fell walking or mountain biking in and amongst some of the most stunning scenery in Britain.

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4. Totnes, Devon

The idyllic rolling Devonshire countryside on the edge of Dartmoor provides the back drop to the market town of Totnes. This area of outstanding natural beauty is blessed by some of the most delightful rivers in the South West. Totnes itself sits on the estuary of the River Dart, and is eminently accessible to some of the best known beaches in South Devon with Paignton and Torquay both within easy reach. To the north lies the rugged beauty of Dartmoor National Park, famous for its rocky ‘tors’ and of course its ponies. This expansive protected English ‘wilderness’ is fantastic for walking and is dotted with quaint Devon villages and pubs. Totnes itself has a thriving local economy buoyed in large part by an influx of artists offering an eclectic range of arts and crafts. Indeed, Totnes was at the forefront of promoting local business and introduced the ‘Totnes pound’ in 2007. With a Norman Castle, even a local vinery and a great mix of exciting eateries, it is not hard to see why Totnes features at number 4 on our list of popular 2014 locations.

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3. Whitby, North Yorkshire

One of the most iconic seaside ports in Britain, Whitby has retained its popularity as a holiday destination for centuries. Facing the North Sea and located by the River Esk, this charming harbour town enjoys mild winters and relatively warm summers. The historic ruined abbey enjoys fantastic views across a scene which has change little over the years.  The cobbled streets of the ‘old town’ serve to convey the living history of a port which for years has been supported by the fishing industry. These days tourism alongside fishing is the life blood of town reputed to be the home of the best fish and chips in Britain, according to Rick Stein and let’s face it, he should know! This stretch of gorgeous Yorkshire coastline is blessed with a huge beach at Whitby, children will love the miles of golden sand. With Staithes to the north and Robin Hood’s Bay a short distance to the south, Whitby is one of the most popular seaside destinations on the East Coast.

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2. Newquay, Cornwall

When considering a beach holiday many will instinctively think about Newquay on the stunning North Cornish coast. Newquay is probably the busiest resort in Cornwall and really has various ‘guises’ with plenty to offer whatever type of holiday you are looking for. Centrally located it provides a great base for exploring one of the most scenic counties in Britain. With a lively nightlife, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy well into the early hours. Newquay has several gorgeous beaches enjoying the benefit of great surf with Fistral probably the most famous. The River Gannel separates Newquay from the exquisite Crantock Beach to the south, and a short drive to the north lies the expansive Watergate Bay, another favourite amongst surfers. The area is benefiting from the burgeoning culinary scene in the county and there are some great options for fine dining against the backdrop of the stunning Atlantic coastline. This is one of the quintessential seaside towns in Britain, and it is difficult to envisage that Newquay will be anything other than one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK for some time to come.

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1. Happisburgh, Norfolk

At the top of our list of ‘hot’ locations for 2014 is Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast. As well as one of the most popular, Happisburgh is one of the oldest places in Britain with the discovery of ancient flints providing the earliest signs of habitation in the country. Consequently Happisburgh is designated as a site of special archaeological importance, but for today’s holidaymaker Happisburgh has all of the accoutrements for that perfect seaside break. With miles of sandy beach to the north and south, this is one of the most delightful coastal villages in East Anglia. An imposing red and white ‘candy’ stripped lighthouse is perhaps Happisburgh’s most famous landmark which looks out across the village and the sand dunes beyond towards the unforgiving North Sea. The ravages of the sea have carved a dramatic coastline, which extends north towards the resorts of Bacton and Mundesley. Why not come and find out why many will be spending their holiday in and around Happisburgh next year!

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Photographing the South West – Coastal Paths

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Crantock Beach

The welcome arrival of summer is the cue to get out and explore the stunning countryside across the length and breadth of the British Isles. We are fortunate in this country to have such a diverse and contrasting landscape that readily lends itself to photography. For many part of the enjoyment of walking or hiking across this beautiful land is to capture the experience digitally and produce stunning images to share and keep our precious holiday memories in Britain alive in vivid HD. At this time of year the British coastline is at its stunning best and the South West Atlantic shores have all of the ingredients to create great photography and of course to enjoy a memorable holiday.

Early summer is the perfect time to make the most of the hundreds of miles of coastal path accessible throughout Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. Brits complain a lot about the weather but the winter rains help nurture a rich lush texture along the coastline creating emerald summer tones that contrast perfectly with the azure seas and deep blue summer skies. With a subject matter with such stunning natural good looks, it is very easy for photographers of all abilities to capture great images from cove to delightful cove.

Photography in Cornwall

The ancient rugged and sometimes unforgiving Celtic landscape of Cornwall has the longest coastline in Britain. Recently intrepid runners competed in a 100 mile race along the Cornish coastal path, surely one of the most testing endurance challenges in the whole of Europe! The majority of us will prefer to enjoy the cliff top and beachside paths at a more sedate pace, with of course camera in hand. The beauty of coastal walking is the diversity and the range of shots that you can create as a result. Whilst there is a prescribed walking route it is difficult to resist the temptation to traverse across the dunes and paddle along the waters edge across beaches that sometimes extend for miles. The landscape alternates between rolling lush greenery to imposing cliff’s that offer the perfect vantage points to frame great shots and with a westerly facing north coast, Cornwall is ideal for creating that perfect sunset scene. It is really difficult to single out any one area for photography but the route heading from Crantock beach south down towards Godrevy will give you a fantastic range of varied landscape shots. This will take a full day but you will pass deserted coves, expansive beaches and then find yourself just north of Hayle with the evocative Godrevy lighthouse as your subject, perhaps just as the sun vanishes exquisitely into the golden Cornish horizon!

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Photography in Dorset

Dorset evokes thoughts of chocolate box thatched cottages set in archetypal quaint villages amidst stunning rolling countryside. Dorset has of course a fascinating world heritage coastline that rivals any in Britain, much of which are sites of designated scientific interest. Dorset has much in common with its Cornish cousin, with beach after pristine beach and dramatic cliff top walks across a limestone landscape forged across the millennia. The result is a photogenic coastline with many uniquely dramatic features, perhaps none more stunning that then arching outcrop that is Chesil Beach. This is a seascape that is shrouded in myth and legend, playing a major part in the nation’s history across the centuries. Whether that be coves harbouring a smuggling past or beaches that played major roles in the Second World War preparing our brave forefathers for Normandy, Dorset is enjoys a rich and fascinating historic past. For photographer’s the enigmatic Corfe Castle ruins lying just inland from Swanage providing a fantastic backdrop to frame the gorgeous Dorset countryside. Again it seems churlish to single out any one route but the path from West Lulworth extending west towards the lagoon at Fleet offers a memorable range of vistas taking in the picture perfect Durdle Door, the cliffs at West Bay and the unforgettable Chesil Beach itself.

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Photography in Devon

With the benefit of both north and south coasts, Devon has a sumptuous array of coastal paths to delight the most exacting of discerning hikers and photographers. Eternally linked with the seafaring history of the nation, Devon is a natural choice for a coastal holiday with inviting beaches and delightful seaside villages. One of the most fascinating is Clovelly, a village almost frozen in time offering an opportunity to take a glimpse of life in a village during the nineteenth century. Closed to traffic, the steep winding lanes and delightful cottages present ideal photo opportunities to create unique shots conjuring images of Devon’s past. One of the most interesting routes for photography on the Devon coastal path is between Woolacombe and Combe Martin on the north coast. Part of the Tarka Trail, there is an abundance of wildlife and fauna. Watch out for playful seals in the rocky shallows and vibrant butterflies fluttering from flower to flower, this is perhaps Devon at its wild best. With stunning views towards Lundy Island and indeed Wales in the distance there is plenty of natural beauty to fill the lens and help create those ‘once in a lifetime shots’. After a day photographing the Devon coast, what better way to round off the evening toasting your success whilst relaxing with a chilled local cider in a traditional Devon Inn!

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101 places to go – St George’s Day activities

Dover Castle

England’s largest castle: where better to celebrate St George?

While it would seem that the most appropriate way to celebrate the Patron Saint’s Day of England would be to go out and slay a dragon, George’s efforts in that department were supposedly so successful that you’ll have to make do with a host of alternative events.

Thankfully, the events taking place across the length and breadth of England are a little safer than George’s endeavours. So while you may not get a historic day named in your honour, at least you’ll have a nice day out. Sounds like a fair trade off to us!

While Saint George’s origins are shrouded in history and exaggerated by legend, one thing that most experts seem to agree on is that he was once a Roman soldier. Hadrian’s Wall then would be one of the best of the locations to celebrate the real life of George and his compatriots. Chesters Roman Fort and Museum at Hadrian’s Wall are running a Dragon Family Fun Trail on April 20 and 21. According to the website ‘St George needs your help to find all the mini dastardly dragons before they distress the damsels.’ Sounds great – if you’re brave enough!

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The largest castle in England with commanding views over the blue waters of the Channel is perhaps one of the best ways to experience the more magical side of the myth of Saint George. Dover Castle’s St George’s Day Festival offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate in one of England’s most significant historical settings. Step through England’s story; enjoy medieval crafts and cookery, puppet shows, music and watch St George battle the dastardly dragon!

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The festival at Wrest Park in Buckinghamshire promises to be the biggest St George celebration in the country. Enjoy a variety of displays at this equestrian extravaganza – including medieval jousting! Children will be able to get involved with the interactive theatre and the medieval atmosphere will be aided with a number of campsites that you are free to wander through in the park’s 90-acre grounds. The highlight of the day will of course be the epic battle of wits between George and the dragon. Make sure you don’t miss it!

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Trafalgar Square will be hosting its annual Feast of St George on Saturday 20 April. This free event promises lots of food, plenty of music and much flag waving. This year’s event focuses on British food and will serve a number of free tastings, a banqueting area, live cookery demonstrations and food workshops. So bring your smiles and your appetites and celebrate England’s patron saint in one of the nation’s most recognisable locations.

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Castle Drogo in Devon may be England’s youngest castle but its Saint George celebrations are a little more grown up, involving, as they do, a lovely lunch on April 23 amongst the castle’s splendid surrounds. Entrance includes a tour of the house and access to the grounds, so you can take a stroll afterwards in what we’re hoping will be idyllic English sunshine.

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