Possibly England’s most notorious monarch was known for his excesses, and so the 500th anniversary of his coronation is being celebrated in glorious style. A river pageant complete with a flotilla of boats travelling up the River Thames from the Tower of London to Hampton Court, a vast banquet, games, dancing and medieval festivities will all take place, and if you get to the palace before the flotilla you can take a peak at the kitchen where a team of chefs will be preparing a banquet for the visiting monarch and his entourage.
Spa at: Richmond Gate Hotel – an 18th century building set at the top of Richmond Hill with views of the park and valley.
The Hebrides have some of the most awe-inspiring wildlife and dramatic seascapes to enjoy, really taking you to another world. From late June the waters are blessed with a variety of whales. More than 250 minke and pilot whales were spotted last year, along with rarer sightings of killer, fin and even humpback whales, and you can take tours that last two or three hours, and which depart daily at 9am in the summer months.
Spa at: Crerar Golf View Hotel and Spa – it’s a bit of a journey, but it’s worth it for its welcoming hospitality and its views over the Moray Firth.
Goodwood Festival of Speed is the glamorous side of motor racing and sports cars. Elegant, historic and fast paces, the Chichester based annual event has something for everyone as high-spec cars make their debut in the paddocks alongside classic Aston Martins and celebrities from Jenson Button to Carl Fogarty grace the occasion.
Spa at: Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, where contemporary and historic style combine and you’re surrounded by 30 acres of gorgeous grounds.
One of the highlights of the summer calendar, this eternally inspiring summer event attracts all sorts of gardening tastes. Always a work of art, this year there will be six different gardens themed around each of Henry VIII’s wives, continuing the celebration of the 500-year anniversary of his coronation.
Spa at: Hilton London Syon Park, a contemporary hotel which itself is surrounded by spectacular gardens in the grounds of the Duke of Northumberland’s 200-year-old estate.
Whitstable has become increasingly fashionable as the weekend summer destination of London’s socialites. Easy to get to, it’s got beaches, quaint restaurants, beautiful views and a gorgeous town, and to add to its appeal it has a seriously popular Oyster Festival. Part of the town’s heritage, the catch is blessed on the beach by a priest before a procession through the town. There are costumed Victorian day-trippers on the beach, the town hosts an oyster-eating competition, local restaurants have special oyster-themed menus, and the piece de resistance is the market for local producers.
Spa at: Stourview Cottage – 12 miles away so you can get some peace and quiet as well, Stourview Cottage is perfect for small groups on a country getaway with different cabins and lodges to stay in – it’s all about quiet luxury.
For three days the Port Eliot estate is transformed into a showcase for some of the biggest literary talents in the UK. Monica Ali, William Dalrymple, Hanif Kureishi and Justine Picardie are amongst the names attending this year, alongside comedians musicians and the area’s best foodie suppliers as well.
Spa at: Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall – treat yourself and after the festival head onto this luxurious spa and hotel in Devon. Steeped in history, it’s romantic, scenic and has excellent food.
The largest sailing regatta in the world, Cowes Week is a favourite amongst amateur and professional sailors alike. More than 8,000 sailors race each day, while on dry land Cowes Parade has street entertainment and live music, a champagne and oyster bar and a spectator boat service. There are even free introductory sailing lessons available.
Spa at: Melville Hall Hotel and Utopia Spa – it’s adjacent to Los Altos Park and moments from Sandown Bay, a five minute walk from the quaint town of Sandown, the sandy beaches and scenic cliff walks and is for adults only.
Perhaps one of the UK’s more eccentric occasions, The Big Cheese is a snapshot of British country life at its most quirky. Delights include the Tommy Cooper tent, living history encampments where children can talk to the actors and find out about life in medieval times, fire-eaters and fireworks and the Big Cheese Race – a fancy-dress relay around the castle.
Spa at: Bryn Meadows Golf, Hotel and Spa – it’s family friendly, close to Caerphilly, but is a peaceful location so you can retreat at the end of the day to the peace of the Brecon Beacons.
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