This week marks arguably the best week of the year, that’s right – its chocolate week. As if you needed a better excuse to stuff your face full of chocolatey treats, there’s an actual week dedicated to eating and celebrating it. Dark, White, Milk, Truffle, Praline, Caramel, Toffee, the list is mouth-wateringly long and is making me really hungry just talking about it…
Yes, if there’s one thing we love just as much as Days Out in the UK, it’s chocolate.
So, if you’re reading this, we’re going to combine two of your favourite things – Days Out and chocolate (because everybody loves chocolate). We’ll even chuck in a few chocolatey facts for you to wow your friends with.
Now for the religious chocolate lovers out there, there’s a few places you can worship. But, the Vatican of the chocolate world, is right here, in the UK. It’s only Cadbury World in Birmingham! Religious metaphors aside, Cadbury World is a must visit for chocolate lovers from near and far. You can tour the factory in true Willy Wonka style, and see the masterful process of how all Cadbury’s chocolate is made. Including the creation of white chocolate… which is a nice Segway into our first fact.
White Chocolate contains no cocoa at all. (hold for gasps) Yes, white chocolate is the product of fat and sugar… yum. White-sugar-fat bar doesn’t have quite the same ring to it though, does it?
For the chocolate connoisseurs amongst you, white and milk chocolate are merely low tier chocolate, not even present on your radar. You’ve been to a chocolate specialist in Switzerland, you’ve seen a professional chocolatier craft a seven-foot phoenix out of dark chocolate and a small funnel, forged with blood, sweat and tears, in a snowy blizzard… okay, we may be over exaggerating here, but some prefer dark to milk and white, for its high cocoa count.
And where I hear you ask can you get some top quality, high percentage, artisan dark chocolate in the UK? No, not Waitrose – farmer’s markets.
Some of the finest farmer’s markets across the UK, will almost definitely, have at least one stall selling beautiful, homemade chocolate/fudge/chocolatey treat. Markets like Holker Hall & Gardens in Cumbria and Swithens Farm in Leeds, stock some of the finest homemade treats to get your teeth into. From fancy fudge to high cocoa content chocolate, farmer’s markets are a fun and foody day out for everyone.
According to research, of the chocolatey kind, eating dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third, as long as you consume it daily – however, you may have a higher risk of contracting diabetes if you eat too much chocolate… everything in moderation – like constantly eating chocolate for only ONE week of the year. #chocolateweek
If you’ve ever wondered about the history of chocolate, we’ve got just the place for you. York’s Chocolate Story, located in York surprisingly, allows you to unwrap the secrets of chocolate. This fully interactive experience immerses you in the world of chocolate and allows you the fully explore the history of your favourite treats and learn the secrets of chocolatiers. York is the epicentre of the UK’s chocolate industry, and has been the home of chocolate in England for the past 300 years. With lots of sweet exhibitions, there’s so much to learn and taste at York’s Chocolate Story.
This next fact we consider more of a public service announcement than anything, it’s imperative for anyone partaking in chocolate week to read very carefully what comes next… A lethal dose of chocolate for a human is just under 10kg, yes chocolate can be lethal. So, in theory, you could eat around 50 bars of Dairy Milk Chocolate bars that weigh 200g – everything in moderation, right?
Whether you’re a Cadbury lover, cocoa historian or a chocolate connoisseur – it doesn’t have to be chocolate week to visit some sweet attractions.
Happy Chocolate Week everyone!
If like me, you’re constantly telling yourself to visit new places, yet find yourself frequenting the same attractions time and time again because “hey if the ol’ routine ain’t broke don’t fix it?” then this post is definitely for you!!
There are a wealth of amazing museums to visit throughout the country yet many are often ignored by people making snap judgements by their names. I will admit that when I was but a wee lass and my mum told me we were taking a trip to the Pencil Museum, I did do everything in my power to get out of it. Yet, after a while I found myself really enjoying everything it had to offer and there are a tonne of similar places throughout the UK!
Much like not judging a book by its cover, can you really judge your enjoyment of a museum by a cursory glance at its title? You’d be surprised at the fascination that can be found in things considered mundane. Who decided that the story behind the creation of pencils, textiles or brands was boring? Each of these places were built because they have a story to tell and I believe all of them are at least worth one visit. Plus after visiting each you will be LOADED with random facts to spam your friends and family with!!
Museum of Witchcraft: Boscastle Cornwall
Do you hear the sound of cackling?
For something a little more magical in your life, you can’t really go wrong with a museum dedicated to the art of witchcraft. Home to the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related items, this is THE place to visit for fans of certain old crones. Opened in 1960 and located by the harbour in Boscastle, you can see the development of modern witchcraft and the aspects of it that have dripped down into popular media! From Mandrake roots utilised in Harry Potter, to depictions of famous witches in literature such as the witches of Macbeth as well as the fabled witch of Wookey Hole, you'll find yourself lost in a world of spells and mystery!
Click HERE to find out more
British Lawnmower Museum: Southport Merseyside
Ever wanted to know more about lawnmowers? Of course you do! While a title like “The British lawnmower Museum” might seem groan worthy, you’d be surprised at the number of fun exhibits there are to visit here. From records of lawnmower racing (yes that is indeed a thing) to models of expensive (luxury) model mowers, to the first solar powered motor and even a number of celebrity items, you are truly missing out if you don’t visit at least once!
Click HERE for more information
Cumberland Pencil Museum, Keswick Cumbria
Of course I was going to talk about this one! The Pencil Museum does exactly what it says on the tin, but has a few fun surprises thrown in as well. Ever wanted to know who invented the first pencil? How about how pencils were used to send secret codes during the wars? Or maybe find out all about the pencils used to create the beloved “Snowman” Christmas short? If anything it boasts the world’s largest colouring pencil measuring 26 feet long and weighing an impressive 984 llbs!!
Click HERE for more information
Verdant Works Dundee Dundee
You know what Jute is? If not, do you want to find out? One of the most versatile textfile fibres known to man didn’t just make itself, and the Verdant Works was once a thriving Jute producing mill. This beautifully refurbished building is home to many stories of Dundee’s rich textile past: from the strikes against lowered wages, to the unions formed against cruel working conditions, to the tales of it’s workers and the terrible living conditions of the working class in Dundee in the twentieth century! It's definitely worth checking out!
Click HERE for more information
Museum of Brands, Westminster London
Today so much of our identity in wrapped up in the media we’re exposed to. Not just films and television, but the marketing media we’re seeing every day. Who hasn’t been annoyed at the constant exposure meerkats or opera singing? Is there anyone in this country who if you start singing “0800 00” at them, won’t answer “1066?”
Brands and advertising have a way of working themselves into our minds and this isn’t a phenomenon limited to the 21st century as the Museum of Brands in London quite clearly points out with it’s massive collection of over 12,000 pieces of brand and marketing memorabilia. It's guaranteed to give every visitor either a gut punch of nostalgia or (for the younger patreons) a fascinating look into marketing campaigns from times gone by. Economic frocks and toothpaste from the war? Packaging from the original Action Man action figures? Rimmel make up from the end of the nineteenth century? If anything this museum does show that rampant materialism is hardly a trait of recent years.
Click HERE for more information
Shoe Museum, Burnham-on-Sea Somerset
There is a good chance you’ve might possibly have worn shoes at some point in your life so why not step into this attraction and learn about the garments that have been helping you get from point A to point B for so long? While a title like ‘The Shoe Museum’ really does not sound like the most thrilling place in the world, this blog is here to show you how names can be misleading (and I hope the previous five paragraphs have helped illustrate that point). This FREE to enter attraction boasts a rather impressive collection of footwear ranging from Roman sandels, to the hideous crocs of modern day, showing that this place certainly isn't any old cobbled-together attraction!
Click HERE for more information
The Museum of Piping, Glasgow, Glasgow
Is that the sound of Amazing Grace I hear? Why not take a gander into the world of Scotland’s national instrument! Everyone should have a go at playing the bagpipes before they die, and a visit to the Museum of Piping in the National Piping Centre in Glasgow gives the perfect opportunity to toot to your heart’s content. This museum is THE authority on the history of piping, with over three-hundred years of history to explore, the oldest chanter of the Highland bagpipe found anywhere in the world, as well as a huge range of different pipes to marvel at.
Click HERE for more information
I do hope this post has sparked some inspiration in you as I've barely scratched the surafce on interesting places to visit! (If I went into detail this post would probably be about 20,000 words long!)
If you still aren't sure as to where your next adventure will take you, make sure to check out our attractions page for a full list, as well as checking out the areas near you for all the fun going on!!
It’s hard to believe how fast the year is going! It seems like barely a week ago I was shaking off the memories of New Year’s fireworks and writing my huge list of resolutions that I was totally, definitely going to get done this year, regardless of my previous year’s track record. Yet here we are: Spring has sprung, blossom coats the trees and the next major break for the kids is coming up fast, the Easter Holidays. Cue the panic!!!
We at Days Out UK pride ourselves on bringing you the best events to do alone or with your family, and around Easter-time there are a plethora of activities to experience throughout the UK, so I couldn’t possibly list them all, but I can try to give you a few suggestions and also point you in the direction of our EVENTS page for all the fun happening over the coming weeks.
So Easter… the season of chocolate, rebirth, chocolate, baby animals, relaxing, family and of course… chocolate. There is a lot to cover so let’s get started (Read to the end for some fun facts about Easter and let's see how many terrible egg puns I can fit in).
Egg-celent Egg Hunts!
Let’s begin with the most classic of Easter past-times, (besides feeling violently ill after overdosing on chocolate), the classic Egg hunt!
There are ones popping up all over the country soon, bringing some sugary magic to some already amazing sites. Between the 14th-17th April, the National Trust has partnered up with the titan of sweetness: Cadbury, and is putting on their ever-popular Chocolate Egg Hunt at a number of properties throughout the UK. From Knole, to Quebec House, to Sissinghurst, you and your family can track clues around some beautiful historic properties and claim a delicious Cadbury Treat! Make sure to check out https://easter.cadbury.co.uk/find-an-egg-hunt to find the nearest egg hunt to you.
(Hunts cost £2-£3 per person to participate dependant on the venue)
For something a little different and magical, why not try a special glow in the dark Easter Egg hunt at the Cheddar Caves? Running from the 1st-23rd of April, take a trek through the beautiful caverns and see if you can find all the luminescent eggs that have been carefully hidden throughout the world famous Gough's Cave. There's a chocolately treat that await all who hand in a completed challenge form. For those looking for a real task, or for egg-stra fun, then take on the 'Hard Boiled' challenge, taking note of ALL the different colours and locations to really prove that you've got the challenge cracked!
For a number of other egg-citing hunts and trails, make sure to check out Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace for their own activities as well as the Hever Castle Bunny Hunt and the Easter Eggstravaganza at Chatsworth House, all running throughout April just to name a few!
Easter is the time to celebrate rebirth, so why not take advantage of some great Easter Holiday offers to visit all the fluffy, scaly, or feathered friends you could imagine? Knowsley Safari Park has a great offer on from 1st-23rd April, offering 20% off all online bookings so you can enjoy the vast expanse of the safari park and all the amazing animals within for an even better rate! Home to free romaing lions, giraffes, tigers, zebras, monkeys: why not take a trip this Easter and take advantage of this great offer!
At the same time, the ZSL London Zoo is launching it's Dear Zoo trail based on the popular children's book of the same name! Kids can explore the zoo following the beloved story's characters and take part in a number of themed activities, collecting stamps and listening to the tale at the Storytelling hub! Definitely an event not to be missed!!
April sees the launch of Willows Activity Farm's Easter Event giving the whole family the oppurtunity to get up close and personal with a number of adorable farm animals as well as some amazing themed activites like the ever popualar Pig Racing! So make sure you hop to it and don't miss out!
For a full list of fun wildlife activities occuring throughout the Easter Holidays click HERE
Why not try some historic-themed Easter fun? While many people hear the word "history" and want to go straight to sleep, fear not, as the Canterbury Tales in Kent is running it’s own fun Easter Event from the 3rd-14th April and it promises to be an fantastic time! Be transported back to the days of Chuacer and enjoy a plethora of activities including: Maypole Dancing, a Knight’s School, finding out all about medieval medicine and (of course) classic storytelling. The perfect way to enjoy the sunshine and partake in some of the weird and wonderful fun of yesteryear.
For more storytelling action, why not visit the Horniman Museum and Gardens for their Alice in Wonderland themed Easter fair over the Easter Weekend? Hop along themed trails, get creative with crafting workshops or really throw yourself down the rabbit hole with all a special Alice in Wonderland storytelling performance suitable for the whole family!
For those looking for a more EGG-STREME activity, then make sure to take advantage of Aerial Extreme's special Easter offers. Defy gravity at these death-defying High Ropes Courses located throughout the country as you jump, climb and zip past obstacles. Best of all, during the Easter period, there's 25% off sessions at all locations when you book online. Plus, on the 14th April, you have the chance to take on their special Easter event. All you have to do is take on the perils of the course whilst carrying a raw egg around! Simple right? For those who try it , there's plenty of chocolate up for grabs so why not see if you have what it takes? It's the perfect oppurtunity to experience a bunbelievable adventure!
If you're looking for something that's more nautical, then there are TONNES of events during the Easter holidays over at the National Maritime Museum of London and the Cutty Sark that'll make you egg-static!! From meeting famous characters from history, to sessions aimed specifically for your youngest ones, to discovering the museums through arts, music and dance as well as a number of sessions talking about culture and fun from all over the world, there is certianly not a lack of things to do either location! Clcik HERE and HERE for a full list of what's going on!
So whatever you feel like doing around this time, whether it's something highflying, crafty, or if you just want to stuff yourself silly with chocolate eggs for days, just make sure you're doing something you enjoy while we all pray for good weather. And from all of us at Days Out UK, have a very Happy Easter!!!
Eggs-tremely Fun Facts!
So how about some fun facts about the most chocolatey of holidays?
(Did you spot all 10 puns?)
Ah Mother’s Day. Undoubtedly mums are some of the hardest working people around, doing so much without respite or holiday to the point where having merely one day per year dedicated to their efforts seems a little frugal of the calendar! With this day now rapidly approaching, (after we’ve gorged ourselves on pancakes but before we gorge ourselves more on chocolate eggs), I have compiled a few suggestions of things you and your mum (or other special lady in your life) might like to try on this day. I’ve tried my best to come up with a few ways to personalise this day which, like so many other holidays has become awash with commercialism so that the individuality of the day can be lost. Mothers are all individuals, so while I’m going to do my best to give you some awesome suggestions on what to do on this special day, ultimately, it’s what you think she'll enjoy the most.
Floriography and Gardens
A bouquet is a classic gift idea for any mother (unless they happen to have a pollen allergy in which case maybe not) but can seem a little cliché. A gift of flowers is always appreciated, so why not personalise them? After all, flowers are a unique language within themselves, so if you can, try and craft your own message! For your aid (and because I spend too much time on google) please take a gander at these suggestions for combinations. For a Mother’s Day flowers I’d suggest one or several of these:
Pink carnations or Lilies (A Mother’s Love). Both these flowers are symbolic of motherhood, so using these is always a good place to start! (Moss and wood are also symbols of maternal love, but that a big pile of moss and wood might not make your ma so pleased)
Lavender (Devotion). Besides looking really pretty and having been used to scent everything from soap to dog shampoo, the smell is also great for relaxation and I know that mothers can be more than a tad stressed at points.
Lily of the Valley (Returning Happiness) A more specific meaning, but a really lovely sentiment if you’d like to express the reciprocation of all the happiness your mam has given you over the years.
Dark Pink Rose (Gratitude). Different coloured roses have a variety of different meanings but I think those of a dark pink colour have the most appropriate meaning for this day.
Violets (Love, Faithfulness) Yet another flower with the meaning of love, but I think in a bouquet for your mum, you can’t have too many!
Pomegranate Flower (Mature elegance) … If you want to have a laugh or get slapped, I think it depends on your mum’s sense of humour.
The flower dictionary is huuuuuuuuuuge, so make sure to look up a few different meanings yourself if you want to get really specific and/or weird (e.g. Milkvetch: Your presence softens my pains)
Since this is a Days Out website, of course I’m going to mention some places to visit on this day as well. If a bouquet isn’t enough, how about acres of flowers by taking a trip to one of the UK’s many beautiful gardens, plenty of which are offering special events on Mother’s Day itself. From the restored West Dean Gardens in Chichester, well known for their stunning features and large variety of flora, to the acres of greenery and plant life surrounding Highclere Castle in Berkshire, or the greenery and waters Ripley Castle and Gardens and so many more! (All previous mentions have Mother’s Day events). While perhaps a clichéd suggestion, it’s a cliché for reason, because they are some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking places in the country.
What says love more than food? Well, probably a lot of things, but you can’t really go wrong with something tasty. For something that is a necessity, how food is prepared can really impact it’s meaning. From a nice breakfast, to a heart-warming dinner, to delicious (or even burnt) bakes, there are a number of ways to express feelings of love and gratitude to your mum through food on the Sunday. However, if you just plain can’t cook or want to treat her to something extra special then a number of attractions throughout the UK are offering a selection of lunches and afternoon teas perfect for treating your mum to something as sweet as she is (Feel free to use that genius line on actual Mother’s Day).
Hever Castle is offering a whole weekend of fun and food for mothers: from flower pot decorating a and biscuit decorating, as afternoon tea or pre booked lunch which can be enjoyed in the surrounding of this 13th century country house once the seat of Anne Boleyn. (Lunch: £29.50 pp, £12 per child/ Afternoon Tea: £19.50pp, £10 per child)
If you’re looking for something more nautically themed, then how about a tasty tea aboard the SS Great Britain- Also offering a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea, you can enjoy the lap of luxury in the First Class Dining Saloon aboard this former passenger steamship with scones, sandwiches, sponge cake and more! (Adult: £25/ Child: £15/ Family £70)
Perhaps you’d like to choo choo choose a nice railway lunch (shush I’m hilarious), and if that is the case the Kent & East Sussex Railway can provide. Every mum travelling on the railway on Sunday 26 March 2017 can choose from a delicious ploughman’s or cream tea including tea and coffee on either the 1.15 or 3.35 departures from Tenterden Station and will receive a beautiful bouquet of flowers to take home as a reminder of their special day! (£29.50)
So what does your mam like? Animals? Crafts? Shows? Sky Diving? There are MANY special events happening throughout the UK to make this day special and luckily for you, many can be found by visiting our EVENTS PAGE, so make sure to take a gander for some inspiration. While it would be impossible for me to list them all here, I'll still give you a few suggestions of miscellaneous events to give you some ideas (plus I'm looking for some inspiration myself so it's helpful I work for a Days Out website.)
For the rustic touch, Mum’s can go free to the National Museum of Rural Life on Mothering Sunday. This venue is so much more than a museum with it also being a working farm and farmhouse with animals and attractions to enthrall all. March is the perfect time for a visit to this attraction with a tonne of new and cuddly baby animals to see and winter finally melting away to reveal the blooming of beautiful plants throughout the farm. This venue is also a perfect Mother’s Day out for you and your littlest ones with plenty of child-friendly activities and exhibits to explore.
Why not try a fun day of crafting and hands on activities at the Amberley Museum in Arundel? Set in 36 acres of the South Downs National Park, there isn't a lack of hieritage to disocver and on Mother's Day itself, there is a plethora of different things to try. From steam train trips, to pottery and craft activities, as well as birds of prey displays, there's something here for you, your ma and whoever else you bring with you to enjoy!
If you or your mam likes animals, why not try the Wild Mother’s Day weekend at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent? As per usual it has over 100 acres of amazing wild friends to discover: From gorillas, to rhinos, elephants and more as well as free animal talks to learn all about them, but in honour of Mother’s Day, there are also free crafts to try. With wooded walkways, the tree top challenge and the chance to really be part of conservation to protect the animals found here, it's the perfect stop for any wildlife loving mother and family.
For a fun history lesson, why not discover how mothers have been represented in media throughout history with a special Mother's Day event at the Museum of Brands . in London. With trails and talks to enjoy on the Sunday, find out all about how the idea of the mother has been used to sell everything from chocolate to dish soap and how the evolution of womens rights changed the image of how women were used advertising. It also gives the perfect oppurtunity to feel nostalgic over all a number of old advertsing campaigns which is always fun... until you realise how old you really are...
So all in all, I do hope this post has been able to give you some inspiration for you and your ma/ other special woman in your life, for something to do for Mother's Day, but whatever you end up doing, no matter how big or small, doing anything to show you care can really leave a lasting impression throughout the year. But anyway... who want to hear some Mother's Day facts??
1. Mother's Day marks the day when more phone calls are made than any other day of the year... yet Father's Day has the highest volume of reverse charge calls. make of that what you will...
2. While our current Mothering Sunday celebrations are a fairly modern incarnation, celebrations of motherhood have existed throughout history. For example: the Romans and Greeks held celebratory festivals of their mother goddesses, Cybele and Rhea.
3. In the U.K., our Mother’s Day is the Christian celebration of Mothering Sunday, though originally it wasn’t a celebration of mothering, rather a day when one must return to their “Mother Church” on the fourth Sunday of Lent for a celebratory service. While keeping the same date, it ended up becoming a much more secular celebration where children would give their mothers gifts before this custom merged with the values of American Mother’s Day founded in the early twentieth century.
With January drawing swiftly to a close, the season of love is now fast approaching. The supermarket shelves once again are piled high with novelty chocolates and stuffed animals marking to countdown to Valentine's Day. Many can feel rather a lot of pressure to make this day special for their significant other and we at DOUK feel it as out duty to inform you of some of the most romantic goings on in the country that you and your partner can enjoy. However, I’m also aware there are a great many of you who either don’t like this particular day or perhaps would prefer to do something a little different as this time of year can leave some with more of a bitter taste in their mouths. I therefore present to you, Valentine’s spots for those struck by Cupid’s arrow as well as events and inspirations for the anti-valentine’s crowd or for those looking to do something a little different this time, as regardless of your relationship status, everyone deserves for this day to be fun.
(Make sure to read to the end for some fun Valentine’s Day facts!)
What screams love more than prison? Wait wait, let me explain. Not only is Oxford Castle a site steeped in a rich history, but Oxford Castle Unlocked is offering people the chance to have a very different experience with the ol’ ball and chain. One really wouldn’t expect this almost thousand-year-old ruined castle turned prison complete with crypts and cells and a general aura of mystery and death to offer anything romantic, but you’d be surprised. On Valentine’s day, couples can enjoy a romantic, candle-lit three course meal served in a the unique and intimate location of… an actual prison cell. Don’t get put off by the location! You can enjoy a delicious dinner in this fun and unique setting and certinaly isn't your average Valentine’s day dinner for sure, plus it makes the perfect setting for any history-lover in your life!
From £90 per couple
Click HERE for more information
You know what’s also romantic? Trains! (I promise I’m being serious). Sometimes when travelling, the journey can be just as important as the destination, and the UK is certainly not lacking in scenic views, so why not take a Romantic ride somewhere? There are heritage railways dotted all over the country that offer scenic views, relaxing trips as well as special dining/drink packages. Why not book dinner, brunch or afternoon tea on the Avon Valley Railway or enjoy the variety of trips offered by Dartmouth Steam Railway? Click HERE for a more comprehensive list of rail tours throughout the UK and to find ones near you. For something specifically Valentine’s themed, for those around the Kent area, the Spa Valley Railway has a Valentine’s special on the 12th of February where you can appreciate the relaxing beauty of traveling on this amazing heritage railway as well as enjoying a complimentary bottle of wine!
Spa Valley Railway Valentine's: £40 per couple (includes a bottle of wine)
For classic romance, how about a romantic evening under the stars? Even better, how about a romantic evening under the stars where you don’t have to go outside into the freezing cold and, more likely than not, rain? London’s famous Royal Observatory is offering exactly that on Valentine’s night itself. Discover all about the romantic sights seen in our night sky in a visually stunning planetarium show and do your own stargazing through a real 18-tonne Victorian telescope. You can also enjoy a complimentary glass of bubbly whilst standing on the famous Greenwich Prime Meridian whilst enjoying the twinkling lights of our own night sky (If we are granted clear weather.) The Glasgow Science Centre is also getting in on the Valentine’s spirit with a Valentine’s screening of “Her” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. As well as a complimentary glass of fizz and treats to enjoy during the film, the event will also begin with a stunning planetarium show exploring the surrounding cosmos.
Royal Observatory Valentine's Stargazing: £30.00 adult, £28.00 concession
Glasgow Science Centre Her Screening: £40 per pair of tickets (18+).
Walks are about as much of a romantic cliché as you can get but, they’re a cliché for a reason and are a tried and true romantic activity if you can get past the blisters. For the rambler in your life, there are many beautiful locations dotted around the country perfect for Valentine’s Day strolls. I could go on for hours about the many MANY places in the country perfect for walking, but this blog post would be about 10,000 words long so instead I've made a few suggestions of some of my personal picks. For Castle lovers, Hever Castle and Gardens has its wonderful snowdrop walk around it's grounds offering a great perspective as these beautiful flowers emerge from their winter hibernation.
To see some stunning views of the coast, try one of the trails near the Giant’s Causeway if you can. Often considered the 8th wonder of the world, views across this amazing rock formation are enough to take anyone’s breath away. Made up of over 40,000 basalt steps, this natural rock formation has a number of natural features dotted along its length including the Giant’s Boot, the Wishing Chair and the Camel. Visit to find out the story behind these eclectic names.
If you’d prefer a walk that isn’t so down to earth, then the Tree Top walkway at Kew Gardens is the walk for you. Set 18 metres above the ground and surrounded by a grand canopy of chestnut, oak and lime trees, this walkway offers great close-up views of the birds and insects that make those trees their home as well as an unparalleled view of the surrounding skyline. Make sure to check out the rest of Kew whilst there for some of the most amazing and well-kept gardens in the country. Plus Valentine’s night itself coincides with one of the Orchid Late events, offering an intimate evening celebrating the bright and exotic culture of India. Click HERE for more information.
Now for those of you not really into the season, cripplingly lonely or just looking for a completely off the wall date idea, then why not check out a few of these rather different activities that I’ve compiled.
Calling all sketch artists! For a special anti-Valentine’s event, the Tower of London will be hosting a sketch-special covering all those who died in the name of love in the Tower. For all those that aren’t the biggest fans of the romance at this time of year, why not hear the tales of someone who met a grizzly end because of it a.k.a: Anne Boleyn. Enjoy the opportunity to sketch lovingly costumed models posing as ghosts at the site of her burial in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula after her execution. Capture the gruesome consequences that sometimes follow love. This is an event the proves that Romance truly is dead.
Click HERE for more information
If this is a time of year you'd like to escape, the why not try breaking out of the norm by visiting one of many MANY escape rooms across the UK. For those unfamiliar with the setup, the basic premise is that you ar locked in a room and usually have one hour to solve the room's puzzle to find your back back out whilst more often than not solving a grizzly mystery at the same time. Definitely not your usual Valentine's activity to be sure as well as being a thought-provoking and fun activity to try. If you haven’t experienced an escape room before, I highly recommend it as it is the perfect activity for friends, couples and co-workers alike. See HERE for a full list across the UK.
For a more unique date idea or if you just want to bounce away your crippling loneliness doing something fun and silly then you should definitely try out one of the country’s trampoline parks. I bet some of you haven't touched a trampoline since you were kids, but as one of the biggest up and coming event industries in the country, these parks offer a number ways to burn off energy and proving that trampolining certainly isn’t just for the younger generation. Whether you're taking full advantage of being surrounded by wall to wall trampolines or enjoying the Slam dunk courts and airbags offered by many, these parks have so much fun to offer if you decide to jump in!
Click HERE for a complex list
What’s the opposite of romance? How about Horror! Chase away any notion of romance by taking a look at any of a number of haunted spots across the country. For the best experience, there are a number of fun tours run at night that highlight these terrifying spots and give you all the grusome details of the terrifying events that occured in these places. From the well loved Ghost walks of York, to the dark secrets of Lincoln, to the Witchery tours of Edinburgh, whichever spooktacular tour you choose to embark on, they each ofer a horrifyingly good time and are a far cry for traditional Valentine's Day events. Halloween might be the season for spooks but with these tours, plenty of creepy fun can be had all year round. Click HERE for a full list of ghost tours available.
Ultimately whether you love, hate or are just indifferent to Valentine’s day in general, there are a tonne of fun things you can do around this time of year regardless. While some people find enormous pressure in making this day special, ultimately (and this really might sound cliché but it is true) it is the thought that counts and sometimes the simplest and even strangest gestures can mean the most. So whatever you end up doing on the 14th of Feb, we at DOUK.com want to wish you a very very happy Valentine's Day!
Let’s finish off this post with some fun facts about Valentine’s day!
It's that time of year again! The scent of mulled wine and mince pies are in the air, the radio stations are playing the same 10 songs over and over again, and everyone has their tissues ready for the festive supermarket adverts. Yes, Christmas is coming up fast, and with so much to do before the big day, make sure to take some time to have some festive fun beforehand. There are a number of fun Christmassy events and attractions you can visit all over the UK this festive season. With so much fun going on throughout the country, I could not possibly list them all, so make sure to check our Events page to keep up to date with all the goings-on throughout the UK.
While snow can sometimes be a fleeting dream in some parts of the UK, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some icy fun with several ice skating rinks popping up for the Winter Season, especially around the Greater London area. Take a skate around the rink currently standing at The Tower of London or glide around another that's popped up at Hampton Court Palace for plenty of freezing fun and none of the frostbite!
Since ‘tis the season for fun but also stuffing ourselves silly, there are a variety of amazing festive food experiences to try all over the UK. From festive afternoon teas available at Titanic Belfast and the Tropical Butterfly House Sheffield, to food markets appearing all over the place including: The Welbeck Estate and Chatsworth House!
Also, if the stress of cooking Christmas dinner is too much this year, fear not, as there are several attractions offering their own amazing Christmas dinner experiences. Enjoy a full Christmas Dinner aboard the Wealdon Pullman steam engine with the Kent and East Sussex Railway on a scenic journey, or try one of the many festive dining experiences available at the Spa Valley Railway.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
With December approaching fast, Santa is certainly keeping busy as he will be dropping into several attractions throughout the country to say hi and spread all the festive magic he can.
Seperate grottos along with a lot of other Christmassy activities will be popping up at:
- Groombridge Place, Tunbridge Wells
- Willows activity Farm, Hertforshire
- Hever Castle ... just to name a few!
Make sure not to miss the big man when he's around in your area.
One could not talk about Christmas attractions in the UK without mentioning arguably one of the most anticipated Festive events of the year, Hyde Park's annual Winter Wonderland. Celebrating it's 10th anniversary, there is no shortage of Chritmas cheer here! With FREE entry onsite, there are many amazing things to see and do, from seeing the sights aboard the giant observation wheel, to grabbing a drink in a bar made of ice, to experiencing the four rollercoasters and other thrill rides and so SO much more, there's a reason this event is one of the most popular Christmas attractions in the country.
With so much to do and see over the next few weeks, there's plenty you can do to make sure your Christmas this year is the best one yet. Make sure to take some time to enjoy yourself and wherever you are this festive season, from all of us at DOUK, have a very Happy Holidays. 🎄🎅🎄🎅🎄🎅🎄
There are only 2 weeks left of the Summer Holidays and here at Days Out UK we want to make sure you don't waste a single second of your time. In order for you to make the most of the final weeks, we have put together a simple guide, giving you some helpful hints and tips for planning ahead.
Instead of travelling miles away to find fun things to do this Summer Holiday, why not check out your local area for great days out!? Whether you are from London, Essex, Greater Manchester or Merseyside, there are heaps of things to see and do, so find out what’s on your doorstep - instead of venturing far and wide. The time and money you can save by not travelling far away, can be spent on having fun, with all your family and friends.
Make Travel Plans
Try planning your route in advance, being sure to check for updates on traffic etc. before setting off. Whether you are travelling by car, bus or train, by planning ahead you will be able to: learn the quickest routes; save money - by avoiding toll booths, splitting travel costs etc. - and; plan how to get from attraction to attraction – if you are going on a multi-stop trip.
Squeezing in Attractions
If you do have to venture outside of your local area and plan well enough, you may be able to fit more than one attraction into one day out. For example, if you are looking for a day out in Liverpool, you could start off by visiting the animals at Knowsley Safari Park, followed by a visit to the Albert Dock. Here you can make the most of all the award-winning attractions, from The Beatles Story to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. By planning a multi-stop trip you not only will save time on travelling, but you can also save money - with lots of attractions offering combined rates.
When planning a day out, especially when you have little ones to contend with, there is so much that can go wrong. By booking beforehand you can save time by avoiding queues, you can plan other activities around them and you will be able to stick with your planned budget (see Multi-stop trip and plan your budget).
Plan your budget
Your budget can massively effect your options, when planning a day out with the family. Before setting off on your big day out, try to think about all of the things you will need to pay for during your trip, in particular taking into consideration the following things:
From free family events to paid excursions, there are heaps of things to see and do nationwide, this Summer Holiday. Be sure to check out our events and attractions pages, for some great days out ideas!
Check the Weather
Before setting off on any trip, it is good to know what the weather is going to be like. This way you will be able to know what preparation is necessary, for example, what clothes to pack for the family. Visit our area pages, for an up-to-date weather forecast.
Have a Back-up
It’s always a good idea to plan a back-up activity that can still go ahead, if all else fails, especially when there are little ones involved. So if the weather takes a turn for the worse or your car breaks down, you will still have something planned to keep the whole family entertained.
With these helpful hints the whole family can enjoy a stress-free day out, making sure to not waste a single second of the precious Summer Holidays.
‘We’re all going on a Summer Holiday….’ or maybe not and that is why we all could do with knowing what’s going on in our local area, this Summer Holiday.
We all want to make the most of the precious 6 week holiday and with so much to see and do nationwide, it is hard to narrow down the choices. Here at DOUK we understand the importance of planning ahead...especially when it comes to having fun...so we have put together a list of activities and events for you to get your teeth into this summer.
Much like our '10 Things to do in Essex this Father's Day' piece, we will be focusing on Essex…the birthplace of DOUK! From themed family events to wildlife walks, there are heaps of things to see and do over the Summer Holidays in Essex and here are just a few that we have hand-picked, for the whole family to enjoy!
Venue: Adventure Island
Sat 23rd & Sun 24th July | 12:00-close | Included in admission price
Schools Out for the Summer and Adventure Island is inviting the whole family down to celebrate with them. Everyone is sure to be entertained with face painting, live performances, fancy dress and so much more!
Venue: Adventure Island
Sat 13th & Sun 14th August | 12:00-close | Included in admission price
Calling all Superheros! Adventure Island is hosting a fantastic themed event this summer, with face painting, dancing and lots more!
Venue: Audley End House & Gardens
Thu 28th – Sun 31 July | Thu-Sat 19:00 | Sun 11:00 | £14 Adult | £9 Child
The circus is coming to Audley End House and Gardens this summer, where visitors of all ages are welcomed to step inside the Big Top, to travel into a fairytale world full of surprises.
Venue: Audley End House & Gardens
Mon 15th – Fri 19th August | 11:00-17:00 | £18.30 Adult | £11 Child | £16.50 Conc. | £47.60 Family
Grab a magnifying glass and join Audley End this Summer Holiday, as they hunt for some mini beasts throughout the beautiful gardens.
Mon 25th July – Fri 2nd Sep | 10:00-17:00 | Included in admission price
Throughout the Summer Holidays, Barleylands is hosting a different theme each week, with heaps of activities to keep everyone entertained. Plus the farmyard is open as normal, with a full timetable of activities, including sheep racing and birds of prey.
Week by week:
25th – 29th July Bubblemania
1st-5th August Family Hoedown
8th-12th August Deadly Creatures
15th-19th August Crazy Entertainer
22nd-26th August Ultimate Inflatables
29th-2nd August Treasure Hunters
Venue: Colchester Zoo
Sat 23rd July – Wed 31st Aug | 09:30-18:00 | Included in admission price
Enjoy a family day out at Colchester Zoo this Summer Holiday, where the whole family can learn about the amazing species at the zoo and take part in some brilliant activities with their award winning education team!
Venue: Colchester Zoo
Sat 6th & 20th Aug | 09:30-20:30 | Included in admission price
Colchester Zoo is hosting two special Summer Late Night Openings, over the Summer Holidays, with extra special events and activities throughout the day…and night.
Venue: Beth Chatto Gardens
Sat 23rd Jul – Sun 4th Sep | All day | FREE Friends of the Garden | £6.95 Adults | £1 Under 16’s
Throughout the Summer Holidays, the whole family are welcomed to the beautiful Beth Catto Gardens to take part in one of the Wildlife Trails, where you can discover the heroes and villains of the garden…and the children go FREE if you book your tickets online in advance.
Venue: Beth Chatto Gardens
Tue 9th Aug | 10:30-14:00 | £5 accompanied child | FREE 1 adult per child | £2.50 additional adult
Bring the little ones along for a fun-filled activity day which is all about food and the garden, this Summer Holiday. From pizza making to dish creations (for some of the creatures found in the garden) the little ones are sure to have a fantastic time in the Garden Kitchen.
Venue: Hadleigh Park
Fri 22nd Jul | 21:15-22:30 | £4 Adult | £2 Child
Bring the whole family along to Hadleigh Park for a wonderful evening, where you will search for the magical and elusive glow-worm, meeting at Benfleet Station (south side) at 9.15pm.
Venue: Hadleigh Park
Sat 30th Jul – Sun 31st July | FREE to spectate
Hadleigh Park is holding their first UCI Junior World Series event, as part of the Hadleigh Park International UCI HC-class event, a fantastic mountain bike event with exciting cross-country races to keep the whole family entertained this Summer Holiday.
Venue: Mercury Theatre
Fri 29th Jul – Sun 21st Aug | 14:00 | 18:00 | Prices vary, see website or call for details
The Mercury Theatre is hosting the brilliant musical adventure, of the children’s classic Wind in the Willos. Join Toad, Badger, Rat and Mole on the adventure of a life time this Summer Holiday!
Venue: Marsh Farm
Sun 14th Aug | 10:00-18:00 | £19.99 Over 2’s | FREE Under 2’s
Bring the family along to Marsh Farm this Summer Holiday, for a fantastic event that is just like Glastonbury…but for kids! Enjoy a great line-up of activities, from performances by popular children’s acts to workshops for everyone to join in on.
Venue: Southend Pier
Sat 2nd Aug – Sun 3rd Aug | 11:00-17:00 | Included in admission price
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…do you? This year is the Southend Borough Council’s 26th annual Puppet Festival, where the whole family can enjoy a classic day at the beach, with seaside entertainment and much more…all on the world’s largest pleasure pier.
Venue: RSPB Rainham Marshes
Tue 26th July – Wed 31st Aug | 10:30-12:00 | 13:00-14:30 | £1pp + normal admission price
Join Rainham Marshes for some special family activities. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the Summer Holidays, there will be special family activities to keep you entertained, from pond dipping to playing mini-beast detective.
Although we have focused on Essex, there is so much to see and do nationwide - from family friendly (Viking) Bear Hunts to Beer Festivals and Shakespearean performances - throughout the Summer Holidays. So make sure to check out all the other fantastic attractions and events, in your local area, so you can make the most of those valuable 6 weeks!
Staying in the UK for a family holiday has never been better. Whether you’re hunting for peace and quiet in an idyllic surrounding or wanting to keep active on an action-packed adventure, there’s plenty on offer for you to enjoy.
Northamptonshire, in the heart of England, combines countryside relaxation with exciting activities and interesting sights. Known affectionately as the county of “squires and spires”, the rolling countryside region is steeped in history and beauty. With plenty to capture the imagination and hearts of your children, Northamptonshire has become a popular destination for many family holidays.
How to see the most of this beautiful county
Northamptonshire spans across many towns and cities such as Corby, Kettering, Northampton and Daventry. While driving is a great way to get between the various towns and take in the countryside views, there are many other ways to travel too.
Embrace times gone by with a trip on a vintage steam train from Northampton & Lamport Railway station, which will allow you to see the Brampton Valley, Northampton and Market Harborough.
With a peaceful waterway system sprawling across the county, seeing Northamptonshire by canal is also an unusual but great alternative to travelling by car. Perfect for families, it gives little explorers the opportunity to become captain of a ship, as they help you to navigate along the canal system and River Nene.
Finally, sometimes a bicycle is all you need to explore the countryside at your own leisure. Perfect for active families, there are plenty of cycle paths which allow you to experience fresh air and enjoy scenic views.
Things to do
Whilst Northamptonshire is ideal for rest and relaxation, it also has a whole host of exciting family activities.
So, you can gather up your brood and head out to see the great sights of Northamptonshire, such as:
A visit to the iconic racetrack is a great day out. With plenty to see and do, it’s great for any petrol heads in the family. There are also kid’s zones, where your children can enjoy the buzz of the motor atmosphere and the thrill of watching the speeding cars.
Little ones love the great outdoors, and Wicksteed Park is perfect for letting them roam free. With green spaces perfect for picnics and games as well as plenty of themed days and events, it is a firm favourite with families.
Budget friendly and with lots to do, it is a great choice for those on a budget.
Line up your little soldiers for a great day out at Rockingham Castle, where they can play and learn all about this historical beauty.
Dating all the way back to the Vikings and William the Conqueror, this castle has played an important part of the county’s past. With over 450 years of battles, warring families and dramatic stories, Rockingham Castle promises tales that will truly capture your family’s imagination.
This attraction is also dog friendly, so even the four legged members of your family can enjoy some time outdoors.
If you want to do something unusual, then give llama trekking a go. This activity is sure to be a favourite with little animal lovers and offers you a chance to see the rolling terrain of the county in a memorable way.
You can choose from a sunlit dusk trek or a half-day experience where you meet these curious and furry friends, learn about their habitat and see the Northamptonshire countryside in a whole new way.
Where to rest your head
When it comes to accommodation, there is plenty in Northamptonshire to suit all budgets and requirements. No family is the same and there are lots of options available in the county.
If you’re looking for hotels, there are various styles and choices, from the cheap and cheerful to plush luxury surroundings.
One of the better options for families is to stay in a holiday park, where you can enjoy peace and quiet while having local amenities and entertainment just a stone’s throw away from your front door.
Billing Aquadrome, in the Nene Valley, is the perfect place to unwind and relax amongst 235 acres of glorious countryside. You can steal some time for yourself and let the children enjoy the outdoors, as there’s plenty of rides and play areas to keep them happy as well as exciting activities such as water zorbing. There’s also a lively restaurant and bar with regular entertainment, making Billing Aquadrome perfect for rest and rejuvenation as well as family fun.
With lodges and caravans to choose from, this holiday park provides families with a home-from-home with all the creature comforts required for a perfect break. There’s even room for you to bring your beloved family dog, so they can join in the fun too!
Choose Northamptonshire for your next family break
So when you’re planning your next family trip, make sure Northamptonshire is top of your list. With beautiful countryside to explore including valleys, rivers and lakes, as well as plenty of interesting days out, this stunning county has something for every family to enjoy.
Niamh Spence is a content writer for Billing Aquadrome in the Nene Valley – part of the Pure Leisure Group. Billing Aquadrome offers great activities for family holidays that are sure to please everyone, from big to small.
Your annual family holiday is your opportunity to spend some quality time with your loved ones.
When school finishes for the summer, you’ve got time and top weather on your side. So, here are some tips to help your family relax and enjoy your break away, free from any pesky everyday stresses.
Plan your budget in advance
Think about what you’ll need to pay for during your getaway and make sure your budget exceeds this amount. Take into consideration:
It’s much better to be over prepared than worried about spending more than you can afford. In order to really relax you’ll want to buy what you need, be able to say yes to the kids when they ask to do something and splash out occasionally - without feeling guilty!
Get the kids involved with your holiday calendar
Wherever you’re heading this summer, whether it’s the Lake District or the rolling Yorkshire countryside, ask your children what they’d most like to do while you’re there.
This isn’t to say that mum and dad aren’t in charge – the kids should know that you have the final say but that they’ve had an input into the planning of your fun-filled family holiday.
Don’t forget to take their routine on holiday too
It’s easy to get swept up in all the excitement of a new place, surrounded by so many fun things to see and do.
But tired tots can quickly become teary ones. So, make sure the kids stick to their regular meal and bed times as much as possible to avoid tantrums.
Parents with younger children can often find it easier to leave behind rigid agendas in favour of some good old fashioned flexibility.
So that you don’t put yourself under any unnecessary pressure, it’s a good idea to have a loose plan in place but generally go with the flow.
Give yourself a back-up plan when it comes to keeping the children entertained throughout your family holiday, and prepare for the occurrence of a good old rainy day in the UK.
Find nearby indoor activities and attractions and book your family in for some guaranteed dry-time. To get the best of both worlds, book to do such activities in the mornings so that should the sun decide to shine, your brood won’t be missing out.
Booking activities in advance whenever possible has various key advantages, including:
Keeping your family holiday stress-free
Making sure that the whole family is able to enjoy a little R&R is all down to planning what you can, and taking everything else as it comes.
By focussing on getting controllable factors organised such as planned activities and budgeting, you can keep stress at arm’s length and ensure that your annual family holiday is as fun as possible!
Danielle Middleton is a digital content writer for Pure Leisure Group, the UK holiday home company with sites throughout the country including; the Lake District, Northamptonshire and Yorkshire.