What conversation is the topic of every office discussion and winter gathering before Christmas? You’ve seen the shops littered with décor and heard the tunes on the radio, but when, WHEN DOES CHRISTMAS ACTUALLY BEGIN? It drives families and friends apart, but when is it socially acceptable to start talking about Christmas and putting up decorations in your home? Well, we’re going to settle this, once and for all.
The general consensus in our office is when December begins, (although, one staff member casually suggested Christmas begins on the 25th…) But, the general vibe is that Christmas begins, in the month of December. And rightly so. Anything festive pre-late November is what you’ll see in shops. Like Selfridges opening their Christmas shop on September 4th…
So, without further ado, here’s 5 reasons why Christmas doesn’t start until December.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, what do they have in common? CHRISTMAS. And what dates are they on? 24th and 25th of DECEMBER. We shouldn’t need to show you our working out to prove that the Christmas period begins in the month CHRISTMAS IS IN. Even in America, where Christmas is commercialised at a huge scale, they respect the Christmas rule. November is for Thanksgiving. Don’t over shadow other important events in November like Remembrance Day and Bonfire Night with pre-emptive Christmas nonsense… (give Guy Fawkes some credit for the stupidest plot in history). Let the other months do their own thing!
As you know, we love a day out at DOUK. And, in December, we love a Christmas day out. Christmas markets, meeting Santa, perusing winter wonderlands – we love it. BUT ONLY IN DECEMBER. Don’t let the events listed as Christmas ones in November fool you, the real Christmas magic begins in December and starts at DOUK. To see all our great Christmas events (in December) check out our events page, by clicking HERE.
It’s not Christmas until Bublé is officially sighted.He emerges from his year long slumber to grace our ears with the finest Christmas CD of the 21st century (take that Justin Bieber, no one liked your Christmas album). The undisputed symbol of Christmas covers, once Bublé emerges the Christmas flood gates are opened. And, let’s be honest, Christmas music loses its charm pretty quickly, so let’s not exhaust the Christmas tunes before the big day, yeah?
Any celebrations of Christmas before December is a marketing trap! - don’t let it fool you! The decorations in the shops in October are subliminally signalling you to start buying your presents early, which is smart for them, but not for you. Don’t forget about all the sweet discounts and deals you get in December. Don’t let the Christmas marketing plan draw you in, it’s a clever tick – but you won’t fool us!
Finally, we asked everyone in the office and it was confirmed that it is OFFICIALLY CHRISTMAS IN DECEMBER. So, don’t exhaust Mariah Carrey and fall into marketing traps before the 1st, Christmas begins when we say so (we’ve carried out the polls after all, so…) But of course, December is only a few days away… sooooooooo it’s nearly time!
To talk about Christma…
Guess what? As you know, we love a day out at DOUK – and today, we went out for one! Well, sort of. We were invited to an exclusive unveiling of the brand-new spring exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. The Future Starts Here is the museum’s new, and experimental, exhibition opening in May of 2018. Featuring over one hundred objects and gadgets that are set to enhance the human experience in the future – or in the not so distance future.
Curated by Rory Hyde, Mariana Pestana and the Design, Architecture and Digital Department, supported by the Volkswagen Group, this exhibition is truly an original experience, and an experimental first for the V&A.
All of the items in the collection are either on the market, in development or at the prototype stage. Not only does the exhibition showcase the tech and design of the future, but it asks questions of where our world is heading. Is this technology set to enhance our experience, or will it be a detriment to our lives? How is smart design shaping our future cities? Through the exhibition future technology and design are interrogated and explored on an unprecedented scale.
What we saw
Although we only saw the exhibition in part, it gave a fascinating insight and left us wanting more. From a 3D printed rendering of Chelsea Manning’s face made entirely from DNA, to a portable lab, from Bento Labs - the size of a keyboard with the power to analyse, manipulate and explore DNA on a scale that was only available to scientists and experts up till now. The Future Starts Here outlines the limitless potential of the future, through real futuristic tech – things you couldn’t imagine but are in development and tangible.
Huge tech giants have invested in new creations as well, with Facebook rolling out a light aircraft that brings the internet to the two thirds of the world, that don’t have it. The Aquila transmits internet to parts of the world without it, and the aircraft is light, hovering and solar powered. Mark Zuckerberg believes that connection is a basic human right. A look at Apple’s newest headquarters and a Crowd Funded pedestrian walkway in Rotterdam, shed a light on the architectural design of the future.
Other features include a drone sailing ship, Protei, that collects rubbish and oil spills in the ocean. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault preserves seeds in the event of large scale crisis– this tech is shaping the future but set to save and preserve it as well. The tech on display dances a fine line between the good technology can do, but also the harm it can inflict.
The Future Starts Here aims to not only help you envision the future to come, but question what this tech and design can do. To inspire a wide audience with design and tech that seems impossible to imagine but is here, now. For the visitor, ethical and speculative questions are asked to engage you in the future, with tech that inspires and innovates – there’s a robot that does all the laundry for you, who wouldn’t want that? We could go on and on about all the fascinating design and tech we saw, but instead we’ll tell you what’s in it for you.
Why YOU should go
This daring and experimental exhibition is nothing like we’ve seen before. A first for the V&A, it features so much to see and engage with. It explores tech in 4 large main scales. The self, public spaces, the planet and finally the vast cosmos above. This exhibition can teach, both adults and children, so much about the future and engage an interest in technology and design. The Future Starts Here can educate and engage everyone. From a curious child who is inquisitive about what their adult lives will be like, to the sceptic grandma/parent anxious of where the world is heading. This exhibition has something for everyone. The ‘wow’ factor for everything on display can’t be measured. The Future Starts Here is a truly fascinating exhibition.
Opening on 12th May 2018 and running until 4th November, this exhibition is not one to be missed. A year in the making, The Future Starts Here is an informative and engaging insight as to where our world is heading. Advanced tickets are £15 and V&A members go for free. You can book your tickets by either calling 0800 912 6961 or visiting the V&A’s website, by clicking HERE. Supported by Volkswagen Group, the exhibition will be held in the Sainsbury Gallery for the duration of Spring and Autumn. The future has arrived to our world and truly, #TheFutureStartsHere at the V&A, Spring 2018.
It’s official, we can now start talking about Christmas! Yes, we’ve held in our excitement for long enough, but with the passing of Bonfire Night, Christmas feels a whole lot closer! The lights are going up in all the towns and villages across the UK and the decorations are out in full force in shops and homes. So, what better way to get you in the festive mood than with some fun Christmas facts! Stuff to wow your colleagues, friends and family with before the festivities commence.
We’ve created a list of our favourite and most obscure Christmas facts, for you to show off with.
It’s a matter of taste, but everyone has their own favourite Christmas song and film. But, if we’re talking about the highest grossing and bestselling, we can confirm that there is one song and film, that take the Christmas cake.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Starring Jim Carrey, this film is the highest grossing Christmas film to date. Released back in 2000, this film is a titan of the Christmas film industry and has not been surpassed by the likes of Elf or any other festive favourite.
White Christmas – To much surprise, the bestselling tune of all time is White Christmas by Bing Crosby, with an estimated excess of 50 million copies sold worldwide. (personally, my favourite is from another Carey – All I want for Christmas)
Some of the most famous staples of Christmas were created as parts of marketing campaigns and dreams, from the early 1900s and even further back. Santa Claus was originally depicted in green clothing until Coca-Cola swapped the forest green for a vibrant red in the early 20th century.
Whilst Rudolph, Santa’s little red nosed friend, was created to promote Montgomery Ward’s holiday colouring books in 1939. His original name was going to be Reginald and his nose was never supposed to be red – as a red nose emulated the nose of an alcoholic.
Santa’s famous sleigh was created by Washington Irving as early as 1819, in a series of short stories. Irving described a dream where he saw good ol’ St. Nick flying across the sky, in a wagon of sorts. Dicken’s may have even been inspired by Irving when he penned his classic, A Christmas Carol.
An estimated 6.8 million IOS and other mobile and tablet devices are activated on Christmas Day. Whilst, 4.25 million of us Brits will travel abroad for Christmas. 6 million rolls of Sellotape are estimated to be sold in Britain in the lead up to Christmas. One more for the millions, 60 million Christmas trees are gown in Europe, each year.
On to the percentages; 13% of families will attend church on Christmas day and a mere 27% will watch her Majesty’s speech on the telly.
Finally, during the 20th century, there have only been 7 recorded white Christmases in the UK. For a Christmas to be declared as a ‘White Christmas’, officially, a single snow flake must be seen from the roof of the Met office within 24hours.
Over the years, Christmas has come with some rather odd traditions which we all just accept because, well, they’re Christmas traditions… When you find a tangerine in your stocking, it actually originates from French Nuns leaving socks filled with fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor, in the 12th century.
The act of hanging stockings from the fire place comes from Dutch traditions, where food would be left out for St. Nicholas’ donkeys and in exchange, he would leave small gifts. Eating mince pies on Christmas? You could be breaking the law. In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding and mince pies from being consumed on Christmas day. To this day, the law has never been retracted.
Whilst we have strange traditions here in Britain, the most popular food of choice in Japan on Christmas day is KFC. Yes, orders for the festive season must be put in 2 months in advance, in order to deal with the increased demand. Whilst in Sweden, it is extremely popular to watch cartoons on Christmas Eve. But, not just any cartoons – specifically, Donald Duck ones. This tradition dates back as early as 1960.
In Norway, families will hide their brooms to avoid them being stolen by witches and evil spirits. One of the stranger traditions, in Norway, it was believed that evil spirits and witches returned on Christmas eve, to find a broom to ride. The most terrifying tradition we’ve heard comes from Australia. Where Krampus, Saint Nick’s evil counterpart, comes out to punish the naughty children and taking them away. Young Australian men dress up as Krampus, running through the streets at night in December with chains and bells – Halloween’s supposed to be over right?
Been a bit cold, hasn’t it? With the passing of Bonfire Night and Halloween, it officially feels like winter has arrived. Mornings will now be spent with the kitchen spatula, a jug boiling water and a bottle of anti-freeze, to battle the ice that has formed all over your car. With the rest of the UK tackling slightly frosty terrain and major disruptions caused by the smallest amount of snow, the season is officially upon us. The struggle is really felt in winter. Luckily, we’re still at a luxurious 1-2 degrees, for now at least, which is a perfect time to get out and explore the UK, without 4+ layers on.
This November, in the lead up to Christmas, there’s lots of things to see and do around the UK. We’ve selected our Top 5 events for this November from all over the country.
Prior to the release of the next instalment in the series, the Royal Observatory in London will be showing The Force Awakens at their Silver Screen series this November. On the 11th, Star Wars Fans can enjoy seeing the action-packed blockbuster in the amazing atmosphere of the planetarium, and live out their space fantasy. Accompanied with an exclusive talk after the film, one of the astronomers will discuss the physics of lightsabres and planet destroying space stations.
With the change of name from At-Bristol Science Centre to We the Curious, Bristol’s premiere ice skating rink is returning to Millennium Square this November. The huge ice rink will open on November 18th, paired with other winter attractions, food and drink from surrounding stalls in the Millennium Square. Including a carousel, the ‘Skyview Wheel’ and At the Movies – from Big Screen Bristol, showcasing films throughout the season.
Enjoy an evening of classical music in the beautiful venue of Norwich Cathedral. Conducted by Ashley Grote, Norwich Cathedral Chamber Choir and Norwich Cathedral Players will be joining forces for an evening of spectacular music. Playing the music of Haydn and Mozart at the Cathedral, critically acclaimed soloist Simon Munday will be joining the proceedings to pay homage to these composers. This event is on November 11th.
On November 25th, visitors to Chiddingstone Castle can experience their annual Christmas Fair. With over 70 stalls spread over the Castle’s historic rooms and a unique marquee. All of the beautiful Christmas gifts and items available are unique and will not be found in any high street shop. Gift ideas ranging from drinks, homeware, clothing and even toys, this Christmas fair is perfect to get your hands on some completely unique gifts for your loved ones. The atmospheric setting of Chiddingstone Castle adds to the magic of the festive season.
Retuning for a sixth year, the annual comedy show is returning all in support of the conservation charity ZSL. On 30th November, join comedians Alan Carr, Katherine Ryan, Rob Delaney, Sara Pascoe, Stephen K Amos, Terry Alderton and Rob Deering – as they perform stand up in the beautiful venue that is the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London. This event is a fundraiser, to aid the animal conservation work ZSL does for wildlife all across the globe.
For more events all across the UK, click HERE.
Halloween has officially passed and now it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about Christmas. BUT, let’s not forget the last big day before the season of Christmas cheer begins – yes, it’s Bonfire night. A night that celebrates one of the most ridiculously planned out plots in history, which was foiled by a single letter being sent to one of the members of parliament. Essentially reading, ‘we’re going to try and blow up the King today, don’t come in to work’.
Whilst we look back and at appreciate the failed plot, it gives us an evening to let off fireworks and celebrate with sparklers. Most of the fun is letting off fireworks in your back garden, but there’s always that one disappointing one that never goes off… damn Catherine wheel…
To avoid some underwhelming fireworks, we’ve put together a list of our top firework displays, across the UK this weekend, ahead of Bonfire Night on Sunday.
Batter Sea Park: On Saturday the 4th November, enjoy a spectacular display of fireworks on the banks of the Thames. The displays from the pyrotechnics team at this event have won awards, meaning this event is not one to be missed! Accompanied by amazing food and wintery drinks, an impressive 22-minute display with the theme of Power will illuminate the Thames this weekend. Order your tickets online to avoid disappointment. Tickets MUST be pre-purchased before the event. Click HERE for more info and to book.
Crystal Palace Fireworks: This fireworks show has not one, but TWO firework displays! Kicking off with the kids display at 7, with vibrant and colourful fireworks (with less noise), followed by a monumental display of fireworks set to music. Taking place on the 5ht November, food and drink will also be served throughout the evening. Again, all tickets must be pre-purchased. For more information, click HERE.
Bonfire and Firework Spectacular, Kent Life: A display with a twist? Do tell more… Well, this firework display in Maidstone, is kicking off with the lighting of a bonfire by fire breathers. Watch as these human dragons ignite the bonfire ahead of a fantastic display of fireworks and much more! This event takes place on Saturday November 4th, for more information and to book tickets, click HERE.
Southend Seafront Fireworks: This FREE event takes place throughout October and November, however this Saturday (Nov 4th) is a spectacular display ahead of bonfire night! For the first time in 21 years, this display of pyro technical marvel will feature music in the show! And of course, fish and chips will be available to enjoy whilst the fireworks go on! Sit along the beach and watch the glow of the fireworks bright up the sea. For more information, click HERE.
Leeds Bonfires and Fireworks Spectacular: Friday November 5th in Leeds will burn brightly in the sky, as bonfires across the city will be lit in parks, with firework displays accompanying them. This free event will take place with an estimated 70,000 people, with beautiful firework displays. The massive bonfire in Roundhay Park will be lit at 7.30pm, followed by an epic firework display at 8. For more information, click HERE.
Gosforth Firework Extravaganza: The annual event returns this year in all its glory! The ‘firework extravaganza’ takes place on Saturday November 4th with a whole host of fun things going on throughout the evening. With attractions and refreshments, the evening will be topped off by an impressive display with over 120 effects per minute! For more information on this event, click HERE.
Bath Rotary Fireworks Display: Accompanied by the beautiful backdrop of the city of Bath, this annual event hosted by the Rotary Club promises an impressive show of firework amazingness. Taking place on November 4th, fireworks can be seen at various locations across the city with sitting and standing tickets available. This event is usually a sell out, so order your tickets early to avoid disappointment! For more info and to book, click HERE.
For more information on events across the country, visit our events page by clicking HERE.
Happy Bonfire Night!
Next Tuesday is Halloween, and yes, you’ve guessed it, your home is about to be burdened with children asking you for food (wouldn’t really fly on any other day of the year, but let’s get into the spirit of it). The third most anticipated day of the year (next to Christmas and Birthdays) for children and adults with a sweet addiction.
Normally, those houses that don’t want to accept trick or treaters will forgo the Halloween decorations and turn of the lights and electric (don’t want anyone thinking you’re home do you). Alternative to sitting at home in the dark in hushed silence, you could head out on one of our amazing days out for Halloween.
We’ve selected our Top 3 Events to keep you entertained on Halloween and all without having to hand out apples to see the confused look on trick or treaters’ faces.
Kicking off our spookily selective list is a unique and interesting event – and a good mini midweek break. Guests to Hever Castle on October 31st can enjoy an evening of food, ghosts and paranormal activity, all under one castle roof.
Starting the evening with a full course meal, visitors will then have the chance to hunt for ghosts and explore the paranormal goings on in the castle and its grounds, all hosted by Ciaran O’Keefe from Most Haunted. After an evening of chasing ghosts, you can enjoy a stay in one of the castles fiver star bedrooms, located in the Astor Wing – including breakfast the next morning.
There’s an option to just go along and enjoy the dinner and paranormal, with cheaper packages available. For more information and ticket prices, click HERE.
For the history buffs amongst you, you’ll know all about the origins of Halloween and how ‘American’ it has become. So how about some history that hasn’t been claimed across the pond? Some good ol’ fashioned British history – about everyone’s favourite, larger than life Tudor, King Henry VIII.
‘But, what’s it got to do with Halloween?’ I hear you cry! Well, the history is fairly gruesome, so we’re including that under the Halloween umbrella… At this exclusive one-off event at the Walker Art Gallery on October 31st, you can learn all about the infamous king and his exploits in Tudor England. This FREE, yes FREE, event will educate you about the life of Henry VIII, and you can test your ability to name all his ex-wives and what fates they met at the hands of the big king himself. Just remember DBDDBS…
For more information on the event, click HERE.
Luna Cinema’s has ventured to our favourite Tudor King’s Palace, to show an exclusive outdoor screening of one of the world’s best horror films. Yes, on October 31st, sit, relax and enjoy the outdoor experience. Make the most of the still mild weather before we hit the peak of winter, watch a scary film outside a Henry VIII’s palace. In true Halloween spirit, terrify yourself by watching the critically acclaimed classic, The Silence of the Lambs.
Films and food go hand in hand, so stuff your face and feast your eyes upon this classic film. Reverse roles with the kids, enjoy sweets and other treats, without the hassle of trick or treating. Put your feet up and watch the horror unfold before your eyes. (Obviously not suitable for Under 18s)
For more information on this event and to book tickets, click HERE.
That’s it! Our top 3 things to do this Halloween to avoid Trick or Treaters! For more events up and down the country, click HERE.
Half term is almost upon us! With only one week to go, parents up and down the country are all thinking the same thing… ‘Half Term, really? Already?’ The fact that dawns on us all, having your little angels (subject to opinion) back from the education system for the week. As well as realising, you’re going to have to keep them occupied somehow.
Luckily, we’re here so you don’t have to stretch your brain too far. Here’s our Half Term round up, of the top 5 things to do this October break. If you read carefully enough, we’ve got an exclusive giveaway and discount code somewhere in this post. So, keep those eyes peeled!
In the spirit of Halloween, Hampton Court Palace, in Surrey, is putting on an exclusive week of horrible history. Visitors to the palace can discover the most rotten parts of Tudor history, even joining in the fun and taking part as an apprentice. Performing the dirty jobs needed to make to the palace run smoothly, your precious ‘babies’ can get stuck in and do some gross Tudor jobs, while you kick back and relax.
Click HERE for more information on this horrible half term event. Horrible Hampton runs from October 22nd – 28th.
If you, or more likely your children, are a fan of kids’ TV characters, then boy do we have the event for you! Taking place at the ExCel Centre in London, Kidtropolis has a huge line up for 2017. Featuring live performances from acts such as The Next Step, Flawless, Peppa Pig’s, Fireman Sam and many many more! (Seriously I’d be typing forever if I listed everyone appearing) But, it’s going to be big! Live performances and activities run throughout the day, and ticket holders are free to book TWO live shows, with their purchase (included in ticket price).
For those of you that have read this far, thanks. You’re the lucky few who can use our discount code! Which we will provide… at the end of the post. Can’t have you not reading until the end, can we?
Get hands on in spooky Halloween fun at Hornchurch Country Park & Ingrebourne Valley Visitor Centre in Essex. With a whole ghost of Halloween events! (get it, whole host/ghost. Spooky puns) Between Monday 23rd and Sunday 29th October, Hornchurch Country Park will be putting on a special week of events. From spooky arts and crafts, to pumpkin carving there’s tonnes of Halloween related fun ahead of the holiday – which isn’t actually a day off, so, not really a holiday but hey ho.
For more information, times and prices for the Halloween fun, click HERE.
Fancy something out of this world? Well, Richard Branson hasn’t offered a trip in his spaceship as of yet, but fingers crossed. But, fear not! World Museum’s Planetarium in Liverpool is as close to the stars as you’ll get without ol’ Branson. Yes, more cost effective than a trip into Space, the World Museum is putting on not one, not two, BUT THREE fantastic and brand-new shows this half term.
From October 23rd until 29th, you will be able to see titles such as Earth, moon and Sun, Fly me to the Moon and From Earth to Universe. Running throughout the day, these fantastic shows will give you a glorious insight into the vast cosmos above, without Branson’s hefty price mark up.
For more information, click HERE.
Now, if the Red Sun on Monday got you excited about freaky weather, Cutty Sark in Greenwich have got the perfect event for you. If you love the sea, ships, sailors and storms, (and alliteration) you can learn all about the spooky tales from the ocean this half term.
Discover the tales from the sea as you learn about lucky sailors, gigantic waves and mysterious stowaways. And for the inspired audience members? There’s the chance to create your own pop-up book to take home as well as learning story telling skills, to create your own sea adventure.
For more information and ticket prices, click HERE.
So, there you have it. Our pick of the Top 5 things to do this half term. And congratulations for reading this far, that means that you’re entitled to our exclusive discount code.
For a DOUK exclusive discount to Kidtropolis 2017, simply add the discount code ‘PLAY’ when reaching the check out. To book your tickets visit the website, by clicking HERE.
To enter our competition to win a family ticket to Kidtropolis, visit our Facebook page by clicking HERE.
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!
It’s official, October is here. And that can only mean one thing… Guy Fawkes Night is a month away! But also, Halloween is approaching. Yes, the age old pagan festival – more like painful, right? (hope that pun landed somewhere.) ‘Tis the season of pumpkins, sweets and ridiculous costumes, but Halloween is very much the marmite amongst all the holidays. Some love it, and others, well.
Depending where you fall, you may or may not know about the origins and traditions of Halloween. And because it’s a little early for us to tell you what you can do this Halloween, we’ve put together a list of Halloween facts, to quench your spooky thirst.
Believed to date back over 2000 years to the ancient Celtic times, ‘Samhain’ or Halloween as it is now known, is the festival that signified the end of the harvest and the start of the new Celtic year. (November 1st) The ancient Celts would adorn costumes and light bonfires in order to frighten off spirits and ghosts. However, when Christianity first arrived in England and Europe, November 1st became All Saints Day, a day for the saints that didn’t have one of their own. The night before this, Christians would partake in a mass - ‘All hallows mass’, just a big ol’ mass which eventually became known as Halloween.
Famed for being the holiday of magic and mystery, there are many myths that surround Halloween. Some believe that if you see a spider on Halloween, it may be a deceased loved one watching over you and black cats were believed to protect witches’ powers from ‘negative forces’. Whilst other myths state that if you met a witch, you should turn all your clothes inside out and walk away backwards. Also, that ringing a bell will frighten evil spirits away –we can only dream that this would work on unwanted trick or treaters.
Before American traditions were shipped over, the famous ‘Jack O’lantern’ pumpkin was a turnip (not quite as colourful). The original turnip carving tradition comes from Irish folklore, where a man named Jack, tried to trick the devil and was forced to wander the Earth with nothing but a poorly lit turnip, for eternity. Jack O’lanterns are lit to scare off Jack and other roaming spirits around the spooky season.
Adopting the carving tradition, Americans in the 19th Century chose to carve pumpkins instead of turnips. This is because pumpkins grow in a greater supply and are easier to carve than turnips. And they sent it right back to us, along with trick or treating… Unfortunately, Jack O’lanterns don’t ward off trick or treaters the same way they do evil spirits. Most homes use the lantern to signify they welcome trick or treaters. (seems daft to me) Speaking of which…
Whilst trick or treating has been imported from America, the true origins of the traditions remain unknown. Some suggest that the ‘delightful’ activity could date back to the Celtic Samhain tradition. When ancient Celts dressed up as ghosts and exchanging food around a bonfire. By 1000 AD, the tradition had changed. The poor would go to the houses of the rich, and exchange prayers for deceased rich family members, for food. Now, it’s children in spooky costumes and a few teenagers that probably should have stopped a few years prior.
For all the latest updates on Halloween events and attractions near you, make sure you keep an eye out for listings on our Events page and our next blog post. It’s going to be a spooky one…
Judging by the weather, I’d say it’s time to say a fond farewell to summer. With the torrential rain and rapid winds, the hottest time of year is officially over, and it was a nice 4-week period, wasn’t it? (At least, I think that’s the total amount of time we had ‘summer weather’, but, hey, this is Britain after all.) As the evenings slowly become darker and the air becomes bitter, you know one thing… Winter is coming.
However, Autumn is coming first. With piles of fallen leaves coating the ground, vibrant reds and soft yellows colouring the streets and the smell of pumpkin spice permeating the air, Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Close enough to winter to not feel guilty about putting the central heating on, but this season is still one of the last opportunities to get outside in less than 5 layers of clothing.
To take full advantage of the still mild(ish) weather, we’ve put together a list of autumnal things to do in the UK, before winter arrives and chills you to the bone.
This is our list of top 5 Autumn Outings.
Located in Kent, this 13th century moated castle was once Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. From October 1st, visitors to Hever will be free to roam the grounds of the beautiful castle and marvel at the vivid seasonal colours. With beautiful gardens and a unique splashing water maze, Hever Castle is a sight to behold in Autumn. The beautiful Boston Ivy, that scales the side of the castle, turns a vibrant red making the castle and its grounds, beautifully photogenic.
For more information, visit Hever Castle’s website, by clicking HERE.
The 17th century country house, is one of the landmarks of what people believe to be an example of a typical English country home. Located in the countryside of Grantham, in Lincolnshire, in Autumn, the history of the house comes alive in the gardens and surrounding landscape. Visitors can only imagine how past residents may have wandered the grounds in Autumn amongst nature’s vibrant colours.
Visit Belton House’s website for more info, just click HERE.
Hole Park Gardens, situated in Rolvenden, Kent, is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, especially in Autumn. The gardens light up with the colours of autumn, making this a visual experience that is unforgettable. Wander freely around the 16-acres of grounds, exploring through the seasonal colours of Autumn and even find a new sculpture carved out of an old oak tree.
Click HERE for more information.
Offering a family walk around one of their beautiful nature trails, Savill Garden in Windsor is an unmissable sight to see in autumn. Whilst walking through the beautiful grounds and park, visitors can view the famous maple trees and cherries that grow there. See the wildlife in the Deer Park as in Autumn it is rutting season, when stags lock antlers. This beautiful and exciting display of nature and wildlife is not to be missed in this colourful season.
For more information, click HERE.
A vibrant mix of heritage and ecology, Hornchurch Country Park is a sight to see in Autumn. The country park is packed full of natural beauty and varied wildlife, in the autumn, the crisp air coats the ground and the fallen leaves paint the landscape, making the country park very photo moment worthy. Accompanied with a visitor’s centre full of fun activities and information, Hornchurch Country Park is an ideal day out, this Autumn.
For more information on the park, please click HERE.
Keep your eyes fixed on our events page for more upcoming Autumn and seasonal days out, coming in the near future. For more walks through nature and other Autumny things, search for the ideal day out near you, on our Days Out page.