You don’t really need an excuse to travel to England. It’s a fascinating country filled with natural beauty and man-made monuments. It’s also home to a rich history and a proud, energetic population that can add some fun to any sort of trip you might plan. Even at a destination that essentially sells itself, it’s always nice to have a few specific ideas on your travel itinerary.
As it so happens, England is also teeming with specific events and attractions that can make for excellent stops on a vacation. You’ll have to time your dates around them if you hope to attend, but here are some of the top cultural events you might want to consider checking out around the country.
Notting Hill Carnival
If you’re looking for a pure celebration done the British way, there probably isn’t a better event for you than the Notting Hill Carnival. It was the first thing mentioned in a lineup of festivals and events around the country for tourists to take note of, and it might be the closest thing you’ll find to a city-wide party (unless England is playing in the World Cup). It’s a bank holiday celebration that entails festive attire and a day of revelry as the Notting Hill neighborhood pulses with music and activity.
The Boat Race
The Boat Race is a college sporting event, but it’s so much more than that for the English and tourists. It’s a rowing competition on the River Thames in London that is held between Oxford and Cambridge—and it’s been going on annually since 1856. Fans line the banks of the river to watch, the universities take great pride in the outcome, and spectators will often make a day out of it, strolling from pubs to the river at the start of the race, and betting on the competitors.
This is an early spring horse racing event that takes place every year and marks the unofficial start of the horse racing season. There are other similar festivals, but this is the most fun-filled of them all. For weeks ahead of the races fans can preview the action, reading about the horses and trainers that will be competing, making bets, and getting in on the action themselves. When the actual festival rolls around it draws an enthusiastic crowd of people who will spend days at the Cheltenham grounds dining, drinking, enjoying event fashions, and rooting for the horses they’ve backed.
Words By The Water
If you’re intrigued by the rich literary history of England, you have plenty of options. There are loads of literature events that take place around the country, whether to commemorate specific writers or showcase book collections. Words By The Water may be the best of the bunch because it combines literary appreciation with one of England’s most stunning natural landscapes. People gather for up to 10 days to share ideas and discuss books at a venue alongside Derwentwater, one of the gorgeous bodies of water in the Lake District National Park.
Robin Hood Festival
England’s medieval history is often romanticized, but this is part of the charm for a lot of international travelers. There may not be a better way to soak up the legends of this era than to take part in the annual Robin Hood Festival. It takes place in Sherwood Forest late in the summer when the weather is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. In a given day you might watch a real live jousting match or take part in an archery lesson!
Isle Of Wight Festival
There are a few music festivals dotted around England each year, but it’s hard to top the Isle Of Wight event. The artists who flock to the Isle Of Wight are often among the best in business, and this year’s lineup only furthered that trend, with the likes of David Guetta, Run DMC, Arcade Fire, and Bastille performing among many others. It’s every bit as impressive as Glastonbury, but with its own scenic island setting.