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UK Staycation: The best destinations for comedy, live music, theatre and more

Forget the hassle and stress of attempting to leave the UK for a holiday abroad this summer, and take a break here at home instead. Check out our list of top staycation destinations in 2021...

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 19th May 2021

Holidays abroad have returned, much to the delight of many of us sun-starved Brits. However, the sky-high cost of a trip overseas, coupled with the limited choice of destination and the availability of places, not to mention the alarmingly high level of infection still lingering in countries throughout Europe, might just make you want to stop and reconsider any plans you have to leave the UK this year. Instead, why not think about spending your time and hard-earned money more wisely. Why not take a staycation?

The United Kingdom is a recognised epicentre for culture, with a long-established influence over modern art, fashion, music, science, and more around the globe. Attracting on average around 40 million tourists a year, each of the home nations boasts a selection of the worlds most popular and historic venues of entertainment, including theatres, restaurants, museums, galleries and more. They're also home to some of the most iconic landmarks, the most outstanding areas of natural beauty, and hundreds of busy attractions and popular sightseeing spots.

Don't believe us? Keep on reading...

Listed below, you'll find a handful of our favourite staycation destinations. We'll tell you a little bit more about each of the places included and what they have to offer, share travel tips to help you get there, and highlight the average cost of a hotel room per night amongst other things. We'll also recommend the best spots for live music, food, theatre, comedy and more.

 

Click or tap on the names of the destinations, attractions and venues below for upcoming events, tickets and more... 

 

Major UK cities

London

London

Population: 9.4 million

Top Attractions: Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Big Ben

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £91/Double £182

Travel Links: Heathrow Airport, London Euston Train station

Random fact: The city of London is actually the smallest in England

London. The Big Smoke. Those of you who decide to visit here this year won't be stuck for things to do. That we can certainly guarantee.

The English capital offers some of the best entertainment options found anywhere in the UK, and around the globe for that matter. Begin your day by checking in to one of 158,956 hotel rooms the city currently boasts - a world record-breaking number by the way - then head out for a bite to eat in one of the cities 15,000 plus restaurants, before jumping on the tube to visit recognizable attractions the likes of Big Ben, The Tower of London, The Shard and Buckingham Palace.

Once you've ticked off all the tourist items on your checklist, and you've indulged in some retail therapy on Bond Street and Mayfair, head out on the town. Catch an award-winning show on the West End in theatres the likes of the Lyric Hammersmith, The Duchess Theatre, the London Palladium or The Vaudeville, go clubbing in some of the English capitals best nightclubs, such as Fabric, EGG London or Ministry of Sound, or catch a live band at the Jazz Cafe or the Royal Albert Hall.

Taking the little ones with you? Head to SEALife London, Madame Tussauds, the Warner Bros. Studios or the Legoland Windsor Resort Hotel situated on the outskirts of the city.

 

Best for: Theatre, sight-seeing

For more events and attractions in London click or tap - here

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Birmingham

Birmingham

Population: 2.6 million

Top Attractions: Villa Park Stadium, Digbeth Creative Quarter, Birmingham Hippodrome

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £41 / Double £83

Travel Links: Birmingham Airport, Birmingham New Street (Rail)

Random fact: Birmingham is the birthplace of the Balti curry. There are currently over 100 Balti houses in the city

The capital of the Midlands, Birmingham is the UK's second city. It has the youngest population of inhabitants compared to all other cities across Britain, with an average age of just 25, making it a creative and exciting place to visit. 

Amongst the winding streets of the inner city is Birmingham's creative quarter, Digbeth. Home to a gathering of highly attended live music venues, the likes of The Mill, The Crossing, Lab11, The Sunflower Lounge and many more, it's also the location of some of the UK's finest food events, such as award-winning street food destination, Digbeth Dining Club, UKG Brunch and DnB Brunch.

Head out of the inner city and you'll come across some more family-friendly attractions and experiences. Check out the Cadbury World exhibition and learn the history of the iconic chocolate business. Meet the magnificent creatures of the deep at the National SEALIFE centre, or watch a musical or play at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Other notable mentions of places worth visiting whilst staycationing in Birmingham include the Hare and Hounds live music venue, Thinktank Science Museum, Sandwell Valley Country Park, and Dudley Zoo and Castle.

 

Best for: Live music, restaurants

For more events and attractions in Birmingham click or tap - here

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Manchester

Manchester

Population: 2.7 million

Top Attractions: Old Trafford Football Ground, National Football Museum, the Northern Quarter

Average hotel room rate (per night): £77 (Double room)

Travel Links: Manchester Airport, Manchester Victoria and Piccadilly (Rail)

Random fact: The atom was first split in Manchester by a university physics teacher named Ernest Rutherford, back in 1919

A mint destination for music ar kid, as the locals might say, Manchester has been the origin of many new musical movements over the years. Evolving out of the Madchester era of the '90s, the city's nightlife and club scene are now internationally renowned, having given birth to some of the biggest artists, dance events and venues of the past three decades - the likes of the annual Warehouse Project at the huge Depot Mayfield, the Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and the now sadly defunct Hacienda.

But it's not all about the music... The city is also famous for its European and domestic league dominating football teams - Manchester United and Manchester City - as well as its theatres, including The Lowry, The Palace, HOME and the Manchester Opera House. Its nighttime culture is also something to behold, boasting upwards of 600 fantastic bars and restaurants across an area of just 2.14 square miles. 

Thinking of stopping in the city for a long weekend this year? We suggest staying in or near the Northern Quarter. Packed full of quirky shops, the likes of Afflecks Palace, themed bars and restaurants, venues and more - it's definitely one of Skiddle's favourite go-to nightspots. 

 

Best for: Live music, nightlife

For more events and attractions in Manchester click or tap - here

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Liverpool

Liverpool

Population: 905,445

Top Attractions: Royal Albert dock, Anfield Stadium, British Music Experience

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £33 / Double £66

Travel Links: Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool Lime Street Station

Random fact: Liverpool has more museums and galleries than anywhere in the UK outside of London

Situated on the banks of the famous River Mersey is one of Britain's most visited city destinations.

A popular cultural hotspot with travellers from around the world, Liverpool offers its 54 million annual guests a variety of outstanding experiences, attractions and venues of world-beating entertainment.

From the celebrated Cavern Club, the birthplace of one of the most influential rock bands of all time, The Beatles, to the Tate Modern art gallery on the city's vibrant Albert Docks, the Anfield Stadium, home to English Premier League title holders Liverpool FC, and the enormous Red One shopping centre... there's a plethora of things to see and do on a short staycation break.

For those seeking a musical excursion, Liverpool can also provide. Each year, the city plays host to several fantastic live music events and festivals. Returning this year for the first time in almost 18 months, those who do decide to take a break in Liverpool should look into attending gatherings such as The Baltic Weekender, held in the trendy Baltic Triangle District of the city, Positive Vibration - Festival of Reggae, the Liverpool Disco Festival and Sound City, the UK's leading event for music discovery. 

 

Best for: Live music, sight-seeing

For more events and attractions in Liverpool click or tap - here

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Population: 542,167

Top Attractions: Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Old Town, Edinburgh Zoo

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £58 / Double £117

Travel Links: Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh Waverley railway station

Random fact: Edinburgh Castle is built on an extinct volcano

Steeped in history, alive with culture and probably the most buoyant and upbeat destination on our list, we guarantee that Edinburgh will have something to satisfy your every staycation need.

Its stunning architectural skyline features some of the city's most frequently toured attractions, such as the impenetrable 900-year-old Edinburgh Castle, the Scott Monument and the Balmoral Hotel, but look beyond the tourist hotspots and there's an abundance of unique places to eat, drink, shop, dance, laugh and more...

Head to the city's old town and down onto Victoria Street, and call into one of the countless independent boutique shops and restaurants that line the vibrant thoroughfare. Sample some of the best whiskey in the world in one of the city's many bars, dotted across the historic borough, and, if you're not overcome by the premium liquor, maybe take in a theatre show or a live gig at venues the likes of the Festival Theatre, Sneaky Pete's, The Liquid Room or The Old Dr Bell Baths.

Edinburgh is also home to the worlds largest arts and comedy festival, The Fringe. In any normal year, and most certainly excluding 2020, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival would sell upwards of 4 million tickets and host over 3,500 shows. Running over 25 days back in 2018, the almost month-long festival showcased a total of 55,000 performances. Impressive.

 

Best for: Comedy, whiskey and sight-seeing

For more events and attractions in Edinburgh click or tap - here

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Leeds

leeds

Population: 1.9 million

Top Attractions: Leeds Corn Exchange, Temple Newsam House, Brudenell Social Club

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £43 / Double £86

Travel Links: Leeds Bradford Airport, Leeds City Railway Station

Random fact: Fizzy drinks were invented in Leeds over 250 years ago by an English chemist named Joseph Priestley

The capital of Yorkshire and the UK's third-largest city, Leeds is a vibrant metropolis brimming with shopping arcades, museums and galleries, restaurants, bars and some rather breathtaking outdoor parks. 

Home to one of the UK's biggest universities, the University of Leeds, the nightlife in the city is, as you might expect, pretty darn good. Some 36,000 students attend the university at present and, in more normal times, would most likely be found propping up bars in the pubs, clubs and venues scattered across the city centre. 

From the impressive Leeds O2 Academy and rave spaces such as The Warehouse, The Old Red Bus Station and the Beaver Works, to independent live music venues the likes of the Brudenell Social Club... there's plenty of places to drink and catch live music in Leeds, and if it's festivals you're itching to get back this summer, Leeds has got a few of them too. Made In Leeds, Newsam Park and the world-famous Leeds Festival are all currently going ahead as planned.

If it's a more cultured and less boozy trip you're looking to take, fear not. Leeds has a surplus of alternative entertainment options. Check out the Henry Moore sculpture park, featuring many of the artists most renowned pieces, watch a stage show at Leeds' epic Grand Theatre, or take a stroll around the ruins of the centuries-old Kirkstone Abbey. Check out our list of free attractions in Leeds here.

 

Best for: Shopping, nightlife, live music

For more events and attractions in Leeds click or tap - here

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Glasgow

Glasgow

Population: 1.6 million

Top Attractions: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Celtic Park, Glengoyne Distillery

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £47 / Double £95

Travel Links: Glasgow International Airport, Glasgow Central Station (Rail)

Random fact: There are eleven fossilised trees in Glasgow's Victoria Park that date back 330 million years, making them twice as old as the dinosaurs. No seriously.

The former European capital of culture and Scotlands largest city, Glasgow remains one of the best cities to visit in Britain.

Known as Scotlands sporting city, Glasgow has played host to several significant events over the years, such as the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the first-ever European Championships in 2018. It's also the home of one of the oldest rivalries in football, 'The Old Firm', between the Celtic F.C. and Rangers F.C. 

Sports not quite your thing? Not to worry, there's plenty of other things to see and do across the city...

Glasgow houses many of Scotlands biggest cultural attractions and venues, most of which are completely free to experience. Take a tour around the stunning Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, take in the impressive exhibitions and marvel at the buildings Spanish Baroque-style architecture, or visit some of the cities most iconic music venues - from SWG3 and the O2 Academy to the legendary King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, where Scotsman Alan McGee famously signed Oasis after watching them live for the first time.

Back in 2019, it was said that over one hundred live gigs took place every single week in Glasgow. A perfect destination for musos. 

Need to make a pit stop for some refreshments? We hear you. Glasgow also boasts hundreds of award-winning eateries and bars, and there's more than just deep-fried Mars Bars on the menu. And if it's an escape in nature you're looking for, Glasgow is perfectly positioned for a jaunt out into the wilderness, to the famous Loch's which surround it. 

 

Best for: Live music, galleries and museums

For more events and attractions in Glasgow click or tap - here

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Seaside Destinations

Brighton

Brighton

Population: 611,306

Top Attractions: Brighton Palace Pier, British Airways i360 Viewing Tower, SEALIFE Brighton

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £64 / Double £128

Travel Links: Brighton City Airport, Brighton Railway Station

Random fact: Brighton is home to the world's oldest aquarium, which opened back in 1872

Who needs a holiday abroad when you've got places like Brighton just a few hours drive, a short train journey or an even shorter flight away?!

Positioned on England's beautiful South East coast, and less than two hours outside of London, Brighton is a bohemian hotspot for lovers of live music, contemporary art, diverse food culture and so much more. Blessed with some of the best weather in the UK, with more sunlight and less rainfall in the south than anywhere else in the UK, and with a Blue Flag award-winning beach, it's one of the best candidates for a substitute holiday overseas. 

Besides the reliable weather and the stunning beach, the seaside city also provides a plethora of must-see attractions and avenues of entertainment - from the huge British Airways i360 viewing tower and the Brighton Palace Pier, to the amazing architectural wonder that is the Royal Pavillion and family-friendly options such as SEA LIFE Brighton. It also accommodates some of the best music venues in the country, the likes of The Arch, Komedia, The Green Door Store, The Hope and Ruin and the historic Concorde 2, and theatres such as the Brighton Dome and the Theatre Royal.  

Fans of splashing the cash on the more material things in life also have reason to get excited by a trip to Brighton. The Open Market and Snoopers Paradise Bric-a-brac markets offer shoppers a trove of attainable antique treasures and handmade goodies.  

 

Best for: Theatre, live music, shopping

For more events and attractions in Brighton click or tap - here

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Blackpool

Blackpool

Population: 139,300

Top Attractions: Blackpool Tower, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Zoo

Average hotel room rate (per night): £64 (Double room)

Travel Links: Blackpool North and Blackpool South (Rail), Blackpool Central Coach Station

Random fact: 'The Flying Machines', located on Blackpool's Pleasure Beach, is Europes oldest amusement park ride. It was originally opened in August 1904

The coastal town of Blackpool, the famed 'Las Vegas of the North', has been a magnet for tourism since the mid-18th century for Brits and foreign tourists alike, and still to this day attracts up to 6 million travellers each year.

For those who've never ventured to Blackpool before, let us make a few recommendations...

First of all, we suggest you visit the towns most iconic landmark - Blackpool Tower. The 127-year-old structure, modelled on the Eiffel Tower, houses several excellent attractions suitable for all the family, such as Sea Life Blackpool, the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, the Blackpool Tower Circus and the elegant Blackpool Tower Ballroom. It's also a good place to get your bearings on arrival, with breathtaking vistas from the top of the tower over the North West shoreline. 

Next, you're definitely going to want to catch a live cabaret or theatre show. In more normal and less socially distanced times, shows in Blackpool run throughout the year. The town is home to numerous historic theatres including the Grand Theatre, the North Pier Theatre, the Opera House and the Winter Gardens

If theatre isn't your bag, head over to the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park, and experience record-breaking rollercoasters the likes of 'The Big One', formerly the biggest rollercoaster in the world at 200ft tall, or take a trip to Blackpool Zoo, or the Sandcastle Waterpark... the list goes on and on.  

 

Best for: Cabaret, theatre and amusement park rides

For more events and attractions in Blackpool click or tap - here

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Cardiff

cardiff

Population: 480,584

Top Attractions: Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Bay, Wales Millenium Centre

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £63 / Double £126

Travel Links: Cardiff Airport, Cardiff Central railway station

Random fact: Cardiff is home to the worlds oldest record store, 'Spiller's' which dates back to 1894

The beating heart of Wales, Cardiff is continuing on the path to becoming one of the most exciting destinations for a staycation in the UK.

Second only to the likes of London and Edinburgh, the Welsh capital has recently undergone huge regeneration projects to modernise its city centre and stunning waterfront, attracting people from around the world to visit its revitalised shoreline location, recently renamed Cardiff Bay.

Flaunting hundreds of venues, the likes of the Millenium Centre, The Glee Club, Clwb Ifor Bach, The Globe, the Tramshed, Buffalo Bar, GLAM and Fuel Rock Club Cardiff, to name just a few, as well as hundreds more restaurants and bars, the city's economy has witnessed a huge boost over the past decade, with the nightlife sector performing particularly well. And it's this prolific nightlife and club scene that's given birth to some of the biggest names in British music in the past, such as the Manic Street Preachers, the Stereophonics, Feeder and many more...

An especially significant advantage Cardiff holds over other large cities is its closeness and ease of accessibility to one of the UK's most spectacular National Park's - Snowdonia. We'll discuss Snowdonia in more detail a little further on...

 

Best for: Live music, nightlife

For more events and attractions in Cardiff click or tap - here

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Bournemouth

Bourne

Population: 509,445

Top Attractions: Bournemouth Beach, Oceanarium, Bournemouth Pavilion and Ballroom

Average hotel room rate (per night): £58 (Double room)

Travel Links: Bournemouth International Airport, Bournemouth railway station

Random fact: On average, around 750,000 ice creams are bought on Bournemouth's seven-mile seafront each year

Recently voted the best coastal town in Britain by the British public, Bournemouth is another stunning seaside location comprised of seven miles of golden sandy beaches and stunning blue seas that will have you convinced that you're anywhere but in the UK this summer. 

A mixed bag as far as staycation destinations go, Bournemouth delivers for people of all ages, doubling up as both a party destination and family-friendly holiday resort. Internationally renowned as a haven for surfers, the coastline between Bournemouth and neighbouring town Poole is actually Europes largest natural harbour, meaning there are plenty of waves to ride and plenty of other watersport activities to get involved with - from Paddle Boarding to Kayaking, Jet-skiing and more.

Aside from the world-class watersport activities on offer, the town has a huge entertainment presence, with hundreds of fantastic live music spots regularly welcoming touring artists from around the globe. Names who have previously performed in venues such as the O2 Academy Bournemouth, Halo, The Old Fire Station and Bomo Bunker, include Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah and the Stereophonics, with the likes of DJ Darren Styles, poet John Cooper Clarke and more lined up to make an appearance this year. 

If it's a shopping excursion you're after or you're a keen foodie, or maybe you just want to laze around, sauntering from bar to bar, knocking back cocktails and gins all day (which sounds absolutely ideal to us), journey inland to Bournemouths town centre. Here you'll find a bustling high street and a lively showing of hospitality venues. We recommend trying the drinks at the two of Bournemouths most unique bars, Sixty Million Postcards and rooftop bar, LEVEL8IGHT. 

 

Best for: Watersports, bars and shopping

For more events and attractions in Bournemouth click or tap - here

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Beauty Spots

Lake District National Park

Lake-District

Population: 41,600

Top Attractions: Lake Windemere, Hellvelyn, Scafell Pike

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £31 / Double £62

Travel Links: Oxenholme, Penrith, Windemere (Rail), nearest airports Manchester and Glasgow 

Random fact: The Lake District is home to Englands highest mountain, Scafell Pike (3,210 ft)

So the Lake District National Park in Cumbria might not be the best for live music or theatre, but what it lacks in these areas it more than makes up for with its stunning crystal clear lakes, mountain walks, and charming towns and villages.

A mecca for mountaineers, fell runners and hiking enthusiasts alike, the Lakes has over 214 accessible hills and mountains, as described and illustrated by one very famous northern fell walker, Alfred Wainwright. Amongst the ten highest and most epic Wainwrights are the likes of Great Gable at 2,960 feet, Helvellyn at 3,114 feet and England's tallest mountain, Scafell Pike at 3,210 feet. 

After a hard day of scrambling across some of the most dramatic and unforgiving terrains in Britain, the quaint pubs and restaurants that surround the waters of Lake Windemere, Derwent Water and so on, offer some much-needed respite and, quite often, a place to rest your tired bones should you need it. 

Looking for a spa and wellness break? Why not opt-out of climbing the harsh mountain faces and enjoy a pamper day at one of the Lake Districts many spa hotels.

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Snowdonia National Park

snowdonia

Population: 25,702

Top Attractions: Mount Snowdon & Hafod Eryri: Britain's Highest Visitor Center, Snowdon Mountain Railway, Zip World Titan

Average hotel room rate (per night): Single £23 / Double £46

Travel Links: Bangor Rail Station, then connect onto Conwy Valley Line to travel through the park, Caernarfon bus station is the nearest to the park with links 

Random fact: Snowdonia is home to Wales' highest mountain, Mount Snowdon (3,560 ft) 

Similar to the Lake District, Wales' Snowdonia National Park is less about the entertainment you might find on the streets of the UK's cities and seaside resorts and more about the breathtaking panorama's. 

Covering an area of over 823 square miles, running from Conwy Bay in the north down to the River Dyfi in the south, the park is home to some amazing sights and attractions, including 15 mountain peaks at over 3,000 feet in height, a network of epic hiking trails, the remarkable Snowdon Mountain Railway, which scales the side of Mount Snowdon, Wales' highest peak, the National White Water Centre, for the hardcore kayakers, and much, much more. An ideal location for those who live for the outdoors, looking for an active staycation break. 

Other places definitely worth checking out whilst exploring the park include Conwy Castle, the colourful village of Portmeirion and the award-winning Llechwedd Slate Caverns.

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Other fantastic attractions to visit across the UK...

Alton Towers Resort

Alton-towers

Image credit: Alton Towers (Facebook)

Unlike the previously mentioned destinations on our list, Alton Towers isn't a city, town or national park, although you'd be forgiven for thinking it was given its size.

Spread across 3.7 square kilometres of land and split into ten different sections, the popular theme park houses 40 of the gnarliest, adrenaline-inducing rides found anywhere across Great Britain.

Those over 1.4 metres in height are encouraged to test their nerve on some of the parks biggest attractions, including The Smiler, the world's first 14 loop rollercoaster, Nemesis, Rita and Oblivion, whilst the younger and shorter guests who attend can enjoy attractions such as The Bugbie Go Round, the In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride and the Gangsta Granny ride. 

The resort also offers a range of different accommodation types and breaks, to appease the needs of even the fussiest child or guardian. Stay in the CBeebies Land Hotel, disappear into the forest that surrounds the park and camp out in a Woodland Lodge, or choose a Stargazing Pod and watch the stars in the night sky through telescopes.

 

Find tickets for Alton Towers Resort - here 

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Dreamland Margate

Dreamland

Image credit: Dreamland Margate (Facebook)

Vintage English funfair, entertainment centre and music venue, Kent's Dreamland Margate is an absolute must-attend for adults and children alike in 2021. 

The historic 100-year-old family-friendly attraction, home to the UK's oldest wooden rollercoaster, has a myriad of exciting experiences on offer. From numerous rollercoaster rides and art installations to roller disco's, street food markets and a year-round programme of amazing live music. 

Amongst some of the many artists that are scheduled to appear once the park reopens later this year, are the likes of drum n bass legends Andy C and Shy FX, UB40, The Beat, De La Soul and British girl group All Saints

 

Find tickets for Dreamland Margate - here 

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Warwick Castle

Warwick-castle

Image credit: Warwick Castle (Facebook)

Medieval fortress Warwick Castle has been watching over the midlands for almost 1,000 years. Built by William the Conquerer in 1068, the stronghold now serves as a very unique hotel and entertainment venue. 

Experience a short break in the Knights Village within the castles keep and gain access to the centuries-old fortification during the day. Enjoy themed evening entertainment, take a royal tour of the castle and relax in an exclusive VIP suite by night. 

Planning a day trip out to Warwick Castle? There's a number of fantastic events happening on the grounds of the castle throughout the summer season, including Digbeth Dining Club's food and drink series - The Open Arms. Attend the UK's biggest beer garden and sample a wide variety of craft ales and lagers, as well as award-winning street food from some of the best local vendors. 

Skiddle recently grabbed the opportunity to head out to the iconic landmark, to take in the atmosphere at one of Britain's largest outdoor venues. Check out the video below...

 

 

Find tickets for Warwick Castle - here 

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For event inspiration or to find out what's happening where you're staycationing in 2021, head over to our What's On page   

 

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Festivals 2021