It’s summertime, and wallet-conscious Brits are choosing staycations in the UK, rather than schlepping off abroad. According to a report by the World Travel Market, ‘the UK was named in the top three holiday destinations for 2015 – and remained in the top three when consumers considered 2016 holidays.’ Price tag seems to be the main reason we stay close to home.
So, with this in mind, here’s our round up of some of this year’s more purse-friendly outdoor fun to bolt on to your staycation. Pack both waterproofs and plenty of sun cream (let’s be optimistic here), and enjoy the great British outdoors.
Hungry? Food is always more delicious outdoors and there’s a fantastic choice of food festivals up and down the UK this summer. Want to sample Michelin-starred dishes without the Michelin price tag? Foodie heaven Taste of London features signature dishes from 40 of the capital’s most exciting restaurants, and live demos by grandees Nathan Outlaw and Monica Galetti.
If you prefer garlic-flavoured fudge and beer (who wouldn’t?), cross the Solent to the pongy Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. Isle of Wight food bloggers Matt and Cat describe it, “as quirky as it sounds. With some pretty unusual garlic food and drink on offer as well as plenty of entertainment, it's a great way to sample the Island's famous local food." Just make sure the person you kiss has also been to the Garlic Festival.
If you’re north of the border, you might like to enter the Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival’s Haggis Eating Competition. Or perhaps not. There’s plenty of other, less dyspeptic delicacies on offer. And falconry too.
Outdoor film screenings
Fancy snuggling up to watch a classic film under the stars on a warm summer’s night? With witty pairings of movie and place - Jaws at Brockwell Lido, Jurassic Park with the Victorian dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park and Labyrinth at Lulworth Castle - The Luna Cinema brings open-air big digital screen thrills to iconic venues throughout the UK. Cult Screens with its comfy bean bag seating and more intimate pop-up venues is a little cheaper. Remember your blanket and mosquito repellent.
A proper British summer village fete
Embrace a quintessential British occasion: go to a really good village fete. The best ones showcase what the local community has to offer. Expect bunting, local honey, homemade jam, cake stalls, bric-a-brac, coconut shies, animals, crockery smashing and music. Relax on a hay bale drinking tea from the mandatory green cup and saucer as Morris dancers wassail around you. We love Surrey’s Tandridge Village Fete, with llamas, maypole dancing, tractors and the bonkers National Egg Throwing Championships, and Cheshire’s ancient Marton Wakes, with the children’s Rose Queen village costume procession, fairground rides, bands and Alan’s burgers.
If it’s an affordable summer music festival you’re after, book one of the smaller, newer ones. Farmfest in Somerset is how Glastonbury started off – an independent, rural festival featuring emerging artists and DJs. There’s loads of activities for the little ones during the day and you might catch the first performance of a future multi-Grammy Award winner. Well, you might!
Be one of the first at Sunfall, London’s newest summer music festival. It’s good value - your £60.50 ticket gets you into the day session in Brockwell Park, and exclusive access to some of London’s hippest clubs - Brixton’s Phonox, and XoYo Shoreditch - at night. The line-up includes Jamie XX, Goldie and Zomby.
Do you know your Herdwicks from your Hebrideans? You will if you head to one of the UK’s magnificent agricultural shows. These are a great family day out, and cheaper if you book tickets online. Get hands-on with farm animals of all shapes and sizes, heavy horses, combine harvesters and rural crafts, and maybe see sheepdogs in action. The biggie is the Great Yorkshire Show. Famous for its livestock ring parades, there’s also a motorcycle stunt team, food theatre and 1,000 stalls selling everything from milking machines to wellies. Its southern cousin, The Kent County Show has two exciting features this year: Joseph’s Amazing Racing Pigs and a fly-past by The Kent Spitfire.
Summer street festivals are ideal if you’re on a budget as they come with low or no entry fees, eye-popping entertainment, tasty street food, and the freedom to wander. Take your pick of the carnivals celebrating Britain’s diversity: kick off in June with Pride’s rainbow LGBT Festival and Parade, brave the rain of the August Bank Holiday for the Notting Hill Carnival or join the South Asian community for the London Mela in early September. While the Edinburgh International Festival is out of reach of many pockets, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has lots of free street theatre, music and dance – if you can find somewhere cheap to stay in Edinburgh.