Bank Holiday Away
Our Bank Holiday weekend in Stratford upon Avon was a last minute booking, so I was really pleased when it turned out to be a fun packed getaway. As expected all the major hotels had no rooms, but at the last minute I stumbled upon Faviere Guest House which turned out to be a little gem. It was close to all the action, had the most comfy beds, delicious breakfast and, most importantly, guest passes to a big (posh) swimming pool nearby which the kids loved.
All Things Shakespeare
Obviously, Stratford upon Avon, is mainly associated with William Shakespeare and his plays. There is something related to Shakespeare on every corner. His house, his school, his favourite pub, the theatre, his wife’s house… the list is endless. As it was a glorious day and I really didn’t want to drag the kids round museums, I booked us on a 2 hour tour of Stratford with William Shakespeare as a guide. Yep, you have read it correctly. Dressed in breeches and a hat, our guide talked in the first person and was a very convincing William Shakespeare. He was full of facts about Shakespeare’s life, his family, work and the 16th century theatre. We even got a small performance outside the RSC Theatre which was truly dramatic.
The tour starts at Tudor World and then takes you past Shakespeare’s house, the theatre, his school and ends at the Holy Trinity Church where he was buried. I would definitely recommend this tour if you fancy something different. The family ticket was only £13 which I thought was cheap for the great experience you get.
Things To Do In Stratford Upon Avon
There are other things to do in Stratford if you are tired of following Shakespeare’s footsteps. As our stay coincided with the Bank Holiday, there was plenty going on there. I am not going to lie, the place was heaving but in a nice way and I think it is because there was so much green space around the centre. People were putting up gazebos, having picnics, playing rugby or having a barbecue in the green fields along the river. The were deckchairs for hire and a lot of “street food” sold from the barges. I would recommend crossing the river Avon via the old chain ferry for 50 pence which is short but an exciting experience. There was a giant Ferris wheel which gave great views of the town and the river from high above. Hiring a boat is definitely a thing to do. You can either do your own rowing or, if you can’t be bothered, just book a river cruise.
The Theatre, Darling!
I think the best experience of our stay was attending two open air Shakespeare plays in the Avonbank Gardens. The plays were Royal Shakespeare Company productions so a real treat.
We also had the best seats, well blankets in the park just in front of the stage. So, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, eating candy floss grapes and drinking fresh lemonade, we watched an hour long performances of the Twelfth Night and The Tempest. The staging was minimal but there was drama, romance and a lot of humour so everything you would expect from a Shakespeare play. The cast were amazing and deserved a standing ovation. Bravo!
For more culture, Warwick Castle is about 15 minutes away from Stratford. Bank Holiday Monday was probably the worst day to visit but there was still lots to see and do. The buildings and the grounds have been beautifully restored and offer something for both the lovers of medieval history and for those who just want to have a great day out. There are some amazing views of Warwick and the castle grounds from the towers but be prepared to climb over 180 steps up to the top first. The Castle Mound is more tranquil and offers the views to the river and the deadly Trebuchet, one of the biggest catapults in the history. On the day we visited, the itinerary was pretty busy. There was a birds of prey show, the War of the Roses style jousting tournament and a Tudor edition of Horrible Histories. However, if you want peace and quiet aim for the gardens and the Conservatory Tea House where you can enjoy a picnic or coffee whilst watching a flock of majestic peacocks wandering past. Our stay in the castle was not long enough to see everything on offer. I would definitely recommend visiting the castle and making a day out of it.
To Visit Or Not To Visit…
The kids and I really enjoyed Stratford upon Avon. The sun was shining, there was plenty going on and the town is simply beautiful. It is worth a visit whether you have read any of the Shakespeare’s plays or not…