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WOMAD festival comes to Wiltshire for 2017

Posted on 13th March 2017

WOMAD is a festival like no other, promising to entertain and alter perspectives while being both inclusive and informative. Due to be hosted at the glorious Charlton Park on the last weekend in July (27th – 30th), it is definitely something everybody should be marking in their calendars, whether you’re spending the week in a Wiltshire holiday cottage and just manage a day, or are a local looking to soak up the whole weekend. We have picked some of the more unusual events on offer that make this festival so special. WOMAD 2008 main stage

The Human Books revel in the art of conversation, as you ‘check out’ a person for half an hour and learn about their lives while moving away from the absorbing technology that defines this era. Go global with both the music and the food and discover new passions. The street food on offer is no meagre burger van, but instead offers an intense trip for the taste buds, as everywhere from South America to India is represented in cuisine, with both vegetarian and vegan options as a nod to the inclusivity that defines this festival.

The Global Market allows you to take a piece of WOMAD home, full of stalls selling everything from traditional clothing to instruments made from recycled materials. Like any bazaar, it is tantalising and a joy to discover.

Children under the age of thirteen are treated to free entry as well as many activities specially designed to include them, making this a truly family-orientated festival. The Arboretum combines discovery with nature as you are invited to try your hand at playing different instruments from a multitude of countries, as well as hearing your favourite performers talk about their own culture. All of this and more is nestled deep in the woodland.

There is also a spa for those looking for a little pampering to complement the bohemian lifestyle of WOMAD. It offers everything from massage and acupressure to the unique sound baths and, as with everything at the WOMAD festival, it is housed either outside or in tents.

This unusual festival has various counterparts across the world, featuring festivals in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Chile. So if you feel you would enjoy a weekend that will take you across the world from the comfort of your Wiltshire cottage holiday, WOMAD is a festival to watch out for.

Image Credit: York Tillyer

The top festivals to visit in Wiltshire in 2017

Posted on 11th January 2017

People visit Wiltshire for the scenery, the beautiful landscapes, relaxing walks and the fascinating history of this quintessential county. But Wiltshire is also something of a secret gem of culture, and each year the region plays host to some fascinating events to stimulate the intellect and imagination, both local and touring from around the world. If you’re planning your Wiltshire cottage holidays and are wondering what’s on in the area this year, you’ll be delighted to find that Wiltshire hosts countless festivals to accommodate any interest, from art to trainspotting. Here are our top picks of the best festivals in Wiltshire for 2017.

Music

Orchestra

When we think of festivals, most of us immediately think of music, and luckily Wiltshire has much to offer for the music lover of every persuasion in its festivals for 2017. If you’re a connoisseur of classical and choral music, the Edington Festival of Music will enchant and inspire, as for one week the town’s fourteenth-century church is filled with some of the finest cathedral and collegiate choirs in the country taking part in the daily services. The Great British Proms also venture to Wiltshire in 2017, with a prom at Bowood House near Chippenham and Calne on the 6th August 2017. The National Symphony Orchestra will make their debut at Bowood, accompanied by the Brit-Award winning vocal ensemble, Only Men Aloud, soprano singer Philippa Healey, and a traditional piped band for an evening of classical favourites performed by only the finest musicians.

For folk music fans, the Chippenham Folk Festival is the perfect weekend of entertainment, running from the 26th until the 29th of May. This participatory festival promotes the best in English folk music with performances, street parades and workshops led by artists such as Cloudstreet and the Exmouth Shanty Men. This explosion of folkloric excitement is matched only by the Marlborough International Jazz Festival from the 14th to the 16th of July. One of the top events of its kind in the UK, the bands featured range from well-known touring artists such as Clare Teal to grassroots local artists like the Wiltshire Blues Sessions. A carnival atmosphere spreads over this corner of Wiltshire over the weekend, full of music, dance and laughter.

Whilst Larmer Tree Festival is taking a year off in 2017, there is no shortage of popular music festivals to explore this year. The globally renowned WOMAD Festival (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is back to Charlton Park for another year of what the Daily Telegraph calls an “annual unearthing of global gems”. Although the line-up is yet to be announced, big things can be expected of WOMAD, with 2016’s artists including George Clinton, Baaba Maal and Roots Manuva. Expect music from around the world over seven stages, along with poetry readings, comedy, interactive workshops, fairground rides and art installations. For something a little more low-key, Fieldview Festival from the 3rd to the 6th of August is the perfect choice. The festival describes itself as a “beautiful combination of top-notch, fun-filled, cutting edge music, locally sourced cuisine and delicious local brews”, and also offers interactive workshops and games, making it the perfect family festival.

Art

Ponten Pie’s Copacabana

Image Credit: Ponten Pie (Salisbury Festival)

If you’re looking for an experience that fuses the senses and comprises multiple art forms in one, Wiltshire’s many art festivals are set to inspire. Although there are several arts festivals in the area, the most notable of them all is Salisbury International Arts Festival. Running from the 26th of May to the 10th of June 2017, this is not one to be missed, as it is the final of their series of festivals that have been inspired by the points of the compass. In 2017, for Festival Director Toby Smith’s final year, the event looks towards the West and particularly the culture of French-Canadian province, Québec. The festival will feature an eclectic mixture of art exhibitions, classical music, folk, jazz, circus skills and dance performances, featuring artists as diverse as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, dance troupe Ballet Black and Québecois folk group Lu Vent du Nord. Everything from the performances to the food and décor will make you feel as though you have been transported across the Atlantic into this bustling urban centre.

Literature

Literature

Home to such notable wordsmiths as poet Thomas Moore, Ian Fleming, William Golding and Sir Terry Pratchett, Wiltshire has been a hub of literary activity throughout history. It’s no surprise, then, that the area is home to one of the UK’s most notable annual literature festivals: Swindon Festival of Literature. For two weeks from the 2nd to 14th of May, the twenty-third Swindon Festival of Literature will bring together novelists, poets, philosophers, naturalists, adventurers and more, all speaking and reading on several topics to interest readers of every enthusiasm. The festival offers both guided walks and traditional lectures to create a dynamic event that draws visitors from around the world. It also features names such as Brian Blessed, Joanne Harris, Ken Livingstone and Yasmin Khan.

Food and drink

Wiltshire Food Festival

Image Credit: Gentlebird (Flickr)

If you’re a self-professed foodie, Wiltshire is set to wow with its extensive programme of festivals celebrating the food and drink from both global and local sources. After dry January, treat yourself to a tipple at the Devizes Festival of Winter Ales on the 24th and 25th of February, where you can sample bespoke local ales whilst enjoying live acoustic music and hot pies at this charming event. Around the 13th of May, Devizes takes a more culinary focus in the Devizes Food and Drink Festival. Although in the early stages of planning, past years suggest that visitors can expect street food from around the world, curries, antipasti and baked goods. Last year also saw some fun food-based activities such as the Devizes Food Festival Bake Off, the Chilli Chuckin’ Challenge and Crumpet Frisbee, so prepare for the unexpected!

In Swindon, one of the county’s favourite festivals is hosted at Blunsdon Station. The Real Ale and Cider Festival allows visitors to drink local ales and home-brewed ciders, as well as enjoying steam train rides aboard Wiltshire’s only standard gauge heritage railway. For something a little more niche, visit the Cheese and Chilli Festival, which tours several towns in Wiltshire on weekends from the 10th of June until the 20th of August. Here, enthusiasts can try out unique cheeses and fiery chillies from across the globe, whilst also participating in live demonstrations and enjoying bike stunt shows, crafts and live music. For a decidedly more traditional fare, visit the Melksham Food and River Festival from the 2nd to the 3rd of September for excellent local food and drink, plus some amazing aquatic activities and on the river such as canoeing and zip wires.

Sports

Castle Combe Circuit

Image Credit: Matt Buck (Wikimedia Commons)

With miles of stunning countryside, Wiltshire is the perfect location for sports and outdoor activities-based events, and there are plenty for visitors to enjoy. Both the Bradford on Avon Walking Festival from the 1st to the 3rd of September, and the Corsham Walking Festival, from the 9th to the 11th of June, are ideal for avid ramblers. Enjoy jaunts through beautiful landscapes with a group, from easy to demanding routes discovering the local wildlife and history with local experts.

For the more adventurous sports enthusiast, the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race makes for exhilarating viewing, with several competitions running from the 14th to the 17th of April, from singles to doubles, where records are challenged each year. Alternatively, for motorsports fans, the renowned Castle Combe Circuit is running its Summer Action Festival on the 22nd of July, where car owners are invited to participate in races, whether performance, classic, kit, modified or original. With club displays, drift demos, parades and more, car lovers will enjoy every second of this fantastic event.

Screen

 Film festival

Image Credit: Laura Lee Moreau (Visualhunt)

Film and TV buffs may be pleasantly surprised to find that there are several festivals in Wiltshire that celebrate all things screen. Two of the more unique events are the Banff Mountain Film Festival UK tour leg and Melksham Comic Con. The Banff Mountain Film Festival will appear in various locations including Bath, Swindon and Salisbury during February and March, showing some of the best adventure films from this internationally-renowned festival. Discover skydiving, extreme climbing, dog sledging and even a band of musicians playing in mid-air in these exhilarating screen showings. Aiming to “bring the fun, madness and intrigue of city-style conventions to a small-town, rural setting”, this festival was voted the third best UK convention by Conic Conventions in 2012, and will feature artists and writers such as Jack ‘Jackademus’ Lawrence and John-Paul Bove. Perfect for any comic book or superhero film fan.

Watch the world-famous Wiltshire Christmas Festival of Lights

Posted on 21st November 2016

If there’s one thing that stays in the mind of people young and old around Christmas, it’s the sight of beautiful coloured lights glowing on fir trees, hearths and in shop windows during the festive season. This year, if you’re looking for a way to take the excitement of Christmas to the next level with a Wiltshire holiday cottage retreat, there is no better way to do so than by visiting the world-renowned Longleat Festival of Light!

 Wiltshire Festival of Lights

Image credit: Papa Studio (Shutterstock)

As Visit Wiltshire explains, “This winter the unmissable Festival of Light at Longleat returns to transform the park into a glowing winter wonderland.” This year, it is Longleat Safari Park’s 50th anniversary and so Europe’s largest Chinese lantern festival will be even more exhilarating. This year’s event is a celebration of all creatures great and small, and will appeal to family members young and old!

The wonderful scene of Longleat’s famous lantern displays is a memory you will never forget. Their momentous giant lanterns will take centre stage with epic scenes honouring the most exciting residents of the park, such as lions and zebras. To mark her 150th birthday, iconic characters from the beloved works of Beatrix Potter will accompany the animals, so you can follow Peter Rabbit and his friends around some of the most famous scenes of the books!

But there’s more to this wonderful festival than the beautiful, intricate lights. The winter safari will be a real eye-opener, taking your mind off the Christmas rush for a moment as you ogle at zebras, rhinos, monkeys and more. As Longleat say, this is a great time to beat the crowds and see unusual sights up close:

“Keep your eyes peeled and you might even see our animals displaying some different behaviours to those they would display during the rest of the year. Our tigers and lions, who are partial to a catnap in the sunshine, are often much more active in the cooler weather.”

There are a huge range of other festive activities that make Longleat’s Festival of Light a prime destination for families on holiday in Wiltshire. Their enchanted Christmas tree show sees a grand 50ft tree made to dazzle with high-tech multimedia technology and mind-blowing projections. Step through the doors of Longleat House and into a real Edwardian Christmas, with each room decorated as it would have been for traditional Christmas celebrations during the early 20th century.

To mark 150 years of Beatrix Potter, the Great Hall will also host a special exhibition of costumes used in The Royal Ballet’s production of Frederick Ashton’s ‘Tales of Beatrix Potter’. For nature lovers, the brand new Arctic Corner is the perfect winter wonderland for kids to play in and learn something new in the process.

There is even an augmented reality experience of being an Arctic explorer to stimulate their greatest ambitions. Take a trip on The Santa Express and take in the beautiful reflections of the Half Mile Lake before reaching the grotto with a special gift for the little ones. Anything is possible during the magical Festival of Light!

The festivities begin on selected dates from 11th November, with fireworks on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. You can also save 10 per cent through online bookings.

 

 

Swindon Railway Festival to relive the transportation past in September

Posted on 07th September 2016

As part of city’s 175th anniversary celebrations, STEAM will remember the past at the Swindon Railway Festival later this month. The event is a must for train and local history buffs and will show off some engines, artefacts and other railway treasures.

STEAM locomotive in Swindon

The festival will take place over the weekend of 10-11 September. Built to honour the history of the Great Western Railway, STEAM is a favourite destination for those enjoying a cottage holiday in Wiltshire.

It will feature the museum’s biggest-ever live steam engine display. With some help from Hatch Heritage & Steam Engineers, there will be a number of traction engines at the festival. There will be legendary Great Western Railway locomotives as well. Visitors can see the No. 6000 King George V, the No. 3717 City of Truro, and the No. 4073 Caerphilly Castle.

To keep the crowds at the festival on their toes, a replica of the famous Swindon Works Hooter, has successfully been recreated just for the event. The Hooter will sound at several points in the day. This will be a nostalgic reminder of how the Hooter was in the days of the Swindon Railway Works – once one of the busiest places in Britain.

One highlight of the weekend will be a variety of model railways on display. To see the list of more than 25 models, visit the event website.

The event includes shopping stalls to entice visitors. On offer, traders will be selling model railway kits and accessories, art, books and railway memorabilia. To wet your whistle, there will be a real ale bar and a barbecue on both days. There is also the onsite Platform One Café.

There are family tickets and single tickets to the festival available here.

Image Credit: Barry Skeates (flickr.com)

Nadiya Hussain and Great British Food Festival coming to Wiltshire in August

Posted on 04th August 2016

Bowood House in Wiltshire is opening up its grounds to welcome cooking and eating enthusiasts from all over to enjoy the Great British Food Festival.

 British Bake Off Winner Nadiya Hussain

The festival takes place at the Georgian country house just outside of Chippenham on 20-21 August.

Convenient to many of our holiday cottages in Wiltshire, the event is a perfect way to enjoy the family, food and the beauty of Bowood House’s beautiful gardens. There will be more than 80 producers offering the best in fine foods. There will be kids’ activities, cookery lessons and plenty of eats to sample. To make it even better, there will be live music and a stunning selection of real ales.

There will also be a number of well-known chefs on hand to make the event special. A clear star of the event will be Great British Bake Off champ and Royal birthday cake baker Nadiya Hussain. The widely popular show winner will bring her unique and charming style of cooking to the festival. The housewife and mother turned author and chef is still riding high after winning the BBC show’s sixth series. Although she still isn’t quite sure why the crowds flock to see her speak and cook, she is excited to be part of the British food culture.

“I don’t know,” Hussain recently told local media. “I don’t even get it! Maybe because I just rattle on, talking to anyone like I’ve known them forever.”

“The one thing my husband said when I went on was, ‘You don’t want to go on there and not be yourself. You’re not an actress, you’re not a showman, just go on and just be yourself’, and that’s what I do – I’m only ever myself.”

Also scheduled to appear at the event will be Bake Off chefs Howard Middleton and Luis Troyano and MasterChef’s Luke Owen.

For more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit the festival website.

Image Credit: The Great British Food Festival