When is Best to Visit Britain?

With enquiries coming in thick and fast for 2018 vacations in Britain, we are receiving one of our most commonly asked questions here at adeo Travel – when is the best time to visit England, Scotland and Wales!? As with many questions, there is no simple response, as the answer will be different for every guest depending on what is important to them for their trip. Here I do my best at outlining some of the things to think about when planning your vacation to enable you to make the best decision for yourself on when to visit our beautiful country!

Weather     

The weather is famously unpredictable in Britain and we can experience all four seasons in one day, however most people like to travel when there is the best chance of good weather; mild or warm temperatures and a lower chance of rain often make for a more enjoyable sightseeing experience. Therefore, many of our guests choose to visit in England’s Summer months (June, July and August). However, the shoulder season of Springtime and early Autumn can also offer some beautiful weather; April and May can provide crisp mornings and cool evenings but if the sun’s out its strength is good and will offer a pleasant temperature for getting out and about during the daytime. Likewise, September and early October can offer stretches of sunshine if we encounter an “Indian” Summer.

Public/Bank Holidays

Here in Britain we have eight days public holidays (or Bank Holidays) as we call them when the vast majority of British people get a day off work (usually a Monday). On these weekends, the locals often choose to getaway on a short trip to the coast, countryside or for a city-break which means that the roads and public transport can be congested and hotels will be busier or more expensive than at other times – many will impose minimum 2 or 3 night stays to ensure that they maximise their profits across the course of the holiday. Whilst the local atmosphere is good at these times it can be more difficult for overseas visitors who want to get from point to point or stay just one night in a destination so you may choose to avoid these dates. The four main bank holidays in 2018 are the Easter weekend (Mar 30 – Apr 2), May Day Holiday (May 5 – 7), Spring Bank Holiday (May 26 – 28) and the August Bank Holiday (Aug 25 – Aug 27).

Scenery and the Seasons

If you have a particular landscape or vista that you want to experience then ask your adeo Travel Britain expert when is best to see it. If you plan to visit some of England’s beautiful stately homes with formal gardens or RHS gardens then springtime and early Summer (April through June) is a great time to see the flowers in fresh bloom. The heather comes out in Scotland and across the moors and dales of the English Lake District and Yorkshire in late August and early September whilst if crisp frost covered hillsides and snow-capped mountains are your thing then the Winter months or early Spring (November through March) are the best time for your visit.

Local Events and Festivals

Similar to public holidays, local events and festivals can mean a spike in overnight visitors to a particular destination. The most notable is the Edinburgh Festival and Tattoo which takes place throughout the month of August – whilst the city enjoys an incredible party atmosphere, hotel availability is sparse and prices can more than triple throughout the period due to the high demand. To a lesser extent, popular festivals such Glastonbury Music Festival, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the Chelsea Flower Show and the York Races can have similar effects. Our advice is that unless you plan to attend yourself then avoid the destination during the event, if your dates are flexible then you may be able to move your trip a little or alternatively, simply ask your adeo Travel representative and they may be able to suggest an alternative overnight destination or juggle your itinerary to visit at a quieter time.

Sightseeing and Daylight Hours

Some people like to combine relaxation with their sightseeing but if your major aim of your vacation is to cover a lot of different areas and hit as many visitor attractions and towns as possible then you’ll want to make sure that you have the daylight hours to achieve it. In the Summer months, the sun will rise from 6am and it can stay light until 10pm on bright sunny days, ideal for those who want to enjoy long evening drives. In the Winter months it can be dark by 5pm which better suits people who want to enjoy shorter daily journeys and atmospheric dinners in the hotel restaurants or evenings curled up by open fireplaces with a local tipple in the hotel lounge-bars.

Price and Value

Compared with some nations, Britain’s hotel, rented accommodation and car rental capacity can be quite low for the numbers of visitors we experience. This limited car and bed-stock means that hotel pricing can fluctuate significantly dependent on availability and demand – the Summer months are invariably more popular so hotels command a higher nightly rate whilst in low-season properties naturally drop prices to compete for business. If budget is important to you then the low or shoulder seasons provide more competitive pricing and you’re more likely to bag a real bargain for your trip. At adeo Travel, we’ve negotiated the best rates are happy to scour our systems for great deals year-round.

So, the best time to travel in Britain really depends on your own priorities from the purpose of your trip, to your personality and interests, to your budget and your flexibility in terms of travel dates. Hopefully the information above has helped a little but if you want further advice when planning your trip then please do not hesitate to get in touch and your adeo Travel will be happy to share their own local insight to ensure you get the most out of your trip!

For a full list of our fully customizable self-drive tours, click here.

 

New Adventure for Wales as its named in Top 10 Destinations Worldwide!

In December we blogged that the Scottish city of Glasgow had been named a top twenty destinations worldwide for 2016; well now we can add the wonderful nation of Wales  to this years’ top international visitor destinations!

Wales - Rough Guide
Wales – Rough Guide

The leading global guide-book producers “Rough Guides” have named Wales amongst their top ten worldwide destinations for 2016. Amongst company including the nations of Kenya, Sri Lanka and El Salvador, Wales made number eight in the top ten and was described as “one of the finest natural playgrounds in Europe”. In fact, Wales was the only country in Western Europe to feature on the list and gained its nomination owing to its “fascinating history, incredible landscapes and unique culture”.

Based here in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff, adeo Travel are slightly biased when it comes to this particular destination (we might even have placed it at number one!) however there is no doubting that this year will be a big one for Wales. In 2016 Wales celebrates the “Year of Adventure”, an initiative launched to showcase Wales on the world stage – and it appears to be working. The year of adventure sets out primarily to exhibit Wales’ breath-taking natural landscapes, which in a country where 80% of the land is considered to be of outstanding natural beauty, is not too difficult a task. Stunning panoramas found here in Wales include those of its three national parks in the towering mountain ranges of Snowdonia, the barren moorlands of the Brecon Beacons and the rugged coastlines of Pembrokeshire.

Harlech Castle, Wales
Harlech Castle, Wales

However in 2016 Wales also celebrates the centenary of renowned author Roald Dahl who grew up in Llandaff in Cardiff and penned dozens of stories which have become loved by adults and children alike. Dahl’s books have spawned multiple film and musical adaptations; stage shows of Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have had runs in both the West End of London and New York’s Broadway, whilst The BFG is set to become a cinematic blockbuster with its Spielberg directed movie release coming later this year. To mark his centenary Wales is set to host a series of events and exhibitions dedicated to the Dahl and his works throughout the year and right across the country as well as in Cardiff.

So ranking in the top ten destinations throughout the world, why not enjoy your own adventure and add Wales to your 2016 vacation bucket list.

Discover Wales by car, coach or luxury mini-coach on one of our recommended itineraries:
Wales Explorer
Heart of Wales and England
Wonders of Wales
Castles, Coasts and Celts

Happy Hogmanay! What’s Hogmanay?

It will soon be time to say Happy New Year to all our readers, or as they may say in Scotland – Happy Hogmanay! So Hogmanay is just a Scottish word for New Year’s Eve? Far from it! Hogmanay is an entire festival in its own right – and as with many of Scotland’s cultural events it comes with its own array of unique traditions which the Scottish people take very seriously…! Here we thought we’d answer a few questions about this particular Scottish festival…

Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at Hogmanay.
Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at Hogmanay.

So there is a big party, right? The evening of Hogmanay is of course celebrated in the way Scots know best – with lots of music, spectacle, dancing and perhaps a nip of whisky. Edinburgh is a focal point for celebration with an organised ticketed street-party taking place in recent years, however previously an unofficial gathering would take place on the Royal Mile around the old Tron Church – with the clock of ancient tower decidedly unreliable chaos would ensue around midnight with various groups celebrating at different times and on different count-downs!

Is Hogmanay just celebrated in Edinburgh? No, celebrations take-place up and down the country and are not immune to local and regional twists. In Stonehaven near Aberdeen, giant balls of mesh filled with flammable material attached to chains are lit upon the tolling of the midnight bells and swung around the heads of the marchers who parade up and down the High Street. Think that’s strange? On the Isle of Orkney it is said there used to be a tradition where the man-folk took turns to don the remains of a burnt out cow’s head – why, no one is quite sure… The Highland city of Inverness and historic Stirling both opted for more traditional festivities and hosted magnificent music concerts this year.

Dancing to Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay.
Dancing to Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay.

Is there one thing which is done across Scotland? Wherever the celebrations take place, you can guarantee to hear the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne! This traditional Scots poem, penned by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, will be boomed out of every pub and inn throughout Scotland as people link arms to dance and sing-along. And of course this is a tradition not only also adopted in England and Wales but exported across the world! But as the Scots will tell you, it’s only done properly in Scotland.

And after midnight and the singing ends, the festival is over? Not a chance! First-footing is an old custom which remains observed today whereby people go to visit friends and neighbours after midnight. You should of course come bearing gifts and if your first visitor (or first-footer) is a tall, dark man with lump of coal then that is particularly lucky (obviously!).

Dooking in Edinburgh at Hogmanay
Dooking in Edinburgh at Hogmanay

But you can rest on New Year’s Day, right? Erm, not exactly. Unless you consider going for a swim in the sea relaxing – bearing in mind this is January and you’re in Scotland! Recent years have seen a resurrection of this old tradition known as “Dooking” whereby people gather to go for a nice dip in Scotland’s icy coastal waters on New Year’s Day. The aptly named “Looney Dook” in South Queensferry in Edinburgh is now a recognised part of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and many swear it is the ultimate antidote for the excesses of the previous night – we’ll take their word for it!

New year’s Day is of course a public holiday across the UK, however, uniquely in Scotland, January 2nd is also a public holiday which means most people enjoy an extra day off work. Some people in England and Wales are jealous of this whilst others simply believe, after all that ritual, they deserve it!

Burns Night – A Scottish Festival

The Scottish know how to have a good party – in Scotland both January 1st and 2nd are public holidays (so as to offer good recovery time from Hogmanay) and the national day, St Andrews Day, is patriotically celebrated.  There is little excuse needed then for a further festival which takes place across Scotland on January 25th each year to celebrate possibly the nation’s greatest poet – Robert “Rabbie” Burns – and few festivals could carry with them such intrinsically Scottish tradition!

Scottish Poet Robert Burns
Scottish Poet Robert Burns

Taking place on or around January 25th, each year, the Birthday of Robert Burns, “Burns Night” is celebrated widely throughout Scotland as a tribute to the life and works of this great Scottish poet.  Robert Burns, who was born in the 1700s and loved in the Scottish Borders region south of Glasgow, was, and still is, revered as a master of the Scots Language as well as writing in English and a Scots dialect of English; his poetry and folk songs are widely known across Scotland and indeed the world and include the famous “Auld Lang Syne” which is traditionally sung at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) each year and of course, his “Address to a Haggis” a fantastic work dedicated to Scotland’s national dish.

Piping of the Haggis
Piping of the Haggis

The Burns Night celebration usually takes place as a traditional Burns Supper which can be a formal meeting and meal of a society, club or social group or simply a family gathering. Nowadays this gathering can take many forms however typically the evening starts with contributions from the attendees which could be story-telling, recitals of verse or performances of songs, original or old but most definitely including some of Burns’ work.  Then to the important business of food and drink – the main dish is of course Haggis (minced offal and oats cooked with onion and seasoning and served in a sheep’s stomach lining) usually served with neeps and tatties (Parsnips and Potatoes).  Traditionally the meal is served only after a recital of the famous “Address to a Haggis” often accompanied by the sound of the bagpipes in the background.  The dish is of course washed down with some quality single malt scotch whisky!  In more formal quarters the evening is then rounded off with “a toast to the lassies” whereby a male speaker shares his views and words of wisdom on the subject of women followed by what’s now often referred to as the “toast to the laddies” in which a female responds with her insights and anecdotes regarding  the male species!  And all followed with general socialising, drinking and banter that the Scots are so good at.

If you find yourself in Scotland in January, don’t miss out on a chance to experience a Burns Supper and even if you’re not here for Burns Night itself you can still enjoy a traditional Scottish evening in Edinburgh including the piping of the Haggis.

Scottish Festivals is one of “Top Five Reasons to Visit Scotland
For the full poem “Address to a Haggis” click here and to hear some stunning recitals click here.

Remember, remember the fifth of November…

No, it’s not my Birthday –  this is actually the line of a rhyme that all children in Britain know well.  But why should we remember November 5th? I hear you ask.  Well, it’s actually a very important date that could have changed British history and the cityscape of London as we know it today…

Palace of Westminster - Parliament
Palace of Westminster – Houses of Parliament

Renowned in Britain, “Guy Fawkes night” or, as it’s sometimes known, “bonfire night” falls on November fifth each year – it was on this cold and misty November day back in 1605 that Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators attempted to blow up British parliament by planting kegs of gunpowder in the cellars of Westminster Palace. It was a plot to “destabilise” the protestant government of King James by the English Roman Catholics following his savage verbal attack on them previous year.

Fortunately, the plot was foiled; Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding the hoard of explosives which, had they been successfully detonated, could have destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster which was later extended to include Big Ben itself.  Following the failed plot, bonfires were lit across London on the 5th November to celebrate the fact that the King was safe and an effigy of Guy Fawkes was usually thrown on top for good measure.

Bonfire night in England
Bonfire night in England

This slightly grisly tradition endures today; in early November you will often see children asking for a “penny for the Guy” as they assemble their own effigies of old clothes stuffed with newspaper or straw to be thrown on to the local bonfire.   Fortunately however, in recent decades the celebration has become more of a social event with families coming together to attend the huge bonfires of their local community and to enjoy the spectacular organized fireworks displays which accompany  them.

Tradition is something the British do well and to this day when the Queen enters Parliament on her once yearly “State Opening of Parliament” her Guards will search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster just in case there’s a keg of gunpowder down there.  So if you’re here in England in late Autumn, remember the fifth of November and pop down to a bonfire near you!