Following 2012’s bumper year of sporting, cultural and royal events, pride in our own heritage and history and overseas interest in our culture is at an all-time high. Staycationers and international visitors alike will be embracing Englishness , quirks and all, making 2013’s anniversaries of Pride and Prejudice, Doctor Who, and Jack the Ripper (200th, 50th and 125th respectively) , plus the release of Alan Partridge: The Movie, among VisitEngland’s hot picks for next year.
2013’s 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice follows hot on the heels of 2012’s bicentenary of Charles Dickens and the World Shakespeare Festival, creating a thirst for literary tours - or literatours, if you will. Whilst Shakespeare devotees headed for Stratford-upon-Avon and Dickens fans made a pilgrimage to Kent – the author’s childhood home and inspiration for many of his novels, literatours for Austen advocates traverse the country. From Hampshire where Jane was born, to Bath where she lived and drew inspiration for Persuasion and Northanger Abbey and up to Derbyshire, home to Chatsworth House aka Darcy’s Pemberley Lodge.
Keen readers should also head to Norwich, the first English city to be awarded the UNESCO City of Literature and one of only six cities in the world with the permanent accolade. The award was given in recognition of Norwich’s sensational literary past, from the first battlefield dispatch (1075) to the first woman published in English. The city is also home to the largest concentration of published dissenters, revolutionaries and social reformers including Tom Paine and the 30 million bestseller, Anna Sewell, the UK’s first City of Refuge (2006) for persecuted writers and to cap it all, the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, which has the highest number of visitors and users in the UK – by far.
Gardens of Wonder
Gardens are undoubtedly having a moment. The English Garden won Outstanding Contribution to Tourism at the 2012 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, and Chelsea Flower Showis gearing up for its 100th anniversary in 2013. From RHS Wiseleyand Kew Gardens to the formal gardens of stately homes and open private gardens, this is something the English do very well indeed.
2013 marks 125 years since the streets of East London were at the mercy of Jack the Ripper, the unidentified serial killer whose legend is a constant source of dark fascination. Following on from 2012’s 400th anniversary of the Lancashire Witch trials and the opening of the Blackpool Dungeons, this interest in England’s murky past is only increasing.
Visitors with a brave disposition can try a Jack the Ripper walking tour of Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane, a new Gangster tour, a two-hour trip into London’s criminal underworld led by Stephen Marcus, better-known as Nick the Greek in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, or the Battle of Boswoth, a chance to join in a re-enactment of the War of the Roses.
Breaks fit for Royalty
The Kate Middleton effect impacted the fashion world in 2012 and looks set to influence travel choices in 2013. With the fantastic Diamond Jubilee celebrations fresh in everyone’s minds and more milestone events in 2013 – including the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s actual Coronation, the 600th Anniversary of the Coronation of Henry V and the 175th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Victoria – it’s the perfect time to enjoy a regal break.
All those copy-Kates and um, Willabees can enjoy a weekend break at The Westleton Crown, the 12th coaching inn in Suffolk where the newlyweds celebrated their first wedding anniversary, a day trip to Kensington Palace, which will become Kate and Will’s marital home in 2013 following extensive refurbishments, or a tour of Cambridge, the English County of which the royal couple are Duke and Duchess.
This perennial tourism favourite shows no signs of abating. Boosted by the 2012 opening of Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter and the planned expansion of Pinewood Studios - where most of the James Bond films were shot, including Skyfall- set-jetting is more popular than ever.
2013’s contribution to the trend includes the release of Alan Partridge: The Movie, where Steve Coogan reprises his arguably most popular character and certainly Norwich’s most famous son, and Jack the Giant Killer, a Ewan Mcgregor film based on the fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk and filmed largely in Somerset and Norfolk. A continuing favourite is Britmovie Tours’ James Bond experience which takes in 10 famous James Bond locations, including Goldfingers’s golfcourse.