Magnificent 7……Arts & Culture experiences

Visit England has listed 101 Things to do in England before you go abroad. In the Arts & Culture section there are many obvious ones such as Shakespeare’s Stratford, Oxford, Royal Ascot, London’s South Bank etc. NMTBP’s Magnificent 7 picks out some less obvious gems. Why not try one over Bank Holiday weekend?

Watch an open-air play

Carved into a granite cliff face on the southern tip of Cornwall, the Minack Theatre is a wonderfully unique theatrical experience, where audiences soak up opera, classic dramas and musicals in the sunshine or under the stars with the sparking Atlantic Ocean as an aptly dramatic backdrop

The theatre was the brainchild of local woman Rowena Cade, who conceived, helped build and even financed the theatre from 1931 up until her death in 1983. Opening with Shakespeare’s The Tempest back in 1932, the theatre today draws audiences from far and wide with a packed programme filling spring and summer months. Being open air, the English weather always plays a big role, but in true English spirit performances are only cancelled in extreme conditions

Dress up for Bestival

Where else in world can you party at a festival featuring pole-dancing robots, a Wishing Tree Stage, a farmers market, a Bollywood Cocktail Bar, cabaret in the Knees up Tent, a retro-tastic roller disco, an inflatable church and a cinema hidden in the forest? And that wacky list hasn’t even mentioned the chart-topping live music, or the annual fancy dress theme!

Every September, Bestival sends off the English summer with a gloriously eccentric bang. This three-day party on the Isle of Wight sees some of the world’s biggest stars in music and performance head to the south coast island to perform to a welly-wearing crowd of thousands, who’ve travelled from far and wide to experience the festival’s magical and unique atmosphere

Follow in Jane Austen’s footsteps

From its handsome estates and genteel society life to its straw-thatched cottages and time-capsule villages, Jane Austen was inspired by rural Hampshire, setting many of her novels here. Lovers of her subtle, ironic humour and understated prose will relish the chance to follow in her footsteps. Start your journey at the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, where you can browse through her family portraits, stroll through the pretty gardens and admire the desk where she penned such classics as Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion

Austen loved the countryside and the circular walk from Chawton to Farringdon is a great opportunity to see why. Round the day off with a visit to Winchester Cathedral, where she is buried in the north ai

See Banksy’s graffiti

The world’s most notorious graffiti artist might have made his satirical graffiti mark all over the world but Bristol is where it all began. Banksy’s native city has been transformed into one big bold urban gallery

To really get under the skin of Banksy and the city’s street art scene you’ll need to head out of the centre. Stoke’s Croft, the heart of Bristol’s cultural quarter and home to Banksy’s Mild Mild West mural, is a good place to start, but it’s Easton that’s a real mecca for street art fans. Here you’ll find some of his earliest works. Watch out for the Cat and Dog on Foster Street and the famous Masked Gorilla on Fishponds Road. Cameras at the ready!

See the Blackpool Illuminations

Every autumn, Blackpool lights up the Lancashire skies with a sparkling spectacle that will leave you feeling dizzy. You really have to see to believe it. The flamboyant light show has been dazzling crowds since 1912, when 10,000 bulbs were lit to celebrate Blackpool’s first British royal family visit. The Illuminations have lit up Blackpool ever since

Nowadays, more than a million bulbs, lasers and animatronics flash, sparkle and twinkle along six miles of Blackpool’s iconic Promenade from the end of August until November, and they get more extravagant each year. The very best way to experience this electrical extravaganza is to hop on a heritage tram, but be sure to book in advance as tours sell out quickly

Tour Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Lose yourself in an arty wonderland filled with world-class works by contemporary sculptors. This vast expanse of luscious 18th-century parkland is decorated with mesmerising creations by the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Turner Prize-winner Martin Creed and many more

The sculptures are set against the sweeping backdrop of the Bretton Estate’s parkland; as you wander around the swathes of greenery, meet masterpiece after masterpiece, each with its own personality. If there’s rain in the air never fear. As well as the outdoor park there are four indoor galleries to explore, plus talks, tours and family events – and even courses in metal sculpture and stone carving if you fancy having a go at creating a your own personal masterpiece

Have a night on the toon

Geordies are some of the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. Combine that with a cool yet unpretentious arts scene and you’ve got yourself a night out in Newcastle Gateshead to remember

Start the evening with dinner at one of the swishest restaurants in town. Crowning the BALTIC contemporary art gallery, Six’s floor-to-ceiling windows frame the glittering skyline, with the Tyne and Gateshead Millennium bridges heroically stretching across the River Tyne below. Next, hit Toyko Bar to sip on weird and wonderful cocktails before bar hopping along the Diamond Strip, which packs a plethora of clubs and bars into a compact area. For live music, hop back across the river to The Sage, an innovative music venue with an ever-changing programme

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May 01, 2013

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