NEWS

The UK’s largest habitat for world’s rarest lions opens at Chester Zoo

The UK’s largest habitat for world’s rarest lions opens at Chester Zoo

A pride of Asiatic lions have moved into a new home at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has today opened a special new home for a pride of Asiastic lions – the world’s rarest lion species, on the brink of extinction.

The lions have taken their first steps in the new conservation area, which is designed to recreate the environment of the Gir Forest region of India, where the last few hundred Asiatic lions live in the wild.

Lionesses Kumari and Kiburi and adult male Iblis, all aged 12, explored their new home before it opened to the public.

Lioness Kumari

Lioness Kumari

Dave Hall, team manager of carnivores at Chester Zoo, said: This brand new habitat at the zoo – the largest in the UK – really is a fitting new home for them.

“Asiatic lions are impressively built animals, with compact bodies, powerful legs and strong jaws and teeth, making them superb hunters.

“Their retractable claws, which they use for gripping tightly on to prey, can be up to 38mm long and they have rough tongues, like sandpaper, for scraping meat from bones.

“They are truly majestic animals.”

The species is ‘endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List’ of threatened species – meaning it faces a high chance of extinction.

Poaching, human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and disease have caused a catastrophic decline in Asiatic lion populations, which once roamed across Northern Africa, Greece, Turkey and Asia but are now confined to one small region of India.

Around 650 of the lions are thought to remain in the wild and this facility could be a major boost to the European breeding programme for the species.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo’s chief executive officer, said: “This remarkable species is facing a very uncertain future. The European endangered species breeding programme is critically important. If the worst was to happen in the wild, good zoos would be the only thing standing between Asiatic lions and extinction.

“We’re very proud to be able to give the Asiatic lion pride the world’s best conservation breeding facilities. We also hope the new area will help us raise much needed awareness about the plight of Asiatic lions.”

The area – which has been specially created by the zoo’s carnivore experts – spans 4,780 square metres.

Male Iblis and female Kiburi Asiatic lions at Chester Zoo

Male Iblis and female Kiburi

It is a dry forest habitat with raised hilltop viewing points for the pride, heated rocks, a water hole and heated indoor dens, which zoo experts hope will one day be the perfect environment for cubs.

Dr Pilgrim added: “Lions were among the first carnivores cared for here by Chester Zoo’s founder George Mottershead. He was a pioneering animal welfare advocate, who realised his vision for the first ‘zoo without bars’.

“Our ongoing habitat creation programme continues to deliver George’s ‘always building’ philosophy, which has pushed the boundaries of world-class animal welfare and  conservation in zoos.”

Chester Zoo welcomes 1.9 million visitors a year and is the UK’s most visited zoo and England’s most visited tourist attraction outside London.

Asiatic lion facts:

*The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies of the lion which today survives only in India.

*Asiatic lions stand at between 1 and 1.2 metres tall.

*They are the most sociable of the big cats, led by a dominant male who is the only male in the pride who can mate.

*Their long tails with black tufts at the tip help them to balance, communicate their mood and lead other lions through long grass. The tuft hides a sharp spike at the end of the tall, which is their spine.

*Only the males have manes, which are to attract females and intimidate other males.

*They communicate in varied ways like grooming each other and rubbing heads.

*Lions defend their territory by roaring and scent marking. Scents also help a male to discover if a female is in season.

*Asiatic lions spend between 16 and 20 hours each day resting. They have few sweat glands so they wisely tend to conserve their energy.

The ‘World of David Walliams’ is being created at a popular theme park

The ‘World of David Walliams’ is being created at a popular theme park

Work has begun to bring the magic of David Walliams’ books to life at Alton Towers resort

Alton Towers Resort has announced that a David Walliams World will be launched at the UK attraction from Spring 2020.

The partnership with the comedian, actor and best-selling author, will see some of his best-loved characters brought to life at the Staffordshire resort.

The theme park said the project is ‘shrouded in secrecy’ but will centre around the existing Cloud Cuckoo Land area.

Nearly 100 specialists from Alton Towers’ creative team and experts in the latest theme-park technology are working on the project.

It will include:

*A ground-breaking headline attraction

*A number of other attractions and characters across the theme park and within the resort’s hotels.

David Walliams OBE was the UK’s biggest selling author in 2017 and 2018. He began writing children’s books in 2008 and has published 12 novels as well as short story collections and picture books.

He said: “It’s a huge thrill for some of my favourite characters to be getting their own attractions at Alton Towers.

“I can’t wait to experience them for myself and from all the work that has gone in I think people are going to love it. All will be revealed next year.”

The resort has been working with David Walliams and HarperCollins Children’s Books for the past two years on the project and construction work has already begun.

Alton Towers Resort managing director, James Walker said: “We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with David Walliams on what promises to be a hugely exciting addition to Alton Towers Resort in 2020.

“David’s books have really captured the imagination of Britain’s children and their families. So it’s a huge honour to be working with David on this fabulous collaboration for 2020, the year in which we celebrate our 40th birthday as the nation’s favourite theme park.”

 

Sign up to be the first for updates by visiting www.altontowers.com/Walliams or following @AltonTowers across social media.

More information about the arrival of ‘The World of David Walliams’ at Alton Towers will be released soon.

October half-term and Halloween fun – read our guide to the best events and attractions around England

October half-term and Halloween fun – read our guide to the best events and attractions around England

We round-up some of the best half-term and Halloween 2019 events happening around the country

Cornwall

Eden Project

There is a lot happening at the Eden Project for half-term and Halloween between October 19 and November 3, including a puppet cabaret show, a spooky woodland, web-weaving workshops and the chance to create potions in the Eden Cottage.

There will also be ice-skating, pumpkin-carving, an Owl Sanctuary and spooky tales read by professional storytellers.

And there will be a Halloween Disco: Little Monsters’ Ball on October 26.

For more information click here.

Flambards

The Cornish theme park Flambards has science shows and pumpkin trails.

Junior scientists can enjoy slime-making workshops.

And Flambards’ Victorian Village hosts a spooky pumpkin quiz trail.

Plus on October 23, the theme park is staying open late to stage a Halloween Firework Spectacular.

Fireworks at Flambards

Fireworks at Flambards

For more information click here.

Blackpool

Blackpool is a popular destination at this time of year thanks to its famous illuminations.

This free nightly display along the entire length of the promenade – which runs until November 3 – attracts more than three million visitors to the area every year.

But there is plenty more going on as well over half-term including the town’s Lightpool Festival which offers more free entertainment between October 11 and 26.

Blackpool Carvinal of Lights

Blackpool Carvinal of Lights

This features performance and light-based art installations, including a replica planet Earth in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the world premiere of a large-scale Sun in the Winter Gardens and a display of giant illuminated see-saws in the town centre.

Blackpool Tower Projections is also taking place – where Blackpool Tower is bathed in a sea of light, colour and sound as multi-media shows are projected on to the building (from now until November 3).

And there are other shows including Carnival Magic – a puppet and dance show featuring fire breathing robots and a 20-piece band, on October 25 and Pyronix – this Belgian performance group will do a music and fire show on October 26.

For more information click here.

Kent

Dover Castle promises visitors they can descend into a tunnel of terror, and meet a ghost or two on spooky tours over half-term.

Visitors will also be able to have a go at making a menacing mask or witch’s cat to take home.

Events run from October 19 to 27 between 10am and 4pm, for more information click here.

Hampshire

Marwell Zoo in Winchester is putting on a monster trail around its large 140-acre site. Visitors must track down 12 hidden monsters around the zoo, including a panteater, spitopotamus and a scary scornbill.

There is also broomstick-flying with Marwell’s resident and wise old wizard Lowedolf, spooky story telling and optional extras such as wand decorating or monster making for £1 each. The special events are on from October 26 to  November 3.

Read our review of the zoo here.

Paultons Park will have more than 4,000 pumpkins, ghostly scenes, spooky meet and greets, Freaky Fancy Dress competition and a Little Monsters Ball finale to finish each day.

And there is a new Legend of Paultons Manor theatrical show featuring spectacular illusions and slapstick comedy. Book online here.

Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace has half-term Halloween events from October 26 to November 3. There are train rides through a terrifying tunnel, performances in the Great Court and spooky stories in the Cinema.

In addition, the palace has a scarecrow trail for small children and is bringing statues to life inside the Palace.

On November 1, there is a new laser and lighting show in the Great Courtyard, set to music from Star Wars ‘Deep Space and Beyond’. Limited tickets are available, see the website.

Birmingham

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is hosting a Monster Madness Party on Wednesday, October 30, with music, dancing, activities, ghoulish games and prizes. The party runs from 1.45pm to 3.30pm.

Spooky Science Night at Thinktank

Spooky Science Night at Thinktank

At Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, there is a Spooky Science Night on October 31 where you can visit the museum after-hours and try eerie experiments, a silent disco and take in the Science of Fright show.

Thinktank also has Halloween activities throughout the half term week. For more information see the website.

We explain the new trend for ‘gramping’ holidays

We explain the new trend for ‘gramping’ holidays

Popularity for ‘gramping’ with grandchildren soars

There is a a new travel trend known as ‘gramping’.

It sees grandparents taking their grandchildren on holiday – and leaving the parents at home.

The idea is that the older generation get to spend quality time with their grandchildren while making fabulous memories.

And multi-generational holidays are on the increase, according to new research.

Around 64 per cent of families have been on multi-generational holidays or are considering it.

Researchers say its down to grandparents having more disposable income and also a desire to give parents a break.

The resort of Orlando in Florida is one of those seeing a surge in this type of skip-gen (skip a generation) trip.

Disneyland in Florida

The most visited destination in the USA is home to seven of the world’s top theme parks including Disney, Universal and SeaWorld.

So we’ve compiled a list of 10 things to do with grandchilden in Olando.

1 Visit Ollivanders at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter where children can take part in a wand selection ceremony.

2 Go to SeaWorld Orlando’s new Penguin Encounter to meet penguins and take a keepsake photo.

3 Take children for a makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to transform them into knights, Disney princesses or other characters.

4 Spend time with a favourite character like a princess or Mickey Mouse at a Character Dining Experience. Older ones can dine like Disney royalty at the Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room.

5 Grandparents and grandchildren can design a custom crayon together at the Crayola Experience, creating a unique colour and name.

6 Relive childhood amusement park memories with grandchildren at Fun Spot America with wooden rollercoasters, bumper cars and a two-story carousel.

7 Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – introduce children to NASA and space travel beyond a textbook.

8 Check out your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds Celebrity Wax Attraction at ICON Park and take a selfie or two.

9 Learn something new together at the Orlando Science Center and make memories digging for dinosaur bones or braving the strong winds of a hurricane.

10 Enjoy sport together. Try golf at Topgolf, attend sporting events at Exploria Stadium or the Amway Center.

Have you or your children been on a Gramping holiday?

Let us know below!

Airline Ryanair launches an Autumn sale with 25 per cent off a million seats

Airline Ryanair launches an Autumn sale with 25 per cent off a million seats

Ryanair announces ‘Awesome Autumn’ sale on winter and spring flights

Airline Ryanair has today cut the price of a million seats on flights by 25 per cent.

The ‘Awesome Autumn’ sale applies to flights between November (2019) and May (2020).

The offer runs until Sunday, October 13.

Ryanair’s Alejandra Ruiz said: “This week we’re cutting 25 per cent off one million seats across our European network for travel between November and May, so it’s a perfect time to plan a bargain breakaway between these months.

“This amazing offer will end at midnight on Sunday, 13 October so customers should log on quickly and take advantage of this amazing Autumn discount today.”

For more details visit the Ryanair.com website.

Thomas Cook goes bust and all its flights and holidays are cancelled

Thomas Cook goes bust and all its flights and holidays are cancelled

Travel giant Thomas Cook goes into liquidation leaving families stranded abroad and upset over booked holidays

Thomas Cook has collapsed and all flights and holidays booked through the firm have been cancelled.

Thousands of families are stranded abroad and over a million other customers may have lost future bookings.

People flying today have been advised not to travel to airports.

The 178-year-old company ceased trading today (Tuesday) after entering compulsory liquidation due to mounting debts.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has pledged to bring over 150,000 British holidaymakers stuck abroad, home, the county’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation.

Thomas Cook’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser described the collapse as a “matter of profound regret”.

“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years,” he said.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

Thomas Cook statement

Thomas Cook statement

So if you are abroad now or have booked a Thomas Cook flight or holiday what do you do?

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “In general those abroad now will be brought home once their holidays have finished.

“Most who haven’t travelled will have a route to get their cash back, but this unprecedentedly large repatriation and refund operation will not be without problems.

“It’s going to be a stressful time for many people.

“The Government has said all British travellers who were due to fly back within the next two weeks will be brought home free of charge. Those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again. Yet that won’t stop a few uncertain and scared hotelliers overseas wanting money directly from British travellers to be doubly sure. This could leave UK tourists in sticky situations. If so, the Civil Aviation Authority has a helpline which should sort it for you.

“For those who’d booked future trips, ATOL and ABTA schemes should mean full refunds, but some, especially those who booked flights only, may be unprotected. Travel insurance won’t help for most, as travel company failure cover is rarely included as standard – though check your policy or give them a call.

“If you did book without travel industry or insurance protection, the next route is your card provider. Those who paid more than £100 on a credit card get Section 75 legal protection – which means the card firm is jointly liable with the retailer, so you can get your money back from it. However this may not work if you booked via an agency, or via certain Paypal transactions, as that break in the direct transactional relationship can stop it working – we wait to see how widespread that problem will be.

“If that happens, or you paid by debit card, instead ask your bank to do a ‘chargeback’. This isn’t a legal protection – it is a Visa, Mastercard and Amex rule where your bank gets your money back from Thomas Cook’s bank as you didn’t receive what you paid for. It should work for most people. Those who paid by other methods such as cheques or cash have very little protection sadly.”

For updated advice, go to his website here.

LEGOLAND Windsor to open a new ride for young children

LEGOLAND Windsor to open a new ride for young children

Roller coaster coming to one of England’s most popular theme parks

A new roller coaster aimed at pre-school children will open next year at Legoland Windsor.

The theme park is expanding its Duplo Valley area with the Duplo Dream Coaster, especially for visitors aged between two and five.

The roller coaster will open in March 2020 and is part of improvements to Duplo Valley, including work on Duplo Valley Airport and the outdoor play area Brickville.

The new Duplo roller coaster ride at Legoland Windsor

A LEGOLAND Windsor spokesperson said: “The new ride will take children on a journey, exploring their wildest dreams and igniting their imagination.

“Swooping through a topsy turvy wonderland full of colour and a sprinkle of magic, they can be sure they will meet all sorts of cool creatures along the way.”

We’ve got lots of lovely LEGOLAND content for you to enjoy:

LEGOLAND Windsor Resort – read our review and top tips here review and top tips

LEGOLAND Windsor – our 10 top tips to get the most out of your visit

How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Q-Bot Ride Reservation System

Will the home of LEGO live up to children’s expectations on a trip to LEGOLAND in Denmark?

The top 20 family holiday destinations for 2019 have been revealed

The top 20 family holiday destinations for 2019 have been revealed

And a UK destination scoops second place in the new list of great child-friendly holiday locations

The Algarve in Portugal has beaten Cornwall to the title of best family holiday destination, according to a new study.

Research from insurer Columbus Direct puts the Portuguese region at the top of a European list for summer breaks.

Cornwall, in second spot, is the top UK destination, followed by Majorca, Corsica and Tenerife.

The study considered factors like hotels, child friendly restaurants, flight time and children’s activities in assessing the best destinations.

Stuart Lloyd, Travel Insurance Expert at Columbus Direct, said: “It is great to see so many destinations provided by our European neighbours that cater to families on holiday and help make parents’ choice far easier and stress-free.

“It is also great to see Cornwall appear as one of the top places to go to as a family, with the rise of the staycation and also for those outside of the UK wanting to holiday here.”

The company analysed destinations within a five-hour flight time of London and scored each out 100.

The Algarve, awarded 78 out of 100, is known for its golden beaches, picturesque fishing towns and soaring caves.

The Algarve wins best family holiday 2019

The Algarve

It attracts around four million visitors a year and boasts waterparks, zoos and boat trips to see wild dolphins.

It can be reached in under three hours from London and the city centre is just 7km away from the airport. The study found it to have 275 family-friendly hotels.

Second-place Cornwall, which scored 64 out of 100, is known for its beautiful beaches, waves and entertainment and has a huge 437 child-friendly activities, according to the study.

Cornwall is second best for family holidays

Beautiful Cornwall

Spain and Greece were the countries found to have the most family-friendly locations such as the popular islands of Majorca and Rhodes.

The full list of the top 20 family holiday destinations is:

1) Algarve

2) Cornwall

3) Majorca

4) Corsica

5) Tenerife

6) Costa Brava

7) Rhodes

8) Corfu

9) Gran Canaria

10) Amalfi Coast

11) Malta

12) Ibiza

13) Menorca

14) Zante

15) Lanzarote

16) Malaga

17) Madeira

18) Halkidiki

19) Mykonos

20) Fuerteventura

What do you think? Let us know your favourite destination in Europe.

Competition launches to find a UK family to win three all-inclusive holidays

Competition launches to find a UK family to win three all-inclusive holidays

Winning family will go on three all-inclusive holidays for free

Described as the ‘ultimate family job’ – Club Med is offering one family the chance to review three of their resorts around the world.

The winning family will be able to choose from sunshine trips or ski holidays and will also receive £500.

The advert reads:

Wanted: One UK family to go on three all-inclusive holidays for free.

Requirements: Review the resorts and activities. Pay: £500.

To enter, pick your favourite family holiday photo and share it with Club Med UK on social media by tagging @ClubMedUK on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ultimatefamilyjob.

Entries close on September 30, 2019.

Details how to apply and terms and conditions can be found here.

Top five tips for families going glamping this year

Top five tips for families going glamping this year

A glamping website reveals its top five tips to make your family’s holiday a success – plus the most popular option to stay in

If your children are desperate to go camping but you’re not keen – why not try glamorous camping or ‘glamping’.

It’s a way to enjoy the great outdoors but in style – but without all the hard work and with a comfortable bed and bathroom facilites!

And Glampsites.com says an increasing number of their clients are picking yurts ahead of glamping pods (main picture) for their UK breaks this year.

Yurts

Yurts are getting more popular

Tara Laird, from Glampsites.com, said: “When Glampsites.com began taking online bookings in September 2017, the glamping pod was a stand-alone favourite, dominating the vast majority of all bookings.

“However, although as popular as ever, glamping pods now face some healthy competition with holiday makers demanding not just a stay but an experience.

“Yurts are a burgeoning structure within the glamping industry, and they just keep getting better. Competition continues to drive the market forward, and with every yurt that adds an outdoor pizza oven, another adds a wood fired hot tub.”

The company has now compiled a list of advice for families planning a glamping holiday.

1. Compile a check list

No two yurts or glamping pods are the same, so conduct thorough research and planning to make sure exactly what is in your yurt, outside your yurt, and more importantly, what is not, so you can bring that equipment with you.

2. Prepare for a rainy day

Just in case the weather is bad, bring some board games. If you can’t quite bring yourself to leave iPads or tablets at home, maybe keep them in the car until you really need them for wet weather entertainment.

3. Get back to nature

The beauty of a yurt holiday is getting back to nature, so don’t try to cram in too many activities. Just sit back and appreciate your surroundings.

4. Scope out the area

Yurts are often in rural areas and undisturbed surroundings. But after a day or two you may need to get out and about so do a little research and check out things to do nearby for children.

5. Be willing to disconnect

Most yurts don’t have WiFi, so the advice is to embrace the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world and recharge.

For yurt holidays go to Glampsites.com

 

An English airport reopens to passenger flights after 26 years

An English airport reopens to passenger flights after 26 years

Passenger planes fly again from Carlisle Lake District Airport

The first passenger flight since 1993 has taken off from Carlisle Lake District Airport to the delight of families in the area and those wanting to holiday there.

The airport, serving Cumbria and southwest Scotland, has been transformed with a new and modern terminal, a Borderlands Cafe and new runways and taxiways.

Scottish airline Loganair will fly to Belfast City Airport, Dublin and London Southend Airport from the airport.

It started out as an RAF airfield and once had scheduled services from Heathrow.  But it has had no passenger flight since 1993.

Owned and run by the Stobart Group, it opens Cumbria and the Lake District region up to the South East of England, Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland.

Cumbria is a hugely popular tourist hotspot with families – 47 million people visited in 2018 and tourism contributes £3 billion to the local economy per year.

Gill Haigh, Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “Just imagine being in a busy central London office on a Friday afternoon and then dipping your toes in the lake as you enjoy the sunset over the stunning Lakeland fells later that same evening.”

Carlisle Lake District Airport exterior

The airport is near to two World Heritage Sites – the Lake District National Park and Hadrian’s Wall.

The London connection is also expected to be used by staff working for BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness and the Sellafield nuclear site.

Jonathan Hinkles, managing director at Loganair, said: “These three routes will be a complete game-changer for the region’s connectivity with London and Ireland – extremely beneficial for the business community and highly convenient for tourists booking breaks to the Lake District.”

Loganair will use 33-seater Saab 340B aircraft to operate the flights, with nine return services on weekdays and five at weekends.

Passengers will be offered a free minibus ride to and from Carlisle city centre.

Fares via www.loganair.co.uk, to Belfast City start from £39.99 and to Dublin and London Southend from £44.99 – including 20kg of baggage allowance.

 

Petition launched for dedicated family lounges at UK airports

Petition launched for dedicated family lounges at UK airports

Call to improve airport facilities for families with children

A campaign has been launched calling for UK airports to provide dedicated family lounges, to make flying with children easier.

It follows research which reveals more than a third of parents feel airports across the country do not do enough to cater for them and their children.

What should an airport family lounge include?

Those surveyed said they would like family lounges to include a soft play area, more family seating and an area for them to relax while children play.

Parents would also like to see a film zone playing children’s movies, a napping zone and a kitchenette to heat up or prepare food, plus an interactive educational area about airports and aeroplanes.

Luxury villa specialist Oliver’s Travels launched the petition for family lounges following their own poll, along with research carried out by survey consultants Censuswide.

One in five people surveyed said that trying to keep the family entertained is one of the most stressful parts of the airport process.

And 95 per cent of parents think that a dedicated family lounge would improve their experience at UK airports.

Three out of four families even said they would be willing to pay up to £45 per family for entry.

Oliver’s Travels owner Oliver Bell hopes the petition will encourage UK airports to cater to the needs of families after finding that 90 per cent feel they are the least considered travellers.

“The airport is the first stage for our families beginning their holiday experience,” he said.

“We want to ensure that families have the best overall holiday experience and our research clearly shows that airports play an integral role in making that happen, with families nationwide reinforcing that it impacts on the overall enjoyment of their holiday.

“We want to work collectively with the wider travel industry to improve and develop the family travel offering and experience, from families leaving the house to arriving at their chosen villa, and are looking forward to seeing more airports pledge their commitment and consider implementing aspects of this across the UK.”

To sign the petition click here.

Best family holiday resorts and locations revealed at the World Travel Awards

Best family holiday resorts and locations revealed at the World Travel Awards

The best places to take your children have been unveiled at the World Travel Awards

The top resorts and locations for family travel have been recognised at the World Travel Awards with success for Greece, Portugal and the UK.

The Algarve in Portugal has won Europe’s Leading Beach Destination for the sixth time.

And the top family resort in Europe has been named as Sani Resort in Greece.

Mriya Resort and Spa in Crimea has won the luxury family resort title.

The top theme park in Europe was Legoland Windsor. Walt Disney World in Florida was named best theme park in North America.

João Fernandes, president of Algarve Tourism Bureau, said it was an historic win for the area in the best beach category.

He said: “We are delighted to win the award for the sixth time, and to make history in this way.

“The Algarve is blessed with a wide variety of beaches from small secluded bays to sweeping expanses of white sand.

“The calmer beaches are perfect for younger children who love to pick clams in the wet sand, or play in the small waves, whilst older children adore all the watersports on offer such as surfing and bodyboards.

“And parents appreciate the great restaurants on the beaches, medical help points and serviced sunbeds.”

Here is a list of the top family travel winners:

Europe’s Leading Family Resort – Sani Resort, Greece

Europe’s Leading Family and Wellness Resort – Pullman Timi Ama, Sardinia

Europe’s Luxury Family Resort – Mriya Resort and Spa, Crimea

Europe’s Leading Theme Park Resort – Legoland Windsor

Europe’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort – Pestana Porto Santo

Europe’s Leading Beach Resort – Quinta Do Lago, Portugal

Europe’s Leading Beach Destination – The Algarve

North America’s Leading Theme Park Resort – Walt Disney World, Florida

North America’s Leading Family Resort – Four Seasons Resort, Whistler, Canada

Middle East Leading Family Resort – JA Beach Hotel, Dubai

Caribbean’s Leading All-Inclusive Family Resort – Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa.

Africa’s Leading Family Resort – Leopard Beach Resort and Spa, Kenya

The World Travel Awards were launched in 1993 to recognise the the best destinations, hotels and resorts across the globe.

Visit their website for a full list of winners.

May half-term 2019 holiday ideas to keep your children entertained

May half-term 2019 holiday ideas to keep your children entertained

Battling knights, hot air balloons and flamenco dancing are among the events on this half-term across the country

Visit England have put together some of their top recommendations for the week-long break:

National Trust activities

There’s a variety of special events at National Trust properties across the country.

Visitors can be a ranger for the day on Brownsea Island in Dorset where you can go tree climbing, search for coastal creatures and take a family-friendly nature walk.

There’s bug house building at Lyford Gorge in Devon, where you can learn basic woodcraft skills and make your own wooden mallet.

Children hunting for bugs

Bug hunting

At Barrington Court, in Somerset you can visit a woodcarvers’ workshop and paint a hand-cut, solid wood decoration.

Knights’ Tournament at English Heritage sites

From May 25 to 30, watch rival knights demonstrate their archery and swordsmanship skills at five English Heritage sites.

The events are on at Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire; Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire; and Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire. Prices vary per property.

Visitors can get a glimpse of medieval life in encampments, try on knight’s armour and see the cooking and the weapon repairs which were part of life at camp.

Wannabe warriors can join in with drills out on the field and get a taste of medieval combat in the kids’ battle.

Festivals

Sky High (May 27 to 30)

This is a hot air balloon festival on the Isle of Wight – more than 40 hot air balloons will take to the skies at Robin Hill – visitors can meet the pilots, walk inside the balloons and win the chance to take a flight.

Plus there’s kite making and flying workshops for children.

child flying a kite in a blue sky

On May 27 and 29 visitors can also see the balloons at twilight in a sound and light production called Night Glow.

Prices from £23.00, go to the website.

Feria de Londres, London South Bank (May 24 to 26)

Inspired by Southern Spain’s traditional spring fairs, this event celebrates Spanish cuisine and entertainment.

There will be Sevillana dance lessons and flamenco rhythm workshops plus family-friendly activities. Entry is free. Go to https://www.feriadelondres.com/

Nature Festival, Gilbert White’s House and Gardens Hampshire (May 26)

There will be stalls, talks, activities and a 24-hour bioblitz with local wildlife experts and organisations to remember the work of Gilbert White – a pioneering 18th century English naturalist and ornithologist.

Adults £10, children £15, go to the website.

Fairyland Fair, Bradmoor Woods in Norfolk (May 26 and 27)

A fairytale-themed fair featuring a magic workshop, a fairy queen and a dressing up competition.

There’s music, food, drink and entertainment including bands, story tellers, craft stalls and walkabout performers, plus games, Maypole dancing, competitions and woodland trails.

Early bird tickets £7.50 each, then £9 per person (family Tickets £28/£34), under-threes free, go to the website.

Mudeford Seafood Festival at picturesque Mudeford Quay in Christchurch, Dorset (May 25 to 27)

This new festival is a family-focused celebration of seafood.

There will be cooking demonstrations, entertainment, local celebrities, musicians and more.

It is free, visit the website.

Happy half-term everyone, have fun whatever you do!

New Harry Potter, Lego and Star Wars rides opening in Orlando plus lots more for children

New Harry Potter, Lego and Star Wars rides opening in Orlando plus lots more for children

America’s Orlando is opening a host of new rides and areas for visitors to enjoy this summer.

Orlando in Florida is already one of the world’s most visited family destinations.

It is home to seven theme parks and 450 hotels and welcomed 75 million visitors last year.

And a host of new rides and areas are opening for children to enjoy this year, it has been revealed.

Harry Potter

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is a ride which takes visitors into the Forbidden Forest made famous in JK Rowling’s books.

Harry Potter fans can board flying motorbikes and with Hagrid as guide, travel through the forest seeing fantastic beasts.

It opens on June 13 (2019) at Universal Orlando Resort, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Star Wars

Disney World Resort has a new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area with two new rides and character meet-and-greets.

It is set on the planet Batuu and also has shops and a restaurant. It will be up and running on August 29 (2019).

Cars

A new live show based around the Cars film series is opening at Hollywood Studios, Disney World, called Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. It features characters including Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater.

Lego Movie

Legoland Florida Resort has launched Lego Movie World.

The new addition features three new attractions based on worlds within the film.

Animals

Animal lovers can enjoy a new 75-acre safari park at Wild Florida with more than 100 Floridian animals to spot.

The new safari park makes the park six times bigger. Guests can drive their own vehicles or ride on a guided buggy tour. There will also be a zip-line/zip wire so visitors can fly over the park.

Sesame Street

Other new additions to the city include a Sesame Street section at Sea World celebrating the TV programme’s 50th anniversary and popular characters taking part in the daily parade.

NBA

The NBA Experience opens at Disney Springs on August 12, with 13 hands-on games and activities for basketball fans

Expansions

The theme park expansions mean that 2019 could be one of the busiest summers for Orlando tourist bosses.

Visit Orlando President George Aguel said: ”Orlando is always innovating, with immersive new experiences and unbeatable hospitality that keeps visitors returning year after year.”

“It’s this memorable combination that keeps Orlando the most-visited destination in the country, with a record 75 million visitors in 2018.”

Have you been to Orlando? What did your children like best? Tell us below.

The 25 best family-friendly cities to take your children, revealed

The 25 best family-friendly cities to take your children, revealed

Madrid tops a new list of the best destinations for families around the world

Madrid has been ranked as the best family-friendly capital city in a new survey, followed by London, Paris and Berlin.

Holiday company Club Med compiled the list using factors including the average cost of a break, total visits, social media posts and attitude of the locals.

Madrid

Madrid

The Spanish capital topped the list – it was third for the average spend per day (£74 – with the average meal price of £9.50), first for the number of UK visitors and has a happiness score of 6.31 out of 10.

London came second and was the most ‘instagrammable’ destination on the list – it lost points for how expensive it is with an average meal price of £15.

Other popular places included Bangkok, Abu Dhabi and Washington DC.

Spain had more than double the number of British visitors in 2018 than the next most popular country, France.

Nathalie Drew, Marketing Director at Club Med said: “Wherever you choose to spend quality time with your family, the simple fact that you’re all together is a good start.

“We want people to have unforgettable family holidays, with fond memories from beginning to end.”

Here is the full list. See what you think.

The top 25 ultimate family holiday capital cities are:

  1. Madrid
  2. London
  3. Paris
  4. Berlin
  5. Bangkok
  6. Vienna
  7. Budapest
  8. Stockholm
  9. Abu Dhabi
  10. Lisbon
  11. Amsterdam
  12. Helsinki
  13. Hong Kong
  14. Brussels
  15. Copenhagen
  16. New Delhi
  17. Ottawa
  18. Washington DC
  19. Luxembourg City
  20. Dublin
  21. Rome
  22. Bern
  23. Oslo
  24. Canberra
  25. Tokyo

Have you been to any of them, what did you think?

Top tips to avoid falling victim to travel fraud when booking your family holiday

Top tips to avoid falling victim to travel fraud when booking your family holiday

How to avoid being scammed by fraudsters when booking flights and accommodation

The top tips to avoid falling victim to travel fraud have been revealed, after research showed more than 5,000 holidaymakers were scammed last year.

Travel association ABTA and Get Safe Online have published their advice after UK travellers lost £7 million in 2018 to fraudsters.

Half of the scams related to non-existent airline tickets with another 25 per cent of the tricks affecting accommodation which people had booked. The average loss was £1,300.

Here are the guidelines to keep your family safe when booking your holiday.

*Check the web address – make sure the address you are booking from hasn’t been altered from .com or .co.uk to something slightly different like .org

*Research thoroughly – check multiple reviews, don’t rely on just one, to find out whether a company is genuine. This is important on accommodation sites in particular.

*Is the company registered – look for the ABTA or ATOL logos to make sure the company is linked to a trade body.

*Use a credit card – always pay by credit card if you can. Avoid sending money directly to a person’s bank account.

*Paperwork – scan the small print on receipts and terms and conditions to avoid hidden traps. All companies should provide terms and conditions so be worried if there aren’t any.

*Follow your instincts – if a price is too good then it probably isn’t legitimate so use your common sense.

What to do if you have been scammed?

*Report it as soon as possible to Action Fraud via www.actionfraud.police.uk.

For further advice on how to stay safe when booking or researching travel online, go to https://www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/holiday-and-travel-booking/

For a full list of tips to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, please see:  http://abta.com/fraud.

Our top Easter 2019 events and activities for children and families around the country

Our top Easter 2019 events and activities for children and families around the country

Inspiration to keep your children entertained this Easter – read our pick of the best family events around the country

Cheshire

Search for the lost words of childhood at Lyme Park in Cheshire, the National Trust site famous for being the place where the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation was filmed.

The Lost Words trail offers families the chance to help reclaim words like bramble and conker which have disappeared from the dictionary in favour of chatroom and broadband. Words are hidden all around the expansive gardens. You can collect your Lost Words booklet from the ticket office for £2.50.

London

Probably the highest Easter egg hunt in the country will be at The View from The Shard in London.

From April 6 to 22, visitors will be able to search for six giant Easter eggs placed in key parts of the capital’s skyline. The children’s task is to mark their findings on a worksheet with facts and stats on some of these historical London sites.

There are also family friendly games, Easter-themed entertainment and regular visits from the Easter Bunny.

Family tickets are available from £50 for two adults and two children.

Cornwall

Cornwall’s popular Eden Project has an Easter of farming-themed activities.

Down at the Farm will run from April 6 to 25 highlighting the importance of soil, crops and agriculture.

There are two trails for visitors to follow as well as The Great Eden Egg Hunt which sees dozens of patterned eggs hidden throughout the site.

Plus there will be wellie wanging and Eden storytellers.

Children will be given a card when they arrive to collect stamps during their day, which can be exchanged for a treat.

Yorkshire

There is a pirate-themed treasure trail egg hunt around Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire over the Easter weekend, April 19 to 22.

A pirate prepares for the egg hunts at Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire

Pirate egg hunts at Lightwater Valley

Children can follow clues on a treasure map to find letters around the park in order to spell out a word and collect a chocolate prize.

There will be pirate-themed face painting and an Outer Space-themed puppet show, with two shows a day throughout the holidays from Saturday, April 6 to Sunday, April 28.

Riggmoor Farm will be at the park throughout the school holidays giving visitors the chance to meet lambs, calves, donkeys, an alpaca, rabbits, chicks and chickens and pygmy goats.

Windsor

There are two new rides opening this Easter at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort. From April 13, Lord Vampyre’s Haunted House takes visitors to a banquet table which comes to life and turns the room upside down.

There is also the new LEGO MOVIE 2 Experience to see. Visitors can explore a movie set similar to the one used in the film and see Emmet, Wyldstyle and friends in their hometown of Apocalypseburg.

Kent

Chiddingstone Castle in Kent has a Funny Bunny Easter Hunt. Pick up a clue sheet to help find all the Easter bunnies which have been hidden around the castle grounds (April 14 to 17 and April 21 to 24). The clue sheets will be available from the front desk for £2.

Portsmouth

If you fancy a spectacular view this Easter you can head up the Emirates Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth waterfront city throughout the school holidays. Bing and Flop from CBeebies will be making an appearance on April 13 and 20. There are meet and greet sessions at hourly intervals through the day, which are included in the standard admission prices.

Surrey

One of the biggest RHS Gardens at Wisley has a busy Easter programme including face painters, storytellers, a puppet show and a spring trail to discover the garden’s hidden displays. The garden is open from 10am (9am at weekends) to 6pm and the events are included in normal garden admission (April 5 to 22, 10.30am to 4.30pm).

Bristol

There are plenty of events around the Bristol area.

You can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian metalworking at SS Great Britain’s Kingdom for its Forge Easter event from April 12 to 22.

At Berkeley Castle, there’s a traditional Easter bunny and egg trail, as well as a Dragon extravaganza over the Bank Holiday weekend.

You can decorate Easter baskets and hanging decorations at Somerset Rural Life Museum’s Family Fun Day on April 18.

Cheddar Gorge & Caves is hosting an Easter trail underground where children can hunt for glow in the dark eggs, from April 6 to 22.

Glow in the dark eggs at Cheddar Gorge

Glow in the dark eggs at Cheddar Gorge

 

And free chocolate is on offer for every child who visits Avon Valley Railway this Easter, to mark the return of the old Fry’s chocolate factory steam locomotive between April 19 and 22.

National Trust sites across the country

The National Trust is hosting their annual Cadbury Easter Egg hunts at over 260 sites around the country. These popular trails for children end with a chocolate treat. The trails cost between £2 and £4.50 per child on top of National Trust entry. For more information, see our full story Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 2019.

Which events do you recommend this Easter? Let us know in the comments below!

An airline has become the first in the UK to be officially recognised as autism-friendly

An airline has become the first in the UK to be officially recognised as autism-friendly

British Airways has become the first UK airline to be hailed autism-friendly.

Flying abroad can be hard work for all parents but for the mums and dads of children with autism, the experience is often harder.

So British Airways has been making improvements to help make the travel experience easier for those on the autistic spectrum.

And today the airline has become the first in the UK to be officially recognised as autism-friendly by the National Autistic Society.

The award was revealed on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2).

British Airways has been working closely with a number of specialist charities, including the National Autistic Society and has implemented numerous enhancements.

These include working on a social story to help explain the travel process for customers with autism and other hidden disabilities.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “We welcome nearly half a million customers who require special assistance each year and we’ll be prioritising further improvements for these customers throughout our centenary year.

“This includes a new, specialist team in our customer contact centres, accessible information on ba.com and further training for colleagues.

“We also understand that our customers with autism often find new environments stressful and overwhelming and that’s why we’re creating a step-by-step guide of the British Airways journey experience, which I’m looking forward to sharing with customers very soon.”

British Airways employee offers special aasistance to air passengers

Tom Purser, National Autistic Society’s Head of Campaigns and Public Engagement, said: “The airline has worked hard to achieve our prestigious Autism Friendly Award, making changes to staff training, the kind of information available to customers and the process of getting on and off a British Airways aircraft.”

Earlier this year, British Airways launched its ‘Beyond Accessibility’ campaign, its biggest ever global accessibility training programme for staff.

The airline also endorses the ‘Sunflower’ hidden disability lanyard, a subtle way for customers to let British Airways customer service agents know they have a hidden disability and may require extra help.

Have you found an airline to be autism-friendly? Or do you have any bad experiences to share? Get in touch below, we’d love to hear from you.

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 2019 – all you need to know about this year’s National Trust trails

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts 2019 – all you need to know about this year’s National Trust trails

The popular Cadbury Easter Egg hunts will be held at over 260 National Trust sites for 2019

What are they?

The National Trust/Cadbury Easter egg hunts take place every year and prove really popular with young children and families (us included).

This year (2019) there will be trails at over 260 National Trust sites around the country.

The children are usually given a map and follow a trail around the grounds or through an historic house.

At some sites they may have to find letters to fill in on their sheet and solve an anagram, other times they have to find bunnies or eggs or answer clues – we sometimes attend two or three over Easter and each is different (yes we love them that much)!

The trust links up with Cadbury to provide chocolate prizes at the end of the hunts.

When is it?

Most hunts only run on the Easter weekend (April 19-22) from Good Friday to Easter Monday. At some larger sites, the hunts are on throughout the Easter holidays. If you are going outside of the Easter weekend then check in advance that a hunt is on via the website.

How much does it cost?

If you are a National Trust member, the sites are free to enter. Each Easter egg hunt does cost extra, usually between £2 and £5.50 per child.

Non-National Trust members must pay the admission price plus the egg hunt cost on top.

If you aren’t a member, choose a smaller site to do your hunt as it will be cheaper to get in.

What do you get?

All hunts end with a chocolate-based prize. This is usually a medium-sized Cadbury Easter egg or chocolate bunny, sometimes the children can select their prize from a box or pack.

When is the best time to go?

It is the busiest time of the year for many National Trust places so these sites get very busy if the weather is dry.

The best time to go is as soon as the sites open (usually between 10am and 11am). Alternatively consider going at the end of the day (last hunt times are usually 4pm) but be warned it has been known for sites to run out of eggs as prizes.

Can I park?

Unless you arrive early or late in the day, be prepared to queue to park your car or to park outside the grounds and walk. Consider a public transport alternative if there is one available.

What are the options?

With 260 places around the UK, there will be something fairly near to everyone. Below is a selection of the places available.

London

Nine locations including Osterley Park and house. Hunt costs differ at each site from £2 to £4.50.

Example hunt: Fenton Gardens. The closest site to central London where the trail goes through a sunken garden, ancient orchard and across lawns. Timed tickets on entry which are issued from 11am. Cost £3.

Birmingham

Nine locations within 20 miles of Birmingham.

Example hunt: Moseley Old Hall in Wolverhampton. You must complete a nature trail to find all the missing pieces and claim a prize. Cost £2.50

Manchester

Nine sites within 30 miles of the city. Hunts cost £2.50 to £4 per child.

Example hunt: Biddulph Grange Garden. Follow a trail through tunnels, around hedges and along woodland paths to find the clues. Cost £2.50. The car park gets full fairly quickly.

Leeds

Six sites within less than 30 miles.

Example hunt: Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. Find all the giant eggs, nests and feathers on the bird detective family trail to claim your chocolate treat. Costs £2.50

Bristol

Four sites within 30 miles of Bristol.

Example hunt: Prior Park Landscape Garden, Somerset. Follow a trail around the garden to find a bird with their nests to receive a prize at the end. Cost £2.50.

Glasgow

Four sites within 10 miles of the city centre.

Example hunt: Greenbank Garden. Follow a bunny’s clues and complete an adventure to win a chocolatey prize. Cost £2.

Cardiff

Two sites close to the city with four more between 40 and 50 miles away.

Example hunt: Tredegar House. Staff have hidden different types of eggs around the garden and visitors need to find them and work out who they belong to Cost £2.50.

Newcastle

Six sites within 20 miles of the city.

Example hunt: Washington Old Hall has a garden nature trail with clues to solve for visitors. Cost £2.50

Norwich

Nine sites around Norfolk and Suffolk to explore with hunts and prizes.

Example hunt: The theme this year is the butterflies and moths found at the estate. The hunt takes place around the springtime garden. Cost £2.50.

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt extra information

Where is your favourite site for an Easter Egg hunt?

Cadbury Easter Egg Hunt logo

The number of school holiday fines in England, DOUBLES over one year

The number of school holiday fines in England, DOUBLES over one year

Parents who take their children out of school in term-time for a family holiday are now much more likely to be fined.

The number of school holiday fines dished out to parents in England has doubled over the space of one year.

The penalties given to parents taking children out of state schools for holidays, rose to nearly 223,000 in 2017-2018, from 111,5000 a year earlier.

Over 260,000 penalty notices were issued, but just over a tenth were withdrawn.

The 93 per cent rise, shown in Department for Education (DfE) statistics, demonstrates a clamping down by councils since a Supreme Court ruling in their favour in 2017.

Parent Jon Platt had challenged a £60 fine issued by Isle of Wight local authority when he took his daughter to Florida for a week without school permission. The fine was upheld following a two-year legal battle.

The standard fine for unauthorised absence is £60 per child, rising to £120 if it’s not paid within 21 days and after 28 days, parents can be prosecuted.

There were 19,518 prosecutions in England in 2017-18 for non-payment of the fines, up from 13,324 the year before.

The DfE changed unauthorised holidays rules five years ago.

Before that families had often been allowed to take up to two weeks holiday in term time, if their children had a good attendance record.

But since September 2013, headteachers can only authorise term-time absences in “exceptional” circumstances.

The rules in England

When can your child miss school?

You can only allow your child to miss school if :

*They are too ill to go in

*You have got advance permission from the school

(Extra support is available if a child can’t go to school for long periods because of a health problem).

Permission

You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.

You can only do this if:

*You make an application to the head teacher in advance.

*There are exceptional circumstances.

It is up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted.

The rules in:

Wales

Schools in Wales are allowed to grant pupils up to 10 days absence for a family holiday during term time.

Scotland

In Scotland there are no fines but the government says schools will not normally give a family permission to take pupils out of school for trips.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland term time holidays are considered unauthorised absences, but there are no fines.

*Does your school fine parents for taking their children out of school in term-time? Have you been fined? Tell us below.

 

Families will soon be able to fly to the Lake District and Carlisle

Families will soon be able to fly to the Lake District and Carlisle

Families will soon be able to travel more quickly to and from the popular Lake District and the rest of Cumbria

Commercial passenger flights are to be run from Carlise Lake District Airport for the first time in over 25 years.

From Thursday, July 4 (2019), there will be flights connecting Carlisle and the Lake District with the South East of England (London Southend Airport), Northern Ireland (Belfast City Airport) and the Republic of Ireland (Dublin Airport).

The airport, owned by the Stobart Group, has teamed up with Scotland’s airline Loganair.

Loganair plane

It is six miles east of Carlisle city and the M6 and is a gateway to the Lake District National Park, the Pennines, South West Scotland and Border regions.

The Lake District already attracts 45 million visitors a year. And now families from further afield will be able to enjoy its famous scenery.

Fares to Belfast City start from £39.99 and to Dublin and London Southend from £44.99.

Stobart Group’s Kate Willard said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of commercial and business flights at Carlisle Lake District Airport on Thursday, 4 July.

“The last commercial flights at Carlisle Lake District Airport were in 1993 and we are chuffed that we are bringing them back to the region for the first time in more than 25 years.”

Jonathan Hinkles of Loganair, said: “We’re extremely pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale linking Carlisle Lake District airport with Dublin, Belfast and London Southend.

“These air services will significantly benefit the overall Carlisle and Borderlands region, attracting thousands of tourists and enhancing connectivity for those wishing to do business at both ends of the routes.

Scotland’s airline Loganair is based in Glasgow. Services to and from Carlisle Lake District Airport will be operated by 33-seat Saab 340B aircraft.

These are  ideally suited to short commuter journeys and form the mainstay of Loganair’s fleet

Tickets are already available via www.loganair.co.uk.

English Heritage reveals its top Easter events across England for families to enjoy

English Heritage reveals its top Easter events across England for families to enjoy

What would your children like to do this Easter? Make plans with these ideas from English Heritage.

English Heritage has unveiled a host of glorious treats for families to enjoy this Easter.

Children can hunt for dragon eggs at more than 20 sites, explore the forts of Hadrian’s Wall, stroll through blooming spring gardens and enjoy popular falconry events.

And Whitby Abbey – the place where the date of Easter was decided – reopens to the public in April, following a £1.6 million update.

Events include: 

Easter Adventure Quest

Where: Over 20 sites around the country, including Audley End House and Gardens, Essex; Beeston Castle and Woodland Park, Cheshire; Walmer Castle and Gardens, Kent; and Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire. *Full list at the bottom of the article.

What: An Easter egg hunt with a difference – search for hidden dragon eggs at stunning historic sites around the country.

Crack the clues as you make your way along the trails, with a certificate, sticker and chocolate treat in store for victorious questers.

When: Saturday, April, 6 to Monday, April 22 (dates vary by property) .

Cost: £1 per child (in addition to standard admission prices).

Children hunt on an Easter hunt with English Heritage

An Easter quest with English Heritage

Wallpaper Tours

Where: Wrest Park, Bedfordshire.

What: Marvel at centuries-old art in the stunning wallpaper rooms of Wrest Park. Step into the French chateau-inspired house to take part in one of the exclusive tours. See the intricate, 18th-century hand-painted wallpaper of the Chinese Room, and the vibrant scenes of a mythical city in the French Room. Wrest Park’s knowledgeable volunteer guides will be on hand to share their fascinating histories.

When: Sunday April, 7.

Cost: £14.30 adult, £13.20 concessions, £9.80 child (advance booking recommended).

 

Spring Quest and Craft

Where: Kenwood, London.

What: Let the neoclassical villa Kenwood inspire your creativity as you take part in seasonal workshops exploring the house and gardens. Families can take part in different arts and crafts activities ranging from making animal masks through to creating your own seasonal treat boxes.

When: Tuesday, April 16 to Wednesday, April 17.

Cost:  £2 per child.

 

Falconry

Where: Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire.

What: Be awed by the skills of expert falconers as you wander the grounds of this medieval abbey. Discover the tales of priests, bishops and monks who broke their vows to go hawking and hear how the abbey’s coffers were boosted by hunting with birds of prey. Stop by the medieval-style hawk house to see some of them up close and quiz the falconers. See the birds in action at displays throughout the weekend which will show how hawks and falcons hunt in the air and on the ground.

A bird of prey at Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

Falconry at Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire

When: Friday, April 19 to Monday, April 22.

Cost: £9.40 adult, £8.50 concessions, £5.60 child and £24.40 family.

 

St George’s Festival

Where: Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

What: At the country’s biggest St George’s Day celebration, you will experience an energetic retelling of the story of England. Bring all the family to Wrest Park for a weekend of shows, battle re-enactments, games and performances. See a medieval joust, cheeky jester, Roman display of infantry featuring two cavalry riders and take part in 2019 Second World War activities. There promises to be plenty to keep children entertained including have-a-go circus skills, Victorian games, junior jousting, a First World War obstacle course and interactive music workshops.

St George and the dragon at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

St George and the dragon

The highlight of the weekend is England’s most legendary battle – watch as the gallant St George takes on his fiery nemesis in the ultimate showdown. Wander Elizabethan and English Civil War encampments to see, smell and hear what life was like for people hundreds of years ago as Wrest Park celebrates England’s patron saint in one glorious weekend.

When: Saturday, April 27 to Sunday, April 28.

Cost: £18.50 adult, £16.70 concessions, £11.10 child, £48.10 family.

 

Events at Stonehenge over Easter

Moving and Raising a Stone

What: Join the Stonehenge team to help move and raise a four-tonne stone, similar to those used to build the stone circle. Using a hand-built sledge, and under expert supervision, visitors can experience for themselves just what it might have felt like to be involved in building Stonehenge. The experiment will run twice a day.

When: Friday, April 12 to Tuesday, April 16.

 

Flint Knapping and Bronze Casting

What: Craftsman James Dilley demonstrates the prehistoric skill of flint knapping – the core technology that may have helped our ancient ancestors to survive. James will also demonstrate bronze casting – a technique which shows what a huge step forward people took 3,000 years ago when they started working with bronze to create tools and valuable artefacts signifying wealth and status. Visitors will have the opportunity to craft their own ‘sun disk’ to take home.

When: Monday, April 22 to Thursday, April 25.

 

Fire and Life!

What: Neolithic bush craft expert Guy Hagg shares his Neolithic life-skills, from fire lighting and tool and weapon making using bone, antler and stone, to game preparation and early cooking methods. Families can have a go at preparing hazelnuts and acorns for food.

When: Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28.

 

Full list of Easter Adventure Quest locations

(Pictures credit: ©English Heritage)

 

 

A UK beach is hailed the best in the UK and 20th greatest in the world

A UK beach is hailed the best in the UK and 20th greatest in the world

Bournemouth beach is declared the UK’s best for the second year running

Bournemouth has been hailed the best in the UK, the sixth greatest in Europe as well as 20th in the world.

It scooped the accolades in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice awards.

Bournemouth has a seven-mile stretch of golden sand beneath a coastline of cliffs, dotted with the area’s unique chines – narrow ravines that are found in Dorset and the Isle of Wight.

Chris Saunders of Tourism Services praised hard work from the town’s Seafront Team to help Bournemouth realise its ambition to be a world-class seafront.

“The beaches are raked and cleaned daily to the highest standard and rangers work in and out of season to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors,” he said.

Bournemouth, which has eight Blue Flag beaches and 10 Seaside Awards, launched a successful campaign in 2018 called Leave Only Footprints to encourage people to be more environmentally conscious.
“We want nothing more than for people to come and enjoy our stunning beaches and we just ask that visitors help us to maintain these award-winning standards by clearing up after themselves, putting rubbish and recycling in the bins provided,” added Mr Saunders.

Bournemouth is an archetypal British seaside town but many flock to the area for adrenaline-fuelled adventures, including walking, cycling, watersports and the world’s only pier-to-shore zip line.

Bournemouth councillor Pat Oakley said the award was very exciting.

“Tourism makes a £1 billion contribution to the local economy here in Bournemouth,” he said.

“The popularity of Bournemouth’s beaches translates into visitor spend that’s invested back into the town. We’re extremely proud of this achievement.”

The town also works hard to ensure Bournemouth is a year-round family-friendly destination.

Do you agree, is this your favourite beach? Comment below!

Pictures credit: Bournemouth & Poole Tourism