Travel: Flower festivals - Flower Festivals of Britain

Lacock Abbey

This 13th-century abbey, near to Chippenham, nestles in the midst of Wiltshire's chalky hills. Lacock itself is an attractively traditional village that has timber-and-plaster houses and grid-mapped streets included in its territory, and the abbey is the place to head for if you're in search of snowdrops.

This is the perfect time of year to visit the surrounding Victorian woods as snowdrops cover the ground - a welcome reminder that spring is on the way - and other flowers bloom throughout the cloistered gardens. Over the next few months you may catch sight of Crocus vernus, aconites, fritillaries and, later, daffodils.

On 13 and 14 and 20 and 21 February, from noon until 5pm, the gardens and woods will be opening specially to raise money for the National Gardens scheme. Admission: pounds 1.80 for adults, free for children. For further details call 01249 730459.

Harrogate Spring

Flower Show

This Victorian spa town is sombre yet elegant, with dark stone buildings, a large, grassy parkland known as the "Stray" and numerous cosy tea rooms. These features make the town an ideal location for the spring flower show, which boasts the largest daffodil display in the north of England. The show also includes an early tulip display, numerous other flower arrangements, and stalls from more than 90 nurseries.

The event takes place at the Great Yorkshire Show Ground from 22 to 25 April. Admission: pounds 8-pounds 10, with a pounds 2 reduction for those who book before 16 April. Opening times are 9.30am to 5.30pm, except for 25 April when doors will be closing at 4.30pm. For further information call 01423 561049.

London Orchid Show

Unlikely though it may seem for dedicated flower fans, it's worth wending your way through the noisy streets, the petrol-perfumed air and the battles of finding your way around London. In addition to the Chelsea Flower Show in May, this year the capital is to host an elite orchid event in March.

Both traditional orchids and hybrid varieties will be on show in the exotic displays, and many of the plants - which originate from locations all over the world - will be available to buy at the show.

The London Orchid Show takes place at the Royal Horticultural Society, New Hall, London SW1 on 20 and 21 March from 10am to 5pm. Entrance: pounds 5 on Saturday, pounds 3 on Sunday. RHS members get in for free. For tickets call 0171-316 4707.

Dundee Spring Show

As in London, the hustle and bustle of Dundee needs only to be peeled back a little to reveal a second - and rather more flowery - skin. This year sees Dundee launch its ninth flower show, with a focus on spring blooms, but visitors will have to wait until April to enjoy the displays. Expect to see a tremendous array of April flowers, including daffodils, tulips and various cut "Spring Collections".

The Dundee Spring Show takes place at Old Glamis Road, Dundee on 3 and 4 April. It will be open from 10.30am to 5.30pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday. Admission: pounds 1.50 for adults and pounds 1 for concessions. For further information, call 01382 434500.

Chirk Castle

This great, gaunt castle stands austerely on the outskirts of Chirk, a former principal staging-post on the route to Ireland, situated between the industrial town of Wrexham and the Iron Age hill fort of Old Oswestry. Every spring the grounds play host to a proliferation of daffodils, which lead the visitor all the way up to an 18th-century statue of Hercules.

There will be special openings of the grounds to enjoy the spring flowers, on 13 and 14 and 20 and 21 March. Opening hours will be from noon to 4pm with the last admissions at 3.30pm. Entrance: pounds 1.50 for adults and 75p for children on these dates, or pounds 2.60 and pounds 1.30 respectively afterwards. Chirk Castle is situated outside Wrexham in North Wales. For further details call 01691 777701.

Kingston Lacy

Situated near Wimborne Minster, a civilised coastal town in Dorset that is home to narrow streets, Georgian houses and an imposing Norman church, this grand National Trust property is a springtime mecca for snowdrop- lovers.

Admiring the Lady Walk blanketed by delicate snowdrops has become something of a tradition for such people, and special weekend openings have been organised for the purpose - but you'll have to hurry. The final snowdrop weekend ends tomorrow so, for final glimpses, pay a visit between 11am and 4pm on 6 or 7 February. Entrance: pounds 2.50 for adults, pounds 1.25 for children, and free for members. For more information call 01202 880413.

Beatrice Hodgkin

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


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