Get ready for a royal good time
Saturday sees the start of the Diamond Jubilee long weekend and half term for many schools. There are plenty of events to help you fly the flag
Wednesday 30 May 2012
What's the attraction?
With a bonus bank holiday and hundreds of events taking place across the UK, there's no escaping the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations this weekend (2-5 June; thediamondjubilee.org) – all coinciding with half-term. On Sunday, more than 10,000 street parties are being held around the country (thebiglunch.com); and 1,000 boats will form a flotilla on the Thames (thamesdiamondjubileepageant.org), while thousands of onlookers line the route under 23km of bunting. Throughout the long weekend and the rest of half term, there's everything from medieval-themed days out to indoor, outdoor, vintage and modern family days out to choose from.
Green and pleasant
Enjoy the great outdoors in Lincolnshire's Easton Walled Gardens (01476 530063; eastonwalledgardens.co.uk), where the Meadows Days celebration on Sunday and Monday will show off the best of British meadows and orchards. The "lost" gardens, which date back to 1592, will host bee walks in the meadows, an owl flying display and the chance to try Morris dancing. Admission £6.25. Or head to the Botanic Garden at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire (01249 730459; nationaltrust.org.uk) on 7-8 June for Bee-utiful world, with bee-related activities for children and adults. Admission from £7.90.
Freewheel past some of the South-east's royal highlights on a cycling tour along the River Thames from Kew to Windsor. Capital Sport (01296 631671; capital-sport.co.uk) offers a three-day self-guided "Luxury Royalty Diamond Jubilee Tour"; the price of £550 includes bike hire and accommodation. Trips begin on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. To avoid the flag-waving, sign up for a family bootcamp with Northern Bootcamp (0845 467 3750; northernboot camp.co.uk) in Northumberland. A five-night Family Fit and Active camp starting on Saturday costs £500 (£250 child), full board.
Festivals are not just for grown-ups. Wychwood Festival (01993 772580; wychwoodfestival.com) at Cheltenham Racecourse starts on 8 June with three days of music, comedy, theatre and dance, designed to appeal to the whole family, as well as circus acts, a children's literature programme and poetry, performance and drama workshops. Adult day tickets from £37; children from £10.
Or head to the Lake District and the Forest of Delights at Friars Crag, Derwentwater, for a special temporary four-day art installation hosted by the National Trust (01768 774649; nationaltrust.org.uk/borrowdale). With a chance to meet the artists involved and learn new crafts at outdoor workshops, the free event finishes with One Enchanted Evening next Wednesday, 6 June, an evening of music from local choirs.
The poet Robert Burns is celebrated from today until Sunday in Ayr at the Burns an' a' That Festival (burnsfestival.com), with literary events, music and a picnic in Wellington Square Gardens.
Make a splash
The Fal River Festival in Cornwall (01326 313394; falriver.co.uk) celebrates life on the river from Friday until 10 June, with more than 150 events at different locations on the Fal, including a fish festival on Sunday and Monday in Falmouth. Kayakers will be paddling along the river from Loe Beach on 6 June, stopping for a beach barbecue on the way back (01872 300800; loebeach.co.uk; entry from £17). The Brewin Dolphin Scottish Series (brewindolphinscottish series.com) runs from Friday to Monday on Loch Fyne, with yacht races, highland dancing, face painting, music and fireworks.
The Museum of Science & Industry (0161 832 2244; mosi.org.uk) in Manchester is celebrating the centenary of code-breaker Alan Turing's birth. Special events include the chance to meet "Baby", the world's first stored-program computer, built at Manchester University in 1948, on 5 and 7 June. On Saturday, children will have the chance to decode a cryptic message on a modern version of the Enigma machine. In addition, daily workshops throughout half term will show how to programme a 1980s BBC Micro computer, until 10 June. Free
Relive the preparations for a royal visit by stepping back into the Edwardian era at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens (01302 722598; english-heritage.org.uk/brodsworth) near Doncaster. From Sunday to Tuesday, the stately home will be transported to 1912, with a school for potential new servants and the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary during the day, plus Punch & Judy shows, falconry displays and a travelling cinema. Adults £9.30, children £5.60.
Teenagers will love the vintage stalls and retro photo booths at Powys Castle (01938 551 944; nationaltrust.org.uk/powis-castle) in Welshpool on Monday, as well as a vintage funfair. Admission £2.
The National Motor Museum (01590 614614; beaulieu.co.uk) at Beaulieu is hosting Fifties-themed events from over the bank holiday weekend, with cars from the era and free traditional funfair rides. Admission £10.
Warwick Castle (0871 265 2000; warwick-castle.com) is welcoming back jousting medieval knights on Saturday, along with 9km of bunting, as part of its half-term events. Admission from £12.96.
Meanwhile, Muncaster Castle's (01229 717614; muncaster.co.uk) five-day Festival of Fools in Cumbria begins on Monday, including a time-travelling storyteller, children's jousting and the International Jesters' Tournament. Admission £13.
Who said that?
"Life is one long jubilee" – Ira Gershwin.
"A procession has value in but two ways – as a show and as a symbol, its minor function being to delight the eye, its major one to compel thought, exalt the spirit, stir the heart, and inflame the imagination" – Mark Twain, writing on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
"Jubilee slouches in the settee / He losing all will to move" – Blur, Jubilee.
Learn about the royals of the sea during special talks being held at the Sea Life London Aquarium (0871 663 1678; visitsea life.com/London) at County Hall in London from Saturday to Tuesday. Celebrate marine creatures with majestic links, including predatory Crown Squirrelfish, blue and yellow Regal Tang, solitary Emperor Angelfish and territorial Jewel Anemone. There's also time to admire the unchallenged rulers of the sea by strolling across the glass walkway above the shark reef, home to 15 of the impressive creatures, including two Sand Tiger sharks. Admission from £17.82
"The jubilee provides one of those 'anything goes' opportunities to get into the party spirit. Take along flags, wear patriotic hats or best of all, wear a costume that reflects the event you are attending. We are giving small prizes to the best children's costumes at our jubilee events – and if adults make the effort, we'll find something for them too." Emily Burns, head of events at English Heritage (0870 333 1181; english-heritage.org.uk).
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