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The recent Excursions trade show at the Alexandra Palace in London showcased dozens of eye catching new ways of looking at your old friend Britain.
Here are a few more ideas that caught my eye beginning with a unique London theatre tour that follows Shakespeare's footsteps back to his home in Stratford upon Avon.
Given the popularity of rubbing shoulders with the Brits, the Tourism South East's Great Country Pubs are instantly appealing especially as they can be set up as pre or post cruise extensions. Gargoyles and Grotesques flags up some really imaginative walking tours in the university city of Oxford and All Steamed Up will help resourceful travel agents to develop a large niche market that may well be on their doorstep.
The Vikings are Coming links a major exhibition at the British Museum with the ever popular Viking city of York and the last 2 stories will help those interested in the centenary of the Great War and the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings to get the best out of any UK visit being planned.
London Theatre Tour with a Twist
Annual Shakespeare Festivals and theatres that produce seasons of the Bard's plays will already be aware that 2014 is the 450th anniversary of his birth. They may also be incorporating this fact into their publicity material.
At Excursions, I met James Hunt, an experienced Shakespearian actor who, with a bit of help from me has put together a tour that starts with the Globe and the recently opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London.
It then includes some intriguing twists and turns on the way to Stratford including a close encounter with a Druid before some special visits to the Shakespeare Houses and front/backstage tour of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Email email@example.com for more information.
Mine's a Pint of Speckled Hen
Real English ales, menus created by master chefs, extensive wine lists, evenings with the locals, stylishly decorated ancient English coaching inns in idyllic locations. Add in visits to less well known but outstanding privately owned stately homes and award winning gardens, choral evensong in magnificent cathedrals, English Afternoon Tea in carefully chosen tea rooms and 2-3 nights in London at the end.
Welcome to a portfolio of pubs assembled by Tourism South East that can be tailored for independent travellers and small groups of 8-10. They also work as pre or post cruise extensions for anglophile clients of yours sailing in or out of Southampton, Dover or Harwich.
Gargoyles and Grotesques
The university city of Oxford has been applying their little grey cells to the guided walks they offer. In addition to their very good University and City tour you can:
- Take the Inspector Morse tour which follows in the footsteps of the city's famous detective and his successor Lewis.
- Indulge in some Magic, Murder and Mayhem as you discover the worlds of secrets societies, alchemists, martyrs, traitors, rogues and criminals.
- Learn about Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter on their Harry meets Alice tour. For Potter fans, they also have Pottering in Harry's Footsteps.
- The Gargoyles and Grotesques tour may give you a slight crick in the neck as you peer upwards at the symbols, emblems, motifs, animals and demons that cling to the roofs and walls of many buildings.
And there's more here.
All Steamed Up
I'm always on the lookout for niche markets that enterprising travel agents can exploit and on the Heritage Railways standI found the evidence which will convince North American Steam Preservation Societies that the UK's the place to go for these steam filled travel experiences.
If you wonder where to find an audience that will be more than keen to talk to you, take a few moments to check this out.
I've also found dozens of Streetcar and Trolley Museums at www.dctrolley.org. A tour based largely in the North of England and on the Isle of Man will get them going.
The Vikings Are Coming …
This major exhibition at the British Museum fired my imagination. It will explore how the Vikings expanded from their Scandinavian homelands between AD800 and 1050 to create an international network connecting cultures over 4 continents, where artistic, religious and political ideas met.
To bring the story to life, I recommend a two-night side trip to York (2 hours by train from London) where you can journey through a reconstruction of Viking-Age streets, join an archaeological training dig and take the Viking Walk which reveals where a particularly bloody battle was fought in 867 AD.
Then enjoy everything else that the city has to offer including Choral Evensong in the Minster or a Fish 'n' Chip supper and the famous York Ghost Walk.
Portsmouth will be marking the 70th anniversary of D Day June 3-8, the turning point in the Second World War. Events will include a Drumhead Ceremony and Sunset Concert for Heroes on June 5, a Remembrance Service on the 6th and the D-Day Experience over the weekend of the 7th and 8th - a weekend of military displays, re-enactments and live music from the 1940's.
Unique in the UK and dedicated to all aspects of the landings, the D-Day Museum opens daily. To get more out of your maritime experience, make sure you also visit the Historic Dockyard.
Imperial War Museum Reopens
This outstanding attraction will throw open its doors in the summer and reveal new ground breaking galleries. Their immersive and interactive galleries will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the centenary of the First World War in 2014.
Don't forget to include visits to their other London sites at HMS Belfast and the Churchill War Rooms. Travelers tip- get there early to avoid the rush at these very popular attractions.
Paull Tickner, creator of Special Interest Britain, is an expert in developing customised niche travel programs to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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