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The 9 Funnest Things To Do In England Around The UK Festival Season

The 9 Funnest Things To Do In England Around The UK Festival Season

Glastonbury, Reading, Field Day, The Secret Garden Party, T In The ParkWireless – the list goes on. The UK festival season can be a mammoth, life-altering adventure, but no adventure is complete without a few colourful digressions. Our handy guide can help you squeeze the juice out of England on your way between weekends of mud, music and mayhem.

(Photo: Glastonbury/Facebook)

#1 Hipsterville, UK

(Photo: Berit Watkin/Flickr)

London’s hipster culture has coagulated in Shoreditch, around the unassuming back street that is Brick Lane. Along with cheap and delicious Indian restaurants (a remnant of its days as immigrant hub), Brick Lane hosts a ferocious weekend vintage market, indie designer stores and the original outpost of Rough Trade Records. People spill onto the streets from beer gardens and music venues, and the surrounding buildings boast some of the best street art in the world.

#2 The Very Amazing

(Photo: Nick Garrod/Flickr)

Like all major cities, London has an embarrassment of cultural riches, but none so fine as the Victoria & Albert Museum. Home to the ‘Bowie Is’ exhibition a couple of years back (which is making its way to Melbourne’s ACMI soon), the V&A specialises in the art of design, including architecture and fashion. The temporary exhibits are always brilliant, the permanent collections are fascinating and the internal garden, built around a lovely fountain, is a great place to lay back and soak up the sun.

#3 Hogwarts Express

(Photo: David Catchpole/Flickr)

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a feast for wizarding nerds, just 30 kilometres northwest of London. Two mammoth sound stages on the Warner Brothers lot in Leavesden hold original sets and thousands of props from ten years of Potter movie making, yours to gawp at in gleeful childlike wonderment. You can pretend you don’t want to see this stuff, but you know that you do.

#4 Anthropological Chaos

(Photo: Marcus Jb/Flickr)

The gorgeous, venerated university town of Oxford is home to the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Pitt Rivers Museum is amazing. This one-of-a-kind house of world culture, archeology and anthropology is presented in the most awesome stacks-on fashion, with objects and artefacts crowded into glass cases beneath a three-story vaulted ceiling. Organised in nebulous themes like ‘death’ and ‘body art’, the Pitt Rivers invites you to consider not what makes world cultures different but what brings them together.

#5 A Big Pile of Rocks

(Photo: Oscar F. Hevia/Flickr)

We’re sort of obliged to put Stonehenge on this list because it’s literally en route between London and Glastonbury, one of the UK’s biggest festivals. Fenced off from ravaging hoards, the prehistoric monument is architecturally impressive but if you’re hoping to feel the deep heat of mystical ley lines (or whatever), you’ll have a stream of tourists and the dulcet sounds of the 303 motorway to contend with. It is cool to read about the mythology of the site, which takes in the devil, Rome, King Arthur and a host of unwashed 20th century hippies.

#6 As Seen On TV

Highclere Castle (Photo: Kevin Oliver/Flickr)

England’s stately homes are grand and lovely, and impressive in that amassed-riches-of-a-repressive-colonial-empire way, but the real reason to visit one of these places is because it has been on TV. Previously we would have sent you to Lyme Park in Cheshire, the stately home that played Pemberly in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, so that you could stand at the foot of the lake and visualise Darcy climbing out of it in a wet white shirt (over and over again). These days Highclere Castle in Hampshire is the hot ticket, familiar to half the planet as Downton Abbey. Go, walk around, pretend you have good manners and a stupid amount of money.

#7 Into the Woods

New Forest (Photo: David G Steadman/Flickr)

England’s forests are deep, dark and full of quiet mystery. No trip to the country is complete without a wander through the creaking, rustling holloways where rabbits, fox, deer and other seemingly innocent creatures are free to wander, stare at you, and just generally give off a vibe that something terrible is about to happen. New Forest on the south coast is a thousand-year-old tract of national park that comes with all the aforementioned fauna as well as its own wild ponies – perfect for creepy wanderings.

#8 A Nice Hot Digression

(Photo: Xavier/Flickr)

Post-festival you should set course for Bath. The picturesque town is built around hot springs where you can scrape the dirt out of your pores and melt the camping aches and pains away. When you’re clean enough, you can present yourself at Sally Lunn’s for one of their famous brioche buns or grab a cup of tea and pore through the shelves at the cute Topping & Company bookshop.

#9 The After Party

(Photo: Paul Townsend/Flickr)

In the middle of summer, Bristol lights up with the annual St Paul’s Carnival, a truly epic Afro Caribbean street party. Jerk chicken vendors line the street and music blares out of sounds systems big and small, people hang out of windows and crowd into grassy squares, and a colourful parade winds its way through the streets. Home to Banksy, awesome beats and picturesque pastel houses, Bristol is the coolest city in the UK at any time of the year, but St Paul’s brings next level goodness.

(Lead image: Glastonbury Festival)

Check out Qantas flights to London here.

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