The hours between dusk and dawn needn’t be spent snoozing in a hotel room: watch Shakespeare under the stars, dance the night away at a festival, sleep on the side of a cliff and camp at a museum: here are nine extraordinary ways to spend the night in Britain.
1. Under a blue whale…
Why should kids have all the fun? London’s Natural History Museum runs ‘Dino Snores for Grown Ups’ – sleepovers that involve minimal sleep because you’re too busy enjoying stand-up comedy, a science show, a three-course dinner, live music, edible insect tasting and an all-night monster movie marathon. When you do snooze, it’s in the Earth Hall, Fossil Marine Reptiles Gallery or under the colossal blue whale skeleton in Hintze Hall.
Image ©Trustees of the NHM, London
2. … or under a pineapple
Thanks to an 18th century Earl’s sense of humour, this formerly one-storey Scottish summerhouse has become one of The Landmark Trust’s quirkiest rental properties. It gained its distinctive dome when said Earl returned from serving as the Governor of Virginia; there, sailors used to stick a pineapple on the gatepost to announce their return home – Lord Dunmore went a step further and crowned his house with one. Rent with friends and serve piña coladas.
3. On the side of a cliff
Like to live life on the edge? Cliff camping on Anglesey, north Wales, lets you do just that. Abseil down to your bed for the night – a ‘portaledge’ tethered to the side of a cliff – and watch a glorious sunset while tucking into a tasty hot meal, delivered to your scenic perch. Snuggle up beneath a star-spangled sky with the waves crashing beneath you, and wake to hot coffee at sunrise.
© Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales, all rights reserved
4. At a haunted pub
The Mermaid Inn, in the charming coastal town of Rye, was a favourite with 18th century smugglers – some of whom apparently never left... Sleep in Room 1 where you might just be joined by a mysterious lady in white (she favours a seat by the fireplace), or choose Room 17, where a rocking chair creaks back and forth unaided. The bar stocks more than 90 whiskies in case you need some Dutch courage before turning in!
5. Beneath a canopy of stars
The Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales became the world’s fifth International Dark Sky Reserve in 2013, thanks to an absence of light pollution that makes it ideal for admiring the Milky Way. Camp with clear views of the constellations at Blaenglyn Farm in the beautiful Tarell Valley, or enjoy the celestial spectacle from luxury country house hotel Llangoed Hall, using their state-of-the-art telescope.
© Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales, all rights reserved
6. Watching Shakespeare
There’s no better way to enjoy Shakespeare than as The Bard himself would have watched his plays, ‘in the round’ at Shakespeare’s Globe. The theatre is going one step further in the atmosphere stakes this year, putting on ‘midnight matinées’ that will send the playwright’s wonderful words out into a starry sky before an assembled crowd of nocturnal culture vultures. On the bill are Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.
7. Lording it up
Rent your very own stately home complete with its own saloon, a ‘Withdrawing Room’, stables and a piggery – everyone needs a piggery, right?! Godolphin House is set in splendid National Trust gardens in Cornwall, but when day visitors leave at 4pm, the manor is yours to rule. Stock up on local produce, bubbly (English sparkling, of course) and mates (the house sleeps 12), and rechristen yourself the Baron or Marquess of Godolphin for the weekend.
8. Partying all night
Brits love a party, and no more so than during the epic summer festival season, which starts around late May and continues through September. There’s an incredible range to choose from: rock out at Reading or Leeds Festivals in August, and in September choose luxurious boutique glamping at the fabulous Festival Number 6 in Wales, or discover pop-up pianos in the woods and all manner of late-night mischief at Bestival in Dorset.
9. 100 feet from tigers and wolves
Sip a sundowner from the balcony of your luxury glamping tent while watching giraffe, zebra and wildebeest sip from the watering hole in front of you. This is the Livingstone Lodge, and no, it’s not in Africa – it’s at Port Lympne in Kent, south-east England. The award-winning Safari Experience includes a tour of the incredible conservation park, a sumptuous firepit-cooked meal and a night under the stars surrounded by wildlife.
© Visit Kent