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As the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon gives visitors endless insights into the world of the great playwright, but it’s also packed with plenty of exciting activities to add to a to-do list. From getting up-close to wildlife to getting hands-on with mechanical art, here’s the top 10 things to experience on a visit to the market town.
1. Visit the Bard’s birthplace
William Shakespeare’s birthplace and childhood home delves into the family life of the great Bard, exploring his influence on the world today via a vast collection of artefacts and other memorabilia. There are many other locations within the town that are associated with the playwright, and literature lovers shouldn’t miss Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, which lies around a mile to the west of Stratford-upon-Avon. As the former home of Shakespeare’s wife-to-be, it’s in this famous cottage that visitors can relive his love story and see much of the original building, which remains as it was 500 years ago.
2. Learn about Shakespeare’s life in a New Place
Visitors can follow the trail of the Bard all the way to Shakespeare’s New Place, the site of his family home for 19 years until his passing. The land where the house once stood is now adorned with gardens and artworks, and visitors can discover several sculptures inspired by the Bard’s work while learning more about New Place and the captivating stories behind it.
3. Catch a show by the Royal Shakespeare Company
Budding thespians can enjoy the theatrical talents of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which regularly brings the works of the Bard to life in Stratford-upon-Avon. In the last decade, performances of Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure are among those to have been showcased at the 1,000-seat Grade II-listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which is situated on the banks of the River Avon.
4. Relive the past at Tudor World
History buffs can step back in time to discover what life was really like under the rule of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I at Tudor World. Set in a Grade II-listed 16th century building, the living history museum is packed with interactive elements for visitors of all ages and also runs a number of different tours and events, including a chance to explore Stratford-upon-Avon with Shakespeare himself.
5. Take in the sights along the River Avon
Visitors wanting to discover the market town from a new perspective can head out onto the waters of the River Avon. Hire is available from several traditional boating firms, with the option to pick from rowing boats, punts or even motorboats. Alternatively, foodies could opt for a relaxing dinner and river cruise aboard the restaurant boat, Countess of Evesham.
6. Discover the mechanics of art and design
Visitors can delve into the world of kinetic art and robots at Britain’s MAD Museum, a space dedicated to mechanical art and design which is packed with interactive exhibits. Featuring around 60 moving sculptures and designs from inventors and artists all over the world, it’s a small museum that packs a punch!
7. Come face-to-face with wildlife at Charlecote Park
With roaming deer and plenty of grand Tudor architecture, the 16th century Charlecote Park is four miles (6.5km) to the east of Stratford-upon-Avon, and a short distance from the town of Warwick. Visitors to this National Trust site can explore the rooms of the country house and enjoy a picnic in the estate’s vast parklands and gardens, which are a haven for herons, kingfishers and a host of other wildlife.
8. Cycle through an oasis of greenery
Stretching for around five-and-a-half-miles from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, the Stratford Greenway follows a former railway line and is part of the long-distance National Cycle Route 5, which runs between Reading and Holyhead. The traffic-free trail meanders through a host of green space that visitors can explore on foot or by bike, with cycles available from Stratford Bike Hire, and there’s an abundance of wildlife and picnic spots en route.
9. Delve into ancient history in Warwick
Situated just nine miles (14.5km) from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick is home to one of Britain’s most impressive early medieval castles. History buffs can discover ancient myths and spellbinding tales, while horticulture lovers can explore the town’s Hill Close Gardens, a set of restored Victorian greenery packed with eye-catching plants and shrubs.
Restrictions on travel to and around Britain are in place due to Covid-19. Visitors are encouraged to always check individual websites for the latest information, as details are subject to change.
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.org