Vintage experiences in Britain

As the Goodwood Festival of Speed (4-7 July 2019) casts the spotlight on classic cars and motorsport generally, it’s a reminder that Britain is packed full of thrilling vintage experiences. From fashionable afternoon teas to car shows and literary walks, there’s ample opportunity for you to experience the delights of the past, in the present.

1. Goodwood Festival of Speed

A global celebration of car culture, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is renowned for showcasing the best of the glamour that accompanies motorsport. From the Hillclimb event – the centrepiece of the festival where you can get up close to the cars and bikes in action – to the showgrounds and arenas, this expansive motoring garden party has something for everyone. Take a glimpse into the future of the automotive industry in the FOS Future Lab, while the First Glance Paddock showcases the latest from the production line. From 4-7 July, be wowed by motorsport displays in the Arena, see thrilling extreme sports in the Goodwood Action Sports area and watch as driver’s hurtle their way around the Forest Rally Stage.

Goodwood Racing Circuit

2. Pret-a-Portea: Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley

Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley: The Dior Couture Collection

Really relax in the summer months with a vintage afternoon tea, inspired by the iconic designs of Christian Dior. This season’s Pret-a-Portea offering from The Berkeley enables you to tuck into the Dior Coutre Collection, where landmark pieces have been transformed into delicious biscuits, bakes and fancies. Expect to see the iconic Bar Jacket from the 1947 catwalk show that formed a ‘New Look’ in biscuit form, as well as a reference to the Junon Dress worn by Theo Graham at Le Pre Catalan in Paris in 1949. The afternoon tea includes an array of elegant canapés, sandwiches and tasters, as well as an opportunity to pick out a loose leaf tea from the hotel’s extensive collection.

The Berkeley Hotel

3. Silverstone Classic

Silverstone Classic

An action-packed weekend of historic motor racing at the renowned Silverstone circuit awaits you if you plan to attend the Silverstone Classic on 26-28 July. The world’s biggest classic motor racing festival includes more than 20 races and demonstrations, featuring more than 1,000 vehicles, and is accompanied by an eclectic mix of music and entertainment for you to enjoy. The family-friendly event includes Rocking and Racing, a set of musical performances from tribute acts to mark the 50th anniversary of the famous Woodstock festival, as well as a vintage funfair, crazy golf and Street Car Shootout drag racing. Shop to your heart’s content in a shopping village crammed with vintage clothing and memorabilia while the kids enjoy football coaching from the Chelsea FC Foundation.

Silverstone Classic

4. Atomic Festival

Atomic Festival

Dive into a world of classic cars and retro music at Atomic Festival, a 1950s weekend of fun at the Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. As well as a line-up of bands and DJs playing rock and roll and dance floor fillers in four venues, witness drag racing involving hot rods, classic trucks and motorcycles, an array of classic car displays and even a hotly-contested soap-box derby. Enjoy fairground rides and crazy golf by day, as well as jive classes, burlesque shows, films in a ‘vintage cinema, and much more over the weekend of 27-28 July.

Atomic Festival

5. Passion for Power

Passion for Power at Tatton Park.

Hundreds of exotic supercars converge on Tatton Park, in Knutsford, for the Passion for Power Classic Motor Show, offering an exciting day out for all the family. Classic and supercar owners regularly attend the show on 17-18 August and you’ll find some of the rarest, fastest and most spectacular vehicles on the planet in the Dream Cars Pavilion. Alongside a variety of trade stalls and car clubs that are attending, there’s an abundance of food and drink options for you to get your teeth into.

Passion for Power

6. Twinwood Festival

Twinwood Festival

A buzzing celebration of vintage music, dance and fashion, Twinwood Festival, near Bedford, is spread over four days of the August Bank Holiday weekend. Be taken on a musical journey from the 1920s through to the 1960s at the Main Arena, while more than 100 vintage acts will keep you entertained at 16 different venues across the site. The fashion of that era is also the keystone of the festival, and with more than 100 traders and boutiques on site, selling everything from vintage clothing to homewares, there’s ample opportunity to get into the retro spirit. A set of vintage salons and a barbershop only adds to the festival’s charm.

Twinwood Festival

7. Goodwood Revival

Goodwood Revival festival, Goodwood Circuit near Chichester, West Sussex, England. Vintage car racing past the grandstand.

The famed Good Wood circuit comes alive for Goodwood Revival in September, with four days of action both on and off the track. If the racing isn’t your kind of thing, head Over the Road to discover an array of food and drink vendors, fairground rides and even a roller disco. Many visitors dress in period clothing and the Revival Car show has an eclectic mix of pre-66 vehicles for you to look at too. The Revival High Street is a recreation of a classic High Street, packed full of shops selling numerous retro gifts and memorabilia, taking you on a trip down memory lane in the process. And if that isn’t enough, there’s also the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation display to enjoy – a spectacular competition of elegance involving rarely-seen pre-1966 aircraft that showcase the exciting early history of aviation.

Goodwood Revival

8. The Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show

Welcoming motorcycles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s to the Staffordshire County Showground, the Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show is one of two annual Stafford Classic Bike Shows. The 26th edition of the show on 19-20 October is set to feature more than 900 traders, dealers and autojumble stands, helping you to find the parts and products you need. Visit the Off-road Hall and Grand Prix Paddock to discover rare bikes and to see some of the machines in action. The other show – the Carole Nash International Classic Motorcycle Show – takes place on the weekend of 25-26 April 2020.

Stafford Classic Bike Shows

9. Vintage Adventure Tours

Experience the picturesque beauty of the Lake District from high up in a 1929 vintage car with Vintage Adventure Tours. Eight carefully designed tours take in different parts of the incredible landscape, or you can take the 1929 Model A Ford Phaeton on an adventure by designing your own trips and touring routes. Zip along country lanes in the only vintage car in Britain that is registered for private hire!

Vintage Adventure Tours

10. Sail on a Traditional Wherry

Sailing on a traditional wherry, Norfolk Broads.

Experience sailing along the waters of the Broads National Park the traditional way aboard an Edwardian wherry yacht. As one of only three surviving vessels from the period, each more than 100 years old, why not embark on a range of trips to experience the rivers as in Edwardian times, taking in the changing scenery and rare wildlife within the National Park?

Sailing in the Broads National Park

11. Literary footsteps in Exmoor

Literary Footsteps in Exmoor National Park

Discover the ancient traditions of Exmoor National Park and follow in the footsteps of literary greats, including poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and author R.D Blackmore on a Literary Footsteps tour. The vintage walking trail explores the lands that provided inspiration for their work, before proceedings are rounded off with a delicious Devonshire Cream Tea or a drink in a traditional pub.

Literary Footsteps in Exmoor

12. Jane Austen - The Dancing Years

Jane Austen experience

For a dose of vintage literature, be transported back to the Regency Period and imagine Hampshire life for celebrated author Jane Austen in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Jane Austen’s Dancing Years Tour explores the picturesque villages, many that are largely unchanged from Victorian times, before taking in the Jane Austen House Museum at Chowton where she spent her last years.

Jane Austen - The Dancing Years
27 Mar 2020(last updated)