Spring has sprung, along with a wide range of new experiences popping up across England. This month, we joined forces with VisitEngland who has uncovered some of the latest ways to explore the country, ranging from eco-conscious experiences and flower arranging classes to the latest gastro hubs and outdoor art experiences.
So, whether you want to help make a difference by joining the anti-plastic movement; take a ‘fl-oray’ into the latest mindfulness trend; discover an outdoor art trail, or visit the UK’s largest urban food hall – get out there and enjoy these exciting experiences!
The BBC’s Blue Planet series has increased awareness of environmental issues around the world, spurring many organisations and individuals in to action.
If you want to help make a difference, why not ‘volun-tour’ on your next holiday? Join the #PlasticPatrol movement – the nationwide campaign to rid our inland waterways of plastic pollution, to combat the global plastic crisis – at one of its clean-up events across the country later this spring. Take part in a free paddle boarding session along England’s picturesque canals and rivers, whilst working with a team of like-minded volunteers to collect litter.
If you’re looking to get away from it all, why not escape to the secluded tranquillity of the remote Northumberland island of Coquet with the RSPB? The wildlife charity offers two-week working holidays to the island, where volunteers help to protect rare seabirds, including terns and puffins. The RSPB’s 2018 volunteering brochure features 46 sites around the UK, with short and long-term stays available.
The National Trust has been running its Working Holidays scheme for over 50 years, but its wide range of locations and experiences are forever evolving, allowing participants to gain new skills from the experts and help care for some of the finest coast, countryside, historic houses and gardens in Britain. Opportunities range from wild camping to cider making and wild coastal swimming – so there’s something to appeal to a variety of interests.
For the eco-conscious fashionista, the V&A next major fashion exhibition, Fashioned From Nature, will trace the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world since 1600.
A pineapple fibre clutch-bag, Emma Watson’s Calvin Klein dress made from recycled plastic bottles and a cape of cockerel feathers are amongst the 300 beautiful, intriguing and unsettling objects on display.
The new exhibition will explore how fashionable dress draws on the beauty and power of nature for inspiration, with exquisite garments and accessories from Christian Dior, Dries van Noten and Philip Treacy.
It will explore how fashion’s processes and constant demand for raw materials damage the environment, featuring campaigners and protest groups that have effectively highlighted this issue such as Fashion Revolution and Vivienne Westwood. The exhibition will also look at the role of design in creating a better, more sustainable fashion industry.
The ancient art of flower arranging is tipped to be the latest mindfulness trend, with art-inspired bouquets and ikebana arrangements springing up across Instagram feeds. With its rich 140 year history and a Royal Warrant from none other than HRH The Prince of Wales, luxury London florist Moyses Stevens will be opening its first flower school this summer, located in the iconic Battersea Power Station development. With a range of classes and courses offered by a team of top floral designers, the school is perfect for anyone with an interest in floristry. From the budding amateur to the fully blossomed florist, the school offers a choice of courses for all ages and abilities.
For the more serious florist, London Flower School offers a range of short and long term courses, with an evolving programme of classes. For a less traditional approach to flower arranging, take inspiration from the Surrealist and Impressionist movements, with the school’s Inspired by Art course – a four day exploration into the relationship between three forms of visual art: floristry, painting and photography.
THE LATEST GASTRO-HUBS
England’s artisan food scene has grown massively in the past few years. This spring and summer an array of must-visit culinary hotspots are popping up across the country, with food halls and street markets dishing up delicious locally sourced produce to diners.
The Bristol Cookhouse will open its doors in the spring and is set to be a place where you can try out tasty, nutritious meals while learning more about different cuisines, ways of cooking and eating more healthily.
The Cookhouse includes a fully equipped food studio, beautiful private dining club and vibrant weekday canteen with open-plan kitchen, alongside a studio space that hosts workshops, healthy cookery classes, training sessions and food photography classes.
For vegan treats, head along to Surrey’s third annual vegan fair this spring, which will be home to a wide selection of food stalls dishing up tasty treats, alongside talks by inspirational speakers. Fair host, Surrey Vegan also runs a programme of events throughout the year, including monthly socials and a vibrant food market at the end of each month.
On the back of the emerging trend for urban food halls, London is set to welcome three brand new indoor markets, housing a variety of vendors under one roof. The mastermind behind the new gastro hubs, Market Halls, will open the UK’s biggest food hall on London’s Oxford Street later this year, with two other permanent food markets in Fulham and Victoria set to open in the next few months, housed in a disused tube station and former nightclub. Between them, the markets will feature more than 50 bars and eateries, including outposts of well-known London restaurants and street food vendors, as well as a small number of start-ups.
ON THE ART TRAIL
Explore an inspiring array of art trails this summer, with outdoor exhibitions set against the backdrop of the urban and rural landscape.
The LifeCycles and Landscapes project will place large-scale outdoor artistic and heritage works on sites along the ancient 400-mile Icknield Way from Dorset to the Norfolk Coast AONB, culminating with events at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival (22 – 27 May). This year will also see the third part of the coastal route open within the Norfolk Coast AONB, from Weybourne to Hunstanton, making most of Norfolk’s coast accessible on foot.
Science and industry meet art and design for the Great Exhibition of The North, a one-off celebration of everything that’s great about the north of England. The 80-day exhibition (taking place between 22 June and 9 September 2018) will be the biggest event in England this year. It is free to attend and will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future.
Hosted in NewcastleGateshead, on behalf of Northern England, the event is expected to reach an audience of three million people, including more than one million visitors from across the UK and overseas. Visitors will begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead – before joining three interconnected trails through 30 world-class venues and public spaces on either side of the River Tyne that celebrate the North’s achievements in art and culture, design, and innovation. The Great North Museum will open its doors with ‘Which Way North’, a visual experience which introduces the wider Exhibition and a display of iconic Northern objects. BALTIC will display artist Ryan Gander’s pared down sculptures depicting objects that symbolise innovation born in the North of England; commissions from artists such as Jane and Louise Wilson, Michael Dean and Tim Etchells; and a maquette of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North.
As part of the opening event on 22 June, visitors will experience the UK’s largest water sculpture from the Quayside, a brand new film about a journey across the North of England, performances from Kaiser Chiefs and a live presentation by Lemn Sissay of his newly created anthem for the North.
Nestled in 26 acres of Dorset’s glorious countryside lies Sculpture by the Lakes, an oasis for art lovers and collectors alike created by renowned sculptor Simon Gudgeon. Simon’s vision was to create an environment for enthusiasts that blends nature’s beauty with inspiring works of art free from the constraints of enclosed spaces of a traditional gallery. The sculpture park has been carefully landscaped and curated to ensure each piece is positioned to enhance its aesthetic qualities as well as the visual surroundings. The park also has five intimate spaces that can be hired for £50 per day for private events.