10 literary experiences for World Book Day

Beatrix Potters Hill Top Farm by VisitEngland

Beatrix Potters Hill Top Farm. Picture: ®National Trust Images/Pete Tasker

Chalk it up to our great English literary history or the popularity of modern authors, but more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England, new research from VisitEngland shows.

One in four Brits visited a literary location in England during a holiday break in the last year. The same amount had read literature relating to a place they had visited in the country.

Where do we like to go?

London, first of all. Twenty-one per cent of trips with a literary link were to the capital, famous for its connections with Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens. A close second was Yorkshire, home of Haworth and Brontë country and Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The North West, the setting of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and the home of Beatrix Potter, was the destination for 18% of literature related travel. 

Of course, one can’t leave out Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Beatrix Potter, JRR Tolkien and Arthur Conan Doyle as inspiration for days out and overnight trips for children and adults at locations around the country.

girl reading book for World Book Day 2017

Image: World Book Day

World Book Day-related events near you

“We know that for readers of all ages interest in characters and book settings extends well beyond the page,” says Kirsten Grant, Director of World Book Day. “We are delighted to be partnering with VisitEngland and National Trust to celebrate our special 20th anniversary year. Literary destinations all over the country will be taking part on World Book Day itself and through World Book Day weekend, so find out what is happening near you.”   

10 top literary experiences for World Book Day

1. National Trust family fun weekends for bookworms

For the first time, National Trust properties across the country will be participating in World Book Day with a weekend of children’s book activities that range from the story of the Gingerbread man at Ightham Mote to the history of books at Belton House and stepping back into the 1960s at Sudbury’s Museum of Childhood. The National Trust’s Children’s Book Festivals at Wray Castle on 4 – 5 March and at Knole on 25-26 March are sure to be a highlight and Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s home in Cumbria, a top destination.
nationaltrust.org.uk/worldbookday / www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle

2. National Express 10% off all fares*

Sharing the spirit of a good book taking you on a journey, National Express is encouraging people to let their imaginations run wild and learn about literary heroes across the land. To take advantage of 10% off all fares, book before 28 February 2017 for travel between 2 – 5 March using the discount code: WorldBookDay. *Terms & conditions apply.

3. 10% off Hertz car hire**

For a literary adventure by car, book with Hertz using the code 809590 between 24 February – 10 March 2017 to receive a 10% discount valid for pick-ups between 24 February – 30 June 2017. Looking for inspiration for where to explore? English Heritage’s literary collection features abbeys, castles and historic sites that have inspired many authors over the centuries, from the atmospheric Whitby Abbey in Dracula and Stonehenge in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, to Charles Darwin’s long-time home at Down House, and Alfred Lord Tennyson’s castle muse Tintagel. **Terms & conditions apply. www.hertz.co.uk / www.english-heritage.org.uk

4. World Book Day’s Oodles of Doodles, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle

On display until 26 March, some of the UK’s leading illustrators – from budding artists to iconic illustrators – have been asked to ‘Doodle Something Booky’, as part of the festivities celebrating 20years of World Book Day. More than 40 top children’s book illustrators have contributed to the exhibition including Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell, Shirley Hughes, Axel Scheffler and Liz Pichon. sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/oodlesofdoodles

5. Draw New Mischief exhibition, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Running 25 February – 15 September, this new, free exhibition celebrates over two centuries of Shakespeare-inspired political cartoons including new commissions by five cartoonists. Shakespeare’s plays have been a touchstone for cartoonists who have drawn upon them to comment upon political events and personalities of their time. Shakespeare’s incredible capacity to reflect human behaviour continues to provide cartoonists with a ready stock of rich imagery that resonates with the reading public.


Learn about Jane Austen's Lyme Regis.

Learn about Jane Austen’s Lyme Regis. Picture: Discover England Tours

6. Discover England’s Jane Austen tour, Southern England

New, to mark the 200th anniversary of the writer’s death, Discover England Tours has introduced a four-night Jane Austen Literary Tour visiting Austen’s family homes Bath and Lyme Regis, which both inspired Austen; her grave in Winchester Cathedral; and film locations from screen adaptations of the author’s novels. For four nights and three full days, tours are priced at £1135 per person, based on a group of two people.

7. Sherlock Holmes 125th Anniversary Tour, London and beyond

Marking the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock publication, this new tour retraces Sir Conan Doyle’s steps, visiting favourite haunts in London and the South-East, plus locations which inspired his writing. Highlights include 221B Baker Street – now the Sherlock Holmes museum – showing a recreation of his study and Dr Watson’s bedroom; the Langham Hotel which famously hosted a dinner between Doyle and Oscar Wilde; Doyle’s house in Crowborough, and Groombridge Place, scene ofThe Valley of the Fear.


VisitEngland literary travel map

VisitEngland’s literary travel map

8. Celebrate 80 years of The Hobbit on a canal boat holiday through Tolkien country

Take a narrow boat with Drifters Waterway Holidays to explore some of the landscapes that inspired Tolkien’s The Hobbit, celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017. Tolkien spent much of his childhood exploring the village of Sarehole (now Hall Green), Moseley Bog, the Malvern Hills, and nearby Bromsgrove, Alcester and Alvechurch. Short break prices on a boat for four start at £520 in 2017, weekly hire from £800. To receive a free copy of The Hobbit quote “Tolkien” when booking a journey incorporating Worcester and Birmingham Canal, departing from Alvechurch.

9. Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden

Toast the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter novel with real butter beer at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. The fabulously interactive studio tour also offers a chance to fly on a broomstick against a green screen and see the Hogwarts Express and how some of the special effects for the Harry Potter films were made. On until 31 March, Directing Dobby uncovers behind-the-scenes secrets of everybody’s favourite house-elf in a special feature dedicated to Dobby.

10. ‘Tess’s Journey’ – Foot Trails’ Hardy Tales walking trip, Dorset 

Discover Dorset with this inn-to-inn style walking trip trailing in the footsteps of well-known Hardy novel character, Tess D’Urbervilles. New trails include exploring on foot the magnificent views of Shaftesbury, the “Shaston” of Hardy’s novels, one of the oldest and highest towns in England, dominating what Hardy called the “engirdled and secluded” Blackmore Vale. Holidays are tailored to suit guests’ requirements and the season. From £565 per person for 4 nights, including all transfers.


For more literary inspiration check out www.visitengland.com/literaryheroes/ and #BookEngland. For more information about World Book Day, visit: www.worldbookday.com and #WorldBookDay20.


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