What's hot 2012
Top tips for holiday ideas in England.
Long live the Queen, and all her daughters! Tying in neatly with the change to the rules of succession is a widespread celebration of England’s most powerful female monarchs. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee heralds a long weekend of bunting and Victoria sponge in honour of our long-serving head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. In the Cotswolds, Sudeley Castle is celebrating the quincentenary of Katherine Parr, the sixth and last of Henry VIII’s wives. Kensington Palace’s Victoria Revealed exhibition explores the life and times of Queen Victoria, one of its many famous residents.
Being a bookworm
Whether you’re a fan of Dickens or Shakespeare, Blyton, Rowling or Carroll, 2012 is the year to indulge your literary loves. See the Iraqi Theatre Company perform Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad in the World Shakespeare Festival or watch film adaptations of Dickens’ novels flicker across the screen at the BFI Southbank as part of Dickens 2012 . Harry Potter fans can get a new behind-the-scenes walking tour through the films’ sets, costumes and props in The Making of Harry Potter . Oxford will be celebrating the "frabjous" 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , while the new Famous Five Adventure Trail in Dorset pays tribute to the 70th anniversary of the first of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. Don’t forget to pack lashing and lashings of ginger beer!
Most of us are probably never going to be as fit as the 2012 Olympic athletes but that doesn’t mean we can’t at least try. And thankfully, it doesn’t have to be all about exhausting sessions on the treadmill. Take the new Fitness and Flavour Retreats in Bristol for example, where mouth-watering food is teamed with a fresh approach to exercise. The weekends are the brainchild of Michelin-trained Barbora Stiess and offer hands-on cookery classes, Nordic-style-walking, tea workshops and even a lavish six-course meal. Elsewhere, ballroom dancing is shimmying its way across the country. Dance yourself healthy while wearing a shop-stopping outfit at one of many ballroom-dancing weekends and get to grips with everything from the Charleston to the Tango. If you want something more action packed, try your hand at archery at Olympic venue Lord’s Cricket Ground or take on the Olympic mountain bike track at Hadleigh Farm .
Learning from a MasterChef
Learn how to rustle-up fine cuisine at a cookery class lead by a Cornish MasterChef. Lanyon Holiday Cottages have joined forces with Seagrass Restaurant in St Ives to let you in on top secrets and the culinary practices of head chef, Lee Groves. The class takes place in the cosy surroundings of either Lanyon Manor or Coswyn Barn and will see Lee guide you through everything from food preparation to the all-important finishing touches. Moving on to desserts, cupcakes continue to have many of us drooling and baking fans will love learning how to make the perfect jam or 3D sugar paste decorations with Hey Little Cupcake in Manchester, while Peggy’s Cupcakes in London will help you create works of art (almost) too pretty to eat.
Holiday high up in the trees, get away with a chic glamping weekend or learn how to forage for food: 2012 is all about getting closer to nature. Book yourself a course with Wild Man Wild Food and follow in the footsteps of our ancestors as you learn to hunt, gather and survive in the great outdoors. Alternatively join Fergus the Forager on a trail through rural Kent in search of mushrooms and juicy berries. Blackberry crumble anyone? If you can’t live without the modern luxuries then give glamping a go. We can’t get enough of Jollydays Camping in Yorkshire which boasts four-poster beds, chandeliers and wood burners all under canvas. Want to try something even quirkier? Live among the birds for a week in a tree house retreat – there’ll be no need for an alarm clock.