With a host of key anniversaries, events and national celebrations coming up, England is the place to be in 2015. Here, we look forward to a year of celebrating everything from Winston Churchill to Alice in Wonderland.
Although 2015 marks 50 years since the death of Winston Churchill, his extraordinary legacy continues to live on. Get to know the courageous wartime leader better at Blenheim Palace, his birthplace and a magnificent example of English baroque residing in the Oxfordshire countryside. From February 14 you’ll be able to experience a newly revitalised Churchill exhibition which is brought to life with extracts from his diaries, photos and other insightful artefacts. And in June a commemorative garden flourishing with a mixture of plants, flowers and landscaping will open near the Temple of Diana; where Churchill proposed to his wife.
2015 marks 800 years since England’s most important document, Magna Carta, was sealed. Head to the newly restored Lincoln Castle to see one of only four surviving original copies of the charter in a state-of-the-art underground vault. Re-opening in April, the refurbishment also includes a brand new 360-degree walkway along the castle’s walls, letting you see the castle from a new angle for the first time and unprecedented access to 18th century prisons, which featured in the television series Downton Abbey. There will also be special events and celebrations taking place across the country, including a one-off display of all four original copies of Magna Carta at the British Library and a River Relay from Hurley to Runnymede – where the document was sealed.
Pull on the pearls or a fedora and mosey down to Torquay for an extra special International Agatha Christie Festival. 2015 marks 125 years since the queen of murder mysteries was born. The festival is held on September 11 – 19 at Torre Abbey and sees Christie fans enjoying murder mystery tea parties, readings, steam train galas and vintage bus tours amidst the serene seaside setting of the English Rivera. But there’s no need to wait until September to step into the world of this renowned crime author. Greenway, Christie’s idyllic riverside holiday retreat and the place where she was inspired to write many of her famous works, is now owned by the National Trust and reopens for another year in March.
England’s host cities are sprucing up their stadiums and heaps of exciting events are being planning across the country as we speak. Rugby nut or not, you cannot miss out on this colossal occasion taking place in September. Just like London 2012 and Le Grand Depart, Rugby World Cup 2015 will be the talk of the town, as well as being broadcasted to billions around the world. Even if you didn’t bag tickets you can still soak up the buzzing atmosphere by taking a break in one of the host cities. Ramble across the Yorkshire Dales one day and explore cool cultural spots the next in Leeds, admire the Gothic cathedral and kayak along the River Exe in Exeter and get stuck into Newcastle’s hip restaurants, bars, boutiques and art galleries.
The world-famous trippy fairytale turns 150 in November and Oxford is pulling out the top hats and teapots to celebrate. The University City is where the author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, first outlined his story to the 10-year-old Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland. The Story Museum will hold an extra-special Alice Day on July 4 to mark the anniversary of the first telling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and will include a Mad Hatter’s tea party, exhibitions, storytelling, promenade theatre and Alice-themed walks and talks.
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