Wondering how to spend a summer in England? The country has so much to offer you will never be bored! From activities on the beach, enjoying Cowes week, dancing the day at a music festival to drinking English wine at a winery.
Spend summer holidays in England with truly quintessential English experiences.
Here’s How You Might Enjoy Spending a Summer in England
1# Have a Boatload of Fun a Henley Regatta
When: end June/early July Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
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The Henley Regatta or to give its full title The Henley Royal Regatta is a unique annual event and an important part of the English “season”.
First held as a carnival in 1839, the regatta is considered an important social as well as sporting event.
The Regatta is held at the very end of June or early July at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire the event lasts for 5 days and is an excuse to drink plenty of chilled champagne or Pimms cocktails.
However, the 2021 regatta will see an extra day added to accommodate two new women’s races into the programme.
It used to be a time to wear striped jackets and straw boaters, the uniform being synonymous with Henley Regatta and whilst this is still partly true, these days visitors must follow a different but strict dress code:
The Stewards Enclosure is the “top” area and members must be backed by two existing members to apply, there is a long waiting list of between five and eight years.
This area also has the most strict dress code and even the use of mobile phones is banned, the Stewards Enclosure is a members only section where members who have pre-bought tickets may bring guests, as long as the guests follow the dress code and rules.
No children under ten years are allowed in this area.
So if you are invited to the Stewards Enclosure remember you will need to remember this dress code:
Lounge suits, or jacket or blazer with flannels a cravat or tie must be worn.
Ladies must wear a dress or skirt with a hemline below the knee and will not be allowed in if wearing trousers, culottes or any type of divided skirt. Not essential, but ladies are expected to wear a hat.
The Regatta Enclosure is on the opposite side of the river in Berkshire and is open to competitors and the public. Ladies are only allowed one small handbag and this area always has strict search policy.
There is not a strict dress code for the Regatta Enclosure, but expect to dress smartly and think, meeting the mother in law or a wedding rather than a night on the town, no denim, sportswear or trainers.
The enclosure is just a five-minute walk from the railway station and opens half an hour before the first race and there is food and drink available.
2# Seas the Day at Cowes Week
West Cowes, Isle of Wight
Retaining the boating theme Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight is also an annual event and usually takes place in early August.
Established in 1826 the modern event has seen many changes and more races added.
To see the many yachts out around the area is an exhilarating sight and even the casual visitor can pick a team to support and watch their progress either from the land or from a boat.
Chartered boats are available to get out on the water and closer to the action, but the best viewpoints are on The Parade or The Green on land. Between 800 and 1000 boats compete in different races and there is always a buzz in the air and a real festival atmosphere.
The free to enter Cowes Parade Village is a temporary “village” set up for the event and a great place to enjoy the festival feel and where you can get drinks and food to suit all.
3# Brighten My Day Brighton
There is something very special and unique about the Sussex City of Brighton and Hove.
To get the most out of a trip to Brighton, you need to have an idea what you are going to do whilst there as there is so much to see and do.
As a seaside town, Brighton is always more fun in the summer.
Must do’s during a visit to Brighton is to visit and spend time in the area known as The Lanes. Full of antique shops, designer boutiques and jewellers the lanes are a joy and a unique experience.
Partly olde worlde, partly bohemian but always a joy, they feature some great vegan cafes and look out for the Banksy street art.
A short walk from The Lanes is the Royal Pavilion, commissioned by King George IV as a seaside pleasure palace and completed in 1830’s the pavilion is extravagant and opulent and is the only British Royal Palace not owned by the crown or the state and has an interesting and varied history.
Its central location ensures that not only is it the main Brighton landmark, but it is easily accessible.
A much newer addition to Brighton’s must-see/do attractions is the British Airway i360 Viewing Tower Bar a three hundred and sixty-degree view over Brighton and out to sea, the seafront based tower is taller than the London Eye and is wheelchair accessible. The tower offers fantastic views and a unique bar experience.
A visit to Brighton would not be complete without a stroll along Madeira Drive, a sea-level road that sits below the main road towards the marina.
The road gives lovely views out to sea and features lovely ironwork arches and whilst there maybe go for a swim or paddle on the shingle beach.
Brighton used to have two piers, one burnt down, but the Palace Pier with its slot machines, rock shop and junk food remains and is at the junction of Madeira Drive and the A259.
4# Have a Wheelie Good Time on the Cycle Trail
Hire a bike or take your own, up and down the country there are old disused railway lines made into cycle paths and walkways and many of them have a cycle hire shop nearby.
The paths are frequently ideal for walkers and joggers as well, many being pushchair and wheelchair friendly.
A fine example is The Camel Trail in Cornwall which takes its name from the town of Camelford where part of the trail goes.
Covering approximately 20 miles the trail is frequently started midway along the trail at Wadebridge, but I think it is best started at Bodmin where there is a bicycle hire shop and parking.
The nicely surfaced trail is almost level and there is even a steam train station alongside part of it where it is possible to see the trains steam trains or even catch one.
Other attractions on the trail include a vineyard, tea rooms and a public house.
The nature is lovely with several species of wildflowers and views of moorland and the river, the trail is frequently wooded, the surfaced path going through woodland making it a sheltered outing on a hot day.
There is a small section that requires users to join a busy road in Wadebridge, but otherwise is a safe, serene environment for all users.
The main part of the trail is managed by Sustrans who manage many cycle paths created from old railway lines all over the country, thus ensuring safe leisure for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders in some areas too.
Like The Camel Trail many of the cycle paths have handy parking areas and cycle hire shops nearby.
5# Out and Aboat – Poole Harbour Tour
Poole Harbour Tour
Being an island, there are plenty of opportunities to go on a boat off of the English coast or on one of the many rivers.
If you have not experienced sea sailing before then a tour of the unique and sheltered Poole Harbour is a great tour to start and offers a highly entertaining experience without the wildness of the open sea.
The tour takes ninety minutes and includes the Sandbanks Peninsula with its footballers houses, Brownsea Island famous for the brown squirrel and the famous Old Harry Rocks at Studland Bay.
The tour offers a lovely experience featuring live commentary, pointing out everything from the multi-million-pound waterfront houses to the abundant nature.
The boat has an open upper deck for an outside sea-salt experience or the more comfortable lower saloon lounge has a fully licensed bar.
It is a great way to experience seeing boats come and go and maybe even one of the new Sunseeker motor yachts being tested from the close water level vantage point of the tour boat.
The harbour offers a variety and has a wonderful heritage.
6# Dance Away at a Music Festival
When: Various Dates
With performing arts being such an important part of life in England, no summer is complete without a trip to a music festival.
There are many to choose from and often your choice will depend on the headline acts, yet sometimes it is the lesser known acts that you remember long after the excitement of seeing a favourite star from a distance.
Glastonbury is the biggest and most famous. Started in 1970 it has grown and grown and is held in the last weekend of June most summers.
In the early 2000s the festival was made much bigger with more camping areas and a bigger Pyramid Stage and admits around one hundred and thirty thousand revellers each festival.
These days it has a hundred or more stages and is sure to have something for everyone.
For a smaller family friendly vibe check out Camp Bestival held in the grounds of Lulworth Castle, Dorset at the end of July or Early August the festival features several different types of camping options, mainly for tents there is a trailer tent and caravan area and a camper van field.
There is dressing up, clowns, fairground rides, adventure trails and much, much more to keep the children entertained as well as the music.
The musical acts are various and previous acts have included Blondie, Madness, TPau, Mark Ronson, Jess Glynne, Tears for Fears and Fat Boy Slim.
7# Eat Your Way Through the Vegan Festival
Enjoy a vegan festival or camp out; here are a couple of the bigger ones:
Great Yorkshire Vegan Festival, Leeds, Yorkshire
When: Mid June
If you are a vegan this is a must go to festival, for vegetarians, flexitarians and the curious there is a lot of delish plant-based food and with one hundred and fifty stalls each day so much to try and to learn about. The festival includes informative talks and workshops, cooking demos, yoga, music and live entertainment.
Vegan Camp Out, Newark, Nottingham
The Vegan camp out weekend offers a weekend of camping, talks, yoga and fun. Attendees can camp on-site or stay nearby and have a day pass and it is described as the worlds largest vegan festival and the most international vegan event.
8# Sealiously visit the Seal Sanctuary
The seal sanctuary is a charity that rescues and rehabilitates Grey Seal pups from around the Cornish coast.
The main reason for the existence of the Seal Sanctuary is the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured seals from around the coastline and every year they rehabilitate approximately 70 grey seals returning them to the wild.
However, some seals and some other similar species that would not survive in the wild have a permanent home at the sanctuary.
Needing to raise funds the charities trustees realised that they could open the gates and charge people to visit the centre.
They also realised that it was an effective way of educating people about the work they do and the species’ they help.
These days the sanctuary is open to visitors 364 days of the year from 11am to 4pm, closed only on Christmas day. To get the most out of a visit the best time to visit in the summer.
The sanctuary is in Gweek a sweet little unassuming Cornish village three and a half miles from Helston and surprisingly far inland close to the Helford River.
Located close to the river bank on the south coast, the sanctuary enjoys glorious sunshine and is a truly glorious place to be in the summer.
There are plenty of walks, picnic areas or areas to sit and enjoy the view. The staff are on hand to answer any questions and they talk to visitors about the animals at feeding times.
A must visit if in Cornwall and you are interested in conservation.
9# Visit Stonehenge for the Solstice Experience
When: Summer Solstice
Enjoy the vibe of an all-nighter at this famous location in Wiltshire. Built by Neolithic and Bronze Age people the original reason for Stonehenge is unknown to us with any certainly although many believe that the site was created with some sort of religious reason.
The stones are arranged in such a way that at both the winter and summer solstices the sun sets and rises in perfect alignment with the stones and it is a fantastic phenomenon to experience.
Pagans believe that it was built to celebrate the sun and the moon and these days some four thousand five hundred years later it is a place of celebration for Pagans, Druids and many other new age or curious people at the two solstices and at other times.
Today, it is a particularly important site for Pagans and Druids at the winter solstice, but for casual observers, the summer solstice is a great place to witness the phenomenon of the sunset and to enjoy the summer solstice and see the various celebrations.
Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site and is managed and protected by English Heritage, so it is no longer possible to get up close and touch the stones, unless by a pre-booked individual tour. However, they do usually allow managed open access for the solstices.
10# Go Glamping
Yurts, Pods, Shepherd Huts, Bell Tents and more….. All come under the heading of Glamping, luxury camping for the discerning.
The word Glamping comes from “Glamorous Camping” which sums it up pretty well.
All over England, there are Glamping sites, either whole centres set up for it, individual accommodation or a few options at a campsite or on someone’s land.
Glamping accommodation is freestanding and close to nature, glamping is what you make it, get back to nature, have an alternative luxury break or something in between.
Just be sure to ensure you are getting the level of accommodation your desire when making a booking. With so many to choose from a good glamping experience in the place you want is bound to be achievable, here are some interesting ones:
Green Valley Yurts
Green Valley Yurts near Dorchester in Dorset offers a tranquil yurt or bell tent experience; there are three yurts in a beautiful stunning meadow and the addition of three bell tents in the summer months.
The yurts are tastefully furnished and have a double bed, futons, cosy blankets and cushions, a wood-burner and an outside fire pit.
There is a small shared barn space with fridges and freezers as well as washing up facilities, showers, toilets and a bath.
Yurt or Pod
Near Stowmarket in Suffolk you could stay in Gertie the Yurt, the individual, the traditional yurt is based in the glorious Suffolk countryside and has a kitchen area complete with fridge, kettle, toaster, combi-microwave and all the kitchen bits you will need.
There is a double bed, a single bed and camp beds table and chairs, wood-burning stove and separate private toilet and shower facilities.
Gertie shares her paddock with two pods which offer a slightly different experience and have overhead heaters and air conditioning for the discerning traveller.
The pods are much smaller and have a bed settee that pulls out into a double, a camp bed and a children’s floor mattress.
Again, there is a kitchen area with fridge, kettle, toaster and combi-microwave and individual shower and toilet pod nearby.
To enjoy a stay in a genuine 1890’s Shepherds Hut head for Dover and Greenhill Farm. Updated to give the luxury and peace that discerning glampers want the shepherd’s hut is situated in its own meadow with stunning countryside views of the Kent downs.
The hut has a generous king-size bed, en suite and kitchen area as well as a wood burner and a fire pit outside.
Lloyds Meadow in Chester
For a closer to camping experience head for Lloyds Meadow in Chester, Cheshire and their bell tents. But these five-metre bell tents are nothing like the basic camping experience, these are tall enough to stand up in for a start and feature comfortable beds, built-in groundsheets and Indian cotton rugs, if you want to cook, you’ll need to bring the required equipment with you or pay extra for a pack.
Showers and toilets are nearby and flat shoes or even wellington boots and a torch are recommended as must a to bring!
There is a pub within walking distance and this is the stepping stone experience between real glamping and real camping.
11# Enjoy a Drink in a Pub Beer Garden
The English love their pubs, especially during summer! We flock to the nearest pubs that have a beer garden or a riverside. If there is no garden then the streets will be lined with people catching the sun.
Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy summer than sitting in a lovely garden drinking a cold beer to cool down.
For something unique in microbreweries in London check out the Bermondsey Beer Mile.
12# Explore an English Winery
When you think of wine regions England is not the first place that comes to mind. There are quite a few wineries in Kent and a great starting point to get your taste for English wine.
I highly recommend visiting Mount Vineyard and booking the wine tasting. One of the lovely staff members will walk you through English Wine Making in Kent, about English winemakers in the area and general history on how winemaking started.
The Mount Vineyard is located just outside of London in Shoreham making it one of the perfect day trips from London by train.
Watch this video guide on exploring a day out in Mount Vineyard.
13# Connect with Nature in the Lake District
In the northwest corner of England, in the county of Cumbria is the Lake District. It’s famous for its quaint villages that are set in a picturesque landscape of lakes, mountains, forest and fells.
It’s a great destination to escape during the summer and the heat. Try some waterbased activities like:
- boat cruises
- water skiing
- stand-up paddleboarding
- and canoeing.
If water isn’t your thing, there are plenty of alternatives to discover, like:
- Theatre on the Lake
- Lake District Summer Music
- Kendal Calling
- Brewery Arts Centre
14# Find a Sandy Beach
After searching for a sandy beach in the UK for years I honestly thought it was a myth but trust me there are some dotted around England.
They may not live up to my Australian dreamy beaches but the areas are still stunning.
Here are some ideas:
- Botany Bay: Kent
- Woolacombe Beach: Devon
- Porthminster Beach: Cornwall
- Bournemouth Beach: Dorset
- Compton Bay: Isle of Wight
- Runswick Bay: Yorkshire
Btw there are plenty of amazing beachside towns to visit in England so if you just want some sun and beach you will have plenty to choose from.
15# Go Punting in Cambridge
If you have seen pictures of things to do in England then you have surely come across some punting photos.
A punt resembles a Venetian gondola but instead of a curved bottom, it’s flat. The boat is steered by standing on the back and using a pole to push off from the riverbed. It can be quite entertaining watching self-punted boats compared to the organised tours. Punting takes skill and dexterity to steer.
It’s a great way of spending a summers day along the canals enjoying the views of Cambridge.
16# Take a Hike in One England’s Forest
Located all over the country you will discover Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which boost great forest and woodlands to hike.
From ancient woodlands, to giant beech trees, to hidden grassy glades, waterfalls, forest is filled with beautiful wildflowers and rivers England makes for a beautiful hike where ever you choose.
For some inspiration, here are 15 Spectacular Forest And Woodland Walks In England.
17# Picnic in a Local or Royal Park
The Brits love heading to green space or the sea when it’s warm. Having a picnic whilst soaking up the sun just makes it so much better. After all, we don’t get too much sunlight throughout the year.
Either follow the locals to the closest park or open Google’s maps to see the closest one to you. Make sure you pack a blanket, some snacks and cold drinks! You will even discover portable BBQs in the shops when summer fully hits.
Ps. You are allowed to drink in most parks in England.
18# Watch a Cricket Game
When: April to September
Watching cricket is quintessentially British and traditional summer gamed played. The cricket season lasts from April to September.
With major cricket grounds located all over England and some of the most famous in the world, you can imagine it attracts a crowd.
Local games are the easiest to score tickets to and can generally get these for £5+ depending on what team you want to watch. Check the ground for the latest matches available.
For big international matches, these need to be booked far in advance and likely will sell out if you’re not quick enough.
Where to watch a cricket match:
- Lord’s, London
- Bristol County Ground, Bristol
- Edgbaston, Birmingham
- Headingley, Leeds
- The Oval, London
- Old Trafford, Manchester
- Trent Bridge, Nottingham
19# Explore One of Englands Canals
Across England’s major cities, you will discover a network of canals that run through them. From people living in canal boats, people walking their dog, taking a leisurely cycle to just looking for a place to relax, it’s a great place to spend the summer.
These canals became popular in the 18th century (also known as the Canal Age) as a part of the industrial revolution which is why we have so many today.
Some of my favourite places to visit in London is Little Venice, Hackney Wick (which has a great range of breweries) and the little restaurants and cafes scattered around.
20# Open-Air Theatre or Cinema
When: During the Summer Month
Venues across England will ensure that our summer months and extra hours of daylight will have al fresco entertainment with Open-Air Theatre or Cinema.
Lots of venues will allow you to pack a picnic hamper and bring along rugs to get comfortable in the open-air settings. Do check the T&Cs first.
Check the local newspapers, Timeout Magazine and websites for the events in your area as they do change year to year. Here are some more regular venues and shows:
- Rooftop Film Club – multiple venues across London
- Kilworth House Theatre – grounds of Kilworth House Hotel in south Leicestershire
- Stamford Shakespeare Company – Tolethorpe Hall, Stamford
- Heartbreak Productions – Various venues
21# Cool Down in a Lido
Lidos are located around the country which are ideal for cooling down during the heat. It’s a popular way to cool down so during peak times you’ll have to queue to get your cold-water fix.
The first open air swimming pools were built in the mid-1800s. Then it raised in popularity where 169 outdoor pools were built all over the country in the 1930’s.
As like anything, funding cuts hit and lots were shut down or demolished. Thanks to those who wanted to preserve them and spent the last decade to bring them up to scratch we still have plenty to visit.
Fancy taking a dip or swim here are a few lidos you can visit:
- Saltdean Lido, Brighton
- Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham
- Jubilee Pool, Cornwall
- Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds – Hampstead Heath
- Oasis Sports Centre – Covent Garden
- Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex
- London Fields Lido – Hackney
- Serpentine Lido – Knightsbridge
- Lymington Sea Water Baths, Hampshire
- Brockwell Lido – Herne Hill
- Tinside Lido, Plymouth
- Clifton Lido, Bristol
22# Watch the Tennis Championships at Wimbledon
Tennis Championships at Wimbledon is the oldest tennis championship in the world and one of the most prestigious you could watch. The first few weeks in July is when the games will start.
Whether you buy premium tickets, line up on the day or picnic outside watching the big screens watching Wimbledon should be on the summer must-see list.
Don’t forget the classic snack and drinks! Sipping Pimms or eating strawberries with clotted cream all add to the experience.
23# Watch Cars Flyby at British Grand Prix
Watching the car fly by at the British Grand Prix is one of the best sporting events to watch. It has been held annually in England since 1948 and the races have been held at the historic Silverstone Circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire since 1987.
Formula One (also known as F1) is the highest class of single-seater auto racing so you know you can expect a day of adrenaline-filled races.
You can either grab a one day or the three-day weekend pass to see the F1.
These twenty-three options and suggestions are just an idea of some of the things that we can do in an English summer.
The selected things that can be done anytime are best experienced in the summer and the events that are listed will have a different date each year, but this year’s date can easily be found on-line.
The suggestions in different parts of the country could easily be enjoyed as part of a short or longer break if they are not within easy reach of your location. Go out and explore and enjoy your English summer.
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.