Literary attractions a holiday draw for more than half of Brits

To mark the 20th anniversary of World Book Day on 2 March 2017 new research from VisitEngland shows that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England.

Findings also show that 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.

VisitEngland’s first ever research into literary tourism, which surveyed more than 1,200 people, found that 21% of trips with a literary link were to London. Famous for its connections with Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens, the capital just pipped Yorkshire to pole position.

The figures also show that 20% of trips with a literary link were to 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.

VisitEngland Director Patricia Yates said: 

“Books fire up our imagination, they conjure up people and places and they inspire us to explore locations and landscapes associated with our favourite stories. Our literary heroes have created a wealth of must-see literary attractions across the country, motivating generations of readers to explore and discover more of regional England.” 

Kirsten Grant, Director, World Book Day, said: 

“World Book Day is all about celebrating and promoting the pleasures of books and reading. We know that, for readers of all ages, interest in characters and book settings extends well beyond the page. We would love everyone to join our celebration and do something booky for World Book Day this year, whether getting down to their local bookshop, visiting a literary destination or simply reading a good book! We are delighted to be partnering with VisitEngland and National Trust to celebrate our special anniversary year. Literary destinations all over the country will be taking part in events on World Book Day itself and through World Book Day weekend, so find out what is happening near you.” 

England is home to more than 50 literature-related attractions, spanning authors’ homes, dedicated museums and world-renowned libraries. Sites associated with luminary writers Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare were the most popular among the English authors the research asked about, with half of respondents expressing an interest in visiting. Also high on the wish-list were locations associated with Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Beatrix Potter, JRR Tolkien and Arthur Conan Doyle.

VisitEngland has named 2017 the ‘Year of Literary Heroes’ in recognition of this year’s milestone literary events including the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and 75 years of The Famous Five.

Tourism is worth more than £127 billion annually to the UK economy.

Top 10 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.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/worldbookday(link is external) / www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wray-castle(link is external)

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.
http://www.nationalexpress.com/offers/promo-codes.aspx (link is external)

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(link is external) / www.english-heritage.org.uk(link is external)

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 20 years 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.
www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/oodlesofdoodles (link is external)

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.
www.rsc.org.uk/exhibitions/draw-new-mischief (link is external)

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.
www.discoverenglandtours.com/jane-austen-thomas-hardy-literary-tours(link is external)

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 of The Valley of the Fear.
www.tours-international.com/group-travel/literary/sherlock-holmes-125th-anniversary-tour (link is external)

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.
www.drifters.co.uk(link is external)

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.
www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/the-tour-experience/whats-on(link is external)

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.
www.foottrails.co.uk/holidays/tesss-journey(link is external)

For more literary inspiration check#BookEngland. #WorldBookDay20.

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