Friday, 10 November 2017

Enjoy a Victorian Christmas with Visit Isle of Wight

Visitors to the Isle of Wight can immerse themselves in a Victorian Christmas this winter with a variety of festive events and traditional entertainment from times gone by.

The Victorian era has seen a resurgence thanks to the recently released film Victoria & Abdul and ITV’s drama Victoria, so why not see how Christmas was celebrated by Queen Victoria and the Royal family in the Queen’s favourite home by the sea at Osborne? On selected dates in December, Christmas at Osborne offers festive guided tours to see the house ‘dressed’ for Christmas as it would have been during the Royal reign with Christmas trees, rooms decorated throughout and grand dining tables set for a festive feast.

For the first time ever, Osborne is opening its grounds after dark with a stunning fairytale of light, colour and sound. Enchanted Osborne takes place from 15-23 December. Follow an illuminated, festive garden trail swathed in strings of lanterns and fairy lights and emerge into a scene of a traditional fairground with a myriad of old-fashioned entertainment.

In addition, The Spectacular Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival, which takes place 7-10 December, sees local churches, pubs and community halls in and around Brighstone and Mottistone, come together to showcase over 200 ‘theme decorated’ trees.

The totally unique and free event includes Santa's Snowy Grotto, musical entertainment with concerts and carol singing, craft fairs, lace-making demonstrations, handbell ringing and an outdoor nativity pageant performed with local cast and musicians. The tree displays then continue in three locations from 11 December to 2 January, without the additional activities, at The Parish Church, the Isle of Wight Pearl and the Methodist Chapel.

David Thornton, CEO of Visit Isle of Wight, said:

'The Isle of Wight is a magical place to be during the festive season with its thatched pubs, spectacular coastal winter walks and quintessentially English villages.

'But the Island’s connections with Queen Victoria and its popularity amongst figures of note during the Victorian era – Edward Lear, Alfred Tennyson and Charles Dickens to name a few – means that visitors can step into England’s past.

'If you want to experience authentic or traditional Christmas celebrations, the Isle of Wight is the place to be.'

For additional seasonal fun this December, kids will love Santa’s Specials at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway with its Winter Wonderland, Christmas market, live music, entertainment and magic shows, all rounded off with a visit to see Father Christmas and a trip aboard a majestic steam train.

For those coming to the Isle of Wight to discover a Victorian Christmas, there is a huge choice of accommodation across the Island. Stay in cosy thatched cottages, seaside apartments, boutique B&Bs, luxury hotels, pooch-friendly pads or large, self-catering properties for big groups.

A two-night stay on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis at The Hambrough, Ventnor costs from £210 per person based on two people sharing an executive sea view room. Valid from 26 November to 21 December 2017, Tuesday to Saturday, the price includes return car ferry crossing from Southampton with Red Funnel.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Celebrate Boxing Day at Blenheim Palace

Discover a winter wonderland at Blenheim Palace this Boxing Day. For the first time the Palace, Park and Gardens will be open on 26 December and visitors are invited to enjoy the splendour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For the best colours

Discover beautiful winter sunsets over Blenheim Palace and the surrounding Parkland. Plus for those up early enjoy the muted colours on frosty morning walks and rich winter greens on the evergreen trees dotted around the Great Lake.

For bird lovers

Visitors can enjoy spotting flocks of winter birds including Snipe, Smew, majestic white ducks with incredible plumage and distinct black masks, and siskins, who bring a beautiful rich yellow colour to the landscape. Blenheim Palace Parkland is also home to many small members of the finch family, including the gregarious orange breasted Brambling, the noisy autumnal coloured Crossbill and the Redpoll.

For the best walks

Wrap up warm in the Blenheim Tweed Blankets, available from the East Courtyard Gift Shop, and head out to take the Lake and Cascade walk, perfect for wildlife spotting and frost tipped trees. From the Water Terraces, follow the signs for the Rose Garden, the Cascade and the Pump House. Follow the slope above the Cascade and continue along the edge of the lake to the Boathouse, then up the slope to the bottom of the Water Terraces.

This walk takes in some difficult terrain, so walking shoes are recommended. The Dam and Cascade has a walkway and viewing area.

For the best heritage

Discover the Column of Victory in all its frosty glory on chilly mornings and watch the sun come up over the Palace. The Column of Victory was erected between 1727 – 1730 and serves as a 134 ft high statement reflecting the military prowess of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, which earned him Blenheim Palace.

If it’s too cold...

Head indoors to take the guided State Rooms Tour where a passionate guide will take you around the opulent rooms of Blenheim Palace. Discover over 300 years of Marlborough family history in paintings, tapestries and incredible furniture. Finish off with a warm seasonal lunch in The Orangery Restaurant, which overlooks the private Italian Garden.

Boxing Day Lunch

If all the fresh air has made you peckish visit Blenheim Palace’s Orangery Restaurant for a special Boxing Day lunch, served between 12 – 4pm. Inspired by the festive season choose from either two or three courses, enjoy a twist on tradition. From Sloe gin cured local rainbow trout to Honey roast gammon pie, mash, plus if you have room for dessert try the Mulled wine trifle, pecan granola – delicious. Booking necessary.

Christmas Time Cream Tea Special at the Spa Valley Railway

Spend a crisp winters afternoon between Christmas and New Year taking a journey on the Spa Valley Railway and indulging in a Cream Tea! Travel on the 14:45 service from Tunbridge Wells West to Eridge on either the 30th, 31st December or 1st January and see the Winter High Weald countryside from the comfort of the beautifully decorated Bar Car 'Kate' whilst enjoying a wonderful Cream Tea.

Arrive at Tunbridge Wells West for 14:15 and take a look inside the Victorian Engine Shed which will still have Santa's Sleigh and a large Christmas Tree on display.

Board the train at 14:35 and enjoy a delicious cream tea while travelling from Tunbridge Wells West through Groombridge and High Rocks to Eridge Station on one of the railway’s heritage diesel trains.

Upon arrival at Eridge passengers can alight briefly and visit the Christmas Waiting Room and see our Steam Locomotive (which is on the back of the train from Tunbridge Wells West). Rejoin the train ready for the Steam Locomotive to take everyone back up the hill to Tunbridge Wells, arriving back at approximately 16:00.

For just £18 per adult or £9 per child enjoy the following:

Adults - 2x scones, clotted cream, jam and pot of tea plus train travel to Eridge and return in Bar Car 'Kate'.

Enjoy a glass of hot Mulled wine for just £3 on the day too!

Child - 1x scone, clotted cream, jam and carton of apple juice plus train travel to Eridge and return in Bar Car 'Kate'.

Passengers can choose to just travel on the day without enjoying a Cream Tea.

It’s also a Kids for a Quid & Mince Pie Specials Promotion at this time of year when children can travel for just £1 and every adult can enjoy a complimentary Mince Pie on the outward journey from Tunbridge Wells West! Our well stocked bar car 'Kate' will even have Mulled Wine on offer at just £3 per cup!

Book online for our Mince Pie Specials & Kids for a Quid here. Please note you do not have to book for this if you're booking. To book train tickets and for additional information about the Spa Valley Railway visit

Spa Valley Railway, West Station, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN2 5QY

Telephone: 01892 537715

Monday, 6 November 2017

New exhibition to celebrate William Blake's relationship with Sussex comes to Petworth House

The Sea of Time and Space, 1821, Pen and ink and watercolour on paper

A major new exhibition at the National Trust’s Petworth House is the first of its kind to celebrate William Blake’s relationship with Sussex. Some of Blake’s greatest works from poetry to painting will be displayed at Petworth House in West Sussex this winter. This exhibition is the first to bring together for display many of the works that were inspired by his experience living in Sussex.

Sussex remains the only area outside of London that Blake ever lived, spending three years in Sussex from 1800 to 1803 with his wife Catherine, renting a cottage in Felpham that he described as ‘the sweetest spot on Earth’. Petworth will re-unite Blake’s works made during his time at Felpham along with later pieces that were informed by the landscapes of the Sussex coast and countryside.

The exhibition will include extraordinary works by Blake on loan from the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Tate. These will be combined with three paintings by Blake from the Petworth collection and a fourth on loan from the National Trust’s Arlington Court, Devon.

This new exhibition has particular significance to Petworth. Elizabeth Ilive, mistress and then wife to George Wyndham, the 3Earl of Egremont, commissioned Blake to paint The Last Judgement, 1808 and Satan calling up his Legions, c. 1800-1805, both of which are usually displayed in the mansion. The Last Judgement is of particular significance given that the watercolour likely features Elizabeth ascending to Heaven with her six children beside an artist that may represent Blake.

These two paintings will be displayed alongside a third painting by Blake, Characters from Spenser’s Faery Queen, 1825, purchased by the Earl of Egremont from the artist’s widow as a philanthropic gesture.

Petworth House and Gardens

The inclusion of Blake’s work at Petworth stands as the only example of his work within an English country house collection. This suggests the patrons had a forward thinking taste in art which led them to commission visionary paintings from an artist largely unheard of during his own lifetime, considered mad by his contemporaries and someone who had been tried for sedition. Elizabeth Ilive’s role also demonstrates a revolutionary woman of the period by taking an active role in commissioning artists.

Andrew Loukes, Exhibitions Manager, said: 'William Blake in Sussex is not only a subject of great local interest but also of national cultural significance, not least because the famous lines that were later adopted for the song Jerusalem were written in the county.

'It’s very exciting to be mounting the first exhibition to re-unite many of Blake’s Sussex-related works, especially at Petworth – the only great English country house to hold major paintings by the artist.'

An unmissable addition to the exhibition, on loan from the British Museum, will be the hand coloured relief etching of Blake’s illustrated epic poem Milton, of which only four are still in existence. Written and illustrated between 1804-1811, the preface to Milton, ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ was adopted for the anthem Jerusalem.

One of the illustrations for display from the poem depicts Blake’s conception of Milton; a spirit of John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, in the shape of a comet landing on the foot of Blake. A second illustration, of the cottage at Felpham, overtly references Blake’s experiences in Sussex, with the text ‘In Felpham I saw Visions of Albion.’

Blake’s The Sea of Time and Space, 1821, a watercolour of a stormy coastal scene will also be a part of the exhibition. Discovered at Arlington Court above a wardrobe in the housemaid’s pantry when the house was given to the National Trust in 1947, little is known of how – or why – it came to be there.

Alongside this will be a parallel exhibit showing the original drawings by the author and President of the Blake Society, Philip Pullman, made for the internationally acclaimed His Dark Materials books that echo John Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. These chosen illustrations will feature as part of an immersive experience in the Red Room using projections, sound and text to connect these Miltonian works within the wider context of the exhibition.

Early booking is recommended for William Blake in West Sussex: Visions of Albion, at Petworth from 13 January to 25 March. Entry is by pre-booked, timed tickets only, which are on sale from 5 October from or 0344 249 1895. £12 for National Trust members or £16 for non-members, ticket includes entry to the gardens, parkland and selected rooms in the house.

The exhibition will take place between 13th Jan - 25 Mar 2018.

Friday, 3 November 2017

The LEGO® group to unveil world record build in Brighton

In May, LEGO was awarded a Guinness World Record for creating the world’s largest wind turbine made from LEGO bricks, and now the build is moving to its new home at Park Square, Brighton Marina.

Made with over 146,000 LEGO Bricks the impressive structure took 10-15 people per shift (with three shifts per day) and 600 man hours to complete!

The build was originally constructed in celebration of the LEGO Group reaching its target of 100% renewable energy capacity a whole three years early!

The wind turbine will stay in place at Park Square, Brighton Marina until early 2018.

LEGO supports all investment in renewable energy and we aim to engage with children on this very important issue. In fact, from the turbine’s new location, visitors will be able to see the new Rampion Offshore Wind Farm, the south coast’s first offshore wind farm. With 116 turbines standing at 140 metres to their blade tip, the wind farm will produce enough green electricity to power the equivalent of almost 350,000 homes, once it is fully operational in 2018. This is equivalent to around half the homes in the whole of Sussex.

Planet Crew Workshop - LEGO® Store, Churchill Square Shopping Centre

The LEGO Store at Churchill Square Shopping Centre will also be hosting a Build the Change workshop on Saturday 4th November, from 10am to 3pm. The team will be running a day of environmental-themed building fun where visitors will be encouraged to use their creativity and imagination to build a renewable energy machine that can capture the wind and provide energy to power their lives.

LEGO® Batman will be making a guest appearance on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th November between 11am and 2pm at the LEGO store where guests can come along to have their picture taken and take part in our free Make & Take event.

Brighton LEGO Store, Churchill Square Shopping Centre, Russell Place, Brighton, BN1 2TF

Saturday 4th November 11am – 2pm

Sunday 5th November 11am – 2pm

Monday, 30 October 2017

Restoration Reveals Rare Coffer's Hidden Secrets at Blenheim Palace

View of Blenheim Palace Boulle coffer showing hidden drawers 

A rare 18th century coffer, used to hold jewellery and other precious objects, has revealed its hidden secrets following a restoration programme at Blenheim Palace.

Designed by André Charles Boulle in around 1685, the Louis XIV coffer is among the finest examples of a process known as marquetry which was pioneered by the French master cabinetmaker.

In 2009 a pair of similar Boulle Louis XIV coffers were sold for more than £2.6m at Christie’s.

'Boulle was considered the ‘most skilled artisan in Paris’ and was awarded the title of cabinetmaker and sculptor to King Louis XIV in 1672,” said Blenheim Palace’s Kate Ballenger.

'Our coffer is believed to have been among a number of items purchased by the 9th Duke of Marlborough after his marriage to Consuelo Vanderbilt in 1895.

'Due to the process and materials used it is very fragile and susceptible to environmental change over the centuries. As a result some sections of the marquetry had begun to separate and we took the decision to bring in a specialist restorer,' she added.

In Boulle Marquetry, thin sheets of brass, pewter and tortoiseshell are sandwiched together and the design, placed on top, is cut out with a fretsaw, providing identically shaped patterns in each material.

The separated pieces are combined to produce a design of brass on a background of tortoiseshell.

During the cleaning and restoration process, restorer Ludovic Potts was able to unpick a section of the coffer which had been remained locked for decades.

'Originally the coffer was designed to hold jewellery and other precious objects,' said Kate. 'For as long as anyone can remember the upper section of the coffer has remained locked as the key had been mislaid.

'When Ludovic was able to finally open the upper lid of the coffer he discovered Boulle had created a series of secret compartments hidden behind hinges where items of particular value could be concealed.

'The newly-opened upper section of the coffer reveals Boulle’s extraordinary craftsmanship in its original state; although sadly all the secret drawers were empty,' she added.

Assistant house manager Carmen Alvarez opens the Boulle coffer at Blenheim Palace 

Blenheim Palace’s coffer is one of three, the other two are in the Getty Museum, known as ‘du Grand Dauphin’ which have been traditionally associated with the marriage of the Grand Dauphin in 1680. The Blenheim example most closely fits an entry in the inventory of the collections of the Grand Dauphin in 1689.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Chewton Glen supports Ocean Brothers Atlantic Fundraiser

Local 5 star luxury country house hotel in Hampshire, Chewton Glen heavily supports the Ocean Brothers Gala Dinner which is set to be one of the biggest local fundraising events of the year. All proceeds go to the British Skin Foundation whilst guests enjoy a 3 course meal, drinks, major explorers speaking and live band the Late Shift comprising of medical professionals at this black tie event. Half-brothers Dr Greg Bailey (27) and Jude Massey (18) set off on January 15th 2018 to row the Atlantic for their late father/ stepfather and so far have raised £34,000 towards their goal of £100,000 to fund research into the illness which killed their father.

Guest speaker Dr Mike Stroud OBE, Sir Ranulph Fiennes climbing partner will be entertaining guests on many of his greatest adventures. Local inspirational speaker and auctioneer Manley Hopkinson has generously waived his fee and will be supporting the Ocean Brothers by conducting their live auction which includes prizes from the partner hotel Cliveden House with a 2 night stay for 6 with spa treatments and a champagne cruise on the river Thames worth £6,500 and also a lunch for 12 at the Chewton Glen with a gin masterclass with local producer Pothecary Gin. Also up for grabs is a week stay at a luxury villa for 7 in Corsica kindly gifted by Simpson Travel worth £5,000, a day spent with BBC presenter Dan Snow talking history and lunch at the Montagu Arms and a night navigation commando experience for 6 with Bear Grylls’ right hand man Dave Pearce.

More recently the brothers have just finished their training row to London as pictured which took them a week and saw them finishing in Putney after really getting to grips with living and surviving on the boat for this longer period. They have stirred the hearts of many with their planned voyage in memory of their father/ stepfather and Lymington raised Sir Ben Ainslie has offered these words of support to the brothers, 'Big respect to Greg and Jude as they battle the Atlantic for such an honourable cause, inspired by their own personal loss. You will change people’s lives with your endeavours, Brothers. Row on. Row on'.

The Chewton Glen are eager to support the Ocean Brothers in every way they can and will be promoting and sharing their journey on their website now and when they set off in January 15th, 2018 and throughout the journey. Tickets to the event are almost sold out and so the last few to anyone motivated to support the ocean brothers in their fundraising to fight skin cancer can contact them for more information at

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Santa Specials remain as popular as ever at The Kent & East Sussex Railway

The Kent & East Sussex Railway in Tenterden was the first heritage railway in the UK to sell tickets to meet Santa on a moving train. The first tickets went on sale in 1974, the same year that the railway was granted a Light Railway (Transfer) Order to allow it to operate a heritage steam railway between Tenterden and Rolvenden. The railway now operates over a greater distance of 10 ½ miles between Tenterden and Bodiam. As the popularity of the ‘Santa Specials’ has grown year on year they provide a valuable revenue stream which is now essential to the continued running of Tenterden’s Steam Railway.

Many other heritage railways across the country have followed in the footsteps of the Kent & East Sussex Railway and are now also raising essential annual revenue from their own ‘Santa Specials’ experience.

Helen Douglas, Product and Reservations Manager at the railway said: “We were the first Heritage Railway in the UK to give children the much beloved experience of having Santa come and talk to them and give them a present whilst on a steam train journey. This format is now well recognised as a ‘Santa Special’ experience and this year we have sold more than 50% of our tickets already.

'We are so proud of the popularity of the Santa Specials. Families come back annually and we have many customers who travelled on the Santa Specials as children in the 70s who are now bringing their own grandchildren! The introduction in 2016 of the private compartments was immensely popular and many of the dates this year are already sold out.'

Today the ‘Santa Specials’ experience has grown and now offers additional entertainment at Tenterden Station with unlimited rides on a beautiful Victorian carousel and a chance to walk through a delightful miniature Christmas model village.

On board the experience is much as it began with a festively decorated steam train where every child can meet Santa and his elves during a 1 hour 10 minute return journey. Every child receives an age appropriate gift from Santa and older children between 13 and 15 receive a box of festive chocolates.

Everyone also receives complimentary refreshments too - a mince pie and choice of soft or alcoholic drink for adults and a soft drink & chocolate bar for children. Babies under 18 months of age at the time of travel are free of charge (providing they are not occupying a seat) and there's a little free gift for them too! Every family also receives a free family group photograph to take home as a momento of their special day.

Standard Class Tickets are still great value and start at £18. First Class Tickets from £24. Private Standard Family Compartments from £160 (for up to eight people).

This year the Santa Specials will operate on 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24 December 2017.

To book visit or call 01580 765155. First Class Seats and Standard and First Class Compartments have limited availability and may only be booked by telephone.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Marwell Zoo trains young wizards to fly for half term Halloween festivities

These spook-tacular snaps show trainee wizards defying gravity to master the art of broomstick flying ahead of Halloween.

Channelling their inner witch or wizard, children have been captured on camera flying high at Marwell Zoo as part of their fun-filled half term activities.

Marwell Zoo’s resident wizard professor is now busy putting trainee flyers through their paces to earn their Level 2 broomstick licence. Sessions last 20 minutes and take place each day in the ‘flying arena’ on the front lawn on a first come first served basis.

The magical activity is part of Marwell Zoo’s special event ‘Boo at the Zoo’ which takes place until Sunday (October 29).

Join the scary witch at 11am, 1pm and 3pm for some creepy storytelling in the Haunted Hall.

Meanwhile new for 2017, become part of the magic of Marwell Wildlife by getting creative and making your very own spellbinding wand (£1 fee applies).

Stop by the Pumpkin Patch to design and carve your very own special pumpkin to take home (£3 fee applies).

Wand-making sessions and pumpkin carving workshops are 10.30am until 4pm daily.

Don your scariest costume and transform fully into character with face painting available at the gift shop from 12pm until 4pm daily (£3.99 fee applies).

From ring-tailed coatis to dyeing poison frogs, snake-necked turtles to Amur leopards, cotton-top tamarins to flamingos and giraffes there is an incredible range of species to see and over 140 acres of beautiful parkland to explore with play parks, trains, and animal talks, there is plenty to occupy your little ones whilst you relax and soak up the surroundings.

Visitors can enjoy a range of daily animal talks and feeds including curious coatis, marvellous meerkats and penguin talks.

Marwell Zoo is operated by Marwell Wildlife, an action oriented conservation charity at the forefront of conservation work around the world, working in partnership with communities, statutory agencies and other non-governmental organisations. The charity engages with over 35,000 children and young people through their educational programmes, and welcomes over 500,000 visitors each year to Marwell Zoo.

Marwell Wildlife’s projects extend from the reintroduction of desert antelopes in the Sahara through to community based projects in Northern Kenya and habitat restoration in the south of England.

For more details and for a full list of park events visit the charity's website

Monday, 23 October 2017

Las Iguanas Gunwharf Quays has had a Makeover!

Gunwharf Quays' Las Iguanas celebrated their reopening last week after makeover with a vibrant new look. The quirky restaurant décor reflects the team’s most recent travels to South America, and guests can enjoy an invigorating space that sees comfy banquettes teamed with a backdrop of sunshine shades of yellow, sky blue and turquoise.

Diners can sit back and relax whilst admiring the big bold graphics dancing across the walls, inspired by the colourful selection of street art in Buenos Aires. They are complimented by swathes of foliage and a flash of neon here and there. The biggest change that regulars will notice is that the bar has been moved to create a more comfortable space for Portsmouth’s cocktail aficionados to enjoy.

The menu at Las Iguanas is carefully developed and served up by a team of skilled chefs who love cooking from scratch; discovering unique flavours and inspiring recipes from across Latin America and bringing them to life through high quality, fresh ingredients.

The new menu additions are no exception. Luscious new Ipanema Mussels – cooked in a lightly spiced lime, coriander and coconut sauce and served with ciabatta will tantalise those taste buds whilst the Seco de Cordero - Peruvian style slow cooked lamb shank in a golden ale, red wine and Amarillo chilli sauce, served with roasted sweet potato mash and crispy chilli and onions is a meat lover’s dream.

If meat isn’t your thing, Las Iguanas are Vegetarian Society approved and a new attraction is the Cauliflower and Corn Quinotto, a perfectly cooked Peruvian-style quinoa risotto with smoked cheese, roasted cauliflower and charred baby corn, topped with puffed quinoa and crispy chilli.

If there’s room for dessert, you can continue your journey through the Latin continent with a Banana Empanada, where traditional pastry is hand- filled with banana, sweet plantain and delectable dulce de leche. Served with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of rum-flavoured syrup, this is relaxed dining at its best.

If truly tropical is your thing, the Piña Colada Mess will energise your taste buds; Piña Colada ice cream is served with caramelised pineapple salsa, crispy pineapple pieces and toasted coconut chips… definitely a dessert that will have you daydreaming of Copacabana.

So on to the cocktails… Las Iguanas have turned Happy Hour in to ‘Happy Days’ for Autumn, with all cocktails now available 2 for 1 ALL day, EVERY day. It’s a game changer. Las Iguanas commit to using premium spirits, including their own award-winning artisan Magnifica cachaça distilled by the de Faria family near Rio, in the Famous Brazilian Cocktail the Caipirinha, and there is something for everyone, with 14 newbies on the list.

Try Mezcal Watermelon Smash, a winning combination of Olmeca Tequila, Bru-Xo Mezcal, watermelon, mint, cucumber and lime or the Latin American take on the classic; a ‘Golden’ Porn Star Martini, compromising Gosling’s Gold Rum, apricot, Funkin passion fruit, vanilla and pineapple with a shot of cava. Celebrate spending time with people you like with a host of new sharing drinks.

Alpaca Punch will bowl you over; El Dorado 3 year old Rum, falernum, passion fruit, lime and cranberry, topped up at the table with a showy bottle of Freixenet cava for 4-6 to share. Or dive in with the new Tropical Fishbowl; Beefeater gin, Sauvignon Blanc, passionfruit, elderflower, Ting and a few finned friends swimming around for 3-4. Barrel o’ Caips is a giant version of the signature Caipirinha cocktail made with Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaça and fresh limes, perfect for 3-4 to enjoy this Brazilian classic.

The Hotlist continues to bring you exciting specials each month and if you’re feeling virtuous, there are also plenty of non-alcoholic cocktails and soft drinks to whet your whistle. From this Autumn Las Iguanas will only be giving out plastic straws on request for most drinks, as they commit to reducing usage and environmental impact with their Straws Suck campaign.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Wonderful Wakehurst, a great place to visit all year round

Photo by Anne Frost

Autumn is a beautiful season, don’t you think? The trees are changing colour gradually with a rich mixture of reds, yellows, greens and browns providing such a vivid contrast to the spring and summer. The weather can be variable of course, but fortunately there are still many days when the sun will shine and there will be blue skies, making it the perfect opportunity to get out and about in the South East.

Wakehurst, near Ardingly in West Sussex is the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is open all year round. Whatever the season you can enjoy many days out visiting with family and friends, young or old to enjoy the varied landscape, explore the wide range of different walks. Find out about the important conservation work inside the 21st-century architecture of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank. Wakehurst is well known for its’ superb botanical gardens and its impressive collection of trees that rightly make this such an interesting attraction.

Photo by Anne Frost

This October is the 30th anniversary of the “Great Storm” of 1987, which sadly resulted in several people losing their lives and caused havoc and devastation across much of the country. Wakehurst experienced significant damage too, losing 20,000 trees overnight. As a result, Wakehurst embarked on an ambitious conservation programme to replicate different types of forest from around the world – and when you visit, the success of this project is clearly evident as well as being internationally important.

Today the gardens are beautifully maintained by the friendly and knowledgeable staff and indeed the many volunteers who work so hard to make Wakehurst such a special place, both for people living locally and indeed for visitors from across the UK and abroad. Acers are a particular favourite of mine and autumn is an ideal time of year to appreciate these stunningly attractive trees with their gorgeous foliage of several colours and hues.

Photo by Anne Frost

Wakehurst covers an area of 500 acres in size, so you are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding how to while away a few hours or even spend the whole day there. Take a stroll along the Himalayan Glade, spend time in the peaceful surroundings of the Water Gardens, see the waterfalls and lakes or simply have a walk through the various woods and other gardens. There is also a daily tour organised (lasting approximately 1-1½ hrs) that enables visitors to see plants of seasonal interest and also discover more about the fascinating history of the estate.

Photo by Anne Frost

As a year-round attraction, Wakehurst has a number of events taking place suitable for the family… with plenty of half-term fun guaranteed! The Millenium Seed Bank is the venue for a range of science and art activities for children, including a photo trail to discover which Wakehurst trees were storm survivors; an opportunity to make a flying pheasant and a wind tunnel; and lots of wild play in the Children’s Heritage Garden. The price is £3 per child plus normal garden admission. For more information please click onto the website. Enjoy the half-term holidays!

Written by Simon at Hibou Communication

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Halloween Entertainment at Blenheim Palace

Head to Blenheim Palace for Halloween entertainment this October Half Term. From 21 - 29 October find lots of new Halloween tricks and treats at the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site perfect for a spooktacular family day out.

What's on?

This year Halloween has taken over the Blenheim Palace with thrills and spooks on selected dates happening in the Palace, Great Court, Cinema in The Stables, The Gallery and the Pleasure Gardens too. From find a Crow in the State Rooms to a Spooky Trail to win a Halloween Treat.

Hop on board the Blenheim Palace ghost train which takes you through a creepy tunnel to the Pleasure Gardens where a cackle of witchy goings-on are to be found. Families can lurk around the Labyrinth or take the Mini-Beasts Trail around the Pleasure Gardens. There will be Spooky Tours running throughout the week in the Palace with a ghoulishly special candlelit tour for brave witches and wizards.

Discover the 17th Century Alchemist lurking in The Gallery along with an interactive Mini Beasts Animal Show. See a wicked Wizard Stilt-Walker and enjoy a ghoulishly good Fire Performance set to music in the Great Court.

There will also be classic spooky storytelling in the cinema of the Stables Courtyard with ghostly tales; perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit.

Indulge in a wickedly delicious Halloween Afternoon Tea at The Orangery during October Half Term and discover a whole host of treats in the Pleasure Gardens Deli including ice-scream and toffee apples, with pumpkin carving too!

Don’t miss Blenheim Palace’s bumper Halloween Half Term activities!

Admission Prices

Park & Gardens ticket required: Adult £15.30, Child £7.10, Family £41.00

Ghoulish garden fun at National Trust Stowe this Halloween

Get the kids outdoors this October half-term for some spooktacular fun at National Trust Stowe.

Throughout the school holidays from 21-29 October 10am-5pm, your family can follow the creepy pumpkin trail in the gardens to find the clues and uncover the spooky story of a brave warrior hero, Britomart.

Picking up from where you left off at Easter, the terrifying tale of the Faerie Queene continues. Solve the clues throughout the trail to help Britomart on her daring quest, and claim your creepy crafty prize at the end. Dress up in your best Hallowe’en costumes and share your photos with us via Facebook and Twitter @NTStowe.

The trail costs £1.50 and the money raised goes back to the restoration of the gardens. Normal admissions apply. Pick up your trail from the potting shed, outside the shop.

Visit to find out more information about the gardens and future events. Stowe is located in Buckingham at the tip of North Bucks with great travel links to Milton Keynes (20 mins), Aylesbury (45 mins), Bicester (25 mins), Northampton (35 mins) and Oxford (50 mins).

Torrid Tales Invade the Fortress This October

Ghostly apparitions and torrid tales will be taking over the Redoubt from 21 - 29 October, as the spooky torchlit Twilight Ghost Tours return to the creepy corridors of the fortress.

Featuring new tales of smugglers and drowned sailors, the hour-long frightful torchlit journey into the dark prison cells, casemates and caponiers will uncover some more gruesome stories and chilling accounts of haunted sightings, disease, deadly accidents and even murder.

From the ghostly Lady in the White Gown to the pipe smoke often smelt in the Magazine Room, the twice a night tours led by character actors, will take in over 300 years of history and reported sightings on the seafront and in the fortress.

After the sell-out success of last year, the tours this time return twice-nightly and will offer new stories and new characters in an immersive experience, taking in some new locations, with a few frightful moments along the way.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Cllr Margaret Bannister said:

'The Redoubt takes on a completely different atmosphere at night, glowing in the torchlight and echoing throughout the corridors - it’s a great way to experience how soldiers and their families would have felt in this imposing building. The tours have gone from strength to strength each year, and this year we have lots of new tales to keep returning visitors spooked, with plenty of bangs and screams for good measure!'

The week of frightful fun continues throughout half term with a creepy quiz for little horrors to complete throughout the cobwebbed corridors from 21 – 29 October. With scary bats lurking around every corner, young explorers can try making spooky crafts and enjoy a fangtastic treat at the end of their trail.

On Saturday 28 October, free Stargazing returns in the evening to the Gun Platform with telescopes and talks provided by Eastbourne Astronomical Society from 6 – 8pm. This month stargazers can expect to see the Andromeda Galaxy, Saturn and the sun rising on craters in the moon, along with the possibility of a few shooting stars.

On Halloween, the more daring can experience a night time film screening of The Exorcist (Director’s Cut), as Casemate 20 is transformed into a paranormal film set, followed by a creepy ghost tour of the fortress.

The Redoubt is open every day from 10am to 5pm until 12 November, costing £4.50 per adult and £2.50 per child.

Twilight Ghost Tours run at 6.30pm and 8.15pm each evening from 21 – 29 October, costing £6 per person and are suitable only for adults and those aged 13 and over. Advance booking is essential.

‘The Exorcist’ film evening on 31 October costs £8 per ticket, minimum age 18, doors open 7pm for drinks and popcorn.

For more information or to book online visit or telephone 01323 410300.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Celebrate the Isle of Wight Literary Festival with Red Funnel’s offer

To coincide with the sale of tickets for the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2017 (12-15 October), title sponsor Red Funnel will be offering festival ticket holders 20 percent off vehicle returns from Southampton to East Cowes starting today until the 16 October.

Red Funnel is also offering those heading to the Literary Festival great savings on the Hi-Speed Red Jet service between Southampton and West Cowes, taking foot passengers to the home of the Literary Festival in under 25 minutes. Festival ticket holders can also travel on a day return basis for just £9, or book a different return date for just £12.

Keat’s Cottage that the poet rented in the heart of Shanklin, is now a charming B&B and restaurant and is another of the stops costing as little as £97. The boutique hotel is just a 5 minute walk to the seafront and serves up local Island delicacies with fresh, local produce picked that day.

The festival will be taking place at a host of venues around Cowes and will feature over 70 speakers such as Andrew Marr, Dame Jenni Murray and Frank Gardner. What’s more holidaymakers can enjoy the new Literary Heroes Trail which takes visitors on a journey across the island to discover locations where celebrated writers went on holiday, spent their childhood days and features the places that meant so much to them.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Royal Museums Greenwich announce 2018 exhibitions

National Maritime Museum

2018 is an exciting year for Royal Museums Greenwich, with a number of new galleries and exhibitions opening throughout the year. Autumn will see the opening of the Heritage Lottery funded (HLF) Exploration Wing, four new galleries spanning Pacific and Polar exploration and Britain’s maritime past. At the National Maritime Museum enjoy the work of some of Britain’s best loved photographers, Martin Parr, Tony-Ray Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts in the special exhibition, The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present.

Exploration Wing

National Maritime Museum

Opens September 2018

The ‘Exploration Wing’ will bring four new permanent galleries to the National Maritime Museum in autumn 2018. Looking into exploration in its widest sense, each of the four new galleries will bring the themes alive for people of all ages: ‘Pacific Encounters’; ‘Polar Worlds’; ‘Tudor and Stuart Seafarers’; and ‘Sea Things’, a gallery showcasing the richness of the Museum’s collections. The HLF funded galleries, designed by Casson Mann, will allow the National Maritime Museum to exhibit 1000 more objects from its collections, and provide access to areas of the museum previously closed to visitors.

Pacific Encounters

The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and has been home to many different people and cultures for more than 50,000 years. When the first European explorers sailed to the Pacific in the 17th-century, the encounters between Pacific peoples and Europeans were complex and far reaching in their consequences.

The new ‘Pacific Encounters’ gallery will tell tales of exploration and exploitation, as European travellers ventured into the vast ocean. The gallery will display objects from the voyages of renowned figures, such as Captain Cook, alongside a full size Pacific voyaging canoe - putting the museum’s collections into the broader context of Pacific histories, identities, and the legacies of these early encounters in the Pacific today.

Polar Worlds: past, present, future

The polar regions have been a focus for British exploration and scientific enquiry for centuries. For Britain, the Arctic, and later the Antarctic, became spaces to map and understand, to investigate and discover, to endure and to conquer. They also became theatres of national character and myth – where heroes were made, and sometimes lost. Today, as the world’s climate is changing, the polar regions are once more in the spotlight – the places where the most dramatic shifts are being experienced first, and where our attitudes to the future of our planet are formed.

This new gallery will examine the major British polar expeditions over the past 250 years, including the famous journeys made by Scott and Shackleton. Scientific and geographical investigation were key reasons for such expeditions, resulting in important discoveries about our planet that are still relevant today. The display will use the Museum’s outstanding collections to bring polar exploration to life, and will bring together the past, present and potential futures of these important places.

Tudor and Stuart Seafarers

The Tudor and Stuart Seafarers gallery will explore how England, and later Britain, emerged as a maritime nation between 1500 and 1700. In the late 15th-century, England’s priorities were predominantly domestic and European but over the subsequent two centuries, the people of the British Isles travelled further across the seas, and transformed the country into a leading maritime, economic and political force on the world stage.

Using over 100 objects from the museum’s rich collection, visitors will experience compelling stories of adventure, encounter, power, wealth and conflict, which will include the exploration and colonisation of ‘new worlds’, the growth of English trading networks, and the ferocity of early-modern naval warfare through the conflicts with the Spanish Armada and the Dutch. It will feature an array of characters including Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth I, Francis Drake and Samuel Pepys as well as some relatively unknown people such as seaman Edward Barlow and shipwright Peter Pett.

Sea Things

‘Sea Things’ is a playful gallery that will explore how our identity has been shaped by the sea. It will showcase the museum’s rich and diverse collections as a visual spectacle of over 600 objects, many on open display. Hands-on activities, a maritime quiz, talking statues and sharing personal maritime memories are just some of the ways that visitors can interact with the collection and find their own connection to the sea.

At the heart of the gallery, a digital wave will draw visitors to its shores where they can explore varied stories of adventure, achievement, love and loss through some of the museum’s most unusual, quirky and poignant objects. Visitors will also discover different perspectives for each object from the views of co-curators form our local community, stimulating their curiosity and encouraging them to look at the collection in new and different ways.

The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to present

National Maritime Museum

Opens March 2018

The nation’s love affair with the seaside will be celebrated in the National Maritime Museum’s special exhibition for 2018, which will showcase beach photography by some of Britain’s best photographers. The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present will run from March to September 2018, and will feature over 100 works by some of Britain’s most celebrated photographers, Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts.

The exhibition will explore our changing relationship with the seaside over the last six decades and will hold up a critical and affectionate mirror to a much-loved and quintessentially British experience, captured by photographers who share a mutual love of the seaside. The Great British Seaside will include images from the archival collections of each of the photographers, news film as well as some never before seen images.

Monday, 9 October 2017

It's a carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas

It’s a Carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas, so go tropical with a South American feast this year. There’s something for everyone on our three-course festive menu, whether you like it super-spicy or as cool as a coconut.

Get the party started

The party starts here from just £19.95 per person, with £5 off on selected dates! Enjoy a festive twist on some of our favourite dishes and some exciting new additions. As well as our tempting Christmas menu, this festive season you can get your favourite Happy Hour cocktails & coolers 2FOR1 all day every day. Move over mulled wine, Magnifica Cachaça is here. And that’s not all, we’ve got some amazing drinks packages to pre-order for the perfect party!

Party planning is as easy as mince pie

You’ve got to organise everyone? Not to worry! You can now manage your party online with our easy booking & pre-order system. Just add an email address for each person so they can click & choose their own selection from the menu.

If that's too much tech, that’s not a problem. Our party organisers are still around to help with the finer details, just call or visit your chosen restaurant.

A little extra treat

If you're the party organiser you could get your hands on a tasty Las Iguanas voucher to give yourself a treat in the New Year. If there are 10+ people in your party, we’ll send you a £20 voucher, and for parties of 30+, we’ll send you a £50 voucher.

Parties Make Presents

Over the years you've helped us to deliver over £100,000 of toys to children’s charities across the UK. We’re sharing some Christmas cheer again this year. We’ll donate £5 for each party booking of 10+ ordering from the Christmas menu. Our partner The Entertainer will then match the donation. Find out more.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Five great hotels for Christmas

Whether you want to spend Christmas Day in the lap of luxury, grab a pre-Christmas break or turn your Christmas shopping into something to look forward to, these five hotels chosen by The Good Hotel Guide have got Christmas sorted.

For a seasonal spectacle: The Five Arrows, Waddeson, Buckinghamshire

The Five Arrows - Credit, Rebecca Gavin
Built in 1877 to house the architects and craftsmen working on nearby Waddeson Manor (Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s new party palace), this half-timbered, ornately patterned Grade II-listed hotel comes into its own at Christmas.

There’s an extensive Rothschild wine selection, and the recently refurbished rooms are spacious and welcoming. Book a Christmas package for dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant and tickets to see Waddeson Manor’s Imaginarium, a new light and sound show projected onto the French chateau-style house (11 November 2017 - 2 January 2018).

Good Hotel Guide tip: Ask for a room away from the busy road if you’re a light sleeper.

For festive luxury: Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire

Chewton Glen Treehouse
This privately owned country house spa hotel on the edge of the New Forest is an impeccable choice for Christmas. It’s unstintingly luxurious, family friendly and innovative. If money’s no object, book a tree-house suite, built on stilts in a secluded forest setting.

Each suite has floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-burning stove, a whirlpool tub, a kitchenette, and a breakfast hamper delivered to the door. That in itself is celebratory enough, but throw in a festive afternoon tea, a sophisticated five-course Christmas dinner, and wintry walks through the beautiful grounds and along the beach, and the Christmas cheer-o-metre goes through the roof!

Good Hotel Guide tip: Even the cheapest rooms are large, lavishly furnished and very comfy.

For a traditional Christmas: Park House, Midhurst, Sussex

Park House
You won’t find a more perfectly traditional way to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day than at this relaxed country house hotel and spa beneath the South Downs. Park House’s Christmas package promises a ‘home-from-home’ atmosphere – if your home happens to have waiters, a golf course and spa that is…

‘Proper’ Boxing Day activities on offer include a bracing walk on Witterings beach or in the hotel’s beautiful grounds, shopping the Boxing Day sales in Chichester, or watching the hunt depart in Petworth Park. The main event involves cocktails, Champagne, optional Midnight Mass, and a four-course lunch followed by a buffet dinner.

Good Hotel Guide tip: Save room for the excellent full English breakfast!

For Christmas shopping: The Old Vine, Winchester

The Old Vine
The espresso machines and designer fabric and wallpapers sit decidedly well in this Grade II-listed 18th-century inn with oak beams and a roaring log fire. And its location opposite the cathedral green mean it’s perfectly placed for shopping in the self-proclaimed ‘England’s Christmas capital’.

There’s a popular Christmas Market with an ice rink and performances by local choirs on the cathedral’s beautiful close (20 November – 22 December), and more seasonal events than you can shake a cinnamon stick at, such as walking tours of the city’s festive highlights and The Ginchester Christmas Market (2 December).

Good Hotel Guide tip: For extra-special Christmas vibes, book the top-floor suite with views of the cathedral.

For a pre-Christmas breather: The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire

The Feathered Nest
The Feathered Nest has all the ingredients of a winning Christmas break: great food, a crackling fire and country walks. Set in a 300-year-old malthouse in the heart of the Cotswolds AONB, this gastropub has Raymond Blanc protégé Kuba Winkowski at its helm.

Book a pre-Christmas break away from the throngs of Christmas shoppers, breathe the fresh air, and sample some fabulous food – and wine. If you like what you sip, you can probably stock up on it for Christmas and New Year at The Pantry, which is run by The Feathered Nest; they’re the UK representatives of Rainbow's End, the Malan family’s wine estate near Stellenbosch. And if you really need to go Christmas shopping, Bicester Village is close too.

Good Hotel Guide tip: The Cuckoo’s Den bedroom is spacious and comfortable with a roll-top bath and views over the rolling countryside.

Find more great hotels for Christmas.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Autumn officially arrives at Stowe

Pull on your walking boots and get outdoors for an autumn ramble as bright displays of amber, red and burnt orange appear on the trees in the gardens at Stowe.

Until 5 November, discover a variety of leaf-crunching walks and use your imagination to view the landscapes and visualise where some of the ‘Missing Monuments’ once stood in the magnificent gardens at Stowe. Find the lost Village of Lamport and ponder some of the famous literary links with past writers and poets that once visited. Choose from a variety of routes starting at New Inn visitor welcome centre when you visit or download one from our website before you leave home.

'Misty mornings followed by bright sunshine glittering through the trees as they develop rich autumn hues are one of my favourite things to see throughout the seasons.' says Patrick Green – Assistant Head Gardener

'You can’t beat that refreshing feeling of a morning walk followed by a scrummy hot chocolate and piece of cake. I’d recommend heading along The Path of Liberty to see bright colourful displays in the Grecian Valley.'

At weekends families can borrow a free explorer guide to spot autumn leaves and have a go at the some of the ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’. Here are some of the top activities to do this autumn at Stowe:

  • No.1 Go bird watching – spot Swans, Robins, Lapwings, Mallard ducks, Greylag geese and Blue tits sweeping across the lakes
  • No.2 Catch a falling leaf – with thousands of trees, you're spoilt for choice. Just pick a day with a little breeze, wait patiently and watch the leaves tumble. Pegg's Terrace is a great place to try
  • No.3 Pick blackberries growing in the wild – Turn right at Bell Gate and follow the Ha-ha walls along the outside perimeter of the gardens to find brambles and blackberries
  • No.4 Play conkers – Head down Bell Gate Drive or to Hawkwell Mead next to the Temple of Friendship where you'll find the best haul of fallen conkers to set up a game
  • No.5 Eat an apple straight from a tree - Head into the parkland, turning right at Bell Gate to find the old Sheep’s nose apple tree behind the Temple of Friendship

The gardens and New Inn visitor welcome centre at National Trust Stowe are open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm for you to make the most of these moments of autumn sun before winter descends. Don’t forget to share your favourite pictures and #autumncolour hotspots at Stowe with us via Twitter and Facebook - just search for National Trust Stowe.

Normal admission applies. For more information about Stowe visit

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Petworth set for literary weekend

Sir Vincent Cable MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, BBC Radio Two Presenter Jeremy Vine, mountaineer Chris Bonington, Strictly Come Dancing stars (past and future!) Ann Widdecombe and the Reverend Richard Coles, along with celebrated historical author Kate Williams are just some of leading authors and writers presenting at this year’s seventh annual Petworth Literary Festival.

Since its early establishment as a Literary Weekend, seven years ago, the Festival has now expanded to a week-long programme, establishing its presence as an important feature of the annual Petworth diary for audiences and speakers from across the UK and beyond. It is an opportunity to celebrate the written word with renowned authors, keen to visit this beautiful part of the world to take part in a festival that now has a considerable pedigree and reputation. This year’s Festival runs from the 31st October – 5th November in Petworth, West Sussex.

Chris Bonington

Stewart Collins, Artistic Director said of the Festival:

'I couldn’t possibly pick out individual highlights as literally every event is potentially just that, but as an overall comment I would have to say that we really do seem to be building momentum as a literary festival of both significance and also variety. Much as with our summer festival these are two qualities that are clearly loved in our part of the world, and I have absolutely no doubt our ever growing audience will snap up the tickets for this November’s week given the range of events on offer.'

The programme includes a broad range of subjects from politics, through history and current affairs, to biography, food, music, local walks and acts of derring-do. There’s also a Schools Poetry Event with Rachel Long, presented in partnership with the West Sussex branch of The Arts Society and the opportunity for young readers to meet Kieran Larwood, writer of the Blue Peter Book Award winning novel The Legend of Podkin One Ear and hear the first chapters of the eagerly anticipated sequel.

In addition, each performance includes a book-signing, organised and managed by Petworth Bookshop, giving ticket-holders the opportunity to purchase the latest published work, signed by the authors themselves; a brilliant souvenir to take home with them.

Chiddingstone Castle set for Christmas Fair

Chiddingstone Castle’s annual Christmas Fair will take place on Saturday 25 November 2017 between 10am and 4pm. Admission £5.

Choose your ideal festive gifts from over 70 beautifully laid out stalls in the Castle’s historic rooms and marquee. Mulled wine and mince pies will add to the seasonal cheer!

The beautiful countryside location of this lovely Castle is perfect for a relaxed shopping opportunity with many stalls selling unique products that are not found in the High Street. Both the Castle and marquee will be brimming with Christmas gifts ideas including home accessories, vintage wares, jewellery, books, cards, slate and lacquer goods, bags, children’s clothes, locally-produced food and drink, soaps, candles, cards and much more.

For a restorative tea or coffee, visitors can visit the cosy Tea Rooms which will also be serving homemade soup, sausage rolls and cakes. The grounds of the Castle will be open for a peaceful stroll to the Victorian Orangery or around the lake.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Blenheim Palace Charity Ball Raises £12,000 for Maggie's Oxford

A Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed ball at Blenheim Palace has raised more than £12,000 for their staff-nominated charity – Maggie’s Oxford Centre.

The ball, which was held in the Palace’s Orangery on September 7th, featured live music and an auction; with lots including a signed Radiohead album, a private tour of Westminster Abbey and tickets for Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace.

Throughout 2017 staff from the UNESCO World Heritage Site have been taking on challenges and organising events to fundraise for the Maggie’s, which is their official charity of the year.

“Maggie’s is a charity which is extremely important to our staff and they really went the extra mile to ensure this was a hugely successful and enjoyable event,” said Sarah Morris, Head of Human Resources at Blenheim Palace.

Maggie's Oxford offers free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends at its purpose-built centre in the grounds of the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

Pip Dingle, Centre Fundraising Manager at Maggie’s Oxford said:

'We would like to thank everyone at Blenheim Palace who helped organise this great event.

'The amount raised could cover the cost of our relaxation sessions for a whole year – these sessions are designed to help people find some peace and calmness as well as manage stress and improve well-being.

'The sessions run every Monday from 2pm to 3pm and can make a world of difference for someone going through a cancer diagnosis,' she added.

Founded on the ideas about cancer care originally laid out by Maggie Keswick Jencks, the centre provides a warm and welcoming place where anyone affected by cancer can access friendly and professional support on a drop-in basis, completely free of charge.

On average the Maggie’s Oxford Centre is used by 50 people every day, with 99% of people reporting they find the support helpful.

The centre is funded entirely by voluntary donations and does not receive any government or NHS funding.

The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and since then Maggie’s has continued to grow, with 19 Centres at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK, online and abroad.

Las Iguanas Reveals New Menu

The new Autumn menu bursting with boldly spiced flavours launches today (26th September 2017), introducing 15 delicious additions, offering vibrant new colours and tastes of Latin America alongside old favourites.

What's on the Menu?

The menu at Las Iguanas is carefully developed and served up by a team of skilled chefs who love cooking from scratch; discovering unique flavours and inspiring recipes from across Latin America and bringing them to life through high quality, fresh ingredients. The new menu additions are no exception. Luscious new Ipanema Mussels – cooked in a lightly spiced lime, coriander and coconut sauce and served with ciabatta will tantalise those taste buds whilst the Seco de Cordero - Peruvian style slow cooked lamb shank in a golden ale, red wine and Amarillo chilli sauce, served with roasted sweet potato mash and crispy chilli and onions is a meat lover’s dream. If meat isn’t your thing, Las Iguanas are Vegetarian Society approved and a new attraction is the Cauliflower and Corn Quinotto, a perfectly cooked Peruvian-style quinoa risotto with smoked cheese, roasted cauliflower and charred baby corn, topped with puffed quinoa and crispy chilli.

If there’s room for dessert, you can continue your journey through the Latin continent with a Banana Empanada, where traditional pastry is hand- filled with banana, sweet plantain and delectable dulce de leche. Served with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of rum-flavoured syrup, this is relaxed dining at its best. If truly tropical is your thing, the Piña Colada Mess will energise your taste buds; Piña Colada ice cream is served with caramelised pineapple salsa, crispy pineapple pieces and toasted coconut chips… definitely a dessert that will have you daydreaming of Copacabana.

So on to the cocktails… Las Iguanas have turned Happy Hour in to ‘Happy Days’ for Autumn, with all cocktails now available 2 for 1 ALL day, EVERY day*. It’s a game changer. Las Iguanas commit to using premium spirits, including their own award-winning artisan Magnifica cachaça distilled by the de Faria family near Rio, and there is something for everyone, with 14 newbies on the list. Try Mezcal Watermelon Smash, a winning combination of Olmeca Tequila, Bru-Xo Mezcal, watermelon, mint, cucumber and lime or the Latin American take on the classic; a ‘Golden’ Porn Star Martini, compromising Gosling’s Gold Rum, apricot, Funkin passion fruit, vanilla and pineapple with a shot of cava. Celebrate spending time with people you like with a host of new sharing drinks. Alpaca Punch will bowl you over; El Dorado 3 year old Rum, falernum, passion fruit, lime and cranberry, topped up at the table with a showy bottle of Freixenet cava for 4-6 to share. Or dive in with the new Tropical Fishbowl; Beefeater gin, Sauvignon Blanc, passionfruit, elderflower, Ting and a few finned friends swimming around for 3-4. Barrel o’ Caips is a giant version of the signature Caipirinha cocktail made with Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaça and fresh limes, perfect for 3-4 to enjoy this Brazilian classic.

* Cocktails available 2 for 1 all day every day apart from Royal Festival Hall and Stratford where times vary and in Scotland where they are priced differently in line with local licensing law.

Top 8 Autumn Activities at Blenheim Palace this Autumn

Enjoy a day out at Blenheim Palace this autumn. The events calendar is packed with fun activities and new exhibitions with something on the schedule for everyone to enjoy.

1 Free Evening Projections at the Palace Experience an immersive illuminated art experience this autumn as renowned US contemporary artist Jenny Holzer lights up the Palace with a series of large scale projections. Visitors can also download a bespoke mobile app which has been developed especially for the exhibition. The app will allow visitors of all ages to superimpose digital artworks onto their surroundings creating a virtual space for the exhibition.

This rare chance to see Blenheim Palace illuminated at night is free not to be missed.

Selected evenings from 28 Sept – 10 Oct, free entry

2 Art Exhibition ‘Softer’ Jenny Holzer at Blenheim Palace Discover a new exhibition Softer: Jenny Holzer as she transforms the Palace using light projections and augmented reality. Her works have been inspired by Blenheim Palace’s military and political history which will inspire and challenge visitors during the temporary showcase. There will also be more meditative areas to explore which will feature examples of Holzer’s best-known work.

28 Sept – 31 Dec, Adult £24.90, Child £13.90 Palace, Park & Gardens Ticket

3 Art on Conflict Step outside the Palace Gates during your visit and discover this fantastic exhibition in Woodstock. Echoing the theme of Jenny Holzer’s work, the exhibition will be showing pieces from 12 international and local artists, all of whom have produced works based around this theme. Artists include Mark Neville, Graham Dean, David Freud and Pete Sherrard. The exhibition will be held in the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum on Woodstock High Street so that visitors to the free evening light projections at Blenheim Palace will be able to see the show.

Until 7pm, 28 Sept – 29 October

4 Festival of Literature, Film & Music

 Don’t miss the best boutique festival in the country as the Festival of Literature, Film & Music returns this autumn. Book to see an array of talks, debates, dinners and entertainment as part of this unrivalled offering. The four day festival will see acclaimed speakers gather from a range of creative fields including literature, fashion, food, film and music, and promises visitors an enriching, diverse and unique experience. 12 – 15 October, Tickets require for individual talks

5 Halloween Entertainment Dare to discover a bigger and better Halloween experience this October Half Term! Hop on board the ghost train to go through a creepy tunnel to the Pleasure Gardens where a bone-anza of activities are to be found. Families can lurk around the Labyrinth or take the Mini-beasts Trail, and there will be a whole host of treats on offer in the Pleasure Gardens Deli including ice-scream and toffee apples, with pumpkin carving too! Head to the cinema in the Stables Courtyard for classic Halloween storytelling, and there will be Spooky Tours running throughout the week with eery candlelit tours on selected dates...

21- 29 October, Adult £15.90 Child £7.10 Park & Gardens Ticket

6 State Rooms Tour

Stay indoors this autumn for a tour of the impressive State Rooms at Blenheim Palace. A tour guide will talk passionately about stunning portraits, tapestries and furniture which is set against the scale and ambition of the interior architecture. Enjoy over 300 year of history and heritage.

Daily – guided tours at regular intervals, Adult £24.90 Child £13.90 Palace, Park & Gardens ticket

7 Autumn Walks

Head outdoors this autumn and see the Park burst to life with colour whilst exploring the 2000-acre ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland. Enjoy the ‘finest view in England’ in all its autumnal glory and discover a landscape that is full of historical significance, and contributed to Blenheim Palace and Estate becoming a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Adult £15.90 Child £7.10 Park & Gardens ticket

8 British Heart Foundation Half Marathon There is something for everyone this year at the BHF running festival. Get fit and help save lives by raising vital funds to beat heart disease! Choose from the Blenheim Palace Half Marathon, 10k Run or a shorter family-friendly 2k Run. Each distance has a beautiful route planned through the ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland.

1 October, Adult £15.30 Child £7.10 (Park & Gardens ticket)