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Beat the rain - ten top things to do this July

July 6, 2012
by Laura Canning | guides

Jousting. You know you want to. We might not get the weather for it, but we’re going to carry on regardless with our plans for summer, simply because we might cry otherwise. And luckily there’s no shortage of things to do, on every day and in every way all over the country. If you’re looking for ideas for some days out this July, we’ve rounded up ten of the best below, with details on where to stay nearby. Pack your raincoat and read on...

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival : It’s free, it’s medieval and it’s Europe’s biggest medieval battle re-enactment and fair. And there are falcons. The Tewkesbury Medieval Festival from 14-15 July will see over 2000 people re-enacting the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury, along with archery and falcon displays, medieval markets and public 'executions' of captured Lancastrians. Heads will roll.

Stay: Make it a very budget weekend by pitching up at Denfurlong Farm , which has non-electric grass pitches for just £6 a night with no extra charges. Also nearby is Far Peak Campsite in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with pitches for two adults and two children from £36 for a two night stay.

Shakespeare in Surrey : All the world’s a stage, or at least this Edwardian National Trust property will be when the grounds are made into the Forest of Arden for a production of As You Like It. Sadly as it’s on July 14 it clashes with the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, but if you’re in the south east that weekend anyway, comfort yourself by how much you can torture the kids by dragging them to this under the guise of culture. Just don’t show off too much by guffawing loudly and intelligently at all the bardy jokes.

Stay: Pitch up at nearby Etherley Farm , where you can book a pitch for your tent, motorhome or tourer for £44 for two nights, then buy produce from the poultry farm for your evening barbecue (eggs probably not advisable).

Inveraray Highland Games : Don’t go back to work after the Tewkesbury Medieval Games or Shakespeare in Surrey – go to the Highland Games at Inveraray instead. There’ll be Highland flingers, pipers, hammer throws, stone putting, wrestling and the World Caber Championships, all on the lawns of Inveraray Castle on 17 July. Note that it’s considered a breach of etiquette to ask a Scotsman what’sunder his kilt.

Stay: Balgair Castle Holiday Park at Fintry should have everything you need – there’s an outdoor pool, on-site bistro and evening entertainment, all set near the landscape of Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and the Flanders Moss nature reserve. Grass electric pitches are available for tents, tourers and motorhomes on 17 July for £20.

Barcdy Men of Harlech : Seven epochs of Welsh history are covered over these two nights of music, song and dance from 16-17 July at the World Heritage Site Harlech Castle. There’s the War of the Roses told through traditional Welsh dance, Owain Glyndŵr as a Welsh glam rock star and the story of the tribes of Bendigeidfran through a massed capoiera dance. If you want to hide out for a week or so afterwards, Harlech Castle’s also the setting for a production of Roald Dahl’s The Twits on 25 July.

Stay: Barcdy Touring Caravan & Camping Park is just four miles from Harlech Castle and has fishing, golf, horse-riding, climbing and mountain biking all nearby. There’s a variety of pitching options available for 16-18 July – a non-electric grass tent pitch for £36 or for £44 with electric hook-up, or £48 for a pitch for tourers, motorhomes or campervans with parking for one car included.

Port Eliot Festival : Still on the run from work? Head to the south west for a day (or more) to take in the Port Eliot Festival at Saltash, a mix of literature, music, food and fashion. It’s on from 19-22 July with the line-up including Beth Orton, Dominic West, Jon Ronson and Suggs. Previous reviews say the nosh available at this festival is worth a visit on its own.

Stay: Whitsand Bay Lodge Park is less than five miles from the action, with pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes and with an indoor pool, kids’ club, bar, restaurant, fishing and fitness centre all on site. A three night stay from 19-22 July is £75 for up to six people with parking for one car included.

Bristol Harbour Festiva l : There’s circus, theatre, music and dance at this free festival set around Bristol’s harbour area from 20-22 July, with events  including concerts on Brunel’s ss Great Britain, a Dance Village in Millennium Square, trampolines and climbing walls at Castle Park, and Bristol’s Cirque Bijou on the Circus Stage. And stalls selling craft beers too.

Newton Mill Stay: Newton Mill Holiday Park is less than ten miles from the festival and only a couple of miles from Bath, so you can stay on for a bit and overdose on history and culture to keep you going until your next escape. The park has a restaurant, bar, wifi and fishing on site, and has golf and horse-riding nearby. Non-electric grass pitches for tents and one car are available from 20-22 July for £40, with a quiet camping meadow also available for tents only.

A Grand Medieval Joust : We make no apologies for including another medieval event in our July events roundup, because, well, we’re nerds like that. This one is run by English Heritage and takes place in the grounds of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire where there’ll be knights, jesters, medieval minstrels, music, dance and falconry displays. It’s on from 21-22 July, so you’ll have to toss a three-sided coin to decide between this, Port Eliot or the Bristol Harbour Festival. Bah.

Stay: The adults-only Somers Wood Caravan Park is seven miles from Kenilworth Castle and has pitches for caravans, motorhomes and campervans for £44 for two people. Or, if you want to go for a glamping option, the brand new Twitey’s Tipis and Campsite 11 miles from the festival has a Tipi Kangee sleeping up to four adults for £120 for a two night stay, or Tipi Takoda sleeping up to six for £160.

Gladiators : No, not the ancient TV show. This one’s also from those clever folks at English Heritage, who’ll be setting up the grounds at Chester Roman Fort into a gladiatorial arena. Sadly there are no opportunities for taking part but spectators do get to judge the outcome of the fights, so you can pretend you’re Nero and give a thumbs down while doing your best emperor-like glare.

Stay: Pitch your tent in the grounds of Edmundbyers Youth Hostel in Consett, set on the edge of  the Edmundbyers Conservation area and with walking, cycling, fishing, watersports and Hadrian’s Wall all nearby. A pitch for two adults from 28-30 July is £30, with unlimited cars included.

Moorlands Back to the 80s : Backcomb your hair and wear your most questionable outfit for this day of 80s music in Knutsford on 29 July. Based in the 2000 acre Tatton Park, the gig has Rick Astley, Roland Gift, Tony Hadley Heaven 17 and Altered Images, all followed by fireworks in the evening. There’s also the option to be very sophisticated and therefore non-80s by booking a three course picnic with wine for £50.

Stay: Moorlands Caravan Park at Oldham is worth the drive for its Pennine views, with fishing, sailing, golf, horse-riding, cycling, surfing and mountain biking all nearby. A non-electric grass pitch for 28-30 July is £28, with unlimited car parking included.

Museum of Childhood Summer Festival : Take the kids or borrow your niece or nephew for the day and head to the V&A Museum of Childhood in London on 29 July for their tenth annual summer festival. It takes place at Bethnal Green, is all free and has live music, dance, walkabout acts, arts and craft activities, designer stalls, food, face painting, rickshaw rides and games.

Stay: We’ve got two affordable options for camping in Greater London. Camp in London has tent pitches for £80 for a two night stay over 28-30 July, with pre-erected tents also available for £160. There's also Springfield Park which has tent pitches for two people for the two nights for £40 and pitches for four people for £60.

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