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Summer holiday ideas – the pick

Hot dog There are certain signs that tell us summer is on the doorstep. Looking for shorts on eBay – check. Prodding one’s podge and subsequently removing the pies from the fridge so one can fit into said shorts – check. And spending happy happy hours browsing through all the activities, events and festivals coming up – a very big check indeed.

Despite the capriciousness of the weather gods with this week’s cold spell, we have firmly forgotten about winter and our summer diaries are filling up nicely. From big to small, horse racing to heritage and with freebies – naturally – included, here’s our pick of what’s coming up this summer and where to stay nearby:

Epsom Derby, 6 – 7 June, Surrey

Whether you like poncing around in a silly hat or not, we are of the view that everyone should spend a day at the gee-gees at least once per summer, if only for the excuse to buy another frilly frock. The Epsom Derby , or the Investec Derby Festival as it’s now less romantically known, is less full-on than Ascot and decidedly healthier on the wallet, so gets our thumbs up on all counts (although we might try and make it to Ascot too).

Stay : Osney Lodge Farm at Lingfield is 11 miles from Epsom and has tent, tourer and motorhome pitches available for 6 – 8 June from just £8 a night. Also at Lingfield, glampers can bed down in the bell tents at Southern Bells , starting from £50 a night over 6 – 8 June for an unfurnished tent and £120 for furnished, sleeping up to 4.

FIFA World Cup, 12 June – 13 July

Over-enthusiastic World Cup antics We are already a-quiver with excitement about the World Cup this summer, particularly as it brings back most powerful memories of footy watching in the middle of the night, Gazza crying and the Republic of Ireland almost making it to the quarter-finals that 1990. We don’t yet have campsites in Brazil (give us time), but we’d advise against the expense of getting there anyway: best to find a handy pub, claim a favourite seat and remain there for the duration.

As Euro 2012 showed, many if not most of the big campsites and holiday parks were keen to get in on the footballing action, setting up big screens for the matches and running football coaching for kids during the day – we are as confident that this will happen in 2014 as we are that England will crash out on penalties. A few handy links for World Cup watching fans:

Family-friendly campsites and holiday parks

Sites with a TV room

Sites with a bar/clubhouse

Sites with kids’ clubs

Pub campsites – guide and list

L'Eroica Britannia , 20 – 22 June, Peak District

Vintage biking. Pic © L'Eroica Britannia. ‘If you dream of a time when cycling involved woollen shorts, handlebar-mounted water bottles and even wooden rims — you’re not the only one,’ say the organisers of ‘the handsomest bike race in the world’, arriving in the UK for the first time this year to promote ‘heroic’ cycling and sustainable living. Don an old-fashioned costume, find a boneshaker (pre-1987 only) to ride and start off from Bakewell, Derbyshire , on one or all of the three routes.

Stay : Make a week of it and pitch up at scenic Longnor Wood Holiday Park in nearby Buxton from £140 for a non-electric grass tent pitch; electric pitches start from £154; smashing Peak District views free. The park is adults-only, allows dogs and has a putting green, badminton court and boules pitch.

For a peaceful pod time after days on the saddle, Ashbourne’s award-winning Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park has camping pods and family camping pods from £40 a night for 23 and 24 June on a wildlife haven site with a fishing lake, bar and restaurant.

See also:

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup , 7 – 8 June, Fort William

Grand Départ, 5 – 7 July, N Yorkshire and the Tour de France, until 27 July: follow the route through the UK and France and find campsites nearby with our interactive routeplanner

Tour de Cinema , 28 March – 5 July, part of the Yorkshire Festival

2014 – The Year of the Cycle

Eden Sessions , 21 June – 14 July, Cornwall

The Eden Project Famous summer sessions at the famous Eden Project… the Eden Sessions are among the best summer gigs in the UK in our humble opinion, especially as they’re a darned sight cheaper than Glasto. The line-up for this year includes Elbow, the Pixies and Dizzee Rascal, with more acts to be announced soon. Most tickets are already on sale and you can see what all the fuss is about on Eden Sessions TV , its own YouTube channel.

Stay : There are dozens of sites in and around St Austell available in June and July, to suit all styles from wild camping to holiday parks. Little Winnick Touring Park just outside St Austell is family and dog-friendly and has electric tent, tourer and motorhome pitches from £98 for a week through most of June and July.

Eight miles away at Bodmin, award-winning Ruthfern Valley Holidays has tent and tourer pitches from £95 – £121; a camping pod sleeping 4 from £270 and a wooden wigwam sleeping 5 from £335; all prices from 28 June – 5 July.

Also in the south-west

Ilfracombe Victorian Week , June 7 – 15, Devon : the biggest and longest festival in north Devon

International Sea Shanty Festival , 13 – 15 June, Falmouth , Cornwall

Port Eliot Festival , 24 – 27 July, Saltash, Cornwall

For the brave: Salty Sea Dog Long Swim , 23 August, Dorset

Bannockburn Live , 28 – 29 June, Stirlingshire

Bannockburn Live. Pic © VisitScotland. As you might/should know by now, 2014 is Scotland’s ‘Homecoming’ year, a programme of events and activities celebrating the best of the country in one of its biggest years (the Commonwealth Games open in Glasgow on 23 July and the Ryder Cup tees off at Gleneagles in late September).

Bannockburn Live is Homecoming’s signature event, marking the 700th anniversary of one the most iconic battles in Scotland's history, the Battle of Bannockburn. There'll be live re-enactments, medieval encampments, music and the Storyville sessions telling Scotland’s history: we’ve already booked.

Stay : Award-winning Lomond Woods Holiday Park is about 40 minutes’ drive from Bannockburn, and 17 miles from Glasgow to round off a history trip with sightseeing and shopping (take the train; the nearest station is a few minutes’ walk from the park with trains to Glasgow running every half hour). A camping pod over the Bannockburn weekend, with double bed, two single beds, fridge, TV and kettle starts from £40 a night.

Free events

Because the best things in life are free (with the possible exception of sipping ice cold champers at the races):

Galloway Children's Festival , 29 June, Dumfries and Galloway

Godiva Festival , 4 – 6 July, Coventry : Happy Mondays and the Buzzcocks!

Monmouth Festival , 25 July – 2 August, Monmouthshire

Worcester Music Festival , 29 – 31 August, Worcestershire

Whitby Regatta , including raft race and beach soccer, 9 – 11 August, N Yorkshire

Finding events

To find smaller/cheaper/free events throughout the summer, check groups like the National Trust, English Heritage, National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland, many of which are either free with membership/admission to a property, or come in at under a fiver.

Fete de la Musique, France's nationwide music festival Or browse the blog archive for tips on finding events, festivals and info covering all things imaginable:

Best budget days out: Readers’ Choice : including finding free/cheap events at country parks, a guide to geocaching, free and cheap museums, supervised sports days and links to budget days out, including London

A summer in France: French events for 2014

Birdwatching : Birdfair and bird events by the RSPB and Birdwatch

Dog days out : days out with the pooch, dog shows and dog-friendly camping

The guide to fishing : fishing competitions and events; best coarse and game fishing areas in the UK and Ireland

Gone fishin' Ireland for 2014 , including Newgrange and the Galway Arts Festival

Getting the kids into nature , including red squirrel trails and where to spot marine mammals

You can also use the filters to browse for a site according to your very own specifications, such as campfires allowed , surf school nearby or with recycling available – then on every listing click ‘Local attractions’ to find a veritable heap of options nearby, including National Trust sites, must-sees, cycle routes and activities.

We’ve also added specific events to the left of the local attractions page – for example, at Southern Bells, the intrepid traveller can see English Wine Week 12 miles away in May; the aforementioned Derby Day 11 miles away in June and Leefest 10 miles away in July.

If you're off to a festival, event or activity this summer, or if there's a topic you'd like to see us cover, let us know below. There may be a page or two of diary yet uncovered.