Summertime – and the travelling’s easy with TransPennine Express. Whether you’re looking for laughs, great food or you’re in the mood for music, July is the perfect month to book yourself an adventure. For us, it’s festival season. So, pack your spork and a light rain jacket (just in case). Oh, and don’t forget your running shoes…
We make it a point of principle to visit Manchester as often as possible – so frequently does this pulsating city find new ways to surprise us. The biannual International Festival is full of artistic allure and sprinkled with stardust this July. World premieres of the Idris Elba-created show Tree (fingers crossed for an Idris appearance) and Yoko Ono’s Bells For Peace commission top the bill. And there are performances and creative experiences galore in this major celebration of art in its myriad forms.
Bang in the centre of York, in St Mary’s church right next to the Jorvik Viking Centre, a portal has opened up to another world – or so it seems. This travelling immersive experience allows visitors to step into the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh via projections, audio and virtual reality. The exhibition has wowed crowds in Naples and Brussels, and now it’s just a TransPennine Express ride away. If you thought Van Gogh’s art was trippy in two dimensions, hold on tight to both lugs and try this.
The folk of Durham don't often blow their own trumpets but when it comes to celebrating their rich mining heritage, they're, well... bold as brass. We'll be in the throng of 200,000 visitors once again on 13 July for the annual Durham Miner's Gala - a rousing procession of pit village banners with a stirring brass band soundtrack. These days a whole festival featuring workshops and performances has grown around 'The Big Meeting'. Limited for time? Head to Durham on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 for non-stop, free brass street bands between 11am and 5pm.
Cream nightclub took dance music to industrial levels back in the day and lately they’ve been focussed on bringing big beats to new audiences. First, they sold out Liverpool Cathedral with the 50-piece Kaleidoscope Orchestra and their instrumental reworkings of club classics. Now, they’re heading outdoors for classical dance in Sefton Park. Big-name DJs like Paul Oakenfold, Faithless and Roger Sanchez will provide the bangers while you enjoy the barbecue. Or mash-ups.
If you’re going to have a knees-up, make it a big, fat knees-up. That’s the spirit guiding the organisers of Sheffield’s Tramlines festival. The 30,000-capacity event is one of our regular summer highlights and this year it’s billed as the steel city’s biggest ever party. Over three days, four stages and spanning the musical decades, acts from Lewis Capaldi to the Manic Street Preachers – who still absolutely rock live – help form an all-star line-up. Enjoy craft ales, good food and unmissable comedy from Reginald D. Hunter and Never Mind The Buzzcocks favourite Phill Jupitus, among many others.
Forget everything you think you know about Scottish cuisine and ready the post-holiday waistline jeans for the Edinburgh Food Festival. This celebration of delicious street fare features stalls to suit almost every palate. We know from experience that exhibitors Jarvis Pickle dish up Scotland’s best meat pie – and now they have a British Pie Awards gong to prove it. There are flavours from Europe, the Caribbean and beyond too. Even grub from as far afield as Glasgow!
As a city, Glasgow doesn’t seem to be content with mere two-day weekends. A flying visit never does it justice – and it’s not quite long enough to enjoy the Merchant City festival. Travel down on Thursday to catch the start. Carnivals, craft fairs and a street food metropolis await you. Dance shows, singalongs, even a barrel-making exhibition follow. All this and you’re surrounded by gourmet eateries, high-end shops and cocktail bars. You’ll find us in the latter. Cheers!
Geordies are famed for their hospitality and gentle sense of humour. Don’t take our word for it, though. Book now and travel to Newcastle’s first ever Improv Festival. This laugh-a-minute comedy jamboree kicks off in Ouseburn, which is basically Tyneside’s answer to Brooklyn – cool, arty and packed with great places to socialise. Next stop is the bustling city centre – even closer to the aptly named Central Station. Don’t leave Ouseburn before you seek out the Proven Goods Co. We defy you to find a better doughnut.