Brilliant Brands, York

If you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo, then you really ought to take them on this fascinating trip down confectionary memory lane. Taking a break with a KitKat, “It’s not Terry’s; it’s mine!”... You don't realise how powerful the effect of advertising and branding is until you hear an old jingle or see a retro chocolate box. Add a dose of nostalgia and the undeniable thrill of tearing a wrapper from a chocolate bar and you have a perfect recipe for a cosily sentimental afternoon - with added sweets. 

You might wonder why York has its own museum - York’s Chocolate Story - devoted to the sweet stuff, yet it really has been one of the magic ingredients that's made the city what it is today. Yorkshire heritage isn’t simply heavy industry and agriculture - world-famous brands such as KitKat, Smarties and the Terry’s Chocolate Orange all originated here. And as one of the great Victorian philanthropic companies, Rowntree’s has a surprising social history, also explored here. 

As well as the museum’s permanent displays there is also the opportunity to discover chocolate's origins, how to make it and - yes - how to taste it like an expert. Now that’s what we call an interactive museum experience!  

The ‘Brilliant Brands’ exhibition also remembers the sweets that have been lost to history and looks at how sweets have influenced society and played their part in history. Learn about the effect of Craven’s French Almonds on fashion trends in the sixties and the part played by Kendal Mint Cake in one of the most famous exploits of the 20th century - the conquering of Everest. Or just eat lots and lots of chocolate. Either way, it’s a great day out.  

The attraction is signed up to the York Pass, which allows for discounted entry into numerous attractions in the city over three days, so if you’re hitting the tourist trail it might be worth investing in one.  

Needless to say there’s a shop on-site, so you can stock up on indulgent treats and a café offering nine gourmet hot chocolates, local ice-cream and a chocolate fondue. You’ll also get to take home your own personal hand-made chocolate bar, so start thinking now about what you’ll call yours…

Vintage by the Sea, Morecambe

Back with a host of new old fashioned attractions, Vintage by the Sea is taking over Morecambe on the weekend of 5 and 6 September. And this particular time machine isn’t stuck in the distant past with attractions celebrating every era from Rock ‘n’ Roll to the 80s. 

This sunny retro festival is a handcrafted patchwork quilt of fun knitting together live performances, craft fairs and great competitions. The knees-up centres on the seafront Midland Hotel and the old Edwardian railway station just across the road, home to entertainment venue The Platform. On Saturday 5, Let It Rock turns back the clock to the 1950s in the afternoon, followed by The Warehouse club night flashback to 80s and 90s dance culture. On Sunday 6, the Soul Casino all-dayer pays homage to the north west’s connection to Northern Soul music and the famous Wigan Casino all-nighters. 

Need a frock before you rock? Head to the Vintage Market Place in The Midland car park where you’ll pick up the trendy outfits from the 1920s to the 1980s. And you can even book in for an amazing hair do at the Guys and Dolls boutique through their Facebook page. There’s more bargain-hunting on offer at the Design, Craft and Makers Market where you can bag upcycled goods direct from the makers all through the weekend.  

The fair was the brainchild of one of Morecambe’s most famous - and best-dressed - sons, designer Wayne Hemingway. It was inspired by his childhood memories of the bustling seafront in an era before package holidays made foreign travel more affordable and knotted hankies a little passé. His plan to put this pretty seaside town on the map is bearing fruit with over 40,000 visitors expected for the festival.  

Vintage by The Sea draws on the traditions of seaside fun and mixes in influences from around the world. Enjoy donkey rides on the sands, a vintage fairground and the quirky fun of a pooch parade with prizes for best hairstyle and waggiest tail. And as you enjoy a stroll by the seaside, you’ll be entertained by a host of street performers to get you in the party mood.

Throw in a couple of mobile bars, a food festival where you can pick up classic cocktails and you’re pretty much set for a weekend that has it all, whatever the weather and whatever your age.

Sensoria, Sheffield

As a city renowned for its edgy music scene and steeped in a culture of creative excellence, Sheffield is the perfect host for the Sensoria Festival. The event brings together the best new music and film and takes over a number of venues from 25 September to 5 October.  

As the line-up is steadily being announced via the festival’s Facebook page and website, it’s clear there will be a popcorn bucketload of reasons to visit. One highlight is the UK premiere of B-Movie: Lust and Sound in West Berlin. Starting and ending at the city’s famous Love Festival, the documentary charts the chaotic post-punk era of 1980s Berlin. Featuring mostly unreleased footage, images and interviews from the time; this collage of tales sheds light on the city’s pop culture which provided a beacon for artists and celebrities. The film is being screened at The Showroom Cinema on 25 September.  

Charlatans’ frontman, Tim Burgess is bringing his Tim Peaks Diner coffee house experience to Sensoria too with a takeover of the Abbeydale Picture House. Combining his loves of great coffee and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Tim shares a brew and some curated clips of the show. For his visit to the Steel City, Tim has invited along BAFTA award-winning actor and movie director, Paddy Considine for a chinwag.  

Also at the Abbeydale, Factory Floor are playing their first gig in Sheffield. Their genre-spanning sound has won huge praise and they have been lauded as one of the best new live bands in the country. On the same bill LoneLady, aka Manchester’s Julie Campbell, will air her post-punk sound that evolved into the critically-acclaimed album Hinterland album, released earlier this year.  

As the event spills into early October, visitors who have a more professional interest in the converging worlds of music, film and other media such as game development can pop into SensoriaPro. The two day event starts on 1 October and features a series of masterclasses from industry experts.  

Can’t wait to tantalise your senses? Check out the festival’s fascinating online project plotting Sheffield’s musical family tree. Called Uncommon People, the title references one of the city’s most famous musical exports: Pulp. And we can't think of a better place to meet up in the year 2015.

 

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