14 Brilliant Bank Holiday Weekend Ideas

Tudors on Tour

With not one, but two three-day breaks coming up in May, take advantage of the extra time off by doing something fun, indulgent or relaxing with yours…

Make your way to Tatton Park over May bank holiday weekend (2 - 4 May) where King Henry VIII and his courtiers will be taking up residence as part of the spectacular outdoor family festival, Tudors on Tour.

Staged for the very first time outside London by Historic Royal Palaces (Henry VIII never actually visited the North West when he was alive!), Tudors on Tour will transport visitors back to the year 1526 and get them swept away in the excitement of the Tudor Court on Royal Progress, when the King would travel around the country staying in the castles and manor houses of nobility.

With a spectacular royal jousting tournament, pageantry displays with music, a bustling market place with traditional crafts such as carving, stone masonry and blacksmithing, costumed characters, authentic stories, delicious food, Tudor farm, Tudor theatre, digital pop up palace and lots, lots more, visitors can expect an action packed day.

HOW: Tudors on Tour takes place at Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Cost: (Advanced tickets) Family - £30; Adult - £12.50; Child - £6.00; Concessions - £10; (Gate tickets) Family - £40; Adult - £16.50; Child - £7.50; Concessions - £13. For more information visitwww.hrp.org.uk/tudorsontour

Be Pampered in Cardiff

Be Pampered in Cardiff

It's difficult to guarantee sunshine over a Bank Holiday weekend, especially in Wales, but your best bet for beautiful British weather is to head south to Cardiff Bay. St David's Hotel & award-winning Marine Spa offers stunning views of Cardiff Bay, a luxurious swimming pool, two hydrotherapy pools and a relaxation room. The spa also allows guests to enjoy indulgent beauty treatments. 
When you've had enough relaxation, visit the magnificent Cardiff Castle, a 25 minute walk away, then head back toward the vibrant Cardiff Docks for some buzzing nightlife and a great choice of bars and restaurants. Other sights worth seeing include the impressive Wales Millennium Centre, a uniquely designed arts centre housing theatres for music, opera, ballet and dance; take in a rugby or football match at the modern Millennium Stadium; sample the great food at the Cardiff Indoor Market, or take in some history and culture at the National Museum and Art Gallery. 
HOW: Two nights from Fri 1st - 3rd May in a Classic King Room costs from £278 per person; to book, visit www.booking.com/hotel/gb/the-st-david-s-spa.en-gb.html; for more info on what to do in Cardiff, go to www.visitcardiff.com

Have an eco beach break in Bournemouth

Have an eco beach break in Bournemouth

Just a few minutes' walk from Bournemouth beach, The Greenhouse is an elegant, award-winning eco-friendly hotel which uses natural and sustainable materials where possible, reducing the hotel's impact on the environment. Staff are trained on sustainability, and all suppliers are considered by their environmental standards. 
The restaurant serves food made using local and organic produce, a fully biodynamic wine list, and boutique rooms each offer organic bed linen. Enjoy exploring Bournemouth; why not try the Boscombe arts and sculpture trail, a series of innovative sculptures starting in Boscombe High Street and ending at the sea front?
Take a walk along Boscombe Pier, which has recently undergone a £2.4 million facelift, and is lined with musical instruments ready for kids or adults alike to try out. And stroll in the tranquillity of Bournemouth Gardens, a green oasis in the centre of town. 
HOW: A two night stay from 1- 3 May costs from £318 per person staying in a standard double room. To book, visit www.booking.com/hotel/gb/the-green-house.en-gb.html. For more info, go to www.visitbournemouth.co.uk

Get into the local spirit in Speyside

(Image credit: David Woods)

Get into the local spirit in Speyside

Head up north for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, held from 30th April - 4th May. Held annually during the first long weekend in May, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (www.spiritofspeyside.com) invites visitors to celebrate Scotland's national drink through an inventive and wide-ranging programme of whisky-inspired events – some educational - all of them fun. 
Why not take the Macs Adventure Speyside Whisky Trail? Celebrate the water of life with this three-night walking holiday which visits world famous whisky distilleries alongside the salmon-rich River Spey, passing through ancient woodlands and heather glens inhabited by ospreys, eagles and wildcat. Sample the famous malts and blends of Glenlivet and Glenfiddich to name but a few as you walk with 'spirit' along original smuggler's trails below the Cairngorms. This self-guided walk follows trails specifically chosen to provide the best combination of walking and whisky.
HOW: From £245 per person, including accommodation, daily door-to-door baggage transfer,detailed information pack and route (doesn't include travel to Craigellachie or from Ballindalloch). Call 0141 530 1950 or visit www.macsadventure.com/holiday-558/speyside-whisky-trail-short-break

Explore Poldark's Cornwall!

Explore Poldark's Cornwall!

Admit it, you've been mooning over the BBC?s updated version of tortured farmer Ross Poldark (played moodily and indeed broodingly by the handsome Aidan Turner) so why not head to Poldark country on your long weekend to follow in the man's footsteps? We can't promise you any steamy encounters with the man himself but the scenery shoud go some way to making up for that. Visit some the iconic locations that feature in the BBC's latest adaptation; staying at the imposing Nanquidno House, near Sennen Cove, a beautiful farmhouse which sleeps up to seven people, explore the breath-taking and rugged coastline seen on the show. 
Visit Porthgwarra: a tiny cove that often makes an appearance in Poldark. Great to swim off, and often you'll be joined by seals. Walk from Botallack to Levant - Poldark location managers couldn't resist the rich mining heritage of this stretch of coast linking Botallack and Levant. Levant Mine plays the role of fictional Tressiders Rolling Mill while Owles and Crowns near Botallack star as Wheal Leisure. Ride a bicycle along The Mineral Tramways Trail, and see the remains of the 19th century mining heritage.
HOW: Prices start from £850 for a week (or £121pp), and £640 for a short break (or £92pp). Milly & Martha's bespoke guide will be prepared once accommodation is booked - guests to arrange their own activities depending on preference. To find out more, visit www.millyandmartha.com or email info@millyandmartha.com. 

Take the grandkids to LEGOLAND

Take the grandkids to LEGOLAND

LEGO® Friends fans, young and old, are in for a treat at the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort this May half term, as a totally new area brings to life the vibrancy and fun of Heartlake City (based on the themed area in Florida's LEGOLAND resort) with exciting new attractions and an action-packed live show. And those who want a double whammy dose of LEGO Friends can check into one of the recently opened premium themed rooms at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel.
The all-new Heartlake City themed area opens in May Half Term when guests can step into the colourful world of the LEGO Friends. The unmistakeable exterior of the Heartlake Mall gives a stunning harbour-side backdrop for the exciting new live show 'Friends to the Rescue!' featuring characters Mia, Andrea, Stephanie, Emma and Olivia. Fans can join the girls on an action packed adventure full of surprises and sing and dance along to their favourite LEGO Friends songs. Guests can then head over to the Heartlake City Express for a gentle train journey through the LEGO countryside. At Olivia's House little LEGO builders can make their own robots or help build a home for one of Olivia's pets and Emma's Ice Cream Parlour will be dishing up some delicious desserts. Over at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel guests can extend a visit to a short break over May half term in one of the ten NEW LEGO Friends themed rooms or check out a Kingdom, Pirate or Adventure themed room - all jam-packed with special twists and flourishes.
HOW: Heartlake City at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort opens in May Half term; tickets bought in advance online cost from £36 for adults, from £32.85 for children (free for under three's) and from £137.70 for families (2 adults + 2 children). At the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hotel, all LEGO Friends rooms are Premium themed rooms; premium LEGO Friends packages are available from £369, while themed family rooms (2 adults/ up to 3 children) available from £289 (not including LEGO Friends rooms), including breakfast and park tickets for two days. Book via www.legoland.co.uk/hotel/shortbreak/

Fall in love with North Devon

Fall in love with North Devon

If the weather's good, this is one of the most scenic parts of the country to visit, with rolling moors and vast open spaces just crying out to be discovered. 'Cubbyhole' is one of three character cottages within the grounds of a 16th century manor house, surrounded by endless countryside. From May to September guests have access to a shared, solar-heated swimming pool, enclosed garden and BBQ area to make the most of English countryside al fresco dining. The property sleeps two and comes complete with four-poster double bed, ensuite bathroom and woodburning stove.
The nearby village of Bradworthy has shops, and pubs, but the property is close to some of the most spectacular coastline in the UK, offering breath-taking scenery, unspoilt beaches and stunning coastal path walks. There are many attractions worth a visit including The Big Sheep (an amusement park crossed with a farm), Clovelly with its cobbled street leading down to the sea, walking and watersports at Tamar Lakes, Bude Splashpool, Dartington Crystal and beautiful gardens at RHS Rosemoor. You will be ideally placed for exploring both the north coasts of Devon and Cornwall which have a choice of popular sandy surfing beaches and sheltered coves.
HOW: A three night break from 1 May costs £219 per person. To book please visit: www.holidaycottages.co.uk/devon

Buckle up for a luxury weekend at Brooklands Hotel, Surrey

Buckle up for a luxury weekend at Brooklands Hotel, Surrey

Located on the site of the historic Brooklands motor racing track, the super-stylish, 1920s designed Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge, Surrey has taken inspiration from its racing-car heritage to create a family package that gives children licence to drive parents round the bend during the May Bank Holidays (4 and 25 May 2015) and May Half-Term (25 - 29 May 2015). 

The Family Driving Package combines an overnight stay in the deluxe, design-led Brooklands Hotel with the unrivalled experience of speeding round a race track in an AMG at neighbouring Mercedes-Benz World.
Guaranteed to keep boredom at bay, families will be able to relax in the luxurious surroundings of a spacious track-facing family room, before heading to Mercedes-Benz World, where they can explore the fascinating exhibitions and get up close to the legendary Mercedes-Benz vehicles. 
The highlight is a 30 minute driving experience in an AMG for adults, whilst children (under sixteen) will have the chance to go off-road behind the wheel of a 4x4 for 30-minutes. 
After an action-packed day on the track, families can enjoy complimentary access to the hotel's BSpa and look forward to a hearty breakfast the following morning in the 1907 Restaurant, Bar & Grill.

HOW: Prices for the Family Driving Experience Package start from £299 for a family of two adults and one child and from £339 for a family of two adults and two children, including one night's accommodation in a track-facing family room, access to BSpa, entry to Mercedes-Benz World, one 30-minute adult AMG driving experience, one under 16s, 30-minute 4x4 driving experience and breakfast the following morning. For reservations and more information, call 01932 335710, email reservations@brooklandshotelsurrey.com or go to www.brooklandshotelsurrey.com


As you were going to St Ives...

As you were going to St Ives...

Set on the North West coast of Cornwall, and boasting one of the warmest climates in the UK, thanks to the Atlantic Gulf Stream, it's easy to see why the Guardian named St Ives Best Seaside Town. There is plenty to do in a town famous for its thriving art scene and The Tate St Ives, one of only 4 branches of the Tate Gallery. Stay at the unique Black Moon cottage, which sleeps two. It boasts an open plan kitchen and living room with two large comfortable sofas, 42'' TV, Bose iPod dock, bar style dining table and kitchen. The living room also features large floor to ceiling glass doors that open out onto stunning views over St Ives bay towards Gwithian lighthouse and a glass floor that looks down into your own private cave/snug area. The bedroom features a super king sized custom made bed and plenty of storage space. The bedrooms is separated from the living room and kitchen by a huge sliding mirrored wall so you can choose whether or not to lie in bed and watch the sunrise. To the rear of the bedroom is the open en suite bathroom with full sized bath and walk-in shower; the walls are covered in rough granite tiles lit with funky fibre optics.
Black Moon is situated overlooking Bamaluz Beach and is within easy walking distance of many of the local attractions.
As you'd imagine with a town popular with artists, St Ives has a happening after-hours scene where you can find anything from small cosy pubs to stylish bars. There are also
 a multitude of local restaurants which serve anything from delicious home-made food to top quality restaurant fare. St Ives also boasts one of the oldest Inns in Cornwall, The Sloop Inn being dated circa 1312. A walk around the town reveals hidden art galleries, harbour side eateries and beachside cafes. There are four beaches nearby including Porthmeor Beach, Porthgwidden Beach and Porthminster Beach. The local countryside also has great walking and hiking trails that range in difficulty and length. With something for everyone, St Ives really is the perfect seaside getaway!
HOW: Black Moon costs from £720 for three nights over the bank holiday weekend. To book, visit www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/st-ives/197115

Take a trail through Thomas Hardy country

(Image credit: ªª)

Take a trail through Thomas Hardy country

As the new version of Far From the Madding Crowd is released on Friday 1 May (starring Michael Sheen and Carey Mulligan), why not immerse yourself in the atmospheric scenery which inspired author Thomas Hardy? The film, based on Hardy's fourth novel and his first major literary success, tells the story of the beautiful and fiercely independent Bathsheba Everdene (played by Mulligan) and her relationships with three very different suitors. This timeless story of Bathsheba's choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love - as well as the human ability to overcome hardships through resilience and perseverance. 
In an area where time feels as if it has stood still you will experience a rare peace and beauty, in a landscape that is little known and rarely walked. On route the atmosphere is one of a timeless wander. There are numerous unspoilt villages and stories from times that span centuries of history.  They include the Saxon hill top town of Shaftesbury (which Hardy called Shaston in his novels) and the village of Marnhull (Marlott). Along the River Stour, kingfishers and herons can be spotted and if you are really lucky you may see an otter.
Enjoy a glorious array of fabulous English country inns with excellent food, many award winning, which make this trip relaxing, indulgent and authentic.
HOW: A four-night Tess's Journey (Hardy's Tales) inn-to-inn Foot Trail, starting on the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend (3rd May) costs from £545 per person. This includes B&B accommodation (based on two sharing), luggage transfers, transport drop off services, tailor made itinerary, tailor made Walk and Explore Box with waterproof maps and trail cards, nature guide, sweets. To book, visit www. foottrails.co.uk/walking_holidays/dorset/tesss-journey-hardys-tales/

Have an award-winning stay on the Isle of Arran

Have an award-winning stay on the Isle of Arran

Auchrannie Resort and Spa, on the Isle of Arran, has been named Hotel of the Year at this year's Scottish Hotel. In addition, Auchrannie Resort was also named as Scotland's Family Hotel of the Year and Island Hotel of the Year. So where better to stay for a trip to remember on this beautiful island? 
Whether travelling alone or as a couple, the romantic and relaxing House Hotel will ensure a perfect stay with intimate and well equipped bedrooms and open fires burning in the ambient individually designed lounges.
if you fancy being adventurous, the hotel can arrange for you to do a range of activities, including mountain biking, abseiling, sea kayaking or gorge walking. We advise you to take advantage of the beautiful, rugged scenery this island is known for! You could also visit the Isle of Arran Distillery, to check out how they make some of Scotland's finest amber nectar, or drop in to the elegant Brodick castle. Nearby is the HQ of Arran Aromatics, which produces a gorgeous range of natural soaps and candles. 
HOW: Packages start from £65 per person per night, including dinner, bed and breakfast and a spa treatment; to book, visit www.auchrannie.co.uk

Go wild for the Grand Prix in Monaco

Go wild for the Grand Prix in Monaco

The annual Monaco Grand Prix falls over our second May bank holiday weekend, running from 21 to 24 May, so if you love the sound of screeching tyres and engine roars, or you have a partner who does, this could be the break for you. Some grandstand tickets are still available, from as little as £45 on the Thursday (see www.monaco-grand-prix.com for more details) but if you really want to treat yourself, go for a VIP package. A Platinum Terrace package on the Saturday costs from £637, but you get a premium vantage point in a balcony suite above the main straight, close to the race's starting point, not to mention refreshments throughout the day, including canapés, main dishes, wine and champagne. 
HOW: BA.com and easyjet.com both fly to Nice (the nearest airport), while a room at the Novotel Monaco costs from £101 per night. For more details, visit www.novotel.com/gb/hotel-5275-novotel-monte-carlo/

Soak up the Sicilian Sun

(Image credit: Photographer: Giuseppe La Colla)

Soak up the Sicilian Sun

The stunning island of Sicily is one of the nicest places to spend a sun soaked long weekend. Sun worshippers will enjoy a stay at luxury villa, Villa Lilybeum, near the town of Marsala to the west of the island. Set in a 9000sq m private garden, this traditional Sicilian villa has been renovated with the latest mod cons and is perfect for a large family. Sleeping eight, the villa features a private swimming pool, vine covered porches to escape the midday heat and a BBQ. It?s less than fifteen minutes away from the white sandy beaches of Marsala and the Stagnone Nature Reserve, one of the most charming spots on the island. The Stagnone is a lagoon that includes four islands, the most famous being Mozia with its ancient Phoenician fortress. 
HOW: A seven night stay from 25 May 2015 costs from £1,478.00 based on a group of eight sharing Villa Lilybeum. For more information, to book and for details of further properties with availability during May half-term please visit www.scent-of-sicily.com 

Sail away at the Sani Resort in Greece

(Image credit: Heinz Troll)

Sail away at the Sani Resort in Greece

Basking in the sunshine on the shores of the Kassandra peninsula, mainland Greece, the Sani Resort is a family owned and privately developed hideaway set on a 1000 acre ecological reserve. It comprises four hotels: the Sani Beach Club, Sani Beach Hotel, Porto Sani Village and Sani Asterias Suites, three exclusive Sani spa venues, with a marina at the heart; alive with restaurants, cool bars, designer boutiques and art galleries. Sani Resort provides guests with a chance to be at the heart The Sani Resort, offering the best views of the international sailing competition set amongst luxurious surroundings. 
Between 1 - 3 May, it will play host to the first ever Sani Cup, an international sailing event featuring some of the best-known Greek and European sailors. Guests at Sani over this May bank holiday period will be able to enjoy a sailing spectacle like never before, along the lines of Cowes week and other high-end sailing regattas.  
The Sani Cup will host a Match Racing series; a one-to-one race of speed between identical, one-design boats. Whichever boat crosses the finish line first is deemed the winner. Every match lasts approximately 20 minutes and therefore all teams compete against each other in rotation. It promises to be an exciting and challenging event!
HOW: Sani Resort (www.saniresort.gr; 0030 23740 99500) offers nightly rates in Sani Beach Hotel from £126 per room per night. For further information and reservations please visit www.saniresort.gr