Canals and Culture – Anglo Welsh’s prime destinations for lovers of the arts
For many people, cruising along a peaceful canal surrounded by picturesque countryside is the perfect antidote to the hubbub of modern life, but if your personal recipe for relaxation also involves immersing yourself in the arts, Anglo Welsh Narrowboat Holidays offers the perfect cultural pit stops.
Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon are just three of the outstanding destinations on Anglo Welsh circuits that provide fabulous opportunities to moor up and explore some of the UK’s cultural jewels.
A leisurely three-hour cruise from our Witney base on the Thames, Oxford is a city that has captured the artistic imagination for centuries. The ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ boasts 1,500 listed buildings from every major period of British architectural history and the centre looks like an enchanted fairy tale city – one of the reasons it has inspired so many writers and film directors.
Oxford is flat and compact with many of its major attractions – the University of Oxford and its 38 colleges, Bodleian Library, Oxford Castle – located right in the centre, which makes it the perfect destination to explore on foot.
The Ashmolean Museum’s world famous collections range from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. This year’s must-see exhibition, Degas to Picasso – Creating Modernism in France (February 10th – May 7th), features over 100 works that have never been seen in Britain before. The exhibition plots a course from Romantic artists such as Ingres and Delacroix via the dramatic artistic transformations of Van Gogh and Cézanne to the radical experiments in Cubism by Picasso and Braque.
The Oxford Festival of Arts (June 4th – July 8th) is a two-week celebration of culture and the arts in venues throughout Oxford. The Festival programme presents an exciting array of high quality events, with a colourful mix of music, literature, theatre, art, speaker events, workshops and much more.
The World Heritage City of Bath is another year-round cultural hotspot. Just five minutes from Anglo Welsh’s Sydney Wharf base are visitor moorings in the heart of the city – a stone’s throw from Bath Abbey with its unique Victorian Gothic architecture and the historic Roman Baths.
The 2017 Bath Bachfest (February 16th – 18th) is the sixth annual celebration of the music of J S Bach and his Baroque contemporaries. The festival has rapidly become a firm fixture in the musical calendar, earning critical acclaim and loyal audiences. This year the final evening concert takes place in Bath Abbey and will present an all-Bach programme, book-ended by two of his most loved works: the Third Brandenburg Concerto and the Magnificat.
On a more frivolous note, the Bath Comedy Festival (April 1st – 17th) gets bigger and better every year and comics don’t get bigger than Have I Got News for You star Paul Merton, who opens the Festival on Saturday 1st April in the glorious, 1930s surrounds of the beautiful art-deco Bath Forum.
Reverting to more highbrow pastimes, this year’s Jane Austen Festival (September 8th – 17th) is celebrating the novel Northanger Abbey. Before that, the venue for the pre-festival Summer Ball on July 1st is the historic Banqueting Room at Bath’s Guildhall.
Shakespeare is to England what Mozart is to Austria or Tolstoy to Russia – the country’s cultural giant; and nowhere is better for tracing the giant steps of the Bard than Stratford-upon-Avon, a pretty journey along Stratford Canal from Anglo Welsh’s bases at Wootton Wawen or Tardebigge.
Moor on the River Avon close to the famous Swan Theatre to explore Stratford-upon-Avon’s quaint side streets with many surviving buildings that would have been familiar to Shakespeare, including his own birthplace and the romantic Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Among the 2017 highlights at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the epic political tragedy Julius Caesar (March 3rd – September 9th). Following his sell-out productions of Oppenheimer and Don Quixote, director Angus Jackson steers the thrilling action as the race to claim the empire spirals out of control.
A new permanent exhibition at The Swan Theatre, The Play’s The Thing, offers a magical journey through 100 years of theatre-making in Stratford-upon-Avon. Discover rarely-seen treasures from the theatre’s archive: exquisite costumes, amazing model-boxes and weird and wonderful props.
If all that sounds a bit hectic and you prefer to spend your holidays away from the crowds, you can always relax on board with your favourite Jane Austen novel, download Bach on your tablet or watch a Shakespeare play on a flat-screen TV. If you have the cultural taste buds, Anglo Welsh has the technology!