The Ultimate Guide To Summer 2023: What To Do & Where To Go
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The Ultimate Guide To Summer 2023: What To Do & Where To Go

The ultimate C&TH guide to summer

Wondering where you can escape to for a summer staycation this year? Or maybe you’re just looking for the top spots to visit across the nation? Look no further for the best things to do and places to visit in the UK for summer 2023.

Summer Guide: Things To Do & Where To Go in the UK 2023

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Fortnum & Mason's beach huts in Cornwall

Fortnum & Mason On Sea

25 July–10 September 2023; Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Fortnum & Mason is popping up on the Cornish coast this summer, launching a trio of its coloured beach huts on the cliffs of Watergate Bay. Running in partnership with chef Emily Scott, the experience allows visitors to enjoy a picnic made using local Cornish suppliers within one of the huts, which are decked out with pretty blankets and tableware. On the menu you’ll find dishes like Smoked Cornish trout and ale-infused treacle bread, coronation crab sandwiches, and fig leaf soft serve ice cream, alongside a bottle of Fortnum & Mason Sparkling Tea.

BOOK IT: From £195 for two people.

The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup

Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup

12 August at Ascot Racecourse (High Street, Ascot SL5 7JX)

Jockeys from across the globe will flock to Ascot for its special Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, promising a day of incredible racing in a bid to win the ultimate team prize. The six-race contest will be followed in classic Ascot style by a star-studded concert featuring Craig David, Melanie C and Marvin Humes.

BOOK IT: Tickets from £30.

© Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse

Bristol Balloon Festival

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

10–13 August 2023; Ashton Court Estate, Long Ashton, Avon, Bristol BS41 9JN

A truly unique sight, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest annual meeting of hot air balloons. Don’t miss the night glows and firework finale. What a lot of hot air!

Photo by Paul Gray


Splash About At Dartmouth Royal Regatta

23–26 August 2023; Priory Street, Kingswear, Dartmouth TQ6 0AB

There is absolutely nothing worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Live by Ratty’s maxim and visit Dartmouth Royal Regatta; it was a favourite of Queen Victoria’s. Oarsome fun.

Photo by Zach Pickering

Royal Academy Summer Arts Programme exterior

Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition

13 June–20 August 2023; Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD

Running since 1769, the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission art show. It’s a chance to peep into the exciting world of current art – and even bag a future masterpiece.


Celebrate Lavender Season

14 June–6 August 2023

The summer months see parts of the Cotswolds turn lilac with the advent of lavender season, making it a particularly aromatic time to visit. Head to Cotswold Lavender Farm in Broadway before the autumn harvest, or just spot the purple fields as you take countryside rambles.

Discover more beautiful lavendar farms here

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Wakefield WF4 4JX

The ever-inspiring Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s summer programme includes Curiosity & Wonder, a series of events themed around the importance of creativity and play. Plus, there’s the hundreds of outdoor artworks set amid the 500 acre rolling park for nature and art lovers to enjoy alike. 

An outdoor cinema pop up at Chatsworth House

Watch A Movie At An Outdoor Cinema

As the evenings get warmer and stretch longer, make the most of the sunset by heading to an outdoor cinema. Touring venues such as Westminster Abbey, Warwick Castle and Hampton Court Palace, Luna Cinemas is kicking off on 14 June with a line-up of award-winning films, family favourites and feel-good classics.

Discover more lovely outdoor cinemas in London

Image: Top Gun Maverick at Chatsworth House

A long table in the grass

Wild Dining: At Home Farm

June–September 2023; Aldenham Road, Elstree, Hertfordshire, WD6 3AZ

Venture to the edge of North London for a countryside haven, where guests dine under trees amid long grass and wander through fairy lit woods to a secret woodland stage where musicians such as James Bay, Freya Ridings, Nick Mulvey and Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler have previously performed. 

Image by Camille Calyssa

A lady standing in a wooden sculpture

Celebrate Woodland Wonders At Wakehurst

Sussex, 7 July–17 September 2023; Selsfield Road, Haywards Heath RH17 6TN

Kew’s new summer programme, Rooted – at its wild Sussex botanic garden, Wakehurst – celebrates woodland wonders with eight outdoor tree-inspired installations, six of which have been commissioned especially for summer 2023. Among the artists are Chila Kumari Burman MBE and Joseph Hillier, the biggest artists Wakehurst has ever hosted. While you’re there, take a stroll through ‘Planet Wakehurst’, an outdoor art installation running in tandem.

Image: Forest Megaphones by Birgit Oigus (© Jim Holden/RBG Kew)

Smoked & Uncut

Visit A Food Festival

Sample the best of British cuisine at a food festival this summer. Smoked & Uncut (pictured), the ultimate foodie festival, is held at The Pig Hotel (12 August 2023) and Lime Wood (8 July 2023). Top British chefs rustle up grub that’s a cut above the usual festival fare.

Or party like Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. Every June, foodies flock to the stately home for Feast festival, a celebration of artisan food and drink.

Check out more British food festivals here

Camp Bestival

Attend A Summer Festival

Camp Bestival, the family-friendly sister of Bestival, likes to call itself a ‘festi-holiday’. There is entertainment from DJs and a whole host of fun activities for all ages, held at Lulworth Castle in Dorset (27–30 July 2023) and Weston Park in Shropshire (17–20 August 2023).

Don’t let appearances be deceiving: while the quaint village of Snape might be small, it packs a mighty cultural punch. Thanks mostly to Snape Maltings, the creative arts campus that is home to the internationally renowned Aldeburgh Music programme and one of the most unique concert halls in the country. It’s at its best in June, during Aldeburgh Festival (9–25 June 2023).

The C&TH Festivals Hub

wales beach Photo by Ian Cylkowski on Unsplash

Embark On A Beautiful Walk

Wales’ beautiful beaches are a must-visit. Start at the long sandy Rhossili beach in South Wales before heading further around the coast for long beautiful walks in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

In Sutherland, Scotland, a four-mile walk through unruly heather takes you to Sandwood Bay and a mile-long stretch of remote beach. Bring a cricket bat and ball – or your swimsuit if you’re feeling brave.

Sea Pool

Try Cold Water Swimming

Cold water swimming is most tolerable in the summer months, with the beating sun evaporating some of the icy chill. Rising in popularity in recent years, the UK is home to a plethora of pretty outdoor swimming spots to test the waters (with plenty of swimming pool options if you’re seeking a safety net). Venture to the west for tidal sea pools dotted around the coastline, from Bude’s 91m sea pool to the lido-sized rock pool at Treyarnon. Most impressive is Penzance’s restored Art Deco Jubilee pool. Check out our guide to cold water swimming before you head out.

Young athletic man paddling on a SUP stand up paddle board in blue water sea in Montenegro

Or Attempt To Paddleboard

If you’re scared of getting so up close and personal with the icy water, try paddleboarding. Check out our handy how-to guide to get started, before venturing to one of London’s best paddleboarding spots, or reading up on how paddleboarding can help alleviate plastic pollution.

Young couple with Ice Creams in the park summer time.

Eat Local Ice Cream

Nothing says summer like an ice-cold scoop of creamy goodness. For the best in the business, shop local: an ice cream from Roskilly’s near Helston is made using Jersey milk from the farm’s 125 cows. They make everything from wild cherry with chocolate flakes to own-made toffee flavours, but the vanilla is still the best.


Visit Bekonscot Model Village

Warwick Road, Beaconsfield HP9 2PL

Tower over Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, the oldest original model village in the world and a riot of colour during the summer.

Stourhead Gardens

Amble Through A Pretty Garden

6 High Street, Stourton, Warminster BA12 6QF

When Stourhead Garden opened in the 1740s it was regarded as ‘a living work of art’. Amble down paths that lead to classical temples, over a Palladian bridge and around the glorious lake.

Discover more beautiful British gardens here


Visit The Coast

Make for Margate and gaze out across the same beach, sea and skies that inspired more than 100 of JMW Turner’s works – admire them in the seafront gallery sharing the painter’s name.

Or grab an ice cream and wander round the harbour and quaint coastal village of Staithes, North Yorkshire, which used to be one of the largest fishing ports in the North East of England.

You can’t beat a soft baguette crammed with crab caught fresh that morning off the very same shore you are eating it from. The Crab Hut at Brancaster Staithe Harbour in Norfolk will certainly satisfy on that front.

The Best Beaches Near London

A close-up view of North Atlantic Puffins in their nesting grounds at Bemtpon Cliffs Nature Reserve in Yorkshire

Try Birdwatching

Inspired by David Attenborough’s Wild Isles? Go birdwatching at Bempton Cliffs while the seabird breeding season is underway. Visit between April and July to spot the famous puffins.

Callanish Stones

See The Callanish Stones

12m west of Stornoway off the A859, Isle of Lewis HS2 9DY

The Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland were placed there in the Neolithic era where it was a site for Bronze Age rituals. In folklore, the stones were petrified giants who resisted converting to Christianity.

Tourists enjoying the sunshine on board the Royal Yacht Britannia

Visit The Queen’s Former Yacht

Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JH

It’s a year of Royal occasion: admire the Queen’s former yacht, The Royal Yacht Britannia, berthed in Edinburgh. Book in for a private tour to enjoy a glass of champagne on deck and avoid the crowds.

Newstead Abbey

Visit A Historic House

Newstead Village NG15 8NA

Wax lyrical at Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, the ancestral home of Lord Byron. The grounds of this historic house make for a perfect picnic spot in the summer – just mind the peacocks.

Gliffords Circus

Giffords Circus

Don’t miss one of the Cotswolds’ loveliest attractions, Giffords Circus, a proper, old-fashioned, village green affair that travels from site to site. There’s not a gimmick in sight.

Photo: St Ives, Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash