Caroline Mills

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Take quiet adult caravan holidays before the school holidays start, using our guide to good campsites and top UK events in June and July 2016

I hate to say it, but it’s only a matter of weeks before the summer solstice and the nights start to draw in again! More so, the schools will be starting to wind down and kids are eagerly awaiting their summer holidays. So, if you’re a couple whose offspring have long since flown the nest and you’re hoping for some last-minute solace before the schools break up - and the campsites fill up – perhaps you’ll enjoy these suggestions for UK events and festivals in June and July 2016. 

You don’t really need an excuse for staycation caravan holidays in Britain this summer – our scenery is glorious enough for quiet rural escapes and city breaks with your caravan. But should you want some justification, I give you Cornish pasties, fireworks, festivals and more!

Kynren: an epic tale of England, County Durham

Over a number of dates this summer, Auckland castle in County Durham will host an open-air night spectacular, bringing to life 2,000 years of Britain’s history through the eyes of North-East England. Taking in events from the Roman Conquest to just after World War II, Kynren will feature 14 movie-like performances from 2 July 2016 and will take its audience on a 90-minute journey of epic storytelling, with pyrotechnics, lighting and water effects. 

Putting the facts into numbers, the organiser Eleven Arches will entertain up to 8000 visitors per show across a seven-and-a-half-acre stage with a cast and crew made up of 1000 actors. Taking inspiration from its artistic partner, Eleven Arches has modelled Kynren on the famous Puy du Fou night show near Nantes in France. 

If you’re planning on seeing the spectacle, you may as well stop overnight at the Barnard Castle Camping and Caravanning Club Site then potter around the beautiful Durham Dales for a few days.

Here’s to the Cornish Pasty, Cornwall

What could be more special than devouring a genuine Cornish Pasty during your caravan holidays in Cornwall this summer? Genuine? Yes, authenticity is key, because the Cornish Pasty is PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) certified, the name ‘Cornish Pasty’ limited to those produced in Cornwall and using a traditional recipe. What’s more, the humble Cornish Pasty celebrates five years of protected status in 2016.

The Cornish Pasty Association lists where you can buy the genuine article but I’ve got three recommendations: Ann’s Pasties on The Lizard Peninsula, Jessie’s Dairy in Mousehole and St Agnes Bakery in (you’ve guessed it) St Agnes. They all make a fine handcrafted pasty but it tastes even better overlooking one of the spectacular Cornish coastal views at any of these locations.

So if you want to be first in the queue to get your pasties hot out of the oven, you’d better stay in a campsite nearby. Beacon Cottage Farm Touring Park is within a decent walk of the bakery at St Agnes – and has pretty decent views of its own – while Silver Sands Holiday Park is a good bet when staying on The Lizard. It received oodles of praise from visitors in Practical Caravan’s Top 100 Sites Guide 2016.

England’s Home of Sport, Nottinghamshire

After an unforgettable summer of cricket in 2015, Britain plays host once again to some top international fixtures in 2016. You can catch world-class cricket action this summer in the stunning setting of Trent Bridge, one of England’s most historic grounds – and the venue where England secured its Ashes victory against Australia in the summer of 2015. The venue will host England's Royal London One-Day Internationals against Sri Lanka on Tuesday 21 June and Pakistan on Tuesday 30 August. 'Howzat!'

If you prefer the strike of a tennis ball to leather on willow, you’ll be happy to know that world-class tennis is a short lob across the city with two Aegon Open Nottingham grass court tournaments. As preparation in the lead-up to The Championships at Wimbledon, the competition attracts many of the top international tennis players. The action takes place in the atmospheric surrounds of Nottingham Tennis Centre, on the outskirts of the city centre. The women play from 4 to 12 June while the men’s tournament takes place from 18 to 25 June.

Sticking with the sporting theme, you can stay at Nottingham's National Water Sports Centre, where there’s an 18-acre campsite with easy access to the city centre. Nottingham was, after all, named as ‘England’s Home of Sport’ in October 2015.

90 Years of Style: The Queen’s Wardrobe, Edinburgh

You might have seen The Queen's birthday tribute tour, my quirky blog for Practical Caravan about celebrating Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday – recommending locations that have ‘Queen’ within the place name. You might prefer to celebrate the Monarch’s birthday by visiting a special exhibition.

Staged at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, The Queen's official residence in Scotland, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe will chart significant events in The Queen's life and British history through fashion. This is an unprecedented collection of dress, jewellery and accessories, from childhood to the present day, some of which are on view in Scotland for the very first time. The collection constitutes the largest display of The Queen’s dresses ever mounted.

When you visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse the entrance fee includes this exhibition, which continues until 16 October 2016. A second exhibition will be at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace from 23 July to 2 October 2016.

To extend your city break in Scotland’s capital, stay at the Edinburgh Caravan Club site, located to the north of the city, on the Firth of Forth. Ingliston Park & Ride is a 20-minute drive from the campsite or there’s a bus stop, with buses into the city centre, just over half a mile from the site entrance.

Thorpefest, Suffolk

Leading Coldplay and Take That tribute bands will be headlining the new Thorpefest music festival on 2 July, held outdoors at the Thorpeness Country Club, near Aldeburgh.

On Suffolk’s Heritage Coast Thorpefest will feature nearly a dozen bands performing live from 12noon until 10pm, including local bands, alongside the headline acts. Champagne and beer tents plus tempting food and a barbecue will be provided by the Thorpeness Dolphin Inn and White Lion Hotel, providing fuel for everyone to get up and dance throughout the afternoon and evening. 

Presenters from two radio stations – Town 102 and The Beach – will be on stage hosting the event. It’s hoped that the ticketed festival will raise some £10,000 for local charities, including The Town 102 Kids' Trust and Help an East Coast Child.

Beach View Holiday Park at Leiston is one of the closest campsites to Thorpeness. With sea views and situated next to the beach and coastal footpath, it’s a pleasant site for a coastal break.

Al Fresco Fortnight

Al Fresco Fortnight, a brand new annual event from Father's Day on 19 June to 3 July, aims to get everyone entertaining, eating and enjoying being outside. That, of course, goes hand-in-hand with caravanning so it's a great time to celebrate all that’s great about local, fresh and seasonal British produce and eating outdoors. That might be having a quiet, sunny-side-up Champagne breakfast for two at sunrise on the Summer Solstice (Monday 20 June 2016), or inviting a few friends around to share an evening 'barbie'. 

The beauty of Al Fresco Fortnight is that you can celebrate it anywhere, and there are many fabulous campsites linked to farms, farm shops and great food producers.

My pick is The Pig Place in North Oxfordshire. Situated three miles south of Banbury and alongside The Oxford Canal, there are beautiful views over the Cherwell Valley from the site, lovely canalside walks – and the opportunity to buy tasty sausages and pork from farm, because rare breed pigs are reared on site. What a porker!

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