What makes a venue group-friendly? A warm welcome, something for a variety of personal interests, dining options, and of course, easy access for your vehicle with a perks for the driver too. The following attractions tick all of these boxes
NEW TOURS AT BOUGHTON HOUSE Boughton House in Northamptonshire has launched two new guided tours to showcase the spectacular highlights of the house known as the ‘English Versailles.’ The new Great Hall Tour takes visitors on an hour-long journey through The Buccleuch Art Collection, focusing on the House’s paintings, tapestry, porcelain and textiles, culminating in the spectacular Great Hall. Ticket holders will also be able to access the Armoury and special summer exhibition when it launches. A must for history buffs, the new State Room Tour will take in the five imposing State Rooms, which led King William III to commission the State Rooms in Hampton Court Palace. For something a little different, the Books, Beds and Beyond Tour offers a 60-minute sneak peek at hidden gems, including the servants’ quarters, china store and the library. Boughton House and Gardens opens to the public annually at Easter and throughout August. Pre-booked group tours take place throughout the year. The Great Hall Tour, plus entry to the Gardens, Armoury and special summer exhibition costs £10 for adults. The State Rooms Tour is available for an extra £2 per person. The Bed Books and Beyond Tour is an additional £12.50 per person. The Gardens will open between 12pm and 5pm; with last entry at 4pm. Tickets cost £6 for adults. Gardens ticket holders will also gain access to the Armoury and the special summer exhibition when it launches. Call 01536 515731. www.boughtonhouse.co.uk
BLETCHLEY & WOBURN Award-winning visitor attraction Bletchley Park was pivotal in the breakdown of the secret communications of the Axis Powers during the Second World War. The interactive museum in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, is becoming more and more popular as the public discovers more about the importance of the work that was undertaken here. www.bletchleypark.org.uk Make a full day of your visit in the area by visiting Woburn Abbey a few miles away. Whether you’re interested in beautiful stately homes, art, history or gardens, there is something for everyone to enjoy here. Knowledgeable staff will ensure you have a great day out, with guided tours available on request. Refreshments can be taken in The Duchess’ Tearoom. There are familiarisation days for group travel organisers, as well as numerous other benefits. Until October 31, 2016, groups can enjoy a joint discount on both venues. Call 01525 292101 or email lisa.weaver@ woburn.co.uk. www.woburnabbey.co.uk
RURAL LIFE For a day out with a rural theme, head to the West Sussex-based Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. The museum’s mix of traditional buildings tell the stories of the people who lived and worked in the region over a 600-year period. Groups can explore the 40-acre site and visit its huge collection of rural buildings, many of which have been furnished to recreate the domestic interiors of the time. The museum also offers visitors a regular programme of domestic and craft demonstrations, including cooking in the Tudor kitchen, milling flour in the working watermill and blacksmithing in the Victorian smithy. There’s discounted entry for groups of 15 or more – adults at £10.50 each (adults (65+) £9.50 each.) Tours of the Museum’s site and key buildings can be pre-booked for parties of up to 25 people, priced at just £40 per party. Call 01243 811363 or email email@example.com. www.wealddown.co.uk
GROUPS GO CRUISING
Groups are welcome on all Fred. Olsen cruises and, with their newly launched 2017/2018 brochure, there’s plenty of choice. There are 110 cruises to choose from; more than 200 destinations worldwide and 10 regional ports! Depending on the group’s size, you may be eligible for a choice of ‘added value’ beneﬁ ts. The company’s bespoke groups service appeals to a variety of groups, including family and friendship groups, corporate and incentive groups, and all kinds of clubs, associations and societies. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has just been awarded the coveted ‘Gold Trusted Merchant Accreditation’ by independent review site Feefo, for the third year in a row. It received over 14,300 customer reviews, with 95 per cent of these being in the ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ categories. Call the Group & Specialist Sales Department on 01473 746169 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A TASTE FOR THE UNUSUAL Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London celebrates the bizarre. With more than 700 unusual artefacts spanning six floors, this quirky museum has something of interest for all ages. Groups can benefit from VIP Fast Track daytime entry, complete with afternoon tea in the Ripley’s Café. Explore the six oddity packed floors full of amazing artifices, interactive experiences and outstanding artworks; then select from a choice of hot drinks and tuck into a scone with jam and butter in the library-themed café. All this for £10 per person when you book in advance for a group of 15 or more people. This package permits VIP Fast Track entry any time from 10am to 5pm on selected off-peak weekdays. Early booking is recommended as there is limited availability. Call 020 7494 6818 or email groups@ ripleyslondon.com. www.ripleyslondon.com
DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF SHUGBOROUGH As the nation marks the Queen’s 90th birthday, visitors to Shugborough Estate, near Stafford, can see remarkable images from her reign captured by royal photographer Lord Lichfield; a cousin of the Queen, who lived in the impressive Georgian mansion. One of Britain’s best upstairs-downstairs experiences, the Shugborough Estate offers groups a wide range of tours and experiences. As well as the elegant mansion house and gardens, groups can visit the Georgian Farm Park – a location for Channel 4 TV programme Time Crashers – and follow in the footsteps of Fern Britton and Kirsty Alley by “having a go” at milking goats and making butter. Two new tours this year are the Gardens Tour and Tea with a Servant. Visitors can enjoy food and drink made from recipes that include flour, salads, vegetables and even beer produced on the estate itself. There are special rates for groups, free admission for the group travel organiser and coach driver benefits. Standard group admission during the open season is £10.50 per person. Although Shugborough is open until October 21, 2016, there are winter events, including exclusive evening tours, Christmas and festive packages, as well as behind the scenes conservation tours. Contact the Group Bookings Team on 01889 881388 or email bookings@ staffordshire.gov.uk. www.shugborough.org.uk/ educationandgroupvisits/ GroupVisits.aspx
DRAYTON MANOR Drayton Manor Theme Park, near Tamworth, Staffordshire, is great for groups seeking fun and laughter. The park boasts some of the biggest, wettest and scariest rides around, including the adrenalineinducing drop-tower, Apocalypse and Europe’s only stand-up coaster, Shockwave, gyro-swing, Maelstrom and the acrobatic Air Race. It’s also home to Thomas Land™, which increased in size by 40 per cent last year. If thrills and spills are not your thing, head to the 15-acre zoo, home to over 100 species from across the world. The new Tamarin Trail allows guests to meet inquisitive monkeys while walking through the gardens. Eight new enclosures house a variety of tamarins and marmosets.
For groups of 12 or more, there’s free entry for the group travel organiser, parking for coaches, and benefits for the driver. Call 0844 472 1950. www.draytonmanor.co.uk
THE STORY OF MOTORING Beaulieu National Motor Museum is an award-winning attraction set in the heart of Hampshire’s New Forest. With over 250 vehicles on display, the museum tells the story of motoring. New this year, visitors can meet a crash test dummy and explore the evolution of the motor car. Fans of TV’s Top Gear can see behind the scenes footage featuring the stars of the show. Alternatively, you could explore the Victorian splendour of Palace House, then stroll through the grounds and gardens and explore the tranquil ruins of Beaulieu Abbey, which houses an exhibition telling the story of the monks who once lived and worked there.
There are discounts for groups of 15 or more, with a selection of tours to choose from. Call 01590 614645 or email email@example.com. www.beaulieu.co.uk
CELEBRATE THE TRAM Transport of a different kind is celebrated at The National Tramway Museum, based in Crich in Derbyshire. Housing a period village complete with its own pub, café, old-style sweetshop and, of course, tram depots, the museum’s collection runs through the village setting, taking groups back to the mid-1900s. Groups can hop aboard a tram and enjoy a journey out into the countryside and back aboard the museum’s varied fleet. Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more. Find out about their many themed events, (including an Edwardian Event on July 15-17) on the website. Call 01773 854321. www.tramway.co.uk