GTW profiles some of the most group-friendly places in England. They represent a diverse range of visiting options, but what they all have in common is that they’ve taken those extra steps to ensure you’ll have a fantastic time with all the facilities you and your group could possibly need.

CRICH TRAMWAY VILLAGE

A unique visitor attraction in the East Midlands, Crich Tramway Village, incorporating the National Tramway Museum, is a whole day out for a group in itself. Beautifully restored trams run to and fro down a cobbled street past the former Derby Assembly rooms before passing under the Bowes-Lyon Bridge. They then climb a mile and a half of track while passengers enjoy breathtaking views of Derwent Valley and surrounding countryside. Various useful stops ensure all visitors can see all parts of the village and surroundings.

One of these stops is at the beginning of the fascinating Woodland Walk and Sculpture Trail, which winds its way back to the village. For refreshments, there is another drop-off point at The Red Lion Pub and Rita’s Tearooms. Other things to see include the Workshop Viewing Gallery and the period shops on the authentic village street.

For the less able, there is a specially-restored access tram as well as a ‘smooth’ way around the museum and ramps and lifts to make every part of the museum accessible for all.

Groups are catered for with pre-booked guided tours, special discounted admission, group catering arrangements, free coach parking and free admission and meal for the coach driver.

Info: 01773 854321  www.tramway.co.uk

CADBURY WORLD

Another destination with a difference that caters for groups of all ages is Cadbury World in Birmingham. The 14 zones of this unique visitor attraction uncover a world of chocolate delights and all the history of chocolate and the Cadbury brand.

Open since 1990, Cadbury World now welcomes over half a million annual visitors in search of entertainment and chocolate treats, and with clear signposting and award-winning disabled access, groups can easily explore Cadbury World at their own pace. The Cadbury Café and outdoor African Adventure play area also provide plenty of space to meet up with the rest of your group throughout the day.

The ancient origins of the cocoa bean in the Aztec jungle is the first area for visitors to explore, before they walk through a full-scale replica of Bull Street where John Cadbury opened his first shop in 1824, the area where visitors find out how the Cadbury business began. Visitors can play with virtual chocolate balls in the Purple Planet zone and climb on board the magical Cadabra ride for a gentle journey through a chocolate wonderland.

At Cadbury World, groups can learn how their favourite confectionery is made and watch demonstrations of traditional chocolate-making skills in the Chocolate Making zone. Cadbury World’s in-house chocolatiers use around 12,000kg of chocolate every year to create limited edition and seasonal novelty products available exclusively from the on-site shop and visitors can watch the talented Cadbury World chocolatiers making these creations in the Chocolate Making zone too.

Free preview visits are offered to group organisers and special discounted entry rates for groups of 15 or more are available all year round, with additional savings to be made if visiting on off-peak dates. Free coach parking, plus admission and a complimentary meal for one driver are all included, while groups of 20 or more also receive free admission for the group organiser. The popular attraction also hosts a programme of special seasonal activities throughout the year.

Info: 0844 880 7667    www.cadburyworld.co.uk

BLACKPOOL

For the first time, VisitBlackpool can now offer the travel trade and group organisers the opportunity to package a tour to the resort’s most talked about event of the year, The Script in concert – part of a weekend of gigs relating to the famous Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On.

Headlining on Friday 30 August is Irish rock band The Script, performing a full live set of their chart topping hits including Hall of Fame and Breakeven. The Script has broken Britain, the USA and everywhere from Asia to South Africa, and with frontman Danny O’Donoghue winning series two of the BBC’s The Voice, with singer Andrea Begley, he has fast become a household name too.

Singer-songwriter Eliza Doolittle is the special guest for Friday’s event and will be belting out hits including Skinny Genes and Pack Up along with new material currently featuring in the charts. Following this fantastic gig, celebrity broadcaster Jonathan Ross will flick the switch on for this year’s Blackpool Illuminations. After being a regular on TV screens for more than 25 years Jonathan is a household name both as a chat show host and presenter and is one of the country’s most popular TV personalities. He has a personal love of Blackpool after visiting the resort with his family.

Groups and GTOs should keep their eyes peeled for further announcements for Saturday 31 August and make sure they are a part of the iconic Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On weekend. The lights will shine every night until Sunday 10 November.

2013 Packages

VIP Package for Friday 30th August 2013 includes:

Concert ticket

Exclusive hospitality marquee

Welcome drinks

Exclusive balcony viewing area

Light refreshments

Souvenir gift pack

£75 plus booking fee
Concert ticket giving entry into the Switch-On Concert Arena – £34.00 plus booking fee

Resort Pass Switch-On Package – add an Original Resort Pass to your general admission ticket for an extra £52.50, which includes attraction tickets for:

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Nickelodeon Land

Madame Tussauds

Blackpool SEALIFE

The Blackpool Tower Dungeon

The Blackpool Tower Eye & 4D Experience
Info: Julie Holland 01253 478229    groups@visitblackpool.com


BURY MARKET

This award-winning shopping destination has thought carefully about the group market, with the result that over 1500 coaches visit annually. The 370 stalls draw in the crowds from far and wide and Bury Market is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the north of England.

The market is all on one level and accessible to all. It offers free coach parking and excellent facilities for group comforts, a free coach driver’s lunch voucher and tourist and pedestrian signage to coach parking areas. The best days to organise trips for are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A free information pack is available; please contact Bury Markets Management.
Info: 0161 253 6520      burymarkets@bury.gov.uk   www.burymarket.com

CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW

The UK’s biggest and best classic motoring celebration, the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, will be held this year at Birmingham’s NEC from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th November. With over 1,500 cars and 300 motorcycles on display, Britain’s best motoring clubs pull out all the stops to showcase rare and exciting marques ranging from pre-war through to retro classics, American muscle cars to Japanese performance, European elegance to Great British sports cars and many more.

The centrepiece of the car displays is the Meguiar’s Club Showcase, which brings together the best concours cars from the club events throughout the year before crowning a winner as Car of the Year.

Other features include the Wheeler Dealer Live Stage hosted by the TV motoring show’s presenters Mike Brewer and Edd China with restoration challenges, special guests and exclusive competitions. The impressive Restoration Theatre has a team of mechanics ready to show visitors exactly how to tackle all aspects of restoring a cherished classic car. Silverstone Auctions returns with its sale of classic cars, motorcycles and memorabilia. Viewing will take place all day on Friday and Saturday morning before the sale starts on Saturday afternoon.

As well as the impressive car displays, visitors can also enjoy the Classic Motorbike Show featuring special guests, stunning bike club displays, a Pride of Ownership concours and a Vintage Wall of Death. Over 600 trade stands will be selling a wide range of parts, spares, tools, motoring services and memorabilia while the popular Autojumble and Bikejumble are havens for mechanics looking for that elusive motoring component.

There is plenty of coach parking and group rates are available – please book in advance.
Info: 0844 412 4650     www.necclassicmotorshow.com
WEST MIDLAND SAFARI PARK

This group favourite is more than prepared to welcome groups of all sizes. Group organisers can enjoy a free preview ticket, a free wristband for amusement rides (except winter), a free meal voucher, free on-site coach parking, discounted group prices, group catering with reserved seating, a dedicated booking hotline, an online booking system, a variety of payment options including invoicing, and paying for those that attend on the day.

There is something for everyone here, including animals, rides, shows and shopping. Here is a run-down of just some of the wonders of West Midland Safari Park:

  1. GO ON SAFARI

There are four miles of drive-through safari to see some of the world’s greatest animals – lions, tigers, giraffe, elephants, hippos, wild dogs, zebra and all kinds of antelope.

Top tip: check out the Realm of the Lions, the new home to the park’s pride of 13 African lions, which only opened this year.

  1. VISIT PENGUIN COVE

Great viewing areas enable visitors to watch the gorgeous Humboldt penguins, including when they swim underwater.

Top tip: join the keeper for one of the talks to learn more about these adorable little birds.

3.            CATCH A SEA LION SHOW

These are always great fun for the audience, with plenty of participation and lot of laughs. The sea lions – as well as the staff – love to show off!

Top tip: arrive at the Sea Lion Theatre early. Sea Lion Shows are very popular and they do become very busy.

4.            SEE MARK O’SHEA’S REPTILE WORLD

A trip around the Discovery Trail wouldn’t be complete without visiting Mark O’Shea’s Reptile World. There is a remarkable and fascinating collection of snakes and reptiles from around the world.

Top tip: don’t miss the 17ft anaconda – thrilling and alarming at the same time!

5.            VISIT ONE OF THE LARGEST HIPPO PODS IN THE UK

Visitors can see these impressive beasts in the lake as they make their way down into the amusement area.

Top tip: there are great views from the viewing platform. There are two ‘Hippo Encounters’ during the day, too, which are great fun and very interesting.

6.            LET OFF STEAM ON THE RIDES

Kids of all ages enjoy the rides and the family amusement area. There’s the Black Fly, two great water rides – River Rafting and the Zambezi Water Splash – Twister, and lots more. For a slightly slower pace, groups should head for the Congo Carousel or Dr. Umboto’s Catacombs.

Top tip: as amusement rides are charged extra, a multi-ride wristband is the best value for the ardent adventurer.

7.            DON’T MISS THE AFRICAN VILLAGE

Located by the lakeside, the village is complete with thatched village huts and an example of an African home which allows visitors to peek inside, catching a glimpse of what life could be like living in a real African village.

Top tip: visit the African Village shop and buy some animal food, as the sheep and goats that live in the village are extremely friendly and really enjoy being fed.

8.            FIND MEERKAT MAYHEM

Everyone’s favourite and ‘beyond compare’ is Meerkat Mayhem, also located in the African Village. Their glass-sided exhibit is perfect for watching the antics of these highly interesting and often amusing little animals as they go about their daily lives.

Top tip: there is only one daily meerkat talk, at 3.00pm. If you really like meerkats then make sure you don’t miss it.

9.            WALK WITH LEMURS

This is the largest lemur walk-through in the UK, home to the gorgeous ring-tailed lemurs, as well as white-fronted brown lemurs and red-bellied lemurs. The natural woodland walk comes complete with lemur-inspired carvings and interesting log seating.

Top tip: don’t forget your camera – you might spot one of the adorable lemur babies.

10.          THIS DAY OUT IS NOT JUST FOR SUMMER!

West Midland Safari Park opens every weekend throughout winter and daily for Santa Safari throughout December – but the amusement rides are closed in winter.

Top tip: if you want to take a group to see Santa, book early – it is very, very popular – www.santasafari.com.

Info: 01299 400700           groups@wmsp.co.uk     www.wmsp.co.uk