There’s lots to do in Chester and Cheshire now we’re free to roam again. Here are 17 great ideas for days out, short breaks and staycations in the county on and after 17 May. For even more suggestions, go to www.visitcheshire.com.
**BRAND NEW ATTRACTIONS**
1: MEET THE TWIGGLES AT BEWILDERWOOD
Cheshire is the location of the new BeWILDerwood, the award-winning forest of family outdoor adventures. Just like the well-loved Norfolk original, BeWILDerwood Cheshire features Treehouses, Wobbly Wires, Slippery Slopes, Crocklebogs and more. Go to https://cheshire.bewilderwood.co.uk.
2: STAY THE NIGHT IN DELAMERE FOREST
Forest Holidays has made it possible to stay beneath Delamere Forest’s canopy for the first time. Sixty-seven light-footprint cabins, including treehouses, with luxurious extras such as pizza ovens and hot tubs, have just opened in this former hunting ground of medieval lords. Go to www.forestholidays.co.uk.
3: BURST THE BUBBLE AT PORT SUNLIGHT
A little fun goes a long way when learning STEM subjects. That’s the aim of SoapWorks at Port Sunlight, the historic village for the workers of William Lever’s Sunlight factory on Wirral. At the playful new interactive experience – which will open the village’s schoolroom to the public for the first time – youngsters can learn all about the life-saving properties of that everyday essential, soap. Go to www.portsunlightvillage.com.
4: SCALE THE HEIGHTS AT CARDEN PARK
A new aerial adventure, Vertigo at Carden, is opening at Carden Park, near Chester, on 17 May. Adrenaline-fuelled thrills are guaranteed for day visitors as well as hotel guests, with challenges including 10 mid-air obstacles, a 210-meter zipline, climbing wall, and a 10-metre free-fall drop into a giant stunt pillow. Go to www.cardenpark.co.uk/vertigo-at-carden.
5: LOOK INTO THE PAST AT HARE HILL
The historic borders outside the walled garden at Hare Hill, near Macclesfield, have been recreated in line with the vision of its final owner, Colonel Charles Brockhurst (1904-1977). Other sights to enjoy include magnificent displays of rhododendrons, magnolias and azaleas. Go to http://nationaltrust.org.uk/hare-hill.
6: CELEBRATE 90 YEARS OF CHESTER ZOO
Chester Zoo turns 90 this year with the opening of the new Latin American Wetland Aviary this spring, where visitors can see Caribbean flamingos and saffron finches, among other birds, and learn about efforts to conserve their numbers. Plus Chester Zoo’s quest to be a zero-waste zoo by 2030 has inspired Love It For Longer, a sustainability spectacular, from 11 June. It’ll be 100 per cent utter rubbish; exploring the world of waste, from plastic and technology to water – and even poo. Go to www.chesterzoo.org.
**BRAND NEW EVENTS**
7: MAKE (TRAIN) TRACKS TO CHESTER CATHEDRAL
Pete Waterman OBE and the builders of ‘Leamington Spa’ will present this summer’s must-see model railway event in the nave of Chester Cathedral, 17 July-3 September. “Making Tracks” will demonstrate the West Coast Mainline – a 74ft OO model featuring the work of local boy and world-renowned railway engineer Thomas Brassey. Go to https://chestercathedral.com/event/making-tracks.
8: VISIT PERCY THE PARK KEEPER AT TATTON PARK
Percy the Park Keeper is showing little ones around the gardens and rare breeds farm at Tatton Park, near Knutsford, until 5 September, using a secret path and treasure hunt. Along the way they’ll meet animal characters from Nick Butterworth’s popular children’s books, including Percy’s new friend Lucy the Calf. Go to www.tattonpark.org.uk/events_at_tatton_park/a-year-of-percy-the-park-keeper.aspx.
9: PORE OVER MAPS AT LION SALT WORKS
The pandemic has made walking and going off the beaten track favourite activies. Now, ‘Magic of Maps’ at Lion Salt Works aims to turn map-reading into a fun adventure for youngsters, 2-3 June. Inquisitive youngsters can pore over maps with the help of a Map Pack with a treasure hunt and other activities. Go to www.visitcheshire.com/whats-on/the-magic-of-maps-p282831.
10: TAKE FIDO ON A SIGHTSEEING RUN IN CHESTER
Visitors holidaying with their four-legged friend can now limber up for a new 5K Dog Run Tour of the city with Tours Around Chester. The pace will be set to suit man/woman and beast – it’s a run, not a race – and the tour guide will give a full history of Chester and the landmarks on the route, including the Cathedral, Racecourse and Castle. Humans will be rewarded with a reviving coffee, while Fido will get a bowl of refreshing water and a tasty treat. Go to www.toursaroundchester.co.uk.
11: MAKE A SPLASH ON THE RIVER DEE
White-water kayaking on the Chester Weir in the heart of the city and paddleboarding with a view of the Chester Meadows, Old Dee Bridge and Roman Walls are two new waterborne tours now being offered by Dee River Kayaking. Meanwhile, Chester Boat will be skippering new private picnic trips. The perfect socially distanced day out, Picnic Boat Hire is for up to six passengers and the special sailing comes with optional afternoon tea and fizz (with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus available). Go to www.deeriverkayaking.com, www.chesterboat.co.uk.
12: LEARN FOREST BATHING AT TATTON PARK
Forest Bathing is fast becoming a favourite way to re-connect with nature. Now Tatton Park is offering visitors a step-by-step beginner’s guide to this popular pastime, beneath a canopy of some of the most treasured trees in its 50-acre gardens. Go to www.tattonpark.org.uk.
13: JOIN IN THE FAMILY FUN AT JUST SO
Little imaginations meet outdoor arts in a full-on cultural explosion at the award-winning family festival Just So at Rode Hall, near Congleton, 20-22 August. The creative whirl includes midnight feasts, stories and comedy, giant magpie puppets, a rainbow colour fight, and a circus with a scientific twist. Go to www.justsofestival.org.uk.
14: WATCH THE CURTAIN GO UP AT GROSVENOR PARK OPEN-AIR THEATRE
Britain’s biggest and best open-air theatre returns in Chester’s Grosvenor Park with an extended season, 29 May-30 August, featuring The Jungle Book, Pride and Prejudice, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The performances at Grosvenor Park Open-Air Theatre are among more than 200 outdoor events being produced by Storyhouse, the city’s award-winning arts hub. Others include Moonlight Flicks, al-fresco movie screenings in Chester, Wirral and Nantwich of family favourites, cult classics and contemporary blockbusters. Go to www.grosvenorparkopenairtheatre.co.uk, www.moonlightflicks.co.uk, www.storyhouse.com.
15: TASTE THE BEST OF THE NORTH-WEST AT TATTON PARK
The UK’s biggest food festival returns to Tatton Park this summer, 9-11 July, showcasing the best food and drink from the North West. Tom Rhodes, the newly crowned winner of BBC’s MasterChef, will be cooking live, and there’ll be entertainment from Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Go to www.tattonpark.org.uk.
16: HEAR THE BARBER OF SEVILLE AT CLONTER OPERA
The Clonter Opera opens the doors of its rural theatre, near Swettenham, once more this spring and summer. First up, “Jazz in June”, 5 June, followed by a production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, 15-24 July. Go to www.clonter.org.
17: BOOK A TICKET TO RHS TATTON PARK
Celebrating colour, creativity, community and the positive power of plants and flowers, RHS Flower Show Tatton Park returns this summer, 21-25 July. There’ll be plenty of gardening inspiration in the Community Borders, innovative Back to Back Gardens, and creations by new talent at the RHS Young Designer Gardens. Go to www.rhs.org.uk.