5 New-Season European Breaks To Put A Spring In Your Step
Blooming flowers, nesting birds and heritage festivals are all good excuses for a weekend away
28 February 2019
All Credits: PA
For many, the mild months of March, April and May present glorious opportunities for exploring close to home.
Having closed the door on winter, a new season of hope and possibility lies ahead: Buds are unfurling, daylight hours are stretching, and the crowds of summer are yet to descend.
Travel at this time of year and you’ll also be rewarded with cheaper prices, greater hotel availability and sufficient sunshine to make you glow, rather than break into a sweat.
Need a little seasonal direction? Find inspiration in some of these upcoming breaks.
2. Take An Historical Path
Where: Guernsey, Channel Islands
Loophole Towers at L’Ancresse Common (Visit Guernsey/PA)
Through thick and thin, community spirit has held this Channel Island together, creating a welcoming atmosphere which draws visitors back year after year. Taking place between April 19 and May 10, The Guernsey Heritage Festival provides an opportunity to reflect on the island’s eventful past, from 8000BC to the modern day. Themed around music, food, wildlife, history and archaeology, events will also explore links to famous past residents, such as French poet and novelist Victor Hugo and impressionist painter Renoir. Highlights include a foraging and gin-tasting dinner, kayaking tours to the shipwreck of MV Prosperity and a Victorian train time-travel tour.
How: Channel Islands Direct (channelislandsdirect.co.uk; 08000 294 598) offers four nights B&B at the Duke of Richmond Hotel from £399pp (two sharing), including return flights from London Gatwick, travelling between April 15 and May 24.
For more details on the festival, see visitguernsey.com.
3. Witness The “Other” Cherry Blossom
Where: Copenhagen, Denmark
Bispebjerg Cemetery (Visit Denmark/PA)
Japan’s Sakura season is world famous, with crowds flocking to walk through tunnels of delicate pink confetti. Few people realise, however, that Europe has its own share of cherry blossom festivities. In Copenhagen, for example, a Sakura Festival takes place from April 27-28, with free drum shows, folk dances, workshops, material arts demos and Japanese teahouses. Find 200 of the trees at Langelinie park, or for a more unusual setting, try Bispebjerg Cemetery, where any sombre moods are lifted by the stirring beauty of the flowers.
How: British Airways (britishairways.com; 0344 493 0125) offers a two-night stay at the Copenhagen Island hotel from £211.50pp (two sharing), including breakfast and flights from London. Based on April 27 departure.
For details of the festival, visit sakurafestival.dk.
4. Watch The Birdies
Where: Norfolk, UK
Western grasshopper warbler in Norfolk (Thinkstock/PA)
Spring is a busy time for our winged residents as they prepare for new beginnings, searching for mates and building nests. They’re joined by a host of seasonal visitors, making this time of year perfect for twitching activities. Considered by many to be the birdwatching capital of Britain, Norfolk will play host to a new weekend-long event from May 18-19. Held at Pensthorpe Natural Park in Fakenham, The Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair will feature a series of events led by a team of local nature and wildlife experts. Expect to see ruffs in their breeding plumage, warblers, cuckoos, turtle doves and raptors, such as Montagu’s harrier and red-footed falcon. Listen out for nightingales, who serenade during the first two weeks of May.
How: Doubles at Congham Hall Hotel (conghamhallhotel.co.uk; 01485 600 250) in West Norfolk start from £229 per night (two sharing) on a half-board basis.
Tickets for the fair cost £8 from pensthorpe.com.
5. Wake Up And Smell The Flowers
Where: Netherlands and Belgium
Tulips and windmills in the Netherlands (Thinkstock/PA)
Flowers are big business in these northern European countries, with a flurry of floral activity taking place in May. Float between events and show gardens on a river cruise, learning gardening tips along the way. TV presenter Charlie Dimmock will be joining a special River Cruise Line departure, taking in some of the floral highlights, accompanied by Gardener’s World presenter Joe Swift. Visit South Holland’s Keukenhof Gardens, regarded as one of the most important green spaces in Europe, and admire displays at the National Botanical Garden of Belgium, the Appeltern Gardens and the Aalsmeer Flower Auction.
How: The River Cruise Line (rivercruiseline.co.uk; 01858 435 655) offers a seven-day Spring Gardens in Holland & Belgium cruise from £945 per person (two sharing) in an en-suite cabin, aboard the four-star MS Serenity on full-board basis, including return coach travel from the UK, ferry crossing from Dover, entry to the Keukenhof Gardens and Floralia Spring Flower Show. Departs May 3.