The Rugby World Cup comes to Britain on the 18th September. Can the All Blacks defend their title? No team has ever won the Webb Ellis Cup back-to-back and it’s up to the home teams to keep it that way. Games are taking place up and down the country so show your support by paying a visit to one of the stadiums. And while you’re there, well, we’ve got a couple of suggestions for things to do in the area, just in case not everyone in your family is a rugby fan.
Where: South East London
Home to the majority of the Rugby World Cup matches, including the final, this leafy suburb of South West London holds the largest stadium in the world dedicated to rugby. Whether you’re interested in the sport (or perhaps just the men in shorts) show England your support with a day out at Twickenham.
Things to do nearby:
World Rugby Museum
When the games aren’t on, you can still get your rugby fix at the World Rugby Museum. It’s set in the east stand of Twickenham stadium and is the ultimate rugby experience. Discover the game’s history, from its origins to the present day, and get the stories behind some of the greatest players. Try your hand at kicking a try with the interactive games, or for the real rugby nuts, you can go on a guided tour around the stadium’s most exclusive areas. Visit the royal box, run down the tunnel onto the pitch and even get a pep talk in the newly designed England dressing room.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
Price: Museum tickets from £8 per person. Stadium tours from £40, including entrance to the World Rugby Museum. Book today or find out more at englandrugby.com
So, if rugby’s not really your thing, then how about a picnic in Europe’s largest urban parkland? At almost 1000 hectares, Richmond park offers everything from formal gardens and ancient oak trees to unrestricted views of central London. As a national deer and nature reserve, hundreds of Red and Fallow deer can be found roaming freely throughout the park (the same way they have since 1529). There’s also a lot of bird spotting opportunities, from native woodpeckers, kestrels, owls and a range of waterfowl. The ancient oak trees are home to endangered species of fungi, as well as nationally scarce invertebrates.
Open: Everyday from 7am to 7.45pm.
Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill house is considered to be the finest and possibly the earliest example of Georgian Gothic revival architect in England. Horace Walpole bought this house back in 1747 and soon set about transforming it into the gothic masterpiece we see today. He drew inspiration for his house from great cathedrals, medieval tombs and rose windows. Walpole was a bit of an eccentric and a compulsive collector of books, paintings, prints, furniture and other curios. A trip through the house is like a theatrical experience with extraordinary gothic features, high ceilings, intricate staircases, and ornate fireplaces, all lit by the light coming through the original stained glass windows. Don’t forget to take a walking tour around the garden which has been restored to its original appearance.
Open: The garden is open everyday from 10am. Opening times for the house varies so if you’d like to visit at a specific time, it’s best to book your ticket beforehand. Find out more at strawberryhillhouse.org.uk
Where: North London
Now to North London. Wembley Stadium is the home of English football but this September it’s swapping the FA Cup Final for something a little different. No matter whether you’re a football or rugby fan (or not a sports fan at all), Wembley makes a great day out for all the family.
Things to do nearby:
Fryent Country Park
Fryent Country Park consists of 250 acres of unspoilt countryside amidst the suburbs of Brent, and offers visitors the chance to step back in time, to see what Brent was like before it became a built up area. There are a wide variety of meadows, ponds, lakes, hedges and woodland to explore, and is a popular destination with ramblers and nature enthusiasts. Over 800 species of wildlife live here, amongst them 21 types of butterfly and 80 birds. Bring a nature book and see how many you can spot.
Now for one of Wembley’s biggest surprises. This giant, £16 million Hindu mandir was 14 years in the making. It was constructed using ancient techniques based on Hindu scriptures that date back thousands of years, the same techniques that were used to build the imposing Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This beautifully carved temple is made of marble, decorated with limestone imported from India. It is a fully working temple so make sure you cover up when visiting.
Open: Everyday from 7:45am.
Where: Stratford, East London
Just three years ago, this stadium was centre stage at one of Britain’s biggest sporting celebrations. Now it’s playing its part in another spectacular display of sporting greatness. Why not pay a visit to London’s east end this September?
Things to do nearby:
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Take a guided boat tour of the Olympic Park and visit some of the iconic venues from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There’s the Olympic Stadium of course, as well as the ArcelorMittal Orbit, London Aquatics Centre and Lee Valley VeloPark. As you drift slowly past these iconic buildings, the tour guide will tell you fascinating facts about the park and its future.
When: Tours run daily between 12pm and 5pm. They leave on the hour subject to tide and weather conditions.
Price: £8 Adult, £4 Child, £20 Family (2 adults + 2 children), Seniors £7
Jack the Ripper tour
Experience London’s dark past as you walk the streets in the blood-soaked footsteps of Jack the Ripper, London’s most notorious murderer. Late in the 19th century, a series of gruesome murders were committed in the dark, foggy streets of London’s East End. They captured the public’s imagination but despite intensive investigation, the murderer was never caught. Visit the same streets where the ripper once stalked his prey and discover the gruesome details of what happened back then when London walked in fear.
When: Tours run daily, generally starting in the evening. Most tours last around 2 hours. There are many companies offering both walking and bus tours so make sure you shop around before booking.
As Wales’ biggest stadium, the Millennium Stadium is home to the Welsh national rugby union team and was originally built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Let’s hope Wales has more luck this year.
Things to do nearby:
The Cardiff Castle ghost tour
By day, Cardiff castle is one of Wales’ most popular heritage attractions with its iconic towers forming a dramatic feature of the city centre. But by night, you can explore the building’s spooky history through tales of ghostly encounters from times gone by. The ghost stories are told by torch light as you walk through the main house, the Norman Keep and up to the Summer Smoking Room at the top of the Clock Tower, stopping in the places where ghosts have been seen. It’s an exciting way to experience Cardiff’s most obscure history, legends and ghost stories.
Price: Tickets start from £15 per person
When: Tours start at 7:15pm or in some occasions 10:15pm.
Cardiff Central Market
Wales’ is fast becoming a paradise for food lovers, and there are a number of markets that reflect just that. Cardiff’s indoor iconic market has been going for over 120 years, a throwback to the city’s Victorian heyday. Originally built on the site of Cardiff jail, this grade II listed building holds an assortment of stalls selling fruit, veg, local meat, traditional Welsh cakes, fabrics, second hand records and books and much, much more…
Open: Monday to Saturday, 8:00am to 5.30pm.
Brighton Community Stadium
Opened in July 2011, this stadium is now the home of Brighton and Hove Albion football club. What could be better than a rugby match, followed by fish and chips on the seafront?
Things to do nearby:
The Royal Pavilion is an over-the-top, exotic-looking palace in the centre of Brighton. Built as a seaside getaway for King George IV in 1787. This opulent building is a mix of Regency grandeur and far-eastern elegance with a number of domes and minarets creating a visually spectacular building. Inside is as much an eye-popping spectacle as outside with heavily decorated rooms to explore. Don’t miss the highly theatrical, dragon-themed banqueting hall.
Open: The Pavilion is open everyday from 9:00am to 5:45pm.
Price: Tickets cost £10.35 for adults and £5.58 for children.
Brighton truly is a shopper’s paradise. The 17th century Lanes are an intricate maze of twisting alleyways and hidden squares, crammed with quaint and wondrous shops and funky little restaurants and bars. The bustling criss-crossed streets of the North Lane make a great hunting ground for unique retro, vintage and kitsch finds. Enter a world of decadent self-indulgence at Choccywoccydoodah’s flag ship store, or pick up some bespoke jewellery at Baroque.
Open: Shops are open everyday, from 9am to 5pm.
So, that’s just 5 out of the 13 stadiums hosting the Rugby World Cup. Matches are taking place across the country, from Manchester to Exeter, so no matter where you are in the country, you won’t be far from the action. Cheer on the home teams and see a little bit more of the country at the same time. Share the fun on facebook and Google+.