Staffordshire is a place for ‘Lilys’ to bloom

Forget wilting wallflowers, we have identified an increasing number of women we have dubbed Lilys – Ladies in Lycra – who are embracing the joy of cycling in the county.

More and more women are seeing the benefits of getting on their bike to get fit and to enjoy its social benefits in the great outdoors.

And with events like the Staffordshire Cycling Festival held on 1 and 2 August, we are welcoming some of Britain’s top female cyclists competing for honours in the inaugural Tour of Staffordshire.

The increased participation of people in cycling at all levels has been something of a phenomenon in recent years. While men, often dubbed Mamils – Middle Aged Men in Lycra, are in the majority, there is no denying the growing numbers of women who are taking to two wheels.

The latest British Cycling figures reveal that over five million women in the UK ride a bike and contribute around £50 million to the cycling economy. One million more women would like to take up cycling, but cite a fear of the roads and desire to find someone to ride with amongst the main deterrents to their participation.

British Cycling launched its Breeze initiative in 2011 to encourage women to take part in its cycling programme. More than 50,000 women across the UK have engaged with the programme and British Cycling is aiming to sign up one million women by 2020.

Paul Rowlands founder and organiser of Staffordshire Cycling Festival said: “With over 700 cyclists confirmed to participate in the Staffordshire Cycling Festival, more than twice that of 2013, the festival promises to be a weekend not to be missed.

“This year we have seen 50 % increase in the number of ladies entering the race including some of the UK’s elite female teams including Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, Team Echelon and Matrix Fitness Vulpine, as well as over 120 women entering the sportive rides.

“With British Cycling’s Breeze initiative, over 1000 women have trained to become cycling champions since beginning the program in 2011, and they have organised over 10,000 free rides for women in over 216 communities across the UK to get more confident and able on their bikes.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing all the cyclists in action this weekend and first class racing.”

For more information please contact the Enjoy Staffordshire press office on 01743 234 224 or email enjoystaffordshire@seal.uk.com.

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Staffordshire has something to offer everyone this Summer, so don’t miss out!

With summer well under way why not visit Staffordshire this year and experience some of the fantastic culture that the county has to offer. Here are our top five places to visit this summer for a culture burst.

 

The Cannock Chase WWI Camps are a site of historical interest where troops were based throughout the Great War, here you can see archaeological remains and a reconstructed war hut. 

Cannock Chase also serves as a reminder of the loss of life with the graveyards of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and the German soldiers who died in the UK during the World War I.

The Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and most valuable collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever discovered in one place. It was found in a field near Lichfield in July 2009 and consists of over 3,500 items ranging from intricate jewellery to belt buckles and decorations dating back to the 7th or 8th centuries.

For a chance to view these fantastic items you can visit the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield Cathedral, Tamworth Castle or the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

In the heart of The Potteries you can discover the world’s best collection of Staffordshire ceramics at Wedgwood, Emma Bridgewater and Moorcroft. With museums, guided tours and workshops for children and adults there is the chance to learn about the history of these stunning pieces and to get stuck in and create something bespoke.

For a chance to view the greatest Staffordshire ceramics then a trip to The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, is calling. A display of the finest earthenware, a World War II Spitfire that won the war, decorative arts and natural history, as well as the Staffordshire Hoard awaits you at this fascinating museum.

The National Memorial Arboretum (NMA), set in 150 acres of parkland, in the heart of the National Forest, has more than 200 dedicated memorials for those who have fallen. It is a stunning living tribute to all those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation in different ways.

To commemorate World War I, the Arboretum is offering several walks around the site.  Also available to families are World War 1 weekends and on Tuesday 22nd July there will be an evening outdoor cinemas screening of War Horse.

Shugborough Historic Working Estate is set in a stunning 900 acre park with an impressive manor house. You can visit the Georgian Park Farm which holds regular demonstrations from living history characters in the mill and dairy. There are also lots of animals to meet as well as ‘hands-on’ learning opportunities for children.

At the manor house you can walk in the footsteps of some of the most influential politicians, industrialists and gentry that Britain has seen and visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking walled garden.

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Fun Festivals for Families

Summer in Staffordshire is the perfect time to indulge in the county’s great selection of festivals and fairs. Whether you are a family of music mavens, adventure seekers, literary lovers or you simply love to get out and about, there is something for all ages to enjoy. Visit www.enjoystaffordshire.com

  1. RAF Cosford Air Show

The hugely popular RAF Cosford Air Show is back with a bang on Sunday 8th June. Promising to be bigger and better than ever before, the Midlands premier air event offers non-stop entertainment both in the air and on the ground with a  variety of exhibits, trade stands, military demonstrations and lots of entertainment for the kids too.

Entry: adult tickets are £20 in advance

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  1. Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival – Hot Air

The inaugural Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival ‘Hot Air’ is heading to the Emma Bridgewater Factory from Friday 20th – Sunday 22nd June. More than 15 local and nationally acclaimed authors such as Joanna Trollope and David Starkey, a regular on BBC’s Question Time, will present during the weekend.

Entry: tickets cost £6 per event

  1. West Midlands Game and Country Fair

The magnificent Shugborough Estate will be home to this year’s West Midlands Game and Country Fair on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd June. Show-goers can test their skills out on the very best in countryside pursuits from quad biking and horse riding for the kids through to shotgun coaching and clay pigeon shooting for the grown-ups.

Entry: adult tickets cost £12

  1. Stafford Festival Shakespeare

Much loved Shakespeare musical comedy ‘As You Like It’ is this year’s offering at the Stafford Festival from Sunday 29th June – Saturday 12th July. Named one of Europe’s largest open-air Shakespeare productions, each performance will take place against the striking backdrop of Stafford Castle in an impressive purpose-built auditorium under the stars.

Entry: prices vary

  1. Lichfield Festival

Staffordshire’s premier heritage city Lichfield is hosting its established annual festival from Friday 4th – Sunday 13th July. A colourful concoction of music, dance, art and drama plus performances from top acts such as comedian Paul Merton, the festival promises to cater to all ages and budgets with a selection of free activities too.

Entry: prices vary

  1. The Trentham Estate’s Hot Summer Saturday Dates

Have a Hot Summer Saturday Date every week from Saturday 5th July – Sunday 6th September at The Trentham Estate. Join in the fun at ten party nights including eight tribute bands and two films in celebration of the Estate’s 10th birthday. With views over the beautiful lakeside, an outdoor bar and BBQ and acts such as the Take That Experience, this is the ultimate British summer day out.

Entry: prices vary

The Trentham Estate's Hot Summer Saturday Dates 

  1. Staffordshire Cycling Festival

Returning to Stafford on Friday 1st August and at Shugborough Estate on Saturday 2nd August, the Cycling Festival promises to bring some fantastic two-wheeled family fun to the county. With professional elite races to watch and a choice of 35 mile or 70 mile sportives to take part in, this two-day event is not to be missed.

Entry: entry prices vary

  1.  Just So Festival

Enjoy a unique weekend of creative adventures with the family at the Just So Festival at Rode Hall Parkland, just over the border in Cheshire, from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th August. The independent camping festival, which launched in 2009, is the perfect place to enjoy breathtaking theatre, dance and music with a twist.

Entry: prices vary

For more information about events visit www.enjoystaffordshire.com, find Enjoy Staffs on Facebook or @EnjoyStaffs on Twitter.

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Staffordshire Half Term Boredom Busters

Explore Staffordshire this May half term and discover something new from inspirational aviation to celebrating the 10th anniversary of our much loved Trentham Estate.  Here are our top five suggestions for a fun filled week. For more information visit: www.enjoystaffordshire.com/halfterm

10 years in the making

Celebrate a special 10 year anniversary with the Trentham Estate with a full day filled with entertainment and activities for all the family. Ten years ago, the gardens were transformed by renowned gardeners such as Tom Stuart-Smith and Piet Oudolf after being left in a state of disrepair since the end of the last century. In celebration of the transformation the day will include everything from giant strolling gardeners, a ‘rock choir’ singing famous songs and live statues giving their best Perseus impressions. The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice charity will be hosting a vintage tea party and of course don’t miss the 10th anniversary garden tour with the head of Garden and Estates, Michael Walker.

When: Thurs 29 May Price: £3

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Characters Come to Life Launching this half term, and a first of its kind in the UK, is the greatly anticipated CBeebies Land which will be opening at Alton Towers. Many of the preschool channel’s much loved characters will be brought to life with children being given the chance to meet their favourite characters like Postman Pat, Tree Fu Tom, Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle in a fun packed world full of play areas and rides.

When: Open from Sat 24 May Price: Online Adults £36 Children 4+ £30.60

Wedgwood Fairyland

For a unique experience over half term enter a different realm at the Wedgwood Museum and experience the Fairyland Workshops. Explore the fascinating pottery and ceramics in the gallery and find the magic fairies along the way. Following this there is a chance for children to delve into their creative minds and create their own mythical inspired paper stained glass windows.

When: Mon 26 – Fri 30 May Price: £1.50 per person(in addition to museum entry fee)

Bop in the Park & Peppa Pig

A must not miss opportunity at Drayton Manor Theme Park, as children and families are invited to join all the fun with the extremely popular Channel 5 children’s show, Milkshake. Join presenters Jen and Derek to sing and dance as the Milkshake characters are brought to life on stage.  Popular children’s favourite Peppa Pig will also be adding an extra touch of fun to your family day out when she visitsDrayton Manoron Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th May. The lovable little pig will be taking time out from jumping in muddy puddles to meet and greet her young fans on a specially created stage by the carousel at regular intervals between 12.30 – 4.30pm on both days.  

When: Bop in the Park, most weekendsSat 10 May – 19 Oct. Peppa Pig 27 -28 May. Price: Included in Standard Admission

Inspirational Women in Aviation

This May half term the Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford is celebrating women in aviation. The free trail will explore the pioneering women who helped shape history. Children and grownups alike will have the opportunity to learn about inspirational aviators such as Amy Johnson who set many long distance records and flew in WW2 as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary.

When: Mon 26 – Fri 30 May Price: Free

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Tips for a Day Out in Staffordshire on a Budget

Liz Walsh from Topdogdays has put together a few of her favourite money saving tips for a day out in Staffordshire.

1. Enjoy Staffordshire Card

Apply for a FREE Enjoy Staffordshire Card to pick up deals & special offers for many Staffordshire visitor attractions.  Current deals include;

  • 2 for 1 offer at the Dorothy Clive Garden.
  • Discounted entry to WaterWorld.
  • 2 for 1 offer at the National Brewery Centre.

2. Alton Towers Vouchers

Pop to the shops before planning a trip to Alton Towers & pick up a 2 for 1 voucher.  Look out for Alton Towers vouchers on a range of promotional packs, from cereals to washing powders, within your local supermarket.

3. Thrill Hopper Tickets

Ultimate thrill seekers should invest in a Thrill Hopper ticket that offers you 1 admission to all four of the following attractions; Alton Towers, Drayton Manor, WaterWorld & SnowDome.  This is a great way to make some savings on top Staffordshire visitor attractions.

More details available at: Thrill Hopper Ticket.

4. Loyalty Cards

A great way to gain ‘free’ or discounted entry to Staffordshire attractions is by making use of loyalty cards & discounts.  A few of our firm favourite are;

  • Redeeming clubcard vouchers against admission charges for Trentham Gardens or the Shugborough Estate. 
  • English Heritage members can secure a 25% discount off Wedgwood Museum tickets.
  • Aerial Extreme loyalty cards provide discounts on return visits.

5. Pick Up A Blue Peter Badge

Apply for a Blue Peter badge and take advantage of FREE entry to over 200 visitor attractions around the UK.  Participating Staffordshire attractions include Alton Towers & Gladstone Pottery Museum.

Blue Peter badge holders must be aged between 6 & 15 years and be accompanied by a full paying adult.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the delights and thrills of Staffordshire without spending a fortune with just a few simple steps.

Liz Walsh writes for Topdogdays, an online resource for UK days out on a budget.

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Staffordshire’s finest revealed as finalists

Congratulations are in order for a trio of successes in Staffordshire following the announcement of finalists for the annual VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

The awards recognise the very best in the tourism industry; Staffordshire’s finalists include Keele University Conferences & Events for the Business Tourism Award, The Trentham Estate for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year and Colton House, in Rugeley, for Sustainable Tourism Award.

Finalists of the prestigious accolades will be rigorously assessed over the coming weeks by independent assessors and judged by a board of tourism industry experts. Winners will then be invited to the award ceremony at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday 12th May.

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Each finalist will receive Gold, Silver, Bronze or Highly Commended in their category.

Right here in Staffordshire we have three examples of the best in English tourism and GOOD LUCK for the awards ceremony in May!

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Picture gallery: Staffordshire Good Food Awards

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