Exciting things to do close to the capital in August 2023, all easily accessible in a day trip.
SUNFLOWERS: August heralds the start of sunflower season here in the UK. If you want to get a dose of the towering yellow flower and pick your own to take home, check out our picks of the best sunflower fields near London. Instagram at the ready...
FLOWER SHOW: Over 30 specialist nurseries and gardening suppliers, including many RHS Chelsea gold medal winners, pitch up at RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford for its annual flower show. As well as shopping, there are horticultural and cookery talks and demos, and a chance to ask RHS experts your gardening questions. 2-6 August (Essex)
BRIGHTON PRIDE: If you think London goes big for Pride, wait until you see Brighton. The Pride Parade is the centrepiece of Pride Weekend, but there are also various smaller festivals, performances and parties taking place across Brighton & Hove. 4-7 August (East Sussex)
FAULTY TOWERS TRAIN: Fan of BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers? Relive the highlights, via a theatrical dining experience, on a moving steam train... what could possibly go wrong? A Taste of Faulty Towers comes to the Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells combining comedy theatre with a three-course meal, as you traverse the Kent and East Sussex countryside. 12 August (Kent)
BRIGHTON COFFEE FESTIVAL: Get your caffeine dose with an added gust of sea air at the Brighton Coffee Festival, which celebrates the artisan coffee scene in Sussex. Taste samples from a variety of brands, watch latte art and tasting demos, and chat to experts from the coffee industry, before stocking up on supplies and equipment to up your home coffee game. While you're in town check out these unusual things to do in Brighton. 12 August (East Sussex)
GREAT COMP SUMMER SHOW: The little-known Great Comp Garden is worth a visit anytime in the summer, but it's extra special in the middle of August when the Great Comp Summer Show is in full flow. Green-fingered visitors can browse and buy plants from a range of nurseries, and there are also art and craft stalls, live jazz music, and refreshments in the tea room. 12-13 August (Kent)
EASTBOURNE AIR SHOW: Bagsy your spot on the beach early to watch the Eastbourne Air Show displays in the skies above, featuring military and civilian flying teams. An RAF Battle of Britain memorial flight, wing walkers and a parachute display team are expected to make an appearance this year. Down on the ground, meet members of the Army and RAF, ride flight simulators, step on board a Chinook, and browse the many stalls. 17-20 August (East Sussex)
IMBERBUS: Honestly, if we only left London once this year, it'd probably be for Imberbus. Sure, you have to travel a bit further than for any of the other events on this list, but once you get there you can spend the day riding vintage Routemasters across Salisbury Plain via a deserted village. Perfection. 19 August (Wiltshire)
CLACTON AIR SHOW: Another reason to cast your eyes to the skies this month, Clacton Airshow puts RAF planes, the Red Arrows, The Tigers Army Parachute Team and myriad other aircraft on show above the seafront across two days, with twilight displays on Thursday evening too. 24-25 August (Essex)
SMOKE AND FIRE FESTIVAL: Celebrate the glory of barbecue cooking at Maldon Smoke & Fire Festival, where various food producers showcase new products and recipes, and you can watch the Great British Open Freestyle BBQ Championships, It's not just watching though — there's a plethora of street food traders to keep everyone fed, extreme chilli and hot wing eating challenges, and a bucking rodeo bull contest (best do that before you eat). 26-28 August (Essex)
BURNHAM WEEK: The Essex coastal town of Burnham-on-Crouch hosts Burnham Week, a sailing regatta with events for national champions and beginner sailors alike. Even if you're not graced with sea legs, there's plenty of shore-based entertainment, not least watching the races out in the Thames Estuary. 26 August-2 September (Essex)
CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW: Hundreds of classic and collectible vehicles, including saloons, sports, American, commercial, military and classic motorcycles, descend on the grounds of Knebworth House for the Classic Motor Show. Wander around static displays, or see the vehicles in action in the show arena, with parades going on throughout the day. There's children's entertainment too. 27 August (Hertfordshire)
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: In late July, Blenheim Palace launched an updated version of its Lights, Camera, Action! trail, highlighting the areas of the Palace and grounds which have been used as filming locations for TV shows and movies. Harry Potter, James Bond and Gulliver's Travels all have scenes recorded here, but the most recent addition to the trail is Netflix series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, in which Blenheim stood in for Buckingham House (now known as Buckingham Palace). Ongoing (Oxfordshire)
For further ideas for escaping London, take a look at our guide to day trips from the capital — there's even a map to help you plan.