14 Fantastic Day Trips From London: July 2023

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 8 months ago

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14 Fantastic Day Trips From London: July 2023
The exterior of Canterbury Cathedral.
Your dog can now join you on a day of sightseeing! Image: Canterbury Cathedral: south aisle and south-west tower by Stephen Craven

Exciting things to do close to the capital in July, all easily accessible in a day trip.

WINCHESTER HAT FAIR: For two days, performers from all over the world take to the streets for Winchester Hat Fair. But no, it's not a festival all about hats. The name comes from the way buskers traditionally collected tips — these days most performers do receive a fee for their shows, but anything extra is appreciated, so make sure you've got plenty of coins on you. There's dancing, mime artists, circus shows  and kids' events on this packed programme — we've been previously for one day, and could easily have stretched it into a second (and still not seen everything). Think GDIF, but packed into two days instead of two weeks. 30 June-1 July (Hampshire)

DOGS IN CHURCH: Well-behaved pet dogs are invited to join their owners inside Canterbury Cathedral for the first time (assistance dogs have always been permitted). Fido or Rover must be kept on a lead, and can't attend talks, tours or services, but other than that, your furry friend is welcome to join you, as you explore the building this summer. 1 July-31 August (Kent)

BLUEWATER SKYTREK: For a few years now, Hangloose has been in the grounds of Bluewater shopping centre, offering a zipline and a giant swing to those seeking an adrenaline rush. It's now launching its latest activity, the Skytrek aerial trekking course, featuring 40 obstacles on a 350m-long ropes course in the trees. Age 8+. From 1 July (Kent)

KENTISH OPERA: Opera performances in the Orangery at a little-known (but magnificent) castle in the Kent countryside: if that sounds like your thing, head to Chiddingstone Castle on the first Sunday of the month, which welcomes both opera fans and complete newbies to the genre, for a relaxed show that you can dip in and out of as you please. 2 July (Kent)

CLAREMONT LIVE: National Trust property Claremont Landscape Gardens hosts a programme of theatre, dance, opera, music and cinema on selected evenings this summer. Claremont Live begins with an open-air performance of Twelfth Night, followed by Robin Hood, live jazz, Romeo & Juliet and more. Take your own chair or picnic blanket. 2 July-13 August (Surrey)

BRIGHTON COMEDY GARDEN: Big names in comedy including Phil Wang, Rose Matafeo, Jen Brister and Nish Kumar descend on Preston Park for Brighton Comedy Garden. In addition to the performances, the venue has a bar and street food stalls. 5-9 July (East Sussex)

TENDRING SHOW: One of the largest agricultural shows in Essex, Tendring Show attracts crowds of 20,000 each year. Expect sheep, cattle, goats and poultry on show (guinea pigs and rabbits too) along with motorbike stunts, sheep dogs herding ducks (!), a food pavilion, vintage cars, and plenty of other entertainment. 8 July (Essex)

VOLKS WEALD: If you're all about that VW life, head to Penshurst Place in Kent for Volks Weald. The public and members of VW fan clubs are invited to park up in the grounds for a camping weekend in celebration of the much-loved vehicles. 14-16 July (Kent)

CLASSIC CAR SHOW: If your love of vintage vehicles extends further than just VWs (above), swerve over to Hedingham Castle for the Classic and Vintage Car Show where you can ogle a range of vintage, pre 1940s classic, classic and modern classic vehicles in the castle grounds. 16 July (Essex)

VINTAGE WEEKEND: Bletchley Park — known for housing some of the codebreakers in the second world war — hosts a military vehicle display. Vehicles used by military forces all over the world are parked on the lawn outside the house, including second world war jeeps, a Morris 8 wireless car and a Bedford Green Goddess fire engine. 16 July (Bedfordshire)

A group of people gathered around two swans and a cygnet.
Swan Upping in Henley on Thames. Image: Shutterstock

SWAN UPPING: Every year, the King's Swan Warden (excellent job title), collects data to assess the health of young cygnets on the Thames. The process is known as the Royal Swan Upping, and is full of pageantry — The Royal Swan Uppers wear a scarlet uniform and travel on rowing boats. There are plenty of opportunities to watch along the five-day route from Sunbury to Abingdon — check the website for the schedule. 17-21 July (Surrey-Berkshire-Oxfordshire)

MILTON KEYNES INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: In what's shaping up to be a golden month for open-air theatre and performance, Bedfordshire serves up another treat in the form of Milton Keynes International Festival. It centres around a spiegeltent packed with live music, comedy and cabaret — but includes other events too, such as a hanging garden by floral artist Rebecca Louise Law, and a roving performance by urban acrobats. 21-30 July (Bedfordshire)

GIN & RUM FESTIVAL: Bottoms up as the touring Gin & Rum Festival pitches up in the grounds of St Albans Cathedral for the day. Listen to talks from the makers of various different distilleries from across the UK and beyond, and enjoy free samples and tasters (steady!) armed with a gin and rum guide book. There's also live music and DJs providing the entertainment. 22 July (Hertfordshire)

COLCHESTER ROMAN FESTIVAL: The Essex town of Colchester is absolutely dripping in history, something which is celebrated at the annual Colchester Roman Festival. Take the kids along to see battle re-enactments, archery demonstrations, Roman food and drink displays and — the one younger visitors always love the most — sit on a real Roman toilet. 20-30 July (Essex)

Last Updated 30 June 2023