A campaign to showcase Northamptonshire as a major staycation destination has been launched to mark the end of the coronavirus restrictions.
'Go Northamptonshire!' will focus on all the county has to offer to visiting families, ranging from well-known attractions like Silverstone, Althorp and Wicksteed Park, to a whole host of hidden gems.
The scheme has been launched by Northamptonshire tourism body Britain's Best Surprise and supported by North and West Northamptnshire councils.
Britain’s Best Surprise chairman James Miller said: “Northamptonshire offers stunning countryside, world class gardens, magnificent historic houses and churches, F1 motorsport and award-winning regional theatre.
“There is something for everyone, whether you want an adrenaline-filled break or some quiet relaxation with the family and, due to lockdown restrictions only recently being lifted, we still have availability in some tremendous - and affordable - places.
“Families are avoiding the crowds and heading inland for moments of celebration in one of England's most glorious unspoilt destinations, and discovering iconic attractions and acres of green space.”
Go Northamptonshire's key messages include encouraging families to avoid the holiday crowds on Britain’s coastlines and heading inland to 'meet in the middle', just an hour from London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge.
West Northamptonshire Council deputy leader Adam Brown said Northamptonshire is a county rich in natural beauty, culture and history with destinations that people can enjoy visiting time and time again throughout the year.
“We have some superb indoor attractions, like Northampton Museum and Art Gallery which has just reopened after major redevelopment helping it more than double in size and become host to touring exhibitions," he said.
“Along with soaking up the area’s cultural offer, there are also some fantastic opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors such as our beautiful country parks and historic sites like Delapre Abbey, Holdenby House and many others.”
North Northamptonshire Council executive member for sport, leisure, culture and tourism Helen Howell said the county has some excellent attractions, perfect for the whole family and those choosing to have a staycation this year.
"We are proud to support this campaign and show everyone, not just residents of Northamptonshire, the gems we have across the county," she said.
“From art and culture through to history and heritage, we really do have something for all ages, and I hope everyone does pay us a visit not just this year but for years to come to discover what we have to offer.”
The family getaway ideas showcased by the Go Northamptonshire! campaign include:
Rockingham Castle: The amazing Norman Castle near Corby has welcomed many kings and queens including Richard the Lionheart, King John and Edward I. Their lasting influence can still be seen in many parts of the Castle and grounds today.
Coton Manor Garden: Voted the nation's favourite, the beautiful 10-acre garden at Coton Manor occupies a hillside position extending down from the 17th century manor house, constructed of mellow Northamptonshire stone.
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery: Home to the world's largest shoe collection, Northamptonshire's flagship museum, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery reopened in July after an extensive £6.7 million expansion.
The Silverstone Interactive Museum: Step up to the grid for a thrilling adventure at The Silverstone Interactive Museum. This brilliant new museum takes you on a journey through the stars, stories and science of British motorsport.
Canoe2 on the River Nene: A much-loved 'paddle-out-n-back' canoe and kayak hire on the beautiful River Nene from the Boathouse at Rushden Lakes.
Adrenaline Alley: Europe's largest urban sports venue is a training base for Olympic athletes with professional riding areas for BMX bikes, skateboards and scooters. Online bookings only this summer and save over 40 per cent on Tuesdays in August.
Althorp: Showcasing one of Europe’s finest private collections of furniture, paintings and ceramics, each intriguing room of this magnificent family home has a fascinating story of its own.
Wicksteed Park: Fun, fun, fun. Created in the 1930s, Wicksteed Park is a Grade II-listed English Heritage park and garden, offering a premium adventure experience and camping.
Evenley Wood Gardens: A beautiful, 60-acre privately owned woodland set in the heart of Northamptonshire countryside near Brackley. Large and notable collection of plants. Don’t miss refreshments from Uncle Geordie’s Shed and yoga in the woods on Sundays.
Stanwick Lakes: Stanwick Lakes is a 750-acre countryside attraction and nature reserve in the heart of Northamptonshire's beautiful Nene Valley, widely considered to be one of the region's most imaginative outdoor activity destinations.
Xtreme Wake at Grendon Lakes: Aquapark, wakeboarding and paddle boarding at Grendon Lakes. Grendon Lakes itself is situated in 150 acres of stunning Northamptonshire countryside, between Wellingborough and Northampton.
Castle Ashby Gardens: Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the 7th Marquess of Northampton. Wander through its gardens, open every day & warmly welcoming to families, and you are taking a walk through history. Afterwards, eat or stay at the recently reopened Castle Ashby Hotel.
Delapre Abbey: In the early middle ages, Northampton with its castle was a centre of royal government and as such attracted significant buildings, one of which was Delapré Abbey, founded by Simon de Senlis around 1125 and now, after nearly 900 years, open to the public.
Sulgrave Manor: Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington, stands for a legacy of friendship between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Tudor manor contains the largest collection of memorabilia about the first US president in the UK.
Grand Union Canal: A holiday hot spot for canal boats, the UK’s longest canal enters Northamptonshire near Cosgrove and offers wonderful walking along its towpath as well as the excitement of the Blisworth Tunnel. The Northamptonshire stretch offers innumerable locks worth exploring and a visit to Stoke Bruerne, with its canal museum, is highly recommended.
A full list of family attractions and accommodation with availability this season is available at gonorthamptonshire.co.uk.