When to Go
The Shakespeare sights get very crowded on weekends and school vacations; Warwick Castle usually brims with visitors, so arrive early in the day. Throughout the region, some country properties fill up quickly on weekends. Most rural sights have limited opening hours in winter and some stately homes have limited hours even in summer, which is when the countryside is at its most appealing. Each year, Shakespeare’s birthday is celebrated with a two-day event held on the weekend closest to the Bard’s birthday (April 23) in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Ludlow Fringe Festival takes place from late June to early July, while the Autumn in Malvern Festival takes place each October.
Autumn in Malvern Festival. The Autumn in Malvern Festival takes place each October at a variety of venues in and around the Malvern Hills. Classical music is the mainstay of the festival (local hero Elgar is featured heavily) with plenty of literary events as well. Full listings are released each July. Great Malvern, Worcestershire. 01684/892277; www.malvernfestival.co.uk.
Ludlow Food Festival. Held on the grounds of the Norman Ludlow Castle, this annual celebration of local produce is held over three days each September and features more than 180 food and drink suppliers. Many offer free tastings. Castle Square, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1AY. 01584/873957; www.ludlowfoodfestival.co.uk. £9.
Mop Fair. Dating from medieval times, the Mop Fair takes place on or around October 12, traditionally the time when laborers and apprentices from the surrounding area came to seek work. They carried implements of their trades so that prospective employers could identify them. The fair still attracts entertainers and fairground amusements. Town Center, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. www.stratford.gov.uk/markets/stratford-upon-avon-mop-fair.cfm.
Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations. These festivities have taken place on and around the weekend closest to April 23, the Bard’s birthday, since 1824. Over several days, the streets are filled with performers, impromptu concerts, and pageantry, and special events are held at various venues. The celebrations culminate with a spectacular procession. Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. 01789/269332; www.shakespearescelebrations.com.