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Ten places you have to visit in Somerset this summer

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: July 06, 2012

  • The swan sculptures in Wells are proving very popular this summer

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For a summer full of variety then head for 'the Land of the Summer People', says tourism chief Bob Smart.

This year may be a fallow year for the world-famous Glastonbury Festival, which returns in 2013, but there’s still plenty to entertain in 2012.

Mr Smart, co-ordinator of the Somerset Tourism Association, said: “Once again the Great British Summer is here, and where better to spend it than in ‘The Land of the Summer People’?  That’s what Somerset really means. 

“We can’t do much about the weather, but then it’s raining at home as well, isn’t it?  And at least you’re not queuing to be allowed to get into the Olympics. 

“Traditional family holidays with miles of sandy beaches, sleepy medieval towns and cities, spectacular scenery within easy walking distance, peaceful country pubs where you can sample the local brews, even big name shopping and night life far from the big cities. 

“We’re sure you’ve earned a break, and it won’t cost a fortune.  Come down to Somerset and enjoy a warm West Country welcome.”

We’ve picked out 10 activities to put in your diary this summer...

1) Swanning around: This summer the city of Wells is home to a flock of 60 swan sculptures displayed in a trail around the city and beyond. The swans will be on display until early September when they will be gathered together for a Swansong Auction Preview weekend on September 15 and 16, before being auctioned to raise funds for local projects and charities at The Bishop's Palace on September 29.

The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2PD T: 01749 988111.

2) Party in the Park 2012: It’s the eighth Party in the Park for Galhampton in Somerset when it takes place in 2012 on July 7. Headline acts include Wilko Johnson, John Otway, Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs, Jim Penfold & The Hollywood Killers, Novatones, Velcro Hooks, Full Tilt and Ryan Inglis.

There will also be hot and cold food, bar and kid’s tent. Galhampton is a small village with around 400 people, many of whom are involved in organising the Party in the Park Festival.

Tickets cost £20 on the gate or £17 in advance. Under 12s go free but need a child’s ticket for entry. Tickets are available online or at the following offline box offices.

Prompt Cabins, Fir Tree, Galhampton, BA22 7BH.

The Old Pub, High Road, Galhampton, BA22 7BA.

Twice as Nice Shop, Fore Street, Castle Cary.

3) Reptile fortnight: Snake lovers should head for Noah's Ark Zoo Farm between July 30 and August 11 when reptile fortnight returns for the fifth year. See venomous snake shows daily and learn more about these dangerous creatures.

There will also be the opportunity to handle non-deadly reptiles at the end of each show and have your picture taken. Show times are 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Clevedon Road, Wraxall, Bristol, BS48 1PG T: 01275 852606.

4) Horse show: Brompton Regis Show and Gymkhana takes place on August 18 and features stalls, attractions, show lottery, tombola, auction of pledges, children’s games and, say the organisers, much more.

The Horse Show will feature showing, show jumping, gymkhana, fancy dress, Exmoor pony, Mountain and Moorland and Clear Round jumping classes from 9am until 5pm. There’s a family dog show with classes for pedigree and family fun. 

There will also be plenty to look at in the handicraft, cookery, flower, vegetable and egg shows. Entry to the show costs £1.50 each with free parking and free entry for children.

Brompton Regis, Somerset, TA22.

5) Garden show: The National Gardening Show takes place at the Bath and West Showground from August 31 to September 2.  It’s described by organisers as ‘an ideal day out for gardening fans – the event showcases the finest in Autumn gardening with lots of features that are unique to the show, advice from experts and help on how to grow your own plants and vegetables.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or a complete beginner, you will enjoy the event, as will food lovers and people hoping to learn new crafts and discover hidden talents’. 

Tickets cost £10 in advance for adults, £12 on the gate. Children under 16 are free. The show is open from 9.30am to 5pm all three days.

Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 6QN T: 01749 822200.

6) Go ghost-hunting: The Chapel Cleeve Ghost Express will be running in August. Chapel Cleeve was featured on Channel 4’s Country House rescue in April. Now the doors are opening again for an event with West Somerset Railway.

The Railway says: “From August 1, the Chapel Cleeve Ghost Express is resurrected for a limited time as Chapel Cleeve opens its doors again to welcome those of you intrigued by its sinister past. You’ll travel by steam train on the West Somerset Railway to the long forgotten manor before plunging into the confines of the house where it will become clear that not all is as it seems.”

Five tours operate daily August 1 to 12 excluding August 6 and 7. Tickets cost £24 adults, £15 children/concessions. Family ticket £65 for two adults and up to four children. Ticket price includes an all-day Rover ticket on the West Somerset Railway and return coach transfers from Blue Anchor Station to Chapel Cleeve.

The West Somerset Railway, The Railway Station, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5BG T: 01643 700384.

7) Meet the Daleks: The largest gathering of Daleks, this side of Gallifrey, is expected at the Fleet Air Arm Museum on August 18 and 19. It is though the Daleks will be accompanied by other evil accomplices including the Cybermen, Miss Hartigan and Ice Warriors.

Children are encouraged to wear Sci-Fi fancy dress for the event which will also feature an Audience with the Daleks. There will also be Dr Who traders at the event which ends with a March of the Daleks. Doors open at 10am and normal museum entry prices apply.

Fleet Air Arm  Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, BA22 8HT T: 01935 840565.

8) Anyone for cricket? Somerset is of course home to Somerset County Cricket Club and there are fixtures throughout the summer months. A quintessentially English day out with morning, afternoon and evening matches.

Somerset County Cricket Club, The County Ground, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 1JT T: 0845 337 1875.

9) Somerset steam spectacular: The Somerset Traction Engine Club presents this event celebrating steam and vintage transportation in the West Country from July 13-15 at Low Ham, near Langport. 

It will feature more than 40 working steam traction engines, vintage and classic cars, military vehicles, market and craft section as well as a fun fair and children’s rides. On July 13 it is open from 12pm to 6pm, admission is £5 for adults and OAPs, children free. Saturday is 9-6pm and Sunday 9-5pm with adults £9, OAPs £7.50 and children £3 with a family ticket – 2 adults 2 children - £20. Free for under fives.

Somerset Steam Spectacular, Low Ham, near Langport, TA10 9DR.

10) Tuesday Tudor Tour: Montacute House is hosting special Tuesday Tudor family tours taking to tell visitors about Tudor life between July 24 and August 28. 

The tours are free but booking is advisable on 01935 823289 and normal admission charges apply.  The Elizabethan mansion was built in the late 16th century for Sir Edward Phelps and is now run by the National Trust.

Montacute House, Montacute, TA15 6XP T: 01935 823289.

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