For a Purpose

For a day: Caste Howard, Bronte Parsonage, Alnwick Castle; For the food: Bunol, Berlin; The main event: Carnevale, Military Tattoo, Reykjavic

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Visiting Castle Howard in jeans and a university hoodie instantly makes you feel like a poorly equipped time-traveller: against the imposing baroque backdrop of the house itself, and dwarfed by the extensive grounds, a decidedly down-at-heel student leafing through a guidebook and gawping at the stunning architecture doesn't quite cut it.

Don't be intimidated though, as the house and the grounds are definitely worth visiting if you enjoy something beautiful. Exhibitions change regularly, as well as more consistent painting collections, sculpture and porcelain displayed inside. HB

Enter: House and gardens, £11.

It's a place which demands silk evening dresses, three piece suits, cigarettes and pearls.


Out on the wild and windy Yorkshire Moors, the Bronte family lived, married and died. Getting to Haworth - a town with a huge number of bookshops itself - might not be easy but is well worth the trip if you have any literary interest. Touring the Bronte Parsonage and graveyard opens up the domestic affairs of the infamous family in a way that no guidebook can. After touring the house where literary classics were written, you can step into the museum and brush up on Bronte trivia. Outside, the Yorkshire Moors stand as the biggest inspiration. HC

Travel: York - Keighley station, £17.30
Enter: students £5.20

Read a Bronte novel before you go, it really brings the Yorkshire moors to life.


Alnwick is a holiday destination like no other. In addition to its medieval splendour and fantastic art collection (including a Van Dyck and a Titian), the Castle doubles as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.

You can follow in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione and easily recognise many locations from the films. But if the picturesque market town or the castle don't take your fancy, go to Barter Books.

It's one of the largest second hand bookshops in Europe, centre of the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' revival, and set inside a listed Victorian train station. It cannot be missed. TS

Enter: students £10.40

To call it a hidden gem is an epic understatment - it's hard to do it justice.



The huge mess and scenes of complete anarchy which distinguish Tomatina festival have made it the most notorious food festival in Europe.

The event takes place annually on the last Wednesday of August - although the partying begins earlier in the week - culminating with the tomato fight. The festival has made famous the small Valencian town of Bunol.

Begun in the 1940s, Tomatina's origins are a complete mystery; theories vary from it being the result of a class war, to attack on councilmen or a lorry spillage. Whatever the original cause, it has continued annually but for a brief ban under General Franco's regime.

While the highlight of Tomatina is the food fight, the range of other entertainments which have sprung up and lengthened the event to cover a whole week qualify it as a major food festival which draws tourists in. These include street dancing, fireworks, parades and a paella cooking contest.

The population of Bunol during Tomatina swells from 9,000 people to 30,000, making accommodation scarce.

Festival participants are advised to find lodging in Valencia which is a two hour bus journey away. JB

A war where there are expected to be no winners, but all have fun


Berlin is far from ordinary, and the same can be said for White Trash. A quirky restaurant found in the centre of the capital, White Trash has a lively atmosphere and serves a variety of fairly-priced and 'exotic' food.

Starters such as the 'Valley' Porno-Nachos and their own classic mains like the 'Marquee de F**k' Burger accompanied by 'F**k You Fries', make the eccentricities of this restaurant clear.

With punk waiters, there is no need to dress formally as any style goes - jeans and sneakers are perfectly acceptable.

Music plays a big part in the restaurant's experience since between five and seven live bands play a week; musicians from the subway are invited to play in the busy Diamond Lounge.

Not only does the building's decor deliver a shock, with fairy lights entwined in plastic arms and skulls alongside tropical fish tanks, but a tattoo parlour and smoking cinema can be found in the basement. Entry to the smoking cinema is free.

Due to its popularity, bookings need to be made well in advance, but don't let this put you off , as the restaurant is recognised as Berlin's offering of delicious food complemented by a real portion of rock 'n' roll. RB

Smoking cinema and tattoo parlour can be found in the basement



The Venice Carnival is an annual celebration of history, food and revelry, to welcome the spring.

The week flies by in a blur of colour, costumes, and a fountain which runs with wine instead of water.

Events include a celebration of traditional food at the Festa Veneziana along the Grand Canal and the historical act of paying homage to the Doge.

But it is not until the Grand Masked Ball that the clock is turned back, and is transformed into the sparklingly romantic world of luxury, Casanova and parties until dawn. At Carnivale, Venetian tradition mingles happily with modern fun. HB

Fly: Stansted - Venice, £53, RyanAir.

At Carnivale, Venetian tradition mingles happily with modern fun.


The Edinburgh Tattoo is a military display, performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth Soldiers, and international military bands. Don't be put off by the overtly martial sound of the event.

What this boils down to is a spectacular show, with the backdrop of Edinburgh's floodlit Castle, showcasing pomp and style from all over the globe.

Tickets usually sell out incredibly quickly, but if you are lucky enough to snag one remember to bring layers and layers of warm clothing. Even in August Edinburgh is certainly not known for having any sort of temperate climate. RTB

Travel: York - Edinburgh, £40, National Rail.

See if you can spot the Queen, who always attends the annual Tattoo.


The Reykjavic Arts Festival at Harpa, Iceland, has been held biannually since 1970.

The festival itself showcases music from new composers as well as spoken word performances; visual art exhibitions; contemporary dance; poetry; talks from a number of writers and even French puppet shadow theatre.

Other than the Arts Festival, Reykjavic offers some of Iceland's best nightlife - although alcohol is generally very expensive.

While in the city, don't forget to check out Hallgrimskirkja: Iceland's largest church. HDD

Fly: £236, Iceland Express.

Don't doubt - it's your chance to sample the Scandinavian art scene.

Photography: Rachel Brown, Hannah Clugston, Matthew Dixon, Gilchristof, Justyn Hardcastle, Frank Kovalchek, Aaron Smith

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