From history to geography with a little science thrown in, the glorious county of Cheshire has a great deal to show off over the next 12 months. From white rabbits to world class race horses, and polo ponies and super telescopes; there is something to delight and educate every visitor.
Chester Zoo will open its £40m ‘Islands’ attraction, the biggest development in the history of zoos, on Monday 13th July. The large and complex build will be home to a number of animals classed as critically endangered in the wild, and will see visitors set off on an expedition through the recreated South East Asian habitats of Panay, Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sumba and Sulawesi.
It will also include Monsoon Forest, the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the UK and home to Sumatran orangutans, Sulawesi macaques and a new species for the zoo, the Sunda gharial crocodile. Chester Zoo is already the top large visitor attraction outside London.
Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo’s Managing Director, said:
“Islands will see the dawning of a new age, creating an unparalleled visitor experience. Although our fabulous animals will provide a huge draw for visitors, the journey itself – all of the sounds, smells, colours and culture of these islands – will bring everything to life. Islands is about immersion – transporting visitors thousands of miles away to experience the splendour of the animals, plants and the cultural aspects of these far-flung places.”
Another major visitor attraction winning accolades for Cheshire is Tatton Park, winner of the 2014 England’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year for 2014. The site includes award-winning gardens, a 1000 acre deer park, the neo-classical Mansion House and a Tudor Old Hall as a working farm and even a cafe set in the idyllic gardens of the Old Head Gardener’s Cottage.
This year’s Amazed by Science festival includes several live events from Tatton Park and aims to get children and families excited about science; with over 100 events happening during May half term at key attractions across Cheshire. Venues include the popular Jodrell Bank; famous for the Lovell Telescope and its recent links with BBC Stargazing Live, as well as Lion Saltworks; Britain’s newest heritage attraction opening after a £10.23m development that offers a fascinating journey through the life of the country’s last open-pan salt making site. The event is made possible by headline sponsor Siemens in Congleton and partners such as Urenco, The National Nuclear Laboratory, Waters Corporation, Sellafield Ltd, British Science Association, Astra Zeneca, Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Chester.
For those with a healthy appetite for the past as well an interest in the future, there will be plenty to experience as the city of Chester holds the secrets of over 2000 years of history. Chester Cathedral is free for all to enter and is now home to the new visitor attraction – Cathedral at Height – a tower tour with enables visitors to see views one city, two countries and five counties from the top of the cathedral tower. Visitors will climb through 900 years of history, experiencing the interactive bell-ringing chamber, ambling along the ancient galleries and enjoying the panoramic views of the city.
The city is also home to the oldest racecourse in the country and with race meetings happening from May to September as well as International polo events, Chester provides history and glamour combined. The nearby McArthur Glen – Cheshire Oaks is the UK’s largest designer outlet and is usually the place to start the search for a races outfit with over 145 boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
The future certainly looks bright for equestrian sport across Cheshire with Bolesworth International attracting global competitors to their CSI 4* event taking place in the grounds of Bolesworth Castle from 18-21st June 2015, the team have ambitions for 5* international status for 2016 and a brand new show has been announced for January 2016 in Liverpool.
And finally, a story about the county wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the famous Cheshire Cat, as we mark 150 years since the publication of Lewis Carroll’s children’s story, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Cheshire was the birthplace of Lewis Carroll and tourism partners will be celebrating with Mad Hatters tea parties and themed events throughout the year.
The iconic Chester Grosvenor will also celebrate 150 years of history and luxury in the city of Chester by hosting a series of anniversary events including anniversary afternoon teas served with an exclusive blend of Grosvenor Grey Anniversary Tea, the history of tea from the hotel’s artisan tea maker, hats through the ages from the hotel’s milliner and a trip through Chester’s heritage from the hotel’s historian. The Simon Radley restaurant within the hotel has recently been awarded a Michelin star for the 25th year in a row. There will even be a bespoke range of jewellery designed to celebrate the anniversary by British luxury jewellers, Boodles, neighbours to The Chester Grosvenor since 1962.
Katrina Michel, Chief Executive, Marketing Cheshire said:
“When people talk about visiting Cheshire they often have a broad smile because our lifestyle offer is second to none, from independent shopping to major designer brands and to some of the UK’s most popular attractions. Cheshire is the perfect destination for families, couples and groups and with so much to do here, visitors want to stay longer and longer. This summer there is even more going in the events programme to make our visitors happy.”
Cheshire celebrates a series of anniversaries and exciting openings in 2015 listed below:
- 140 years of Anderton Boat Lift
The Anderton Boat Lift turns 140 this year! Built by Edwin Clark in 1875 to lift cargo boats the 50 feet from the River Weaver to the Trent & Mersey Canal, from April to October you can enjoy boat trips through the lift and along the River Weaver Navigation.
2. 150 years of Alice in Wonderland
Alice in Wonderland celebrates her 150th birthday this year and you can mark the occasion in Lewis Carroll’s birthplace, Cheshire! Davenports Tea Room, situated less than 2 miles from Lewis Carroll’s birthplace, is themed around Alice in Wonderland and they are holding a very special Mad Hatters Tea Party on Sunday 5th July, Sunday 30th August and Sunday 27th September. Visit Daresbury Church where you can see the Lewis Carroll memorial window to mark a century since the author’s birth and whilst you’re visiting the All Saints Church why not also visit the Lewis Carroll Centre and explore the life of this iconic author.
3. 175 years of Teaching Excellence
To celebrate 175 years of teaching excellence at the University of Chester there are plenty of exciting activities and events for staff, students and the wider community, culminating in grand finale events in June 2015.
4. 150th anniversary of The Chester Grosvenor.
2015 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of The Chester Grosvenor. There will be a calendar of events planned throughout the year. Themed lunches will take a look back in time, the history of tea from the hotel’s artisan tea maker, hats through the ages from the hotel’s milliner and a trip through Chester’s heritage from the hotel’s historian.
5. 175th anniversary of Railways in Cheshire
2015 marks the 175th Anniversary of two key Railways in Cheshire. In 1840 both the Crewe to Chester and Chester to Birkenhead lines were opened. This historic milestone is a great opportunity to celebrate the success and achievements of the rail industry and promote Cheshire, old Cheshire, Crewe, Chester and Birkenhead.
6. Islands at Chester Zoo
You can embark on your own wildlife expedition from June 2015 as we’re recreating the amazing tropical environments of six South East Asian islands.
Islands at Chester Zoo is the biggest zoo development ever in Europe, spanning 50,000 square metres – that’s the same as SEVEN full-size football pitches!
7. Lion Salt Works will open
After two years of restoration, the Lion Salt Works is set to open in Spring 2015.
The Lion Salt Works is being restored and developed as a heritage visitor attraction with an engaging approach to telling the stories associated with salt, an imaginative learning programme, themed play provision and an evolving calendar of events and museum activities.
8. New at Chester Cathedral
Chester Cathedral is hoping to open a falconry centre complete with nature gardens in their grounds. The centre would provide a range of recreational activities involving the birds of prey, and could be open as early as May.
9. Major new annual event at Tatton Park
Geronimo! This May Bank Holiday, it’s time for Geronimo, the largest children’s festival in the North West – with hundreds of activities for children aged from two to twelve and a host of popular characters like CBeebies’ Mr Bloom.
10. Amazed by Science
Amazed by Science is BACK for 2015.
Due to the huge success of the debut Amazed by Science Festival in May 2014, the festival will return this May half-term with a range of great science events across Cheshire.