Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Celebrate Easter Weekend in Southampton

What have you got planned for the fast-approaching long weekend?  If you don't have an escape planned, might I suggest the city of Southampton?  Now I know Southampton may not be the stand-out choice when planning a UK city break, but this is a city with a lot to offer in a brilliant location, well-served by transport and road links.  Here's what you could do in Southampton this weekend:

Where to Stay

Southampton plays host to over four million visitors a year, so there are plenty of hotels, hostels and B&Bs, at all sorts of price points.  But as with all cities, location is key.  Ideally located in the centre of Southampton with excellent transport links and with outstanding views of the Cruise Terminals and Southampton Water, the Holiday Inn hotel offers excellent value for money.  It is also great for families, and with many breaks kids can stay and dine for free!  They don;t even mind if you bring muddy footprints in with you after your day's adventures.

What to Do

Alpine Snowsports Centre: If the weather isn't great, a trip to this fantastic sports centre will certainly give you plenty to do.  They offer ski-ing, snowboarding, sledging, toboggans and more, all suitable from beginner to seasoned pro.  A visit here will certainly add an exhilarating twist to your mini break!

City Art Gallery: One of the most outstanding art galleries in the South of England, this internationally renowned centre has an impressive collection, of both historic and contemporary art, and a varied and interesting temporary exhibitions programme.  The current exhibition, Age of Sail, runs until 15th April and has paintings, etchings and watercolours depicting coastal scenes, fishing boats, pleasure yachts, naval vessels in action, and much more.  The exhibition contains works by established marine painters such as Eugène Louis Boudin and Peter Monamy, as well as lesser known, local artists, and also includes an etching by James Abbott McNeill Whistler from his Thames Set series.

Riverside Park: For a relaxing afternoon, this delightful park offers wide open spaces, a fantastic children's playground, bike track, plenty of ducks and swans to feed.  Take a picnic and have some family fun in the park.  A steam railway also operates most Sundays.

Solent Sky Museum: This comprehensive museum showcases the history of aviation in Southampton and Solent area, and is the birthplace and home of The Spitfire.  With 18 types of aircraft, including the Spitfire and S6b, an impressive selection of engines in their Engine Bay, and the opportunity to climb aboard the Sandringham Flying Boat, this is an aviation enthusiast's dream come true!

SS Shieldhall: The largest working steamship in Britain, the SS Shieldhall serves as a sea-going tribute to Britain's maritime heritage.  On selected dates, you can board as a passenger and enjoy the golden age of steam.

West Quay Shopping Centre: Just 2 minutes walk away from the Holiday Inn, WestQuay is one of the biggest shopping malls in the country, with all the usual high street names, some more unusual shops, great food and drink outlets, and a fabulous multi-storey John Lewis.  Outside there is also a large Mothercare and Toys'R'Us, so shopping opportunities for all members of the family are catered for!

Easter Fair: There is a huge Easter Fair on Southampton Common from 2nd to 12th April with many exciting rides, and also a traditional market on Bank Holiday Monday.  The fair is open every day from 12pm, and opens at 9am on the Monday.

Outside the city: If you have a full day to spend on a trip outside the city, the New Forest is virtually on the doorstep, with acres and acres of wild and wonderful landscape to explore.  You are sure to spot New Forest Ponies on your travels, and maybe also cattle, pigs, birds of prey and deer.  If you want to visit some different wildlife, the New Forest Wildlife Park comes highly recommended, and Marwell Zoo is not far away.  There is also porcine fun to be had at Paulton's Park, the home of Peppa Pig World, where younger children can have fun with Peppa, George and friends; whilst older siblings can try the tummy-churning rides on the other side of the park.  The new Critter Creek sounds like great fun too.

Evening Entertainment: If you are holidaying without the kids, or visiting with older children, there is a host of evening entertainment on offer in Southampton.  With a wide range of pubs, restaurants, bars and clubs to suit all tastes, you are sure of a great night out.  Or why not buy tickets for Anything Goes at the Mayflower Theatre?  If you fancy something a bit more prosaic, popular entertainment venue The Brook has ABBA and ELO tribute acts this weekend.

Find out more about Southampton, and what's on, at

Post in association with Holiday Inn

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