The best picnic experiences in England

National Picnic Week runs from 11 – 19 June 2016, proving that there really is an awareness day or week for anything imaginable...

We’re assuming National Picnic Week must have been dreamed up by the national association of tartan blanket makers or something, but it’s a timely reminder to get your kids out into the countryside to dine alfresco. Check out our top suggestions for some of this summer’s best picnicking opportunities…

 "So, she's a (hot) dog (eater)"

Picnic at the flicks

What better way to a enjoy a croissant than with Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, sip a white Russian than while hanging with The Dude from The Big Lebowski, watch Grease than with a greasy bacon sandwich in hand, or munch marshmallows than while watching Ghostbusters?

Outdoor cinema is a great day out for kids and adults alike and - with classic movies being screened up and down the country, like Jaws, The Goonies, Back to the Future, and Top Gun – you can educate your young ‘uns on the golden age of cinema (the ‘80s) over a picnic dinner.

Outdoor cinema events take place all of the country each summer, and The Luna Cinema have an impressive schedule of events across England. For more information, visit: www.thelunacinema.com

 "My lady, will thee joineth me for a proper posh picnic, forsoothe?"

Open-air theatre

If you like watching the outtakes of those movies and nothing splits your sides more than seeing an actor fluffing their lines, then you should try open-air theatre which offers the ‘will they cock it up?’ thrills of a live TV broadcast of EastEnders without, y’know, actually having to watch EastEnders.

Arundel Castle, for example, offers a season of Shakespeare in their stunning Collector Earl’s Garden each summer, while the ever-excellent Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is putting on productions of Henry V, Jesus Christ Superstar and Pride & Prejudice this year and will even organise your picnic (or luxury champagne hamper, if you’re feeling flash) for you.

For more information on Arundel Castle’s Shakespeare events, visit: www.arundelcastle.org, and for more information on Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, visit: openairtheatre.com

 "You get ruddy-big blue bottles out in the countryside, Tarquin"

Black-tie dining outside

You may love a movie musical and you might adore theatre, but if you could only really enjoy Grease if it were warbled in Italian, or would thigh-slap Peter Pan out of the way to get to the capricious Carmen, then only the opera will do.

Glyndebourne, a world-famous – though quintessentially English – opera house set amid the Sussex countryside is as celebrated for its luxurious black-tie picnics as its illustrious performances.

Tables, chairs, porters and waiters may not sound like the makings of a picnic to some, but these al fresco, three-course champagne dinners, offering the likes of smoked salmon, lobster, duck terrine and panna cotta, sure knock the socks off your usual squash and scotch eggs à la Happy Shopper.

For more information on Glyndebourne’s performances and traditional picnics, visit: www.diningatglyndebourne.com

 Everyone laughed when Dennis turned up dressed as Blanche from The Golden Girls

Dining à la carte… blanche

If wearing black at a picnic is all a bit too sombre for you, like dining dans le noir, then Dîner en Blanc, the picnicking equivalent of a flashmob or an illegal rave, provides the simple antithesis: diners all in white.

Launched 28 years ago in Paris, the event basically involves its thousands of guests, dressed all in white, descending en masse to a secret location made known only at the last minute, to take part in a chic picnic at a public (and unauthorised) location. Since all the participants are under instruction to “conduct themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette,” the police tend to tolerate these gatherings.

The event now takes place in many of the world’s major cities – including London of course – while the French capital's locations have included the Eiffel Tower site, the Château de Versailles, and the Champs-Élysées, with diners – the organisers say – “enhancing the function and value of their city's public spaces by participating in the unexpected, brought together from diverse backgrounds by a love of beauty and good taste.”

Proper classy, them French, i’nt they?

For more information on the proposed next London event, visit: london.dinerenblanc.info

 Ted frantically looked through the cookbook for recipes involving only a baguette, grapes and a litre of Ribena

Book your spot for lunch

If none of these snooty posh picnics sound like proper picnics to you, and you think the entertainment on offer herein defeats the point of the countryside’s golden silence, then you could always pack that ubiquitous tartan picnic blanket, some books and a few snacks for you and your family and head up to Brontë Country.

This area of West Yorkshire’s south Pennine hills is named after the famous literary sisters of the nineteenth century, who between them penned such classics as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and features many idyllic spots to while away an afternoon with a picnic and a novel.

Brontë Waterfall is a lovely location in the area to spread a blanket and teach your kids some classic British literature over lunch, while the rustic ruin of the Top Withens farmhouse is purported to be the inspiration for the Earnshaw family house, the titular Wuthering Heights in Emily Brontë’s landmark novel.

Now turn off your computer and get outside.

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Guest Wednesday, 13 November 2019

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