The Theatre Chipping Norton is one of the most prominent cultural centers in the city, which has something to suit everyone's tastes. Whether it's music that moves you or comedy, drama or just relaxed film screenings, this is where it's all at.
Every year the fields 10 minutes from the centre of Warwick turn into a camping site hosting the Warwick Folk Festival. Warwick camping ground offers concert venues, a quiet camping area, a indoor swimming pool and many other facilities. On the site there is also a general store available, wide selection of food and drink and a free festival bus to town.
Take to the water! For the energetic, Avon Boating offers a choice of self-powered vessels. Rowing boats, punts and Canadian canoes are all available for hire. Or, for those who prefer a more relaxed mode, why not step aboard an Edwardian passenger boat for a tranquil half-hour cruise on the Avon? Private charter and extended cruises, buffets, high teas, river picnics and corporate events can all be arranged through Avon Boating. Note that there is also an 1898 steam launch for hire! Check website for different packages available.
Proudly proclaiming the fact that it is "Europe's largest", the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm affords a peaceful retreat away from all things Shakespearean. Hundreds of butterflies can be viewed at close quarters, many of the species sporting spectacular colors. For those interested in less attractive, more frightening creatures, other insect displays are available, including stick insects, leaf-eating ants and the world's largest spider.
A trip to Stratford is not complete without a visit to the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The theater was built in 1926 following fire damage to the 1879 original structure. Fortunately it was not completely destroyed during the fire; parts of the original building, a cross between a German castle and French chateau, are still clearly visible. A second auditorium, the Swan Theater has also been incorporated into the older part.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust owns and operates the five Shakespeare Houses in and around Stratford. Three of these, Shakespeare's Birthplace, Hall's Croft and Nash's House & New Place, are in Stratford itself. The other two, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Mary Arden's House, are set in the outlying villages of Shottery and Wilmcote respectively. Each of these beautifully preserved Shakespeare Houses gives you the chance to fully imagine the world inhabited by the most famous playwright and poet in history.
In striking contrast to the typical 15th-Century style of this area sits Stratford Town Hall. It owes its classic stone design to the fact that it was completely re-built in the 1800s. The original building, which housed the Market Hall, dated back to 1634. However, it suffered extensive damage from a gunpowder explosion during the Civil War when parliamentarian forces were in occupation. Look out for the statue of Shakespeare, presented to the town by David Garrick, set in a niche on one of the exterior walls. Beneath this is a plaque commemorating the silver jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1977.
It is well worth spending time studying the frontage of Harvard House, for it is Stratford's most ornate structure and a splendid example of an Elizabethan town house. Look in particular for the initials of the owners who had it re-built following the severe damage sustained in the Great Fire of 1594. It was their grandson John who, having emigrated to the United States, founded the university which bears his name. In 1909, the house was purchased by a Chicago millionaire who paid for it to be restored before presenting it to Harvard University. Today the house is managed on behalf of Harvard by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Inside the house, in addition to fine pieces of 17th century furniture, is part of the Neish pewter collection. This collection of great national importance boasts items spanning over two thousand years.
Montpellier Gallery is modern gallery which houses the work of contemporary artists most of whom are British. You are very welcome to browse in the gallery's three rooms each displaying a range of individual pieces. For example, there are prints by artists such as Roy Fairchild, exquisite glass confections by glass maker Peter Layton and more paintings, prints, ceramics and jewelery than you can take in. If nothing catches your eye, you can always commission a one-off piece from many of the artists on show here. Please call for open hours.
The Attic Theatre, located just above the Lazy Cow Pub, is the top fringe theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The theater is now home to the Tread the Boards Theatre Company, but the site was home to Stratford's very first theater in the 15th Century, and some original pieces of the theater still remain. For entertaining theater in an intimate and fun setting, check out a show at the Attic Theatre.
Experience the Falstaff Experience for an informative and theatrical living history lesson. You will be met and entertained by staff in period costume and you can have your photograph taken alongside characters in the mock-up cottages and shops. Items of interest here include the punishment stocks, the music room and a Gothic collection of all things ghastly and glorious!