Mr Darcy in a wet shirt, Sherlock and his taciturn genius, Harry Potter and his magical friends  – this year is exciting for fans of some of the most iconic (and dishy!) characters in literature. Their stories are much-loved around the world and have been translated on screen with great success against the stunning backdrop of the British countryside.

So the good folks at Visit England have declared 2017 to be the “Year of Literary Heroes”. It’s an imaginative way to make the fantasy world in the books and films come to life through visits to iconic landmarks and the charming countryside. Writers who put England firmly on the literary map will be celebrated through a series of events, walks and tours.

Where to go? At Ecophiles, we bring you the best and the brightest events for your green travel plans for 2017.

ALSO SEE: We’re giving away a trip for 2 to Morocco! For fab food and relaxing by the sea! 

UK Three women in period costume at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath - c. VisitBath

Three women in period costume at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath – Photo: VisitBath

Hightlights of 2017 The Year of Literary Heroes

  • The 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death
  • 20 years since the first Harry Potter book
  • 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five
  • 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication
bath visit britain

The Royal Crescent. Bath is deeply connected with Jane Austen. Photo: Visit Britain

Jane Austen at 200

Who doesn’t love Pride and Prejudice or hope to meet their own dashing Mr Darcy? Jane Austen has legions of fan around the world, and she continues to hold us in thrall with her sharp, witty writing and romantic leading men. Personally, we can’t think of a better real life Mr Darcy than the reticent Colin Firth in both, the BBC version and the Bridget Jones series.

It helped that he was rich too. The 1995 BBC series chose three different locations for Darcy’s Pemberley Estate, with shots of the exterior completed at Lyme Park, Cheshire. Lyme Park is famous as the location of what became known as the ‘lake scene’ that sees Mr Darcy emerge fully clothed from Pemberley’s lake, making him quite the sex symbol!

In the series, Lacock Abbey was chosen for some of their Pemberley interior scenes. The Abbey is in Lacock Village in Wiltshire, used for portraying the village of Meryton.

Lacock village is loved for its unspoiled appearance. It has been used as a film and television set in Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter films. Photo: Karen Roe via Flickr

Lacock village is loved for its unspoiled appearance. It has been used as a film and television set in Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter films. Photo: Karen Roe via Flickr

Bath, another gorgeous city to visit, was Jane Austen’s home from 1801 to 1806. It also provides the backdrop to two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. 

If you love Austen as much as we do, check out the full list of events planned across her home county at Jane Austen 200 – A Life in Hampshire. Highlights:

  • Jane Austen’s House Museum (her former home) in the village of Chawton has planned talks, exhibitions, activities and other celebrations.
  • Regency Week: Chawton and nearby Alton will host a Regency Week (June 17 – 25) with music, dance, talks, a Regency Day and more.
  • The Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition will tour Winchester, Gosport and Basingstoke with unique Jane Austen pieces.
  • Winchester Cathedral, Jane’s final resting place, will run tours exploring Jane’s life.
  • Sculpture Trail: In Basingstoke, you can follow a downloadable sculpture trail made up of 25 ‘BookBenches’ each uniquely created by a professional artist with their personal interpretation of a Jane Austen theme.
  • Big Picnics’  across Hampshire – a great way to some performances, try Regency food and learn more about the author.
  • Key Jane Austen sites like Jane Austen Centre in Bath and the September Jane Austen Festival, which will celebrate the bicentenary of the novel Northanger Abbey, are worth visiting. In Kent, visitors can follow in her footsteps on a Jane Austen Trail.
Church ion the grounds of Chawton House, now the home of the Jane Austen Society

Church on the grounds of Chawton House, now the home of the Jane Austen Society. Photo: Herry Lawford

125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication

As we are currently obsessed by the wicked Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, here’s a look back  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1892.

Now London is almost a character in itself in the Sherlock stories. Sherlock and Watson’s famous address, 221B Baker Street doesn’t actually exist, the exterior of their flat as seen in the series is shot in this peaceful west London road, 25 minutes’ walk from Baker Street, at 187 North Gower Street.

Reconstruction of the sitting room of 221B Baker Street at The Sherlock Holmes themed public house in London. Photo: Jack1956 via Wikimedia Commons

Die-hard Sherlock fans must visit The Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Grade II-listed building dedicated to the super sleuth.

The Sherlock Holmes Pub in Westminster is full of delightful memorabilia, including Dr Watson’s old service revolver and his favourite food, Cumberland sausages. Of course, a visit to Tower Bridge is a must for this is where Moriarty, played with campy delight by Andrew Scott, leaves the message ‘Get Sherlock’, all dressed up in the Crown Jewels.

actors outside the Sherlock Holmes pub, Westminster, London, London, England. ©VisitBritain

Outside the Sherlock Holmes pub, Westminster, London. Photo: VisitBritain, Britain on View

You can also visit filming locations including in Bristol with this rather handy Sherlock Locations map.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: 20th Anniversary 

Twenty years since JK Rowling’s first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone released, and it’s still as magical. Muggles can see England’s famous landmarks like Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (one of the Hogwarts locations) and the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo (closest tube: Camden) where it dawns on Harry that he can speak to snakes.

Alnwick castle UK

Alnwick castle. Photo: Visit Britain

Get aboard the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9 ¾ at  King’s Cross station in London. You’ll be delighted to see half a luggage cart disappearing into the wall! Whoosh on to Durham Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, that has been used as Hogwarts with such brilliance. Also, the above mentioned Lacock Abbey was also the setting for the sharp-tongued Professor Snape’s class on potions!

UK lacock abbey

Professor’s Snape’s potions! Photo: Karen Roe via Flickr

In Scotland, the Jacobite Steam Train aka Hogwarts Express runs daily from Glasgow to Fort William from early May to late October. Arrive in Fort William the day before you travel on the Jacobite.

Event Highlights: 

  • A bewitching new exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library will display wizarding books, manuscripts and magical objects, and combine centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from J.K. Rowling’s own archives. The exhibition has been inspired by the subjects at Hogwarts, from Potions and Herbology, to Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures, and will explore the rich magic traditions that they draw on. Tickets on sale from Monday 3 April 2017 at www.bl.uk
  • A Harry Potter Film concert series is planned with screenings of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A live orchestra adds to the atmospheric viewing Locations include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral Photo: Visit Britain

Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five: 75th anniversary 

We all grew up reading The Famous Five and fell in love with the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, their tomboy cousin George and Timmy the dog. Enid Blyton created a charming world that involved picnics, ginger beer, mysteries, smugglers, kidnappers and hidden treasure – and we never wanted their adventures to end!

The series brought rural Southern England and the coastline to life through their wild, outdoor adventures. Enid Blyton was a regular visitor to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast and the area inspired locations in many of the books including Corfe Castle (Kirrin Castle) and Brownsea Island (Whispering Island).

The stunning British coast - things to do

Durdle Door on the stunning Jurassic coast. Photo: Mark Towning

Now we’re celebrating 75 years of The Famous Five, publishing in May 2017 with newly illustrated covers. The ‘Five go on a Garden Adventure’ anniversary activity (including themed adventure trails, garden displays, and storytelling) will feature across all four RHS gardens throughout 2017. The four gardens are – Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor Garden in Devon, Essex’s Hyde Hall and Harlow Carr in Harrogate. All four gardens will also be holding a picnic party on August 11, 2017, Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday.

UK Harlow Carr Gardens

Harlow Carr Gardens Photo: Yorkshire PhotoWalks via Flickr

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