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5 unique things to do in Hertfordshire



A side view of the Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, UK
The present Jacobean house was built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury and Chief Minister to King James I | Photo: Paul Hudson

Welcome to Hertfordshire — an enchanting county bursting with captivating wonders that have left an indelible mark on my own journey. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure as we delve into this hidden gem, which I guarantee could interest many people travelling in the UK. Here, you’ll discover a wealth of exceptional experiences that have touched my soul and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on yours. You can be assured that you will not fall short of things to see and do in Hertfordshire!

Let’s begin our extraordinary journey at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. As a devoted Harry Potter fan, stepping into the magical world behind the iconic film series was like a dream come true for me. Exploring the original sets, touching astonishing costumes and props, and immersing myself in the enchanting process of filmmaking awakened a sense of wonder and pure delight that I’ll forever cherish. Trust me, if you’re a Potterhead like me, this is an absolute must-visit that will transport you into a realm of magic.

Next, allow me to share the historical splendour of St Albans Cathedral. This beautiful Cathedral is nestled in the heart of St Albans city, this magnificent medieval structure took me on a captivating journey back in time. Guided by the stories of its past, I found myself marvelling at the intricate stained-glass windows, each telling a tale of devotion and artistry. But it was when I climbed the tower that my breath was truly stolen away. The panoramic views of Hertfordshire’s picturesque countryside spread before me like a living painting, evoking a sense of tranquillity and awe that is simply unparalleled.

Now, let’s step into the grandeur of Hatfield House — a Jacobean mansion and garden that feels like a portal to a bygone era. With every step of the guided tour, I was transported to the opulent interiors that whispered tales of regal elegance and noble heritage. But it wasn’t just the house that captivated me; the meticulously landscaped gardens were a haven of serenity, where I could wander at my own pace, enveloped in nature’s embrace. The tranquil ambience and breathtaking beauty left me feeling refreshed and at peace, a memory I’ll always carry with me.

Prepare to be awestruck as we embark on a captivating journey to Knebworth House—a Gothic-style mansion and estate that embodies a sense of timelessness. From the moment I laid eyes on its unique architecture, I was transported to a different world. The guided tour revealed the captivating history of the Lytton family, their stories seeping into the very fabric of the residence. But the true magic happened during the legendary summer concerts, where renowned musicians and bands turned this historic estate into a stage of pure enchantment. The melodies and energy in the air created an experience I’ll never forget.

Finally, let’s find solace and connection with nature in the sprawling green sanctuary of Lee Valley Regional Park. As I embarked on delightful walks, ventured along invigorating cycling routes, and even tried my hand at water sports on the serene lakes and rivers, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of peace and harmony. The riverside became my refuge, a place to pause and reflect, allowing nature’s beauty to envelop my senses. Lee Valley Park is a true sanctuary, a reminder of the breathtaking beauty that exists within Hertfordshire’s countryside. In conclusion, Hertfordshire beckons with its exceptional experiences that have woven themselves into the tapestry of my own journey. From the enchantment of Warner Bros. Studio Tour to the grandeur of St Albans Cathedral, Hatfield House, Knebworth House, and the serenity of Lee Valley Regional Park, this county has something truly extraordinary for everyone (including those travelling in Europe). Brace yourself for an adventure that will create cherished memories, forever drawing you back to the captivating wonders of Hertfordshire.

Freelance copywriter living in picturesque Hertfordshire. When she's not busy crafting compelling copy, Louise Wright is an expert in the art of getting lost while travelling, creating her own unforgettable adventures.


Gatwick airport opens new £250m train station



An image of the first passengers using the new Gatwick train station
Gatwick Airport was officially opened on 9 June 1958 by Queen Elizabeth II.

A new look Gatwick Airport station has opened promising to offer passengers travelling between Brighton and London faster and more reliable journeys.

A bigger £250m rail station with a new second concourse and airport entrance is now available, doubling the space for the millions of passengers that use the station each year.

The first passengers to use the new concourse and airport entrance arrived on the 05.48 Thameslink Bedford to Brighton service on platform 7.

Eight new escalators and five new lifts will provide a step change for accessibility at the airport’s South Terminal. The new lifts and escalators, along with four new stairways and widened platforms, will help passengers move between the train station and the airport more quickly and easily.

Easier journeys between train and plane will benefit passengers across the wider network, helping keep trains running on time by removing the congestion on platforms that delay trains.

“This project is not just for those making their way to the airport, the work benefits passengers right across the route by giving them quicker journeys and a more reliable timetable”, says Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail Sussex route director.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said“With millions of people travelling into Gatwick Airport by train each year, this station is a major public transport hub and has been upgraded thanks to Government funding, improving the train-to-plane journey and delivering more reliable services for passengers.

“Today’s opening demonstrates this Government’s commitment to funding improvements to our rail network, transforming a vital station into an impressive gateway to the UK and helping more British and international passengers to travel by train.”

The new concourse will now act as the new entrance for people accessing the airport terminal, while the existing concourse will be for people exiting. The existing station concourse, station footbridges and the South Terminal linkspan have been refurbished and reconfigured to provide a seamless one-way system to the airport from the train station.

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Travelers are spending more on ‘affordable luxury’, study says



A panel of professionals during the presentation of the WTM 2023 Global Report in London
The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report was compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics

A new research from World Travel Market London 2023, has revealed that “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular – despite the squeeze on many holidaymakers’ budgets.

The exclusive WTM Global Travel Report – compiled in association with researchers at Oxford Economics – has revealed that consumers generally remain determined to go on holiday and plenty are still prioritising upmarket options.

The report, unveiled on 6 November during the travel and tourism event taking place in London, says “affordable luxury” is becoming more popular “amid promising sentiment overall”.

It explains that this growth area in travel aligns with a broader trend for consumers to seek out new and unique experiences on holiday.

“After the pandemic and restrictions on travel, many have wanted to upgrade their experience…as consumers proactively catch up on missed tourism experiences,” says the report.

The report notes: “Consumers unaffected by economic downturns are likely to continue opting for luxury destinations.

The report cites United States consumer data from MMGY which suggests that the cost of living is having more of an effect on households with annual incomes under $50,000.

However, those earning more indicated a “high likelihood” of future travel.

Nonetheless, the report warns that some of the post-pandemic drivers of travel demand may have “gone into reverse in recent months”, posing a risk to continued expansion.

It points to persistently high costs and the recovery of sterling and the euro, which is making the purchasing power of the US dollar weaker in Europe.

The price of jet fuel is significantly higher than at the start of the year, putting pressure on air fares.

Consumers’ personal disposable income is also under pressure as their own transport and other living costs rise.

Despite these headwinds, the report notes: “Higher costs have not yet been a significant deterrent to growth and travellers appear willing to pay higher prices.”

“We are witnessing a remarkable resilience as people are still prioritising travel and many are seeking ‘affordable luxury’, such as higher rated accommodation or premium economy and business cabins instead of economy”, says Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director at WTM London.

Meanwhile, the travel industry continues to face supply side problems, amid geopolitical events such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and staff shortages still affect many markets because large numbers of workers switched to other sectors during the pandemic. 

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London is the most searched-for destination for flights in 2023



A shot of London featuring the Big Ben
Last minute: 44% of all bookings globally in 2023 were made within two weeks or less of departure | Source: eDreams Year in Travel report

Travel subscription platform eDreams, one of Europe’s largest e-commerce businesses, launched its ‘Year in Travel’ report today. The study, which analyses searches and booking data from its customers in all key European markets and the USA, reveals the evolution of travel, including top destinations, booking habits and growth destinations.

London came third as the most popular booked destination globally, behind Paris in 1st  place and Barcelona in 2nd. However, the British capital pipped Paris to the post as the most popular destination for flight searches from all markets globally during 2023 – followed by Paris, New York City, Bangkok and Barcelona.

London was the 2nd most popular booked destination for Germans, the 3rd most popular booked destination for Portuguese and 6th on the list for departures from Spain. For in-coming arrival by air to the UK during 2023, the largest percentage were from Spain (19%), followed by Germany (12%) and Italy (11%). French arrivals made up 10%.  

British travellers instead had their sights on Dublin as the most popular booked destination and all top destinations were short-haul, reflecting  the overall picture of the distance Brits travelled during 2023: 76% continental, 15% intercontinental and 9% domestic.  

“Our research shows that travel continues to be a very important part of people’s lives. When we look at the global travel map for 2023, traditional hotspots like Paris, Barcelona and London remain firm favourites. But, we have also seen long-haul destinations like Bangkok, Las Vegas, and New York grow in popularity this year. That’s really exciting as it shows how travellers are embracing the plethora of choice, information and inspiration available to them thanks to new technologies like AI and increasingly influential social media platforms like Tik Tok”, says Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO.

As 2024 is packed with major international sporting events – including the Olympics, the Paralympics, Grand Prix, the Euros and the T20 cricket,  eDreams’ data shows where interest is already heating up. Global searches for travel to Paris during the Olympics in 2024 vs the same dates in 2023 are up by +41%. 2024 will be the 20th anniversary of Bahrain’s Grand Prix and global travel searches for the weekend of 2 March are up +183% compared to last year. 

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