16 JUL 2019: With more visitors annually than all of Disney’s global theme parks combined, Yorkshire has been called “Britain’s theme park.” Such is the bounty of the northern UK county that it is distinctly subdivided into north, south, east and west regions, with such diversity that visitors will find unspoiled countryside, vibrant urban environments, 160 km of coastline, as well as ample art, culture, heritage, and sport, plus food and drink ranging from simple pub grub to Michelin-starred cuisine, and local gin to traditional ale.

With a population greater than the country of Scotland and more than 215 million visitors a year, the county’s attributes, however, are certainly no secret. So, what do they know that you may not? Let us spell it out:

Accommodation: From B&Bs to luxury hotels and everything in between, “there is somewhere for everyone to stay!” in Yorkshire. The newest entry is elegant Grantley Hall, a converted 17th country house that opened as a five-star hotel on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales in Ripon, North Yorkshire on July 6.

Bradford: Which is more impressive: that Bradford was named UNESCO’s first City of Film, or that it is known as the “Curry capital of England”?

Castle Howard: Located 45 km. from York, the county’s preeminent estate in the Howardian Hills boasts over 200 listed buildings and monuments and is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The estate comprises 3,561 hectares of farmland, woodland, parkland, and, of course, a little thing called the “house,” which has been home to eight generations of the Howard family. Visitors can stay on the estate in rented cottages.

Dracula: Author Stoker Bram wrote part of his horror classic while staying in Whitby; the town Abbey (the ruins of the 11th-century Benedictine monastery), provided the inspiration for vampire’s castle.

En route: Due north of London and about three-quarters of the way to the Scottish border, Yorkshire can be reached in about two hours by train from the capital; there are also three regional airports (including Leeds-Bradford), and one major port (Hull). The city of York is a popular stop midway between London and Edinburgh.

Food and drink: – There are 7,000 places to eat and drink in Yorkshire, including five Michelin-star restaurants, not the least being Chef Francis Atkins’ cozy Yorke Arms, an 18th-century coach house snuggled in the scenic Nidderdale Valley – and a far cry from the lights of London. Of course, beer and pubs are “massive” for Yorkshire, prompting Marie Christopher-Davey of Welcome to Yorkshire to claim, “the British Yorkshire pub can’t be beaten.” And don’t forget afternoon tea.

Gin – Never mind craft beer, gin is all the rage in the UK, and there’s no better place to sample the scene than at the Spirit of Harrogate, home of Slingsby Gin. From classic London Dry to flavours like rhubarb and gooseberry, the Harrogate-based distiller has been winning awards and delighting visitors since 2014.

Hull: Yorkshire's only maritime city, Kingston-upon-Hull – Hull to most – continues to benefit from its stint as a UK Capital of Culture in 2017, a designation that has served previous hosts, like Liverpool, well. With museums, shopping and nightlife, a burgeoning arts scene and a redeveloped waterfront, the city is, dare we say it, hip!

Information: Check out the official website Yorkshire.com – “the best place to go if you want to know anything about Yorkshire.”

James Herriott: The world’s most famous veterinarian, chronicled in print and on screen, plied his trade in Yorkshire. Fans can see where and how he lived at the World of James Herriot in Thirsk.

Kilburn White Horse: High on a hillside near Killburn in the North York Moors National Park is a 95-metre long horse sculpture designed by Thomas Taylor in 1852. Located on the Cleveland Way National Trail, the horse can be seen on a clear day all the way from York.

Literature: Haworth, West Yorkshire, is considered the heart of Bronte country, where the famous literary sisters – Charlotte, Emily and Anne – lived and composed most of their works. Today, fans can call in the Bronte Parsonage Museum, visit their graves, take part in a Bronte Walk, and much more. Other renowned authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll (and the aforementioned Bram Stoker) also have links to Yorkshire.

Movie and TV settings: Malham Cove was a setting for Harry Potter, Castle Howard for Brideshead Revisited, Harewood House for Victoria, and Aysgarth Falls appeared in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. You get the picture. There is no shortage of sights on Yorkshire’s cinematic trail.

National Parks: With three national parks – North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales and Peak District – Yorkshire boasts a natural bounty that is unsurpassed in the UK. Pretty moorland, rolling hills and leafy forests are made for exploring – by foot, cycle or vehicle – or simply admiring, with each season offering a brand new palette.

Oldest Sweet Shop: Located in the charming village of Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, The Oldest Sweet Shop has been verified by the Guinness World of Records (2014) as the oldest continuous sweet shop trading in the same premises in the UK. Visitors will find up to 200 types of traditional candy in a vintage shop that dates to 1827.

Pudding: This is one place where you’ll be guaranteed that your Yorkshire puddings, the region’s delectable signature dish (served on the side with roast beef), will never taste like a hockey puck.

Quidditch: The third season of the Quidditch Premier League continues through August, featuring teams from the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and includes the Yorkshire Roses. The fast-growing sport is based on the unique fictional pastime of Harry Potter and friends, though players keep their feet on the ground (we think).

Railways – There’s no better way to take in the countryside than from the seat of an historic steam and diesel train, with more than half a dozen options, including the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering, with its magnificent, belching steam engines and cozy wood-panelled carriages. Rail fans will also find railway museums in Leeds, York and Ingrow, “miniature” railways, and the Great Northern Railway Trail – a cycle path and public bridleway that follows sections of the route of the former Great Northern Railway line between Harecroft and Cullingworth, and which crosses no less than two scenic viaducts.

Sculpture garden: The renowned Yorkshire Sculpture Park has been called “probably the finest exhibition site for sculpture in the world.” Featuring works by Damian Hirst, Henry Moore and others, the open-air gallery in West Bretton, West Yorkshire, channels an “art without walls” concept for over 300,000 visitors a year.

Tour de Yorkshire: The major international bike race has catapulted Yorkshire into the cycling stratosphere with two million fans lining the course around the county and 190 countries broadcasting the event worldwide. The next edition takes place April 30 to May 4, 2020. On a smaller scale, countless tour operators offer cycling breaks for individuals or groups to conduct their own tour.

UNESECO: In addition to Bradford’s City of Film designation, Yorkshire boasts two other World Heritage Sites: the model Victorian mill village of Saltaire; and Studley Royal Park, including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, which features an 18th-century landscaped garden, one of the largest Cistercian ruins in Britain, Jacobean mansion and Victorian church designed by William Burges.

Vikings – After the Great Heathen Army invaded in 866, a Norse kingdom called Jorvik was established. The Vikings ultimately didn’t last, but their influence did, and the name – York. Today Jorvik is the name of the Viking Heritage Centre in the city of York.

Wildlife: Trips to see wildlife, particularly in East Yorkshire, have doubled in the past decade. One popular pastime is checking out the puffins, along with a bevy of other winged creatures, at the UK’s largest colony of seabirds in Bempton Cliffs near Flamborough.

Xscape Yorkshire: This large entertainment complex in Castleford near Leeds “doesn’t do dull!” With over a dozen activities, from aerial adventures to an indoor snowdome, as well as bowling, laser zone, trampoline, adventure golf and more, the kids will sleep well at night.

York: The heart of Yorkshire, York is an essential stop for visitors in the area, or those making the trip from London to Edinburgh. Brimming with sites – York Minster, ancient city walls, The Shambles (the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series), 30 museums (including the Jorvik Viking Centre), and a new Shakespearean theatre, there’s little limit on things to do. Oh, did we mention the Chocolate Trail?

Zetland Lifeboat Museum: If you’ve got a thing for lifeboats, this free museum is the place for you. Located in Redcar, North Yorkshire, west of Middlesborough, the Zetland is the oldest surviving lifeboat in the world (built in 1802) and is listed within the National Historic Ship Register as part of the Nations Historic Fleet. She has 500 saved lives to her name in 78 years of service, and today is housed in a museum and heritage centre dedicated to the lifeboat service and the Redcar region.

Visit Yorkshire
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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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