Events and festivals

Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival: May 3-11, 2014

Ironbridge Gorge bridge with walkers

ABOVE: Walkers gather for a group photo by the Iron Bridge at Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the Industrial Revolution began in the early 1700s.

England's Ironbridge Gorge Walking Festival, now in its ninth year, will offer more than 50 free walks from Saturday, May 3 through Sunday, May 11.

All walks are in and around the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Telford, Shropshire, about 50 km northwest of Birmingham.

Walks range from short informative walks and family trails (one designed especially for pushchair and wheelchair users) to a 15-mile circular hike over the Wrekin, with plenty of steep climbs and rough terrain.

Along with nearly 20 other new walks, this year's festival will introduce the "100 Mile Ironbridge Challenge." Participants in the Challenge must finish seven specified walks on seven different days for a total of 100+ miles. Winners will receive certificates and woven badges for their rucksacks.

For those who want to learn more about the area's heritage, the festival will have a walk that takes in the history of the river bridges and another 15-mile circular walk that skirts the edge of the 1,360-acre (550-hectare) World Heritage Site.

The organizers tell us that all walks are free, but pre-booking is essential. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome on most walks, but please check before signing up.

To reserve a place, or to view details about the program (including a downloadable Walking Festival Map and a list of walks in PDF format), visit:

Photo: VisitIronbridge
Source: Pat Edgar, PR Matters

You can study at Oxford next summer

Tom Tower at Christ Church College, Oxtord

ABOVE: The Tom Tower at Christ Church College, Oxford.

Have you ever regretted not becoming a Rhodes Scholar? Here's a chance to rectify your omission: Sign up for The Oxford Experience, a one-week residential summer course for adults of all ages.

If you're feeling flush, you can enroll for multiple weeks, picking and choosing from more than 60 courses such as "The British Empire at War," "William the Conqueror," "Creative Writing," "The Golden Age of the Romanovs," "The Craft of the Opera Composer," "Understanding the Cosmos," "Oxford’s Medieval Jewish Quarter," "Enjoying the Cotswolds," "Introducing the Human Brain," "Spies in British Fiction," "Ireland’s Troubled Past," "The World of the Vikings," and "Paradise in an English Garden." Classes are small, with a maximum of 12 students each, and there are no exams, term papers, or grades.

You'll study at Christ Church College, which was founded by Cardinal Wolsey in 1525. Your accommodations will be in rooms where many of England's prime ministers, poets, and philosophers once lived, and you'll dine in the Tudor Hall (which was featured in several Harry Potter movies).

Most courses provide excursions to stately homes, cathedrals, museums and such, and on some afternoons tours of Christ Church and the city of Oxford are offered.  In the evening there are pub crawls, whisky tastings, displays of traditional Morris dancing, wine and croquet in the Masters’ Garden, and Evensong in the college chapel, which is also the Oxford Cathedral.  And, of course, there are always plays and concerts available in this “city of dreaming spires."

The Oxford Experience runs from July 6 to August 16, 2015 and costs £1,230 or US $1,989.  The price for a week's participation includes tuition, accommodations, evening entertainment and lectures, a welcome reception, and all meals—a full English breakfast, buffet lunch and delicious served three-course dinner. (There are extra charges for rooms with private bath and for excursions.)

The deadline for summer 2014 registration is May 1, 2014.  (Since courses are filling quickly, however, early registration is urged.) For more information, visit, or write to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA, U.K.

Source: Barbara Gilliam, BGPR 
Photo: istockphoto/DrJools 

Rome's Miracle Players perform free on Fridays through August 2nd

Miracle Players, Rome

ABOVE: This summer, The Miracle Players are performing Rome in a Nutshell at the Roman Forum.

The Miracle Players have been staging free historical comedies at the Roman Forum since 1999. This summer, the English-language theatre troupe is offering Rome in a Nutshell, subtitled "From the Founding to the Fall of the Ancient Roman Empire in 40 minutes of comic theatre."

The troupe's Web site explains:

Rome in a Nutshell is the name of the play,
As you know, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Three actors and a little rhyme,
Take you on a journey through time.

The show, which has the official backing of Comune di Roma, takes place every Friday from now through August 2, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. sharp.

Bring something to sit on if your backside lacks cushioning, and arrive at least 15 minutes early if you can. (Admission is free, and you don't need tickets or reservations.)

For information, including detailed directions, visit the Rome in a Nutshell pages at the Miracle Players Web site.

For help in planning your trip to Rome, see our Rome for Visitors site.

BELOW: This map indicates the location of Rome in a Nutshell performances.

Miracle Players map

Photo and map: The Miracle Players