The fiery trees, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and the atmospheric mist hanging over the fields announces that autumn has arrived. Whether you enjoy an invigorating walk, a bit of indulgence or some scary family fun we’ve put together our top tips for autumn getaways.
Haunting Hallowe’en, Derry, Ireland.
Autumn’s scariest night is celebrated on 31 October when the souls of the dead are said to revisit the land of the living. Hallowe’en is believed to have its origins in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of harvest and the start of winter, so what better way to celebrate Hallowe’en than in Ireland. Derry is now home to Europe’s biggest Hallowe’en festival. For one week, the city celebrates all things ghoulish and ghastly with an action-packed programme including a parade and fireworks, the Samhain Sessions – featuring some of Ireland’s finest musicians, Little Horrors family fun, a new LegenDerry food event and the return of the hugely successful Awakening the Walls – frights and delights from over 40 installations and performances along the 400-year-old city walls. A great trip for all the family and frighteningly easy to get to within an hour and a half drive of Belfast or Larne, where P&O Ferries, Stena Line and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operate ferry services from Cairnryan, Liverpool and the Isle of Man. Or a 3 hour drive from Dublin where Irish Ferries and Stena Line operate ferry services from Holyhead and P&O Ferries sail from Liverpool.
Walking in the Isle of Wight
As the woodland leaves turn to red and gold, the downs are blanketed in purple heather, the sun takes on a honey hue and the Isle of Wight transforms into a walker’s paradise. With over 500 miles of pathways to walk along, including 64 miles of coastal paths, both you and your dog will be able to witness Mother Nature is all her glory. Enjoy sea views, downs, estuaries and Sites of Special Scientific Interest as well as conservation areas, rivers and dinosaur hunts for the little ones. Finish off the day in a cosy pub with a hearty meal and roaring fire. For some wonderful walking route suggestions visit: https://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/walking
Getting to the Isle of Wight
Hovertravel – sailing from Portsmouth to Ryde (foot passengers only)
Red Funnel – sailing from Southampton to East Cowes and West Cowes
Wightlink – sailing from Portsmouth to Ryde and Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth
Mini-cruises for Music Lovers
For fans of funk, soul and classic disco, DFDS is hosting legendary bands Imagination and Odyssey this November on their North Sea Sounds mini cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam. Enjoy a weekend of live music, and dancing, topped off by a visit to Holland’s most famous city. (8-10 November 2019)
Or if Northern Soul and Motown is more your thing, P&O Ferries welcomes special guests BBC Radio DJs John Kane and Keith Fletcher, as well as a line-up of live bands on a 2-night Northern Soul mini-cruise extravaganza from Hull to Amsterdam (20-22 November 2019).
Remote and Romantic, Portavadie, Scotland
Scotland has long been known for its lochs, mountains and mists. What better way to enjoy the shortening days and stunning scenery than a relaxing romantic getaway to Portavadie on Scotland’s west coast? Featuring the largest outdoor infinity pool in Scotland, indoor pools and a Scandinavian sauna and dedicated couple’s accommodation, not to mention award-winning dining with views over Loch Fyne. And with Caledonian MacBrayne’s Tarbert ferry service just minutes from the hotel you can also enjoy the surrounding area of Argyll.
City Culture Trip, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s buzzing capital Belfast is an increasingly popular city break destination with a wealth of cultural and historical attractions including Titanic Belfast, Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast City Hall and street art tours charting the murals of the conflict. However visit during the second half of October and you’ll have the additional draw of the Belfast International Arts Festival (15 Oct – 3 Nov) a mix of art, theatre, music, film, literature and educational events aimed at giving audiences inspirational and transformative experiences. Travel here from Cairnryan or Liverpool with Stena Line, from Cairnryan to Larne with P&O Ferries or from Douglas with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Mull boast some of the best locations in the British Isles to spot wildlife with a third of the North Atlantic’s whale population migrating through the sea around the Scottish’s west coast every year.
The Isles of Scilly draw wildlife professionals and enthusiasts year round for the rare flora and fauna found on the islands. Expect to see rare seabirds, underwater reefs and Atlantic Grey Seals in this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Book a tour with a local wildlife expert for a unique insight into the rare species that can be found on the archipelago. Isles of Scilly Travel operate the Scillonian III from Penzance to St Mary’s from March to November.
The Isle of Mull is Britain’s whale watching capital with porpoises, dolphins, Minke whales and basking sharks making a regular appearance. The island is also a bird sanctuary for sea eagles, golden eagles and puffins. Caledonian MacBrayne operate ferry services from Oban to Craignure.
Experience the culinary delights of the Channel Islands with Tennerfest, the fixed-price food festival which takes place at restaurants across Jersey and Guernsey from 1 October – 11 November.
Menus start at £10 wit;h £12.50, £15.00, £17.50 and now £20 options, enabling the restaurants to showcase the widest and most exciting range of food the islands have to offer. The festival provides the perfect excuse for avid foodies to visit the Channel Islands this autumn. Condor Ferries operate services from Poole and Portsmouth to Guernsey and Jersey.
Also not to be missed, is La Fete du Ventre et de la Gastronomie Normande, on 12-13 October happening in the historic town centre of Rouen. Over the weekend, the streets are filled with producers in traditional Normandy costume offering local specialities including apples, cheeses, ciders, meat, dairy products, jams and sweets, to taste and buy. Top chefs, artisans and local producers come together over the two days to celebrate Normandy’s gastronomic scene. Arrive in Normandy with Brittany Ferries‘ via Le Havre or Caen from Portsmouth, or with DFDS between Newhaven and Dieppe.
Girl’s Weekend, London
London had to feature as our top autumn Girl’s Weekend destination, with its world-renowned shopping, top theatre and gigs and vibrant restaurant scene, London has all the ingredients for a great weekend with your girlfriends. And to top it off London Cocktail Week is also happening 4-13 October, where 350 of London’s very best bars will be throwing open their doors and welcoming you in to serve £6. Our favourite way to get around the city is by River Bus. Thames Clippers operates east and westbound services on the River Thames year round.
Stargazing, Isle of Man
Boasting the largest concentration of Dark Sky Discovery sites in the British Isles, with a total of 26 official sites around the Isle of Man, the island is the perfect place for the whole family to discover the night sky. Many astronomical sights can be seen with just the naked eye, including the Orion Nebula, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the Great Andromeda Galaxy – 2.5 million light years away! For the more serious stargazer a telescope or binoculars will reveal even more. In autumn the distinctive asterism of the Square of Pegasus is clearly seen high in the Southern skies from most Manx locations. From December a total of nine first magnitude stars can be easily seen from the Isle of Man. https://www.visitisleofman.com/things-to-do/attractions/stargazing-sites. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company operates services from Liverpool, Heysham, Birkenhead, Belfast and Dublin to Douglas in the Isle of Man.