Plan a novel holiday with a literary-themed European break21st Mar 19 | Lifestyle
Ignite your imagination by visiting places where stories are guaranteed to unfold.
A good book can transport you to endless wonderful places; but what about actually travelling in honour of a decent read?
Whether it’s to meet inspirational authors or discover the roots of classic stories, literary pursuits can serve as an escape for body and mind. These are some of Europe’s bestselling breaks.
Celebrate love and literature at the Sant Jordi festival in Spain
Less showy than flowers but much more meaningful, the gift of a book is a fine gesture of love. On April 23, as part of Catalonia’s Sant Jordi Festival – the region’s equivalent of Valentine’s Day – women present men with books in exchange for bouquets.
The event is particularly celebrated in the Las Ramblas neighbourhood in Barcelona, where streets are filled with roses and book stalls, and authors even turn up to sign copies of their works. Free carillon concerts, poetry recitals, book exchanges and a blessing of roses also take place in the Gothic courtyard of the Government Palace.
The date of the festival, which originated in the 15th century, was chosen to commemorate the death of two great literary names, Cervantes and Shakespeare.
How to get there: AlphaRooms (alpharooms.com) offers seven nights at the NH Porta Barcelona with flights departing from Gatwick on April 20 from £342 per person (two sharing) on a room-only basis. For more information visit catalunya.com.
Explore a fairy tale forest at Efteling Theme Park, Holland
Family theme park Efteling, in the south of the Netherlands, is the ideal destination for a fairy tale break, with attractions based on stories written by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, and Charles Perrault. Children and adults will love taking a stroll through the secret Fairytale Forest, where they can see classic characters Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel come to life.
In autumn 2019, Efteling will launch a new ‘scene’ based on the Brothers Grimm story, The Six Swans. Along with a mini ride, it will feature six swan-shaped boats suitable for younger visitors.
There’s plenty of material for bedtime stories at the Efteling Hotel, Efteling Holiday Villages Bosrijk and Loonsche Land. Professional storyteller Mr Sandman promises a happy ending to the day, ensuring everyone has sweet dreams.
How to get there: A two-night stay in a six-person holiday house in Loonsche Land costs from £652, based on a May 28 arrival. Includes unlimited entrance to the park. Direct trains from London to Rotterdam with Eurostar (eurostar.com/uk-en) cost from £126.50pp. Visit efteling.com.
Head to the Channel Islands for the Guernsey Literary Festival
Acclaimed French writer Victor Hugo was a former resident of Guernsey, drawing inspiration from his surroundings for numerous works. In April, his former home, Hauteville House, reopens after a year’s closure. Designed and furnished by the writer, he used the space to write Les Miserables and Toilers Of The Sea.
The following month, from May 1-6, The Guernsey Literary Festival offers a varied programme celebrating literature, with several talks and workshops given by well-known writers and performers. A highlight for families is an interactive tea party event, inspired by Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile.
Guernsey is also the setting for bestseller The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, which was made into a film in 2018 starring Lily James. Fans of the novel can visit places mentioned in the story on themed tours of the island, including the parish where the characters lived.
How to get there: Premier Holidays (premierholidays.com) offers seven nights B&B at the Marton hotel near St Peter’s Port, from £445 per person (two sharing). Includes flights from London on May 1. For more information on the festival, go to visitguernsey.com.
© Press Association 2019