England is celebrating a "Year of Literary Heroes" with epic book-inspired events.
Literature lovers are in for a treat in the coming months, as England’s tourism board has officially dubbed 2017 the “Year of Literary Heroes,” showcasing an array of events and attractions to celebrate famed authors.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the 20th anniversary of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” the 20th anniversary of World Book Day, and the 125th anniversary of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," to name just a few.
According to Paul Gauger, the vice president of VisitBritain, England is currently home to more than 50 literary attractions that range from authors’ homes to museums and libraries dedicated to their legacy.
Here are some of the top ones to explore this year.
Sitting With Jane: From June to September, Basingstoke will have a public art trail with 25 artists' designs that will be painted onto “book benches,” with the art reflecting and standing in the places that Austen knew and was inspired by.
Jane Austen Regency Week: From June 17-25, head to Hampshire to take part in this nine-day festival celebrating Austen, from listening to Regency-style music to guided walking tours and even a Regency Ball that will take you back to Austen’s time.
Jane Austen 200th Anniversary Tour: These tours will take place across various locations, including small villages and stately homes in Steventon, Chawton, Winchester, and more. You’ll be retracing Austen’s steps, visiting her childhood home, and seeing her writing desk and manuscript at the British Library.
Check out more Jane Austen events.
“Harry Potter: A History of Magic” Exhibition: This new exhibit at London’s British Library opening in October takes visitors through never-before-seen collections from J.K. Rowling and includes everything from wizardry books to original materials from Rowling’s archives.
The Forbidden Forest: This permanent attraction, which opened in March, takes you into the world of the Forbidden Forest in the "Harry Potter" flicks with 19 large trees that look otherworldly with their twisting roots. Wander through and you’ll find props and costumes from the movies to keep you entertained along the way.
“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” screenings in magical locations: The Luna Cinema is hosting screenings of the first "Harry Potter" film at majestic locations like the Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, which appears as Hogwarts in the movie. Other locations include spots like the Cardiff Castle in Wales, the Rochester Castle in Kent, and the Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire.
Check out more Harry Potter events.
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien tour: This tour, taking place throughout the year in Oxford, weaves you through the pub where the duo's literary discussion group met, the colleges they attended, and the sites that inspired their imaginations.
A literary boat tour: This year also marks the 80th anniversary of “The Hobbit,” and Tokien fans can celebrate with a canal boat tour that showcases the landscapes that inspired his work. You’ll see tree-lined villages and tranquil countryside terrain before heading to the historic Hopwood House pub for a canal-side bite.
Sherlock Holmes 125th Anniversary Tour: This tour takes you to the places that Sir Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes works, frequented. You’ll stop at the Langham Hotel, where Doyle and Oscar Wilde once dined, and have dinner in one of Homes’ favorite restaurants and at a hotel that once was the author’s home.
Sherlock-dedicated spots to visit: Head to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, where you can see a re-creation of what his living room would have looked like, before making your way to the Sherlock Holmes Pub in Westminster, where every inch includes memorabilia like Cumberland sausages and an old service revolver belonging to Dr. Watson.
Events for multiple authors and artists
Saving Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the 170th Anniversary: This protected site was purchased at auction back in 1847 and is where the author grew up. In honor of the anniversary, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust is putting together a temporary exhibition in September to show how Charles Dickens was able to save the location, with theatrical reenactments to set the scene.
A 150th Birthday Celebration of Arthur Rackham in Sussex: From Sept. 8 through Oct. 29, celebrate Arthur Rackham, the noted illustrator of works like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens," with an exhibit of his art. The celebration takes place at the National Trust Bateman’s House, the former home of Rudyard Kipling, who wrote works like "The Jungle Book."
The 120th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Bram Stoker’s gothic icon was published 120 years back. Take it all in at locations like Whitby Abbey, where actors will retell the famous story and where a Dracula Experience tour takes you through the story’s connection to the locale.