Although Basingstoke has been around forever and was even given a mention in the Doomsday Book, it was developed as a ‘New Town’ to accommodate the population overspill from London during the 50s. This has lead to unfair criticism about Basingstoke only being fun for train and roundabout spotters (at one time it had the highest number of roundabouts in the UK).
But ‘yah boo’ to critics because Basingstoke has grown up rather nicely thank you very much, with a huge new shopping complex, Festival Place, restaurants, cinemas and the Haymarket Theatre on offer, as well as more than its fair share of cultural and historical attractions. And how can anyone say Basingstoke has no sense of fun when it features the Wote Street Willy – the largest sculpture of a penis on public display in Britain?
Situated on the River Loddon, the town is a famous for electronics, but has in the past turned its talents to industries such as brewing. Echoes of its industrial past include Basingstoke Canal which was built over 225 years ago, and although non-navigable today, has a towpath which makes an excellent scenic walking route.
BASINGSTOKE'S TOP 10
10. Milestones Museum is Basingstoke’s brilliant time capsule of social history.
5. Jane Austen’s House and Museum Basingstoke pad where she wrote classic chick lit.
9. Strafield Saye House & Estate was given to the Duke of Wellington as a reward for kicking Napoleon’s butt. Resting place of Copenhagen and his legendary battle horse.
4. Basing House & Museum Discover the history of Basingstoke’s and England’s largest Tudor residence with a hair-raising light show in the ‘bloody barn’.
8. Silchester Roman Town Remarkable ruins where you can see the entire perimeter wall and amphitheatre. ‘Me as a gladiator’ photo opportunities beckon.
3. Basingstoke Leisure Park is a fun-filled entertainment centre which manages to please all of the people all of the time.
7. Binfields Nature Trail is a 400 year old woodland walk where you can see rare butterflies and native birds.
2. Wellington Country Park has 350 acres of beautiful parkland surrounding a 35 acre lake. Prepare to picnic.
6. Basingstoke’s Fairfield Arts Centre A friendly gallery known for its permanent local art, and best of visiting Brit art.
1. Basingstoke’s Willis Museum & Sainsbury’s Gallery is a quirky mix of local history and internationally acclaimed art exhibitions.
Every July Basingstoke Live unites the town in a two day extravaganza of music, entertainment and family fun.
The Basingstoke Festival of Transport takes place in May for a celebration of all things motor-related.
If you fancy yourself as a foodie head to the Basingstoke Food Festival in July with gourmet foods, celebrity chefs and live music.
World Party in the Park takes place in July, a Basingstoke event bringing together artists from all over the world.
The 5th November is Guy Fawkes Night so get down to the Basingstoke’s War Memorial Park to see the sky light up with fireworks.
The Basingstoke Spring Festival takes place in May, a fun event for all the family, traditional Maypole included as standard.
The aptly named ‘Marvellous’ takes place in Basingstoke in July, a two day festival of fun and entertainment with food stalls, fairground rides and live music.
Basingstoke’s Spring Market in March features food stalls and a great flea market of vintage furniture, antiques and collectibles.
The Travelling Souk Christmas Fair comes to Basingstoke in November with stalls galore offering home cooked food and exotic unusual gifts.
Celebrate October with Hampshire’s OctoberFest, a traditional country fair which takes place close to Basingstoke with rides, stalls and local beers.
WHEN TO GO
· Basingstoke has a milder climate than most areas of the British Isles, being based in the south with the stabilising effect of the sea and protected against harsh weather of the Atlantic coast. Basingstoke also has higher than average sunshine levels.
· Basingstoke has a higher than average UK temperature throughout the year of around 13°C
· Average rainfall is slightly below the national average, which is not to say you won’t need to bring a brolly.
· Basingstoke is on the main railway line from London to Southampton and also has a direct connection to Reading. The London to Basingstoke journey lasts around forty minutes with trains getting into London Waterloo station. Basingstoke station is located at the edge of the centre, close to shops and amenities.
· Basingstoke is convenient for the M3 motorway for those arriving by car, and the drive from London takes around one and a half hours.
· The closest international airport to Basingstoke is Southampton which is around 25 miles away.
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