When it comes to history, the fine old city of Chester has a pedigree to die for. History junkies can immerse themselves in all things past (meaning really past ie. circa 79 AD) and walk the red Roman City walls, or get themselves a Castle ‘fix’ at the many fortress-type establishments, including Chester Castle itself. If demand for historically themed attractions is ever satiated there are plenty of other pursuits available, such as a punt on the River Dee or a day at Chester Racecourse where you can often spot a premier league footballer and scantily clad WAG or two.
Famous Chester Zoo has long occupied a big place in the heart of the Great British public. If you haven’t visited this estimable institution, now is the time, and if you don’t like animals, its worth going just for the very cool monorail.
Nowadays of course Chester is a Mecca for tourist-types – what with its excellent shops and restaurants etc. But for those who like to keep their distance from the madding crowd, Chester still has enough exclusive elegance and charm to knock your socks off.
Chester’s Top 10
10. Roman Ampitheatre Located just outside the city walls, now a scene of much frenzied archaeological activity.
5. Chester Heritage Tour Act like a proper tourist and feel the wind in your hair on a vintage open-top bus whilst taking in the main sights.
9. Chester Rows System of medieval covered walkways - a truly unique attraction.
4. Godstall Lane Centre Good place to exercise your shopping muscles.
8. The Military Museum Get your marching orders at this attraction located at Chester Castle, with regimental memorabilia dating back to the 17th Century.
3. The Groves Lovely riverside promenade where you can sip tea and listen to brass band music on the bandstand. Think Room with a View - obviously only for the refined amongst you.
7. The Grosvenor Museum All you ever wanted to know about Chester’s history.
2. Chester Cathedral If you like exceptionally well preserved Benedictine abbeys, you are in luck
6. St Nicholas’ Priory Pretty gardens, Gothic sandstone castle, picnic area, play area, rare animal breeds and gift shop. What more do you want?
1. Roman Garden There is no better place to don a toga and strike a pose (if the mood so takes you). Beautiful gardens with a path leading down to the river.
Chester really does rock during the Chester Rocks Festival, taking place at the Racecourse in July. Tickets cost £47.50 and upwards which includes a free weekend pass to the races.
The British Masters Showjumping event offers visitors the opportunity to watch Olympic standard horsemanship skills at Chester Racecourse in July each year.
Chester becomes a city of culture during October when the Shell Chester Literature Festival comes to town. The mostly free event attracts some big names from around the world in the areas of poetry, novels, film and theatre, and provides an outlet for up and coming local talent.
Foodies will not want to miss the annual Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival which takes place at the Racecourse in April. Advance tickets are a fiver, but kids are free.
The Cheese Rolling Festival is an ongoing traditional event. Cheer as rival teams Cheshire, Lancashire and Stilton take each other on. Takes place in March and it’s free.
Chester Film Festival features nonstop screenings, workshops and parties in March each year. Special festival passes cost just £10.
Chester Mystery Plays Forget the Olympics. The countdown to this community theatrical event is on. With just one held every five years, book now for 2013. Tickets are free.
Chester Kite Festival Watch the sky turn every colour of the rainbow at Chester Racecourse in September. Professional kite flyers and families are welcome.
Minstrels’ Court Join in the medieval madness at St John’s Church where you can try out ancient instruments, and meet Cheshire musicians and dancers. Takes place in June and admission is free.
The MBNA Chestival takes place throughout June and July and features a series of cinematic, theatrical and musical events. Colourful parades take place right across the city.
When to Go
Chester has a typical UK climate with weather pretty mild and temperate for much of the year, and extreme weather conditions a relatively rare occurrence.
In winter you can expect temperatures to be around 3-9 °C, although winter temps can fall well below freezing. Snow is not unheard of during December – March, so it pays to bring some warm clothes at this time of year. Spring sees temperatures rise to around 10-15 °C, and summer temps are on average around 20 °C, but it’s not unheard of for temps to rise to 30 °C and above.
As you are probably well aware, rain is on the cards across the UK at any time of year, so pack a brolly.
The nearest airports are Manchester International and Liverpool John Lennon, both around 40 minutes driving distance from central Chester. The Where.com bus services runs from Liverpool John Lennon airport, and Merseyrail trains run between Chester and Liverpool.
Trains from Chester run to London Euston Station with the cost of a standard single ticket currently £69. (Check for latest deals, advance booking is advisable).
National Express runs a coach service from all the main UK cities, terminating at the Visitor Information Centre in Chester. This is very competitively priced – anywhere from £10.50 to £29.00 one way from London Victoria Coach Station.
In the pantheon of quintessential towns in England, Chester may qualify as the most idyllic. The town of 77,000 people is about as close to postcard perfect as you can get. With Roman roots that date back to the year 79, Chester has a special brand of tourist cachet. Traces of original Roman walls remain, in addition to Medieval and Victorian fortification walls that together, mark Chester as wholly distinct in Great Britain.
A casual stroll about town is a veritable tour of Grade I landmarks from a variety of periods, many of which have undergone careful restoration in recent decades. From Roman Amphitheatre ruins to grand Chester Cathedral, Old Dee Bridge and Chester Castle, the town is supremely pictorial. St. John the Baptist's Church is one of the best examples of 11th century architecture in England. Chester's ultimate charm however, rests in the neat and tidy streets, where village pubs, inns and shops make all feel welcome.
Attractions & Activities
Restaurants & Nightlife
Visitors to Chester will find the weather quite clement and typical for England, with mild conditions throughout the year.
- Winter (December to February) 3-9°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-18°C
- Summer (June to September) 10-20°C
- Fall (October to November) 5-14°C
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