Join the Stratford swans on the Avon

Top 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences

Take a look at the top 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences to discover the quintessential things to see, do and eat during the most popular time of the year in Shakespeare’s home town.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Stratford-upon-Avon when the sun shines between June and September. The town bursts into life with festivals, summer flowers and plenty to do for everyone, whether you’re here with your family, on a Stratford-upon-Avon break with friends, or enjoying a romantic few days in our lovely riverside market town.

Whenever you visit Stratford-upon-Avon, whether you’re a local or a tourist, be sure to tick these 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences off your list and make sun-kissed memories to take you through next winter.

Top 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences

Stratford-upon-Avon summer experience no. 1: Go boating

Hire a boat on the Avon - one of the top 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences ©
Hire a boat on the Avon – one of the top 5 Stratford-upon-Avon summer experiences ©

There are few experiences that scream Stratford-upon-Avon summer as loudly as a journey by boat on the River Avon.

Whether you want to hire a rowing boat and see the river under your own steam or take a leisurely cruise with someone else at the helm, there are boating experiences aplenty during the Stratford-upon-Avon summer.

At Avon Boating, based at the Boathouse near the Tramway Bridge, you can hire rowing boats, motor boats, canoes and pleasure punts (from £12 per hour for two adults). You can even hire a waterman at £12 per half hour, to punt down the river for you. Avon Boating also runs a 40-minute leisure cruise from the riverbank in Bancroft Gardens, departing every 20 minutes (adults £6; children £4; family, up to three children and two adults £18).

Bancroft Cruisers runs a 45-minute leisure cruise, departing from the mooring behind the Crowne Plaza hotel on Bridgefoot. Trips run daily every hour from 11am-4pm in summer. Tickets cost £6 for adults and £4.50 for children.

You can let someone take over at the helm – and in the kitchen – with a cruise on restaurant boat the Countess of Evesham. In summer, the boat journeys along the Avon seven days a week, with both lunch and dinner cruises available. Prices for a two-course lunch cruise start at £22.50 (Mon-Fri), with a four-course dinner cruise on a Saturday night costing £39.

Stratford-upon-Avon summer experience no. 2: Enjoy the summer menu

Get an ice cream - an essential part of a Stratford-upon-Avon summer ©
Get an ice cream – an essential part of a Stratford-upon-Avon summer ©

As well as fresh seasonal produce in some of the best Stratford-upon-Avon restaurants, there’s a tempting platter of summertime treats that simply must be tasted.

While we couldn’t be much further from a beach and you won’t see a single kiss-me-quick hat or straw donkey, fish and chips just taste better when eaten outdoors during the Stratford-upon-Avon summer. Get a takeaway from Barnaby’s on Waterside, Kingfisher in Ely Street, the Dolphin Fish Bar or new posh fish-and-chip restaurant Fizz & Fin, both of which are in Greenhill Street, and find a pleasant riverside spot.

When the sun beats down during summer in Stratford-upon-Avon, nothing tastes as good as ice cream. You can grab a cone, a 99 or a cup of cool deliciousness in plenty of cafes and restaurants, and there are plenty of vans and barges (yes, barges) dishing up a good helping of soft serve, but Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen in High Street is a favourite of both visitors and locals. A rainbow-coloured range of gelatos and sorbets are served by the scoop, or you could opt for one of Hooray’s waffles, crepes or sorbets (personally, I cannot resist the Ferrero sundae). It’s one of Stratfordblog’s top 5 places for a sweet treat in Stratford-upon-Avon.

There are loads of options when it comes to afternoon teas and cream teas in Stratford-upon-Avon. I’ll be writing a top 5 list soon (it’s just so hard to choose). In the meantime, you can order sandwiches, scones (with lashings of clotted cream and jam), cakes and tea at cafes and restaurants including The Fourteas, Hathaway Tea Rooms, The Arden Hotel, and at the Rooftop Restaurant of the RSC.

If you’re looking for a drinks experience with a difference when you visit Stratford-upon-Avon in summer, see the guide to cocktail classes, wine tasting and much more.

Stratford-upon-Avon summer experience no. 3: See outdoor theatre

Free outdoor theatre in The Dell. Photo by Nicola Salmon © RSC
Free outdoor theatre in The Dell. Photo by Nicola Salmon © RSC

In a town renowned for theatre, why not see a play or two outside when the sun shines? It’s one of the best things to do in summer in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has a number of ticketed performances at outdoor venues during summer, but there is also free Shakespeare on offer in a gorgeous outdoor setting.

Every weekend in June, July and August, there will be free outdoor performances of Shakespeare by a range of acting groups, from schools to professional theatre companies. The location for the summer-long programme of outdoor theatre, organised by the RSC, is The Dell. It’s a beautiful green space and outdoor stage on the banks of the Avon between the theatre building and Holy Trinity Church.

Performances include King Lear by Everyman Youth Theatre, Much Ado about Nothing by the Stratford Shakespeare Company and The Two Noble Kinsmen by the York Shakespeare Project. See here for the full listing and more details. Don’t forget your picnic blanket!

Stratford-upon-Avon summer experience no. 4: Pack a picnic

I want my next picnic in Stratford-upon-Avon to look exactly like this
I want my next picnic in Stratford-upon-Avon to look exactly like this

Talking of picnics, family days out in Stratford-upon-Avon (or romantic breaks for two) aren’t complete without unfurling a picnic rug, unpacking sandwiches (or something a little posher) and sitting with the grass tickling your ankles as boats glide by on the Avon.

If you didn’t come prepared, there are plenty of shops in Stratford-upon-Avon where you can kit yourselves out with all the essentials, from picnic blankets and hampers to snacks and drinks. Many cafes will also put a takeaway feast together for you.

And if you’re thinking of tossing the swans a few remnants of your picnic, read this first – it contains useful advice from Stratford-upon-Avon Swan Rescue about taking care of our town swans.

Stratford-upon-Avon summer experience no. 5: Watch the cricket

Stratford-upon-Avon Cricket Club has played at the Swans Nest Lane ground for more than 120 years.

The 2018 season for the three senior teams – the 1st XI, 2nd XI and Bards XI – got underway in April and will run until mid-September, with plenty of weekend fixtures at the home ground. The ground is located in the Rec and features views of the Big Wheel. The Big Wheel is only around for the summer, so take a ride on that too.


What do you think? What else makes your Stratford-upon-Avon summer complete? Post your comment below or join the conversation on social media.

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Information correct at date of publication