In our annual spotlight looking at guided tours, Brenda Watkinson and Abbe Bates highlight some of the opportunities available for groups to book tours with experts or to explore ‘behind the scenes’.Several companies specialise in offering a full day or overnight package that include a guide and behind the scenes experiences.
For groups keen to learn about the rich history of British motor racing, Encore’s new ‘Silverstone Experience’ package gives visitors an exclusive view of the track and a behind the scenes tour.
Following a welcome reception and introduction to the track from one of the Silverstone’s experienced guides, your members will visit a workshop, equipped with all the state of the art equipment to keep a race car on track.
Then it’s off to race control, the epicentre of any race, where every bit of the circuit can be seen on a wall of TV screens and your group will get a sense of how a highly skilled team keep a watch on every aspect of a race, making second by second decisions.
A highlight of the day will be a group visit to the podium for a picture opportunity followed by a lap of the circuit on your coach.
Also specialists in group day trips and ‘SleepOvers’, City & Village Tours has been providing creative and original itineraries for groups since 1988. A very special part of their offer is the knowledge, the entertaining anecdotes and little known gems of history that the Blue Badge Tourist guides, will share with your group during the trip.
As part of the ‘Kentish & Cockney Christmas SleepOver’, groups go behind the scenes of the Grand Hotel, Folkestone – built as a gentlemen’s residential chambers it was the High Society place to be seen when Edward VII started taking his mistresses there!
The SleepOver also includes lunch with coffee in the village of Rye, an excursion to Rye & Romney Marsh with fish & chip lunch and a finale Cockney Christmas Gala Dinner.
Another new SleepOver is ‘Hidden London Interiors’ with an option to go behind the scenes of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and take The Brothers Tour at the London Charterhouse, a tranquil almshouse on the edge of the City of London.
The group experience and travel company Groups Direct offer an extensive range of days out. In London, the ‘National Theatre Backstage Tour’ combines a tour of the theatre with a two-course fish and chip lunch, served in a local venue.
The National Theatre produces over 20 new productions every year, and preparation for the shows, including rehearsals, prop and costume-making, all happen on site so no two tours are ever the same.
For a behind the scenes tour of a quite different nature, the ‘Hillside Brewery Tasting Tour’ is in Longhope, Gloucestershire. After fresh tea and a selection of homemade cakes on arrival, there’s a guided tour of the brewery with a beer tasting, followed by a late lunch of locally produced trio of sausage including Gloucester Old Spot and Wild Boar – served with onion gravy and mash.