Worcestershire has a rich and diverse arts scene and here are some of the best venues to visit. Even if the name Sir Edward Elgar is unfamiliar to you, you’ll have heard his music. From rousing renditions of Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms to the stirring strains of Nimrod from Enigma Variations, Worcester’s favourite son’s works are part of Britain’s cultural landscape. Wherever you visit in Worcestershire, Elgar’s influence is rarely far away. There is an Elgar Route to follow which includes his birthplace in the village of Lower Broadheath and the Malvern Hills which inspired him. A statue opposite Worcester Cathedral plus a retail park, cafe and businesses all bear his name.
It is hardly surprising that music plays a central role in many of the county’s cultural events including the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester Music Festival and Upton Jazz Festival. Completing the holy trinity of annual music events is Upton Jazz Festival, a four-day celebration of jazz, swing and blues with a dash of jive, boogie woogie and modern held in June. The Best of Young Jazz shows off the exceptional talents of young players across the Midlands.
Elgar’s county is also blessed with excellent orchestras who regularly perform in the county and further afield. The English Symphony Orchestra has a long and distinguished history of collaboration with instrumentalists, composers and conductors including Nigel Kennedy – a former Malvern resident – Steven Isserlis, Daniel Hope, Michael Tippett and Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Also promoting a passion for classical music across the county are the Worcestershire Symphony Orchestra, Wyre Forest Symphony Orchestra and the Worcestershire Philharmonic Orchestra. Running for 17 days every August is the Worcester Festival, a family-friendly mix of workshops, live music, arts and crafts, tours, exhibitions, drama, spoken word events and even a Pet Blessing Service at Worcester Cathedral. Another highlight of the city’s cultural calendar is Worcester Repertory Company’s theatre production in the garden of The Commandery every summer. The company also turns its talents to a Shakespeare play every autumn with acclaimed performances at atmospheric city venues including The Commandery, Huntingdon Hall and Worcester Cathedral.
Museum of Royal Worcester
Severn St, Worcester WR1 2ND
Discover over three centuries of colourful history through the world’s largest collection of Worcester porcelain at the Museum of Royal Worcester. Just a few minutes from the centre of the city and the River Severn, enjoy visually stunning galleries that tell the story of skill, design and innovation made here in Worcester that travelled all over the world. Learn about the lives of the people who made the porcelain and those who used it – Admiral Lord Nelson ate his breakfast off Worcester porcelain and Queen Victoria enjoyed dessert on a Worcester service! Take the free audio guide to hear lively anecdotes and insights about some of the objects on display from experts including Henry Sandon. Hands-on interactive exhibits in the galleries invite all generations to discover this history of invention and innovation in the city and under-16s come in free. Families can take a themed adventure through the Museum with its new explorer backpacks – go on safari or be king or queen for a day! Visit website
8 College Yard, Worcester WR1 2LA
Majestic Worcester Cathedral is a must visit and hard to miss, resting beside the River Severn which cuts through the heart of the city (strategically built it is believed by the Romans on a bend in the river to keep watch over invading armies) and at the top end of Worcester High Street where a statue of the city’s favourite son, composer Sir Edward Elgar, takes pride of place. The cathedral is the final resting place of King John, 13th-century Chancellor of the Exchequer, Godfrey Giffard, King Henry VIII’s elder brother Prince Arthur and former Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin and is renowned for its Norman crypt and chapter house. Visit website
Jinney Ring Craft Centre
Hanbury Rd, Hanbury, Bromsgrove B60 4BU
Jinney Ring Craft Centre is a working craft centre offering glass blowing, pottery and even a chocolatier. Visitors can watch skilled craftspeople at work in atmospheric, 200-year-old barn buildings. It also has a gift shop and artist gallery, plant stall, landscaped garden, duck ponds and views over the countryside. Visit website
Snowshill Manor and Garden
Snowshill, Broadway WR12 7JU
Charles Wade was an artist and architect who designed his home as a stage for his collection of varied and curious finds. His creativity also spilled in to the garden where he designed an Arts and Crafts terraced garden with ‘different courts for different moods’. Visit website
Grange Rd, Great Malvern, Malvern WR14 3HB
Malvern Theatres is the county’s go-to destination for the finest productions on national tours or new works travelling the UK before transferring to the West End. Whether you enjoy tense drama, toe-tapping musicals or laugh out loud comedies, they all feature here. The stylish and contemporary venue, which was given a £7 million refurbishment in 1998 also incorporates the iconic Winter Gardens – renamed the Forum Theatre. Visit website
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