Explore and enjoy
With MARY TEBJE of the Chilterns Tourism Network
THE river sets the stage for a series of high profile events with the Henley Royal Regatta kicks off the calendar with five days of top-notch rowing and hospitality in early July.
The Henley Festival of Music and Arts and the Henley Fringe Festival of theatre, drama and comedy - 22 - 28th July, then follow the Regatta in July.
The Festival of Music and Arts attracts some of the world’s most famous entertainers to perform on a floating stage in front of a dinner-jacketed audience, with food, fireworks, art and sculpture all part of the festivities.
Held in September, Henley’s Literary Festival - September 28th - October 4th makes the most of the Thames with on-the-move River Readings of poetry and prose.
Henley’s historic centre, with its church, town hall and market square, is just a few strides away from the river frontage.
Some unusual sights include George Harrison’s former residence and Dusty Springfield’s grave, or call in to Lovibonds Brewery shop at the rear of 19-21 Market Place to sample and buy local craft beers and cross Henley Bridge to buy rowing memorabilia in the Pink Hippo Shop in the Leander Rowing Club, the training ground of Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and other Olympic heroes.
The River & Rowing Museum follows the story of rowing and the River Thames from Olympic heights to the minutiae of life on the river banks. The longest running rowing race in the world is the Doggett’s Coat and Badge, started in 1715 and you can see the scarlet coat of Wag Harding the 1886 race winner.
Slightly further afield and a pleasant three miles from Henley is Hambled, located in the beautiful Hamble Valley.
This pretty village of brick and flint cottages, medieval church and Stag & Huntsman inn has provided the location for numerous period film and TV productions. Reach it on foot from Henley via the Chilterns Country Thames and Chilterns Walk, following the Hambleden Brook with red kites soaring overhead.
Further information and inspiration this summer can be found at www. VisitChilterns.co.uk
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Henley Royal Regatta launches the summer calendar