The ultimate guide to having a great British summer

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Stylist Team
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The great British summertime can usually be summarised thus: grabbing our over-packed Samsonites and fleeing towards the nearest available plane out of the UK. And yet a new study proves that, rather than hot-foot it to Hvar or endure a 10-hour flight to Antigua, 55% of adults will stay put in the UK this summer, pumping £17billion into the economy.

Those 55% are on to something, because we now have more than we could ever need on our own doorstep – this summer alone, you’ll find world-renowned culture at the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, cult US hotels and restaurants opening in London’s Shoreditch (howdy, Nobu Hotel and Harlem’s Red Rooster) and 300 artists from 30 countries flying in for Bristol’s Upfest street art and graffiti festival. From the fashion elite decamping to Soho Farmhouse to the coastal havens of Margate and Fife, Britain is vacation cool.

There’s a loyalty factor involved too. More than a third of us specifically say that we want to holiday at home this year to support the British economy over Brexit. And there’s a comfort factor too – wanting to seek the familiar after the untold political upheaval of the snap election and its surprising results as well as the many national tragedies we’ve recently endured. “Whenever we’re going through a period that feels traumatic and changeable we seek reassurance,” explains psychologist Dr Megan Arroll. And that means sticking to home soil.

Staying at home reminds us of simpler times too: seaside holidays as children, country walks and the roadtrips of our teens. “Studies have shown that triggering nostalgia boosts positive self-regard and mood,” says Dr Arroll. “The multi-sensory effects from the sound of the waves, the smell of fish and chips and the taste of ice cream is a powerful set of triggers that tap into that emotional sense of wellbeing.”

Whether you’ve got a long weekend or a glorious fortnight to spare, here is Stylist’s indispensable guide to the best things to do this summer in good old Blighty – Nobbly Bobbly optional.

Soak up some al fresco art

When the sun is shining, the last thing you want to do is wander around a dark, dusty art gallery. Taking a leaf out of Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s playbook, esteemed establishments are moving their art outside with the National Trust embarking on a new summer programme of large installations, carving and sculpture.

Stylist’s pick is the giant pink pineapple-shaped pavilion Look! Look! Look! by Heather and Ivan Morison at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire (solely for the number of Instagram likes we can imagine it clocking up). We are also intrigued by Tony Plant’s temporary sand graphics (similar to crop circles) as part of the Heartland project in the Shropshire Hills.

Legendary art fair Frieze is also staging its first ever outdoor exhibition in London – and it’s free. From 5 July-8 October, it features 25 new works from leading 20th century artists, sprinkled around London’s Regent’s Park. Grab a blanket and have a picnic under works such as Bernar Venet’s industrial steel girders or the six-metre-high Kaws toy figurine.

Go island hopping

Who needs Croatia when Britain has 6,289 islands? Yes, that many. Currently, the one to be seen on is Osea, a tidal island in Essex’s Blackwater estuary which has developed a reputation for being Britain’s answer to The Hamptons.

Owned by Rolling Stones producer Nigel Frieda, the island is where The Weeknd held his only UK gig in 2015 and Sienna Miller and Poppy Delevingne both love it. Cult West London pop-up The Little Yellow Door is taking over the entire island from 14 July for a luxe weekend-long celebration that’ll include their resident DJs, gourmet barbecues and Pimm’s pong (tickets £225). At other times expect fairy-lit woodland parties and skinny dipping by moonlight – there aren’t even street lights, or streets for that matter.

If you’ve got your own party in mind, rent out the Manor House for 20 friends: four-poster beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, and roll-top tubs. Or if it’s just the two of you, book a cottage (cottages from £309 per week; Manor House from £5,147). But make sure you do book something (there’s a two night minimum stay) – it’s a private island so you can’t just pop by.

If island life means getting away from the party, head to the rugged West Highland paradise of Kerrera where cars are banned and there are only 36 full-time residents. Stay in a self-catering cottage on Ardentrive farm and mingle with hirsute Highland cows.

Or hire a yacht from nearby Oban and spend a few days tracing the wild coastline – although water temperatures only reach around 12°C, so swimming is just for the brave.

Play the new breed of lawn games

This summer, lawn games are moving out of manor houses and country parks and taking up residence on east London rooftops and beyond. At the newly opened bar Skylight on the roof of cavernous dance venue Tobacco Dock you can choose from Australian-style lawn bowls, French pétanque and that English stalwart, croquet.

If you like your bowls with a side of music, over at Roof East you’ll find De La Bowl, aka hip-hop inspired lawn bowls.

Or if you’re feeling particularly lady-of-the-manor this summer, Jaques Londonmake the prettiest classic wooden and metal games for holding your own preppy lawn parties. Our pick is the chrome boules set (£59.99).

Stay in a luxury beach hut

Move aside treehouses, forget glamping – as befits our current obsession with staying anywhere but a hotel room, the new generation of beach huts is the accommodation for summer 2017. Indeed, earlier this year 11 holiday homes modelled on beach huts went on sale in Margate for £485,000 each.

For something less permanent, check into Bournemouth Beach Lodges (from £450 for three nights). These compact wooden constructions, described as “clapboard New England chic meets Campervan ingenuity”, look out over Boscombe Bay, one of the UK’s prettiest expanses of white sand; a view you can take full advantage of from your own private deck.

A 20-minute drive north are the split-level Shaldon Beach Huts (from £115) with direct access to the beach.

Head west to Devon and you’ll find the super-luxe Cary Arms Beach Huts (from £375) close to Torquay. They’re like “a quaint birdhouse on steroids” according to Stylist’s acting editor Susan Riley, with Sonos sound systems, Smeg mini-fridges and views over Babbacombe Bay.

Quaff an aperitivo cocktail

If you’ve reached peak Aperol spritz, be inspired by the bartenders at two of Britain’s most famous luxury hotels and dabble with the Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto (£44): a new take on a popular 19th century Italian spirit that’s being mixed into cocktails at The Connaught and The Savoy this summer. Tart bergamot forms the basis, so it has a summer-appropriate sweet-citrus flavour, set off with rose and lavender.

Making its debut on the bar scene at the end of last year, it has recently been nominated for ‘best new cocktail ingredient’ by the prestigious Tales of the Cocktail panel in New Orleans.

It’s particularly good for adding an edge to your chilled prosecco and its art deco bottle will look ideal on your drinks trolley.

Mix your own cocktail

  • 50ml Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
  • 50ml prosecco
  • Cubed ice
  • Three green olives to garnish

Fill a large wine glass with ice, pour over Italicus, top with prosecco, stir then garnish with green olives.

This summer’s best events

Smoked and Uncut

Various dates & locations around the UK; from £35;

Held at Lime Wood and the four outposts of The Pig, this festival offers food from Angela Hartnett and Mark Hix, 10 bars and an eclectic soundtrack.

Reveal Festival

30 June-7 July; free; V&A, Cromwell Rd, London SW7;

The V&A’s new Exhibition Road Quarter plays host to pop-up performances, installations, workshops and a showcase by fashion darling Molly Goddard.

Secret Garden Party

20-24 July; £190; Mill Hill Field, Huntingdon, PE28 2PH;

This is the last-ever Secret Garden Party so expect a huge send-off.

The Rosé Festival

21-23 July; £15 (includes a glass of rosé); Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Rd, London, E2;

Sample 30 different types of rosé wine and champagne and get expert advice from producers while listening to jazz bands, Shakespeare recitals and DJ sets.

Krug Festival - into the Wild

29 July; £395; Alresford, SO24;

Make yourself at home in the grounds of a 19th century mansion while feasting on Argentinian food cooked on 10ft-high open fires, paired with Krug champagne.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

4-28 August; various locations;

The world’s largest arts festival marks its 70th anniversary with a stellar programme – Stylist’s pick is Volcano Theatre’s adaptation of Chekov’s The Seagull in a flooded church.

Images: Getty Images, iStock, Rex Features