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Tamworth Castle Grounds Fireworks

THE countdown is on to the biggest and most popular event in Tamworth’s calendar as the FREE fireworks spectacular returns with a breath-taking display to light up the skies above the Castle Grounds.

This year’s event will be back with a bang on Saturday November 4, bringing with it another great evening of fun for the whole family.

Entertainment begins at 6pm and includes fire performers, face painting, a sparkler zone, family activities, artisan food stalls and a fair.

The impressive display of fireworks, set to music, will light up the skies above Tamworth from 8pm.

Organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team, the event has become a firm favourite in the town’s annual calendar of events and has attracted upwards of 25,000 people in recent years. This year is expected to be no exception.

Due to the event’s popularity, visitors are asked to plan ahead and be patient when travelling to the event and moving in and out of the main arena.

People are advised to walk or use public transport where possible and to arrive in plenty of time for the fireworks as some footpaths around the area will close during the display for safety reasons.

  • Footpaths leading to the Castle Grounds underneath ‘the Egg’ roundabout
  • from Glascote, Bolehall and Kettlebrook, will close at 7.50pm until the fireworks display is finished.
  • Ankerdrive will also close to vehicles during that time, as will a single lane nearest the Castle Grounds on the Riverdrive carriageway.

For those driving to the event, limited free parking is available at Tamworth Borough Council car parks around the town centre after 6pm (please note parking charges will apply to the privately-owned car park operated by Gallan Parking on the site of the former Gungate Precinct).

Motorists are reminded that any parking must be in accordance with prevailing traffic orders and enforcement may be carried out by Staffordshire County Council officers for public safety and traffic flow purposes where vehicles are illegally parked.

Visitors are also asked to be patient when entering and leaving the main arena via the signposted exit points and follow instructions from the stewarding team. Entertainment will continue after the main fireworks display for anyone who wants to wait for the crowds to reduce before making the journey home.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “This event has become incredibly popular over the years, drawing visitors from near and far. We are delighted to be able to host such a large event for thousands and thousands of people to enjoy, free of charge, and we are lucky to have the resources and facilities to make it possible.

“I hope lots of families come along to the Castle Grounds and enjoy the celebrations. However, it will be busy, so I’d urge people to plan ahead and either walk or arrange alternative transport. I’d remind anyone who is driving that usual highways regulations apply and to please park sensibly, as anyone parking illegally could receive a fine.

“As the event is so popular, it does mean that there are thousands of people trying to leave the main arena at the same time. Activities will continue for anyone who wants to stay a while longer to avoid the big rush and we would urge people to please be patient and to leave via the signposted routes so that everyone can get home safely.”

The Tamworth fireworks spectacular is sponsored by Ankerside Shopping Centre. 

Staffordshire Attractions

AS the UK enjoys a record 40 million overseas visitors to the country this year, Staffordshire’s tourism sector is also set to benefit from the boost.

Tourist promotion agency VisitBritain forecasts overseas trips to the UK will increase 6% to 39.7 million with spending up 14% to £25.7bn this year.

In Staffordshire, the sector is already worth over £1 billion annually with around 25 million people enjoying day or overnight trips proving that the county remains a popular destination.

Staffordshire has many great attractions, including many leading national sites.  For adrenalin seekers and families the county has two world-class theme parks in the Alton Towers Resort and Drayton Manor Park, as well as Tamworth’s SnowDome and Waterworld.

Staffordshire is also home to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, the national football centre at St George’s Park and the National Brewery Centre both in Burton upon Trent, as well as a wealth of smaller museums and attractions.

Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth at Staffordshire County Council and Deputy Chair of Destination Staffordshire said:

“The record numbers of overseas visitors to the UK we’re seeing this year is not only great news for the country but also wonderful for our own tourism economy.

“We’re a great county to visit with a thriving tourism sector and lots on offer.  Our local tourism businesses continue to do a great job, innovating, attracting more and more visitors, bringing in over £100m a month for the local economy and sustaining tens of thousands of jobs.”

Staffordshire also has many historic houses and sites to visit like Lichfield Cathedral, the Shugborough Estate, Tamworth Castle, the Ancient High House and Weston Park.  And, the county is also a great place for the outdoors, from the Peak District National Park in the north to Chasewater and Cannock Chase AONB in the south and the National Forest in the east, not to mention hundreds of miles of footpaths, cycleways and a canal network amongst the largest of shire counties.

The Trentham Estate is now the UK’s 4th largest paid-for garden attraction and the award-winning adjacent Monkey Forest is the only place in Britain where visitors can walk through the enclosure where the monkeys roam freely.  World of Wedgwood in Barliston opened its doors in 2015 with a new visitor centre and Museum giving people even more reasons to visit Staffordshire.

People can find out more about what Staffordshire has to offer this autumn at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/whats-on

Tamworth Food Gusto images

Food Gusto once again proved that Tamworth likes it’s food this weekend!

The event in Tamworth Castle Grounds over the last two days brought more than 80 of the region’s best artisan food and drink producers to the town.

All exhibitors are hand-picked for variety, provenance and passion to ensure visitors get a taste of something different from each stall and many were taking advantage of the selection on offer.

While great food and drink is at the heart of the festival, the tantalising array of culinary delights will again be complemented by a packed programme of family entertainment, making it the perfect weekend out for foodies and families alike.

Including a full line-up of live music from local singers and bands on both days, plus fairground rides, activities and games for children. Tamworth Informed were there to capture the event on film:

Food Gusto event director, Wesley Ewing, said: “The Tamworth Food Festival has really taken off in the last two years and we’ve worked hard to create an unforgettable experience for the festival goer. Our festivals are about relaxing and having a good time as a family, while sampling some amazing food and drink. The event is constantly improving as we aim to establish it as one of the region’s best food festivals.”

Food Gusto returns to the Town later in the year for the Tamworth Food Gusto Christmas Fair.

reliant car in St Edithas Square

FREE entry to Tamworth Castle, behind-the scenes looks at town buildings not always open to the public, guided walks and costumed characters are just some of things to enjoy as part of this year’s Heritage Open Day on Sunday September 10.

Many of the historic buildings in and around Tamworth will be opening their doors, inviting visitors to explore the town’s fascinating history free of charge. Costumed characters including medieval gravediggers, a Peeler and Thomas Guy, will join Green Badge guides and local historians in bringing the past to life.

Tamworth Castle is among the attractions that can be visited free of charge as part of Heritage Open Day, but entry is by pre-booked ticket only, available from the Tamworth Information Centre in Marmion House, Lichfield Street, in advance on 01827 709581 or email [email protected].

Visitors to St Editha’s Church between 11.30am and 4pm will be able to climb the rare double spiral staircase (subject to Health and Safety criteria) and take part in guided tours of the building. Outside in St Editha’s Square, the Reliant Motor Club will be showing off their display of Reliant vehicles from 9am until 4pm and will be happy to talk about one of the town’s most famous exports.

Members of the public will also be able to take a peek inside the Town Hall in Market Street, between 10am and 4pm, where they can meet various organisations celebrating Tamworth’s past, including the Friends of Tamworth Castle, Tamworth & District Civic Society and the Green Badge Guides. Local author Phil Shanahan will also be on hand to share the story of Tamworth war hero Able Seaman Colin Grazier who famously helped shorten World War II in a daring U-boat mission.

Visitors can also pop into the Mayor’s Parlour to meet the Mayor and Mayoress and find many Tamworth treasures on display.

Green Badge Guides will begin guided tours from the Town Hall at 11am and 2pm. There is no need to book; just turn up for a fascinating and interesting tour of the town.

Other events taking place throughout the day include:

  • The Heritage Hub in Middle Entry open from 10am to 3pm
  • Thomas Guy Almshouses open from 11am to 3pm, with home-made cake and tea on offer
  • Free entry to Middleton Hall between 11am and 4pm. Contact 01827 283095 for more details
  • St Leonard’s Church in Comberford Lane, Wigginton, open from 1pm to 5pm
  • Spital Chapel of St James in Wigginton Road open between 10am and 4pm
  • Learn about the Masons at the Masonic Rooms in Lichfield Street (11am-3pm)

Heritage Open Day again coincides with the return of the popular Tamworth Gusto Food Festival which is taking place in the Castle Grounds on Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10. The event, now in its third year, will bring more than 80 artisan food and drink producers to the area, alongside a packed programme of live music and entertainment for the whole family.

Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, Cllr Joy Goodall, said: “Heritage Open Day is a great opportunity to explore Tamworth’s rich history. There is so much to see, hear or visit and I would encourage everyone to pop along and find out more about this historical town.

“We are also delighted to welcome the hugely popular Tamworth Food Gusto Festival back for a third year, and, with so much going on, Tamworth will again be the place to be at the weekend.”

For more information, please visit www.visittamworth.co.uk/events/tamworth-heritage-open-day-2017.

THEY say good things come in pairs and that’s definitely the case at Drayton Manor Zoo, as the Tamworth attraction has welcomed two Pygmy Marmosets, born on Tuesday 27th June.

The new arrivals are already getting in to the ‘swing’ of things and making friends, under the watchful eye of their doting parents, Chillido and Wicket.

Pygmy Marmosets are listed as Least Concerned on the IUCN Red List, however, their wild population is decreasing due to being severely fragmented. They are also at threat because of habitat destruction and the pet trade, so it’s fantastic that Drayton Manor Zoo is able to breed and raise them in a safe environment.

They originate from South American Rainforests and their diet consists of gum, plants, fruits insects and sap. This clever species use their sharp teeth to gnaw at trees for the sap to be released and like other monkeys, they love being high up in the trees and live in groups of around a dozen.

Chris Mitchell, Zoo Manager at Drayton Manor Park, said: “Everyone here at the zoo is over the moon with our baby Pygmy Marmosets and it’s always fantastic when our breeding programmes deliver us some new arrivals.”

On a visit to Drayton Manor Zoo families can make memories and learn all about animal welfare and the exciting conservation projects that the zoo is actively involved in.

For more information about Drayton Manor Zoo please visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk/zoo. To book tickets to Drayton Manor Park visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950.

The Pygmy Marmosets Babies

The Pygmy Marmosets Babies

Tapirs in water at Drayton Manor Park

THE school holidays are almost at an end, but the sun is finally out and the Tapirs at Drayton Manor Park are making the most of the long awaited heat before taking a dip to cool off!

Chris Mitchell, Zoo Manager at Drayton Manor Park said: “It’s finally bathing season here at Drayton Manor Zoo and our Tapirs have been the first to soak up the rays and cool off in their very own pool. They are loving it and it certainly makes a change from dodging the raindrops!”

Home to over 750 animals of 130 different species from all over the world, visitors can spot animals big or small at Drayton Manor Zoo and learn all about the exciting conservation projects that the Zoo is actively involved in.

Great fun doesn’t have to break the bank, families looking to make the most of the summer holidays can head to Drayton Manor Park and make great savings with the 4 for £80 ticket promotion*.

To book tickets, or for more information about the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950.

*The 4 for £80 ticket is only available when booked in advance see website for terms and conditions. 

DRAYTON Manor Park has launched half-price tickets just in time for the weekend*, but you’ll need to act quickly if you want to bag a bank holiday bargain.

With £14.50 tickets on offer for children under 11 years, why not treat the kids to a fun-filled day out at Drayton Manor Park?

The popular family attraction’s final Summer sale launches on Thursday 24th August at 9am and there’s a chance to make big savings on tickets to use between now and 4th September 2017.

The flash sale offer is only available when booking online, before midnight the day before your visit and closes at 5pm on Monday 28th August 2017 with a limited number of tickets available to purchase per day.

The impressive flash sale sees on-the-day adult prices (aged 12+) slashed from £39 to just £19.50, whilst children and concession tickets (under 11s) will be available from £14.50, down from £29. Tickets for little ones aged from 2-3 years will remain at £7.

Drayton Manor Park has everything you need for a brilliant day out with the family. Offering good value, the arrival of new animals in the 15-acre Zoo and a brand new ride in Europe’s only Thomas Land™, means there’s never been a better time to visit!

Animal lovers can head to the extensive 15 acre Zoo home to over 750 animals of 130 different species from all over the world; visitors can spot animals big or small at Drayton Manor Park Zoo and learn all about the exciting conservation projects that the Zoo is actively involved in.

With over 25 rides and attractions, The Island of Sodor at Drayton Manor Park’s Thomas Land is the ultimate destination for little ones. Home to firm family favourites such as Bertie Bus, Harold’s Helicopter Tour and Cranky’s Tower Drop there is plenty to explore. Earlier this year, the beloved Thomas & Friends™ character ’James’ got his very own Red Balloon ride, where families can head up, up and away in a balloon over Thomas Land.

Families of all ages can choose from some of the wildest and scariest rides around, including Shockwave, Maelstrom and Apocalypse, and enjoy a ride on firm family favourites such as the Flying Dutchman and the Bounty Pirate Ship, just to name a few.

Guaranteed to be a fun-filled day out for all, take advantage of this impressive offer and book now to avoid disappointment! Tickets are non-transferable or refundable with limited availability. To book tickets visithttps://www.draytonmanor.co.uk/half-price-tickets

*Half price relates to 12-59, and 4-11 tickets available on the gate

KINDNESS makes the world go round and there’s no feeling quite like the one you get when you put a smile on someone’s face, which is why Drayton Manor Park will be giving away some fantastic prizes throughout August with their Summer Random Acts of Kindness campaign, absolutely free!

To celebrate the launch of the brand new Thomas the Tank Engine film, Journey Beyond Sodor, the Staffordshire-based attraction, home to Europe’s only Thomas Land™, will be giving away some amazing prizes around the theme park, and you guys can be in with a chance of winning them!

These random acts of kindness include anything from free donuts to sweeten the visit to a number of stay and play packages so families can come back again to enjoy a day of fun and laughter followed by a comfortable night at the Drayton Manor Hotel.

The attraction will be selecting people at random so fingers crossed you’re one of the lucky ones!

William Bryan, Managing Director at Drayton Manor Park, said: “Here at Drayton Manor, a big part of our ethos is providing happiness and fun family memories for all, which is why we’ll be giving away some lovely prizes throughout August. As we are nearly half way through the summer holidays we understand that parents face the difficulties in constantly entertaining the little ones so we are really pleased to be able to offer some great prizes.

“We’ll also be giving away more goodies at different locations in the Midlands over the next few weeks, so watch this space!”

The Journey Beyond Sodor follows Thomas’ journey as he leaves the Island of Sodor for the very first time. The movie will feature all the popular characters from the much loved series, the same characters children can get up close and personal to in Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park.

To book tickets, or for more information about the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950.

POPULAR family attraction, Drayton Manor Park, played host to The National Autistic Society on Thursday 27th July to help raise awareness for people living within the spectrum, with an exclusive ‘quiet hour’ in Thomas Land.

The Staffordshire-based theme park has chosen The National Autistic Society to become a valued charity partner in 2017 and is dedicated to working with and learning from the charity.  As part of its commitment, Drayton Manor Park held a training day for the Thomas Land™ Team ahead of the charity’s ‘day on the park’.

The day began with families taking part in a quiet hour, the first of its kind at a theme park in the UK. Thomas Land was then opened to the public from 10.30am where visitors were invited to learn all about the charity and take part in a virtual experience demonstrating how overwhelming an everyday scenario, such as a family day out, can be to an autistic person.

Drayton Manor Park, Company Director, George Bryan said: “We recognise that a little thought and understanding can make a huge difference to our guests’ experience and through our partnership with The National Autistic Society, we hope our team’s deeper awareness of the needs of the autistic community will ensure everyone has a truly unforgettable experience this summer.”

More than 1 in 100 people are on the autistic spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and their interaction with others. The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

To find out more about autism or the NAS, visit www.autism.org.uk.

For more information and to book tickets to the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950.

A HIGH five, a smile and a laugh a minute – these are just a few of the things that make driving Thomas the Tank Engine the ‘best job in the world.’

That’s according to Michael Middleton anyway – the lucky chap that gets to drive the little blue engine every day!

Over the past seven years Michael has worked on every ride in Drayton Manor Park’s Thomas Land™, but when asked which was his favourite, he said: “Thomas of course! I’m not only in charge of driving him, but also cleaning and polishing him and Knapford Station. I make sure it looks the best it can be as it’s the first thing people see when they walk into Thomas Land. It’s very important the station, turntables and of course the trains look their very best.”

Michael has chugged his way around the park, delighting an estimated 450,000 guests – that’s about 960 Virgin trains full of happy visitors!

When asked why driving Thomas was so special, Michael said: “The children get so excited and I love seeing their happy little faces! I give all of my passengers a high five and when the train is loaded up, I stop at every compartment to say hello. Interacting with people is what makes the job for me, even the mums and dads high five me!”

Michael has become somewhat of a local celebrity, with Drayton Manor’s social media regularly filling up with complimentary messages about him.

“I have lots of fun with the visitors and other staff,” he says. “We have lots of messages from guests saying how much they enjoyed their day out, and that’s what it’s all about for me, making people happy. I’m part of making that magical memory here at Drayton Manor Park and you cannot put a price on that.”

With so many faces coming and going every day, what really makes Michael’s job is when he can enhance someone’s day, spread some happiness and make sure they have the time of their lives. Michael recalls one particular family that had brought their Grandad to the park for his birthday. They had travelled from London and met another family en route, who were on their way home from the park. They told them to be sure to visit Michael, the Thomas train driver, as he’s fantastic! Michael’s reputation definitely precedes him!

Michael Middleton with JLS's JB and son Ace

Michael Middleton with JLS’s JB and son Ace

Michael, from Tamworth, first worked at Drayton Manor Park in the arcades at the tender age of 14.

After a ‘brief’ hiatus in his Drayton Manor career, to spend 38 years working elsewhere, the lure of the park called again. At the age of 59, rather than retire, Michael discovered his part time position, uniting him with Thomas and his friends on the Island of Sodor.

Michael added: “I grew up at Drayton Manor really, having worked there as a youngster and visiting regularly.

“The variety of the job is great. There’s such a good mix of activity and so many different people to keep you stimulated. I am a real people person, I just love being in Thomas Land, it’s really good fun and you can’t help but enjoy being surrounded by happy people all day long.

“I want to stay working here as long as possible. The other staff and visitors are all fantastic and I just love being out in the open air, whether it’s raining and snowing during Magical Christmas or the sun is shining on the long summer days.

“I would definitely recommend for people of my age to consider making the change and having a fun and rewarding job.”

When asked what his favourite time of year is, Michael said: “Christmas is wonderful, with snow falling in Thomas Land and the singing and dancing; I love my job all year round, but Christmas is extra special.”

To book tickets, or for more information about the park, visit www.draytonmanor.co.uk or call 0844 472 1950.

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