The year 2017 is big for the world of England's literature—the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (known as "the philosopher's stone" across the pond), the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes publication, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death and more. In recognition of these literary milestones, VisitEngland declared 2017 the "Year of Literary Heroes!"
If your groups are headed to England this year, here are a few anniversaries the country is commemorating. Special events, exhibitions, tours and more will bring pages of literature to life. It's brilliant! But if your groups will be missing out on 2017, the destinations remain for any future travelers who may be literary superfans.
200th Anniversary of Jane Austen's Death
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of England's most acclaimed authors, and her fans will fall foolishly in love with her home in Chawton. Jane Austen's House Museum is the only house where the author lived and wrote that's open to the public, and the museum is hosting changing exhibitions, talks, activities and other celebrations throughout the year. Austen's final resting place, Winchester Cathedral, will also be hosting tours exploring Jane's life. (Ironic.)
20th Anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
There is such a thing as Potter pilgrimage. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone put several of England's landmarks on the trail—Northumberland's Alnwick Castle, the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo and more. From October 20, 2017, to February 28, 2018, the British Library will feature a new exhibition dedicated to the magic of Harry Potter. It will be the first exhibition of its kind to celebrate a single series of books by a living author and will include previously unseen materials from Rowling and the book's publisher, Bloomsbury.
125th Anniversary of the Death of Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson
Tennyson was born and raised in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and groups have the opportunity to visit the county and stroll through the gently rolling landscape that provided inspiration for some of his early work on the Tennyson Trail. Start in Somersby, where he was born, and discover the poet's "haunt of ancient peace" at Gunby Hall. The Lincolnshire coast's high dunes, beach and sea was one of Tennyson's favorite places—and it's a great addition to an itinerary.
125th Anniversary of the First Sherlock Holmes Publication
Well, this sure isn't elementary. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was first published in 1892, but the book was the first collection of the author's stories he had been publishing in magazines since 1887. No trip to England is complete without a stop in London, and the Holmes phenomenon has unique attractions in the city. Groups could find Sherlock and Watson's famous address, 221B Baker Street. It doesn't actually exist, but the exterior of their flat as seen in the popular TV series is shot at 187 North Gower Street. Groups might also enjoy visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum and dining at the Sherlock Holmes pub—it's stuffed with memorabilia (and food).
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.
Photo courtesy of VisitBritain.