Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Castle chic

Castle chic

Leeds and Rochester castle are rocking their chic new images once again this year. Not satisfied with offering a gorgeous place to visit, steeped in gory and spectacular history, their new theme is urban chic. A clever and innovative way of opening their doors to younger generations who may see castles as boring and outdated. Wrong.
When you're a kid castles seem fun and exciting - knights, sword battles, canons, war and a plethora of kings and queens walking through the corridors.
As you hit those self conscious teenage years, the appeal of a castle or anything remotely educational can seem like a bit of a bore and quite frankly, anything that involves being dragged round anything that doesn't involve music, celebrities, fashion, food or films, then it can seem pretty shabby.
On that note, enter the clever bods at Medway Council who introduced the Castle Concerts some years ago. McFly, The Saturdays, Will Young and Status Quo have graced the stage at the castle and rocked away to hundreds of (I suspect) revellers, most under the age of 40.
What clever, coolcats they are. With a fantastic location, with a huge ground to accompany and easy access from the motorway, Rochester is the perfect place to draw people in from around Kent.
The tourism is brings to Rochester and the surrounding area is just as phenomenal. Want antiques? Visit Carters, Fieldstaff or Memories - each stocked with treasures that will leave you in no doubt of Rochester's link with Dickens. fashion is rife in Rochester also - with at least five or six independent fashion boutiques, including Rocket, a favourite with students.
If you're a foodie, fear not, the offering in Rochester is diverse. From brasserie Topes, to Elizabeth's of Eastgate to Raj of India you are spoilt for choice. Sweet shops, craft havens, bakeries and of course Baggins, Britain's largest second hand/rare bookshop. As you enter, it smells beautiful - like a library that has been shut away for years and is finally coming to life. Bliss for a bookworm or vintage hunter.
Don't forget the museums and other attractions - Dicken's World is just down the road.
This year, Peter Andre and N-Dubz will take to the stage, so what are you waiting for?

The same applies to Leeds Castle. What a rocking line-up of events this year. They have applied savvy marketing to a castle that is traditionally associated with weddings, school proms and other events based around the castle. They have slowly introduced theatrical events - like Jane Eyre, a production I covered last year and other plays, like some favourites from Shakespeare. The classical concerts always blow me away - the James Bond classical was immense, with a helicopter and speed boat adding to the drama of the evening.
This year the Leeds has Live at the Castle, a concert filled with the likes of The Wanted, Alexandra Burke, Eliza Doolittle, Aggro Santos, Stacey Soloman and heaps more.
What's more, you can fill up on some literature with performances of Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Shakespeare's A Midsummer night's Dream.
Every year seems to offer something new and exciting and gets bigger and better every year.
Castle Chic is the new word on my radar.

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