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Jane Austen Festival breaks record for Regency costume gathering

“One cannot have too large a party,” writes Jane Austen in Emma. So we assume she would have approved of this gathering held last weekend at a festival in her honour, which broke the world record for the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume. A total of 550 men, women and children squeezed

10 of the best stylish hostels for autumn and winter sun

Jack Sprat Shack, Treasure Bay, Jamaica On an island better known for all-inclusive resorts than cool independent hotels, the Jack Sprat Shack, opening in late October, is a departure from the Caribbean norm. The wood-clad hostel takes its name and look from the Jack Sprat restaurant (pictured), and will have 40 dorm beds, 12 twin/double

Travel tips: Helsinki city break and the weeks best deals

Take me there Why go? Helsinki has shaken off a somewhat dour image in recent years to emerge as one of Europe’s most refreshing city-break destinations. It’s a breezy Baltic port with a strong tradition of design, an alternative nightlife and an edgier feel than some of its Scandinavian cousins. Nowhere is this more apparent

10 great things to do in Athens: readers travel tips

WINNING TIP: Alternative Tours of Athens Walks organised by a collective of local photographers, artists, writers, musicians, designers and architects are the perfect way to see another side of Athens. There are tours on photography, street art, social movements, architecture – and on bikes.+30210 322 6713, atathens.org, €10ppNatasha Warburton Food Str Super range of options

Athens city guide: where to stay, eat, drink and more

What to do Benaki Museum, Pireos StreetIt would be criminal to come to Athens and miss the Acropolis but visitors who stick only to the city’s ancient past are missing out. Part of the excellent Benaki art and design museum, which sprawls across seven sites, the Pireos Street gallery is a forbidding pink cube in

Just add SALT: Norways new Arctic arts and music festival

It has been some hours since sunset on the island of Sandhornøya, just inside the Arctic Circle, and I’m standing on the beach with a near-naked Norwegian, debating the temperature of the water I’ve just jumped into. “I was told it was 14C,” I say. “Well, a friend told me it was just nine,” he

Baxter Dury: my secret French wine cave

A month ago, I was playing at a little festival called Yeah, which is run by Laurent Garnier and takes place in Lourmarin, near Marseille. There are a lot of conservative areas around there, but the town is a bit of a bohemian stronghold. It’s a bit more arts and crafts, a bit more hippyish.

San Francisco: talking bout a permanent revolution

Three different monitors were streaming Japanese cartoons as I stepped into San Francisco’s Hotel Tomo, the only J-Pop hotel I’ve run into in America. A vending machine was selling Gigo Blocks, above some “edamame beanbags”. I went up to my room and felt as if I were stepping into a comic-book: an entire wall was

The problem with holidays is they give you too much time to reflect on life

How I long for the days when my children were terrified of the sea. Photograph: Jeff Rotman/Getty Images Post-holiday blues are as traditional in September as suicidal thoughts in December. I’m just back from 10 days in Croatia. And frankly, I’m relieved to write that. I know holidays are all about relaxing, “breathing out” and

Marine park attractions: can they survive?

In August, the leading brand in marine mammal attractions, SeaWorld, made a major announcement. After a year spent defending itself against a barrage of criticism for its treatment of captive whales and dolphins, the company said it would open a state-of-the-art killer whale environment – the world’s largest. It is a bold move. But it