The 5th March is a day of celebration worldwide. A celebration of authors, illustrators, books and most importantly of reading! It’s World Book Day and it’s celebrated in over 100 countries all over the world! 2015 marks the 18th year of World Book Day and with each year that passes it becomes more and more important. As this digital age that we live in continues to spurt out more and more technology at us, children are turning to computer games and TV instead of reading a book before bed. World Book Day is all about encouraging children to read so to support this great initiative, Jurys Inn have a selection of kids’ books available for parents to borrow and read to their children at our hotels in Christchurch Dublin, Cork, Galway, Belfast, Southampton, Birmingham, Plymouth, Derby and Glasgow on World Book Day.
For the adults, we have put together a sample of some fabulous cities of literature that we think are well worth a visit.
Dublin has been home to some of the literary greats over the years and was honoured as such by becoming the 4th UNESCO City of Literature in July 2010. From poets and playwrights like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, famous novelists such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett to modern writers including Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle and Maeve Binchy. Dublin has been the backdrop to much of their creativity often featuring in and sometimes even inspiring great works such as ‘On Raglan Road’ by Seamus Heaney and James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’.
Today you can retrace the steps of those literary greats with a visit to Dublin. Start your day with a stroll by Dublin’s canal and sit down next to Patrick Kavanagh and enjoy a rest. The poet famously requested to be remembered with “just a canal bank seat for the passer-by” which is why you can find a statue of the great man resting on a canal bench today.
If you’re a fan of James Joyce you could enjoy a stroll through the city and admire some of the landmarks mentioned in “Ulysses’. One such landmark is the James Joyce Tower which is situated on a cliff top in South County Dublin and today houses a museum containing letters, photographs and personal possessions of Joyce. You could even arrange a trip to Dublin for Bloomsday which is celebrated on the 16th June. Joyce fans dress up in Edwardian costume and follow the route around Dublin that was taken by Bloom in Ulysses and usually enjoy a traditional Irish breakfast along the way.
Visit Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square where you can find a statue of this literary genius posed on a rock facing his childhood home. Ride the dart along the coast to Maeve Binchy’s hometown of Dalkey. Here you can wander around the shops or enjoy a coffee in one of the many quaint cafes and maybe read a book while you’re at it! For those interested in history, the Book of Kells is a must see. This beautifully inscribed and richly decorated copy of the four gospels is considered to be a national treasure and is housed in the equally magnificent Trinity College Dublin.
There are a number of literary tours available in Dublin. One such tour is the Literary Pub Crawl where tour guide Colm Quilligan quotes at ease from Joyce, Beckett, Behan and more as you wander from one pub to the next enjoying a couple of pints of the black stuff on your way no doubt!
Another UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh, has also been home to many literary legends. These literary geniuses span generations from Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns to Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling. Today there are a variety of literature tours that you can take part in including a guided walking tour that takes you to the sites and haunts of these leading legends. Ian Rankin fans will love the Rebus tours based on the best-selling Inspector Rebus books while the kids (and some parents!) will go crazy for the Potter trail especially designed for Harry Potter fans. The tour will pass by magical locations that inspired characters and scenes in the books and you will learn about the real-life witches and wizards of medieval Edinburgh! For a more sinister walk through the heart of Edinburgh, you could opt for the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde tour and visit some of the places from Robert Louise Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Click here for more literary tours of Edinburgh.
For a touch of romance and an energetic workout, you could climb the main peak in Scotland; Arthurs Seat which famously featured in David Nicholls ‘One Day’. Take a picnic with you to enjoy as you take in the sweeping views below from the summit. Stroll along the Royal Mile to the Lady Stair’s Close to see a plaque marking the poet Robert Burns’ first stay in Edinburgh in 1786. Visit the beautifully converted 17th century house that is now the Writer’s Museum. The museum houses personal objects belonging to Burns, Scott and Stevenson as well as the first editions of their books.
With literary events including poetry competitions, readings and more taking place all year around there is never a bad time to visit Edinburgh but if you did want to be there for the biggest event of them all, the Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from the 15th – 31st August this year. The Edinburgh International Book Festival is the largest literature festival in the world. Around 800 authors flock to the city from all across the world and take part in a programme of events for thousands of fans.
Our third UNESCO City of Literature is Prague and for those with an interest in political literature, Prague is the perfect destination. Prague is a city that has endured a lot of hardship over the years with its citizens being oppressed and persecuted during the Nazi German occupation of the city. Bombings, uprisings and communism all result in a harrowing history and serve as the backdrop for many creative works by Czech authors.
Prague is the birth place of Franz Kafka who is considered by critics to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka was a tortured soul whose work casts a dark light on the city of Prague as his portrayal of the city was as much a representation of himself. Kafka grew up in the city of Prague during a difficult time and this is reflected in his works such as ‘The Trial’. Today you can visit the Franz Kafka museum where you can learn more about how the city affected the writer and shaped his life. Jan Neruda, known as the Charles Dickens’ of Prague describes the city in his collection of vignettes ‘Jan Neruda – Prague Tales’. The tales depict the poverty and hardship endured by those living in Prague during the 1800’s and how, despite it all, the Czech people remained affectionate. Today you can still experience that warmth from the Czech people living in Prague while you explore the city and imagine what it must have been like in the 1800’s.
Prague has the highest concentrations of bookshops in Europe (approx. 130 bookshops!) and the densest network of libraries in the world (around 6000 libraries!). Prague hosts a number of literary festivals throughout the year that celebrate the city’s rich heritage and diverse cultures including the International Book Fair and Literary Festival Book World Prague which runs almost 400 exhibitions and attracts close to 40,000 visitors. This years’ festival takes place from 14-17 May 2015. The first international poetry festival was held in Prague in 2004 and has since become known as the Prague Microfestival. This entirely bilingual festival runs from 18th-21st May this year.
For those based in England, you don’t have to travel far to soak up some literature and history. The market town of Strattford Upon Avon, home to the one and only William Shakespeare, is just a 1 hour drive or a 1 hour train ride from Birmingham with trains departing every half hour. Explore the birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright and the cottage where Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway grew up. Enjoy a cruise along the River Avon on a traditional passenger boat. The cruise takes you past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the burial site of William Shakespeare. Alternatively you could take a walking tour with William Shakespeare himself as your tour guide! Finish the evening off with a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Steeped in culture and history, this beautiful, sleepy town is definitely worth a visit.
Bronte fans might enjoy a trip to Thornton, West Yorkshire where this exceptional author once lived. Here you can enjoy guided walks that take you across the moors via the Bronte Waterfalls to an abandoned and worn down farmhouse which is said to be the inspiration for the home of Earnshaws and Heathcliff!
If you’re planning a visit to any of these fantastic cities or towns, why not book your stay with us to rest your head after your literary adventure in Jurys Inn Dublin, Jurys Inn Edinburgh, Jurys Inn Prague, Jurys Inn Birmingham or Jurys Inn Bradford.
Learn more about World Book Day and get involved today!