The historic city of Salisbury in southern England makes for a great day trip or weekend break – with springtime offering plenty of things to see and do on a budget.
The medieval city is perhaps best known for its proximity to the iconic prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge, which stands on the grassland of Salisbury Plain. But both in and around the city are a wide number of attractions and places of interest, including several exhibitions and festivals taking place this spring. If you’re thinking of visiting Salisbury during the coming months, we’ve picked out 10 potential – and affordable – additions to your itinerary.
For such a magnificent edifice, and in comparison with many of its counterparts, Salisbury Cathedral is pleasingly affordable to enter, with admission just £9 for adults and children under 13 going free. Boasting Britain’s tallest spire and largest Cathedral Close and Cloisters, not to mention the best preserved of only four surviving Magna Carta documents from 1215, the stunning Anglican church is an internationally renowned heritage attraction and draws huge numbers of visitors from around the world every year. The cathedral can be visited at all times of year, including spring.
Mon-Sat 10am-3.45pm Closed Sun
Less surprisingly, visiting the world famous site of Stonehenge is not so easy on the wallet. However, if you’re unwilling to spend £21.50 (£12.50 for kids) to see the prehistoric monument at close quarters, then there is an alternative that won’t cost a penny – apart from what you’ll pay in car fuel. Running alongside the legendary landmark is the A303 trunk road and it is a notorious snarl up spot, with cars slowing down to peer across the expanse of fields to get a good look at the huge vertical stones. So if it’s a clear spring day, roll down the windows, take your foot off the gas, and soak up the views.
‘Observed & Abstracted’ exhibition
Featuring works by renowned Salisbury artist Nick Phillips, this exhibition include an assortment of drawings, watercolour, Indian ink and oil paintings that each explores the theme of the rich and diverse local landscapes of Wiltshire. Phillips’ interest in this area include the history, archaeology and geology of the region, with the artwork in the exhibition making reference to the landscapes around Wilton, where he has his studio, and in particular the Nadder, Ebble and Wylye Valleys.
Fisherton Mill Gallery & Cafe / 23 April – 21 May 2022
The precursor of present-day Salisbury, Old Sarum is quite simply one of the most historically important sites anywhere in southern England. A splendid place to spend an afternoon, especially once the temperatures have perked up come springtime, it was built two miles to the north of the city centre on a hill that has been fortified since the Iron Age. Today visitors can explore the remains of the royal castle that once stood here, as well as take in wonderful views over the Wiltshire plains.
Old City Center
Another idyllic activity while in Salisbury is walking the many quaint streets of the Old City Centre. Packed full of delightful architecture dating from medieval times to the 19th century, highlights include the 15th-century parish church of St. Thomas of Canterbury; the wide market place with its medieval market landmark, Poultry Cross; and the 15th-century Plume of Feathers Inn. The area’s impeccably preserved past is also juxtaposed with modern independent shops and restaurants that add a dash of contemporary charm to the olde worlde ambience.
Salisbury International Arts Festival
Featuring a diverse programme of music, theatre, film, dance, spoken word, visual arts, family and free events, this hugely popular annual festival explodes out of the Playhouse and Arts Centre and into the streets and public spaces of Salisbury. Held to coincide with May half-term, it attracts visitors from far and wide and is particularly known for its family-friendly attractions and atmosphere.
Venues across Salisbury / 27 May – 19 June 2022
One of the highlights of the Salisbury Arts Centre’s busy programming takes place on the last Friday of every month in the shape of this highly-rated comedy event. Featuring a trio of top acts from the London Comedy Circuit and beyond, introduced by a guest compere, the monthly event draws comedy fans from Salisbury and further afield who come for a healthy dose of laughter – and are rarely disappointed. Tickets start at £15.50.
Salisbury Arts Centre / 25 March 2022
‘The Art of Stonehenge’ exhibition
If you can’t quite manage to visit the actual Stonehenge, then this exhibition that kicks off in spring is the next best thing. Complementing the ‘British Art: Ancient Landscapes’ exhibition on show in the Salisbury Museum’s Main Exhibition Galleries, it features representations of Stonehenge that span the centuries and artistic mediums, playing on our continuing fascination with this ancient site. It also provides a rare opportunity to see works from the museum’s collection not usually on display. Museum entrance is £8.80 for adults and £4.40 for children aged 5 and up.
The Salisbury Museum / Through 12 June 2022
‘Prince Philip Colonel-in-Chief’ exhibition
Since his death in 2021, there have been a multitude of events celebrating and honouring the long and distinguished life of Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. This exhibition adds to these eulogies, marking the Duke’s commitment to the regiments through a series of amalgamations from 1953 until 2020. On display are Prince Phillips’ ceremonial uniform, photographs, documents and historic artefacts showing his service to the infantrymen of Wiltshire and Berkshire. Museum admission is £5 for adults and £3 for kids aged 5 or over.
The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum / Through December 2022
The Charter Market
Salisbury has held markets since its first Charter, which was granted way back in 1227. This buzzing market still takes place bi-weekly (Tuesday & Saturday) in the 15th-century market place, with more than sixty independent traders selling a huge assortment of crafts, clothes and jewellery, and plenty more. There’s a specialist farmers market held on the same site at the same time, featuring a variety of fresh local produce and speciality culinary items.
The Guildhall, Market Place / Tues & Sat 7.30am-4pm Closed Sun-Mon & Weds-Fri
By Paul Joseph