Birthplace and home to England's Bard, William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon (not to be confused with Stratford, London, the home of the London Olympics; or Stafford in Staffordshire) is a quaint and picturesque market town in Warwickshire County that is still home to the Royal Shakespeare Company today. The renowned theatre group has a reputation for staging definitive Shakespearean remakes, but have also enjoyed successful runs of a variety of other material that ranges from Roald Dahl's "Mathilda" to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible."
Many of the sights in and around the town are connected to Shakespeare. The trademark theatre, The Swan, sits majestically beside the river Avon, relaunched after a major refurbishment in 2010. New Place, the last residence of Shakespeare, was converted in 1756 into a garden by the then-owner Reverend Francis Gastrell, after frequent uninvited visitors interested in Shakespeare's past and bureaucratic pains with the then-council. Nash's House, the adjacent house once owned by one of Shakespeare's son-in-laws, has been turned in to a museum commemorating the Tudor period in which Shakespeare lived. A bit further afield in Shottery, near the Stratford area, is Anne Hathaway's cottage (she was the wife of Shakespeare); the house of Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, is in nearby Wilmcote.
If Shakespeare does not rock your boat, don't worry -- Stratford is a pretty town with a wonderful array of small independent knick-knack shops and high-street chains. There are many good eateries catering for a wide variety of cuisines, many well-known pubs with traditional English pub grub, and an eye-watering selection of tea rooms into which to stumble. In terms of attractions, Stratford is also home to the Stratford Armouries, Bancroft Gardens, and the Stratford Butterfly Farm. Global Gathering (an electronic music festival) is held annually in the Stratford vicinity in the summer months.
Like every other touristy English town, it has independent bed and breakfasts around every corner; there are many Stratford-Upon-Avon hostels, many of them of good calibre.
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