When Henley on Thames throws a party the world notices. This is a town with an international reputation for the world's greatest rowing regatta, the 'joie de vivre' of the summer arts festival plus 80's music feast Rewind to measure up to. And Henley respects tradition.
A 12th century South Oxfordshire market town, Henley's historic heart sits a few strides from the river Thames. The main street has many Georgian frontages covering older buildings and among the 300 buildings within the town designated 'of special architectural or historical interest' are St Mary's church, the town hall, market place and Henley Bridge. Pick up '10 Brilliant things to do', the Henley Environment Trail, the 'Henley Trail' the Henley Town Map or the Visit Midsomer - Southern Trail leaflets to provide more inspiration.
Henley's riverside location – surrounded by a Chiltern landscape of wooded hills and green fields – lends itself to relaxation, long lunches and power shopping. There's a pub where Charles I drank, a Chantry house, a butcher that smokes his own bacon and shops still offering a personal touch.
This is a town dedicated to enjoying the river. So bring a picnic, pick up a copy of Wind in the Willows and settle for an hour on the waterfront. Watch others messing about on the river, or hire a boat and join in the fun – the summer straw boater and stripy blazer combo is optional.
Claim to Fame:
The Royal Regatta and Music and Arts Festival are established highlights of the English social season and give Henley an international reputation but did you know that both Dusty Springfield and George Harrison lived in Henley-upon-Thames until their untimely deaths?
Five things to do in Henley on Thames:
Visit the River and Rowing Museum – and greet statues of two great Olympians Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent
Go rowing or take a boat trip – enjoy the famous regatta course relaxing on a river cruise or energetically in a rowing boat all with one of Henley's oldest companies, Hobbs of Henley or if you want a a one-off Henley Rowing Experience try The Henley Rowing Association - beginners welcome!
Walk along the Thames Path – the route to Hambleden lock is 2.5 miles long or take a guided tour around the town.
Attend a performance at Kenton Theatre - one of the oldest performing theatres in the country
Take afternoon tea – a perfect brew teamed with either scones and jam or a slice of cake
Four things to do near Henley on Thames:
Stonor Park - home of Lord and Lady Camoys, one of England's oldest manor houses has a fine collection of contemporary ceramics
Grey's Court – National Trust run 16th-century mansion and tranquil gardens with outstanding 18th century plasterwork
The Herb Garden – specialist Herb nursery and Saxon Maze with a mile of curving grass pathways
Nuffield Place - visit the time-capsule home of the philanthropist William Morris, Lord Nuffield, the founder of Morris Motor Cars and one of the richest men in the world.
What's on in Henley on Thames:
Henley could easily be renamed Festival-on-Thames for the number and variety of annual arts, sports and traditional events hosted in and around the town.
Each summer 'Henley Reach' sees the world's elite rowers compete at the Royal Regatta. They are cheered on by spectators enjoying the sport, the champagne and the strawberries. Enclosure dress code is strictly enforced yet non-enclosure spectators can equally soak up the occasion and encourage the crews. It's free to watch from the riverside so pick your spot well.
Henley Festival of Music and Arts attracts some of the world´s top entertainers to perform on a floating stage in front of a dinner-jacketed audience. Mixing classical, jazz and popular music, the festival also includes exhibitions of art and sculpture.
Remember to also look out for the fabulous Henley Fringe where many performers hone their acts for Edinburgh; Henley Literary Festival one of the preeminent festivals on the circuit, attracting a host of famous authors, and the 80's Rewind Festival.
Henley is situated in the county of Oxfordshire, in South East England. It is within short distance of some of England's busiest cities, including London, Reading and Oxford. Henley is also easily accessible, being only 30 minutes from Heathrow Airport, 20 minutes from multiple motorways and having rail and bus links with many towns and cities, including those said above.