The most recent figures from Marketing Cheshire found that over 35 million visitors came to Chester in 2017, raising the value of the local tourist industry to more than £2 billion per annum. The former CEO of Marketing Cheshire, Katrina Michel, said: "The figures show that visitors love visiting Cheshire and, what’s more, we know that more visitors are keen to come... External factors like the weak exchange rate have led to strong UK demand for short breaks. Cheshire has risen to the challenge with a mix of events and accommodation that suits all ages, pockets and weathers."
Marketing Cheshire ascribes this success, in part, to some of the area's chief attractions and events, which include:
- Chester Zoo
- Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet
- Tattenhall’s Ice Cream Farm
- Chester’s Storyhouse Theatre
- Chester Racecourse
Last year, Chester's tourism sector grew still further. Hotel occupancy rates were at an all-time high, prompting Cheshire East Council to describe 2018 as "another bumper year for hospitality sector." Cheshire East’s council leader Rachel Bailey said “this is an excellent start to 2019 and demonstrates just how successful the borough’s hospitality industry has become. There is evidence that tourism has shown a real increase, and this may well be linked to the expectation for HS2 and the overall buoyant Cheshire East economy."
In 2019, no one in Chester’s tourism sector is likely to be resting on their laurels. New investment and a busy calendar of events promises to make the forthcoming season one of the city's biggest ever. Here are just a few highlights to be encountered in Chester this summer.
Chester Races are one of the city's biggest summer draws, and 15th June will mark one of the most popular events in the course's calendar: the Summer Saturday race day. Ladies Evening takes place on 28th June, and the Summer Festival begins on the 29th.
The course is also the setting for the Chester Racecourse Tour, which takes place on June 21st. Organised as part of Chester Heritage Festival, this 90-minute guided tour is packed full of stories about local history and racing, taking in everything from the Roman era to the present day.
More generally, the Chester Heritage Festival features more than 60 events, all celebrating Chester’s rich history. They will take place on the streets, along the waterways and in a variety of public buildings, offering a mix of performances, exhibitions, walks, talks and storytelling.
Throughout the summer and, indeed, well into the autumn, Chester Boat's Sightseeing River Cruises will be taking visitors onto the River Dee to enjoy restful tours of riverside properties and sites of historical interest. There's also a 2-hour Iron Bridge Cruise, which passes through the Duke of Westminster's scenic estate on its way to the Grade 1-listed Aldford Iron Bridge.
Between the 12th and 16th June, the Bolesworth International Horse Show will be taking place at Bolesworth Castle, a short way out from the city centre. Promising "four days of world-class sport, fabulous family entertainment and live music," the show will include show jumping, dressage and a polo competition.
One of Chester's most unique happenings is Chester’s Midsummer Watch Parade, one of the strangest and most colourful events in the country. For over 600 years, people have transformed themselves into angels, devils, green men and mythical beasts, as well as more historical figures from the city's past. As memorable as it is spectacular, the parade starts from the Town Hall Square and runs from 22nd to 23rd June.
June will also see daily performances of The Little Shop of Horrors at Storyhouse, Chester’s award-winning theatre, restaurant and cinema. Then, on 23rd and 24th June, the same venue will host the Chester Music Festival, which will feature special premieres, live jazz, world–class classical recitals and contemporary dance, as well as a chance to join in with a number of performances.
Other highlights in June include a Tour de France-themed wine dinner, a series of Taste Cheshire farmers' markets, a wedding showcase event, and a performance by Chester Bach Singers of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, which will take place in Chester Cathedral.
Chester Live will run from the 4th to 7th July at public venues across Chester. A celebration of live music, the community based event promises entertainment for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Another cultural attraction in July will be a live performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre. The play runs from 5th July to 24th August. The same theatre will also host performances of The Borrowers (13th July to 25th August) and Henry V (25th July to 25th August.)
The 6th July marks the return of the (strangely spelled) Nghtwrk Open Air 002, which will be held at the Carriage Shed. An outdoor extravaganza of electronic music, it will feature a team of DJs and promises to be even bigger and better than last year's inaugural event.
Sporting visitors might care to join the Liverpool-Chester-Liverpool charity bike ride on the 7th July; an event that raises funds for Claire House Children's Hospice. The ride offers a range of distances to suit all abilities, from 5 to 100 miles.
The Chester Race for Life takes place the same day; a fund-raiser for Cancer Research UK. Held at Chester Racecourse, it offers routes including a 5k, 10k and 'Pretty Muddy'.
Chester Races will, of course, be continuing its programme of race days and evenings throughout the summer, and two of the most notable of these will be the City Plate Day on 13th July, and the Midsummer Meeting on 27th July.
In addition to a Family Fun Day on 4th August, Chester Races will be hosting a number of other events including Ladies Day on the 31st.
The 10th August will see the start of the Cheshire Pride festival, which celebrates the city's LGBTQ+ communities.
In nearby Northwich, history buffs will enjoy the Civil War Weekend (11th to 12th August), which takes place close to the famous Anderton Boat Lift. There will be live demonstrations of period activities and crafts, pike, sword and musket displays, and entertainment for the kids.
Throughout July and August, the Roman Gardens will play host to open air cinema nights. Moonlight Flicks Chester will be screening nine films in all, ranging from Black Panther to Ghostbusters.
Towards the end of the month (26th to 28th August) Cheshire Show Ground will be the venue for The Cheshire Game & Country Fair. The largest event in the region, it will feature a variety of attractions, pursuits and entertainment, as well as a chance to sample some of the county's best food and drink.
Visit Chester this Summer
With its historic Roman walls, a world-renowned racecourse and its ever-popular zoo, Chester is always likely to feature high on people's "must visit" lists. Tourist numbers have been rising steadily in recent years and the summer of 2019 is almost certain to see yet more records being broken.
If you're planning to visit Chester over the summer, why not consider some of the modern and spacious short-term let apartments on offer? Residential Estates manages a portfolio of short-term lets in Chester that offer guests affordable luxury accommodation.
For help or advice on choosing accommodation in Chester, please see our Short Term Lets page, or contact a member of our Lettings team on 01244 343355.