The Chester Rows

Rachel Bailey reports back from this year’s AGTO Showcase in Warrington with some handy tips for groups planning a future trip to the city and surrounding area.

I’ve returned from the Association of Group Travel Organisers (AGTO) Showcase Weekend in Warrington with plenty of inspiration to share with our readers.

The networking event this year was aimed at boosting group tourism to the Chester and Cheshire region, and the fam trips that accompanied the showcase along with a discussion panel offered something for all to take away.

Here are some of the attractions attendees were able to visit on the three fam trips on offer, that will hold plenty of appeal for group travel organisers seeking a jam-packed itinerary in the future.

1. Chester Cathedral is a beautiful historic space where history is in abundance. Groups visiting before October can enjoy Ark, a series of art installations that include a Damien Hirst and a Sir Antony Gormley. The cathedral itself is amazing to walk around regardless of the exhibition, and groups can enjoy guided tours and catering packages at a discounted rate.

Chester cathedral

Pictured: Chester Cathedral.

2. Extending a warm welcome to groups is Storyhouse. New for 2017, the opening of Chester’s £37 million cultural hub provides a new lease of life for a Grade II Listed Odeon with a new boutique cinema, theatre, library, and rooftop bar. Groups can enjoy catering options, as well as discounted rates in the theatre for groups of ten or more and 25 or more on selected shows.

3. Discounted admission for groups of 15 or more people can be expected at Chester Zoo, where 125 acres of land and a vast collection of animals are waiting to be explored. The Zoofari Monorail, a Lazy River Boat Trip, the Islands Zones and a wet weather walk are some of the highlights to be enjoyed during a visit. Guided tours for groups can be arranged that look at how there came to be a zoo in Chester, some animal profiles, and behind-the-scene details whilst walking around the zoo.

A sun bear at Chester Zoo

Pictured: A sun bear at Chester Zoo.

4. Dubbed the ‘cathedral of the canals’, the Anderton Boat Lift was built in 1875 to lift narrowboats and barges 50-feet between the River Weaver and Trent and Mersey Canal. Intrepid groups can embark on the Top of the World behind-the-scenes tour that takes them to the top of a lift to the previously unseen control room. Alternatively they can go on a gentle river cruise.

5. Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet is a haven for groups who enjoy an outing that involves shopping. It’s said to be the largest designer outlet in the UK and is located close to Chester Zoo and the Blue Planet Aquarium. The centre has over 145 stores including Ted Baker, Karen Millen, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren and Charles Tyrwhitt and boasts over 8.3 million visitors a year. Prebooked groups staying for two hours or more can enjoy a 10% discount in stores.

For more to do in Chester and its surrounding region, visit