The rise of international tourism and UK castle holidays
International tourism at Thornbury Castle is becoming ever more popular, with many guests wanting to holiday with us and know more about the history of the castle and its infamous previous owner, King Henry VIII. We recently interviewed Asta Darling, a US Tik Tok content creator with a particular interest and education in period costume, to find out more about the rise of 'experience holidays' like that of a stay in a castle, rather than the traditional beach/city break.
1. What makes castles, such as Thornbury Castle here in the UK, such a desirable destination for US tourists?
Where else would you be able to have the opportunity to spend the night immersed in such a rich history? At Thornbury you follow in the footsteps of a King and a Queen. There are only a handful of castles you may stay in overnight in the world but none boast the historical connection of Henry VIII that Thornbury Castle has.
2. Why is Tudor history of particular interest to you?
I have a Bachelors Degree in Costuming for the Stage and Screen and Tudor history has always been a fascination of mine. The Tudor Dynasty covers the rise of Henry VII in 1485 and ends with the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. From an art and fashion standpoint it was such a culturally rich time period. Every King and Queen of the Dynasty left their own far reaching ripples in the lake of time. From their victories in the field to the legacies they left behind, the Tudors are arguably one of the most famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) families in the world.
3. What is the fascination with King Henry VIII?
I think my fascination is not so much with Henry VIII himself but rather his six wives. In a way every wife rewrote history.
4. Have you visited Thornbury Castle before? What were your first impressions?
I was able to stay with you last year in the Catherine of Aragon Suite in one of the towers and driving past the gates of the castle was such an incredible experience! I knew we were staying in a castle but I don’t think it ever sunk in until I was handed my skeleton key and we started making our way up the tower steps.
5. Do you think US tourism has changed in the last few years? Are ‘experiences’ such as castle holidays more popular?
I think with the ease of travel restrictions after the pandemic, tourism is at an all time high as people long to make up for the time that was lost. With the rise of social media I think experiences are what people are drawn to. People want to be immersed in history and they want to be able to carry the memories of a once in a lifetime trip with them!
6. What would you say are the highlights of visiting Thornbury Castle?
Thornbury Castle offers luxury family retreats and it’s very own Henry VIII experience. From dining in Anne Boleyn’s bedchamber to the castle grounds - every single experience is unforgettable. You can indulge in an afternoon tea or with the assistance of the Tudor Royalty Experience you can dress in Tudor style costumes and dabble in falconry or take a lesson in archery. The castle offers a package for everyone.
7. Could you sum up your stay at Thornbury Castle in four words
Dreams do come true.