To see, or not to see? That is not the question, because Stratford-upon-Avon is a perennial must, whatever the weather.
And what more apt time to visit William Shakespeare’s home town than around the time of The Bard’s 450th birthday on April 23?
This glover’s son transcends the centuries, with his great friend and fellow playwright Ben Jonson describing him as “not of an age, but for all time”.
But whether you know a lot or a little about the English language’s greatest writer, you soon discover a wealth of information here, beginning with Shakespeare’s Birthplace, on Henley Street.
See in fascinating detail how Elizabethans lived, from his father’s workshop to the little beds they slept in. Why so small? Partly because the Elizabethans were shorter than us, but also, we’re told, because they feared if they lay flat, the Devil might think they were dead and take their souls, so they slept upright against bolsters.
Shakespeare’s christening would probably have been on April 26 – three days after his birth – and the font in which he was baptised is at Holy Trinity Church, a short walk from the town centre.
The church, dating from 1210, is also where he is buried, in a 15th-century chancel. His grave carries a warning, that cursed be he who moves his bones.
Equally worth a visit, particularly for children, is Mary Arden’s Farm.
Shakespeare’s mother’s home, a short distance away by car and celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, is a working Tudor farm, where people “live” – and even speak – as they would have done in the 16th century.
From the farm – where Shakespeare is thought to have stayed from the age of nine, to avoid an outbreak of plague – we went to his future wife’s home, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where, as a teenager, he would have courted her.
Again, there is much to enjoy at this beautiful thatched farmhouse in the nearby village of Shottery, with its ornate gardens.
Other attractions worth viewing include Nash’s House and the site of New Place – the home where Shakespeare died, but which was demolished in 1759 by Reverend Francis Gastrell after a dispute with locals.
The Bard’s town has a variety of hotels and guest houses and one of the most impressive is the Holiday Inn, with riverside grounds close to Clopton Bridge, over which Shakespeare would have ridden.
The stylish hotel, whose staff are the epitome of helpfulness, has recently had a ￡2million revamp, but its prices won’t leave you feeling Shylock has taken his pound of flesh.
Alternatively, if you are aiming for more of a romantic stay and fancy playing Romeo (or being pampered as Juliet), you could try the Church Street Townhouse, directly opposite where Shakespeare went to school.
It’s a charming, 12-room boutique hotel from which, indeed, parting is such sweet sorrow.
If you don’t believe music is the sole food of love, there are plenty of -restaurants and watering holes.
High among them – in elevation and quality – is the rooftop restaurant above the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. A great time to go is after the theatre crowd have taken their seats. You can enjoy the quiet, relaxed -atmosphere where the excellent Shawn Bennett and staff were as attentive as a lead character waiting for his cue.
The food is first-class and they supplied the freshest starter I’ve tasted, a wonderful goat’s cheese and pistachio roulade.
And, even if the view may make you giddy, the menu prices won’t.
On a fine spring day, you can emulate The Merchant of Venice and take to the River Avon by gondola. Avon Boating provides the world’s oldest working gondola, a calming experience as you glide along the gentle waters.
Also on the waterfront is actors’ pub the Dirty Duck, where Sir John Gielgud and Richard Burton, among others, donated signed photos for the wall. If you fancy rubbing shoulders with stars of current productions – Henry IV Pt I and II – it’s the place to go after curtain down, around 10.30pm.
All in all, celebrate the Bard’s 450th and unwind, exactly As You like It.