Celebrate National Picnic week - 19th to 27th June
Beautiful countryside, a rug laid out in the cool shade of a tree and a wicker basket packed full of goodies. Picnicking is one of the UK’s most enjoyable summer traditions and is a great way of taking advantage of any open spaces in your local area over the warmer months of the year.
National Picnic Week takes place from 19th to 27th June. People throughout the UK will be gathering up their picnic accessories and finding any excuse to eat in the great outdoors. So why not grab your blankets and baskets out of the cupboards and get outside for a good old-fashioned picnic.
Tasty treats to take on your picnic
Sandwiches, pies, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and chicken drumsticks are classic picnic treats as they're all finger foods that travel well. For vegetarians, falafels in pitta pockets make a tasty and healthy snack that are easy to eat with your hands.
Fruit, cheese, French bread, dried fruit, pre-cut vegetables with dips and crackers with hummus all make great options for a healthy and tasty picnic that can be packed in just a few minutes. Keep it simple!
Don’t forget to take a drink with you. Refreshing beverages can add the finishing touch to your outdoor meal. Citrus based drinks made with lemons, limes or oranges are particularly thirst-quenching. Tea is another refreshing drink to take on any picnic. In the summer try iced tea for a change. Add a slice of lemon or ginger instead of milk. Always take a large bottle of water with you even if you are providing other drinks. It is a good back up and comes in handy if you need to wash sticky fingers.
What to take on your picnic
Eating outside is a great opportunity to get some fresh air, sunlight and vitamin D but it’s important to protect your skin by packing sunscreen. While lunching under an umbrella or tree can reduce the impact of UV rays, skin damage is still possible in the shade. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your feet if you are wearing wide fit sandals as you don’t want to burn your toes.
Reduce the chances of insect bites and stings by taking along and liberally applying insect repellent. Repellents with DEET, lemon, eucalyptus oil and picaridin generally last longer than other sprays, and work best when applied after sunscreen.
You may want to opt for picnic destinations that have chairs or tables provided, but on a beautiful day, seating might be limited. Don’t forget to bring along a blanket for both seating and spreading your lunch fare.
A small knife can be one of the most versatile tools in a picnic basket. Slicing fruit or cutting sandwiches at your picnic destination (instead of beforehand) can help keep foods fresh. Small blades that fold or come with sheaths are best for packing away in your basket; some cutlery manufacturers make knives with picnics and outdoor meals in mind.
While napkins are easy to pack and dispose of, a sturdy kitchen roll offers more versatility. Kitchen roll can be used to cover foods from bugs, provide extra protection when wrapped around wine glasses or bottles, and can do a better job of sopping up spills than handfuls of paper napkins.
A bin bag
Tuck a bin bag into your basket so you can take your rubbish home with you. Bin bags can also double as rain ponchos in case of unexpected summer storms, or if sliced open, can lay under your blanket to keep wet grass from seeping through.
Mayonnaise-based foods like potato salad can spoil while delicate greens can wilt in the summer heat, so if chilled water bottles aren’t enough to keep your cooler or picnic basket cold, add a few ice packs to your hamper.
Many picnic foods, like sandwiches and fruit, don’t require any silverware, which is what makes them perfect for a day in the park. But common picnic salads, like potato or macaroni, can be difficult to serve and eat without a large spoon. Pack extra utensils just in case, or at least serving spoons for foods that can be scooped.
Something to do
While picnics are often focused on food, half the fun is enjoying the outdoors. Kites, Frisbees and balls are common picnic toys, but you don’t have to move around just because it’s traditional. Spend time reading or drawing for a leisurely and relaxing experience—after all, isn’t that the point of an afternoon picnic?
Fun facts about picnics
The National Picnic Week team have put together some surprising picnic facts that you may not know:
- The average person picnics at least three times a year, that’s 94 million picnics per year.
- Originally, a picnic was a fashionable social event to which each guest contributed some food.
- The French started the modern fashion for picnics when they opened their royal parks to the public after the revolution of 1789.
- The use of the phrase “no picnic” to describe something difficult dates back to 1884.
- The most popular picnic snack fifty years ago was the humble cheese sandwich. Now, it’s a bag of crisps.
- The most popular day for picnics in the US is the 4th of July. In Italy it’s Easter Monday. In France, it’s Bastille Day. In the UK, it’s (weather dependent) rapidly becoming National Picnic Week.
- Fortnum & Mason, the London department store, claims to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738. They still sell them today.