Art, sculpture and countryside relaxation – this town in England’s sunny southeast offers everything you need for a weekend escape. Check out what Harlow has to offer and start planning your trip today!

Founded in Essex after the Second World War, Harlow was one of a string of new towns built to accommodate London’s swelling population. Since then, it’s developed into an international centre for sculpture and creativity; the town is a true hidden gem for art lovers. Here a few of our favourite things about the area.

Harlow, the Sculpture Town

The town’s Art Trust has been gathering works by well-known sculptors since the 1950s. This longstanding project won Harlow the name of Britain’s Sculpture Town. Household names like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Auguste Rodin are all represented in Harlow’s collection, which boasts over one hundred pieces. Perry Green – Henry Moore’s house – will be closed until Spring 2014, but with so many of his works on public display throughout the town, you’re sure to find a new favourite piece at the Civic Centre or the Water Gardens.

The Gibberd Garden

Relax. Away from the stress of the Big Smoke, the Gibberd Garden is the kind of horticultural idyll that typifies England’s “green and pleasant land.” What better way to spend an afternoon than strolling such a tranquil spot? Make a day of your garden exploration by following up with a trip to Little Baddow, another picture perfect patch just 30 minutes from Harlow.

The Red Cow in Chrishall

Drink it in. We think anyone from keen country ramblers to urban couture junkies will enjoy a trip to this pub. Is there anything more refreshing than a long walk ending in an afternoon pint? The pub sits on England’s oldest road, the Icknield Way, and its classic menu and rotating selection of traditional beers will make you feel like you’ve truly gone back in time.

Saffron Walden Market

This historic market town sits near Chrishall, and if you plan your visit for a Saturday, you’ll be able to stop off at the market while you’re here. Stocked with local produce and artisanal goods, the market is a one-stop treasure trove for packing the perfect English countryside picnic – you’ll even find your basket at one of the craft stalls!

Parndon Mill Gallery

Harlow’s riverside arts hub, Parndon Mill, hosts an ever-changing programme of contemporary exhibitions and a strong calendar of classes and events. There’s more to this gallery than landscapes – though there are some beautiful local scenes on display – with flamenco guitars and metal sculptures among the artworks represented. Just a 10 minute drive from our Park Inn by Radisson Harlow Hotel, we love making a day of any visit by walking along the banks of the River Stort.