Monthly Archives: November 2012

Winter fun in Britain

There are plenty of opportunities to soak up the festive spirit for free around Britain, beginning with a stroll down almost any street from late afternoon, when the Christmas lights twinkle and shop windows are filled with fantastic displays. London’s most elaborate decorations attract big crowds to Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street (mid-November to early January); while in Edinburgh, the city’s Norwegian Christmas Tree will light up on 26 November (see http://www.edinburghsparkles.com/christmas for the city’s full Christmas calendar). The world’s tallest Christmas tree to be made out of Lego was built out of 400,000 bricks at St Pancras International in London last year, and this year the station promises an equally stunning surprise showpiece.

There are lots of traditions the British look forward to every year, from switching on the Christmas lights to ice-skating in the open air. VisitBritain picks highlights from around the nation

There are lots of traditions the British look forward to every year, from switching on the Christmas lights to ice-skating in the open air. VisitBritain picks highlights from around the nation

Winter is a great time to bring the family to Britain, and many children have learnt to ice-skate against the picturesque background of Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum or Edinburgh’s dramatic skyline at East Princes Street Gardens. This year Kew Gardens will also be home to a Santa’s Grotto, with Winter Tree Tours, a vintage carousel and roasted chestnuts to conjure the festive atmosphere (www.kew.org). Nature-lovers should go to Longleat, the popular safari park in Wiltshire, where they’ll find a huge outdoor ice-rink as well as Britain’s biggest singing Christmas tree! It stands at 50 feet tall and is decked with almost a million multi-coloured lights. The park’s usual attractions remain open, including a Safari Drive Adventure that takes you up close to the animals in Jungle Kingdom (www.longleat.co.uk, 16 Nov – 9 Dec, then 14 Dec – 7 Jan 2013).

Highlights of this year’s Southbank Winter Festival include dark comic cabaret, candlelit classical concerts and baby opera. These will run alongside a programme of free events, which include choirs singing by the river and gigs in the Royal Festival Hall foyer. Visitors can join in the fun, dancing in The Clore Ballroom, making Christmas cards and presents, and eating plenty at the the Real Food Christmas Market and Chocolate Festival (www.southbankcentre.co.uk, 16 Nov – 7 Jan).

Wales is known for its food festivals, and this year a festive market will be taking place at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff (www.wmc.org.uk), along with markets in Caerphilly Castle and Abergavenny, the food-festival capital of Wales. Cardiff Castle will play host to Victorian Christmas Tours, which promise ‘a real flavour of Christmas past’ (www.cardiffcastle.com).

The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are united in Dickens’s famous A Christmas Carol, and their story told in Scrooge The Musical, which will play in London’s West End from the end of October. The same man behind the special effects in Harry Potter is behind special illusions for the show, so it’s guaranteed to wow (www.londonpalladium.org/scrooge). The holiday season in Britain wouldn’t be complete without The Nutcracker, and the English National Ballet’s new version is part of Tamara Rojo’s first season as Artistic Director. It shows in Southampton at the end of November before moving to London’s Coliseum (www.ballet.org.uk). While The Nutcracker is an old favourite, new play The House Where Winter Lives looks set to enthral children at the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford, East London, which will be transformed into a magical frozen forest: children and their families will explore the wonder of winter in an immersive storytelling adventure (www.discover.org.uk).

For more grown-up fun, the Winter Cinema at The Berkeley Hotel in London is one of the season’s most exclusive and cosy events. Classic winter films will be shown on the hotel’s rooftop high above Knightsbridge, while guests snuggle up under Moncler blankets and sip home-made hot chocolate and mince pies (www.the-berkeley.co.uk, 26 Nov – 31 Jan). The cinema is open to anyone during the week, but reserved to guests over the weekend. Another sumptuous place to stay – and visit – is Waddesdon Manor, in Buckinghamshire. The National Trust property is stunning at any time of year, with turrets worthy of Harry Potter and sumptuous interiors, but in winter is particularly beautiful. Each year the Christmas decorations have a different theme and for 2012, as in previous years, they will reflect the five European countries where the founding sons of the Rothschild dynasty (who bought the Estate) made their fortunes, with England as the focus this year. London’s great sights – Big Ben, Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s column are outlined in the Oval Hall, great English writers Dickens and Shakespeare are celebrated and a Christmas feast fit for Victoria and Albert will be laid out in the White Drawing Room (www.waddesdon.org.uk).

Link source: http://media.visitbritain.com/Story-Ideas/Winter-fun-in-Britain-aef0.aspx

London and UK Chrsitmas Tours: http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours

Travel Editor – Best Value Tours

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Christmas in Paris. Christmas Markets in 2012-2013

The winter holiday season in the city of lights would feel degrees less cheerful and inspired without the traditional Paris Christmas markets that spring up each year. The markets, with their iconic clusters of wood chalets offering custom holiday treats like mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and specialties from various regions of France, are an essential part of celebrating Christmas in Paris. They also make an ideal outing with kids in Paris. Visit one of Paris’s many Christmas markets for a scenic winter stroll, or stock up on traditional foodstuffs or handcrafted toys, clothing and other items for gifts.

Christmas in ParisThe History of Paris Christmas Markets

Christmas markets in Paris and elsewhere in France have their origins in the northern Alsace region, which has belonged to Germany at various junctures in history and therefore draws on German Christmas market traditions stretching to as early as the 14th century. The most famous– and largest– marché de noël in France is in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace.

Paris Christmas Markets in 2012-2013

No matter where you’re staying during your holiday trip this year, you’re bound to find a market nearby. Some of these dates and times are subject to change; check back closer to December for updates.

  • Christmas Market on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées
    This is the largest Christmas market within Paris’s city limits. The market stretches from the Champs-Elysées roundabout (Metro Champs Elysées-Clémenceau) to the Place de la Concorde (Metro Concorde). Also visit the Maison de l’Alsace at 39 avenue des Champs-Elysees, a temporary boutique offering traditional Alsatian Christmas goodies.
    Open: From November 16th, 2012 through January 6th, 2013
    Location: Avenue des Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde
    Metro: Champs Elysées-Clemenceau or Concorde
  • Christmas Market at La Défense
    With 350 stands, one of the largest and most festive Christmas markets around– in the surreal setting of high-rise buildings.
    Open: From November 21st through December 29th, 2012
    Location: Parvis de la Défense (near the Grand Arche)
    Metro/RER: La Défense
  • Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Trocadero
    Featuring over 120 stands peddling Christmas goods, an ice-skating rink and “snow villages”. This one’s ideal for the kids.
    Open: Daily from December 13th, 2012 to January 6th, 2013
    Location: Place de la Trocadero, across from the Eiffel Tower
    Metro: Trocadero
  • Christmas Market and Santa’s Village at Saint-Sulpice
    Open: dates and times to be determined. Check back soon.
    Location: Place Saint-Sulpice, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Sulpice
  • Christmas Market and Santa’s Village at place Saint-Germain-des-Prés
    Open from December 6th, 2012 through January 2nd, 2013 .
    Location: Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris 6th arrondissement
    Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés
  • Christmas Market at the Montparnasse Tower
    Open from December 5th, 2012 through December 30th, 2012. This market specializes in regional French delicacies.
    Location: In front of the Gare Montparnasse, facing the tower.
    Metro: Montparnasse Bienvenue
  • Christmas Market at Place de la Nation
    Open daily from early December (precise dates to be announced), 1:00 am to 8:00 pm
    Location: Place de la Nation, 11th arrondissement
    Metro/RER: Nation
  • Christmas Market at Place d’Italie
    Open from November 24th-December 24th, 2012.
    Location: Centre Commercial Italie 2 (Shopping Center), Metro Place d’Italie
  • Christmas Market at the Place des Abbesses
    This market, nestled in the heart of the quaint Montmartre neighborhood, will be open daily starting in December (precise dates to be announced).
    Location: Place des Abbesses, 18th arrondissement
    Metro: Abbesses
  • Christmas Market at Gare de l’Est
    Dates and times tbd: check back soon.
    Location: Gare de l’Est, 10th arrondissement
    Metro: Gare de l’Est
  • Christmas Market at Notre Dame Cathedral
    This year a market dedicated to arts, crafts, and fine cuisine is set to spring up on the square outside Notre Dame Cathedral, where a giant Christmas tree generally stands as well each year. Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, warm chalets and even Santa Claus are reportedly set to take the square by storm.
    Open: Daily from December 15th-23rd, 2012.
    Location: Place du Parvis de Notre Dame, Metro/RER St Michel or Cité
  • Full article: http://goparis.about.com/od/shopping/a/parischristmasmarkets.htm

Needless to say we are offering some fantastic tours to Paris (departing from London) this festive season
http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/european-tours/paris-via-eurostar-train-tours

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

London Winter Wonderland Christmas spectacular, Hyde Park.

As if Winter Wonderland wasn’t already an all-out Christmas spectacular, this year we bring you even more thrills, festivities and sparkling winter magic…

London Winter Christmas WonderlandTHE MAGICAL ICE KINGDOM
A spectacular ice & snow sculpture experience!
Follow the magical pathways and admire the beauty of the exquisite sculptures and crystal-like characters throughout the themed rooms. Meet the woodland ice creatures as you roam through the stalagmite forest – the ice bears, wolves, stags, owls, foxes and rabbits. Try a seat in the fairy tale unicorn-pulled carriage and take the slide in the magnificent ice castle. Specially created by Winter Wonderland and unique to the UK, this arctic experience will take your breath away!

SANTA’S FACTORY IN SANTA LAND!
Children and adults alike will be enchanted by our unmissable addition to Santa Land this year. Introducing: Santa’s Factory – a fun-house where Santa and his industrious elves are making gifts ready for the big day! Walk through his magical sleigh, meet the elves and pay a visit to Santa’s Lapland grotto.

WINTER WONDERLAND STAR FLYER
If you’re good with heights and want to see Winter Wonderland from above try the fabulous new Star Flyer. For a truly exhilarating experience, soar over 60 metres into the air as it spins 360 degrees and feel the wind through your hair. It’s the closest thing to flying!

DOUBLE-DECKER CAROUSEL
This beautiful carousel takes the traditional festive ride to a new level – literally! Featuring two glittering decks of unusual and fantastical animals for you to ride – choose from a sea dragon, eagle, reindeer, sea horse, tiger, elephant and many more!

YULETIDE MARKET
In addition to the popular Angels Market – over 100 charming wooden chalets selling a wide array of unique and handmade gifts – this year sees the introduction of a second market area. The Yuletide Market gives you an even bigger Christmas shopping experience, including traditional yuletide gifts, jewellery, winter wear, wooden toys and Christmas decorations.

Winter Wonderland is the UK’s biggest Christmas attraction, taking place each Christmas at Hyde Park and becoming one of London’s great festive traditions. The attraction is open from 10:00am to 10:00pm.

Winter Wonderland features numerous seasonal attractions including The Magical Ice Rink, the Giant Observation Wheel, the Room on the Broom stage show, and fantastic circus shows performed inside a heated big top tent.

Entry to Winter Wonderland is free, with charges for some of the attractions. Entrance to see Santa is free.

Link: http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/tickets
London Christmas Tours: http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

All roads lead to London. WTM Preview

THE World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is set to open doors once again from November 5-8 at ExCel, London. Reed Travel exhibition director World Travel Market Simon Press highlights some of the new initiatives in store for exhibitors and buyers this year.

WTM continues to grow with strong pre-registration numbers

WTM continues to grow with strong pre-registration numbers

Over the years, WTM has witnessed an increase in the number of exhibitors registering for the event. How has the response been this year?

World Travel Market has gone from strength to strength in recent years, visitor numbers have outperformed expectations year on year even with the global economic downturn. The numbers are a testament to the importance of the event in the calendar of more than 47,000 global trade professionals who attend WTM.

There has been an excellent response to registration this year, with pre-registration figures currently ahead of the equivalent point this time last year. We expect that these strong pre-registration figures will convert into actual attendees at WTM 2012 in a few weeks’ time.

 

Which exhibitors will make their debut this year?

We have a number of exciting new exhibitors making their debut at WTM in 2012; leading car hire agency, Autorent Car Rental, a Dubai based company has operations that stretch across the Middle East. UK based luxury car rental company; Season Car Hire also comes to WTM for the first time this year, with some exciting plans for their stand at the show.

Can we expect to see a strong delegation from the Middle East too?

As in previous year’s we are again seeing a strong contingent of exhibitors from the Middle East represented at WTM 2012. There is a strong presence from tourism authorities, hotels, resorts and attractions from the UAE especially, as the industry looks to the prosperous Middle Eastern market as an area for growth.

Abu Dhabi signed a three year Premier Partnership deal with World Travel Market covering WTM 2010, 2011 and 2012. Abu Dhabi is booming in terms of hotel and resort openings and visitor arrivals. We’re delighted to see our strong partnership is reaping rewards for the destination and looking forward to helping it showcase its latest developments.

What was the need for an extra Speed Networking Event this year? How can WTM Meridian Club members make the most of this?

After the phenomenal success of our Speed Networking sessions over the past here events, it was decided that, new for 2012, World Travel Market is introducing an extra Speed Networking session on Thursday 8th November. This newly incorporated session will offer Meridian Club members a final opportunity to network, generate new business deals and ensure their business opportunities extend beyond WTM.

More than 200 (204) buyers and 438 exhibitors took part in the Speed Networking the Monday morning of WTM 2011. The event took place before the exhibition opened to give exhibitors and buyers from the WTM Meridian Club even more time to discuss and conclude business deals. It hoped that this strong attendance is replicated at WTM 2012.

For Meridian club members attending this event, to make the most of this opportunity, the best advice would be to research exhibitors in attendance and scope out early those of interest; have an agenda and make sure your intentions and objectives are clear.

What are the emerging trends at WTM this year?

World Travel Market is at the forefront of industry insight and opinion, providing a unique platform on which global trade professionals can find out about the latest trends and issues impacting the industry from leading industry figures.

As pre-empted in our strengthening WRTD programme at WTM, the on-going challenges of implementing responsible tourism practises is likely to remain high on the agenda for 2013. Although support in the industry is already strong, more active participation in initiatives promoting this cause is needed.

The importance of technology and social media in the sector is becoming increasingly relevant as internet usage increases, both in mature and developing online markets. We see the return on the extremely popular Social Travel Market programme taking place on November 7 and 8.

With the launch of WTM Latin America have participants from the US reduced this year? Looking ahead, what is your strategy to ensure that does not happen?

WTM Latin America is targeted at the booming Brazilian and Latin American travel and tourism industry. It is estimated that the number of tourists travelling to Latin America will increase by 5.2 per cent a year to more than 55 million in 2021 from just over 33 million in 2011.  The event will fuel the growth of tourism within the region, and make the industry aware that Latin America is one of the most important and emerging tourism destinations in the world.

Due to the scale and importance of World Travel Market, it was never felt, in launching WTM Latin America, that it would pull focus away from WTM in London.

Global trade professionals come to WTM not just to network and conduct business with more than 5,000 exhibitors under one roof, but also for our unparalleled events programme lead by industry experts.

“I am delighted that the amount of business conducted at World Travel Market continues to increase, firmly positioning WTM as a must-attend exhibition for national and regional tourist boards, global brands and technology companies”

Link: http://www.ttnworldwide.com/articles.aspx?ID=1906&artID=13352
L
ink: http://www.wtmlondon.com/

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours (www.BestValueTours.co.uk)