Monthly Archives: December 2012
Celebrate the end of London’s year like no other and welcome 2013 with a bang, watching the Mayor’s spectacular, free New Year’s Eve fireworks
The night skies will be a blaze of light and colour on Monday 31 December 2012 with a display of stunning pyrotechnics by the London Eye on the famous South Bank.
“Our New Year’s Eve fireworks will cap a triumphant year for London. As we welcomed the world to the magnificent celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the glorious success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, London was at its very best. From the thrilling sporting action to the breathtaking cultural celebrations, it has been an unforgettable year and I am immensely proud of the contribution that our Ambassadors made to that success. As we go into 2013 with a spectacular fireworks display I hope we can build on that energy and enthusiasm to make ours the best big city in the world.” Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Staying in London ?
We have a range of Sighteeing Tours and Attractions:
Best Value Tours
The tree is an annual gift from Norway to London as a mark of thanks for British support during the Second World War.
After it was hand picked by an expert panel and felled from a forest near Oslo two weeks ago, the tree travelled more than 700 miles to light up the West End.
At 21 metres, the Norwegian Spruce – which is estimated to be aged between 115 and 120 years old – is taller than normal and required extra lights to be lit.
Nearby Nelson’s Column stands 52 metres tall.
Up to 1,000 people turned out to see the tree lit by The Governing Mayor of Oslo, Stian Berger Rosland, at a special ceremony last night, which was also attended by The Lord Mayor of Westminster, councillor Angela Harvey.
There were also festive musical performances by Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, the St-Martin-In-The-Fields church choir and the Regent Hall Band of the Salvation Army.
Children from St Clement Danes primary school also read a specially written poem called Friendship, inspired by the tradition.
Councellor Harvey, who helped to fell the tree in Oslo, said: “For many Londoners, the lighting of the tree at Trafalgar Square heralds the beginning of the festive season, and I am delighted to welcome all of Westminster’s residents and our visitors to share this iconic symbol of Christmas.
“I would like to thank the people of Oslo for this wonderful tree, the gift of which is a tradition that goes back many years, and has come to represent not only the start of Christmas, but also a long-standing friendship between Norway and the United Kingdom.”
Mr Rosland added: “We hope the tree will contribute once again to the festive atmosphere of London. On behalf of the citizens of Oslo I wish you all a joyous Christmas season.”
For the first time Londoners can follow the tree, which will remain lit 24 hours a day until the twelfth night of Christmas on January 6, on Twitter at @trafalgartree.
Follow @bestvaluetours for festive news and Christmas special offers
London Christmas Tours – Click here
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
For the UK population, they are places of worship but for tourists visiting from abroad, our churches are just as much a part of the sightseeing map as Big Ben or Stonehenge
As many as 22 per cent of visits by overseas residents to the UK last year included a trip to a church or other religious building.
And Brazilians are beating the biggest path to Britain’s religious buildings, according to a new survey.
Brazilians made the most visits, with 55 per cent of their stays including a tour of a religious building, figures from VisitBritain showed.
Australians and Americans made the next most visits to churches or places of worship, followed by Russians and Chinese.
In total, 6.7 million international tourists visited a religious building in the UK last year and those whose trips included visits of this kind spent nearly £5 billion during their stays in the UK.
VisitBritain chief executive Sandie Dawe said: ‘Whether it’s for the glorious architecture, stained glass windows, connections with famous people or just some peace and quiet – religious buildings have become a fundamental part of our tourism offering.
‘Overseas visitors rate Britain fourth out of 50 nations for built heritage. It is one of the major drivers for international visitors and an asset where Britain is truly world class.’
Full article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2245798/Britains-churches-prove-huge-draw-Brazilian-tourists.html
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
Best value Tours has something for everyone this Christmas, choose from a selection of tours and activities available throughout the festive period.
Discover the most entrancing aspects of London this Christmas with a remarkable tour of the capital. Or why not decide upon a cruise along the River Thames accompanied by a sumptuous Christmas Day lunch, for a truly memorable day? Alternatively, explore London by night on a Christmas Open Top Bus Tour, were you will be able to see the Christmas lights in all their glimmering splendour against the dark sky of London.
So what are you waiting for? Check out our fantastic range of Christmas and New Year coach tours on the above
Best Value Christmas tours
The Festive period is the perfect time to enjoy yourself and get away from it all with a City Break to London. Celebrate the festive season in style with one of our sparkling Christmas or New Year Coach Tours. Let us take away the hassle, leaving you free to relax at this very special time of the year.
What a better way to welcome in 2013 then with a New Year Cruise overlooking the 2013 London Firework Display? Bring in the New Year in style as you enjoy delicious food and great entertainment on board our New Year Cruises.
Sit back and relax this Christmas and let us take care of everything, Enjoy luxury coach travel and a choice of activities available throughout the festive period.
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours (www.BestValueTours.co.uk)
Stonehenge & Salisbury Private Custom Day Tours
For 1-6 People – See What You Want To See At A Pace You Want To Go
London Tours – Private Stonehenge & Salisbury Example Tour
Stonehenge is perhaps the single most popular destination from London on a day tour from London and Salisbury, just 30 minutes drive from Stonehenge, a great combination offering wonderful contrasts.
Both can be combined at a relatively leisurely place. You’ll certainly have a lot more time than any coach tour and be able to see what you want to see at a pace you want to go.
Stonehenge & Salisbury Tour
Both Stonehenge and Salisbury are well under two hours from Central London hotels and are only 30 minutes apart. Both are connected by the Woodford Valley, a very nice drive through small countryside villages.
Salisbury is a medieval city dominated by its magnificent cathedral built in 1220. Inside the cathedral you can see an original Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215. At 404 feet, it is the tallest spire in England, and there are tours to climb up if you wish.
In the nave you can see what is probably the oldest working mechanical clock in the world, dating to 1386. There are no hands and no clock face; rather, it rings a chime of bells every hour. It was originally built to call the bishops to services.
The Cathedral and Close are the largest and best preserved Cathedral Close in Britain. The Close, essentially a walled city within the city, is ringed by wonderful period houses.
Some of them have been converted to museums like the Salisbury Museum, which will also supplement your knowledge about Stonehenge.
Through the city walls from the Close is the city centre, a regional shopping centre with character. Tea Rooms, a large cobbled market and alleyways are a far cry from the Malls you may be used too.
By English standards Salisbury is a new city, its only about 800 years old!. Before that Salisbury was up on the hill above Salisbury at a place called Old Sarum. Originally a classic Iron Age hill fort its earthwork battlements are still impressive. The Romans came and went before the Norman’s came in the 11th Century and built a classic castle complete with moat within the old Iron Age hill fort. They also built the original Salisbury Cathedral here.
The clergy moved the Cathedral down into the valley to found modern day Salisbury, but there is still much of interest up at Old Sarum. A visit is well worthwhile.
Salisbury What To Expect
Stonehenge is on top of Salisbury Plain in a very remote location. Henges, built well before the Pyramids and before the wheel was invented are peculiar to the British Isles. Stonehenge is the most famous and one of the best preserved and has several unique features.
Stonehenge certainly can be a mystical place. Most people take around 45 minutes to visit the monument, an audio guide is included in admission. Our driver/guide though will help you get the most of your visit with further insights and guiding, maximising the Stonehenge experience.
How Many People Can Travel On The Tours?
We have two sizes of car that can accommodate up to 3 passengers and up to 6 passengers in comfort. If you have more than six people then we can provide the same tours in luxury touring buses of all sizes depending on your group size.
Tours on the buses are not performed by Harry Norman but a leading London specialist operator for groups large and small.
How Much Do Tours Cost?
Tours are priced on a total cost for the vehicle, not per person.
The exact cost depends on the size of vehicle and the duration of the tour. The cost of the tour is not inclusive of any admissions to attractions that you want to visit.
You can get a feel for the cost with current prices for our example tours
Guided Tours can depart from London, Bath, Oxford, Southampton or Salisbury
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours UK
The world’s best new year celebrations promise four days of events, concerts and spectacles, plus, of course, the famous Street Party with its breathtaking fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle.
What is Hogmanay?
Hogmanay is celebrated on New Year’s Eve, every year, usually in a most exuberant fashion in Scotland as hundreds of thousands of revellers take to the streets to see in the New Year. In the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh it has become a huge ticketed festival. Celebrations start in the early evening and reach a crescendo by midnight. Minutes before the start of new year, a lone piper plays, then the bells of Big Ben chime at the turn of midnight, lots of kissing, and everyone sings Auld Lang Syne. And then there is more kissing. Elsewhere in Scotland, particularly in more remote parts, customary first footing and Scottish dances, or ceilidhs (pronounced “kayli”), take place. For centuries, fire ceremonies — torch light processions, fireball swinging and lighting of New Year fires — played an important part in the Hogmanay celebrations. And they still do.
Where did the word Hogmanay come from
Nobody knows for sure where the word “Hogmanay” came from. Opinions differ as to whether it originated from the Gaelic oge maidne(“New Morning”), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath (“Holy Month”), or Norman French word hoguinané, which was derived from the Old French anguillanneuf (“gift at New Year”). It’s also been suggested that it came from the French au gui mener (“lead to the mistletoe”) or a Flemish combo hoog (“high” or “great”), min (“love” or “affection”) and dag (“day”). Take your pick.
What are the origins of Hogmanay?
Hogmanay’s roots reach back to the anamistic practice of sun and fire worship in the deep mid-Winter. This evolved into the ancient Saturnalia, a great Roman Winter festival, where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which became the twelve days of christmas, or the “Daft Days” as they became known in Scotland. The Winter festival went underground with the Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged at the end of the 17th Century. Since then the customs have continued to evolve to the modern day. It is only in recent years that Hogmanay has been celebrated on such a large scale: the first event of its kind was at “Summit in the City” in 1992 when Edinburgh hosted the European Union Heads of State conference. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival was so successful that it spawned similar events throughout Scotland for the millennium Hogmanay festivities. This year the big three Scottish Ne’er celebrations are Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, Glasgow’s Hogmanay and Stirling’s Hogmanay.
What is the symbolism of fire at Hogmanay?
The flame and fire at Hogmanay symbolises many things. The bringing of the light of knowledge from one year to the next, lighting the way into the next uncharted century, putting behind you the darkness past, but carrying forward its sacred flame of hope and enlightenment to a better parish, and in this day, a new fresh year,burning away of the old to make space for the new.
What is First Footing?
Traditionally, it has been held that your new year will be a prosperous one if, at the strike of midnight, a “tall, dark stranger” appears at your door with a lump of coal for the fire, or a cake or coin. In exchange, you offered him food, wine or a wee dram of whisky, or the traditional Het Pint, which is a combination of ale, nutmeg and whisky. It’s been sugggested that the fear associated with blond strangers arose from the memory of blond-haired Viking’s raping and pillaging Scotland circa 4th to 12th centuries. What’s more likely to happen these days is that groups of friends or family get together and do a tour of each others’ houses. Each year, a household takes it in turn to provide a meal for the group. In many parts of Scotland gifts or “Hogmananys” are exchanged after the turn of midnight.
When did the millennium start
Although the big celebrations marking the “New Millennium” were at the beginning of the year 2000 in the Christian calendar, according to the Greenwich Observatory, which sets the standard for Greenwich Meantime, used throughout the developed world, the old millennium is not actually “out” and the new millennium “in” until the start of the year 2001. A new millennium can’t start on the year zero.
Where is the biggest Hogmanay street party?
Edinburgh and Glasgow both have street parties for 100,000 people. This is even though the capital is less populated than Glasgow, around 450,000 compared to 750,00 people. However, although last year 100,000 tickets were distributed for the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party, a lot more people found their way in. The biggest Hogmanay street party in Scotland to date was an estimated 300,000 at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay in 1996/97 (so they say). It was too many, people were crushed, and it consequently became a ticketed event.
Who pays for the Hogmanay celebrations?
Funding comes from a mixture of soures. Smaller public events, usually involving live music and fireworks at midnight, are organised by councils across Scotland. With bigger events funding comes from private sponsorship, grants, and local tax payers. In recent years, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has started charging for tickets to the street party, which also generates more income for the annual festivities.
What are the words to Auld Lang’s Syne?
The words that many of us join hands and sing at the strike of midnight are written in old Scots, the language commonly spoken in Scotland until 1707 when Scotland’s Parliament dissolved itself and was merged with England. The words were adapted by Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s National poet, from a traditional poem.
Take a deep breath now:
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
Link Source: http://www.hogmanay.net
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours – www.BestValueTours.co.uk
Warwick Britain’s Ultimate Castle, where you’ll be surrounded by jaw-dropping history, magic, myth and adventure!
- Epic adventures for all the family
- Stunning scenery, inside and out
- Shows, battles and live entertainment
- 21st Century food, drink and facilities
A warm winter welcome awaits you at Britain’s Ultimate Castle. Feast your eyes on festive decorations, our 25 foot Christmas tree and a roaring fire all in the magnificent surrounding of the Great Hall.
Be part of Britain’s Greatest Medieval Experience! Deep in the heart of Warwick Castle, the Great Hall becomes a hive of activity! Immerse yourself in battle preparations and feel the weight of a medieval sword. Become a soldier – try on a battle helmet for size! Visit the spectacular State Rooms and feast your eyes on Victorian party preparations.
Story time with Santa (22nd, 23rd and 24th December) – Santa and his mischievous elves prepare for Christmas in the State Rooms. A jolly Christmas storytelling show for all the family with magical tales and fun Dueling Gents (Daily) – Warwick Castle’s finest Swordsmen take to the arena in a dazzling show of authentic Georgian Swordsmanship. Carol Singing in the Chapel (22nd and 23rd December) – Get in the festive spirit with our resident choir as they sing classic Christmas carols in the beautiful surrounding of our Chapel Children’s Christmas hunt/trail (Daily) Daily shows and tours:
11am – The Ultimate Castle Tour 12pm – Flight of the Eagles 12.30pm – Ghosts of Warwick Castle1pm – Christmas Tour 1.30pm – Dueling Gents (dates available as detailed above) 2pm – Carol singing in the chapel (dates available as detailed above)
Return transportation to Warwick Castle Entrance ticket to Warwick Castle Exclusions
This tour runs daily between 22nd December 2012 to 6th Janauary 2013
Warwick Castle http://www.warwick-castle.com
Warwick Castle is not your average castle. It is full to the turrets with dramatic shows, interactive experiences, storytelling, demonstrations, activities and more. We learnt a long time ago that that our guests, the young and young at heart, want to do more than just look. They want to be part of the adventure.
Visit Warwick Castle and you will see great halls, beautiful landscapes; mournful dungeons and high towers – but you’ll also see people having fun, laughing and being amazed. We have eleven hundred years of history, but also great battles, ancient myths, spellbinding tales, pampered princesses, heroic knights, Merlin’s Dragon, and the dark Castle Dungeon.
Best Value Tours – www.BestValueTours.co.uk
Without a doubt, Christmas is the most stressful time of the year; the pressures of shopping, preparing food, and everything else. But most could be forgiven so long as we are with our loved ones this special holiday.
It is the perfect time to spend with your family or friends over delicious, traditional foods and treats. While most would contend with the hustle and bustle of majestic London, there are plenty of destinations out of town for an invigorating trip to history, elegance, royalty, and tradition.
Make this Christmas one to remember by leaving the capital and head west. On Christmas Eve, walk around the royal town of Windsor and see the mysterious rocks of Stonhenge as you feast on a delicious lunch before admiring the Gregorian architectural splendor at Bath.
With little traffic on the roads, you’ll arrive on the delightful town of Windsor in no time. Visit the home of Queen Elizabeth II in the world’s largest and oldest castle, Windsor Castle. Built high above the River Thames, it has been a royal residence for over 900 years and is where the Queen and Royal family traditionally spend Christmas. Marvel at its lavishly furnished surroundings that are used for State occasions to this day. On display inside the castle is Queen Mary’s world famous Doll’s House. You can also visit St. George’s Chapel, where the tombs of numerous kings and queens reside.
The day’s much anticipated highlight comes next as you stop for a delightful lunch near Stonehenge.Feast on a delicious meal as you step back in time overlooking the beautiful surrounding. After lunch, wander around the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge. The monument first took shape 5,000 years ago and its purpose has been the subject of an abundance of theories.
Continue to the slopes of the River Avon and discover the beauty of Bath. Known for its Gregorian architecture, Bath was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It also houses the Roman Baths, hidden from view until 1870. In Roman times a great Temple was built next to the sacred spring and the waters were believed to have healing properties that attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire.
If getting away from the metropolis is not your priority, there are several Christmas Tours in London that you can join in. London night tours are a “must see and do”. The famous landmarks of London all light up in the night sky making them look even more outstanding than during the day. Through the Sightseeing Tour London, you’ll be able to witness the magnificent attractions in their celebratory boldness.
The richness and amplitude of these spectacular locations contribute a large degree in adding glamour to this festive season. There are so many things to see and do on Christmas Eve in London and the whole of UK. So, if you are planning to be here this time of the year, book your tickets now and have fun at Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge
Christmas Tours from London can be booked here:
Best Value Tours