Category Archives: christmas markets
Festive family favourite Winter Wonderland returns to London’s Hyde Park with big top shows, the observation wheel and a huge Christmas market.
Winter Wonderland provides fun, laughter and excitement for both adults and children. As well as the stunning ice rink, Winter Wonderland includes gentle rides for younger children.
Children can meet Santa in his grotto every day from 10am to 6pm. Entry is free but the queue will close at 4pm on busy days.
The gates will open to Winter Wonderland on Friday 22nd November at 5pm!
This year promises even more thrills, spectacle and Christmas magic at Hyde Park, where we’ll be open 10am till 10pm every day until 5th January (excluding Christmas Day). As always Winter Wonderland is FREE to enter, so you can wander through the park, soaking up the festive atmosphere and enjoy all the free entertainment on offer.
If you want to go Ice Skating, visit The Magical Ice Kingdom, take a ride in the Giant Observation Wheel or see a show at Zippos Circus you will need to buy tickets. These attractions sell very quickly so advance booking is highly recommended!
At Winter Wonderland there’s something for everyone, whether you want to make your child’s dream come true at Santa Land, brave the exciting thrill rides, or just warm up on a mulled wine and join in the fun in the lively Bavarian Village. Come along early for a browse around the Christmas Markets, take a rest over some festive food and drink at one of the many eateries around the site, and enjoy some of the fantastic free live music.
London Christmas and New Year Tours
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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.
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).
London and UK Chrsitmas Tours: http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
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…
THE 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!
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!
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.
London Christmas Tours: http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours
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Join one of our sightseeing tours from London between November 22nd and December 9th and visit one of the largest, most beautiful, festive markets in Britain. There is time to explore the traditional market after your visit to the Roman Baths
For 18 days, more than 130 quaint wooden stalls line the squares and streets surrounding the impressive Bath Abbey, selling everything you could possibly need for your festive celebrations. Gift ideas abound, including clothing, accessories, crafts and toys as well as more unusual or one-off pieces of art and jewellery. Stock up on festive foods with cheeses, pickles and meats galore, and sample wines, liqueurs and local cider to compliment your choices. Treat yourself to luxurious chocolates and puddings – or why not put together a hamper as a wonderful gift?
Get well and truly into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the atmosphere of the market. The enchanting sound of carols and the tantalising aroma of sumptuous food on the air add to the ambience of the market, creating a magical experience. There is no need to rush – with the market open late most evenings, you can take your time and browse the stalls under twinkling lights, before perhaps retiring to a bar or restaurant.
Ideally located in the heart of Bath’s main shopping area, with well-loved high street brands and designer boutiques all around, you can’t fail to find everything you are looking for. Give yourself a treat this festive season and get your Christmas shopping ‘wrapped up’ in one magical day at Bath Christmas Market
Best Value Tours offer Coach, small group and provide guided tours incuding Bath, Stonehenge, The Cotswolds and Windsor Castle.
Visit their website for more more details. http://www.SightseeingTours.couk
More uk Christmas Markets: http://www.christmasmarkets.com
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Visiting the Christmas markets of Europe is a great way to pick up some Christmas shopping bargains whilst grabbing some Christmas cheer and spirit along the way too in some of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Alternatively if you are more Prada than Pretzel, we’ve also included our favourite Christmas shopping destinations around the world
Munich Christmas Markets (25 Nov 11 – 24 Dec 11)
Visit Munich for some of the oldest and best Christmas markets in Europe. The Christmas markets are held daily between 25 November and 24 December where you’ll find festive gifts, decorations and typical Bavarian food and drink. You’ll be amazed by the bright lights and smells of delicious fare on sale on the market stalls located in the shadow of the wonderful Rathaus building.
Bruges Christmas Markets (26 Nov 11 – 02 Jan 12)
Come to Bruges for a Christmas market that offers all the traditional gifts you would expect, all set in a festive atmosphere of bright lights and tempting aromas. Visit this beautiful old city where the festival stalls are set amongst a backdrop of cobbled streets and historic buildings. Browse for Belgian chocolates, wooden toys and other jolly gifts before relaxing in a bar as you sample a local beer.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets (11 Nov 11 – 29 Dec 11)
Copenhagen’s main Christmas markets are hosted in Tivoli Gardens, the city’s amusement park. In the land of Hans Christian Andersen you will find a Christmas market that is just as magical, with hundreds of Christmas trees and half a million lights illuminating the festive stalls and surrounding park. Browse for traditional gifts like Copenhagen porcelain or wooden dolls as well as local arts, crafts and decorations.
Helsinki Christmas Markets (07 Dec 11 – 22 Dec 11)
The largest Christmas market in Helsinki is held at the Vanha Ylioppilastalo (old student house) where you’ll find local delights including fried herring, mulled wine and tempting pastries. There’s also the Ladies’ Christmas Market with gifts that are all made and sold by women, and St Thomas Christmas Market held at Esplanade Park where you can buy baked goods and other specialities.
Cologne Christmas Markets (21 Nov 11 – 22 Dec 11)
Offering six Christmas markets, the German city of Cologne attracts almost two million visitors every year. The most impressive is at the Cologne Cathedral due to its imposing backdrop, whilst the oldest is at the Neumarkt, the city’s shopping area. Stalls offer a vast selection of festive goods including arts and crafts, Christmas tree decorations and handmade candles.
Krakow Christmas Markets (01 Dec 11 – 24 Dec 11)
Krakow Christmas market is centred on the city’s huge market square, the Rynek Glowny. Poland’s most beautiful city offers fantastic value and you can pick up some real festive bargains. Take your pick from the handmade Christmas decorations, jewellery and woollen slippers on offer. For New Year’s Eve, Krakow’s entire Old Town historical district turns into one giant ballroom. Thousands of revellers swarm its huge Grand Square and pack into the area’s countless clubs, cafes and restaurants.
Prague Christmas Markets (03 Dec 11 – 01 Jan 11)
The largest and most popular Christmas market in Prague is located in the central square of the Old Town. Between this Christmas market and the one on Wenceslas Square there are about 100 festive market stalls for you to visit. As well as the sparkling rows of decorated stalls you’ll find Christmas concerts and short plays on an open-air stage. A live nativity scene with donkeys, sheep and goats completes the festive setting.
Vienna Christmas Markets (19 Nov 11 – 26 Dec 11)
The Christkindlmarkt on the Town Hall square is Vienna’s famous Christmas market. It is one of the best-known and most visited in all of Europe and when you come you’ll soon see why. It is an unforgettable experience where you’ll be delighted by the smells of spiced fruits, sweets, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts that float around the traditional market stalls.
New York Shopping Break
There’s nothing quite like a Christmas shopping trip in New York City and New Yorkers really like to push the boat out at this time of winter with all of their ‘flagship’ stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Tiffany and Co’s & Barneys New York going to great lengths to come up with the most beautiful window displays. Take a walk down the famous 5th Avenue to see the best.
Paris Shopping Breaks
Paris boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking department stores, where visitors can browse the latest trends in designer fashion such as Dior and Chanel, browse gourmet food shops, or attend free fashion shows. The Paris department stores are not only shopping shrines, but also architectural treasures, as all are beautifully sculpted and eye catching.
Christmas Market Tours: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/uk-day-tours/christmas-tours-britain-london
Christmas Markets Link: http://www.christmasmarkets.com/UK.html
Next week we focus on UK Christmas Markets
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