Category Archives: Christmas Tours

10 of the best Christmas light festivals in the UK

From dancing lasers to magical gardens, imaginative light shows are being switched on throughout the land. We previews 10 Christmas spectaculars.

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Christmas light trail, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The Capability Brown-sculpted parkland at Blenheim features a new one-mile multisensory path, including a scented fire garden, fibre-optic lawns and twinkling hedges. The lake is illuminated with lit-up boats, the fountains cascade in time to Christmas music, the waterfall is bathed in colour and the arbour sparkles with fairy lights. Santa Claus and his elves have set up their workshop in the boathouse, and there are festive sideshows and a Victorian carousel in the courtyard. Warm up with spiced cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows.
From £16 adult/£10 child/£48 family/under-fives free; until 2 January;blenheimpalace.com

Festival of Light and Sound, Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project has a spectacular new light and sound show this Christmas. Visitors can watch from a viewing platform or walk along the pathways as lasers create a canopy of light, painting the biomes with festive colours, set to a soundscape of music and stories. There are light projections in the Mediterranean biome, too, illuminating the winter planting displays, plus live performances by musicians and choirs from the south-west. The show is the brainchild of light artist Chris Levene, who created the laser tribute to David Bowie at Glastonbury festival, and Marco Perry, Björk’s spatial sound designer. Other festive fun includes ice skating, winter storytelling, festive crafts and meeting Father Christmas and his elves. A baobab rum cocktail (or a smoothie for the kids) will take the chill off.
From £22.50 adult/£12.60 child/£62 family/under-fives free, 5pm-8pm on 3, 4, 9, 10, 11 and 16-23 December, and 5pm-7pm on 27-30 December, edenproject.com

Festival of Light, Longleat safari park, Wiltshire

Longleat is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and it has pulled out all the stops for its third light festival. Giant lanterns take the shape of some of the park’s animals – an avenue of lions, a troop of monkeys – but there are also lots of Beatrix Potter characters, to mark the 150th anniversary of the author’s birth: Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Squirrel Nutkin will all be there. There is also an illuminated Christmas scene and a 20-metre-high birthday cake. Altogether, the displays use 12 miles of silk, 30,000 bulbs and 2½ miles of LED lighting. Plus there is a Santa Express, a musical Christmas tree, an Arctic playzone for kids and an exhibition of costumes from the 1971 Royal Opera House production of The Tales of Beatrix Potter.
From £27.85 adult/£20.65 child/under-threes free, to 2 January, longleat.co.uk

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Enchanted Parks, Gateshead

Light up the North is a network of light festivals in the north of England: York, Leeds, Lancaster, Durham, Blackpool, Salford – and, over Christmas, Gateshead. Enchanted Parks is an interactive walk through Saltwell park, just south of the town centre, along a trail of light with art installations, performances, sculptures and projections. The story being told is a Midwinter Night’s Tale, inspired by the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.
£8 adult/£2 child/under-fours free, 6-11 December, newcastlegateshead.com

Christmas Glow, RHS Wisley, Surrey

The garden is glowing with giant illuminated flowers for the second year running – but this year they are bigger and brighter. Some of the trees are ablaze, too, including a liquidambar, giant redwood and scots pine. The glasshouse is decorated like a gingerbread house, and displays seasonal plants such as poinsettias, Christmas cacti and bromeliads. There are lanterns around the lake, and the plant centre has been turned into Santa and Mrs Claus’s grotto. The cafe serves hearty goulash, hot chocolate with marshmallows and spiced apple juice. Visitors can stock up at the Christmas shop, join stories and songs with Santa, and attend gingerbread-decorating workshops.
From £9.90 adult/£3.60 child, until 2 Jan, rhs.org.uk

Christmas at Kew Gardens, London

Kew is a special place to visit at any time of the day or year, but the festive light show gives it a magical twist, as the mile-long trail through the garden sparkles with 60,000 lights, passing a Christmas karaoke juke box and eight newly commissioned artworks. These include singing Christmas trees, a light installation of 1,700 swaying flowers and a roaring fire garden. Some of the garden’s oldest and tallest trees are also beautifully lit along the way. The finale is the iconic Palm House and pond lit up with coloured laser beams and streams of light dancing to Christmas songs.
From £16 adult/£10 child/£48 family/under-fours free; until 2 Jan, kew.org

Enchanted Christmas, Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

The national arboretum has a one-mile illuminated trail, with the towering trees lit up, and interactive displays along the way. There are free Christmas crafts, carol singing, an old-fashioned carousel and two Christmas shops – one is devoted to decorations, housed in a shepherd’s hut. Father Christmas is there with his elves, Mrs Christmas tells stories in a yuletide yurt, and stilt-walking versions of Jack Frost and the Christmas Fairy flit around. Winter warmers include hog roasts and Baileys hot chocolate.
£12 adult/£6 child/under-fives free, Friday to Sunday until 18 December,forestry.gov.uk

Magical Lantern festival, Leeds, Birmingham, London

The first Magical Lantern festival was held in Chiswick House Gardens, London, last winter. It is back from 19 January but, first, the magic is heading to Roundhay Park in Leeds and the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham. Each festival has a trail of giant lanterns, mixing seasonal themes, local landmarks and Chinese culture. In Birmingham, for example, there is a Bullring Bull alongside a Christmas fairy, snowmen, penguins, trees and presents. London (again at Chiswick) has a Houses of Parliament lantern and a Silk Road theme. Leeds is home to Santa’s grotto and a funfair, London has an ice rink and ice bar, and all three have Chinese food stalls and global street food.
Leeds and Birmingham from £12.50 adult/£8.50 child/£38 family/under-fours free, until 2 January, London from £16.50/£10.50/£50/under-fours three, 19 January to 26 February, magicallantern.uk

Tunnel of Light, Norwich

Norwich has created the UK’s first tunnel of light this Christmas. The 45-metre passage on Hay Hill is made from 50,000 pulsating LEDs, designed to echo the colours and patterns of the northern lights. The city is also projecting Christmas films set to music on to the castle and town hall each night. There are lights all over the city, a eight-metre Christmas tree on the corner of Bethel Street and events from a Christmas tree festival at St Peter Mancroft church to craft markets.
Free, until 6 Jan, norwichbid.co.uk

Celebration of Light, Penzance, Cornwall

Penzance has pushed the boat out this Christmas. Landmarks including St Michael’s Mount and St Mary’s church are lit up, and there is a competition for the brightest light-themed shop window display. On 17 December, there is a lantern parade to celebrate local scientist Humphry Davy, who invented the miner’s safety lamp. The Montol festival marks the winter solstice on 21 December, with fire performers, processions and a huge midwinter bonfire. Nearby Newlyn and Mousehole, meanwhile, have spectacular displays of Christmas lights.
Free, until 6 January, lovepenzance.co.uk

The best of the rest

Lots of National Trust properties are lit up at Christmas, including Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Corfe Castle in Dorset. Edinburgh’s Street of Light is back in a new location at the west end of George Street, and features 60,000 light bulbs with live music. Chester Zoo has an enchanted forest with animal lanterns. St George’s Hall in Liverpool has a DreamWorks lantern show, with 100 characters and scenes from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has an illuminations show where HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose are projected on to the Action Stations’ building. Eastbourne has a light show, Neon Noel, at the town hall clock tower). Boats in Ramsgate harbour are festooned with lights, creating dazzling reflections in the water.

Article source:  The Guardian Online

Best Value Tours offer a wide range of Christmas sightseeing tours throughout England, Scotland, Irealand and Europe.

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours U.K, London

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Visit England: Christmas and New Year Sightseeing Tours

London acquires a special sparkle around Christmas time. The weather is frosty, the Christmas lights are twinkling, and shoppers line the streets.

The centrepiece of London’s Christmas spectacle is the giant pine tree – a gift to London from the people of Norway – which is beautifully adorned and set up in Trafalgar Square each year.

There’s a wealth of family entertainment on offer over the festive season, from temporary ice skating rinks to Santa’s grottos and pantomimes.

On Christmas Day, London’s hundreds of Christian churches, chapels and cathedrals hold Christmas services, which everyone is welcome to attend.

Visit our website for a wide range of U.K Christmas Tours

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Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and Christmas Sightseeing Tours

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.

winter-wonderland

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.

Link: http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

London Christmas and New Year Tours
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Christmas Lights in London 2013

London twinkles over the winter time with an array of magical Christmas light displays to brighten up your Christmas shopping trips.

London Christmas lightsEvery year the lights have a different theme. For the first time in five years the world famous Christmas lights in Oxford Street will undergo a glittering transformation inspired by snowflakes. While at Greenwich the switch on will be accompanied by a lantern parade.

Watch this space: http://www.visitlondon.com/tag/christmas-lights

See the city at its most dazzling when London switches on its Christmas lights

We’re a little way off from hearing which ‘celebrities’ and pop ‘artists’ will be flicking the switch to light up London’s high streets this Christmas and when they’ll do it, but when we do know, we’ll update this page. In the meantime, satisfy your festive decoration cravings with our gallery of lights from Christmases past.

If you are visiting London this Christmas make sure you join a special festive sightseeing tour.

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Trafalgar Square lit up for Christmas with giant tree

The tree is an annual gift from Norway to London as a mark of thanks for British support during the Second World War.

Christmas is here: The Trafalgar Square tree (Picture: Nigel Howard)

Christmas is here: The Trafalgar Square tree (Picture: Nigel Howard)

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

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Travel Editor – Best Value Tours

London Christmas Tours

Best value Tours has something for everyone this Christmas, choose from a selection of tours and activities available throughout the festive period.

Christmas in LondonDiscover 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.

http://bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours

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

Christmas Eve Sightseeing Tours. Visit Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge

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.

StonehengePhoto

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:
http://www.bestvaluetours.co.uk/tour-of-england/london-uk-christmas-tours

Travel Editor
Best Value Tours

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

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

European Christmas Market & Shopping Breaks

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

Chroistmas Market StallMunich 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)Christmas Markets
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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