More Christmas short break ideas in the UK

More Christmas short break ideas in the UK >

* Aston Hall by Candlelight, Birmingham > Beautifully lit by over 300 candles. 3rd-12th December (closed 7th December).

For additional details visit >

* Cheltenham Christmas Market > Discover a wide range of festive crafts and gifts. 20th November-6th December.

For additional details visit >

* Wincanton Racecourse > Blow off the cobwebs at an exciting Boxing Day meet. 26th December.

For additional details visit >

* Taste of Christmas 2009, Excel, London > Taste of Christmas runs from 4-6 December. Tickets from £19.

For additional details visit >

Christmas short break ideas in the UK

Here are some of the events and activities coming up all over the UK this festive Christmas season.

Skating in Cardiff > Enjoy the magical open air ice rink between 12 November 2009 and 3 January 2010. Civic Centre, Cardiff, tel 02920 230 130.

Trafalgar Square, London > As well as the traditional Christmas tree you can see a life-sized polar bear ice sculpture from 11th-20th December. Trafalgar Square, London.

Santa Weekend, Edinburgh > Carols, reindeer and the Great Scottish Santa Run. Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th December. Throughout Edinburgh, tel 0131 529 3914.

Winterfest, Glasgow > There are loads of Christmassy things going on in Glasgow including Glasgow on Ice from 21st November to 3rd January. George’s Square, Glasgow, tel 0141 564 4220.

Bath Christmas Market > Superb shopping in a beautiful setting. From 26th November to 6th December. Shopping district, Bath, tel 01225 396417.

Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre > Markets, fun fair and free entertainment. From 27th to 29th November. Historic town centre, Bury St Edmunds, tel 01284 764667.

Snow business in Manchester > Ski, board, skate and slide in Manchester’s winter wonderland throughout December. Trafford Quays Leisure Village, Manchester, tel 0161 749 2222.

“12 Days of Christmas” Festival, Dublin’s Docklands > This charming yuletide shopping event takes place from 12th to 23rd December. Docklands, Dublin.

Christmas Holiday Events in New York

Posted On December 21, 2008

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RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR > Nothing says pizzazz like this populist crowd-pleaser, featuring the leggy Rockettes showing off their lithe physiques and precisely choreographed high kicks, an army of dancing Santas, and the multimedia extravaganza of “New York at Christmas”. As it has since its very first year, back in 1933, the show closes with the ecstatic “Living Nativity”, a dramatic retelling of the birth of Christ. (Radio City Music Hall, Sixth Ave. at 50th St. 212-307-1000. Through Dec. 30.)

THE NUTCRACKER > Balanchine’s 1954 version of the Christmas fantasy, performed by the New York City Ballet, is still the gold standard, featuring scores of children from the School of American Ballet, an exciting battle to the death between the toy soldiers and the seven-headed Mouse King, and a memorable “Waltz of the Snowflakes”. (David H. Koch Theatre, Lincoln Center. 212-721-6500. Nov. 28-Jan. 3.) 

For revisionists, Dances Patrelle’s “The Yorkville Nutcracker” is set in turn-of-the-century New York, beginning at a party at Gracie Mansion and ending up at the Crystal Palace of the Bronx Botanical Gardens. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier are danced by the lovely Jenifer Ringer and the very capable Jared Angle, both of New York City Ballet. (Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, Park Ave. at 68th St. 212-722-7933. Dec. 11-14.) 

Tired parents may opt for the lively New York Theatre Ballet production, only an hour long, with inspired sets modelled after the nineteenth-century English toy theatres. (Florence Gould Hall, 55 E. 59th St. 212-355-6160. Dec. 12-21.) 

The Joffrey Ballet School offers its annual “Nutcracker” performed by students; under its new director, George de la Peña, each section will be choreographed by one of the school’s teachers. (Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Pl. 212-279-4200. Dec. 12-14.) 

The Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory’s version features a female Drosselmeier (played by Kozlova) and a very impressive young dancer in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy: the sixteen-year-old Whitney Jensen, who recently won a top honor at the international Varna Competition in Bulgaria. (Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th St. 212-864-5400. Dec. 13 at 4 and 8.)

TREES > More than five hundred folded-paper animals will adorn the American Museum of Natural History’s thirteen-foot origami tree this year, on display in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, representing inhabitants of the museum’s dioramas, permanent halls, and special exhibitions. Through Jan. 4. (Central Park W. at 79th St. 212-769-5100.) 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Christmas tree, located in the Medieval Sculpture Hall starting Nov. 25, is a brilliantly lit conifer laden with flying silk-robed angels and cherubim who hover above the Neapolitan Baroque crèche at its base. Tree-lighting ceremonies are held Tuesday through Sunday at 4:30, with additional lightings Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30 and 6:30. (Fifth Ave. at 82nd St. 212-535-7710. Through Jan. 6.) 

Rockefeller Center’s illustrious behemoth is illuminated for the seventy-sixth time on Dec. 3. It will be set aglow near the end of a star-studded ceremony that runs from 7 to 9. (Fifth Ave. at 50th St. Through Jan. 7.)

HANUKKAH > The Festival of Lights begins this year on Dec. 21. That afternoon, at 5:30, the first lamp will be lit atop the thirty-two-foot-tall menorah on Fifth Ave. at 59th St. There will also be live music, dancing, and hot latkes. A light will be added each night at the same time through Dec. 28, except for Friday and Saturday, when the lighting takes place at 3:45 and 8:30, respectively. (For more information, call 718-778-6000.) 

Dec. 21-28: The prolific indie rockers Yo La Tengo, led by front man Ira Kaplan, play all eight nights in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, at Maxwell’s, continuing a tradition held (almost) every year since 2001. A different unannounced and unusual act precedes them nightly. (1039 Washington St. 201-653-1703.) 

Dec. 21-30: The Hasidic performer Matisyahu follows suit, with his third annual eight-nights-of-reggae Hanukkah, beginning at Webster Hall. (Dec. 21-25. 125 E. 11th St.) Skipping Friday night because of the Sabbath, Matisyahu resumes the series at the Music Hall of Williamsburg for four more nights (thus making the miracle of light last a whole extra day). Special guests include Little Jackie, Brett Dennen, and Assembly of Dust. (Dec. 27-30. 66 N. 6th St., Brooklyn.)

HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW > The New York Botanical Garden’s annual tribute to the romance of the season and the rails features model engines and cars chugging their way around the conservatory’s replicas of more than a hundred and forty New York City landmarks, all constructed from twigs, berries, leaves, seeds, and the like. Miniatures of the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space and Central Park’s Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre are new this year, joining Ellis Island, the George Washington Bridge, and Yankee Stadium. (Nov. 23-Jan. 11. Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Rd., the Bronx. 718-817-8700.)

WINTUK > The story for this Cirque du Soleil production involves a boy searching for snow. A trampoline serves as a springboard for aerialists and acrobats, who intermingle with talking lampposts and enormous puppets of dogs, birds, and ice giants. (WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. 212-307-1000. Through Jan. 4.)

FOR THE TIME BEING: A CHRISTMAS ORATORIO > Michael Cumpsty directs and performs a reading of W. H. Auden’s poem from 1942. Maria Tucci narrates. (Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th St. 212-864-5400. Dec. 8.)

TAPPY HOLIDAYS > This three-year-old tradition features holiday songs performed by a jazz trio and whiz-kid tap dancers. Performers include several youth ensembles, along with pros like Ayodele Casel and Jason Samuels Smith. (Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th St. 212-864-5400. Dec. 12.)

PETER AND THE WOLF > Prokofiev’s marvellous children’s tale “Peter and the Wolf,” now in its second year at “Works & Process” at the Guggenheim, is both a cautionary tale and a witty introduction to the instruments of the orchestra, courtesy of the Juilliard Ensemble. Everyone has a favorite narrator from the past (Alec Guinness, Leonard Bernstein, Sting), but here the wry Isaac Mizrahi presides. (89th St. and Fifth Ave. 212-423-3587. Dec. 13-16 and Dec. 20-21.)

WINTER SOLSTICE > Paul Winter brings his Consort back to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The show returns to the newly renovated nave of the Cathedral, which boasts a fully restored Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ, to be played for the first time since the 2001 fire damaged it. Special guests include the Brazilian singer and guitarist Renato Braz, the gospel singer Theresa Thomason, and the woodwind master Paul McCandless. (Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St. 866-811-4111. Dec. 18-20.)

HOLIDAY MUSIC, CLASSICAL > MESSIAH > The St. Thomas Choir, which plies its noble trade in the luxuriant Gothic splendor of its eponymous church on Fifth Avenue, has always set a certain local standard in singing Handel’s generous “entertainment” on Christian themes: no other American choir has such a strong connection to the finest traditions of Anglican music-making. The group’s musicianship and style remain impressive under the tutelage of John Scott, who leads it in two performances accompanied by the Baroque group Concert Royal; the soloists include the renowned tenor Rufus Müller. (Fifth Ave. at 53rd St. Dec. 9 and Dec. 11 at 7:30. For tickets, visit 

Kent Tritle, the longtime director of the “Sacred Music in a Sacred Space” series at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, is the big man in the “Messiah” business this year. He leads the excellent avocational singers of the Oratorio Society (with the mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and the tenor William Ferguson among the vocal soloists) in a performance at Carnegie Hall. (212-247-7800. Dec. 15 at 8.) 

Tritle also conducts “Messiah” as the music director of the superb professional group Musica Sacra, where he succeeded the late Richard Westenburg. Westenburg’s Sacra style offered a modern, symphonic rendering of the work that nonetheless had a light and smooth Baroque feel; Tritle steps into some very big shoes. (Carnegie Hall. 212-247-7800. Dec. 22-23 at 8.)

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC > The orchestra, for several years, has offered a worthy “Messiah” of its own. This season it will be led by the Dutch Baroque-music legend Ton Koopman, making his Philharmonic début. The singers Sumnae Im, Andreas Scholl, Jörg Dürmüller, and Detlef Roth are out front, assisted by the powerful Westminster Symphonic Choir. (Dec. 17-18 at 7:30 and Dec. 19-20 at 8.) 

The Phil’s impressive brass section, teaming up with the gentlemen of the Canadian Brass, begins the holiday season with an afternoon of festive music. (Dec. 14 at 3.) 

The mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, singing music by Bizet, Lehár, and Richard Strauss, will be the special guest of the orchestra’s New Year’s Eve gala, conducted by Lorin Maazel. (Dec. 31 at 7:30.) (Avery Fisher Hall. 212-875-5656.)

CARNEGIE HALL > Deborah Voigt is the latest star singer to take over Carnegie for its holiday celebration, an evening in which she will offer arias, songs, and show tunes by Handel, Schubert, Jerry Herman, and Jule Styne; Patrick Summers conducts the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. (Dec. 16 at 8.) 

The Christmas Eve concert by the New York String Orchestra, a longtime annual convocation of young virtuosos led by Jaime Laredo, is all Mozart: the “Marriage of Figaro” Overture, the Violin Concerto No. 5 (with the appealing young violinist Augustin Hadelich), and the Symphony No. 40 in G Minor (a touch grim for such a night). (Dec. 24 at 7.) 

The final concert offers a contemporary work (by John Harbison), Mozart’s Concerto for Three Pianos (featuring the esteemed Joseph Kalichstein and two exceptional young colleagues, Shai Wosner and Alon Goldstein), and Mendelssohn’s “Scotch” Symphony. (Dec. 28 at 2.) (212-247-7800.)

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM > To hear a Christmas concert in the majestic intimacy of the museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall is an essential New York experience. Chanticleer, the ebullient (and stunningly expert) San Francisco men’s chamber choir, has been drawing eager crowds for several years by offering a tempting mix of carols, spirituals, and sacred polyphony from the medieval and Renaissance periods. (Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 7 at 6:30 and 8:30.) 

The Gotham-based gentlemen of Lionheart, another admired male chorus, take over from their West Coast colleagues to offer “Christmas in Medieval Italy: Il Laudario di Cortona,” just before Christmas Eve. (Dec. 23 at 6:30 and 8:30.) (Fifth Ave. at 83rd St. 212-570-3949.)

THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS > For some reason, Bach’s chamber concertos, the bedrock of the orchestral repertoire, have become Christmastime favorites. Some of the most alluring performances can be found at the annual concerts given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which offers them this year at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theatre. (Broadway at 60th St. 212-875-5788. Dec. 14 at 5 and Dec. 16 at 7:30.) 

Bargemusic, the doughty chamber-music series on Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry Landing, is a cozy winter nook that offers spectacular views of New York Harbor and wine and cheese at intermission. The violinist Mark Peskanov, the barge’s artistic director, leads a band of New York’s finest young musicians in Bach’s masterworks on New Year’s Eve. (Dec. 31 at 7:30.) (718-624-2083.) 

Upper West Siders who want to stay close to home can bring the kids to Symphony Space’s “All-Star” Brandenburgs, featuring such estimable musicians as the flutists Eugenia Zukerman and Tara Helen O’Connor and the harpsichordist Bradley Brookshire. (Broadway at 95th St. 212-864-5400. Dec. 19 at 8.)

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Exmoor, UK, prepares for Christmas

Festive cheer will be in plentiful supply over Exmoor, UK, during the first two weekends of December as the local villagers at Dulverton and Dunster prepare for Christmas with two special events.

Dulverton by Starlight: Sunday 2 December > Amongst the many Christmas activities taking place between 12noon and 7pm at Dulverton by Starlight on Sunday, 2 December will be carol singing and street entertainment as well as a chance to enjoy some hot mince pies and buy gifts for family and friends from the local shops. Santa Claus will be making a visit bringing gifts for the children and there will carol singing around the sparkling Christmas tree in the town square.

For further information about Dulverton by Starlight visit

Dunster by Candlelight: Friday 7 – Saturday 8 December > At Dunster by Candlelight on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 December the remarkably preserved medieval village turns it’s back on the present and lights its streets with candles. At 5.30pm there is a Lantern Lighting Procession with traditional pipe and drum music and stilt walkers in amazing costumes who put up the lanterns. It continues through the village until all the lanterns have been lit.

Throughout both evenings until around 9.30pm there will be a variety of street entertainment with carol singers, Morris dancers, samba drums, Rattlebox Theatre, creepy crawly handling with Exmoor Zoo in the newly restored Tithe Barn; a march by Sutton Household, hand bell ringers and a brass band plus carol singing and concerts in the Parish Church. Dunster’s shops will be open for Christmas shopping while the local restaurants, inns and charity stalls will provide refreshments.

Admission is free but there is a small charge for the park and ride service since there is no parking in Dunster for the evening. Visitors will also be able to arrive at Dunster by Candlelight on a special Christmas train operated by the West Somerset Steam Railway, which runs from Bishop’s Lydeard, near Taunton to Minehead but pre-booking is essential.

For further details about Dunster by Candlelight visit

Details about other places to visit on Exmoor and accommodation suggestions can be found on

Christmas Crafts are delightful!

Rochdale business Craft Delights is kick starting the Countdown to Christmas on Thursday 4 October from 7pm – 9pm with a Christmas Craft Evening at the Urban Gallery, Meadowcroft Mill, Bury Road, Bamford, UK.

There will be craft materials on sale for card makers and scrapbookers as well as ceramic crafts to decorate and personalise as gifts.  There will be plenty of craft project ideas for stocking fillers and for children and for the not as creative, ready made gifts and cards.  All are welcome, entry is free and there will be refreshments. 

Anyone wanting to have a go at making their own cards for the first time is also encouraged to come along and will be sure of a warm welcome with plenty of tips of how to get started.

Craft Delights, run by Castleton based Ruth Percy, will also be celebrating its first birthday after a year of successful trading.  Ruth decided to set the business up after working in marketing for ten years.  She has a permanent display at the Urban Gallery and also sells on the internet.  As well as the business, she still works part-time for Sure Start in Rochdale. 

Ms Percy said: “On the day of the fair, it will be only 79 days to Christmas.  Card makers usually start around now to make enough cards for Christmas, so we are offering the opportunity to stock up on this year’s festive craft delights!  Christmas is my favourite time of the year, so I am looking forward to kick starting the season early with follow crafters.”

A diamond occasion for town Christmas

Posted On September 20, 2007

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There will be extra reason to celebrate the festive season in Grange, UK, this year when the town’s giant illuminated Christmas tree reaches a major landmark.

The giant red cedarwood tree in Grange’s Ornamental Gardens has been lit with colourful festive illuminations every year since 1947. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the pride of Grange being lit by electricity.

Until two years ago the Grange tree held the record for being Britain’s biggest living Christmas tree. But Councillor Robin Webster, Chairman of Grange Christmas Tree Lights Committee, said it’s now lost that record to a tree in Kew Gardens. “About two years ago the tree was featured in Gardeners’ World magazine, which told readers Grange has the tallest living Christmas tree in the UK. People at Kew Gardens must have read that article and now they have a bigger tree lit up with lights each Christmas.”

Nevertheless extra special celebrations will be taking place in Grange to mark the diamond anniversary, explained town Mayor Councillor Robert Leach. He told Monday’s town Council meeting: “The Christmas tree lights committee met to make the arrangements for the switch on on the first Saturday in December. This will be our diamond jubilee year. It’s 60 years since we started having the tree lit. We are hoping to make it a night to remember.”

Standing at 73ft 11ins, the giant red cedarwood, is believed to be only the second tree in the country lit by electricity. The cost of the Christmas tree lights festivities in Grange are met each year by Grange town Council, local businesses and individual donations.

According to Gardeners’ World the western red cedar, Thuia plicata, is unrecognisable as the conifer often seen grown as a hedge, but still has a long way to go as it can reach a whopping 115ft (35m) high in the wild.

Expatriates hold Eid, Christmas celebrations

A ceremony was held as part of the New Year, Eid al-Adha and Christmas celebrations at the Indian Cultural Centre on Friday. The ceremony was organised by Friends of Thrissur, a body of expatriates hailing from Indian state of Kerala.

Indian Ambassador Dr George Joseph inaugurated the ceremony by lighting a traditional lamp and cutting a cake. The inaugural ceremony was followed by a host of cultural activities. Salim Pavaratty and Aiswarya Murali entertained the audience with an array of popular Hindi and Malayalam songs.

Munner and Rasheed Kettungal followed it up with some Mappila songs. T M Nandakumar and Gini Francis rendered some old Malayalam songs. “Ranga Pooja” was the first of the series of dances performed on the occasion. Nina Chandran, Chandhini Krishna, Kinda, Sara Kuruvilla and Rajesh were the members of the team that staged “Ranga Pooja”. Akshai Bhasi, Aswin Suresh, Alfred Joseph and Sreethi Pushpan performed a cinematic dance. A team of Jasika, Joyal, Jereeka, Jacquiline and Jovanna presented a semi-classical dance.

At the meeting that held before the cultural show, the forum patron David Edakalathur issued its identity cards to members. Friends of Thrissur chief T V Brahmaduttan Thalikullam chaired the meeting. Shahul Panickaveettil welcomed the gathering and Johnson C Ukken proposed a vote of thanks.

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