Christmas shopping in Europe

There are many shopping possibilities around Europe to get travellers in the Christmas Spirit.

Many European cities are attracting guests with the lowest hotel rates of the year allowing travellers to get in some cheap last minute shopping before Christmas. In Milan, 110 euro, travellers save 14 percent in comparison to the previous month, in Venice, 115 euro, twelve percent. Prices have also decreased in Nice, 85 euro, eight percent less and Barcelona, 96 euro, nine percent less.

To prolong the festive season into 2010, travellers can visit the Three King’s celebration on the 6th January in Barcelona.

In comparison to the previous month, hotel prices have risen in European cities that offer Christmas markets throughout December. In the German city of Nuremberg travellers pay 108 euro for a standard double room over the Christmas period, twelve percent more than in November. The same can be seen in other German cities, such as Dresden, 86 euro, an increase of ten percent and Stuttgart, 108 euro, an increase of six percent.

The same trend can also be seen in popular cities in Austria and Switzerland. A standard double room in Vienna is 109 euro in December, five percent more than the previous month, while in Zurich prices have increased due to the Christmas market by three percent to 183 euro.

Although Christmas markets in Europe are mostly associated with Germany and Austria, many others can also be found in England, Estonia, Finland, France and other countries around Europe. However, my favorite one is in Berlin, Germany and that is not due to hot mulled wine only!

Take a look at the following links >

http://www.germany-tourism.de/ENG/culture_and_events/christmas_markets.htm

http://www.aboutaustria.org/veranstaltungen/veranstaltungen5.htm

http://www.enjoyengland.com/attractions/events/calendar/december/christmas-markets.aspx

http://www.tallinn-life.com/tallinn/christmas-market

http://www.helsinki.fi/en/index/tapahtumat/4643390f17ab2f7905aed556678f0fde.html

http://gofrance.about.com/cs/festivals/a/christmasmarket.htm

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 > http://www.bmag.org.uk/events?id=382&start=42

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

For additional details visit > http://www.cheltenhamchristmasmarket.co.uk/

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

For additional details visit > http://www.wincantonracecourse.co.uk/Home.htm

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

For additional details visit > www.tasteofchristmas.com

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 lights banned on street, bad for Brits’ health

Some traders in Clevedon, UK, cannot put up Christmas lights because of new health and safety guidelines, the BBC reports.

North Somerset Council said it was unsafe to attach lights to columns in Hill Road because they are not load bearing.

Bob Hughes, from the local Traders Association, said traders had raised £3,500 towards the lights and that the council had “gone over the top”. “These rules and regulations are pretty draconian and probably unnecessary.”

But a spokesman for the council said: “There is a code of practice which has to be followed regarding installation of Christmas lights for health and safety reasons. “The lighting columns in this particular location at Hill Road, Clevedon are made of concrete and for safety reasons it is not possible to attach lights to them, as they are not load bearing.

“We do permit Christmas lights in other locations and work with organisations across the district to support festive activities.”

Two cities > one great Christmas experience

Combine the capital of Copenhagen with Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, for a true Scandinavian pre-Christmas experience. Copenhagen is especially wonderful at Christmas time and the historic city of Malmö in Sweden is another great Yuletide attraction.

Thanks to the Öresund Bridge which majestically links the two countries, it’s never been easier to enjoy the delights of being part of a Danish and Swedish build up to Christmas. With a convenient rail-link the cities are just 35 minutes apart.

COPENHAGEN > In Copenhagen, serious shoppers head for Ströget, northern Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping street. From mid November onwards, shopkeepers try to outdo each other in creating the most attractive window displays. Many look for exclusive designs or perhaps special quality decorations for the Christmas tree, if so, head straight for Illums Bolighus, a centre for Danish and international design. Next door at Amagertorv Square stands the Royal Copenhagen flagship shore, a wonderful 17th century building filled with fine porcelain, crystal and collectable Christmas plates as well has Georg Jensen silverware.

Royal Copenhagen is also famous for its display of Christmas tables. They have a different theme each year and are decorated with the best of Royal Copenhagen finery. Be prepared to queue for this annual visual highlight!

Another must do, is a visit to the annual Christmas Market at Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens is the most popular attraction in Denmark, and this time of the year they put on a fabulous display of the best illuminated trees you will ever see in Europe. Some sixty stalls sell Danish handicrafts, seasonal foods and gifts. The market is this year will open on 16 November.

MALMÖ > Just over the Öresund Bridge, Malmö is another great place for shopping. The big department store, Hansakompaniet, is the place to go when in need of inspiration for last-minute Christmas gifts. Here you’ll find trendy clothes, restaurants, beauty products and household goods. Then move on to Saluhallen, at the picturesque Lilla Torg Square, a true mecca for gourmets with several small shops selling tea, chocolates and seasonal delicacies. There are several copy bars and restaurants surrounding Lilla Square, where locals and visitors alike meet up for a traditional warm ‘glogg’. From 25 November the City of Malmö puts on its Christmas market, attracting more and more visitors each year.

A good time to be in Malmö is on the 13th December for Lucia! This tradition takes place each year on the 13th of December, when Lucia, ‘The Queen of Light’ wearing candles in hair, together with her attendants, travel through the city in a horse drawn carriages up to the Stortorget Square where locals will have gathered to sing traditional carols and watch the official crowning of Lucia.

Getting there > With flight times around two hours you can be there in no time at all. SAS Scandinavian Airlines operate regular direct services out of London Heathrow and City airports, Dublin, Aberdeen, Manchester and Birmingham. For latest offers www.flysas.co.uk

For further information go to www.visitdenmark.com

London’s Christmas village > Maritime Greenwich

Posted On September 29, 2007

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Maritime Greenwich, London’s Christmas Village, has an exciting programme of festive activities, exhibitions and events running through December into New Year 2008.

This beautiful corner of south east London will take on a special festive atmosphere with open-air ice skating, shopping, twinkling fairy lights and decorations, a giant Christmas tree and visit by Santa Claus and his helpers. Visitors will be able to soak up the unique ambiance and join in a variety of events.

Festivities will kick off with the Switch On of Greenwich Market’s Christmas lights on Friday, 30 November with a huge programme of family entertainment running from 3-7pm. Father Christmas will be there from 3pm and the lights will be turned on at 5pm by the cast of Greenwich Theatre’s pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’.

The famous, indoor Greenwich market, www.greenwichmarket.net, is home to a quirky collection of interesting and unusual shops. In addition from Thursday, 6 December there will be a special Christmas Market trading everyday until 7pm right up to Christmas Eve. Festive shopping in Greenwich Town Centre is also a breath of fresh air for those tired with the lack of choice offered by crowded, cloned high streets across the country. The historic town is packed with unique shopping opportunities stretching from Royal Hill to Creek Road. Many of the restaurants and bars will also be offering special Christmas party menus.

Greenwich Ice Rink > The Greenwich ice rink, www.greenwichicerink.com, will be open from Saturday, 8 December to Sunday, 13 January (10am – 10pm) in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. This year the CaféIce, serving hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies, will be re-sited in the colonnades giving skaters uninterrupted views across the Thames to Canary Wharf in one direction and Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory in the other. Other events at the College will include a Christmas evening concert with supper in the beautiful Painted Hall and a family festive craft workshop, www.oldroyalnavalcollege.org.

The Greenwich Theatre annual pantomime production of ‘Dick Whittington’ will run from Tuesday, 4 December to Saturday, 5 January with Andrew Pollard writing the script and joining the cast as the dame, returning after his record-breaking success in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ last year. The show will be packed with comedy, magic, music and adventure entertaining an audience across all ages, www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk.

Mince Pounds > Maritime Greenwich will also have its own currency, Mince Pounds, available during the festive season. Every time visitors spend £10 in a local shop or market displaying a Mince Pound sign, they will receive one Mince Pound, which can be put towards either tickets to the pantomime, skating at the ice rink or a visit to the new Peter Harrison Planetarium.

Maritime Greenwich’s many attractions will be open to visitors over the festive period including the Chapel and Painted Hall within the Old Royal Naval College; the National Maritime Museum, which also takes in the Queen’s House, Royal Observatory with its new Time and Space Galleries and the Peter Harrison Planetarium; the Fan Museum, St Alfege Church and Wernher Collection at the Ranger’s House.

This year also marks the tenth anniversary since the centre of Greenwich was awarded World Heritage Site status for its architectural, scientific, maritime and royal associations.

Christmas events at Maritime Greenwich will vary from day to day; for full details and to check Christmas opening times for local attractions and accommodation suggestions visit Christmasingreenwich.com. Local information can also be found on www.greenwichwhs.org.uk.

Maritime Greenwich is easily reached via the Docklands Light Railway alighting at Cutty Sark, or by main line train from four central London stations, namely Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge. Alternatively there are several bus services coming through Greenwich or visitors can arrive by passenger boat at Greenwich Pier.

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.”

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