“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

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This page periodically features articles or information on specific Mini Breaks or generic topics around holiday destinations and travel related items. The three most recent topics are listed.

Briefly in Torbay

Torbay also known as the English Riviera if you didn’t know is located on the south coast of Devon; its principle towns being Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. It is a very popular and well known UK holiday destination, so we are under no illusion that we are enlightening the vast majority of readers (if anyone at all) to a relatively undiscovered gem of a holiday destination. However, this does not alter the fact that it is a superb destination for a weekend getaway, short break holiday or longer vacation. What we hope to achieve in this post is, that along with details of the “famous” aspects, is to highlight certain places, attractions and events which may be news to some people. To start with let’s give a brief description of the main towns.

Torquay

The largest of the trio and is classed by some as a city rather than a town (it’s one of those places that achieves city status by some definitions but not others). At the very least it’s a large town. As you would expect there is plenty to see and do. The Harbour and Marina area offer plenty of restaurants, bars, casual cafes etc. to enjoy. Avid shoppers will not be disappointed with Torquay as there is plenty of choice spread across the town centre. Fleet Walk Shopping Centre is closest to the harbour area and boasts a mixture of High Street Brands and Independent Retailers. Fleet Street and Union Street provide an abundance of stores, again well- known names mixed with local traders. In the middle of Union Street you will find another small Shopping Mall aptly named Union Square Shopping Centre. For nightlife there is the choice of a Clubs, Cocktail Bars, Themed and Traditional Pubs, Casino, Theatres along with a wide choice of restaurants. For Beaches and Attractions see below where we have listed individually. For places to stay, Torquay really does offer the full range with budget B&B’s to Luxury Hotels. For those that don’t know, Torquay was where the fictional Fawlty Towers Hotel from the comedy series of the same name was located; unfortunately the actual hotel (real name Gleneagles Hotel) is now no more, with residential flats now occupying the site. The Deal Finder sites are showing rooms in October at the weekend as starting at around £40.00 per night up to £250.00 per night with mid-week breaks starting at the same price but the most expensive being around £120.00 per night

Paignton

Torbay’s second town in terms of size. Paignton is a lively town with Promenade, Pier, Amusements, Family Restaurants, Pubs, Theatre and a Green which plays host events and numerous activities. Although not the same scale as Torquay, Paignton does offer shoppers a reasonable choice. Torbay Road which runs from the seafront to town centre is filled with independent shops selling mainly nic-nacs, gifts, toys etc. Following on from Torbay Road you’ll find the pedestrianised Victoria Street where many popular High Street retailers can be found. Paignton can offer a lively night life with clubs and many vibrant pubs to be found both along the seafront and town centre. To stay in Paignton at this time of the year we found the weekend getaway prices to range from £46.00 per night to £138.00 per night and weekdays £37.00 per night to £137.00 per night.

Brixham

The smallest of the three towns and definitely the most diverse of the trio. Brixham is a small Fishing town which although not as big as it once was, still retains a significant commercial fishing fleet. Its bustling Harbour and Marina are what makes Brixham a popular tourist destination. The Quayside with its restaurants, pubs, shops is the ideal place to hang out and watch the goings-on, on the busy harbour. With its colourful Fishermen’s cottages on the surrounding hilly streets Brixham makes for a very picturesque and quaint town. There is a High Street, but it is geared towards providing the essentials to the locals – Shopping is not a reason to visit Brixham. The town has many B&B’s and small hotels; we found a price range of £70.00 per night to £139.00 per night for weekend stays and £60.00 per night to £129.00 per night for a midweek breaks. Footnote: Football Fans point of interest. “Abide with Me” the famous hymn sung at the Cup final was written by The Reverend Henry Francis Lyte during his time as Vicar at Brixham’s All Saints Church.

A quick shout out to a couple of towns, not in Torbay, but very close by and well worth a visit.

Totnes – Situated a few miles West of Paignton. A vibrant market town which sits at the head of the River Dart.

Dartmouth – South of Brixham on the west bank of the River Dart. Lively small town and home to the impressive Britannia Royal Naval College

Beaches

Torbay District possesses a wealth of Beaches and Small Coves. Whatever your ideal day at the beach is sunbathing, swimming, fishing, rock climbing, water sports… you’re likely to find something to suit. Below is a basic guide of the various beaches along with their Google Maps co-ordinates, for easy location on maps.

Oddicombe Beach – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.471923, -3.501252)

A popular beach, mainly shingle with many amenities. Access via steps or cliff railway

Babbacombe Beach – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.479188, -3.510385)

Small pebble/rock beach with amenities. Access via road with small Car Park

Anstey’s Cove – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.472030, -3.501221)

Small pebble/rock beach with amenities. Access via pathway from Car Park at cliff top

Meadfoot Beach – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.456959, -3.509679)

Shingle beach with amenities. Access direct from the Road.

Torre Abbey Sands – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.462713, -3.535332)

Sand and shingle beach. No amenities on the beach but is very close to harbour and town. Access direct from the road.

Corbyn Beach – Torquay (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.459534, -3.541162)

Small sandy beach with amenities. Access direct from the road.

Hollicombe Beach – Paignton (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.450123, -3.552666)

Shingle beach. No amenities. Access via footpath.

Preston Sands – Paignton (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.443018, -3.556432)

Long sand & shingle beach with amenities. A popular Water Sport beach. Access direct from the road.

Paignton Beach – Paignton (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.437370, -3.558628)

Long sandy beach with plenty of amenities. A popular Water Sport beach. Access direct from the road

Fairy Cove Beach – Paignton (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.431535, -3.555090)

Small shingle beach. No amenities. Access via footpath.

Goodrington Sands – Goodrington (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.424355, -3.559487)

Long sandy beach with plenty of amenities. A popular Water Sport beach. Access direct from the road. Car Park very close by.

Oyster Cove - Goodrington (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.417809, -3.556050)

A small shingle beach with no amenities. Access via steps from cliff top.

Saltern Cove - Goodrington (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.416160, -3.556935)

A shingle beach with no amenities. Access via steps from cliff top.

Broadsands Beach – Broadsands (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.406083, -3.554693)

Long sandy beach with plenty of amenities. Access via Car Park

Elberry Cove – Churston (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.402500, -3.545864)

Shingle and pebble Beach with no amenities. A popular Water Sport beach Access via footpath through field.

Churston Cove - Churston (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.402916, -3.524131)

Shingle and pebble beach with no amenities. Access via woodland pathways from cliff tops.

Fishcombe Cove – Brixham (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.402196, -3.521461)

Shingle and pebble beach with amenities. Access via footpath from cliff top or steep hill to Car Park on nearby on higher ground.

Breakwater Beach – Brixham (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.399848, -3.503975)

Shingle and pebble beach with amenities. Access via road and Car Parks. Popular water sports beach.

Shoalstone Beach - Brixham (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.401417, -3.498092)

Actually it's not a beach at all; it's a salt water lido which sits on the rocks directly beside the sea itself. There is a surrounding poolside area suitable for lazing and relaxing and rather conveniently the landscape has provided large flat rocks adjacent, ideal for sunbathing.

St Mary's Bay - Brixham (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.386644, -3.503752)

Sand and pebble beach with no amenities. Access via woodlands and fields with very steep steps from cliff top.

Man Sands - Brixham (Google Maps Grid Ref 50.370859, -3.516406)

Sand and pebble beach with no amenties. Access via Fields

Apart from its Beaches, Towns and rural beauty there are a fair few Attractions, Places of Interest and Things to Do in the area. Below we have briefly highlighted, in no particular order, some of the more popular ones (please note this list is not exhaustive). We have tried to make the list as varied as possible.

Berry Head - Brixham

A headland marking the southern point of Torbay. Jutting out to sea the views of the bay and beyond are stunning; well worth the walk through the Nature Reserve. Home also to Napoleonic Forts and of course the all-important Lighthouse.

Golden Hind – Brixham

A replica of Drake’s famous Galleon moored in Brixham Harbour. Explore the Ship and discover what it would have been like to sail the seven seas in such a vessel.

Paignton Zoo – Paignton

Over 80 acres and containing approximately 2500 animals. Everything you would expect from a top class Wildlife Park

Torre Abbey – Torquay

Historic Medieval Monastery and Art Gallery open to the public.

Splashdown Quaywest – Goodrington

Waterpark with pools, tumbling tyre rides water chutes etc. situated just off of Goodrington Sands beach.

The English Riviera Wheel - Torquay

Large Ferris Wheel taking you on a 12 minute round journey which offers fantastic views of the bay.

Babbacombe Model Village - Torquay

Set in 4 acres of gardens, portraying English life over the past 6 decades with more than 424 model buildings and an estimated 13160 little people and animals.

Kents Cavern - Torquay

Tour a labyrinth of caverns surrounded by 400 million year old rocks with amazing stalagmites and stalactites to enjoy.

Occombe Farm – Paignton

Working organic Farm Attraction with farmyard animals, nature trail, bird hide and play areas.

Living Coasts – Torquay

Coastal Zoo & Aquarium

Princess Theatre & Babbacombe Theatre – Torquay. Palace Theatre – Paignton

All three venues offer top quality Theatre Productions and Shows with many household names making appearances.

Bygones Museum – Torquay

A British History Museum displaying nostalgic, interesting and funny exhibits from days gone by (many from not too many days ago)

Cockington Court, Village and Country Park – Torquay

Charming village with Thatched Cottages and Tea Rooms, set in a country park complete with beautiful lakes. Cockington Court is situated at the bottom of the Green, housing a craft centre and restaurant aside of the small picturesque Cockington Church.

Dinosaur World – Torquay

An interactive Dinosaur and Fossils Exhibition.

Dartmouth Steam Railway – Paignton

Provide steam train travel, river and sea cruises across the English Riviera and along the beautiful River Dart.

Pirates Bay Adventure Golf - Paignton

18 hole Floodlit Crazy/Adventure Golf Course

Dartmoor

Cheating a bit here, but seeing as it’s on the doorstep it would be wrong not to mention the Moors. A truly raw and stunning countryside area with some fantastic beauty spots to visit.

As mentioned these are only a few of the Attractions on offer in the region.

With regard to eating out in Torbay, the choice is virtually endless with Restaurants of every variety, Diners, Takeaways, Tea Rooms etc. to suit all budgets. We cannot possibly recommend, but as you can imagine the Sea Food options available are first class. Take a look at TripAdvisor’s selection of eateries within the region.

Finally a selection listing of the leading Events in the area (again in random fashion)

Torbay Steam Fair – Brixham. – Aug

Brixham Pirate Festival – Brixham – May

BMAD Bike Nights – Paignton – June to Sep

International Agatha Christie Festival – Torbay – Sep

The English Riviera Air Show – Paignton – Jun

Paignton Regatta Community Fun Week – Paignton – Aug

Paignton Festival/Torbay Carnival – Paignton – Jly/Aug

Brixfest – Brixham – May

Train of Lights – Paignton – Dec

Torbay Royal Regatta – Torquay – Aug

Lanterns, Lights & ‘luminations ‘ Parade – Brixham – Nov

Children’s Week – Paignton - Aug

Cockington Halloween and Day of the Dead Festival – Torquay – Oct/Nov

Occombe Festival – Paignton – Jun

England Seafood FEAST – Torbay – Sep/Oct

Torquay Christmas Carnival – Torquay – Nov

Cockington Fayre – Torquay – Aug

Well that was our whirlwind report on Torbay, which we hope will have added a little more to your knowledge of the area. Torbay is well worth a visit at any time of year, whether it’s a mini break in the autumn or winter or perhaps a longer stay in the spring or summer months there is always something to do, see or enjoy. See our Partner Page for Hotel & Travel Finders for the best deals in the area or our Homepage for any current specific offers. As an alternative to a Hotel or B&B our partner John Fowler Holidays has its South Bay Holiday Park located in Brixham, should you prefer

UK Christmas Markets 2019

Well it’s that time of year again; well actually it isn’t, but it’s the time of year to plan something to do at that time of year, if you know what I mean. I had a friend whom worked for a major supermarket in one of their distribution depots. They had a saying along the lines of “We always know when it’s Christmas, because the Easter Eggs start arriving”. My point being that we must plan ahead – oh yes!

Anyway I digress, what we are bringing you in this article is some basic bitesize information on a selection of Christmas Markets from around the country. These events have become extremely popular in recent years and many not only attract the local community but also considerable numbers travelling from further afield. Some of these markets are humongous affairs with over a million visitors attending. Offering not only Christmas goods, many of which are unique and hand-made, but also a selection of international food and drink that would be hard to find in any one place anywhere else. Not only that but the entertainment and attractions that are provided are very impressive, making these markets very much part of the Christmas experience for many.

Visiting any of these markets is the ideal opportunity for pre-Christmas mini breaks; do some shopping, indulge in the food, enjoy the entertainment, get in the spirit of Christmas and explore the local area at your leisure, all whilst enjoying the relaxing surroundings of a comfortable Hotel or B&B. The vast majority of the markets are open every day (usually from early/mid-November to mid/late December) so you have the choice of a midweek break if you prefer. Anyway here is a small selection of the markets which shall be operating in 2019.

Bath Christmas Market

Spread throughout the city centre with over one hundred and fifty Chalet Stalls selling a vast array of goods from homeware to personalised gifts. This is very much a local market in that the majority of vendors are from the south west. In addition ninety-nine percent of all goods are hand-made! There are plenty of places to eat and drink with a wide variety of choices available. Entertainment for children includes festive storytelling, face painting, Christmas arts and crafts to name but just a few.

Open: 28th November to 15th December. Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10:00 to 19:00. Thursday to Saturday 10:00 – 20:00. Sunday 10:00 – 18:00

Belfast Christmas Market

Hosted in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Over ninety stalls selling crafts, gifts and all things associated with a festive market. You won’t go hungry either with a wide variety of foods on offer, including Kangaroo burgers! Two bars will also help if you happen to get a bit of a thirst on. Entertainment is on offer for both kids and adults.

Open: 16th November to 22nd December. Hours: Unknown

Frankfurt Birmingham Christmas Market

Located in Victoria Square and New Street. The largest German Christmas Market outside of Germany. Over eighty stalls purveying a huge selection of traditional goods and items and of course the famous German snacks: Pretzels, Bratwursts, Schnitzels along with a selection of festive drinks to enjoy. Runs concurrently with the Christmas Craft Market situated next door. Entertainment is also on hand.

Open: 7th November to 23rd December. Hours: 10.00 to 21:00

Blenheim Palace Christmas Market

A Chalet Stall market set in the grounds of the magnificent Blenheim Palace. A range of ceramics, jewellery, toys, toiletries, fashions plus much more is on offer. A good selection of seasonal foods and snacks are available. The market runs alongside the Christmas at Blenheim Palace themed attraction. Entry Charges may apply, see web for details: https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/christmas-market/

Open: 22nd November to 23rd December. Hours: Everyday 10:30 to 20:30

Bristol Christmas Market

Situated in central Bristol at Broadmead. Over fifty stalls selling all kinds of gifts; in particular unique and hand crafted items. You shall also be able to find ample food stalls selling a wide variety of seasonal foods.

Open: 8th November to 23rd December. Hours: 10.00 to 19.00

Canterbury Christmas Market

Located in several streets; Whitefriars Square, Gravel Walk, Marlowe Arcade, Whitefriars Street, Rose Lane and St George’s Street. Featuring over seventy Stalls selling a wide range of festive goods and in addition Craft and Produce areas. To eat, there is the choice of both local and international cuisine. For the children there is Santa’s Grotto and on selected dates arts and crafts activities. Live music and performances can be enjoyed on Wednesdays and the weekends.

Open: 22nd November to 24th December. Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 17:00. Friday – Saturday 09:00 – 18:00 (Close 15:00 on Christmas Eve)

Cardiff Christmas Market

Located in the Pedestrianised streets of Cardiff City Centre (St John Street and neighbouring streets). Focus is on original hand-made crafts and original and unusual art pieces. Over eighty stalls participate so there is a great choice of goods to peruse and you will not be disappointed with the food and drink options on offer; in particular the hot mulled wine is very popular.

Open: 14th November to 23rd December. Hours: Unknown

Edinburgh Christmas Market

East Princess Street Gardens will this year play host to the Christmas Market. A unique shopping experience with crafters, artists, gifts and traditional Christmas items featured.

Open: 16th November to 4th January. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 22:00

Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market

Situated on the Cathedral Green. Traditional Christmas Market inspired by the German markets. Wooden Chalet Stalls offering a selection of crafts, gifts and fresh food along Bavarian style bars to enjoy. The market is extremely popular attracting over six hundred thousand visitors each year.

Open: 16th November to 19th December. Hours: Unkown

Folkestone Christmas Market

The first ever Christmas market to be held in Folkestone, located in the town centre near Sandgate Road. At the moment there are fifteen stalls booked to bring you all the traditional Christmas goods, gifts, food etc..

Open: 29th November to 22nd December. Hours: Monday to Friday 10:00 – 18:00. Saturday 09:00 – 18:00. Sunday 10:00 – 17:00

Glasgow Christmas Market - St. Enoch Square Christmas Market

A Christmas village featuring over fifty Chalet Stalls. A wide variety of foods including local crispy duck rotisserie, bratwurst sausage, hog roast and more. New this year is the introduction of two German Bars.

Open: 9th November to 23rd December. Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10:00 to 21:00. Thursday to Sunday 10:00 to 22:00 (23rd Dec Closes 18:00)

Glasgow Christmas Market - George Square Christmas Market

Over fifty traders both local and international. High quality crafts and artisan products are the main features of the market. There are fairground rides for the kids along with the opportunity to meet Santa. For the adults, how about a visit to the authentic German bars.

Open: 25th November to 31st December (Closed Christmas Day). Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10:00 to 21:00. Thursday to Sunday 10:00 to 22:00 (23rd Dec Closes 18:00)

Harrogate Christmas Market

A huge Christmas Market with over two hundred stalls, which unfortunately lasts for only four days. Held on the Stray in the Montpellier Quarter of the town centre. Specialises in selling local Yorkshire goods and foods. Funfair rides are on hand to entertain the kids and music is provided by local Buskers. Apart from the market vendors there is also a fantastic choice of eats and drinks to be found in the surrounding town centre. A true Yorkshire Christmas experience.

Open: 14th November to 17th November Hours: Thursday and Friday 10:00 – 20:00. Saturday 09:30 – 20:00. Sunday 09:30 – 17:30

Kingston Christmas Market

Located in the Town Centre at the Ancient Market Place and surrounding streets. Over fifty wooden Chalet Stalls and Marque selling a wide variety of traditional festive goods. Two German bars, traditional German street food help keep you fed and thirst free. Street entertainers for your amusement and there is a dedicated children’s entertainment area.

Open: 15th November to 31st December. Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00. Thursday to Saturday 10:00 – 20:00

Leeds Christkindelmarkt Traditional German Christmas Market

Held in Millennium Square featuring over forty wooden Chalet Stalls offering handcrafted toys, jewellery, festive decorations and authentic German delicacies. As usual there are plenty of rides for kids including the much favoured Christmas Carousel along with a weekly show.

Open: 8th November to 21st December. Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:30 – 21:30. Sunday 10:30 – 19:30 (10th November the Market will open at 12 midday)

Leeds Castle Christmas Market

Hosted on the lawn overlooking the Castle. Chalet Stalls selling seasonal gifts, toys, decorations etc. along with specialist food and drink outlets all surrounding a vintage fairground. There are daily live music performances to keep you entertained. Please note access to the Market is included in the price of admission to the Castle & Grounds only.

Opening: 23rd November to 15th December (Weekends Only). Hours: 10:00 – 17:00

Lincoln Christmas Market

Hosted in the streets around Lincoln's Cathedral Quarter containing over two hundred and eighty Wooden Chalet Stalls selling arts, crafts, gifts, and more. There is also a Christmas Bazaar along with a Christmas Pantry with a huge variety of food and drink. For the kids there are fairground rides galore including the Big Wheel. A whole host of entertainment is on offer for all of the family.

Liverpool Christmas Market

Located in St George’s Plateau featuring Stalls offering a range of traditional gifts, arts and crafts along with food and drink outlets.

Open: 16th November to 23rd December. Hours: Unknown

London - Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Over one hundred Chalet Stalls selling every conceivable festive related items. Food and drink choices are abundant and if you get tired of shopping, there is of course the amusement area with around one hundred different rides, ice rink, live entertainment (including Circus Acts) plus much, much more.

Open: 21st November to 5th January. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 22:00

London - Christmas by the River London Bridge City

Features more than sixty traders located along The Queen’s Walk from Hays Galleria and London Bridge City. A diverse range of goods on offer from the usual and traditional Christmas gifts, crafts etc. to boutique fashion. Also hosts free seasonal workshops.

Open: 26th November to 5th January. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 21:00

Manchester Christmas Markets

The original and largest UK Christmas Market. Now located in ten different locations around the city: Albert Square - Brazennose Street - St Ann’s Square - Exchange Street - New Cathedral Street - The Corn Exchange - King Street - Market Street - Exchange Square - Cathedral Gardens. Almost three hundred and fifty Chalets selling local and European goods of every kind; too many to list. As you would imagine the international food and drink available is impressive to say the least. As for entertainment neither the kids our adults are ever disappointed.

Open: 9th November to 22nd December. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 21:00

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Christmas Market

Taking place in Grey’s Monument, Grey Street and Grainger Street the market will take on both a local and international Christmas theme. There will be plenty of jewellery, pottery, accessories on sale along with decorations and trinkets. On the food front you will have the choice of locally produced cakes, jams, handmade chocolates to go beside street foods from Europe. When you get thirsty try one of the many beers produced by local microbreweries.

Open: 16th November to 16th December (Provisional Dates Only). Hours: Unknown

Nottingham Winter Wonderland

The Christmas Market is part of the Winter Wonderland event taking place in Market Square. There shall be over seventy stalls offering scents, fashion, retro style, eco art plus much more. If you get hungry then you have the choice of continental foods and/or local homemade cuisine including home-made stew. There is a wealth of entertainment on offer with children’s rides, ice rink, toboggan slide, helter skelter and if you get thirsty try a drink in the ice bar. There is also a carefully selected live entertainment programme for you to enjoy

Open: 15th November to 24th December (Closed Christmas Day). Hours: Monday to Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00. Thursday to Saturday 10:00 – 20:00. Sunday 11:00 – 18:00

Oxford Christmas Market

Residing in historic Broad Street in the heart of the city. Traditional Christmas Market offer yuletide gifts and decorations along with plenty of eat and drink options.

Open: 5th December to 21st December. Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 10:00 – 18:30. Thursday to Saturday 10:00 – 20:00

Portsmouth Christmas Market

A new Christmas Market which shall be located in the city centre on Commercial Road. Wooden Cabins will be selling a mixture of gifts and a varied selection of international cuisine.

Open: 16th November to 29th December. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 19:00

Rochester Christmas Market

Rochester Castle Gardens plays host to the market. A variety of stalls with unique gifts and stocking fillers is on offer. The Bavarian Food Village is on hand to quell hunger pangs and live street performers will keep you entertained. The weekend of the 7th/8th December sees the Dickensian Festival hit town with parades, street entertainment, carol concerts etc.

Open: Weekends Only plus Friday 6th December.

30th November. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

1st December. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

6th December . Hours: 12:00 – 20:00

7th December. Hours: 10:00 – 19:00

8th December. Hours: 10:00 – 19:00

13th December. Hours: 12:00 – 20:00

14th December. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

15th December. Hours: 10:00 – 18:00

Southampton Christmas Market

To be found at Above Bar Pedestrian Precinct with around forty Vendors selling from wooden Chalets. A traditional German Christmas Market with hand-made gifts, toys, decorations. Food is again traditional German fayre. Watch out for Flying Santa who visits daily. There shall also be various live entertained performances throughout the day.

Opening: 14th November to 23rd December. Hours: Everyday 10:00 – 20:00

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market

Located within the Cathedrals’ Inner and Outer Close boasting over one hundred Chalet Stalls with a strong emphasis towards British and artisan traders. Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods can be found in abundance. The market attracts over three hundred and fifty thousand visitors each year with part of the attraction being the magnificent ice-rink.

Open: 21st November to 22nd December. Hours: Sunday to Wednesday 10:00 – 18:30. Thursday to Saturday 10:00 – 20:00

York Christmas Festival (St Nicholas Fair)

The market can be found at Parliament Street, St Sampson’s Square, The Judge’s Lodging and Coppergate. This is a very large event attracting over one million visitors. Over one hundred Chalet Stalls featuring an array of Christmas goodies and delicious foods and of course don’t miss the fair.

Opening: 14th November to 22nd December. Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00. Thursday – Saturday 10:00 – 20:00.

Hopefully we have stirred your interest and you’ll take the opportunity to visit one of these festive events. Visit our Partner Page and select some of the Hotel/Travel Deal Finders to discover B&B’s, Hotels or other Holiday Accommodation near to your chosen market. Alternatively some of our Tour Company Partners offer ready-made Christmas Break Packages. Again using our Partner Page check out the following: Broadway Travel, Jet2holidays, Just Go Holidays, lastminute, Leger Holidays, National Holidays, Shearings Holidays, Teletext Holidays and UK Breakaways for some great deals. Check out our Web for Deals for every type of Short Break or Holiday.

Merry Christmas!

 

Five East European Capitals for a City Break

Europe has some great capital cities and most of them very familiar and often visited. This post’s intention is to highlight, for want of a better phrase, some of those lesser known, lesser visited smaller cities located to the east of the continent that are well worth considering when contemplating a short break abroad. We have detailed five cities spread around Eastern Europe for you to consider. These locations provide an excellent opportunity for you to enjoy great value for money discount holidays and cheap getaways. This is in no way an in depth scrutiny of each destination, more like a whistle-stop tour providing the basic information which we believe would be of use to first time visitors. The idea being to whet your appetite and if anything takes your fancy you can research further and maybe visit for a short break holiday. Without further ado, these are our picks.

Minsk

Minsk is the capital and largest city of Belarus, but relatively small in comparison to other European capitals; especially those in the west. Its population is just short of one million and its distance from the UK is approximately 1165 miles. The climate is typical central continent with hot summers (average temperature 79C) and long cold winters (below freezing for a lot of the time with plenty of snow).

The city’s main attractions are predominately Museums and Monuments with its Soviet passed being one of the main themes. Central Minsk is considered to be very safe for Tourists. Eating can be extremely cheap and not just the fast food options, restaurants also offer good value for money.  A three course meal at a comfortable restaurant can cost as little as £12.00 per head and you can expect to pay about £6.00 for a bottle of red table wine. Local beers cost less than a pound, although you will pay more for imported brands.  Spirits are also considered inexpensive; in particular Vodka (Belarusian Vodka is regarded as one of the best in the world). Obviously prices will vary and some places will charge more. Minsk has a reputation for an excellent nightlife scene with many pubs, bars, café’s, clubs and quite a few casinos. Unfortunately there is a small drawback for Tourists in that these venues are scattered throughout the city and there are no real specific concentrated nightlife districts as such. A bit of research shall be required. The good news is, taxi fares are very cheap.

 A decent 3 Star Hotel relatively close to the city centre can cost under £100 per room for three nights (this price is based upon a per night basis ie. not part of a package deal). This alone qualifies Minsk as candidate for a cheap weekend away. With regard to flights we found the cheapest direct return ticket for a Friday/Monday in mid-October coming out at less than £270.00pp. Flight time to Minsk is less than three hours. With just a bit more research we feel sure you’ll find cheaper, especially if you don’t mind a stop; although this obviously takes longer and eats into your holiday. If you’re planning a midweek break then the savings should be significantly more. Again with minimal research, for three night weekend packages in mid-October the cheapest we found came out at £308.00. For a three

night short holiday mid-week we found several under £250.00

Sofia

Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria. Situated in the western part of the country with a population of approximately one and a quarter million. Its distance from the UK being just over 1250 miles. The climate is very much central continent with hot summers and long cold winters with a great deal of snowfall. Sofia is deemed to be a relatively safe city for visitors. Places to visit include St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Serdica Amphitheatre, Central Mineral Baths and Vitosha Boulevard (Sofia’s primary shopping street). Eating Out is inexpensive and the restaurants in general have superb reputations. You are likely to be charged just under £20.00 per person for a three course meal. Beer and Wine are also very cheap and not so very long ago considered to be the cheapest in Europe. Local beer is less than a pound a pint and a good bottle of wine is less than a fiver. If it has now lost its cheapest title, it surely must still be on the medals podium. Virtually the cost of everything in Sofia is inexpensive including taxis and where there is a charge, attractions and places of interest; an ideal destination for a bargain break. Sofia is a fun loving city with plenty of bars open all hours but the real action begins when the clubs open around midnight. The city is a party animal’s dream as there are an abundance of venues. It is worth noting that all public transport in Sofia stops at midnight, however as mentioned above taxis are very cheap and plentiful. Although in general a safe city, as a precaution visitors are advised not to walk any significant distances after dark.

The weekend and weekday room rates for a decent hotel can be as little as £15.00pp (mid-October prices). Many weekend return flights in October flying direct (time: just over 3 hours) were priced at around £140.00. No apparent savings on the weekend prices were to be found on weekdays. There were many weekend Flight and Hotel three night packages available, with the bulk costing from between £230.00 to £280.00pp; although we did find one as low as £176.00pp. Prices for a three night mid-week mini break again showed very little difference in cost; in fact they showed slightly higher prices in general.  Overall an excellent choice for a bargain break.

 

Tallinn

Tallinn is the capital of Estonia and is located in the north of the country on the Gulf of Finland coast. It has and population of just over 425000 and is approximately 1100 miles from the UK. Temperatures in the summer are mild to warm, whilst in the winter the climate can become quite severe with snowfall commonplace. Estonia as a whole has a bit of a reputation for erratic and changeable weather (sound familiar!).

Tallinn is considered to be a very safe city for visitors (but again due care is advisable). The most popular places to visit include the Medieval Town Wall (a fortress), Town Hall Square, St Catherine’s Passage and Estonian History Museum’s Guildhall to name but just a few. Food and drink is as you’d expect cheap by West European comparison with a three course meal in a standard restaurant costing around £25 per person. Local beer comes out at around £1.35 a 0.5 litre bottle, with imported slightly dearer. A bottle of decent wine can you set you back about £7.00 in a restaurant. Vodka (the most popular drink) and other spirits average out at about £2 per measure in bars and restaurants. Tourism in Tallinn has quite rapidly increased in recent years with a reputation for history and culture and the Old Town is included in the Unesco World Heritage list. In contrast it has also laid claim to being the party capital of Northern Europe. The Old Town district is also home to many clubs and bars which attract both locals and tourists alike; the city is a very popular destination for stag parties due to its reputation as a great place for a cheap break. For the night owls, be aware that public transport ceases at midnight, but taxis are plentiful and quite cheap.

If you’re planning a weekend getaway then standard rooms in decent hotels can cost as little as £20.00 per person with weekday prices being pretty much the same. We found quite a few Apartment options that appeared good value for money. Weekend air fares start from around £140.00; we had difficulty in finding direct flights with the majority having one changeover stop either on the outward or return journey. This obviously made the flight duration difficult to gauge as the range we found was 2hr 40min up-to 13hr; so beware if you book your own flights. Midweek flights came out cheaper starting at around £120.00 but again non-stop appeared few and far between. On three night weekend package deals we were quoted anything between £235.00 and £320.00; again no real improvement on price for a midweek break.

 

Tbilisi

Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia a country which although is deemed to be in Europe, can also claim, from a physical geographical point of view, to be in Asia. With a population of about 1.1 million it is 2200 miles from the UK making it the furthest destination on this list. Tbilisi, along with the rest of Georgia enjoys a sub-tropical climate with mild winters and long hot summers. Georgia has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe, so Tbilisi is considered to be safe for tourists. It has a fascinating and diverse history which is reflected in its architecture. Amongst its many places of interest are Narikala Fortress, Peace Bridge, Tsminda Sameba Cathedral and Clock Tower. It is very cheap to eat out with a good three course meal costing less than £15.00. A pint of local brew costs less than a pound and wine as little as £3.00 per bottle. A local favourite Red wine called Saperavi costs as little as £2.00. The nightlife in the city is vibrant and varied with many clubs (midnight opening) and bars. You’ll not only find them around the Old Town but also spread over other areas of the city. With regard to public transport (which includes a small tube network), fares are very cheap and the service stops at midnight. In keeping with the other cities on this list, taxis are also very affordable.

Accommodation is very cheap with a per night weekend rate of less than £20.00 per person for a reasonably good hotel. For a weekday you’re looking at about £15.00 per person for the same standard of rooms. For flights we again had difficulty in finding non-stop flights, which is not really surprising. Return weekend fares ranged from between £300.00 to £400.00 with only a small reduction in the price for weekday airfares. It would appear that three night package deals are by far the best option (although it should be noted that our research was not extensive) as the prices came out approximately the same as just booking a return flight; this both weekends and weekdays; a great value discount holiday.

 

Riga

Riga is the capital city of Latvia. Located on the Baltic Sea it is home to over 630,000 inhabitants. Its air distance from the UK is around 1050 miles. Weather wise Riga enjoys mild summers, cold winters with snowfall and sub-zero temperatures. Crime rates in general are very low, so for tourists this would be considered a safe city. Riga is very much considered to be a cultural city and as such boasts many museums, galleries and concert venues. Mainly due to its Art Nouveau architecture the Old Town district has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some highlights of a visit would be to visit Nativity Cathedral, Latvian National Theatre, Vērmanes Garden and Livu Square (lively district with bars restaurants and street entertainment).  A three course meal in a mid- range restaurant is likely to cost just under £20.00 per head, however a pint of local beer will see you pay approximately £3.00 and a small imported beer about £2.00. Wine will start at around £6.50 for a reasonably good bottle. Alcohol prices in Riga are probably the most expensive on our list, however they still remain cheap by comparison to most Western European prices. The aforementioned Livu Square and Old Town is home to many entertainment venues, but other areas also offer some great nightlife. The city has some unusual and diverse clubs as well as mainstream. Some of the pubs and bars close before midnight, even at the weekend, but along with the clubs quite a few remain open until the last person decides to call it day and leave.

To spend the night in a reasonable hotel on the weekend will cost you anywhere between £15.00 per person to £30.00 per person. On weekdays there doesn’t appear to be much of a change to the prices. Return weekend flights ranged from £160.00 per person to £250.00 person and as you’d expect direct flights were few and far between; where these could be found the flight time was quoted as 2hrs 40mins. The mid-week price range ran from £160.00 per person to £180.00 per person and there were more direct flight options available.

 

Hopefully we have provided you with some food for thought if you are considering something a little different and venturing further afield for a city break. The five cities appear to welcome everyone and try to cater for young, old, groups, couples and those travelling alone. For more research visit our City Break Page for current deals or our Partner Page for Hotel/Travel Deal Finders for more options. As stated above our research into prices was very basic and the amount of Deal Finders we used was minimal. October was used as our sample month and FYI we searched Booking.com, ebookers, Travelsupermarket and TripAdvisor to obtain the above quoted prices. We feel sure you will be able to find better deals - Good Hunting!