Fairy Tales, Christmas Markets and Ghostly Goings On | TravelResearchOnline

Fairy Tales, Christmas Markets and Ghostly Goings On

A recent headline in our national newspapers about long delays at London Heathrow reminded me, to remind you, about the growing number of non-stop flights to Manchester, England’s northern gateway. Check your listings because for 2019 there are non-stop flights to Manchester from Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, JFK, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami and Philadelphia.

The short lines at Manchester Airport’s Immigration provide airside, curbside access in 40 minutes speeding up entry to Britain at any time of the year and providing fast access to Scotland, North Wales, the North of England, the Lake District, and the great heritage cities of York and Chester.

Turn this to your advantage this winter by combining off-season, lower cost flights and rapid UK entry with some of our festive Christmas Markets and magnificent stately homes, all decorated for Christmas. Make the outward going a whole lot easier. In Manchester, out London?

Once Upon a Time…

Treasure-filled Chatsworth House, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire is famous for the way it decorates for Christmas and those opening words, so evocative of storytelling and folklore, are a springboard into the world of illusion and make-believe. You can let your imagination run wild at Chatsworth and bring to life a hand-picked selection of much loved tales through a treat for the senses. See the light, lose yourself in the sounds, absorb the rush of colour and let your mind wander. Remember…we were all children, once upon a time.

Castle Howard Decorated for Christmas

Each year Castle Howard is totally transformed as the house is hand-decorated for the festive season into a remarkable Christmas experience that feels like a theatre performance – but without live performers. This year’s theme will see the house decorations inspired by the ’12 Days of Christmas’; so, be prepared for Leaping Lords, Laying Geese and Partridges adorning the rooms and spaces. The Twelve Days of Christmas installations will not only bring to life the characters of the much-loved Christmas carol but also reference the original 12-Day holiday which inspired it.

The York Christmas Festival

It’s less than 2 hours by direct train from Manchester Airport to York where the city’s medieval charm and scents of spiced mulled wine will transform the city into a festive fairy tale. Immersed in tradition and bustling with activity, discover the delights of the iconic St Nicholas Fair as the historic streets of York come alive at this time of the year. Meander through the magical market stalls of St Nicholas Fair and delight in a truly special shopping experience. Wander inside traditional chalets adorned with twinkling lights and follow the aromas of mulled wine and tempting treats to the new Yorkshire Barn for a taste of yule themed Yorkshire food.


York Early Christmas Festival

This is the perfect antidote to a chaotic Christmas as it sets the tone for a relaxed and music-filled yuletide with the National Centre for Early Music’s much-loved annual York Early Music Festival – celebrating its 20th anniversary! Ten events over eight days, highlighted by Bach’s Christmas Oratorio presented by the Yorkshire Bach Choir. The performances take place between Dec. 8 and 15 in the intimate candlelit surroundings of St Margaret’s Church and there are mince pies and wine at most concerts.

The Keeping of Christmas

York is famous for its Viking heritage but a visit to the Fairfax House will totally transport you back to the Georgian period. It is beautifully captured at Christmas when it will be decked in all its festive splendour to celebrate the traditions of the 18th century with a magnificent festive installation. Taste mulled wine and mince pies served in the Georgian Kitchen and hear about their food, extravagant dining table displays, elegant decorations, and remarkable Twelfth Night Cake.

The Chester Christmas Market


Start your visit with a walking tour of the city’s unique Rows, a series of covered walkways and two tiered shops that date from the medieval period. As the city is Roman in origin, I can arrange for the tour to be led by a Roman Centurion in full military uniform. With that behind you, pick up a delicious, hot mulled wine (or two) as you browse around the many traditional Christmas Market chalets in the city’s Town Hall Square opposite Chester Cathedral.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Alternatively, you can first get stuck into the Christmas Market and finish with a Chester Ghost Tour. They are really fun (especially with a few glasses Glühwein on board) and a great way to explore the 2000-year old city and its many, often gruesome, stories. Strange things have happened here across the centuries and the tour can be combined with candle-lit dining in ancient inns and historic haunted pubs, where ‘things that go bump in the night’ are invariably on the menu!

Paull Tickner, owner of U.K.-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at www.customgb.co.uk or email him at ptickner@customgb.co.uk.

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