Castles, Cathedrals, Chester and Chatsworth at Christmas | TravelResearchOnline

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Castles, Cathedrals, Chester and Chatsworth at Christmas

Bustling and colourful Christmas markets in historic settings, treasure-filled castles and stately homes in full festive mode: carol singers, sparkling and highly decorated Christmas trees, mulled wine, mince pies and ice skating outdoors at famous London attractions. Welcome to an exciting series of London and the countryside tour ideas that can be gift-wrapped to generate valuable extra commission in the run-up to Christmas.

My top story brings together 5 Christmas markets in London, Winchester, Salisbury and Bath which can be given extra festive flair by adding one or more of my After Dark Tours. December also sees the appearance of outdoor skating rinks at several famous heritage sites in London, and they provide a starting point for an unusual Girls Getaway.

I couldn’t resist creating a programme where you can meet a crowd of much-loved characters at Rochester’s annual Dickens Festival, complete with visits to the castles at Hever and Leeds, both fully decorated for Christmas.

With stately homes like Chatsworth and Castle Howard decorating for the festive season and Christmas Markets among the medieval Rows in Chester, in Manchester (the biggest in Britain) and around the ancient streets of York, using the user-friendly Manchester gateway, you can offer your clients a number of new, off season ways of looking at their old friend Britain, most of which they may have heard about but never experienced before.

Start thinking out of the box. Here are 8 bright ideas for UK-based Christmas Market-based programmes.

A Cornucopia Of Christmas Markets

This truly festive experience begins with the London Belgravia Christmas Market and the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland annual gathering of festive fairground rides, ice skating, grottos and glühwein galore. Then you’re out into the English countryside where you’ll discover the magical Christmas markets in the great heritage cities of Winchester, Chichester and Bath. Use the link and take a look.

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Decorated For Christmas

Based in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, come and see Blenheim Palace and Waddesdon Manor filled with huge Christmas Trees, festive decorations and dazzling illuminations. Add a traditional Christmas Market in Oxford, a side trip to the Bath Christmas Market, some free time in picturesque Oxfordshire Cotswolds market towns and 4 nights in London… the next step? Find some fellow travellers and start booking your flights.

Meet Mr. Pickwick and His Pals

Between 7th December – 8th December and packed with shopping stalls, the city of Rochester becomes a feast of Victorian delights. There are lamp-lit parades, carols to be sung and even a guaranteed snowfall, framed by Rochester’s fairy tale cathedral and castle. Rub shoulders with a host of larger than life Dickensian characters, strolling players, re-enactors not to mention a few odd balls.

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Portsmouth’s Victorian Christmas Festival

Portsmouth’s 20th annual Victorian Festival of Christmas returns to the awe-inspiring setting of the Historic Dockyard between 29th November – 1st December. Home to HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum there will be plenty of merry making with a host of Victorian characters (including a traditional Father Christmas dressed in green) in the Dickensian-style snow covered streets and in Fagin’s Real Ale Tavern.

Get Your Skates On

Here’s an unusual idea for a December Girls Getaway: Bring your skates or hire them when you’re here, and in addition to some serious shopping, skate in style at some of London’s best outdoor ice-skating rinks at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Somerset House, The Natural History Museum, the Winter Wonderland Hyde Park and the National Maritime Museum Greenwich. It’s also a great theme for families visiting London in December.

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Picture The St Nicholas Christmas Fair, York

The major event in this 6-night programme is the colourful St Nicholas Christmas Festival in York, complete with seasonal sparkle, Victorian costumed traders, carol singers and hot chocolate-laced with brandy! It includes a visit to Castle Howard, Chatsworth House and the Fairfax House, all stunningly decorated for Christmas and timed to coincide with the annual Early Music Christmas Festival.

Manchester, Chester and Chatsworth at Christmas

This 4-nighter is based round the Manchester Christmas Market, arguably the biggest and best in the UK. It also includes a side trip to the Christmas Market in the picture-book city of Chester and a side trip to the fabulous Chatsworth House, in full festive season mode. There’s also a 3-night optional extension to Dublin for their Christmas Markets.

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Chester, China, Chatsworth and Collectables

Using the Manchester gateway, this 6-night tour features the 70 traditional wooden chalets at Chester’s festive Christmas market, treasure-filled Chatsworth House fully decked out for Christmas, bargain hunting at the magical World of Wedgwood and a day at the International Antiques and Collectors Fair Newark making a perfect combination for 2 independent travellers or as an 8-10 pax Girls Getaway.

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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