Christmas Markets

Gingerbread house

Vienna - Rathaus Christmas Market

Mulled wine, gingerbread houses, Christmas decorations, snow covered streets and illuminated Christmas trees, set the scene for the winter wonderland of Christmas Markets. What better way to get into the festive spirit and buy unique presents for your Christmas list, than a trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets? Discover the best in local handicrafts, tasty regional cuisines and festive treats. From Germany to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic and Spain, when it comes to destinations around Europe, the choice is immense. Here are our Top 6 choices…

Rathhaus

Nuremburg - One of the most famous and largest Christmas Markets in Europe is the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany. The Christmas Angel traditionally opens the market, from the gallery of the Fraukirche (Church of Our Lady), on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The 180 traditional wooden stalls that fill the Main Market Square concentrate solely on Christmas food, decorations and gifts.

What better way to get in the Christmas spirit, than with the aromas of spicy mulled gluhwein, hot gingerbread, freshly baked plum people and hot bratwurst sausages whetting your appetite as you shop? The special Kinderweihnact Children’s Market is a treat for the little ones, with a fun-filled fiesta of old-style carousels, a steam train and ferris wheel to delight. The 2013 Christmas Market opens on 29 November and runs until 24 December.

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Prague - Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are home to Prague’s main Christmas Markets, with two smaller markets in Republic Square and Harvel’s Market. Stall holders, in their brightly coloured wooden huts, lay out a host of hand-crafted Christmas wares. There’s everything from puppets, dolls and wooden toys, to festive decorations, glassware, ceramic plates and scented candles.

An intricate nativity scene in Old Town Square, with Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings and animals, brings the Christmas story to life. The stable nearby has live animals to get up close to, and there is also a puppet theatre to explore. As the city goes dark, the Christmas trees light up with an array of twinkling lights and festive decorations. The 2013 Christmas Market opens from 30 November and runs to 12 January 2014.

Gingerbread house

Vienna - The Christkindlmarkt in Vienna dates back to 1294 and is housed each year in the Rathausplatz outside City Hall. The 150 stalls are awash with traditional Christmas decorations and gift ideas, with aromas of freshly baked lebkuchen gingerbread and toasted almonds filling the air.

After an afternoon of shopping, head over to the old-style Viennese Market on Freyung and enjoy the festive advent music that rings out across the square from 4.30pm each day. There are also markets on Maria Theresian-Platz and on Old Akh to explore. The 2013 Christmas Market is open from 16 November to 24 December 2013.

P1030411Copenhagen - The Christmas trees in Tivoli Gardens, at the heart of the Denmark, capital of Copenhagen, come alive with over half a million lights over the festive season. The lake at the centre of the gardens becomes a huge outdoor winter ice skating rink and, for the children, there are pony rides, colourful light shows and Father Christmas and his red-coated elves in his grotto.

Gifts not to miss are candles, silver ornaments and traditional Danish knitwear, with a glass of Glogg (Danish mulled wine) and local apple dumpling to refuel. The Nyhavn and Christiana canals are also lined with festive stalls, filled to the brim with local treats and present ideas. The 2013 Christmas Fair takes place from 9 November to 28 December 2013.

Christmas market in Place Sainte Catherine, Brussels

Brussels - The popular Brussels Christmas Market stretches along a two-kilometre illuminated route through the city. The Winter Wonders Market in Place St Catherine brings traditional wooden chalet style stalls, offering a plethora of festive treats and gift ideas.

The Grand Place is the sparkling centre piece, with its innovative Sound and Light show. Combining the outdoor ice rink, a 35m toboggan slope, the Big Wheel, roundabouts and musical events, this winter extravaganza is a favourite choice to get yourself in the festive mood. This all goes to show that Belgium has a lot more to offer besides yummy chocolates and tasty waffles. The Christmas Market runs from 29 November 2013 to 5 January 2014.

Christmas Caga Tio or Shitting Logs. Fair de Santa Lucia, Barcelona

Barcelona - A Christmas Market doesn’t always have to have a snowy backdrop to make it fun. Why not combine the famous attractions of Barcelona, with a visit to the Fira de Santa Llucia.

Located in the Gothic Quarter near Barcelona Cathedral, this Christmas Market boasts over 300 festive stalls, selling Christmas decorations, trees and mistletoe. Why not add a traditional Caga Tio to your Christmas treats? These festive logs are adorned with a funny face and packed to the brim with gifts and novelties.

There is also an artesian section, offering a wide selection of jewellery, ornaments, leather goods and toys. You can also pick up festive treats and unique presents at the Fira de Nadal, in the shadow of Sagrada Familia, and the Fira de Brocanters Antique Market, close to the Placa Catalunya. The 2013 Christmas Markets take place from 3 December to 23 December.

If you fancy treating yourself to a trip to the Christmas Markets, Hays Travel have lots of ideas, both at home and abroad this year –  just click the link here and make your choice! Our dedicated team of Travel Consultants are waiting for your call on 0800 408 4130!

 

Our Pick Of The Best Late Deal Destinations

Fancy a late deal holiday? How about Benidorm, Majorca or Marmaris?

Benidorm

How could you not love Benidorm with it’s famous night-life and numerous activities, the beautiful beaches and the fantastic climate? You can do anything from water sports to hiking in the surrounding countryside, from going to one of the water parks to golfing at one of the 15 golf courses, from going shopping at the markets to clubbing until the early hours of the morning. Benidorm is a fabulous holiday resort that can fit to suit anyone including families, couples and the younger generation. What makes it even better is that the flight duration is only 3 hours and the average temperature is a high temperature of 21°C- you can’t go wrong with Benidorm!

Majorca

With a large range of activities suited for anybody, Majorca is another amazing holiday destination suited for families and couples. There is a lot to do in Majorca so I can guarantee you will never be bored. The numerous activities include: wine tasting, golf, horse riding, shopping and much more. For a more family based holiday, you could visit the aquarium in Palma, the Marineland and even go to one of the many water parks that Majorca has to offer. Majorca also has a high climate all year long with the average temperature of 20°C and is only a mere 2 hours flight away from the UK.

Marmaris

If you’re looking for an affordable holiday with plenty to do and a chance to get a suntan then Marmaris is the place for you! It’s a huge hit for families and the younger generation due to the impressive scenery and plenty of excursions for everyone to enjoy. Obviously, you can’t visit Turkey without having a world-famous Turkish bath to take all of your stress away and just relax (it is a must-do for every tourist). Other great qualities of Marmaris are the hot average temperatures of 23°C, the flight time of four hours and budget prices of B&B’s and all inclusive hotels. What more could you ask for?

For great deals on late holidays to Marmaris, Benidorm, Majorca and destinations worldwide call 0800 408 4130

 

Marmaris Castle

 

A Wii Bit Experienced

Is playing on a games console enough to equip you for the ski slopes? Many people think it is, apparently.

Mountains: not really the same as your front room.

Record snowfall across Europe means there’s never been a better time to take a snowboarding or ski holiday. But just how experienced are the hundreds of new skiiers heading to the slopes? Not very, it would seem. Recent research suggests that as many as 23 per cent of British skiiers try the sport without ever having taken professional lessons. What’s more, some travellers seem to think that all they need to prepare them for real-life runs is a few goes on a Nintendo Wii. In the survey, conducted by Santander insurance, 17 per cent of skiers and boarders admitted to setting off for the slopes having only ever practised on a games console. It doesn’t take a winter sports expert to work out that careering down a slippery mountain feels a tad different to flailing around the living room holding a couple of controllers.

Apparently, clueless skiiers are rather daunted by the mountains when they actually arrive in resort and many resort to Dutch courage: The survey also found that 17 per cent of skiiers have tackled pistes when under the influence from lunchtime drinking. And as many as 23 per cent of those surveyed admitting to hitting the piste when still under the influence from the night before. No wonder there have been recent calls for breath tests on the slopes.

Learning to ski or board is all about working your way up (or down) the right level slopes for you: from nursery through to the biggest black runs. The best (and safest) way to do it is under the watchful eye of an expert instructor; after all, you can’t press ‘start again’ when you’re half way down a real mountain. Most insurance policies do not cover you if you’re under the influence of alcohol when you’re (ahem) on the piste. Stay safe this winter by making sure you book lessons when you book your holiday. Your insurance policy might not be the most exciting in-flight read, but it’s worth studying the small print so you know exactly what it covers you for. And remember: the ‘après’ in ‘après-ski’ means ‘after’. Not before, or during.

Thinking of heading on a ski holiday this season? Click here or call our ski team on 0800 408 4590. They can arrange winter sports insurance, lift passes, equipment hire and those all important lessons.

Where’s hot in January?

What better way to banish the January blues than with a last minute holiday to the sun? Here’s our pick of the hottest spots to kick off 2012 in style…

With just three days to go before the big day, we can’t wait for the festive season here at Hays HQ. But what do you do when the decorations come down? We’re trying not to think about it, but it’s actually only a couple of weeks away. If you need something to look forward to when the party’s over, we’ve got some great late deal holidays to sunnier climes that should put a spring in your step. Drop the hint and you could get a holiday confirmation in your stocking on the 25th. Now, where’s the best place to head to escape the gloomiest month of the year?

When it comes to finding good weather in January, the best destinations are much the same as in December (see Where’s Hot in December.) First up, the Canary Islands are drenched in mid twenties sunshine at this time of year – and only a hop, skip and a jump away from the UK. Choose from favourite four Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria or Tenerife. If you can be flexible about when you go and where you stay, there are plenty of late deals to be had.

If you don’t mind travelling ever-so-slightly further, you’ll get hotter temperatures. The Red Sea waters around Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt are teeming with eye popping coral and tropical fish, making it an amazing destination for snorkelling, diving, or doing nothing at all. Daytime highs should still hit the mid twenties, although it can get chilly at night. For unbeatable value for money, choose an all inclusive holiday at one of the area’s many beach front hotels. Elsewhere in Africa, the tiny nation of Gambia is edged by golden beaches and palm trees and is exceptionally good value. Expect brilliant sunshine as high as thirty degrees in January.

Off the West coast of Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find the still very much undiscovered islands of Cape Verde. With gorgeous scenery, miles of deserted coastline and January highs around the mid twenties, they have to be seen (and experienced) to be believed – go now before everyone else does! In the opposite direction, you’ll find similar temperatures in desert-meets-beach city Dubai.

Further afield, you’ll find balmy, late twenties temperatures and hardly any rain in the tropics. Try The Maldives for ultimate swept-away luxury, or Caribbean destinations like Cuba or the Dominican Republic for affordable, all inclusive breaks. After the festive rush, January is a fantastic time to grab a great cruise late deal. With calls at multiple hot ports, all meals and top activities included in the cost of your holiday, what’s not to love? Just sail away and switch off. Our specialist cruise team have some great cruise deals for January right now – click here or call 0800 408 4229. For holidays on dry land, call 0800 408 4130.

Start 2012 with a holiday somewhere hot

Weekly Escapes: The go-to list for great holiday deals

Head to the beach (or the city, or the seas, or the slopes...) with one of our handpicked Weekly Escapes deals

Our Weekly Escapes bring you a handpicked choice of our favourite deals – and this week’s bumper edition really spoils you for choice.

Everyone loves to bag a holiday bargain, but if you’re not sure exactly where you want to go, it can be hard to know where to begin. Our Weekly Escapes are a great place to start your hunt for holiday heaven. Each week, the Escapes team trawl our systems and suppliers to find you amazing offers on everything from UK breaks to tropical beach getaways. The result is an inspiring email that arrives in your inbox every Wednesday, brightening up the dullest of midweek days with a choice of tempting travel finds.

If you haven’t signed up yet, all is not lost. You can see the latest collection of Weekly Escapes here. This bumper edition features a huge selection of cheap holidays, including some late deals that will whisk you to the sun (or the snow) just in time for Christmas. At the time of writing this blog, there’s still availability on this 7 night stay in Gran Canariaover Christmas from £150 each including flights. Looking to go away for New Year? We’ve got some amazing offers for that too. Then there’s the early bird Easter deals, ski bargains, exciting cruises, faraway adventures and summer 2012 steals. Surprise the holiday fan in your life with the ultimate stocking filler: tickets to the destination of their dreams. We’re loving Paris for Valentine’s Day and this break to Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel. Which would you choose?

Go here to see the Weekly Escapes now. To make sure you receive the cream of the holiday crop straight to your inbox every week, sign up here.

All Weekly Escapes prices are correct at the time of publication, but subject to availability and change. Many holidays shown are available from alternative airports; call 0800 408 4130 or search the website for prices from your local departure point.

Head to the beach (or the city, or the seas, or the slopes...) with one of our handpicked Weekly Escapes deals

Late ski deals

Don't miss out on the snow this winter: grab one of  our late ski deals.

The ski season is in full swing and our team of winter sports experts have been scouring our systems for some top deals to the snow…

Start 2012 with a great mountain holiday.

This year, we’ve got hundreds of amazing late deals on holidays to the slopes. January is a great time to bag a bargain as resorts calm down after the Christmas rush and gear up for February school holidays. And what better way to burn off the festive excess than with a week of mountain air and exercise?

If you’ve never tried skiing before and don’t know where to start, call our experts on 0800 408 4590. They’ll be able to advise you on the best resorts to suit your needs. They can also arrange great deals on tuition, equipment hire and lift passes. If you’re a seasoned skier looking for a new challenge, you can talk to the team about the highest resorts with the best black runs. Whether you’re looking to ski or board, for a family resort or a somewhere with a legendary après ski scene, we can help you find the perfect ski holiday.

Here are some of our favourite offers for today. Click on the bold text to book or find out more. For many more, see our dedicated ski deals website or call the team on 0800 408 4590.


Self catering Pamporovo from £169:
If you’re going skiing or boarding with a group of friends, sharing a self catering apartment is a great way to get a good deal. This trip to Bulgaria is based on six sharing a one bedroomed apartment and includes transfers from and to the airport in Sofia. The apartments have a jacuzzi and sauna on site and are located just 100 metres from the extensive slopes. Food and drink is incredibly cheap in Bulgaria, so you’ll spend a fraction of what you would in other European resorts

All inclusive La Plagne from £445: If you prefer the perks of all inclusive packages on your beach holidays, you’ll love this “all inclusive” deal to one of France’s most popular ski resorts. As well as airport transfers, this great value holiday includes five nights of three course dinners with free-flowing house wine, beer and coffee, afternoon tea with homemade cakes, six packed lunches and a four course farewell feast. Phew!

Half board Arinsal from £329: The 4* Palarine in Andorra is one of those hotels that people ask for. Run by a friendly, British family, the food and service are apparently so good that guests return year after year. There are only 36 rooms, so it’s no surprise that they get booked up quickly. The hotel is located in a pretty area just five minutes by free shuttle bus from the Arinsal gondola. Rooms come with free WiFi and access to Playstation 3s.

Half board New Year in Borovets from £279: Celebrate the dawn of 2012 in the snowy mountains of Borovets. This one’s in Bulgaria again, so you’ll be able to celebrate without breaking the bank. The 3* Hotel Bor is located a 15 minute walk away from central Borovets, where the nightlife is buzzing. There’s a good choice of runs too; from perfect nursery slopes through to challenging World Cup run. This is a great price for peak season on the slopes, so it won’t be around for long…

All prices are correct at the time of blogging, but subject to limited availability and change. Call 0800 408 4590 for alternative dates and airports.

Don't miss out on the snow this winter: grab one of our late ski deals.

 

Dream tickets: the gift list

Whisk someone away on the trip of a lifetime

With one month to go until the big day, the pressure’s on to find the perfect Christmas presents. Give the ultimate festive surprise and make someone’s travel dreams come true (because the best gifts can’t be wrapped.) Here are just a few ideas. Which one would you choose?

 

Our UK getaways make great Christmas gifts

The Time of their life:Make a diehard Dirty Dancing jump for joy with a trip to see the musical of the cult film in Manchester. This overnight break comes with dinner, bed and breakfast and a visit to vibrant Liverpool. From £99 each, including coach transport from the North East – other departure points available. Bookable by phone: 0800 408 4130

Got the X Factor: The X Factor fan in your life will love this London break. It includes one night bed and breakfast in the capital and tickets to see the finalists’ matinee performance at the O2 Arena on 31st March. From £91.50 per person, bookable by phone: 0800 408 4130

City slickers: Whisk your loved one away for a romatic escape somewhere new. We’ve got thousands of bargain city breaks, but we love this January escape to buzzing Barcelona. Spend three nights in hip four star hotel Attica 21 Barcelona Mar from £164 each, including flights from Liverpool (other airports available.) Click here or call 0800 408 4130.

Hit the slopes in 2012

Snow business: Ski season is in full swing and we’ve got plenty of ski holidays to please winter sports fans. This 4*, half board week in Bulgaria’s Bansko is available from £239 per person, including flights from Manchester and transfers from and to Sofia. A good resort for beginners and intermediates, great value Bansko boasts bustling nightlife and a pretty old town. Other airports available, click here or call 0800 408 4130.

Hello, sunshine: What have you got to look forward to when Christmas has been and gone? How about a dose of vitamin D to top you up until summer? We’ve got thousands of late deals to hotspots like the Caribbean and Canary Islands. We like this 5* week in exotic Marrakech, where you can explore the ancient medina and shop in the colourful souks. From £259 each, including Gatwick flights. Other airports available, call 0800 408 4130 or click here.

Secure your next family holiday with a deposit

History repeating itself:Did you fall in love with a resort on your last summer holiday? Make your family happy by telling them you’re all booked up to go back in 2012. We’ve got some great early bird deals on 2012 holidays and booking in advance means you can make sure you bag a room at your favourite hotel. Click here or call us on 0800 408 4130.

Magic moments: Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort top the travel wish lists of thousands of children (and grown-ups too.) We’ve got an array of special offers to Paris and Orlando, but this exclusive winter sun break is a real treat: spend ten nights at the four star Radisson Celebration hotel near Disney World from £489 per person. Click here or call 0800 412 5358.

Make someone's dreams come true with a trip to New York

Start spreading the news:We ask our Twitter and Facebook fans where in the world they’d most like to go and New York keeps coming out top. It’s certainly a special city; everyone who goes seems to get bitten by the Big Apple bug. Discover it yourself when you take your loved one off to Manhattan in January. This three night, four star break is available from £579 per person. Click or call 0800 412 5358.

Cruise control: Know someone who loves cruising, or somebody who’s always wanted to try it? Pre-Christmas is a great time to secure a bargain on a 2012 cruise. With cruise lines offering amazing discounts on everything from short breaks to round the world voyages, there’s no time like the present. Click here or call our cruise experts on 0800 408 4229.

All prices are valid at the time of posting, but subject to availability and change.

Have you ever been given a holiday as a Christmas present? Where did you go and what did you think?

Whisk someone away on the trip of a lifetime