The Maltese Connection

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Malta’s traditional Luzzu fishing boats.

The Mediterranean island of Malta, sitting between Italy and North Africa, is a melting pot of different cultures and influences. Abbe Bates visits to discover what to include on a group trip.

alta is the largest of the Maltese islands, which also include Gozo and Comino. Its strategic position in the Mediterranean means it has had numerous invaders over the centuries, giving it a rich and vibrant history that could fill a visit on its own. When looking at accommodation, it is advisable to use four or five-star hotels for your group, as the standard below that can be patchy. You can get some good value deals and there are a choice of locations, from the resort towns of St Julien’s, Sliema and St Paul’s Bay to the historic capital Valletta. The climate is pleasant all year round, with temperatures dipping to not much below the teens Celsius, even in winter.

The two main languages on the island are English and Maltese, and the Maltese language reflects the different influences on the island, largely Semitic in origin but using the Latin alphabet, with a smattering of French words picked up during Napoleon’s reign and English from its time under British rule.

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An aerial view of the Grand Harbour in Valletta.

Valletta and the Knights of St John

Malta’s capital Valletta is a ‘must-see’ whilst on the island and it is certainly worth booking a guide for a walking tour or to join your coach. With its grid-like layout and limestone buildings, it was built in 1566 by the Knights of St John, who play an important part in Malta’s story and still exist today, with modern connections to organisations such as St John’s Ambulance in the UK.    

This Catholic order of hospitallers arrived on the island in 1530 and fought off an invasion by the Ottomans known as the ‘Great Siege’ in 1565 before founding Valletta to help fortify the island, naming it after their leader, Grand Master La Valette.

There are numerous places to visit on Malta connected to the Knights of St John. St John’s Co-Cathedral, in particular, includes two famous paintings by Caravaggio in its Oratory, as well as a beautiful interior and many of the tombs of the Knights. You can also visit the Grand Master’s Palace, with its Armoury of around 6,000 pieces and impressive State Rooms featuring Gobelin tapestries. Those looking for a religious theme to a tour are, in fact, very well catered for, with over 350 churches across the islands.

For a very good overview of Malta and its history, Malta 5D is a multi-media audio visual show in Valletta that takes about 15 minutes and provides a good starting point to a visit to the islands.

An insight into the nobility of Malta is given at the well-presented Casa Rocca Piccola, a 16th-century palace still lived in by the family

, who will personally escort groups around the site, and also provide Champagne evening tours. Be sure to meet the resident macaw and terrapin in the courtyard!

Picturesque and wide-ranging views can be taken in from the Baracca Gardens over the Grand Harbour and you will find the Saluting Battery here, where daily gun firings are made at 12pm and 4pm.

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The Grand Master’s Palace.

Valletta is European Capital of Culture in 2018, and for more details of events taking place, see the panel on page 44.

Across the harbour, easily accessible on a boat cruise, is the town of Vittoriosa, where the Knights of St John made their home before they built Valletta. You can still see some of the auberges or inns where they stayed. A walking tour will reveal peaceful streets with houses that are slowly being refurbished – look out for the intricate doorknockers in the shape of fish
and dolphins!

Mdina and Rabat

A visit to Mdina is also a highlight of any trip to Malta. On the way, it is worth stopping at one of the oldest villages on the island, Naxxar, and visiting the 18th-century Palazzo Parisio. It was added to during the 19th century and houses some beautifully decorative rooms and deceptively big gardens as well as an adjoining restaurant, Luna.     

Mdina itself has a history dating back more than 4,000 years and was the old capital of Malta before Valletta was built. It is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and is often known as the ‘silent city’, mainly because of its lack of cars and subsequent tranquil atmosphere. Winding your way around its narrow streets, you will find numerous restaurants and cafes, as well as shops selling local crafts including Mdina Glass; from the top of its walls, you get a great view of the island.

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The gardens at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar.

It is said that apostle St Paul lived in Mdina after he was shipwrecked on the islands, and you will find a number of attractions dedicated to him in neighbouring Rabat, including St Paul’s Grotto, where he is believed to have founded the first Christian community on Malta, and St Paul’s Catacombs, a maze of underground Roman cemeteries that represent the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity on Malta. Rabat was an important site during the Roman period and you can also visit the Roman villa here, Domus Romana, with its fine mosaics.

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Intricate mosaic patterns at Domus Romana.

When on a trip to Mdina and Rabat, the nearby Meridiana Wine Estate is perfect for groups. The attraction provides a tour, which includes a visit to the fermentation room and underground cellar as well as a wine tasting and lunch, which can be enjoyed either inside or on the outdoor terraces. Here you can sample the red, white and rose wines produced at the vineyard, as well as buying the produce in the on-site shop.

Wartime in Malta

Due to its significant geographic position, Malta played key roles in both World War One and Two, especially as at that time it was under British rule. During World War One, the island effectively became a hospital and cared for hundreds of thousands of injured Allied soldiers including those from the Gallipoli campaign, earning the nickname the ‘nurse of the Mediterranean’. During World War Two, the island suffered another siege by enemy forces, with bombers based in Sicily subjecting it to some of the heaviest bombardments of the war during 1942. This almost crippled the island but it held out and in 1943 became the Allied base for the invasion of Sicily. The whole population was awarded the George Cross by King George V for their bravery during this period.    

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The Saluting Battery in Valletta.

The Malta at War Museum in Vittoriosa gives an insight into daily life on Malta during World War Two through original artefacts from the time, multi-sensory displays and original wartime footage. There is also a viewing of an underground air shelter included with a visit.

Across the harbour in Valletta, the Lascaris War Rooms give an excellent idea of how Allied operations were conducted from Malta during World War Two. The original rooms are housed within a network of tunnels, displayed as they would have looked at the time, and an informative film helps you to understand Malta’s role in the conflict. From the Saluting Battery in Valletta, which includes a restored Artillery Store and Gunpowder Magazine, you can take a War HQ Tunnel Tour too to explore the World War Two underground tunnels further.   

For more World War Two connections, in Mosta, the town’s 19th-century Dome houses a replica of the bomb that crashed through the roof in 1942 during the aerial bombardment of Malta, when the church was crowded with people sheltering from the action. Miraculously, it did not explode and no-one was killed.

At Ta’ Qali, a former Royal Air Force station, meanwhile, the Malta Aviation Museum houses a collection of aircraft that includes wartime planes such as the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX and the Hawker Hurricane IIa.

With all this history on Malta, it is easy to see how you can design an itinerary ideally suited to those with a particular interest in wartime heritage.

Prehistoric temples

Further back into history and the islands of both Malta and Gozo are the sites of imposing prehistoric temples now on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with Valletta and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum.     

Reached by a short ferry journey from Malta, the Ggantija Temples are considered the oldest surviving free-standing monuments in the world and are believed to have been built between 3600-3000BC, pre-dating both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. A tour of this site will allow you to marvel at the sheer size and scale of the blocks.

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The prehistoric Hagar Qim.

Whilst on Gozo, make sure to visit the picturesque coastal swimming sites and viewpoints such as the Azure Window at Dwejra Point and the Bay of Xlendi. You can also make the trip over to the smaller island of Comino from Gozo, which is car-free so ideal for walkers, and swim in the Blue Lagoon.

Hagar Qim is the main prehistoric site on Malta, dating from a similar period to the Ggantija Temples. A tour will reveal how the stones are aligned for the summer solstice and intriguing features such as table altars. There is an onsite visitor centre showing a short film that gives further insight into the temples. The site overlooks the islet of Fifla and adjacent to it is another temple, Mnajdra. Not far away is another beauty spot, the Blue Grotto, an ideal stop for taking pictures as well as boat trips.

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Traditional Maltese food and drink at the Meridiana Wine Estate.

Maltese food and drink

Traditional Maltese food is making something of a comeback on the island, and is often described as typical peasant food, with favourites such as ‘pastizzi’ – flaky pastry parcels filled with ricotta or peas – sold in abundance on the streets and in cafes. Dishes such as Lampuki Pie (fish pie), Bragioli (beef olives) and Bigilla (a thick pate of broad beans in garlic) are delicacies to try as is the freshly caught fish on Gozo and in the wonderful restaurants and markets in Marsaxlokk, the largest fishing village in Malta and a great place to spot the traditional Maltese fishing boats, the Luzzus.

As well as the Maltese wine, be sure to sample the local beer on Malta, Cisk (pronounced chisk) too.

Malta events

A host of international events take place on the Maltese Islands every year, including the Malta International Fireworks Festival in April, the Malta Jazz Festival in July and the Malta International Arts Festival in July and August, as well as popular sporting events such as the Malta Marathon in February and the Gozo Half Marathon in April. For more details on events in Malta, visit www.visitmalta.com/en/events

You will also find lots of cultural events including exhibitions, theatre and music planned for 2018 during Valletta’s tenure as European Capital of Culture. Visit www.valletta2018.org for more information.

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The Malta Jazz Festival.

Planning your visit

I travelled to Malta with Brightwater Holidays, the Fife-based tour operator, who in conjunction with the Malta Tourism Authority provided an excellent introduction to the island, its culture and cuisine.    

We flew with Air Malta, currently planning 30 weekly scheduled flights from seven UK airports to the island during the coming summer season. The airline offers flexible pricing, including one free piece of luggage and 10kgs of hand-luggage per person, as well as a complimentary snack and small bottle of water onboard.

Our guide during the trip was the excellent Josianne Lenicker who provided a varied and interesting commentary throughout our visit.

Brightwater is a major provider of tailor-made travel for groups and arranges holidays for all types, ranging from social groups to National Trust members centres, NADFAS and U3A, to name just a few. The company also works with many incoming overseas groups. It creates programmes to any specification and is happy to provide quotations and suggested itineraries for groups of any size on request – there is no minimum number of participants. Email ellen@brightwaterholidays.com or telephone 01334 657155 to request further details or ask for a group tour quotation.

Full page fax printFACT FILE

CURRENCY Euro

FLIGHT TIME FROM UK 2.5-3hrs

DISTANCE FROM THE UK 2,553 kilometres

POPULATION 423,282

SIZE 316km2 (total area of the Maltese archipelago

Some pictures courtesy of © viewingmalta.com

The Royal Heritage Route

Marienburg Castle

Marienburg Castle Pattensen-Schulenberg.

The 300th anniversary of the accession of Georg Ludwig of Hanover, Germany to the British throne as King George I is the perfect occasion for groups to discover the cultural connections between the two countries, and to visit Germany to explore the magnificent castles and towns where the royal families ruled, lived and socialised.

The Hanoverian accession to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland is being celebrated throughout 2014 with special events in London, including an exhibition at Buckingham Palace, and in castles and museums in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany. To help groups experience the celebrations in Germany, the Royal Heritage Route has been developed as a way to explore the region taking in the sumptuous royal palaces, castles and gardens at the same time. On the following pages you will find an overview of what’s taking place and why. Plus we include a fascinating ‘Who’s Who‘ introducing the Hanoverian Dynasty – George I George II, George III, George IV and William IV and their families, – with some quirky anecdotes bringing these historic monarchs to life, which is based on extensive research by Mark Goodwin, Managing Director of specialist tour operator Golden Compass.

 

HANOVER AND THE LOWER SAXONY STATE EXHIBITION 2014

The historic city of Hanover, where George I was born in 1660, is leading the celebrations and at the Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen, groups will discover one of Europe’s most beautiful baroque gardens. These are a good starting point for the Royal Heritage Route since King George I’s mother, Sophia, loved the gardens, which surrounded the summer home of first the Guelph and then the Hanover family, famously saying, ‘The garden is my life’. She supervised their design, which was inspired by the gardens of the Sun King, Louis XIV, with magnificent fountains and baroque ornamentation in the Great Garden, and many special areas including the English styled garden, the Georgengarten, and the Berggarten – with its displays of stunning orchids and tropical plants. During the summer of 2014 numerous artistic, cultural, theatrical and other events will take place within the gardens, where you can still easily imagine George I strolling around the paths.

As part of the 300th anniversary Herrenhausen Palace, which was destroyed in 1943, has been recreated and it now includes the Palace Museum. During 2014 the museum will be one of five venues – four in Hanover and one in the nearby town of Celle, taking part in a major historical-cultural state-wide exhibition organised by Lower Saxony entitled, ‘The Hanoverians on Britain’s Throne, 1714-1837’. The exhibitions in each venue take place from 17th May to 5th October, and each will showcase different details and elements of the Hanoverian-British union.

Spectacular works of art have been brought together for the exhibition at the Palace Museum, which focuses on the extravagant culture at the court in the early 18th century. The exhibition also explores the power politics of George I’s father – the Elector Ernst August – and tales of his marriage to Sophia of the Palatinate. Additionally, it will look at the early history of George I and reveal the secrets of his marriage to Sophie von der Pfalz.

Another part of the exhibition will trace the life of Count Johann Ludwig von Wallmoden-Gimborn who was the illegitimate son of George II. The Count was raised in England but moved to Hanover, where he established a collection of art and paintings. Many treasures from his original collection have been brought back together for the first time since 1818.

The main venue for the state exhibition, however, is the magnificent Lower Saxony State Museum in the centre of Hanover. Here the exhibition follows the life stories of the five monarchs within a cultural and historical context. Significant events such as the Seven Year’s War and the French Revolution, and influential personalities including Jonathan Swift and George Handel will be included. The intensive exchange of culture that took place between London and Hanover in many different areas from politics to music will be covered, such as the burgeoning splendour of the court in London, the founding of the University of Gottingen and the influence of English fashion in Hanover.

Paintings, medals, furniture, documents and letters, borrowed from 19 international museums, will be on display and these will help to build up a picture of life in Georgian times. Amongst these are the State Crown – made for George I, an oil painting of Queen Charlotte from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II and a valuable silver service, from the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, which is returning to Hanover for the first time in over a hundred years.

Another aspect of life in Georgian times is explored at the third exhibition venue – The Historical Museum of Hanover. The centrepiece of the display here will be a magnificent State Coach in the exhibit, ‘A Coach and two Kingdoms: Hanover and Great Britain 1814-1837’. King George IV used the imposing carriage, originally built in 1782, for the opening of Parliament in London, during a visit to Hanover in 1821.

The exhibition will reflect on the role of the Kingdom of Hanover, established in 1812, against the background of British world power and will cover political debate about the constitution and land reforms. Exhibits also are planned to reveal how the architecture of Hanover changed in the early 19th century to match its new status as a royal seat.

Elsewhere in Hanover, the Wilhelm Busch German Museum for Caricature and Drawing, will host an exhibition entitled ‘The House of Hanover at the Time of the Personal Union as reflected in British Caricature’. At the exhibition groups will learn how cynical caricaturists of the era satirized prominent figures and goings-on in British politics and society. The royals are ­­­depicted with all their human weaknesses, moreover the caricatures relate salacious British celebrity gossip, poke fun at political decisions and development and leave no scandal or intrigue untouched! These caricatures are important as they reached a wide public when they were first drawn and so had a role in shaping political opinion. The museum is housed in the Wallmoden Palace, the former home of the Count of Wallmoden.

 

CELLE

The picturesque town of Celle, with its many half-timbered buildings, is about an hour’s drive north of Hanover, and it has an important place on the Royal Heritage Route.

The history of Celle, and its connections with the Hanoverian royal family is put in context at the Residenzmuseum in Celle Castle, in the exhibition, ‘Ready for the Island The House of Brunswick-Lüneburg on the Path to London’. This is the fifth venue participating in the Lower Saxony State Exhibition 2014 programme, and the exhibition traces the family’s rise to political power, through marriage and the creation of strongholds within Germany. The display presents a fascinating trip through time in a beautiful baroque castle with amazing architecture including ornate stucco ceilings by Italian masters, a Renaissance chapel and a tiny court theatre.

Whilst in Celle groups might also like to visit the local church, St Mary’s, where two royal women, who were banished to Celle for pursuing the course of love, are buried. Sophie Dorothea von Brunswick and Celle, the wife of George I, was exiled – first to Lauenau Castle and then to Ahlden Castle – after her love affair with the Count of Königsmarck was discovered. In all Sophie lived at Ahlden Castle for 32 years, and was permanently separated from her children. Her great-granddaughter – Caroline Mathilde of Hanover, who was Queen of Denmark and Norway for six years – is buried next to her. She was exiled to Celle following a love affair with the court physician. Groups visiting Celle as part of the Royal Heritage Route can discover more about these intriguing love stories.

 

OSNABRÜCK  

Aside from the Lower Saxony State Exhibition there are many more castles and palaces with connections to the Hanoverian and British royal families to explore. Around an hour and half driving time to the west of Hanover is Iburg Castle near Osnabrück, where George I and his sister, Sophie Charlotte, who became the Queen of Prussia, spent a lot of their childhood. At the castle there’s much for groups to see including the Benedictine Abbey founded in the 11th century, and the richly furnished Knights Hall, which dates from the 17th century.

 

BRUNSWICK

An hour away to the east of Hanover is Brunswick. This was one of the most important German medieval cities and in the 12th century was the home of the Guelph Duke, Henry the Lion, hence its popular name as the Lion City. Just outside the city and overlooking the Oker River lies Richmond Palace. This was built by Princess Augusta of Great Britain, who had married the Duke of Brunswick in 1764, because she did not like the family palace in the centre of the city. The building blends south German and French architectural styles with an English landscape garden created by ‘Capability’ Brown.

In Brunswick city centre, groups can also visit the Palace Museum, which is on the site of the original Royal Palace, which was built between 1833 and 1841, but damaged during the Second World War and subsequently demolished. Rebuilt in 2004 the façade uses elements preserved fr­­­­­­om the earlier building, but behind this there is a modern shopping mall as well as the museum. The 15 museum galleries reveal the grandeur of the former palace and are displayed with original furniture from the 19th century.

Although much of Brunswick was destroyed in the 1940s, there are several buildings surviving from earlier times, which convey the charm of the town when the Hanoverians were in residence. The two Courtyard HousesVon Veltheimsches Haus and the Huneborstelsches Haus – were former courtiers’ houses.

 

THE WESER REGION

The fairy-tale like Marienburg Castle is about half an hour south of Hanover in Pattensen. Built in a gothic revival style with many battlements, towers and turrets, the castle is now a museum with magnificent rooms and an impressive library. Here groups can trace the life of Georg V, King of Hanover – who built the castle for his wife Queen Marie – and many examples of furniture, paintings and rarities of art history from the historic collection of the Royal House of Hanover are on display. In 2014, the Hanoverian crown, sceptre and bridal crown will be exhibited for the first time since the end of the Kingdom of Hanover in 1866 at the special exhibition ‘The Path to the Crown’. The stunning gardens around the castle can also be visited.

From Marienburg Castle, groups can go on to visit six more magnificent castles in the beautiful Weser region of Lower Saxony, all with royal connections and tales of courtly splendour. Fürstenberg Castle, Hämelschenburg Castle, Pyrmont Castle, Corvey Castle, Bückeburg Castle, Bevern Castle are architectural gems of the Weser Renaissance and neo-Gothic period and have important porcelain collections, works of art and lovely parks for groups to enjoy.

 

FURTHER AFIELD 

Elizabeth Gate

Heidelberg/Neckar: West side of the castle, illuminated Elizabeth Gate.

In other parts of Germany the royal story continues. In Heidelberg, in the south west state of Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg Palace was the first German home of Elizabeth Stuart – grandmother of George I. The ruins of this most romantic of German castles attracts many groups and amongst the highlights of a visit are the castle courtyard and the English Garden, which is soon to be restored. The impressive arch, the so called Elizabeth Gate, in the garden is said to have been built quietly and secretly overnight on the orders of her husband, the Elector Frederick V, as a surprise birthday present for her. Three times a year in June, July and September, illuminations bathe the castle in a magical red light. The spectacular evenings finish with a firework display – which were first staged in 1613 by Friedrich as a welcome to his bride, Elizabeth Stuart.

Meanwhile in Bavaria in Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the connections between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert can be explored. The highlight is Rosenau Palace, the summer seat of the Dukes of Coburg and where Prince Albert was born. As well as the impressive marble hall, the main rooms at the palace feature brightly coloured wall paintings in the neo-Gothic style and the original black-stained, polished Viennese Biedermeier furniture. Surrounding the palace is a delightful garden in a romantic English landscape style. When Queen Victoria visited the palace for the first time in 1845 she wrote in her diary, “If I were not who I am, my real home would be here”. She returned to visit several more times – even after Albert’s death.

Of the once numerous park buildings, the neo-Gothic farm building, a grotto with a waterfall and a tournament column have been preserved. The neoclassical tea house is today used as the park restaurant, and the orangery houses a museum of modern glass. The viewing terrace is particularly attractive with its flower parterre, fountain and balustrade.

To find out more about the Royal Heritage Route visit www.germany.travel/royalheritage or www.goldencompasstours.co.uk

Christmas market News

 

MANCHESTER

Manchester’s Albert Square transformed into a winter wonderland.

 

CELEBRATING its 15th anniversary this year, the Manchester Christmas Market will once again see the streets and squares of the city adorned with beautifully festooned wooden chalets, creating a magical festive scene.

The main site will be in front of the town hall, in Albert Square, with the market then weaving across the city via St Ann’s Square at the heart of Manchester’s shopping district, where groups will find the original German market from Frankfurt that started it all back in 1998.

The market concludes in Exchange Square, near Manchester Cathedral. With over 200 stalls stocked with all manner of unique gift ideas, the market will provide a one-stop-shop for all festive needs.

Fabulous food and drink is also on offer, from traditional European Christmas market flavours of Glühwein and bratwurst to top quality cuisine from Italy, France, Hungary and Spain.

The Manchester Christmas Market will take place from 15th November to 22nd December 2013 at various locations throughout the city centre.

Visit Manchester can provide help to GTOs organising a visit.

For further information telephone 0871 222 8223

 

BATH

BATH Tourism Plus has announced that this year’s Christmas Market will take place from 28th November to 15th December.

Set in the picturesque streets and squares surrounding Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, the market will include over 150 beautifully decorated stalls selling high quality festive wares, as well as seasonal food and gentle entertainment.

GTOs who plan to take their group to the market by coach are required to register with Bath & North East Somerset Council.

For further information telephone 01225 322431

 

Gloucester

Gloucester’s impressive, historic docks and Gloucester Quays Outlet will act as the magnificent backdrop for a very Victorian Christmas experience from 21st to 24th November.

A Victorian character near the carousel.

Visitors will be able to browse more than 130 decorated stalls selling artisan crafts, fine food and drink and unique Christmas gifts, while a huge cast of larger than life Victorian characters, including street urchins, flower sellers, a little match girl and Fagin-style gang masters wander among the crowds.

Other entertainments will include brass bands, choirs, street entertainers and a beautiful traditional carousel.

A range of benefits are available to groups who book in advance, including a meet and greet service and Gloucester Quays ‘Book of Treats’, which has discounts for various stores and attractions around the docks.

 

For further information telephone 01452 338933

 

 

Carlisle

PROMISING a strong continental flavour, Carlisle Christmas Market in Cumbria will be set in pedestrianised area in the heart of the the city centre, around the sparkling 10-metre Christmas tree and near a traditional nativity scene.

The event will include around 50 stalls and visitors will be able to sample culinary delights including traditional food from as far away as the Seychelles alongside local produce and a large range of hand crafted goods and gifts.

The market will run over five days between 4th and 8th December, and during the weekend it will include stalls from Made in Cumbria traders, showcasing goods epitomising the region’s traditional quality crafts. Each day will see different Made in Cumbria traders.

For further information telephone 01228 625600

 

Winchester

Founded in 2006, the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is recognised as one of the best in Europe, renowned for its unique location, high quality exhibitors and bustling atmosphere.

Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, it showcases Christmas gifts, decorations and festive foods in pretty wooden chalets situated in the cathedral’s historic Inner Close, surrounding a large open-air ice rink.

The exhibitors have been hand-picked for their interesting, high quality and unique products many of which can’t be bought on the high street.

GTOs visiting the Christmas Market are asked to contact the Cathedral’s Group Visits Coordinator on 01962 857 225.

Those who wish to organise a tour of the cathedral itself, to coincide with their visit to the market, can make use of the attraction’s ‘meet and greet’ service, and refreshments for groups can also be organised in advance.

The 2013 Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market will be open From 21st November to 22nd December 2013.

For further information telephone 01962 848 556

 

News in brief

Bury St Edmunds

Between 29th November and 1st December, the Angel Hill area of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, will host over 300 stalls from all over the world, alongside two stages of entertainment, a traditional funfair and many free activities. Groups visiting on Friday and Saturday will also be able to sample Bury St Edmunds provisions market on the Buttermarket and Cornhill while, this year, the date also coincides with the Cathedral’s Christmas Fair and the Medieval Fayre in Moyse’s Hall Museum. Free coach drop off points will be available for groups on all three days.

For further information telephone 01284 764 667

 

Durham

Set in quaint, narrow streets, Durham City’s Traditional Christmas Festival will offer traditional entertainment throughout the city centre from 6th to 8th December. On all three days, the Craft and Gift Marquee on Durham University’s Palace Green will house 190 stalls selling a wide range of Christmas gifts by local independent retailers, and the Regional Food Producers Market including 30 further stalls, will also run in Durham Cathedral Cloisters on the Friday and Saturday. Free coach parking and a free meet and greet service is available for all pre-booked coach groups.

For further information telephone 0191 301 8531

 

Brixham

Following last year’s successful event, Brixham’s 2013 Christmas Market will once again be held in the Scala Hall of Brixham Town Hall, South Devon, on 23rd and 24th November. There will be stalls filled with children’s books, handmade wooden artefacts, jewellery, beauty products, handmade bags and gifts as well as homemade cakes and preserves. On the second day the market will expand into Fore Street. The market is conveniently situated for groups, with nearby coach drop off points.

For further information telephone 01803 296296