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Christmas 2018: The top 10 BEST Christmas markets in the UK revealed | Travel News | Travel

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Christmas sees traditional markets coming to life up and down the UK, offering the perfect opportunity to squeeze in last minuter Christmas shopping for loved ones as well as treating yourself to delicious food and drink as well as even some fairground rides or impressive shows. Some of them only have a few days left so now is the best time to go and soak up the best of the festive atmosphere. Here the top 10 Christmas markets in the UK

Edinburgh

16 November – 5 January

Edinburgh celebrates Christmas at Princes Street Gardens with a plethora of bespoke and traditional Christmas stalls. There’s a festive atmosphere and a huge range of artisan gifts and traditional food and beverages.

From 17 November to 24 December children can enjoy Santa Land with festive fairground rides, a Christmas Tree Maze and even a visit to Santa’s grotto. Alternatively, head to St Andrews Square to take a spin on the ice rink with a gorgeous backdrop of the glittering city.

Manchester

9 November – 23 December

Manchester Christmas market was ranked number one, according to research by travel website Booking.com. Famed for its shimmering Santa Claus, this year will be the last time the market graces Albert Square for at least the next four years.

Spread across the city, the stalls are bustling with gift ideas and culinary delicacies – guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit. Once you’ve shopped for homemade crafts, toys, gifts and garments, treat yourself to a traditional bratwurst, Hungarian goulash, Spanish paella or a good old-fashioned hog roast.

Winchester

17 November – 20 December

Coming in at second place in Booking.com’s rankings and set next to Winchester’s breathtaking cathedral is the Winchester Christmas Markets.

This is the perfect event to take in the local architecture and history. Inspired by traditional German markets, the pretty wooden chalets, enchanting nativity scene and open-air ice rink make for the perfect family day out.

York

15 November – 23 December

With a beautiful medieval backdrop, York Christmas Festival boasts stalls bursting with local produce, ice skating and even festive pantomimes.

Check out the market stalls of St. Nicholas Fair, explore the alpine chalets on Parliament Street or sample food and drink at St Sampson’s Square with tasty treats such as hot chestnuts and warm mulled wine.

Lincoln

6 December – 9 December

Voted the third best Christmas market by Booking.com, Lincoln Christmas market is set in the heart of the medieval city.

The historic and enchanting gothic cathedral makes the perfect backdrop to the 200 stalls there are to explore – offering everything from handmade presents to hand-poured candles, hand-crafted wooden toys and locally created art, as well as excellent fresh produce from the local area.

London

22 November – 6 January

Although the capital offers numerous Christmas markets, the King of them all is undoubtedly Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

This Christmas extravaganza is a festive event not to be missed with market stalls, Santa Land, funfair rides and an ice kingdom. This year there are new attractions including Ice Sculpting Workshops and Peter Pan On Ice. The Magical Ice Kingdom is returning with a sparkling new theme – “The Secret Forest”.

Bath

22 November – 9 December

Bath’s Christmas Market is brimming with local designers showing off their artisan products making it the perfect place to find unique homeware, Christmas decorations and special gifts for your loved ones across 180 twinkling chalets.

There are sights and smells throughout to satisfy any appetite, including burgers, hog roasts and mulled wine.

Cardiff

15 November – 23 December

Cardiff Christmas Market has been around for over 20 years and offers an alternative shopping experience. Each year, there is an extensive rolling programme of over 200 individual businesses selling a wide variety of diverse arts and crafts interspersed with seasonal food and drink. Make a day of it, buy someone something special and enjoy some delicious and heart-warming Welsh cuisine.

Birmingham

15 November – 23 December

Birmingham German Christmas Market was ranked the fifth best Christmas market in the UK by travel website Booking.com.

Stalls can be found scattered around the Victoria Square and New Street areas. If you’re looking for the ultimate German market experience, this is the place to visit, due to its close ties with Frankfurt, with Pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, and roasted almonds as well as glühwein, weissbeer, or hot chocolate all there to tempt your taste buds.

Swansea

16 November to 20 December

At Swansea Christmas Market there are over 40 traders offering a fantastic selection of arts, crafts, fine foods, beautiful decorations and unique gifts. There’s also a selection of festive food to fuel you up and a Christmas Bar where you can relax with a mulled wine.

There’s also a Christmas Parade and Waterfront Wonderland. Fill your day with ice-skating, Santa’s Grotto, a fun fair, and scrumptious food from the Alpine dining cabins. The Swansea Christmas Express and Father Christmas himself are just some of the many exciting things to see during the parade.

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Travel & Escape

Opinion: Are we ready for the tourism rebound?

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Canadians are ready for the borders to be re-opened and will be flocking to sun destinations this winter like never before. The number of people who have said that they are ready to “get out of Dodge” and “fly the coop” is an indication that there is a pent-up demand for travel and excursions that has been bolstered by a two-year sabbatical from vacations of any semblance. 

While Canadians are going to be heading south, we can expect some of our citizens as well as those from other nations to be looking to Canada for their adventure holidays. When the requirements for the two-week quarantines are lifted, we will be seeing a quick rebound of tourism as other countries who have already lifted their restrictions have seen. 

But are we ready?

In 2019, tourism contributed $105 billion to the Canadian economy. Tourists from outside of Canada spent over $16 billion dollars.  Those numbers were down considerably in 2020 and it is only natural that many people in the industry suffered as a result of the effects of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

While some folks, fearful of the spread of variants, believe that the borders should never be re-opened, the reality is that to save our tourism industry and the economy, we need tourist traffic from outside of Canada as well as interprovincial travel. As Canadian and foreign tourists start their migration towards our tourist and nature attractions, there is some hesitancy about the readiness of the industry to manage the coming tsunami of people.

Hit harder than many sectors, the tourism industry has been affected by the pandemic in ways that other industries haven’t. The closure of attractions, fairs, tour bus companies, sporting events, concerts and community events with any semblance of a large group has forced workers in this industry to look for jobs elsewhere to survive. As a result of this migration of talent there will be many tourism related businesses that will have difficulty scaling up to meet demand.  According to Statistics Canada, 32 per cent of accommodation and food service companies expect that attracting workers is going to be an obstacle for them this year.

Even if you have some warm bodies to fill your positions, having well-trained staff will remain a problem for many tourism and food service companies. Most business leaders in the industry understand the result of having improperly trained staff working in positions serving the public. The consequences of poor customer service can be long lasting and devastating. Unfortunately, as a result of the constant opening up and shutting down scenarios that have been seen in the economy over the past 18 months, most operators have been reluctant to increase the staffing levels that will be necessary to meet demand. The consequences will be that there will be no other option but to have staff that are not fully trained or optimally equipped to take care of the flood of vacationers.

In order to adjust to the coming demand, tourism-related businesses will need to be prepared to hire and train new employees to promote and deliver their services. This should include systematization of training, hiring and onboarding processes to enable companies to get up to speed quickly when the demand starts.  

While tourism deserves to have their days in the sun and profit from increased business, we need to recognize as Canadians that it takes a country to host visitors and we need to encourage and support those people in the industry who have been hit so hard.

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Travel & Escape

COVID-19: Tourism bookings start increasing as B.C. opens up

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Tourism in B.C. is restarting but don’t expect it to be the same as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

While B.C. Ferries is welcoming recreational travellers and relaxing its mask requirement at terminals, face coverings will still be mandatory on board whenever you’re not in your vehicle.

Several Indigenous tourism businesses and locations that were closed to visitors are planning to reopen July 1.

Other tourism businesses are welcoming back visitors but won’t be in a position to handle big volumes because of a lack of staff, said Anthony Everett, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island.

“Everyone needs to travel with a great deal of patience,” Everett said from Nanaimo. “Most businesses are running at a fraction of capacity of what they did prior to COVID.”

Many tourism sector workers have left the industry and found work elsewhere, Everett said. Particularly hard hit are restaurants that can’t find kitchen workers and companies doing tourism-related activities such as kayaking.

He said the benefits of tourism won’t be evenly distributed.

Last year, Victoria struggled all summer long and while bookings for accommodation have increased, some of the city’s restaurants are only open for lunch, others only for dinner.

“This is all going to take time to build up,” Everett said.

“Frankly, I think it will take years. This summer, bookings are going up, that’s what we’re been waiting for. It’s not going to be the exact same experience you were used to prior to the pandemic. I hope people remember and recognize that.”

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Travel & Escape

Mountain biking the Sea to Sky Trail

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With the 700-metre granite dome of the Stawamus Chief as a backdrop, my friend, Ken, and I climbed on our bikes in Squamish and began pedalling north. Our destination was Whistler, an uphill trek of some 80km that we hoped to cover in two days.

It would be easier to ride the opposite way—from Whistler to Squamish—because it’s downhill. But it wouldn’t be the Sea to Sky Trail if we rode that way. Besides, how hard could an elevation gain of more than 600 meters be?

I have driven the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler many times. It’s arguably one of the best drives in Canada, but when I learned about the Sea to Sky Trail, I knew I needed to experience it on a bike. It’s a slower pace, and largely away from the highway, so it would allow us to appreciate the journey—the valleys, river gorges, lakes, and forests—in a way you can’t in a car.

While the Indigenous peoples of the Coast Salish and Interior Salish have used this corridor as a historic travel and trade route, the idea of a multi-purpose Sea to Sky Trail was first imagined in the early 1990s. But given the geographical and funding challenges, it’s only been in the last decade or so that the vision of the 180km trail from Squamish to D’Arcy, north of Pemberton, has been realized.

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