FLYING BACK to the UK from Faro has never been easier, and the run up to Christmas is a great excuse to pop back for a spot of Christmas shopping, or just to spend some pre-festive time with family and friends. Taking a Thomsonfly flight into Coventry airport puts you in the heart of the country, giving you easy access to the shopping and cultural experiences of Birmingham and Coventry at a very special time of year.
Wallace & Gromit guest star at the great Christmas lights switch on
In Coventry, the Christmas lights switch on, on November 19 takes place in Broadgate and Millennium Place. One of the biggest occasions in Coventry’s calendar, the event attracts more than 25,000 people into the city centre to see the Christmas float procession, entertainment and music, the celebrity switch on itself plus a fabulous firework display.
This year, the special guests are Wallace & Gromit and the theme for the Christmas float procession is Dark Knights-White Magic, featuring snow queens, circus characters, skiers and, of course, Santa himself.
From November 19, until December 19, Coventry’s very own Christmas Market provides a great place to meet and enjoy a day with family and friends while soaking up the excitement of the days before Christmas. There is a selection of stalls selling all sorts of goodies, from stocking fillers to that something extra special, coupled with a magical atmosphere created by the unique fragrances of hot mulled wine and pine needles.
For further information visit www.visitcoventry.co.uk
Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham
The origins of the Christmas Market in Frankfurt can be traced to 1393. In Mediaeval times, the original Frankfurt Christmas Market was exclusively for burghers (male-line descendents of European colonists) and the city’s craftsmen reserved their finest wares to sell.
More recently, the Frankfurt Christmas Market has enjoyed much success in Birmingham, with over 75 stalls filling Victoria Square and the upper part of New Street. The Market this year will be bigger and better than ever, and will be the largest authentic German Christmas market outside Germany itself.
Featuring unusual and handmade gifts, including ceramics, candles, glasswork, jewellery and Christmas decorations, a number of stalls will also be selling traditional German items, such as wooden toys, nativity scenes and marionettes. And, it’s not just shopping you will be able to enjoy, there are also the delights of German mulled wine (Glühwein), grilled sausages, marzipan sweets, gingerbread, German beer, plus, for the first time this year, a range of daily baked traditional German breads and pastries.
The Market operates from Thursday, November 16 to Wednesday, December 20 and is open from 10am to 8pm daily.
Canals and candlelight
One of the highlights of Birmingham’s festive calendar is the Broad Street Canal Boat Light Parade, on December 10. This parade features a flotilla of illuminated canal boats making their way along Birmingham’s canals, from the National Indoor Arena to the Mailbox. And, from December 2 to December 9, Aston Hall by Candlelight will recreate the spirit of a 17th century Christmas, when one of the country’s finest Jacobean houses is transformed with hundreds of candles, live performances of period music, actors and sword fighters, as well as a craft fair and traditional refreshments.
For more information visit www.birmingham.gov.uk
Hit the rails!
If you want to avoid traffic jams in the UK, you can take advantage of a BritRail Pass, which is valid on any train on any of the UK’s National Rail networks and is intended specifically for overseas visitors. Only sold outside Britain, there is a special promotion if you buy one before December 31, for use by February 28 – you can save up to 25 per cent on rail fares. For further information visit www.britrail.com. Tickets are also available from Ticket Paraiso Lda, Lisbon, call 213 425 893.
Flights and accommodation can be booked at www.thomsonfly.com. Those without internet access can book by calling 214 159 122.