Friday, 10 December 2010

Breakaway – In the Mood For Christmas?

Whether you happen to be there or not, or just living vicariously like me, here's a fun and random peek at what Christmas is like in other parts of the world....just to get into the mood....!

Frankfurt, Germany 
Fancy a fairytale Christmas? Head to Frankfurt’s Christmas Market, one of Germany’s most traditional, and set against the old town hall and the historical half-timbered homes of the Römerberg. Bundle up and wander through stalls selling traditional foods, Christmas ornaments, arts and crafts like local pottery and stoneware. Pop into the honey shop for all things honey, drink hot apple wine – a local speciality – or head to the hated outdoor taverns for Christmassy mulled wine, smoked sausages and bratwursts. Look out for Germany’s tallest Christmas tree there, standing over 30 metres tall. If you’re in town on the Saturday before the 1st Advent, listen out for the churchbells in the afternoon. At precisely 4:30 pm, 50 bells of 10 downtown churches ring in the festive season with a performance that’s heard across the entire city. What else to do there? Take a guided tour of the market (entitled “Stories, Sweets and Savouries. Enjoy the Frankfurt Christmas Market with all of your senses” available every day) or a historic steam train ride along the banks of the River Main. The Christmas Market happens now til 22 December. Stretching from Liebfrauenberg and the Römerberg old town centre to thebanks of the River Main, it’s got a history that dates back to 1393.

Perth, Australia
From now til Christmas eve, explore the city’s Christmas lights along the new Festival of Christmas Trail. Look out for roving characters, carollers and unexpected entertainment, and end the journey with some retail therapy at Myer SantaLand, on level 2 at Myer Perth City. Pick up the Trail brochure from the trail marquee outside Myer in Murray St Mall between 5.00pm and 8.00pm weekdays, or the i-City Information Kiosk in Murray St Mall. Then catch the Nativity story performed live in Forrest Place with hundreds of performers, animals and Christmas carols from 21-23 Dec 7.30pm. Bring the family and get there early as seats are limited.

Greenwich, UK
All eyes on the heavens at Greenwich, at longitude 0° and the official starting point for each new day and year. The Royal Observatory at Greenwich, on the Thames east of London, is offering Yuletide Star Gazing events 19-23 December at 4.30 and 5pm. Look at the winter skies and a double star through the Observatory’s historic 71-cm (28-inch) refracting telescope – the largest of its kind in the UK and the seventh largest in the world. Or join in the Christmas Star Party (17 and 18 December, 5.30 and 6.10pm) which features a Christmas Stars planetarium show, a chance to look at the moon through the large telescope and an opportunity to use smaller telescopes in the Meridian Courtyard while keeping warm over hot chocolate, mulled wine, mince pies and other festive treats.
Royal Observatory,
Blackheath Avenue, London SE10 8XJ

Madeira, Spain
Madeira in Spain transforms into a fairytale setting throughout December, with Funchal’s streets twinkling with over 250,000 fairylights. Check into cliff-top hotel, Reid’s Place for the Christmas and go on jeep tours along secret mountain trails, guided tours of Funchal by night, and lectures on traditional Madeiran wine. Santa Claus will spread Christmas cheer by surprising younger guests with presents and a black tie Christmas gala menu will also be served in The Dining Room for all the family. If you’re hanging around until New Year, Funchal’s fireworks on 31 December is one of the most spectacular in the world, even making it into the 2008 Guiness Book of World Records for being the largest of its kind. The Holiday Celebration 2010 Package at Reid’s Palace starts from £348 per room per night in a classic double room, and includes daily buffet breakfast, round-trip airport transfer, one gala dinner per person and one bottle of champagne in guests’ room upon arrival based on a four-night stay for arrivals on 21 – 24 December.


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