October is upon us and we will have all noticed it getting darker earlier in the evenings and leaves changing colour on the trees.
This means not only that we are now well and truly into Autumn, but that Christmas is not far away.
The Christmas trade is a big one in the travel industry with people wanting to exchange the cold for sunnier climes or experience magical adventures like Lapland or see world-famous Christmas markets and attractions.
We spoke to Rob Gower of Dragonfly Traveller in Hardingstone, which offers a travel PA service to its clients, covering every aspect of travel from flights and accommodation right through to the more obscure such as hiring motorbikes, printing off boarding passes for those without printers and getting whole families to weddings abroad.
London comes alive at Christmas with Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and incredible festive light displays and Christmas trees across Oxford Street, Regent Street, Carnaby Street and Covent Garden. Ice skating rinks pop up and the famous Hamleys toy store goes all out to the delight of visiting families.
From mid-November throughout December, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens are transformed with half a million lights, the appearance of wooden houses and thousands of Christmas trees. The gardens also hosts one of the most popular Christmas markets in the world with around 60 stalls selling handmade decorations, local food produce, crafts and leather and wool accessories. There are also amusement rides and, of course, Santa and his reindeer.
Austria is also perfect for that snow-capped festive experience with its legendary Christmas markets in Vienna and Innsbruck and Christmas Post Office in Steyr that receives tourists from all over the world who want their cards stamped with the ‘A-4411 Christkindl’ Post Office mark. When it opened in 1950, around 42,000 letters and cards were stamped from all over the world. Now that figure is more like 2 million a year.
The city that never sleeps, New York certainly doesn’t sleep at Christmas! A tradition since 1933, the massive Rockefeller Center Christmas tree stands at between 70 and 100 feet tall every year and has been featured in countless movies over the years. Outside the Rockefeller Center, the space is transformed into a large ice skating rink that can contain up to 150 skaters. Shop displays are also hugely creative and interactive spectaculars that draw in the crowds.
This is the Christmas experience that dreams are made of and you can go and visit Santa and his reindeer at home in their own little village. Families can also go exploring with sled and husky rides or a snow mobile safari, listen to stories in the snow or by a roaring fire with a hot chocolate, or see the Northern Lights from a tent.
If you opt to stay home, here in Northamptonshire, there is also a wide range of Christmas events and markets to visit including a Winter Wonderland at Billing Aquadrome, the Victorian Christmas experience at Rockingham Castle throughout November, the Christmas Experience at West Lodge Farm in Desborough complete with Santa and a nativity play that the crowd can get involved with and loads of events on at Canons Ashby near Daventry including wreath making, carol singing and bell ringing.
In terms of Christmas markets there are loads to choose from in the county including the Higham Ferrers Christmas Sparkle in November, the Christmas Artisan Food & Drink Market in Towcester, and annual Frost Fair in Northampton. There is also a Christmas Gift and Craft Market at Wicksteed Park and the Stableyard Market at Delapre Abbey.
Rob and Lisa Gower of Dragonfly Traveller work as travel PAs, building bespoke holidays and trips for their customers. Call 01604 661100 or visit www.dragonflytraveller.co.uk to find out more.