Saturday snippets: Boxing Day 2015

By | Category: Travel news
Hogmanay Party in Edinburgh

Hogmanay Party in Edinburgh

Edinburgh claims to have the world’s biggest New Year festival although I imagine other cities around the world might object. What they cannot object to is that this is the greatest Scottish Hogmanay celebration. This year the three days of fun includes free and ticketed events as usual with the street party expected to welcome over 150,000 revellers to bring in the bells beneath the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle with ‘Concert in the Gardens.’ This year Edinburgh Hogmanay‘s outdoor ceilidh will attempt to beat its own world record for the biggest ‘Strip The Willow’ dance in history when 4,000 dancers in Parliament Square. In all, about a million people are expected to have enjoyed Edinburgh’s Christmas and new year festivities by the time it all ends on January 1st.

It isn’t only in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scottish cities where New Year’s Eve community gatherings and parties take place with such gusto. Last year in Dublin, 10,000 spectators witnessed the Procession of Light through Dublin city. Because it starts at 4pm rather than close to midnight it means that it is ideal for a family outing. Dublin’s streets pall help the streets adopt a carnival atmosphere.

On our Christmas lunch tables next year?

On our Christmas lunch tables next year?

Bucks Fizz and champagne was probably on many tables yesterday, both being quite traditional at Christmas. What isn’t so traditional is supplanting champagne with an English wine. From Hampshire, Hambledon Vineyard‘s Non-Vintage Classic Cuvée might appear on Christmas tables next year since the wine publication, Noble Rot, says that in a blind tasting it tasted better than French Champagne. It beat more well-known names like Veuve Clicquot, Tattinger and Pol Roger. It is said that Hampshire’s chalky soils are very similar to the earth in France’s Champagne region.

The mild weather has affected ski runs throughout Europe where a lack of the white stuff at lower levels is causing concern. The mild weather has also caused the collapse of Colchester Winter Wonderland and Ice Rink which lasted only 25 days. (19 if you note that it was closed for 6 days because of high winds.) At least this time the people who bought advance tickets should get their money back according to the company behind it.

For the second year, Brunei will have no outward signs of Christmas. The deeply Muslim religious nation has stopped people celebrating Christmas publically but – contrary to some news reports this week – you can celebrate it privately if you are non-Muslim. You can even celebrate it publically in your expat community if you get approval from the authorities so all this rubbish in the media about Brunei banning Christmas is just that – rubbish.


The Welsh entrant in a previous year

The Welsh entrant in a previous year

From January 26th -30th, the US state of Colorado welcomes to Breckenridge, Colorado the 26th annual International Snow Sculpture Championships. Sixteen teams from all over the world descend on this mountain town where they have to turn a 12-foot and 20-tonne block of snow into a work of art. Using just their bare hands and a selection of hand tools, the teams of four have 65 hours over the course of five days to create their ice art. From Wales and the West Country comes a team mentored by Ollie Annaly, a veteran of ice sculpture. Although thousands of people come for the last two days to see the results, there will be almost as many over the preceding three days to watch the “artists” at work. To see the efforts of last year, click here.

The world is getting a less easy-going place. Now Disney metal detectors installed at its theme park entrances. In additional, adults are to be banned from wearing costumes in the park and Disney has stopped selling toy guns. This has come about because of heightened fears that a terrorist attack could take place at a theme park. Visitors will be randomly selected to go through metal detector screening so not everyone will be made to undergo the scans. Where one theme park owner goes, others will surely follow and there are rumours that both Universal and SeaWorld are considering similar beefed-up security measures. Was life really much simpler in my youth than it seems these days?

Madeira was named “World´s Leading Island Destination” at the World Travel Awards held earlier this month. In its win it beat other highly regarded destinations like Barbados, Crete, Cook Islands, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius and Saint Lucia. No wonder the Regional Secretary for Economy, Tourism and Culture Mr. Eduardo Jesus was so pleased. He ended his acceptance speech by saying that “Madeira is gold!” Will that be the next promotion tag?

AttractionTix, the UK online ticket seller for theme parks, attractions and sightseeing tours, has announced that Universal Studios in Orlando has been named as the most popular attraction in 2014. Popular, that is amongst bookers who use AttractionTix to buy their tickets. Disneyland Paris comes second followed by the Walt Disney World Resort in third place. The UK managed two top ten places with the Tower of London in 7th place and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London in 9th. No spot for Alton Towers, Thorpe Park or Chessington in the listings but then Britons would probably book direct anyway.

Is Visit England going to be too close to Visit Britain?

Is Visit England going to be too close to Visit Britain?

As I suggested a few weeks ago when it was announced that Visit Britain and Visit England would work more closely, Visit Wales has sent a letter of objection to the Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale saying that tourist organisations had always been assured that Visit Britain is even handed in its promotion of the England, Wales and Scotland, yet there are views within the industry that its focus is London centric. Wasn’t it always so? The chairman of the Wales Tourism, Adrian Barsby, says “It is important that Visit Britain has a clear and unambiguous Britain-wide remit and if this is compromised it could lead to tensions with potentially wide ramifications.” And there aren’t tensions already?

From the online travel agency, LoveHolidays comes some interesting research that younger travellers are more tied to trusted travel brands than the older generation. Older travellers are more likely to go on holiday independently to support local businesses. I, in my uneducated wisdom would have thought the opposite and that older people would prefer trusted brands whilst younger groups would be more adventurous. The reason that 71% prefer trusted brands is because of security concerns. The research was carried out to see whether their 2016 travel plans would be affected by the current economic climate in Greece and the short answer – and one that will please the Greeks – is that perfectly safe holidaying in Greece and will happily do so.


We see no problems going to Greece.

Sometimes you feel our politician really don’t understand tourism. In the House of Lords, Lady Randerson pointed that the south east of England has one third of the population in the UK but two thirds of the flights and shouldn’t expansion take place elsewhere. Has she forgotten that incoming visitors primarily want to come to London rather than other places in the UK and that is why additional capacity is required?

Finally, there was no Christmas present for Tunisia this year from our foreign office. The F.C.O. says that, although the authorities have stepped up security, “we do not believe the mitigation measures in place provide adequate protection for British tourists in Tunisia at the present time”. In fact it says that there may be further attacks over the Christmas period.




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