‘Tis the season: Get into the holiday spirit at Europe’s Christmas festivals

December 6, 2013 at 1:40 AM
Get into the festive spirit at Europe's fabulous Christmas festivals (Photo: Simon Tupper)

Get into the festive spirit at Europe’s fabulous Christmas festivals (Photo: Simon Tupper)

What better way to get yourself into the holiday spirit than at one of Europe’s Christmas festivals? This time of year snow-covered towns host delightful Christmas festivals with sparkling lights, carol singing, market stalls and mulled wine. From delicious food in Padstow to irreverent traditions in Barcelona, here are some charming Christmas festivals you can visit for a memorable festive season break:

Staying together: October half term

September 27, 2013 at 6:21 AM

Well, autumn has certainly arrived in the last week. If you have been lucky enough to escape the rain so far, I am sure you have seen the subtle changes in the colour of the leaves, or maybe walked through a park and spotted the first conkers from chestnut trees falling on the dewy ground. In our series on ‘Staying together’ so far, we’ve looked at Cottage holidays in the UK and the best of European capital city breaks.

If you have little ones of your own you might know that the novelty of a new school year will soon be wearing off; and, after the hustle and bustle of getting them settled in over the past few weeks, you’ll know a quick week away will refresh you all. This week Sian Reynolds takes a look at the upcoming October half term break as the perfect opportunity to recharge, ready for the rest of the year.

Half term in the UK

Dorset 2013 Photo: Kyle Taylor

Dorset. Photo: Kyle Taylor

Fabulous and free: Europe’s budget-friendly attractions for families

September 10, 2013 at 7:09 AM
Kew Gardens is free for children 16 years and under (Photo: Laura Nolte)

Kew Gardens is free for children 16 years and under (Photo: Laura Nolte)

Traveling in Europe as a family can get expensive, especially when you add up all the admission fees you pay to see popular attractions. Thankfully, there are some superb European attractions that are free for kids. Here is a selection of just a few of my favourite European attractions where kids aren’t charged any admission fee:

Shop ‘til you drop on the streets of Europe

August 30, 2013 at 7:23 AM
The streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise (Photo: Dimitry B.)

The streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise (Photo: Dimitry B.)

Warning: If you are a recovering shopaholic, you should stop reading now. Reading this article may lead to a relapse.

From the bric-a-brac of Camden market to the ostentatious Haute Couture of Paris, the streets of Europe are a shopper’s paradise. Whether you’re attracted by the glitz and glamour of fashion houses like Armani, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, or whether you enjoy wandering through the delightful chaos of street markets, Europe has it all. For all the shameless shopaholics, bargain hunters and discerning buyers out there, here is a list of some of Europe’s fabulous shopping streets.

Summer salvation: the best things in life are free (or nearly!)

August 28, 2013 at 6:57 AM
Warhorse play

Kids Week sees many city theatres offering excellent deals. Photo: Kidsweek.co.uk

Well, as the school holidays are heading to a speedy end, my attentions have turned to the rather expensive activities of kitting my kids out with new school uniforms, shoes, sports kits and stationery; all very exciting stuff, of course. After a somewhat pricey summer and costly back to school shopping expeditions, any activities or days out that I now look at have to be cost effective. Thankfully, great days out don’t have to cost a fortune to be fun; in fact sometimes, they can be absolutely free. I’ve been taking a look at what’s available across the UK over the next week, hoping to ease the tension on our purse strings yet keep the kids thoroughly entertained. After all, it’s important to provide a happy ending to what’s been one of the warmest summers we’ve seen in many years! So enjoy the next week or so with your little ones in tow, before the dreaded school runs commence once again.