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Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Xmas mini breaks

This blog is about family travel without using carbon miles. It is by Nicola Baird.

There's an obscene pleasure in mentioning Christmas - or Christmas shopping - in September. I've been tidying up and happened to uncover a pile of 2007 Christmas cards which can be put to good re-use later this year.

But what really made me wonder about what I might do for December festivities 2011 was seeing an insert from guardianholidayoffers.co.uk/newmarket which cherry picks all the European places that are famously good at celebrating the run-up to Christmas.

BRUSSELS - has a famous market
BARCELONA - has a fabulous market
BOLZANO and MERANO - for the Italian Alpine markets in the Dolmites.
INNSBRUCK - for the alpine markets in the Austrian Tyrol.

The pictures on the brochure are all taken at night; the markets aglow with twinkly lights. But you can easily get the same atmosphere here in the UK, and thanks to my wedding anniversary being in December I've been to loads of Christmas markets.

Cheap tips
Of course every Christmas market is designed to make you part with cash from a cold looking person, despite their layers of coats and scarves, parked in a shed in a town square. Some of the sheds may even be covered in fake snow. Like many visitors (so-called shoppers) I have honed the art of feasting my eyes, which seems a bit mean for all those craft makers. However the food and hot mulled wine stalls still do well.

Even when it's rained, and every year it really has poured, the Christmas markets at Bath, Winchester and Cambridge have been lovely to wander around. There's many more I'd like to visit too, including York and Lincoln.

Given that the Guardian today warns that the average family income has to fall by 10 per cent - thanks to Osbourne and the Tory's absurd policies - maybe you can find a Christmas market a little closer to home for a seasonal treat?

Find a UK Xmas market
Have a look at this website for a huge list of the dates of all UK Christmas markets, they are everywhere from Tetbury to Skipton to Portsmouth...

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