Wanderer November 2015
YHA The Wanderer
YHA The Wanderer
 
 
 
The Wanderer, Issue 35, November 2015
 
 
Winter Wonderland Edition
 
In just five short weeks mince pies will be placed on hearths, stockings fastened to fireplaces, elaborate dinners prepped, and small children will attempt to sleep. So exciting! Whether you spend Christmas with us or at home, there’s so much to savour before the big day. This edition brings you four enchanting escapes and our top tips for things to do to make your season sparkle.
 
And if Christmas isn’t your thing or you fancy squeezing in one last sojourn somewhere else before the year is through, take a look back at other editions in The Wanderer archive.
 
Map  
 
 
YHA York
 
YHA York
 
  Pure class at Christmas  
 
 
With a pedestrianised city centre, cobbled streets that could double as Dickensian, bountiful boutiques, independent shops and fantastic festive events, York offers superb shopping, more variety than a selection box and all the timeless class of a quintessentially English Christmas.
 
 
 
YHA York
 
YHA York
 
Tonight’s the night of the Christmas light switch on, start of late night shopping in the city centre and official opening of St Nicholas Fair. The fair features more than 100 stalls spread around seven sites. Pick up wonderful wares from chalets covered in fairy lights until 23rd December.
 
Visit York over the weekend of 12th & 13th December and be sure to take a turn around the Ice Trail. With mulled wine in hand, make your way around the city centre to marvel at 30 magnificent ice carvings. It’s a magical event yet just one of the many that make York a dazzling winter break destination.
 
Just a short park & ride away from the centre, you'll find McArthur Glen designer outlet and, from Saturday until 3rd January, Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland. The award-winning attraction boasts the north of England’s largest outdoor ice rink. And with a funfair, grotto, alpine-themed chalets, special seasonal stalls and 120 stores inside, it’s a one stop shop for mirth and merriment.
 
Fully immersed in the spirit of the season, return to your recently refurbished accommodation to tuck into something tasty, warm up with a night cap or simply relax, ruddy-cheeked and ready for a good night’s sleep.
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Tim:
 
 
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Fairfax House, the most gorgeous of Georgian town houses, will be at its most seasonal and splendid until 3rd January. The Keeping of Christmas exhibition showcases the traditions, decorations and dining displays of the eighteenth century. Plus there’ll be numerous one-off special events during December.
 
 
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Visit York Castle Museum throughout December to enjoy festive events: Toys will come to life at Father Christmas’ Toy Museum (free, 12th & 13th December), there’s a 50p Children’s Christmas Trail to follow (all December) plus free performances of A Christmas Carol on the museum’s Victorian street (12th, 17th & 24th Dec).
 
 
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York Theatre Royal have a great track record when it comes to Panto. Choo-choo-choose their production of Dick Whittington and his Meerkat this year and watch the UK’s longest running Dame, Berwick Kaler, perform at the Signal Box Theatre in the very special surroundings of the National Railway Museum. All aboard, the run ends on 24th January.
 
 
 
 
 
YHA Ironbridge Coalport
 
YHA Ironbridge Coalport
 
  Heritage at its heart  
 
 
The crucible of the Industrial Revolution could melt even Scrooge’s heart at Christmas time. With its 10 museums and history of creativity, it’s the perfect place to both learn about Christmas past and get crafty to make Christmas presents.
 
 
 
YHA Ironbridge Coalport
 
YHA Ironbridge Coalport
 
Blists Hill is one of the Ironbridge Gorge’s biggest and best visitor attractions. The 52-acre site is home to a living history museum complete with costumed characters and the sights and sounds of over a century ago. Visit on 5th & 6th or 12th & 13th December for the Victorian Christmas event to watch residents as they go about their Advent activities, enjoy traditional entertainments and have a go at making decorations.
 
Also on 12th & 13th December, Jackfield Tile Museum will host a Christmas tile decorating workshop. Participants will learn a couple of simple techniques, then create their own seasonal souvenir. It costs from just £5 per tile. It’s bound to be popular and booking is essential.
 
Wonderland is just a 15-minute drive away, in Telford Town Park and it’s the perfect place to entertain younger children for the day. You won’t find the glitz or glamour of the bigger theme parks but neither will you find the exorbitant entry fee. Here admission gives you access to unlimited goes on fairground rides, an indoor soft play area, maze, crazy golf, and most importantly, entry into the Winter Wonderland Village.
 
Situated on the banks of the River Severn, the hostel occupies the former Coalport China Works. Surrounded by sensational Shropshire scenery, it makes the ideal escape from the commercialism of Christmas.
 
  book now  
 
 
 
 
 
Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Penny:
 
 
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The Wrekin is one of Shropshire’s iconic hills (407m) and on a clear day you can see 15 counties from the summit. It’s a 3.5-mile round trip to the top and takes about an hour and a half. Walk it on Boxing Day and join locals working off their festive excesses.
 
 
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Generally speaking, walking and cycling in the Ironbridge Gorge is easy. With many disused railway lines it’s relatively flat and mud free in winter. We also have an abundance of tea rooms and pubs so you’ll never go thirsty.
 
 
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German markets don’t get any bigger or better than Birmingham’s (unless you’re in Germany or Austria of course). For five weeks annually, Victoria Square is home to over 180 stalls selling gifts, bratwurst, glühwein, crepes and German beer. Go by train for just £10.40 with an off-peak day return ticket.
 
 
 
 
 
 
An iPad Mini for your thoughts??
 
  An iPad Mini for your thoughts??  
 
 
Complete our 10-minute membership survey to help us gauge how well (or not) we're doing and you'll be entered into our prize draw. Top prize is an iPad Mini, second prize is £100 worth of YHA overnight vouchers and third prize is £50 worth of Love2shop vouchers. The member survey is our way of finding out what's going well and what you'd rather we stopped doing. So, please click on the survey link to let us know what you think!
 
 
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YHA Cardiff Central
 
YHA Cardiff Central
 
  Cymru's capital is a cracker!  
 
 
Cardiff’s cup runneth over when it comes to Christmassy things to do. And although we haven’t room enough to discuss them all, here are just a few of the unmissable events deserving of your attention this festive season.
 
 
 
YHA Cardiff Central
 
YHA Cardiff Central
 
First up, Cardiff Winter Wonderland is open until 3rd January. Get your skates on and head to the Civic Centre for a spin around the open-air ice rink. Follow up with fairground rides if you’re bringing the family, or enjoy some German-inspired refreshment in the Alpine Village’s Bierkeller Bar.
 
The Cardiff Christmas Market is massive! With more stall holders than ever before, the rolling programme boasts more than 190 traders. As most of the goods on sale hail from Wales, it’s a great place to pick up a gift that’s been locally produced.
 
YHA Cardiff Central is conveniently placed for cosmopolitan Cardiff Bay, which is chock-full of cheer at this time of year. Visit Wales Millennium Centre any December weekend to say hello to Santa. If you’re in town on 5th & 6th December, don’t miss the traditional craft market at the iconic Norwegian Church Arts Centre. That Sunday will also see the joyously jolly spectacle of hundreds of runners taking part in the Elf & Santa Dash around the Bay.
 
Finally, a special mention must go to St Fagans National History Museum. There’s a packed programme of family-friendly events including Christmas at War, craft activities and the Winter Solstice Feast. Best of all, everything is free.
 
  book now  
 
 
 
 
 
Insider tips from Hostel Manager, James:
 
 
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Winter walks in Bute Park are truly delightful. With Cardiff Castle as a backdrop, as soon as the snow falls, it’s as if you’ve been transported to the set of Game of Thrones. Take a walk through Bute Park to step out of the city… whilst staying within the city.
 
 
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On 12th December cosplayers, anime fans, gamers and geeks will congregate for the Cardiff Christmas Geek Meet. If previous Cardiff Comic-cons are anything to go by, this event will be great fun.
 
 
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For many of us, Christmas is all about indulgence. Treat yourself to a refined evening of Welsh whisky-tasting at Cardiff Castle on 8th December. Tickets are £25 and include a guided tour followed by whisky-tasting and talk with Penderyn Distillery.
 
 
 
 
 
YHA London Earl’s Court
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
  Festivities fit for a king, or three  
 
 
Last but by no means least, London. Whether you want to do your gift shopping in one go, take in a show, mooch around Christmas markets, visit world-class attractions or bag a bargain in the January sales, you simply can’t beat it.
 
 
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
Hyde Park's epic annual Winter Wonderland is top of our to-do list. Over 200 chalet-style stalls, a sprawling festive fairground, the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, the Magical Ice Kingdom and Santa Land… it’s got it all.
 
For something a little more highbrow, head to the South Bank Centre. As well as the fantastic market stalls selling tasty treats and unusual gifts, the winter festival programme promises pop-up performances plus award-winning productions and loads of free activities.
 
If you’d like to add a little more culture to you trip, visit the V&A. Not only did the museum’s founding director send the world’s first Christmas card, the Theatre & Performance collection contains plenty of pantomime-related memorabilia, and each year the museum commissions a leading designer to create a Christmas tree for the Grand Entrance. Plus there are free craft sessions to keep little fingers busy between Christmas and New Year.
 
YHA Earl’s Court is the perfect place to avoid the post-Christmas anti-climax too. Stay between 14th & 17th January to enjoy the capital’s biggest light festival: Lumiere London. The iconic architecture of the West End will be transformed by interactive illuminations. That should be enough to chase away any January blues.
 
  book now  
 
 
 
 
 
Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Caroline:
 
 
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Whether you go for the beautiful people, the boutique shopping or the bars and cafés, check out the characters and culture of the King’s Road. It’s less than a 20-minute walk away.
 
 
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The Natural History Museum’s ice rink is just a short stroll away. Bedecked in fairy lights, with a Christmas tree in the middle and the museum as a backdrop, this is one of London’s most beautiful.
 
 
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The streets around Soho will be strewn with thousands of sparkling lights until 6th January. And whether you’re here for the Christmas shopping, the Boxing Day Sale or the simple pleasure of looking at the lights, lift your eyes skywards and soak up the sight.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Support YHA for a more sustainable future  
 
 
If you’ve yet to vote for us in this year’s Hostelling International Sustainability Fund competition, then please do! Thanks entirely to supporter votes we won in 2013 and 2014. This year it’ll be an uphill battle to win and we need all the member votes we can muster. Vote now and help us win £7,000 for the installation of renewable energy systems at The Sill Project.
 
Thank you.
 
Support YHA for a more sustainable future
 
 
 
 
 
Cotswold Outdoors
 
 
Escape, explore
 
Nothing beats time spent in the great outdoors. From tackling a new summit with your partner, to entertaining the kids on a weekend away or enjoying solitary moments of calm, the right gift can open up a whole world of adventure.
 
Find an inspiring gift in store, or browse our full range online and have it delivered directly to your door.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Spend Christmas and New Year with us!
 
  Spend Christmas and New Year with us!  
 
 
Leave the cooking and clearing up to us and stay on Christmas and Boxing Day; take a whole hostel for you and yours on Exclusive Hire; book a party package for the office do; call in to our cafes to tuck into turkey with all the trimmings. Join us; we’ve got the festive season all wrapped up. Visit us online to find out more.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Next month:
 
   
 
  Winter Wonderland Edition  
 
 
Next time around we’ll be cruising around some of England & Wales’ most celebrated cultural hubs and giving readers a rundown of the hottest tickets for 2016.
 
From art to literature via theatre and dance, we’ll explore the events and festivals to look out for and explore the permanent places that characterise our collective culture and heritage.
 
 
 
Next month
 
 
 
 
Find out how were changing the lives one stay at a time
 
Because YHA is a charity, when you stay with us you’re helping keep prices affordable, hostels beautiful and you’re even enriching the lives of young people. Find out more.
 
Find out how were changing the lives one stay at a time
 
 
 
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