Wanderer November 2014
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The Wanderer, Issue 23, November 2014
 
 
Winter Wonderland Edition
 
There’s a nip in the air and the nights are drawing in fast, which can mean only one thing – Christmas is coming. This month we go in search of the very best of the festive season to ensure you can make the most of this magical time of year. So put any winter woes to one side and join us on a sleigh ride around some of the UK’s most enchanting destinations.
 
Looking for information on a different location? You’ll find plenty in the Wanderer’s online archive.
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YHA LONDON EARL’S COURT
 
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
  A wonder without equal  
 
 
Whether you’re coming to the capital to shop until you drop, to soak up the sights and sounds of London’s many Christmas markets or to skate across glistening outdoor ice rinks, this place makes a convenient and comfortable base for a cheap city break.
 
 
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
YHA London Earls Court
 
If you’re looking for that perfect gift or thinking of braving the january sales, thousands of twinkling lights strewn across London’s main thoroughfares will bring a touch of magic to your experience. The illuminations on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden are magnificent.
 
For a sure-fire festive fix head to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland for over 200 chalet-style stalls, the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, Santa Land, the Magical Ice Kingdom and a fun-filled festive fairground. As night falls, unwind with a glühwein or two at the Bavarian Village.
 
Alternatively, Christmas at Kew promises a glittering mile-long route of spectacular illuminations guiding visitors through the gardens. Pass by sparkling trees, illuminated fountains, flumes of fire and installations that look like fireworks frozen in time. Other attractions include vintage rides, a market and the snowflake grotto.
 
Closer to home, lace up your skates for a turn around the Natural History Museum’s ice rink; 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.
 
At the end of the day it’s back to the hostel, a lovely Victorian building in a quiet neighbourhood, to enjoy a slice of sophisticated west London life without the exorbitant price.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Caroline:
 
  1  
Take the opportunity to see an amazing live gig at Earl’s Court exhibition centre before it closes. With a capacity of 19,000, it attracts some of the world’s biggest artists.
 
 
  2  
Avoid the tube and enjoy a stroll to west London’s famous museums – the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A.
 
 
  3  
Go carolling at Kensington Palace on 8 or 15 December. Take a tour of the palace and hear stories of Christmas past, enjoy a glass of mulled wine, then sing Georgian inspired carols around the tree. Advance tickets cost £10.
 
 
 
 
YHA Oxford
 
 
YHA Oxford
 
  Magical markets, mince pies and mulled wine  
 
 
As cityscapes go, they don’t get much more picturesque than Oxford. But add a dusting of snow to the City of Dreaming Spires and you have a truly wonderful destination for a winter break.
 
 
 
YHA Oxford
 
YHA Oxford
 
If you happen to be in the area this weekend, don’t miss the Christmas Light Festival. The 21 – 23 November sees more than 20 local venues deliver a fantastic programme of art installations, live music, dance performances and free cultural activities.
 
Between 11 and 21 December, Oxford’s annual German-style Christmas market takes place on Broad Street in the heart of the city. There’ll be a vast array of goods on offer, including arts and crafts, jewellery, homewares and deli foods as well as mulled wine to keep you warm.
 
Operating for over 200 years, Oxford’s Covered Market is home to purveyors of fresh produce, local artisans and independent traders. Pop in on 17 December to enjoy a carol service complete with mince pies and mulled wine in the main square from midday.
 
The University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden is Britain’s oldest and it is beautiful, particularly in the frost. Take the festive trail between 29 November and 6 January to find Christmas plants from around the world. Visit on 13 December for the Crafty Christmas event and make wreaths and decorations from natural materials.
 
When it’s time to come in from the cold, return to this purpose built hostel in the city centre to enjoy a great value meal in its licensed restaurant or toast the day’s adventures in the café bar.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Nick:
 
  1  
Oxford’s historic pubs are at their most welcoming in the winter months. Sit next to a brazier in the courtyard of the famous Turf Tavern, bag a spot by the fire in the Kings Arms or follow in the footsteps of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and sip a pint in the characterful Eagle & Child.
 
 
  2  
In the colder months, retreat into the atmospheric Pitt Rivers Museum where you can lose yourself in the eclectic displays of weird and wonderful artefacts.
 
 
  3  
The 184-mile Thames Path National Trail passes within a few meters of the hostel. The river path offers short walks within the boundaries of the city, passing through meadows and peaceful countryside.
 
 
 
This Christmas, you can afford to take your time
 
  This Christmas, you can afford to take your time  
 
 
As a little seasonal sweetener we’re delighted to offer you 25% off accommodation at our city locations this December. With 11 properties to choose from and 25% off both private rooms and shared dorms, whatever you love about this magical time of year, you can afford to treat yourself to a very merry Christmas with YHA.
 
Simply quote XMAS-001 when you book*
 
 
 
 
YHA Hartington Hall
 
 
YHA Hartington Hall
 
  A taste of the traditional  
 
 
As the weather turns colder and the nights draw in, there can be no cosier place to be than in front of the log fire in this extraordinary 17th-century manor house. Surrounded by stunning scenery, this Derbyshire escape makes the perfect base for wintery walks and excursions to the area’s many historic houses and charming towns.
 
 
 
YHA Hartington Hall
 
YHA Hartington Hall
 
Chatsworth House is a 30-minute drive away; visit this weekend to catch the final few days of the Christmas Market. It’s a seasonal treat for the senses with brass bands and string quartets, a Bavarian beer tent, a variety of gourmet treats on offer and all manner of gifts available.
 
There’s plenty to see at Chatsworth throughout the season. The house has been decorated on an Alice in Wonderland theme. Dress up in costume and head down the rabbit hole for a fun-filled adventure inside, enjoy crafts in the marquee or watch nativities starring Chatsworth’s animals in the farmyard.
 
Visit nearby Haddon Hall in December and you’ll find this gorgeous Tudor house aglow with lights and traditional Christmas decorations. Visit on 6 and 7 December for the Tudor Christmas Weekend or take a candlelit tour of the house and its history on 9, 10 or 11 December.
 
On 6 and 7 December, the Christmas Weekend Wonderland and its 70 stalls will fill Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens with festive spirit. The same weekend, Matlock’s Victorian Christmas Weekend and Markets will delight visitors with 150 stalls, a Santa’s grotto, a Christmas parade and a firework display.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Heidi:
 
  1  
Take a tour of the vast limestone caverns and explore the 100 acres of beautiful woodland on the slopes of Grin Low Hill with a visit to Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park.
 
 
  2  
Browse the stalls at the Christmas Gift Bazaar in Leek’s Nicholson Gallery and Museum between 22 November and 23 December. And if your visit coincides, step back in time on 20 December for Leek’s Dickensian Christmas market.
 
 
  3  
In need of a little exercise after all those mince pies? Take a stroll along the River Dove, just 15 minutes from the hostel, or hire a bike and cycle the picturesque trails around Carsington Water.
 
 
 
 
YHA Berwick
 
 
YHA Berwick
 
  Feast your eyes on starry skies  
 
 
See nature’s fairy lights at their most spectacular with a stay at our most northerly hostel. In 2013 the Border County became Europe’s largest area of protected night sky. Visit the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, running between Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border, lift your eyes to the heavens and observe celestial bodies in pristine night skies.
 
 
 
YHA Berwick
 
YHA Berwick
 
By day, historic Berwick-upon-Tweed boasts plenty of things to see. A walk along its encircling Elizabethan walls affords fantastic views of its bridges, beautiful Georgian buildings and out towards the coastal castles of Bamburgh and Lindisfarne.
 
On Sunday 7 December, Berwick’s Christmas Market’s live entertainment, carol singers, many stalls and fun fair will bring bags of good cheer. On Friday 12 December the nearby Spittal celebrations will involve a festive parade as well as a Christmas Fair with street entertainers, a brass band, stalls and refreshments.
 
With Edinburgh only an hour’s train ride away, Berwick makes a fantastic base for a day trip across the border. The hugely popular European Christmas Market is well worth a look. Visit before 4 January to gorge on gastronomic delights and pick up those last minute gifts. If you’re bringing the kids, don’t miss the many wonders of Santa Land with its Christmas tree maze, Santa train and rides.
 
Once you’ve soaked up all these seasonal offerings, head back to the beautifully restored 240-year-old former granary to relax with a bite and write your Christmas list.
 
 
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Insider tips from Hostel Manager, Siôn:
 
  1  
Enjoy a night out at the renowned Maltings Theatre & Cinema, just a stone’s throw from the hostel. With festive films, plenty of plays and pantomimes sharing the bill over the coming months, you’ll find something to suit all. Ask in hostel about discounted tickets.
 
 
  2  
Take a trip to one of Northumberland’s jewels in the crown, Bamburgh castle. Immerse yourself in medieval festive wonder and then grab a glass of mulled wine in one of the local pubs before heading back up the A1.
 
 
  3  
The Scottish borders towns are within easy reach. Explore each town and their local traditions with our handy daily itinerary. Hostel staff will be happy to share their local knowledge and recommend their favourite days out.
 
 
 
 
 
Make Christmas easy with Cotswold Outdoor
 
This year we have an incredible choice of over 60,000 products from 250 of the world’s top brands including Rab, Berghaus and The North Face. We have everything from jackets that repel the rain, gloves that keep fingers toasty on freezing days and Go Pro cameras for cherishing the best moments. YHA members receive 15% off** clothing and equipment, shop online or at nationwide stores.
 
 
Cotswold  
 
 
We've got Christmas all wrapped up
 
  We've got Christmas all wrapped up  
 
 
Add sparkle to your Christmas celebrations. Whether you’re planning the office party or want to get your friends together for a festive feast, let us cook you Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Choose three delicious courses for just £18.95 or go the whole hog and enjoy five for £24.95. Find out more about our full range of menus, packages and parties here.
 
 
 
 
 
  Give the gift of a great getaway  
 
 
What do you get the hosteller that has everything? YHA vouchers of course! Whether you want to introduce a pal to the wonderful world of YHA or treat a loved one to an overnight stay somewhere extraordinary, our gift vouchers come in denominations of £5, £10 and £20 and make cracking Christmas gifts. Visit the YHA shop to find out more and to purchase that perfect present today.
 
 
Give the gift of a great getaway
 
 
 
Next month:
   
 
  Costal Edition  
 
 
Join us as we take a look at the network from a different perspective – that of our guests. In December we hand over The Wanderer to four brilliant bloggers to discover what they have to say about their favourite YHA locations. It’s going to be a fascinating read. We can’t wait!
 
 
 
Next month
 
  Find out how were changing the lives one stay at a time
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.
 
 
 
 
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