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City breaks & magical getaways

By, Linda Hill Miller

As we say farewell to summer for another year, and start setting our sights towards winter, it is inevitable that we are going to search for some twinkling lights in these dark nights that are fast approaching. For this exact reason, AM caught up with Linda at LAH Travel; to find out from the experts, the top destinations for your winter break, for some fun in the…err…snow?

Lapland
Right at the top of the list would have to be Lapland to see the real Father Christmas.  There are day trips as well as three and four night options flying from Glasgow and Edinburgh, and if you book early enough there may be free child places available. So it will be snow filled adventures from husky sledding, snowmobile rides and getting to meet the main man himself; Santa! One of the added bonuses is that you may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, adding to an already truly magical experience. Lapland trips continue into February and March too to see the Northern Lights, albeit by then Santa is having a well-earned rest! Many people think it is just for the children, not at all, it’s a once in a lifetime experience for everyone.

New York City
Next on the list would have to be New York. While it’s an all year destination with daily direct flights from Scotland, I believe that NYC is best experienced in the Winter. There is nothing nicer than being wrapped up and taking a stroll through Central Park on a Sunday morning. One of the best, but busiest, times to go is Thanksgiving weekend when the whole city celebrates. You’ll get to see the world-famous Macy’s Parade where they switch on the Christmas Lights and the whole city in full festive mode. You can go skating at Bryant Park and enjoy the stunning shop decorations.

It really does have everything – from shopping heaven to the top museums in the world.  We’d recommend going to the top of the Empire State, sailing on the Hudson, for the best views of Manhattan; a stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge, a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, taking in a show on Broadway and if you’re a foodie then New York has possibly the best restaurants in North America. 4-night stays are recommended as it is exhausting, but you can do a whistle stop trip and take in the best of what’s on offer.

Location is so important which is why the upper East Side is ideal, as you get away from the bright lights, whilst still being very accessible to the action. But whatever you do, remember to pack your earmuffs and gloves!

European Christmas Markets
Finally, to get you right into the festive spirit let’s talk about trips to the Christmas markets. Many of you will have experienced a market, as we have some great options in Glasgow and Edinburgh. However, if you want to have that real authentic experience then it’s time to book a weekend at one of Europe’s famous Christmas markets. There are direct flights from Scotland to Berlin, Bruges, Prague, Krakow, Stockholm and Amsterdam. Imagine the cold crisp days, the sound of Christmas carols, the taste of warm Gluhwein and the smell of roasted chestnuts and waffles as you immerse yourself in Yuletide spirit. You’ll come home feeling all festive and ready to celebrate Christmas. Prime times are November and December, although each destination will have specific dates that the markets run. If you’re not tied to weekends, then you will make great savings by going midweek instead.

So there you have it, perhaps winter really is the most wonderful time of the year. We may be saying goodbye to a summer of sunshine – but we can still find warmth in hot chocolates, mulled wine and busy crowds in packed out Christmas markets. Perhaps it’s not quite time to retire the suitcases up to the loft just yet.