Winter is often overlooked when it comes to planning when to take a mini-break, however, it can be the perfect time of year to escape. Cities nationwide are buzzing with the excitement of the impending Christmas season, with exciting attractions and events planned to aid celebrations. You can also take advantage of a change of shopping scene to pick up fantastic gifts and festive treats for you and your loved ones. More…
Great Britain is getting ready to celebrate “Bonfire Night”, which is a yearlyÂ celebration on November 5. On this day we remember the failed gunpowder plot by GuyÂ Fawkes in 1605. During this celebration “guy” dolls that represent Guy Fawkes areÂ set alight and burned on the bonfire.
I know this post is about a month late, but better late than never!
If somebody mentions to you they were thinking of celebrating the New Year in Edinburgh for the Hogmanay Festival, you think cool. Well this was my thought too. For New Year my friends Dan and Lucy decided to take this trip to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay Festival, which was in its 19th year! So when they asked me if I wanted to join, obviously I couldn’t say no.
We stayed 2 nights at the Relax Guest House in Edinburgh which was booked way back in February 2011 but had to pay for at arrival. After reading the reviews, some quite horrifying actually, I decided I would make use of some of the 35 years of wisdom I have collected and take good ol’ towel and of course the sleeping bag (which fits two). Upon arrival at the Relax Guest House the first member of staff that we encountered was very pleasant and this greatly helped me ease my anxiety – that is until he took us , what seemed like the basement.
We paid Â£360 for a family room that had 3 single beds in the basement. The room desperately needed a thorough clean, the shower door was falling off and there were damp problems. We didn’t expect a perfect room for this price on New Year’s Eve, but a clean room would have been nice. We were woken up in our first night by staff returning from their night out – not a problem per say but it was noisy. Breakfast seemed a bit daunting in the morning, not knowing what to expect from the food, but it turned out to be ok.
The location of the Relax Guest House wasn’t as bad as I initially thought, about a 10min walk uphill to every local amenity we needed. There was a pharmacy and two French restaurants directly opposite our B&B.Relax Guest House 11 Eyre Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5E
Edinburgh, the city
I had never been to Edinburgh before, so I was quite in awe. Shops were well spaced out, people were really friendly and it seemed like a soul soothing environment. We had arrived on Friday 30.12.2011 afternoon, so had plenty of time to settle in and enjoy what Edinburgh had to offer. From our B&B we walked up the hill to the town center. It was suggested we start the Hogmanay Festival at Rose Street and it was here were we found a nice bar appropriately called Roses Brewery.Roses Brewery 11 55-57 Rose St, Edinburgh, EH2 2NH
Straight from there we went to the Edinburgh’s traditional candle-lit Torchlight Procession which started at 6:30pm and was the opening to the Edinburgh Hogmanay Festival. It started at Parliament Square along the Royal Mile and culminated with a “Son et Lumiere & Firework Finale”Â on Carlton Hill! Torch vouchersÂ cost Â£6 when you book in advance or Â£7 on the night.
If you find yourself without a Candle-lit Torchlight, wait the procession is underway and then lookout for the after sale candles which are available to buy for just Â£2.50 (just look out for a queue building somewhere)
After the Fireworks display we went back towards our B&B but found a nice little pub called The Kenilworth on Rose Street where we decided to have dinner. All three of us had traditional Scottish Haggis, Neeps & Tatties for starters, Sirloin steak with onion gravy for our main course and finished our meal with a hot toddie. Tired and well fed, we returned to our B&B , excited for the New Years Eve Street Party.The Kenilworth
152-154 Rose Street, Edinburgh
New Years Eve + Street party
Me and Lucy woke up Saturday morning and decided to go have a breakfast at the Relax Guest House. Dan didn’t join us then, as he was tired and preferred to stay in bed a little while longer. We joined Dan a bit later when he had his breakfast at the Grand Cru, which was an amazing find as it turns out, about 5mins walk from our Guest House.Grand Cru
79 Hanover street, Edinburgh
From there we took a lazy stroll to Edinburgh Castle and walked to the summit, being greeted by the famous “William Wallace” along the way. Entry to the castle cost Â£14 for an Adult, Â£8 for children. Not exactly expensive to be fair and definitely interesting enough, but we were on a tight budget and so chose not to go.
For lunch we went to another pub on the high street called The Albanach. You must try the Aspall Perronelle’s Blush Cyder when you’re there. We all ordered the sausage 3 kings (Pork cranberry orange and chestnut sausage with mash and onion gravy with a split pea and mint soup)Â - all for just Â£8.99The Albanach
197 High Street, Edinburgh
With full stomachs we rolled down the hill to the park, which had an ice rink and a fairground, that was intended for children. It was well placed in the center of the park with the Edinburgh GalleryÂ just there. I would imagine you could let your children play, while you explore the gallery. Admission was free.
We then headed back to our Guest House for some pre-festival relaxation.
Hogmanay Street Festival
On our way to the festival around 9pm we grabbed a slice of pizza from Pizza Hut to keep us filled for all the alcohol that had yet to follow. The street festival started around 9pm and lasted till the wee hours (about 1pm). Admission cost us each Â£18 but as it turns, totally worth it. There were 5 main stages altogether, each stage playing different kind of music to suit various taste of music:
- Waverly Stage
- Mound Party Stage
- West End Stage
- East End DJ Stage
- Scott Monument Stage
We stayed around the East End Stage, which wasn’t that busy to begin with but drew in the crowds later on.
To see the bands up-close play live on the main stage at Concert in the gardens venue, you will need to buy a seperate ticket.
The Fireworks Display was one of the most spectacular events I’ve ever seen. Check out UK Fireworks over at the BBC.
As with any party, there were several after parties, but decided to call it a night. But not before ending the night with fine Ale and Whisky at Kenilworth. On our way back to our B&B we found a very small but busy take away Rose Street. Go there after any night out in Edinburgh!
Tips for the Hogmanay Festival
- no glass bottles are allowed in
- not suitable for young families, as the age limit is 16years
- plenty of toilets at the start, which are not easily accessible once you’re halfway through. Allow at least 30mins
- take only the bare necessary with you
- we brought coke bottles filled with Vodka, which did us well – consider something similar
- wrap up warm – we are in December after all!
I thought the whole event – from start to clean up – was well organized. I even noticed some spotters on top of buildings keeping an eye out on people. Scotland can be proud of this event and hopefully I will be part of the Hogmanay festival again in 11 months time – this time with my fiancÃ©.
We would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas 2011. We hope you are with your loved ones and are enjoying the holiday season!
The quaint little town of Chester lies in the Northwest of England, close to the Welsh border. Chester used be the biggest Roman Fort in England and today it remains an important Trading and Tourism center. You will find lots of traces of history in this beautiful roman town.
Walking on the City Walls for example, which are made of red sandstone and are just under 2 Miles long, will lead to the historic center of Chester and offers stunning views of the city. The original city wall was built by the Romans and has constantly been renewed. Of particular interest is the East Gate with an ornate filigree Clock, which is almost as famous as Big Ben in London.
A little further south, you can visit the Wishing Steps, that you can test: If you run up and down the wishing steps twice, whilst holding your breath, a wish should come true!
The streets of the city center are arranged systematically and very typical of a Roman city. The Cross, located in the center of Chester, has 4 main roads leading away from it and towards the city gates. It is also here, where you can admire the famous â€œRows of Chesterâ€.
The â€œRowsâ€ are two-tiered medieval galleries, with some of the best shops and a shopping mall in stone and black/white half-timbered construction. The Rows of Chester date from the medieval era and may have been built on top of rubble that remained from the ruins of Roman buildings. In the historic center you will find many buildings from the Tudor period (1485-1603) and the Victorian era (1837-1901). The Rows of Chester are unique, as nothing similar exists anywhere else in the world.
The Chester Cathedral is built out of red sandstone and was a Benedictine Abbey until 1541. It offers many different styles, thanks to the long history of its existence. This magnificent building truly is a national treasure in the heart of city and has been the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Chester since 1541.
Beyond the city walls, the remains of the Roman amphitheater can be seen. The amphitheater in Chester was the largest in the country and provided space for 7.000 spectators. From the amphitheater, a path leads to the River Dee and the river promenade â€œThe Grovesâ€.
The Chester Castle dates from the 18th Century and houses the Cheshire Military Museum. From here you have a lovely view of the River Dee.
The Chester Zoo is the largest zoo in England and is located just outside the city. You can easily spend an entire day at the Zoo with your family.
Come to Chester and visit this fabulous little town with everything it has to offer!