Welcome to a Winter Wonderland

Not long ago the displays in shop windows were adorned with pumpkins, ghosts and cobwebs galore, however as soon as midnight chimed to signal the close of the spookiest day of the year, Halloween, Santa Claus officially rode into town on his wondrous sleigh. Yes, much debate will be ignited as to whether his grand arrival is just a little too early, however there is no denying the infectious excitement and anticipation that is garnered with the first sightings of Christmas trees, twinkling fairy lights and the revealing of festive coffee cups. It truly is one of the most magical times of the year and you would be hard pushed to find a city that is not caught up in all the festival fun. With locations in major UK destinations such as Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham and Edinburgh, The Spires Serviced Apartments are particularly fortunate to be surrounded by some of the most wonderful celebrations in the country and we are so excited to share all this cheer with our guests. Of course, alongside bedazzling Christmas lights illuminating the streets in a warm festive glow, the heart of any city Christmas celebration has to be the much anticipated annual Christmas market which brings together local residents and tourists alike. Fortunately, none of our locations are shrimping on this tradition and so we thought we would deliver to you today some of the excitement you can experience when you visit The Spires this wonderful winter season:

Aberdeen

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Image: http://www.dinnerstories.co.uk/2015_12_01_archive.html

Aberdeen Christmas Village, 25th November – 8th January, Union Terrace

Why have a market, when you can have a whole village ablaze with Christmas cheer and wonder?! Last year was the inaugural year for the Aberdeen Christmas Village and it went down such a storm, it has come back even bigger and grander this year. That is right, while the open-air ice rink and festoon of market stalls are all making their anticipated return; they are coming back plus-size edition meaning there is all the more fun to be had.  There are even some extra surprises with a Christmas Tree Maze being introduced in the Union Terrace Gardens – can you conquer the mischievous journey to the elves workshop? Complete with market stalls selling all kinds of treasures to fill Christmas stockings around the city; live entertainment and nostalgic fairground style attractions, there is certainly no doubt that Christmas has arrived to make the Silver City that extra bit more sparkly and glittery.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

*Christmas Tree Switch-On – Castlegate – 24th November, 7pm

*Twelve Days of Christmas Wooden Carvings Trail – throughout city – 24th November – throughout December

*Christmas Lights Switch-On Parade – Union Street – 27th November, 5.30pm

*Nativity Scene – St Nicholas Kirkyard – 28th November – 6th January

*Panto – Dick McWhittington – His Majesty’s Theatre – 3rd December – 8th January

Birmingham

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Image: http://www.germanchristmasmarketbirmingham.com/history/

Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair, 17th November – 29th December, Victoria Square

Of course, there is no city that quite lays the ultimate Christmas Market gauntlet like Birmingham as its resident annual market is renowned all over the UK and is synonymous with the arrival of the festive period. The heart of Birmingham’s Christmas celebrations, the market is actually the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria and so there is no denying that a visit to this market is a definite must to really get in the Christmassy spirit. If you think you can attend this majestic city celebration without purchasing anything, then think again as with 180 stalls selling all kinds of tempting decorations, toys, jewellery and of course food (Bratwurst or mulled wine anyone?), you will be hard-pressed to keep your wallet ensconced in your bag. When you are finished having a magical ride on the carousel or joining in a carol or two, make sure to pop into the Craft Fair adjacent to the market where you can find even more unique and handcrafted Artisan pieces to complete any gift menagerie under the tree.

Honourable Festive Highlights:

The Jewellery Quarter Christmas Lights Switch-On – The Golden Square -18th November  – 5pm

Magical Lantern Festival – Birmingham Botanical Gardens – 23rd November – 2nd January –

*Panto – Dick Whittington – Birmingham Hippodrome- 19th December 2016 – 29th December 2017

Glasgow

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Image: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/glasgow-christmas-activities-pictures-glasgow-4769441

Christmas Market, 20th November – 22nd December, St Enoch Square

When you consider all the celebrations occurring across Glasgow this winter, there is no denying that the city itself could almost be considered one large Santa’s grotto – it is overflowing with that much Christmas cheer and spirit! This could not be better reflected by the fact that there is not just one traditional Christmas market but two. Therefore, whether you want warming culinary delights; beautifully ornate handcrafted decorations or an exhilarating fairground ride or two, you are bound to get it somewhere whether it is in St Enoch Square or in George Square (opening 26th November – 29th December). Likewise, with a retail reputation which has led to the development of a renowned ‘Style Mile’, there is no surprise that there are a few festive bargains to be found across the 1, 500 shops.

*Coco Cola Christmas Truck Tour – Silverburn – 18th November 2016

*Glasgow Christmas Light Switch-On – George Square – 20th November

*Style Mile Christmas Carnival – Glasgow City Centre – 27th November

*Panto – Aladdin – Clyde Auditorium – 10th December – 31st December

Edinburgh

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Image: https://www.list.co.uk/article/74953-edinburghs-christmas-2015-programme-revealed/

European Christmas Market, 19th November – 7th January, East Princes Street Gardens

It is no surprise that there is nowhere that does Christmas bigger and better than Scotland’s stunning capital itself. Beautiful whatever the season, Christmas just elevates Edinburgh’s scenic wonder to the level that it could fit in perfectly on any Christmas card. Right at the heart of this beauty and warmth is the European Christmas Market which resides in the hub of the city. It is full of all kinds of delicate artisan works, handcrafted decorations, unique jewellery, as well as tantalising festive sweet and savoury treats. Likewise, Edinburgh’s skyline is resplendent with the twinkling of thousands of lights bedazzling both the city streets and the myriad of fairground attractions including a Big Wheel and the renowned Star Flyer. Whether you prefer your fun in the air; down on the ground in the Christmas Tree Maze or on the ice in the ink-rink, it is undeniable that there all kinds of levels of fun to be had.

*Light Night – 20th November, 1pm – 5pm

*The Scottish Market – West George Street – 26th November – 24th December

*Street of Light – George Street – 21st November – 24th December

*Alice in Wonderland – The Lyceum – 2nd – 31st December

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

The velvety warming taste of hot chocolate; the wondrous glow of streets bathed in an array of vibrant lights that sparkle in the dark and the snowflakes falling gracefully from the sky; it can only be winter. Factor in the cheerful buzz of everyone’s favourite Christmas tunes on repeat and the streets brimming  with people in varying levels of stress as they run manically from store to store and you know Christmas has arrived in full force. While we all know there is nothing quite as exciting as seeing our houses all decorated head-to-toe to match our fetching winter ensembles consisting predominantly of the uber-trendy Christmas jumpers, nothing beats the sight of a whole CITY ablaze with the festive spirit. It is irrefutable that you will never witness a city quite as stunning and as lit up as it is during Christmas and with locations in some of the UK’s most popular cities from Birmingham to Edinburgh, you know that when you stay with us you can witness some of the greatest shows and festivities put on at this time of year. Therefore, sit back with a mug of hot cocoa and discover all of the fun and cheer you can have when you visit some of our locations this December:

Aberdeen

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Image Source: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/aberdeen-world-record-bid-people-2846533

It is known as the Silver City, but at this time of the year Aberdeen diversifies and allows all hues of effervescent greens, reds, golds, purples and more to colour the skyline. There could not be a better time to visit Aberdeen than this year as it is the inaugural year of its own largest Winter Festival. With an open-air ice rink; thrilling fairground rides; an entertainment marquee and the scintillating smells of fresh delicious food emanating from the German inspired stalls; it combines to create an idyllic scene which is not to be missed. While you are not busy stuffing your face with all the finest festive delicacies at the Christmas market, you can get further into the Christmas spirit by belting out all your favourite Christmas carols with full gusto at the traditional Christmas Carol Concert at Duthie Park or you can take a moment to reflect on what Christmas is all about by witnessing the Christmas nativity scene at the St. Nicholas Kirkyard right in the centre of the city. If you are still needing to engage in some Christmas present shopping while visiting, you are in the right place with the Trinity Centre, Bon Accord Centre and Union Square offering beloved brands to satisfy all kinds of wallets from designer to department stores. However, if you are looking for something a bit more authentic and unique, make sure not to miss “The Arts of Gifts” Christmas Market which is brimming with gorgeous handmade jewellery; ceramics; Christmas cards and artworks. Of course, while you are in town make sure not to miss Aberdeen’s pantomime extravaganza production of Peter Pan!

To unearth all the Aberdonian Christmas magic, go to:

http://www.visitaberdeen.com/whats-on/calendar/

Birmingham

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Image: http://www.edgemagazine.org/guide-christmas-markets.html

There is no image quite as synonymous with Birmingham and Christmas like its nationally renowned Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair. If you cannot make it to Germany this year than this festival is no poor man’s second as it is the second LARGEST German market outside of Germany and Austria and is just as authentic. With over 180 stalls selling everything from jewellery to gifts to the finest German cuisine specialities; it is almost like being in Germany but at a much lower cost! However, it is not just its German market that is the prime attraction, but its attached craft fair where you can buy all kinds of charming and beguiling crafted goods as designed by local artisans. However, there is a whole other host of ultra-festive activities to engage in from festive plays to Christmas carol concerts to Christmas markets to even candlelit tours happening all over the city. If you fancy a day trip, then make sure to consider Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Warwick Castle which are both getting into the spirit. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace, you can partake in more traditional festivities which are typical to the Tudor time period or alternatively you can meet with the Big Man himself (Santa, not Shakespeare!) at Warwick Castle.  If you have time for some giggles and cheesiness, make sure to swing by Birmingham’s 2015 pantomime of choice, Aladdin, or there is the equally enchanting production of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to be seen at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre! Similarly, for something more historical but equally breath-taking, make sure to take in the majesty of the Royal Shakespeare’s Company production of Wendy and Peter Pan. Of course if you are in Birmingham then you are in prime position to complete that Christmas list because between the designer temptations of the Mailbox to the brand new shiny floors of Grand Central to the unique handcrafted works in the Jewellery Quarter, there are no shortages of places to find the perfect gift.

For full details of all the festive excitement and entertainment, go to:

http://visitbirmingham.com/christmas-in-birmingham/

Glasgow

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Image: http://getaroundglasgow.co.uk/photos/georgesquare/

There is no city that embodies the Christmas spirit quite like Glasgow with their self-proclaimed “Glasgow Loves Christmas” campaign. However, once you witness all that it has to offer, you will not be surprised why! Within the rustic wooden cabins that align St. Enoch Square, you will find all kinds of tempting festive goods from exquisite cuisines of all nationalities to intricate crafts and stunning decorations – perfect for a browse when armed with a succulent German Bratwurst and a warming mug of hot cocoa. Surrounded by the Buchanan Galleries, Ingram Street and Princes Square, it is the perfect place to visit when you are in the midst of a Christmas shopping break. However, if you want to get to the heart of the festive cheer that emanates from the city; then make sure to stop by George Square. With its iconic ice rink as well as the big wheel and the entertainment offered at the Winter Cabin, there will be no better place to celebrate this winter season. When in Glasgow, make sure to take the time to find gifts for yourself or for your significant others in some of Glasgow’s 1500 plus stores such as at the Argyll Arcade, Merchant City or the West End. Alternatively, make sure to sit back and enjoy a few laughs at Scotland’s biggest pantomime extravaganza of Peter Pan.

Discover all the festive cheer happening in the city at:

http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com/Pages/Home.aspx

Edinburgh

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Image: http://www.neweuropetours.eu/blog/edinburgh/51-edinburghs-christmas-markets-and-events

There is nowhere better to spend the most magical time of the year than in Edinburgh whose sparkling skyline is iconic when it comes to the festive period due to its adornment of lights. Not just in one area, Christmas spreads itself all around from The Royal Mile to St. Andrews Square to Princes Street Gardens. While there are the traditional star attractions of the Big Wheel, Star Flyer, Santa Land and the iconic ice rinks which never fail to thrill, extra magic is also brought in the form of the Virgin Money ‘Street of Lights’ which has transformed the Royal Mile into the most glittering, sparkling and animated sight ever as well as an abundance of all kinds of new exhilarating attractions. Therefore, even if you have experienced an Edinburgh Christmas once, there are still plenty of brand new reasons to do it again! There are a whole host of Christmas markets ranging from large European marketplace affairs to slightly more intimate and local gatherings. The two headlining festivals are undoubtedly the European Christmas Market and Scottish Market which can be found in Princes Street Gardens and St. Andrew’s Square respectively and offer tantalising foods; charming handcrafted goods; exquisite jewellery and stunning gifts that are steeped in both national and international culture – perfect for a wander on a cold winter’s day with a warming cup of mulled wine in your gloved hand. Alternatively, the Virgin Money Street of Light is definitely one not to be missed which illuminates the Royal Mile in full festive glow due to the magnificent line-up of 16 spell-binding lit up arches each reaching 19m high. It is a spectacular kaleidoscope production of colour and light like nothing else! Of course amongst all the markets and fairground rides, you cannot miss the entertainment central of Paradiso Spiegeltent which will play host to a vibrant array of fantastic shows to entertain all ages. Edinburgh’s chosen panto for the year is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the King’s Theatre but if you are looking for something a bit more delicate and elegant, make sure to not miss out on the beauty of Cinderella as performed by the Scottish Ballet. If you are coming to Edinburgh, then there could not be a more opportune time to complete that Christmas list with a flourish. From the traditional treasures of the Royal Mile to the beloved brands of George Street and Princes Street and then the unique independents of the Grassmarket, you are guaranteed to find something for everyone.

To discover all the fantastic festive fun, make sure to check out: http://thisisedinburgh.com/things-to-do/christmas-in-edinburgh/

Therefore, you know where all the fun and festivities are to be had this season and so make sure to discover them all. Whether you come by yourself, with your friends or with your family, we have apartments to cater to all sizes and there could not be a better place to relax after all the magic and joy. Visit www.thespires.co.uk to book your visit to a Winter Wonderland.