In Lithuania, Christmas Eve is one of the most peaceful holidays of the year. It has always been a time when the whole family gathers at the dinner table. Tradition has it that all disagreements must be settled before Christmas Eve dinner so that the upcoming year may bring peace and joy. This little list will help you experience Christmas Eve in a very Lithuanian way.
Sharing a Christmas Eve Wafer
Before even touching any food on the Christmas Eve table, Lithuanian families share what is known as kalėdaičiai – thin wafers made of wheat, flour and water. Beginning with the eldest member of the family, the wafer is shared with everyone at the table. This is often accompanied by exchanging wishes for the upcoming year. If you’re in Vilnius before Christmas, kalėdaičiai can be bought in any church.
Enjoying a 12-dish Dinner
There are over 100 Lithuanian Christmas Eve dishes, all united by one fact – none of them are made with meat. The pre-holiday fast will only end on Christmas Day, so on Christmas Eve Lithuanians turn to dough and fish. Making 12 dishes for the dinner symbolises the months of the upcoming year. If you want them all to be successful, you should try a bit of all 12.
Making Christmas Eve Divinations
One of the longest nights of the year has traditionally been a time to cast a light on the future, especially with regard to relationships. The simplest thing you can do is grab a handful of traditional Christmas cookies kūčiukai or nuts, and then count them. If the number is even, you’ll find a partner or get married in the next year. If it’s odd – tough luck. Maybe the year after next. And if you’ve had a lot of salty herring during dinner, place a cup of water by your bed. Whoever hands it to you in your dream that night will become your future spouse.
Hearing Animals Speak
Every Lithuanian child knows that around midnight on Christmas Eve, animals can speak, or at least that’s what the legend says. And if they do talk, they’ll tell you about the future that’s in store for you. It’s not that simple, though – you can’t just wait around for them to start speaking, because rumour has it that it’s dangerous and may not end well. It has to happen by chance, but do try to keep an ear out!
Taking Some Time Off
Above all, Christmas Eve has always been a time to forget everyday chores. It was believed that doing them on this day may bring bad luck, so take the old folk advice to heart and just relax, get together with the people you love, and cherish the time you spend in each other’s company.
Audley Travel has launched a new sample itinerary for its tailor-made trips to Colorado that is perfect for lovers of the outdoors. Covering a new area for Audley, the suggested itinerary is a fantastic mix of city exploring, beautiful scenery, outdoor activities and wildlife spotting and is a great choice for couples, families and honeymooners alike.
The trip starts in Denver, America’s mile-high city, with time to explore the many art galleries and famous botanic gardens. Clients then spend a day in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains enjoying sights such as the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a natural rock formation that has been home to many music performances.
Clients then drive themselves to Colorado Springs to ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This excursion takes in the highest train in the country with an ascent of 8,000ft to enjoy stunning panoramic views before driving back down the mountain in a 4×4. Audley’s specialists also recommend a visit to the Garden of the Gods to view the striking red rock formations.
The trip continues with a drive west into the Rocky Mountains to the gold rush town of Breckenridge to wander along the high street sporting authentic 19th century shop fronts. Audley’s specialists recommend spending an extra day here – it is the ideal place to satisfy the adrenaline rush with zip-lining, cycling and hiking, before driving on to the historic mining town of Aspen. The journey takes guests over the Independence Pass with beautiful scenery to enjoy. Time in Aspen is spent relaxing in a spa or hiking, with a white-water rafting tour and gondola ride popular choices for visitors.
The penultimate drive takes clients over Trail Ridge Road, climbing to heights of 12,000 feet through the Rocky Mountain National Park with grazing wildlife including elk, moose and bighorn sheep a regular sight. The itinerary then includes a few nights in Estes Park to enjoy some of the 300 miles of hiking trails. Film buffs will want to visit, or perhaps stay in, the spooky Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ before returning to Denver.
Will Scott, Product Manager for the USA, says: “This is a great new sample itinerary and we are delighted to be able to offer it to our clients. As with all of Audley’s suggested itineraries, it gives a basis on which our specialists can develop a client’s own personalised trip to Colorado, taking into account their interests, tastes and budgets.”
A 15-day tailor-made trip, Colorado Rockies Explored, costs from £3,425 per person (based on two sharing) and includes flights, car hire, accommodation and excursions. For more information visitaudleytravel.com/usa or call UK +441993 838755.
Well known as one of Eastern Europe’s premier beach resorts, Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast also holds a wealth of historic and cultural treasures which attract visitors from across the continents.
On this unique Travel Department holiday, you will be based in the coastal town of Nessebar, within walking distance of a glorious stretch of golden sandy beaches, as well as the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Nessebar, which is located on a small peninsula and home to charming cobbled streets, churches and ancient ruins.
From here, you will explore some of the coastline’s most notable towns and cities, including the ancient city of Sozopol, the former Greek trading port of Varna, and the charming town of Balchik, with its palace and botanic gardens. You will also have the opportunity to experience the Black Sea from the water, with a boat trip to the rocky island of St. Anastasia.
There will be plenty of time to explore this beautiful region at your own pace, with three full days to spend at your leisure.
Prices start from €749pp including seven nights’ 4* half-board hotel accommodation, return flights from Dublin, transfers, excursions and all taxes & charges, with flights departing May & September 2018.
To book, click HERE or call the Travel Department in Dublin on: 01-6371600
Los Angeles World Airports Chief Experience Officer Barbara Yamamoto shares the holiday travel forecast and tips to better navigate LAX during a news conference. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is expecting another record holiday season with an estimated 4.35 million travelers taking to the skies to celebrate with family and friends.This is 0.9 percent above last year’s record 4.31 million passengers for the holiday season.
The 19-day holiday period began Friday, December 15, 2017 and continues through Tuesday, January 2. 2018 The busiest day of the holiday period is expected to be Saturday, December 23, with more than 253,000 passengers forecast. More than 246,000 passengers are anticipated at LAX on Thursday, December 21, as well as the two days following Christmas, Tuesday, December 26, and Wednesday, December 27. The slowest days will be Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve with between 205,000 to 212,000 passengers.By comparison, LAX has averaged 232,000 passengers daily this year (through October 31, 2017).
Besides crowded terminals, airport staffers are warning travelers to expect increased traffic in the Central Terminal Area (CTA) — more than 1.9 million vehicles. The week before Christmas will average more than 109,000 vehicles daily, peaking on Friday, December 22, with about 120,000 vehicles. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day will average nearly 98,000 vehicles daily. Motorists and passengers waiting for public transportation should plan for delays of up to 30 minutes during periods of traffic congestion in the CTA.
Airport officials recommend departing travelers factor in additional time for traffic congestion and arrive in their airline terminals at least two hours prior to boarding time for domestic flights and at least three hours before boarding time for international flights.Travelers heading to regions where winter weather could be a factor are also advised to check their flight’s status before coming to LAX.
“From PUPs, to carolers, to volunteers to point travelers in the right direction, we want to make a trip to LAX smooth and enjoyable this holiday season,” said Barbara Yamamoto, Chief Experience Officer at LAWA. “Our ask for our guests? Reduce your stress – arrive early, grab a bite, or even do some last minute shopping on your way home for the holidays.”
Passengers who use Long-Term Parking Lot C should also be aware of a reduction in available spaces due to reconstruction and reconfiguration. The entrance to Lot C from Westchester Parkway is closed. Electronic signs will be used to advise motorists when Lot C is full. Plan ahead and consider one of the other nearby long-term parking options.
Passengers can do their part to help reduce traffic congestion by taking shared-ride public transportation to/from LAX, including: Metro Rail Green Line; door-to-door shuttle vans; and long-distance and municipal buses. The airport also offers inexpensive and convenient FlyAway® buses from Hollywood, Long Beach, Metro Orange Line (San Fernando Valley), Union Station, Van Nuys, and Westwood/UCLA.
FlyAway riders will find curbside coordinators in safety vests located throughout LAX to assist them from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. most days throughout the holiday travel period.
Rather than circling the Central Terminal Area until arriving passengers reach terminal curbside for pick up, motorists can park and wait up to two hours free at the LAX Cell Phone Waiting Lot at 6221 West 96th Street (96th Street and Vicksburg Avenue), adjacent to the entrance of LAX Parking Lot C).To avoid the CTA altogether, motorists can ask arriving passengers to board the LAX Shuttle bus to Lot C and meet them in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot.
Active duty service members are reminded that the Bob Hope USO Center, located between Terminals 1 and 2, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week as they and family members travel through LAX.
To help keep traffic and passengers moving, and reduce the stress of travel, passengers can expect:
A moratorium on construction and utility shut-downs in public areas inside and outside the airline terminals, parking lots, and traffic lanes will go into effect at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, December 20 and end at 9 p.m. Thursday, January 4.
Los Angeles World Airports employee volunteers wearing yellow sashes or ties, comprising this year’s Team of LAXceptional Courtesy (TLC), will be in terminals and on sidewalks offering assistance and information to passengers on Thursday and Friday, December 21 and 22..
LAX’s popular PUPs therapy dogs out in force providing comfort to those in need.
Los Angeles Airport Police on enhanced deployment for high visibility and traffic management
To help speed their journeys, travelers are encouraged to enroll in TSA Pre√® or other trusted-traveler programs such as Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry, which improve security and reduce wait times.
The public is reminded that LAX’s $14-billion modernization program is still on-going. When coming to LAX, passengers should look for and follow way-finding signage near all construction sites to ensure their safety and to enhance mobility.For real-time LAX traffic conditions, information on the status and locations of airport construction, “insider” traffic tips, and videos showing short-cuts, visit www.flyLAX.com.Motorists and travelers also can receive real-time status of airport conditions by accessing @FlyLAXairport and @LAAirportPD Twitter feeds.LAX is also on WAZE, the community-based traffic navigation app.
About Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
LAX is the fourth busiest airport in the world, second in the United States, and was named Skytrax’ 2017 Top 10 Most Improved Airports. LAX served more than 80.9 million passengers in 2016. LAX offers 737 daily nonstop flights to 100 cities in the U.S. and 1,386 weekly nonstop flights to 88 cities in 44 countries on 73 commercial air carriers. LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S. in air cargo tonnage processed, with more than 2.2 million tons of air cargo valued at over $101.4 billion. LAX handled 697,138 operations (landings and takeoffs) in 2016.
An economic study based on 2014 operations reported LAX generated 620,600 jobs in Southern California with labor income of $37.3 billion and economic output (business revenues) of more than $126.6 billion. This activity added $6.2 billion to local and state revenues and $8.7 billion in federal tax revenues. The study also reported that LAX’s ongoing capital-improvement program creates an additional 121,640 annual jobs with labor income of $7.6 billion and economic output of $20.3 billion, $966 million in state and local taxes, and $1.6 billion in federal tax revenues.
LAX is also the second most popular airport in the world to appear on Instagram according to wego.com. LAX is part of a system of two Southern California airports – along with Van Nuys general aviation – that are owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that receives no funding from the City’s general fund.
Qatar Airways kicked off an important year ahead in Russia for both the airline and the State of Qatar with the touchdown of its first daily direct flight to St. Petersburg on 19 December. 2018 will be a milestone year for Russian-Qatari relations as Qatar Airways sponsors the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the State of Qatar partners with Russia for the 2018 Year of Culture programme, delivered by Qatar Museums.
At a press conference in St. Petersburg today, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, addressed Russian and international media at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he conveyed his vision for the airline in Russia and beyond.
“Touching down at Pulkovo International Airport for the first time yesterday was a significant moment for Qatar Airways. This inaugural flight represents so much more than just a new destination on our global network, it carries with it the weight of our hope and expectations for the future of our airline in Russia and the future of our countries’ ongoing friendship and partnership for generations to come.
“As the national carrier of the State of Qatar, we are proud to fly the flag for our country wherever we go. Our presence in Russia will only be strengthened by the launch of this new route as well as by our upcoming sponsorship of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and by the 2018 Qatar-Russia Year of Culture of which we are a huge supporter.”
H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker also used the press conference as platform to speak out about the illegal blockade against Qatar. He said: “It puts a lot of pressure on both the citizens and the operations of a country when you blockade it – this is unprecedented since St. Petersburg was put under siege during the Second World War. This blockade is illegal because the airspace is above a certain flight level and airspace on international waters does not belong to any country. It belongs to the international community.
“This is a bullying tactic by larger countries on our country to intimidate our political thinking, our freedom, our sovereignty and our independence. They will fail because in Qatar, the people are very proud, like people in St. Petersburg during the Second World War: you were not intimidated, you persevered and you won. And it is the same thing that is happening to us. We will win this blockade and we will make sure that our independence is very strong and our sovereignty is respected.”
Pulkovo Airport Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Vladimir Yakushev, who hosted the press conference alongside H.E. Mr. Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways coming to St. Petersburg is a new historic step in the development of Pulkovo Airport and the city’s tourism industry, and is an event of key significance in the light of the approaching 2018 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Russia.
“With the new daily flights to Doha, the Northern capital and the cultural pearl of Russia, has gained an excellent connection to one of the most modern and dynamic global cities and through it – to more than 150 destinations in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas, on Qatar Airways’ worldwide network. We are confident that the new route will be much-in-demand among the residents of St. Petersburg and Northwest Russia, as well as international travellers planning to visit Russia with leisure and business purposes alike.
“Additionally, cooperation with Qatar Airways, as one the world’s largest carriers, whose fleet has the most modern aircraft of various types and configuration, will enable Pulkovo Airport to deepen its operational expertise as a leading hub in Russia and Northern Europe.”
The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase the airline’s number of flights a week into the country to 28. Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar Airways recently increased its service to the city from twice daily to three times daily to meet growing demand.
The recent relaxation in visa entry requirements for Russian nationals into Qatar has opened up this route to even more passengers wishing to experience Qatar Airways’ five-star service to more than 150 business and leisure destinations across the world.
St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with a population of more than five million as of 2017, is increasingly recognised for its contribution to the country’s growing economy as more businesses set up offices and headquarters here. The culturally diverse city is also famed for the treasures it houses in its numerous museums including the iconic Hermitage Museum, which attracts millions of visitors every year.
With more than 10 tonnes of belly hold cargo capacity per week to and from St. Petersburg on board the A320 aircraft, which serves this new route, Qatar Airways Cargo is delighted to be further expanding its import and export services in Russia. The launch of service to St. Petersburg has increased the overall belly hold cargo capacity to and from Russia, with more than 40 tonnes being transported each way per week.
Qatar Airways will operate its daily St. Petersburg service with an Airbus A320 aircraft, which features 12 flatbed seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system offering passengers various entertainment options.
Qatar Airways has added many new exciting destinations to its network in 2017, including Auckland, New Zealand; Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France and Prague, Czech Republic, to name a few. The airline will continue its rapid expansion throughout 2018 by adding new destinations such as Canberra, Australia; Cardiff, United Kingdom; and Penang, Malaysia to its global route map.
The national carrier of the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways is one of the fastest-growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 20th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of more than 200 aircraft flying to business and leisure destinations across six continents.
The award-winning airline has received a number of accolades this year, including ‘Airline of the Year’ by the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards, which was held at the Paris Air Show. This is the fourth time that Qatar Airways has been given this global recognition as the world’s best airline. In addition to being voted Best Airline by travellers from around the world, Qatar’s national carrier also won a raft of other major awards at the ceremony, including ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’
There’s an overriding message especially in the media, that American doesn’t want people to be here. Further from the truth. What I think the Administration’s been very strong on security, and you have to be strong on security and accessibility. My message to the Administration should be America’s closed to terrorists, and open to everyone else. And that open to everyone else hasn’t happened. But still people separate politics and place. People still wanna come here. We’re seeing good numbers. The real bad thing here is the dollar. The dollar’s so strong that it costs you a lot more if you come from Ireland or if you come from Europe to come to America. So that’s our bigger problem. People wanna blame it on the President, but it’s a lot and most about dollar and global economies. My clear message is it’s the safest place to travel to the U.S. Never been a better place to come. And on behalf of all of U.S. destinations, it’s one big welcome. We wanna see you. We want you to come and spend your money, but we also wanna get to know you.
Each year, Rough Guides authors and editors travel tens of thousands of miles, searching out the best destinations, sights and experiences, from new trekking routes and historical trails to underrated cities and conservation success stories, this week they revealed 18 places that should be on your radar in 2018 and Malawi came in at number 3 – number 1 for Africa.
Coming from one of the leading and most trusted travel publishers in the world, this recommendation for Malawi is a huge accolade and one that re-enforced the amazing recent development of the country’s tourism.
Rough Guides comment that whilst Malawi has always been known as “the warm heart of Africa” because of its friendly, welcoming people, “Malawi is fast gaining a reputation as a fabulous safari destination too.” Three of its reserves – Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota – are now run by conservation organisation African Parks which has been busy regenerating them and reintroducing wildlife.
Today, Majete is home to all of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion and leopard), which roam its lush rolling hills and riverine landscapes.
This year also saw Liwonde welcome cheetah as new residents to its game-rich plains dominated by the beautiful Shire River snaking its way through the park. More predators, including lions, are due in 2018. And following the world’s biggest ever translocation of elephants, wonderfully wild and rugged Nkhotakota became home to 500 elephants translocated from Majete and Liwonde.
As well as having superb Lake, Landscape, Culture and now Wildlife experiences, Malawi is warm and welcoming and still untouched and unspoilt by mass tourism – offering the ideal opportunity to experience real Africa. This Rough Guides accolade confirms Malawi’s emergence as one of Africa’s ‘hottest’ and most complete destinations.
Approximately one million people are expected to gather in Times Square for Iconic Ball Drop with additional celebrations taking place across all five boroughs plus activities for New Year’s Day 2018
NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for New York City, toasts all visitors who intend to gather in Times Square for its iconic ball drop and highlights celebrations of interest across the boroughs for New Year’s Eve. Upon the joyous occasion of the holidays, the City’s celebrations remain timeless.
“Every New Year’s Eve, millions of visitors come to New York City to experience the unique vibrancy and excitement of our five-borough destination,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s president and CEO. “We invite travellers to explore Times Square during its biggest spotlight moment and to take advantage of the many other events happening throughout the City’s neighbourhoods.”
Highlighted below are highly anticipated celebrations in Times Square and beyond where locals and travellers will raise glasses, toast the past and usher in the new year from borough to shining borough.
Seven-foot-tall numbers “1” and “8” in 2-0-1-8 are now in Times Square for public photo opportunities through this Friday, December 22. Information available here.
On December 28 from noon to 1pm, locals and visitors will gather in the Broadway Plaza on Times Square for Good Riddance Day, as bad memories from 2017 are torn apart to make room for the new year, with help from Shred-It.
In the lead up to the big night, through December 29, visitors can visit the Wishing Wall to note their hopes, dreams and goals for 2018 on the confetti that will be released at midnight to float over Midtown and the approximately one million visitors who congregate in Times Square for the ball drop.
The 11,875-pound ball, covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, is capable of a palette of more than 16 million kaleidoscopic colors and is mounted atop One Times Square. As it descends at the countdown, a host of nearby venues will serve up new years’ cheer with a view, available here.
The Times Square New Year’s Eve Live celebration will formally open with a performance by the Tongliang Athletics Dragon Dance thanks to a partnership with Chongqing, China. Multi-Platinum Pop Singer and Songwriter Andy Grammer will headline the musical line-up. Country music singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina will perform a selection of her number one hits and dance crew Kinjaz will also present numbers.
From east to west, Midtown hotels will ring in 2018 with grand revelry and guests in lavish attire. High above the lights of Fifth Avenue, The Peninsula New York’s Salon de Ning will be transformed into a chic sky-lit penthouse with the East Terrace enclosed and heated, a performance by UK rock and pop cover band The Chip Shop Boys plus ball drop projection at midnight.
Right in the heart of Times Square, the New York Marriott Marquis will host a five-course dinner, unlimited premium open bar and entertainment at The View Restaurant & Lounge, with 360-degree views revolving completely every hour overlooking Times Square.
One block to the west, The Sanctuary Hotel New York’s Haven Rooftop will offer group packages for its heated and tented New Year’s Eve party. Guests will enjoy a DJ from 8pm to 2am, a prix -fixe dinner and top shelf open bar.
An NYC & Company guide to New Year’s Eve in Times Square is here.
Other NYC Celebrations:
Beyond Midtown Manhattan, countless other celebrations will take place.
The Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island NYE package offers a two-person overnight stay, entry to the glamorous and romantic New Year’s Eve Gala at Nicotra’s Ballroom (7:30–1am) with buffet breakfast for two inclusive. (Staten Island).EVE Ultra Lounge will host an authentic Albanian American fusion music event to ring in 2018. While Staten Island’s Italian influence is well noted, the borough’s Albanian American population is under the radar. (Staten Island).
New York City’s only casino, Resorts World Casino invites those 21 and older to celebrate NYE at BAR360 with live performance by TKA K7 (a NYC-born freestyle emcee who rose to fame in the 80s and 90s.) Guests can also enjoy its 4,200 slot machines and 1,300 electronic table games. (Queens).
Modernist, industrial chic Z Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, will offer a stay, plus admission to the “Dueling Pianos” rock and roll sing-along in Cellar Bar with open bar and buffet, for under $100 USD on New Year’s Eve. (Queens).
Thai Rock in the Rockaways, Queens, will serve up fine Thai dining, dancing, imbibing and live music from band Leaders of the Shift who will perform “Psychedelic Cosmic Rock N Roll” on New Year’s Eve.(Queens).
Beginning at 11am on New Year’s Eve day, the Bronx Beer Hall will host “Brunch Brunch Brunch” in the heart of the Arthur Avenue market. (Bronx).
Also on Arthur Avenue, Zero Otto Nove, which boasts Salerno-style cooking and is in the 2018 Michelin guide offers a New Year’s Eve dinner in the “Little Italy” of the Bronx. The restaurant will not remain open until midnight. (Bronx).
Events On New Year’s Day & Beyond: Coney Island USA will host their 4th annual NYE celebration in Steeplechase Plaza, with a fireworks display from the historic Parachute Jump. Select boardwalk restaurants and attractions will be open, including B&B Carousell, Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt roller coaster. A digital burst ball drop rings in 2018, followed by a Circus Sideshow Fire Spectacular at 1am. (Brooklyn).
The New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza will celebrate its 38th year. For a truly local, free, family-friendly experience, visitors can join Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, the Prospect Park Alliance and tens of thousands of revelers for the public event. (Brooklyn).
For an unforgettable evening Circle Line will offer their New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise sailing New York Harbour from 9pm to 1am. A DJ and midnight champagne toast add a lively touch to the 21+ to drink, 18+ to enter party. (Manhattan).
The Empire State Building will ring in 2018 with a festive multicolored sparkling LED confetti lighting on Dec 31, 2017. Five minutes before midnight, the building will switch to its signature white lights, sparkling again in the New Year through sunrise on January 1, 2018. Lighting schedule here.
Running enthusiasts can lace up for the four-mile NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park on NYE. After going through security via entrances at West 72nd Street and Central Park West or East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, registered runners and their +1 will gather at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Kicking off at 10pm, the race (to which many wear costumes) will conclude by midnight with a spectacular fireworks display at its completion. (Manhattan).
New Year’s Day & Beyond:
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Plunge is free with registration and begins at 1pm at the Stillwell Avenue boardwalk entrance. Participants get free admission to the New York Aquarium and a post-dip warm up at Coney Island Brewing Company and Steeplechase Beer Garden. (Brooklyn).
The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show will be open for visitors until 6pm on New Year’s Eve. Model trains will travel through a miniature landscape of 150+ iconic city structures. This year’s version spotlights Midtown Manhattan, with a new Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, General Electric Building and more on view through January 15. (Bronx).
The 2018 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®—hockey’s highest profile regular-season game—will be held at Citi Field on New Year’s Day. January 1, 2018, will mark the first time the game is held in New York City. (Queens).
The NHL Centennial Fan Arena and Stanley Cup at Madison Square Park will be a free fan event December 27–28 in the lead up to the 2018 NHL Winter Classic. It will feature a pop-up rink, a VR Zamboni experience, photo opportunities with the Stanley Cup and more. Additional information here.(Manhattan).
NYC & Company’s top New Year’s Day activities are available here.
Don’t panic. There’s no need to buy anyone a Christmas jumper. Give a return flight to one of these buzzing cities instead, and you’ll be top of the gift-giving tree on December 25th.
1. Amsterdam from €50
Amsterdam by night
Both night owls and culture vultures will love you for this gift. The party animals will relish a journey through Amsterdam’s club scene, with Encore’s hip-hop Saturday nights at Melkweg, and electro-flavoured Brainwash at Escape on the itinerary. And if they’ve got the stamina, they can fill the daylight hours with the visit to the Heineken Brewery or a craft beer boat tour.
Meanwhile, anyone with an eye for art will be straight into the Rijksmuseum to wonder at its Rembrandts and Vermeers – with the Van Gogh Museum nearby offering a dazzling post-Impressionist dessert of energy and colour. Both sets of travellers will also love whizzing alongside the canals on a bike – either renting their own, or joining one of Mike’s Bike Tours. Though the party animals probably shouldn’t try it straight after they’ve been round the Heineken Brewery…
2. Berlin from €50
Norman Foster’s Reichstag dome
After a rather serious 20th-century hiccup, Berlin is back on the map as one of Europe’s most dynamic cities. Every street seems to mix scary history and youthful culture, with a dash of cutting-edge design thrown in – and it’s the perfect place to send your hipster friends and relatives.
The Reichstag should be their starting point. Once the battered symbol of national catastrophe, it’s now topped with Norman Foster’s beautiful glass dome, and hums with a renewed sense of purpose and power (register first for entry). Meanwhile, a trip to the Bauhaus Museum will remind them of Germany’s profound influence on modern design and architecture – before they head to the Kreuzberg district for its bars, streetfood and nightlife. Club Tresor should be their final stop – a nightclub in a disused power station.
3. Prague from €86
Prague’s astronomical clock
Prague’s mix of dreaming spires and cobbled streets comes straight out of a fairy-tale, and it’s never more magical than on a snowy January morning. Take a walk across the medieval Charles Bridge, and up to the hilltop cathedral and castle, and you’ll think you’ve wandered out of the 21st century altogether. For incurable romantics, it’s the dream destination.
Just make sure they don’t get sucked into the usual touristy bars and restaurants. Instead, point them in the direction of up-and-coming Dlouha, a street at the eastern edge of the Old Town. Nearby, Italian restaurant Divinis is the place for a slap-up celebratory meal, but it’s the wine-bar Bokovka they’ll remember longest. Set in a crumbling Renaissance courtyard, its vaulted, candlelit rooms are packed with the city’s fashionistas – and a few of its ghosts too.
4. Barcelona from €58
Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium
Got any football fans in your circle? Give them return flights to Barcelona as a present. The thought of a stadium tour of the Nou Camp – one of the greatest cathedrals of the modern game – will have them buzzing all the way to New Year’s Eve.
Footie aside, the Catalan capital offers a very seductive version of seaside life. A Devour Barcelona tapas and wine tour will give them a taste of the city’s world-class cuisine, before they dive into the Gothic Quarter; a warren of small streets that bleeds cosmopolitan cool. Top-class bars here include laid back Sub Rosa Cocktail Bar and Bar Lobo.
5. Rome from €87
The Vatican, seen from the Pincio Hill
This one’s for the art lovers and time-travellers. No other city is piled quite so high with history, and if all they’ve ever seen of the Romans is an indecipherable pile of rubble somewhere in northern Europe, they’ll be blown away by the magnificence and density of the remains. The Pantheon – which has been in continuous use for nearly 2,000 years – is the most remarkable single building. But the great sweep of ruins, from the Forum to the Colosseum and up to the Palatine Hill is what really dazzles. The ordinary lives of Romans seem almost within touching distance when you walk there.
The food is memorable, too. For lunch, point your historians in the direction of l’Asino d’Oro, in the fashionable Monti district: an inexpensive restaurant with a serious gastronomic edge. But they must book ahead, to be sure of table. Tell them to eat well, and catch their breath. Next stop is the Vatican.
6. Reykjavik from €128
The Aurora Borealis in Iceland
Got a wannabe Bear Grylls in your circle? Give them cheap flights to Reykjavik. Iceland’s pricier than the other destinations on our list, but for anyone who yearns for big landscapes and jaw-dropping geology, it’s an unforgettable experience.
For a day of adrenaline-edged adventure, join a snowmobile safari that takes groups blasting across stunning glaciers and through natural ice caves. Or try a Golden Circle Tour, which includes a night in a see-through bubble hotel, purpose-built for watching the Northern Lights. The Icelandic capital is an essential stop too – for both the Viking World Museum and the city’s legendary nightlife.
7. Oslo from €63
Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo
Give them flights to Oslo in February, and they’re getting two breaks in a single trip. First is a snowy taste of winter, courtesy of ski lessons at the Oslo Vinterpark – followed by the even bigger thrill of zip-lining down the ski jump at the Holmenkollen Ski Museum.
Then, it’s time to explore a wealthy, harbourside city that’s been raising its cultural and gastronomic game in recent years. Art lovers will want to pay their respects to Munch at the Munchmuseet, as well Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst & Co at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. Meanwhile, foodies will love snacking through the streetfood at Vippa, and the sharing plates at Sentralen. Afterwards, drinks and live music at Café Mono are a must.
8. Faro from €68
The Algarve coastline
Know any golfers or surfers? In Faro the daytime temperature averages 13C, and the sea’s at 16C – perfect for a vigorous sporting break while everyone else is huddled up at home. The golf is world-class, courtesy of courses such as the Quinta Do Lago ‘North Course’ or the Jack Nickalus-designed Monte Rei. Meanwhile surfers will want to hire a car and head to Sagres – which offers everything from beginner-friendly surf schools to fun beach breaks and bigger, expert-only waves.
After the fairway or the sea, your sports stars can then dive into the frenetic pace of Faro’s university-fuelled nightlife. For an atmosphere that’s a little more chilled, order at cocktail at Columbus – home to some of the most highly-rated mixologists in Portugal.
There’s beauty to be found in Vilnius at any time of the year. However, exploring the town in winter also requires knowing about places where you can step inside to warm up and nibble on a little comfort food – Vilnius Tourism have put together a handy guide.
Gražių vaizdų Vilniuje galima rasti visais metų laikais. Tačiau tyrinėjant miestą žiemą būtina žinoti apie jaukias vietas, į kurias užsukęs galėsi pailsėti, užkąsti ir sušilti. Šis trumpas gidas padės jas rasti.
Apsilankyk „Džiugo“ kavinėje ir paskanauk iš lietuviško sūrio pagamintų desertų, kurie puikiai tiks prie kavos ir pakels nuotaiką. Arba stabtelk „Holy Donut“ ir nusipirk „Vaidilutę“ – spurgą su salyklu, medumi ir sėklomis. O jei norėtum paragauti deserto, kurį žino kiekvienas vilnietis, „Rūtos“ parduotuvėje nusipirk medaus torto.
„Chaika“ – miestiečių ypač mėgstama vieta. Ši kavinė įsikūrusi mažame name pačioje senamiesčio širdyje ir turi ypatingą atmosferą. Būdamas Užupyje, užeik į „Kmyninę“. Čia rasi tradicinių saldėsių ir visame pasaulyje žinomų desertų. O naudotų knygų knygynas „Mint Vinetu“ turi ir mažą kavinę, kuri yra puiki erdvė tyloje atsipalaiduoti su arbata ir gera knyga.
Padaryk trumpą petraukėlę ir pasistiprink puikiais užkandžiais vienoje iš vilniečių dažnai lankomų vietų. „Pinavija“ prekiauja kibinais ir desertais. „Beigelistai“ pasiūlys kokybiškų beigelių su įvairiais priedais. Ypač džiugina mintis apie pyragą ar blynus? „Pilies kepyklėlėje“ kepa tokius, kurie tirpsta burnoje.
Padaryk trumpą petraukėlę ir pasistiprink puikiais užkandžiais vienoje iš vilniečių dažnai lankomų vietų. „Pinavija“ prekiauja kibinais ir desertais. „Beigelistai“ pasiūlys kokybiškų beigelių su įvairiais priedais. Ypač džiugina mintis apie pyragą ar blynus? „Pilies kepyklėlėje“ kepa tokius, kurie tirpsta burnoje.
Sau patinkantį alų tikrai rasi „Alaus bibliotekoje“, kurios meniu rasi platų gėrimų pasirinkimą iš Lietuvos ir viso pasaulio. Jei norėtum pasijausti kaip vietinis, „Špunka“ turi tam tinkamą atmosferą ir alaus iš mažųjų aludarių. Vilniaus geležinkelio stotyje esantis „Peronas“ – tikra patirtis. Nuliniame perone pačioje stotyje įsikūręs baras siūlo išgerti alaus ar kokteilių neįprastoje vietoje.
Jei ieškai kulinarinio potyrio, apsilankyk „Ertlio name“. Šis senamiestyje esantis restoranas ruošia istorinės lietuviškos virtuvės patiekalus. Užupio „Sweet Root“ puikiai tiks norintiems paragauti sezoninio maisto, o dar daugiau pasiūlymų vakarienės vietai rasi geriausių Vilniaus restoranų sąraše.
Visit Džiugas Cafe to try desserts made from Lithuanian cheese that will tickle your tastebuds and go well with a coffee. Or head over to Holy Donut and grab a Vaidilutė – a donut with malt, honey and seeds. For something sweeter, pop into a Rūta shop and ask for medaus tortas – a layered cake with honey and lemon that’s a true local classic.
If you’re feeling hip, go to Chaika. The cafe’s located in a small house in the middle of the Old Town and has a distinct vibe. If you happen to be in Užupis, Kmyninė is a good choice – there’s a wide selection of traditional pastries and desserts from around the world. If you’re after a quiet corner, pop into Mint Vinetu – the pre-loved bookstore hosts a small cafe and the solitude you’ll find inside is perfect for opening a book.
Take a little time off from exploring the town and pay a visit to some of the locals’ favourite places for snacks. Pinavija offers kibinai (a traditional Karaim pastry) and desserts. For quality bagels, head to Beigelistai. And if pie or pancakes sound like your kind of thing, go to Pilies kepyklėlė – they are experts in both.
Unwind in Alaus biblioteka, with its excellent selection of craft beer from Lithuania and beyond. For a more local feel head over to Špunka and treat your tastebuds to a beer from a Lithuanian microbrewery in a true neighbourhood bar. And if you’d like to find a place that’s popular with locals, go to Peronas. The bar on platform zero of the Vilnius Train Station is unlike any other in town – you’ll find beers and cocktails on the menu.
For a fine dining experience, visit Ertlio Namas. This restaurant puts a modern twist on historical cuisine and offers a real culinary experience. Sweet Root is a good choice for seasonal dishes, but ultimately, you can’t go wrong with any of the top restaurants in Vilnius.