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—2019
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Current Events

AT HOME AT FIRST DESTINATIONS

'HOLIDAY EVENTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD'


— DECEMBER —

CHRISTMAS MARKET AT LISEBERG
AMUSEMENT PARK
, GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN

HOLIDAY EVENTS & FESTIVALS IN THE BRITISH ISLES & SCANDINAVIA
Photo courtesy goteborg.com

          WINTER IS COMING, and with winter come the end-of-year religious and secular holidays. STOREHOUSES ARE FULL. WEATHER AND DARKNESS PROMISE TO REDUCE TIME SPENT OUT-OF-DOORS. HOLIDAY FESTIVALS LET US OFFER THANKS THAT WE HAVE SURVIVED ANOTHER YEAR AND ARE PREPARED FOR THE DARK CHILL OF THE COMING WINTER.

photos © Home At First

 

CALENDAR OF SELECTED EVENTS

 DECEMBER 2018 & JANUARY 2019

 
Festivals, Holidays, Country Fairs, Sporting Events,
Theater, Cultural Gatherings, and Special Performances
Happening Near
HOME AT FIRST Lodgings throughout

BERMUDA, BRITAIN, ICELAND, IRELAND, ITALY,
NEW ZEALAND, PARIS, SCANDINAVIA,
& SWITZERLAND
Information about HOME AT FIRST’s travel program to:

LONDON  ENGLAND  SCOTLAND  WALES  IRELAND  PARIS  SWITZERLAND

ITALY SWEDEN NORWAY DENMARK ICELAND BERMUDA NEW ZEALAND


NOTE: For many of the LONDON events listed, HOME AT FIRST guests at our
apartments on the north side of Tower Bridge by the Tower of London and
on the south side of Tower Bridge in London's Bermondsey neighborhood
will take public transportation from the Tower Hill Underground Station,
reached by a walk of 8-15 minutes or a 5-12 minute bus ride.

 

 

– ONGOING EVENTS OF NOTE –

 

Ongoing daily
  LONDON, ENGLAND   THE TOWER OF LONDON: “Prisoners of the Tower”
          
HOME AT FIRST’s London guests can’t miss visiting their famous neighbors who were incarcerated and may have met their violent and often gruesome ends at the Tower of London. This special exhibition focuses on the best-known prisoners, including explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady (& Queen for a few days) Jane Grey, Nazi leader Rudolph Hess, and terrorist traitor Guy Fawkes, among others.
 


THE TOWER OF LONDON AT THE TRAITOR'S GATE
Photo © Home At First

LOCATION: The Tower of London is just west of the Tower Bridge between the River Thames and Tower Hill Underground Station north of the river.
ADMISSION: £26.80/adult, £20.90/seniors & students (16 & up), £12.70/child (5-15), £48.10/family (1 adult + up to 3 kids 5-15), £68.10/family (2 adults + up to 3 kids 5-15).
OPENING TIMES MARCH through OCTOBER: Tu-Sa: 9AM-5:30PM; Su-Mo: 10AM-5:30PM. Last admission: 5PM.

OPEN TIMES NOVEMBER through FEBRUARY: Tu-Sa: 9AM-4:30PM; Su-Mo: 10AM-4:30PM. Last admission: 4PM.

GETTING THERE: walk 10 minutes traffic-free from HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or 12 minutes (with minimal traffic) across the Tower Bridge from HOME AT FIRST’s apartments in Bermondsey.
MORE INFO, see:
TOWER OF LONDON
 


Ongoing, evenings from 9:30PM-10:05PM
  LONDON, ENGLAND   - THE TOWER OF LONDON
“The Ceremony of the Keys”

           700-year-old ceremony of the locking of the main gate of the
Tower of London carried out each evening by the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower accompanied by an escort of guards. Passes are essential and may be obtained
ON-LINE HERE. Tickets for this ancient ceremony are available to the public, free of charge, but subject to a £1 booking charge. Book a
t least 12-18 months in advance. Maximum Group Size: 6 persons April-October; 12 persons November-March.
LOCATION:
The Tower of London main (western) entrance.

ADMISSION: free!

NOTES: Visitors must be in possession of the original ticket issued by the Tower of London at entry. Photography not permitted. No bathrooms or refreshments available.
GETTING THERE: walk 10 minutes traffic-free from
HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or 15 minutes from HOME AT FIRST’s apartments in Bermondsey.
MORE INFO, see:
CEREMONY OF THE KEYS
  

Yeoman of the Guard at The Tower of London's Main Western Gate. Photo © Home At First.
 
Yeoman of the Guard at
the Tower of London's
main western gate

Photo © Home At First


 

THE LORD MAYOR'S COACH, MUSEUM OF LONDON
Photo courtesy the Museum of London

Ongoing, daily from 10AM-6PM 
  LONDON, ENGLAND   

THE MUSEUM OF LONDON
9 Free Galleries Cover a Half-Million Years of London

          London’s best museum offers nine galleries with permanent exhibitions covering the human history of London chronologically from about 450,000BC through Roman times, the medieval period through the Tudor Dynasty, the Civil War, Great Fire and Bubonic Plague of the 17th century, the expansion of London during the growth of the Empire, the twentieth century World War years, up to the modern age when London became a world city.

LOCATION: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN.
ADMISSION: Free to the museum & its galleries.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk or bus 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station. Take the Circle Line north 9 minutes to Barbican station, then walk 9 minutes to the museum. Total transit & walking time: 23-28 minutes.
MORE INFO, see:
MUSEUM OF LONDON
.

 


Ongoing daily from 10AM
  NORTHERN COTSWOLDS - WARWICKSHIRE, WESTERN ENGLAND 
“Events at Medieval Warwick Castle”

          England’s greatest show castle offers a variety of events, including:

Grand Castle Interiors (daily): Explore the grandly furnished public halls, state rooms, and private apartments of Warwick Castle.

The Castle Grounds (daily): Explore the conservatory & peacock garden, the original Norman
castle mound, the Victorian rose garden, the River Avon and its island menagerie.

The Trebuchet & Ballista, the Artillery Fort, and the Towers & Ramparts (daily): Warwick’s own
massive catapult is modelled on the medieval siege machines that once flung rocks, manure, and dead pigs across castle walls. Warwick’s Artillery Fort shows how cannons were used to protect the castle at the end of the Middle Ages. See the war machines in operation specific dates/times.

The Bowman Show: historic archery in action twice daily.

Flight of the Eagles daily at the Birds of Prey Arena.

Warwick Dungeon (daily): Warwick’s newest attraction recreates the medieval dungeon from the time the Great Plague ravaged Warwick in 1345. The haunting, live-action experience is not for the faint hearted. An additional charge applies.

The Princess Tower (daily): up the spiral stairs to the chambers of medieval princesses.

See WARWICK CASTLE website for complete listing of events, times & dates.

The original 11th century Norman castle hill: Ethelfled's Mound viewed from a later tower at Warwick Castle. Photo by Zach Elwell © Home At First.
THE ORIGINAL 11TH CENTURY NORMAN CASTLE HILL:
ETHELFLEDA'S MOUND VIEWED FROM A LATER TOWER AT WARWICK CASTLE.

Zach Elwell Photo © Home At First

LOCATION: in Warwick, about 45 minutes NE of HOME AT FIRST’s Northern Cotswolds cottages in an around Chipping Campden. (Hint: you may want to combine a visit to Warwick Castle with a visit to nearby Stratford-upon-Avon,
Shakespeare’s home town.)
GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S NORTHERN COTSWOLDS cottages, drive north on the B4632 to Stratford, then follow the A439 north to the A46 and the A429 into Warwick. Watch for signs for the castle.

OPEN DAILY: Open 10AM-6PM 01-04NOV; then 10AM-4PM 05-30NOV. Open daily December 1-23 from 10AM (Mo-Fr until 4PM; Sa-Su until 5PM). Open December 24 & 26-31 10AM-5PM. Closed December 25.
NOTE: 2019 Times & Prices to be announced.

CASTLE ADMISSION: £28/adult, £25/child, £25/senior. Supplemental admission charged for entrance to the Castle Dungeon and/or Merlin: The Dragon Tower. NOTE: Book on-line in advance for discounted prices that can save up to 30%.

PARKING: Car lot parking from £6-£10.
MORE INFO, see:
WARWICK CASTLE

 


YORK MINSTER—

one of the world's

greatest Gothic

Cathedrals

York minster — one of the places visited by YORKWALK guided walks
Photo courtesy Yorkwalk

 

Open Daily FEBRUARY thru NOVEMBER, 2019. CLOSED DECEMBER & JANUARY.
  YORK CITY - NORTH YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND   
  “Yorkwalks”

          Guided walks through interesting parts of the medieval walled city of York offer exercise, culture, and entertainment. Standard walks offered at 10:30AM and 2:15PM daily February–November from the menu of “Roman York”, “Secret

Don't believe in ghosts? Photo © Home At First.

York”, “Essential York”, & the popular "Snickelways" tours of York's narrow back alleys. At evenings and other times Yorkwalks offer rare opportunities to see parts of York never open to the public, like their “Inaccessible & Hidden York: Graveyard, Coffin, & Crypt Tour”, “Historic Inns and Pubs Tour”, and “Choccy & Sweetie Tour”. Who wouldn’t want to wear sensible shoes on their next visit to Olde Yorke?
LOCATION: Museum Garden Gates, Museum Street, York.

GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST NORTH YORKSHIRE guests drive 30-60 minutes to York. Park outside the city gates (MEDIEVAL CENTRAL YORK has very little parking) and walk or take a shuttle bus into the old city.
ADMISSION: £6/adults, £5/students/kids 5-15. Supplement charged for any tours requiring entrance to York Minster.
MORE INFO & COMPLETE SCHEDULE:
YORKWALK.
  

Just seen a ghost? Photo © Home At First.


WHAT'S PLAYING IN LONDON THEATRE?

 

A REDUCED-PRICE TICKET OUTLET ON LEICESTER SQUARE
Photo © Home At First

Ongoing, daily at different times

  LONDON, ENGLAND 

LONDON THEATRE: “What’s Playing?”

   “The Woman in Black":

Long-running (since June 1, 1989) thriller. Essentially a ghost story designed to make the audience scream, shocking apparitions occur throughout the theatre at any time, terrorizing the audience. Perfect for teenagers, but nearly equally frightening to adults. Performances daily at the Fortune Theatre, Russell St. WC2B 5HHU, between Temple tube and Covent Garden tube,


 
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE IN LONDON

between Bow St. and Drury Lane, north of the Strand and NE of Covent Garden. Rating: adults with strong hearts & teens. Runs at least thru July 27, 2019. Prices from £19.99.

  

   “The Play that Goes Wrong”: Comedy about inept amateur thespians struggling to put on a murder mystery set in the 1920s, but what can go wrong does go wrong. Winner of the 2015 award for Best New Comedy. Performances run through October 27, 2019, at the Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine St, WC2B 5LA, in the Covent Garden area, 1 block north of Somerset House. Ten minutes walk NW from Temple tube; 10 minutes walk SE from Covent Garden tube station. Rating: Family (ages 8+). Prices from £24.

  

   “Phantom of the Opera”: long running Gothic musical. Performances through at least September 27, 2019, at Her Majesty’s Theatre, 57 Haymarket SW1Y 4QL.
Near Piccadilly Circus tube.
Rating: Family (ages 10+). Prices from £32.

   “The Mousetrap”: Agatha Christie’s record-running mystery continues through at least October 5, 2019 at St. Martin’s Theatre, Drury Lane, Covent Garden WC2H 9NZ.
Leicester Square tube.
Rating: Family ages 12+. Prices from £23.

   “Wicked”: musical prequel about the witches of “The Wizard of Oz”. Performances through
at least November 30, 2019, at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Rd. London S1V 1LG.

Victoria tube. Rating: Family (ages 7+). Prices from £21.50.

   “The Lion King”: Long-running blockbuster with spectacular staging though at least June 1, 2019, at the Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington St. WC2E 7RQ at the Strand.
Temple tube (closed Sundays) or Embankment. Rating: Family (ages 6+). Prices from £42.

   “Les Miserables”: Victor Hugo’s story about the tragedies of life and indomitable human
spirit continues its long run (since 1985) to continuous critical acclaim. Performances through
at least June 29, 2019, at Queen’s Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave., Soho, W1D 6BA between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road.
Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus Tube. Musical.
Rating: older teens & adults. Prices from £27.50.

   “Matilda”: Roald Dahl’s children’s book about a little girl with a big imagination is staged
in London by the Royal Shakespeare Company as a musical hit appealing to adults and kids. Performances through May 24, 2020, at the Cambridge Theatre, 32-34 Earlham St, Soho WC2 9HU.
Piccadilly Circus Tube. Musical. Rating: Family (ages 6+).
Tickets from £26.

   “Kinky Boots”: Local guy/girl makes good. A lowly shoe factory owner teams with a cross-dressing singer/dancer in need of flash stilettos to pull himself by the bootstraps to the world of high fashion. Cindy Lauper's musical score fits like Cinderella's glass slipper. FINAL PERFORMANCE January 12, 2019, at the Adelphi Theatre, 409-412 Strand WC2R 0NS. Embankment tube, then north 10 minutes walk to the Strand. Rating: teens and up (due to immature themes). Prices from £17.50.

   “Everybody's Talking About Jamie”: New musical about a 16-year-old boy coming of age as "different" in today's working class Sheffield. Applies to teenagers everywhere dealing with finding themselves while tiptoeing through a minefield of bullying peers and adult expectations. Inspirational, hopeful, positive. Rated L for Liberal. Performances run at least through September 28, 2019, at the Apollo Theatre, 31 Shaftesbury Ave, W1D 7ES, 1.5 blocks northeast of Piccadilly Circus. Three minutes walk NE from Piccadilly Circus tube; 10 minutes walk NW from Leicester Square tube station. Rating: ages 15+ (some strong language and mild sexual references). Prices from £26.

 

   CHRISTMAS BALLET —“THE NUTCRACKER”: Tchaikovsky's classic fairytale ballet makes its holiday appearance at the London Coliseum in Covent Garden. Performed by the English National Ballet company. PERFORMANCES: DECEMBER 13–30 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with most days offering 2:30PM matinees and 7:30PM evening shows. At the London Coliseum, St. Martin's Lane WC. Circle or District Line to Embankment tube, then Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross station, then walk west to Trafalgar, then north on Charing Cross Road past the National Gallery. Turn right onto St Martin's Place at the National Portrait Gallery, then left onto St. Martin's LANE and walk north 1/2 block. The London Coliseum will be on the right hand side of St. Martin's Lane. Rating: 6-y-o and up. Tickets from £54.


LONDON THEATRE DETAILS

ADMISSION: Full-priced tickets from £10-£100 (not cheap, but often better than Broadway).

TICKETS: Order your tickets in advance on-line via LONDON TOWN. Pick them up at the theatre on the day of performance. Discount tickets available!

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill or London Bridge Underground Station, then take the District, Circle, or Jubilee Line west.

Covent Garden and South Bank Theatres: Within 10 minutes are most of the tube stops
convenient for Covent Garden and South Bank theatres (Mansion House, Temple, Embankment, Southwark, Waterloo, Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus).

For West End theatres in Soho: From Tower Hill tube take the District Line 6 stops & 10 minutes
to Embankment station. From London Bridge tube take the Jubilee Line west to Waterloo. At
Embankment or Waterloo, change to the Northern Line (direction Edgeware) and travel north to
Leicester (“Lester”) Square or to Tottenham Court Road.

For West End theatres near Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus: From Tower Hill tube take the
District Line west 6 stops and 10 minutes to Embankment. From London Bridge tube take the
Jubilee Line west to Waterloo. At Embankment or Waterloo change to the Bakerloo Line north
to Piccadilly Circus or to Oxford Circus.

For theatres near Waterloo station: From Tower Hill tube take the District Line 6 stops and 10
minutes west to Embankment station, then change to the Northern Line south one stop to
Waterloo. From London Bridge tube take the Jubilee Line west one stop to Southwark tube or
two stops to Waterloo tube.

Total transit & walking time from Tower Hill or London Bridge Underground Stations to almost
any theatre in London’s six principal theatre regions (Barbican, South Bank/Bankside, Covent
Garden, Soho, Oxford Circus, Sloane Square): less than 30 minutes.
 


COURTAULD

IMPRESSIONISTS

From MANET to

CÉZANNE

 

The National Gallery

London

Now thru Jan. 20 2019

EDGAR DEGAS 1874 Two dancers on a stage PROMOTING THE  EXHIBITION
Image courtesy the National Gallery, London

Ongoing through January 20, 2019 10AM-6PM daily (Fridays until 9PM)

  LONDON   – The National Gallery 

“Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne”

          Special exhibition examining the development of Impressionism and Post-impressionism illustrated with over 40 paintings, many by French masters including Manet, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, and Renoir.

LOCATION: The Wohl Galleries at the National Gallery on St. Martin’s Place north of Trafalgar Square, central London WC2H 0HE.

ADMISSION: free to the National Gallery, but for this special exhibition the admission is: £7.50 (Mo-Su); children under 12 free.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments, walk or bus 5-12 minutes to Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west to Embankment Station, then walk five minutes northwest to Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery is the imposing neo-classical building on the north side of Trafalgar Square behind Nelson's Column.
MORE INFO, see:
COURTAULD IMPRESSIONISTS: FROM MANET TO CÉZANNE.

 


Ongoing thru Jan. 6, 2019
 PARIS, FRANCE  

The Musée d'Orsay
“Picasso: Blue & Rose”

     Special exhibition examining the early (1900-1906) "Blue Period" and "Rose Period" of the greatest of 20th century artists, Pablo Picasso. The Musée d'Orsay show uses paintings from its extensive collection and that of the nearby Musée Picasso-Paris to illustrate the exhibition.

LOCATION: The Musée d' Orsay is on the Left Bank of the Seine in the 7th Arrondissement.

EXHIBITION TIMES: Tu-Su 9:30AM-6PM; Open til 9:45PM Th. Closed Monday.

ADMISSION: €14/adult, €11/youth 18-25, Children under 18: free. Late Entry Special: €11 from 4:30PM Tu, We, Fr, Sa, Su, and from 6PM Th.

GETTING THERE: From some Home At First Paris apartments in the 1st, 6th, and 7th Arrondissements it is possible to walk to the museum. From Home At 

 

PICASSO: "acrobat with a ball" (1905)
From the Musée d'Orsay Exhibition
© The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

First's other central Paris apartments, take the Métro to Assemblée Nationale, or Solférino stations or the RER C to its Musée d'Orsay stop.
MORE INFO, see:
PICASSO: BLUE & ROSE.
 

 

LEAVE IT TO THE FINANCIAL CAPITAL OF LONDON TO MAKE BANKING FUN FOR KIDS!
Courtesy The Bank of England Museum

Ongoing Weekdays – 10AM-5PM.  Closure for Maintenance 24DEC18-14JAN19. 
  LONDON   – The Bank of England Museum
“The £ in Your Pocket”

          One of the fun, free, funky museums of London. It doesn’t sound like it would be, but this museum is great fun for kids of all ages. This pocket-sized museum (open Monday-Friday except holidays) features new exhibitions and permanent favorites focusing on the story of British money, past, present, and future. Doesn’t sound like a subject your kids would enjoy, right? The museum — using jigsaw puzzles, balloons, gold bars, old coins, and touch-screen computers — sees to it that they will!

LOCATION: Bank of England Museum, Bartholomew Lane, London EC2R 8AH.

GETTING THERE: From HOME AT FIRST’S LONDON apartments walk 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or  Circle Line west 1 stop & 2 minutes to Monument station, then walk 5 minutes through the maze of tunnels following signs for Bank station. Emerge from Bank Underground, walk across the street to the Royal Exchange, with its colonnaded portico, and walk up Threadneedle Street one-half block. Cross Threadneedle Street at Bartholomew Lane. Walk up Bartholomew Lane on the left (west) side of the street. The Bank of England Museum entrance is mid-way up the block, and poorly marked on the left side. Total transit & walking time: less than 20 minutes.
ADMISSION: Free!
OPEN: Mo-Fr 10AM-5PM. Closed weekends and bank holidays (early closing Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Closed all day Dec. 25-26 and Jan. 1).

MORE INFO, see: BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM

 


Sundays at 2PM
  LONDON, ENGLAND   – Tower Hill Tube Meeting Point
“Guided Walking Tour of Bizarre London”

          Regularly-scheduled guided walk provides Home At First London guests looking for more insight into the history –recent and distant – of their London home region. Learn about life here during medieval times: not always nasty, brutish, and short. I
f knights, damsels, and castles are your cup of tea,
this walk's teaser should push your happy buttons: “A guided walk through alleyways that tourists never find, including an urban enchanted forest, a place where 13 knights performed three deeds of bravery, a centuries-old peep hole to keep nuns safe from prying eyes, a place of a Maypole and 11,000 beheaded virgins, a fountain whose waters mimic the tail feathers of an ostrich, Bedlam, a prioress, Bluebell Girls, black magic, Geoffrey Chaucer, and traitors’ heads.”
Guide: Susan Jackson, historian and registered Blue Badge Guide. Tel: +44 (0)7977 218374. Email: suejack@btinternet.com. Walks depart from Tower Hill Underground Station Meeting Point Sundays (except Easter Sunday) at 2PM.
LOCATION: Walk begins at Tower Hill Underground Station.

Medieval London can still be found -- if you know where to look. Photo © Home At First.

Medieval London can
still be found - if you
know where to look.

Photo © HOME AT FIRST

ADMISSION: Payable to the guide: £10/adult; £8/seniors & students; accompanied children under 15 attend free.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS: not required. NOT OPERATING DECEMBER 23, 2019.

GETTING THERE: Walk to Tower Hill Tube in 8 minutes from Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower of London and in 10 minutes from across the Thames at its Apartments at The Brewery.

MORE INFO, phone guide Susan Jackson: +44 (0)7977 218374.
MORE
LONDON WALKS  
  


EVENTS IN DECEMBER 2018
SHOPPING, SKATING, CELEBRATING

Ongoing thru the Holiday Season

BRITAIN, IRELAND, and SCANDINAVIA
Christmas Markets at Home At First Destinations
           Where Christmas shopping, cultural exploration, people watching, and bargain hunting collide. Bring money. Or not. Here’s a sampling of some of the best this year:

Christmas Markets in Scandinavia

Stockholm, Sweden: NOV. 24 THRU
   DEC. 23 – DAILY OLD TOWN (GAMLA STAN)
   CHRISTMAS MARKET.
Stockholm’s exquisite old city of Gamla Stan occupies its own island in the middle of the city. Held at central Stortorget square near Sweden’s Royal Palace for almost a century, the old city Christmas market features traditional red market stalls selling gifts, jewelry, crafts, decorations, and lots of seasonal foods, including glögg, gingerbread, reindeer & moose meat (sorry, Santa!), and Christmas confections.

Stockholm, Sweden - Gamla Stan (Old City) Christmas Market. Photo courtesy stortorgetsjulmarknad.com.

Stockholm, Sweden -
Old City Christmas Market.

Photo courtesy stortorgetsjulmarknad.com.

OPEN 11AM-6PM daily.
ADMISSION:
Free.
LOCATION:
Stortorget square in STOCKHOLM’s Gamla Stan (Old City).
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: less than 5 minutes walking distance at our Gamla Stan Hotel, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN.
MORE INFO.

 


Stockholm, Sweden: SATURDAYS & SUNDAYS
   FROM NOV. 24 TO DEC. 16. CHRISTMAS MARKETS AT
   SKANSEN FOLK PARK.
Stockholm’s former royal hunting park occupies its own island, Djurgården, near the city center. The island, connected to the rest of the city with walkways, harbor ferries, and trams, has natural parks, an amusement park, a zoological park, excellent museums, and the fascinating Skansen living open air museum of Swedish natural and cultural history. During the month prior to Christmas, Skansen holds a holiday market at Bollnäs Square featuring historically traditional at Skansen (old-fashioned Swedish crafts, decorations, and food & drink), and homemade products and foodstuffs (including Christmas baked goods from its on-site bakery).
OPEN 10AM-4PM Sa & Su NOV 24 through DEC 16.

ADMISSION TO SKANSEN: SEK125/adults,

Stockholm, Sweden - Traditional Swedish crafts and customs at the Skansen Christmas Market. Photo courtesy skansen.se.

Stockholm, Sweden -
Traditional Swedish crafts
and customs at the Skansen
Christmas Market.

Photo courtesy skansen.se.

SEK105/seniors/students, SEK60/kids 6-15.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS:
In Gamla Stan (Old Town) in
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN.
GETTING THERE: Take the tram (trolley) or bus from Hamngatan in central Stockholm to Skansen. Or take the Djurgården ferry from Slussen to Djurgården and walk one minute
to the Skansen entrance.
MORE INFO.

 


Gothenburg, Sweden: Most Days
    NOV 16-DEC 30 – CHRISTMAS AT LISEBERG

T
he largest amusement park in Scandinavia reopens in mid-November for its annual Christmas season. Nearly 5 million lights make the park almost too bright at times. Sweden's largest, more glitzy than rustic, Christmas market with over 80 stalls and concessions lines the midway among the whirling, swirling amusement rides. Shop for Swedish gifts, crafts, and traditional holiday food (especially dozens of varieties of prepared herring). Ride the rides. Sing-along Sundays get the crowd especially

Gothenburg, Sweden - Liseberg Christmas Market. Photo courtesy Liseberg.

CHRISTMAS AT LISEBERG —
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN

festive. Several eateries to choose from, too.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: Anne’s House, GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN.
OPEN most days from 12N, 1PM, or 3PM to 8PM, 9PM or 10PM.

CLOSED: 19-22NOV, 26-29NOV, 3-4DEC, 10DEC, 24-25DEC.
ADMISSION (subject to change): SEK245/adult (for Christmas & amusements).
FREE ADMISSION with the Gothenburg City Card (Home At First guests have these).

MORE INFO.

 


Copenhagen, Denmark: DAILY

   NOV 9–DEC 23 - NYHAVN CHRISTMAS MARKET.
        The
salty old Nyhavn (“New Harbor”) quay by the neo-classical Kongens Nytorv square is all dressed up for Christmas with a lively row of stalls selling Christmas decorations, handcrafts, gifts, and traditional food and drink.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS:
New Harbor Hotel, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK.
OPEN DAILY 10AM to 7PM (to 8PM Fr & Sa).

ADMISSION: FREE. MORE INFO.

 

Copenhagen's Nyhavn harbor in mid-winter. Denmark Tourism Photo by Jørgen Schytte.

COPENHAGEN'S NYHAVN OLD HARBOR
IN MID-WINTER.

Denmark Tourism Photo by Jørgen Schytte.


Copenhagen, Denmark: DAILY

   17NOV–31DEC: TIVOLI CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
Europe’s 2nd oldest amusement park (1843) is transformed for the Christmas season. Pine boughs roof the 50 chalet stalls of the Christmas village. Thirty-plus restaurants and food concessions include seasonal specialities like “gløgg & æbleskiver” (hot mulled wine with pancakes, sugar and jam). After dark brilliant light displays dance as the Tivoli Illuminations at the top of each hour. Special music performances happen often.
OPEN: 11AM-11PM Su-Th. 11AM-12AM Fr-Sa. 11AM-4PM 24DEC.

Copenhagen's Tivoli amusement park hosts its annual Christmas market and keeps its rides and restaurants open during December. Illustration from tivoli.dk.

Copenhagen's Tivoli amusement park
hosts its annual Christmas market
and keeps its rides and restaurants
open during December.

Illustration from tivoli.dk.

CLOSED December 25.

ADMISSION: DKK120; kids 3-7 yrs old: DKK50.

FREE ADMISSION with the Copenhagen Card (Home At First guests have these).Station is accessible

UNLIMITED RIDE TICKET: DKK230.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: New Harbor Hotel, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK.
GETTING THERE:
Take the 29 Bus (direction Jyllingevej/Ålekiste) from Nyhavn to Rådhuspladsen, then walk a block SE to Tivoli Gardens.
MORE INFO.

 


Oslo, Norway: DAILY 17NOV-30DEC.
   CHRISTMAS MARKET ON PARLIAMENT
   SQUARE.
100 chalet stalls on Oslo’s large pedestrian square between its land-mark City Hall and the harbor front. Gifts, seasonal specialities, decorations, food and drink, and arts and handicrafts. Market beautifully illuminated each evening.
OPEN 10AM-8PM daily thru Dec. 30 (except closed December 24-25).
ADMISSION: Free!
GETTING THERE: Parliament Square ("Spikersuppa") is a 5-15 minute walk from Home At First’s OSLO, NORWAY Lodgings.

MORE INFO.

Christmas crafts at Oslo's Spkersuppa Christmas Market. Photo by Anne-Sofie Ofrim, courtesy visitoslo.com.

CHRISTMAS CRAFTS at Oslo's
SPIKERSUPPA Christmas Market

Photo Anne-Sofie Ofrim courtesy visitoslo.com.


Christmas Markets in LONDON, ENGLAND

 

Christmas Market BY THE RIVER AT CITY HALL THRU january 2 , 2019
Photo courtesy visitlondon.com

London, England: DAILY NOV 19 THRU JAN 2 -
   Christmas Market BY the river at CITY HALL on the South bank IN BERMONDSEY.

This German-style Christmas market with chalet stalls offering handmade gifts, arts & crafts, festive gifts and a wide selection of food & drink. Closer to
HOME AT FIRST's London apartments than most Christmas markets, and easily combined with the Southbank Centre's Christmas market a little further west upriver.

OPEN DAILY from 11AM to 7PM except CLOSED CHRISTMAS DAY.
LOCATION: Set along the Queen’s Jubilee Walkway on the South Bank of the River
Thames at the beehive-shaped London City Hall, extending west to Hay's Galleria.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: 5-15minutes walk from Home At First’s apartments LONDON on both sides of Tower Bridge in Bermondsey and by the Tower of London.
NEAREST UNDERGROUND STATIONS: Tower Hill and London Bridge.
MORE INFO.

 


London, England: DAILY 9NOV-6JAN
   - WINTER Market on the South bank.
The Southbank Centre's winter market offers many chalet stalls offering handmade gifts, arts & crafts, festive gifts and a wide selection of food & drink. Also as part of its Winter Festival, the Southbank Centre Christmas entertainment includes music, comedy, and theater for all ages.
OPEN from 11AM to 10-11PM daily, except closed December 25.
LOCATION: Set along the Queen’s Jubilee Walkway on the South Bank of the River Thames between the London Eye and the Waterloo Bridge at the Southbank Centre.

London's South Bank Christmas Market by the London Eye, near Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Photo courtesy xmas-markets.com.

London's South Bank Christmas Market
by the London Eye, near Big Ben
and Parliament.

Photo courtesy xmas-markets.com.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: 45 minutes walk from Home At First’s apartments LONDON at St. Katharine’s Marina and The Brewery.
NEAREST UNDERGROUND STATIONS: Waterloo (Jubilee Line from The Brewery Apts.); Embankment (District & Circle Lines from St. Katharine’s Marina Apts).
MORE INFO.

 


London, England: DAILY 22NOV-6JAN
   - Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.

German-style Bavarian Village Christmas Market with some 50 wooden chalets selling festive goods and culinary specialties including German Mulled Wine, Bratwursts, gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds and candies, & crepes. Also Europe’s largest outdoor Ice Rink, a Ferris wheel and other amusement rides, a circus in a heated tent, and, of course, Santa.
OPEN: 10AM-10PM daily, except closed Christmas Day.
ADMISSION to Winter Wonderland is free. Tickets sold for tokens valid for

Father Christmas awaits at London's Hyde Park Christmas Market. Photo courtesy http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.

Father Christmas awaits at London's
Hyde Park Christmas Market.

Photo courtesy hydeparkwinterwonderland.com.

amusement rides, ice skating, the Christmas Circus, shows and performances and the Ferris wheel.
LOCATION: In Hyde Park, near the Hyde Park Corner entrance in London’s West End near Knightsbridge.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: Home At First’s LONDON apartments by Tower Bridge on both sides of the river Thames.
NEAREST UNDERGROUND STATION: Hyde Park Corner.
GETTING THERE: Guests in Bermondsey apartments take the Jubilee Line from London Bridge Underground Station NW to Bond Street, then the Central Line west 1 stop to Marble Arch. Guests in St. Katharine's Marina apartments take the District or Circle Line west from Tower Hill Underground Station west 1 stop to Monument, walk to Bank, then the Central Line west 7 stops to Marble Arch. Enter Hyde Park at Marble Arch and follow the crowds 5-minutes to the Winter Wonderland entrance.
MORE INFO.

 


 

Christmas SHOPPERS ALONG LONDON'S OXFORD STREET
Photo copyright Home At First

London, England: DAILY THRU JAN. 7
   - OXFORD & REGENT STREETS ALIGHT.

Like your Christmas shopping bright, busy, and bustling?
LONDON’s and possibly the world’s most decorated shopping streets began the illuminated pandemonium November 15 (Regent St.) and November 6 (Oxford St.) and carry on through January 6. Closest Underground Stations: Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Piccadilly Circus.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: Home At First’s LONDON apartments by Tower Bridge at St. Katharine's Marina and in Bermondsey.

NEAREST UNDERGROUND STATION: Oxford Circus & Bond Street.
GETTING THERE: Guests at The Brewery Apartments take the Jubilee Line from London Bridge Underground Station NW to Bond Street, then walk a short distance north to Oxford Street. Guests at the Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina take the District or Circle Line west from Tower Hill Underground Station to Embankment, then the Bakerloo Line NW 3 stops to Oxford Street, then walk Oxford and/or Regent Streets.

 


MORE FESTIVE HOLIDAY LIGHTS

The SHARD ON THE SOUTH BANK • Leadenhall market in the city

THE shard puts on a holiday light show from december to january
Photo copyright Home At First

London, England: DAILY from NOV 17
  – SHARD LIGHTS UP LONDON'S HOLIDAY SKYLINE
with its spectacular Technicolor light show from dusk to 1AM daily. A special New Years Eve light show 31DEC-01JAN is the climax of the Shard's holiday season performance art. Best vantage: the public riverside terrace just west of the Tower of London at Tower Pier.

 – FESTIVE DICKENSIAN CHRISTMAS LIGHTS in elegantly restored covered Victorian Leadenhall Market in The City. Stalls mixed among the shops, restaurants, and pubs on the market’s cobbled lanes. Elegantly restored, covered, and cobbled, Leadenhall

London's Victorian Leadenhall Market decorated for Christmas. Photo © Home At First.

London's Victorian Leadenhall
 Market decorated for Christmas

Photo © Home At First

Market never looks better than when it is all dressed up for the Holidays with Christmas market stalls making the old girl look like a set from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. (It does have several movie credits, including as a location for the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.)

LOCATION: Tucked away in The City, 15-minutes walking distance northwest of the Tower of London, Leadenhall Market is a Victorian oasis amidst a chaotic menagerie of modern skyscrapers.
OPEN:  From 10AM-5PM. See it at noontime to see it at is busiest when crowds of young investment bankers spill out of its shops, restaurants, and pubs onto the market’s cobbled lanes.
GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST guests in Bermondsey take the Northern Line from London Bridge Underground Station north one stop to Monument station. Guests at the Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina take the District or Circle Line west one stop from Tower Hill Underground Station to Monument station. From Monument station, walk east on Eastcheap, then north on Philpot Lane, a quick right on Fenchurch St, then a quick left onto Lime St. Follow Lime St 1 block to any of the narrow passages that enter the ornate survivor of Victorian LONDON.

 


London, England: CHRISTMAS
   SHOPPING AT CAMDEN MARKET

      Camden Market, London’s famous, lively, even chaotic alternative shopping experience that’s keyed to youth, individual expression, kitsch, cutting edge fashion adapts its maize of eclectic shops, cafes, and stalls to the holiday season. Go, if only to people gawk and broken-window shop. And to walk along Regents Canal.

CAMDEN CHRISTMAS MARKET: Thursdays 24NOV thru 23DEC 2018 in the North Yard.
WHOLE OF CAMDEN MARKET OPEN DAILY EXCEPT CHRISTMAS:
10AM-6PM.
LOCATION: In the LONDON Borough of Camden, where Camden High Street crosses the Regents’ Canal and becomes Chalk Farm Rd.

London's Camden Market complex keeps British fashions youthful, hip, and cheap. Photo courtesy camdenlock.net.

London's Camden Market complex
keeps British fashions youthful,
hip, and cheap.

Photo courtesy camdenlock.net.

NEAREST UNDERGROUND STATIONS: Camden Town and Chalk Farm. (Camden Town station closed Sunday afternoon.)
GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST guests in Bermondsey take the Northern Line from London Bridge Underground Station north seven stops to Camden Town station. Guests at the Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina take the District or Circle Line west one stop from Tower Hill Underground Station to Monument station. From Monument station, take the Northern Line north six stops to Camden Town station. Exiting Camden Town station, turn right (north) on Camden High Street. The market zone begins immediately, but the Camden Lock Market — the original on the canal — is 250 yards further along: cross the road to the market entrance after the bridge over the canal.
NOTE:
Camden Market is no American suburban mall. This chaotic market is great fun, but is also wild, extremely youthful, and very international. It’s definitely R-rated: teenagers and twenty-somethings will love it; tweeners will be attracted, confused, and unsure. Weekends, with huge crowds of ultra-hip young people, tourists, and poseurs, may not be the best time to take the family.
MORE INFO.

 


Christmas Markets ELSEWHERE in ENGLAND

The Cotswolds, England:

     DAILY NOV. 22 THRU DEC. 9 –  BATH

     CHRISTMAS MARKET in Bath Abbey square. More than 180 chalet stalls on one of Britain’s most historic squares dating from Roman times.
GETTING THERE: The World Heritage Site of Bath is 40-90 minutes from Home At First’s COTSWOLDS lodging locations, and 2.5 hours by Underground & British Rail from HOME AT FIRST's LONDON apartments.
LOCATION: Bath Abbey is 5-10 minutes walk from Bath Spa rail station.
OPEN daily from 10AM until at least 6PM.

ADMISSION: Free!

MORE INFO.

Bath's annual Christmas market occurs at the foot of medieval Bath Abbey by the city's Roman Baths World Heritage Site. Photo courtesy christmasmarkets.com.

Bath's annual Christmas market occurs
at the foot of medieval Bath Abbey by
the Roman Baths World Heritage Site.

Photo courtesy christmasmarkets.com.


North Yorkshire, England:  
     CHRISTMAS SPECIALS IN MEDIEVAL YORK:

        It’s difficult to conceive of a setting more appropriate for traditional English Christmas celebrations, fairs, and markets than the warren of narrow lanes that make up the old, walled, medieval city of York, 30-60 minutes SE of
HOME AT FIRST's lodgings in NORTH YORKSHIRE. Biggest and best-known of several Christmas markets and fairs is:

York's St Nicholas Christmas Fair: Parliament St. Christmas customs, foods, gifts, and drinks dress this corner of York in seasonal finery. Daily November 15, thru December 23. 10AM-8PM (Th-Sa) or

York's Festive Fayre on Parliament Street draws crowds of Christmas shoppers annually. Photo courtesy visityork.org.

York's Festive FaIR on Parliament
Street draws crowds of Christmas
 shoppers annually.

Photo courtesy visityork.org.

10AM-6PM (Su-We). Free Admission.

MORE INFO.


 

Dickensian costumes help convert picturesque Grassington
into even-more picturesque Grassington for its annual Christmas festival

Photo courtesy GrassingtonDickensian.co.uk

North Yorkshire, England:

     DECEMBER 1, 2, 8,  9 – GRASSINGTON DICKENSIAN FESTIVAL: Grassington village is transformed into a scene from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on successive weekends, with costumed performers, shopkeepers, and even some visitors who come dressed in the Victorian style of the Dickens Christmas. Shops and Christmas street market stalls will be hawking antiques, curios, and crafts with Christmas themes. Pubs, outdoor holiday stalls, cafés, and restaurants are selling traditional Christmas food and drink.

Pretty shop window decorated for Grassington's annual Dickensian Festival. Photo courtesy grassington.uk.com.

Pretty shop window decorated for
Grassington's annual Dickensian Festival
Photo courtesy grassington.uk.com.

festival TIMEs: 11AM-5PM each day.

Entertainment will occur throughout the day into the evening: singing, dancing, even a torchlight parade at dusk that ends with carolling.
LOCATION: Grassington, a picture-perfect “honeypot” village set deep in the Yorkshire Dales National Park about an hour west of HOME AT FIRST's NORTH YORKSHIRE lodgings, doesn’t need to change much to recreate mid-19th century English village life.
GETTING THERE: Grassington is on the B6265 about ¾ hour’s drive west of the town of Ripon and about one hour’s total drive west of Home At First’s nearest Yorkshire lodgings.
ADMISSION: Free!
PARKING: extremely limited! (Park & Ride service available: £10/car.)
MORE INFO. 

 


Christmas Markets in SCOTLAND

Edinburgh, Scotland: DAILY

      Scotland's capital city comes alive for the season with a large, traditional European Christmas Market stretching across East Princes St Gardens from the National Gallery to the St Andrew Square and includes dozens of market stalls, plus amusements, entertainment, even ice skating at East Prince’s Street Gardens at the foot of the castle (10AM-10PM, 17NOV-24DEC & 26DEC18-5JAN19).

LOCATION: 15-30 minutes walk or 10-minute bus ride (Lines 19 or 40) from HOME AT FIRST's Terrace Apartments in EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

Edinburgh's Christmas Fair includes a Christmas market, Ferris wheel and other amusements, an outdoor skating rink, food and entertainment. Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

Edinburgh's Christmas Fair includes
a Christmas market, Ferris wheel and
other amusements, an outdoor skating
rink, food and entertainment.

Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

ADMISSION: Free (except to the skating rink).
MORE INFO.

 


Glasgow, Scotland: DAILY NOV. 12 
     THRU DEC. 23 – ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MARKET

in St. Enoch’s Square. Scottish and European trading stalls line the square in a mix of traditions, foods, and gift items for sale, 10AM-8PM Mo-We, 10AM-9PM Th-Sa, & 10AM-7PM Su.

LOCATION:
Close to the Glasgow Underground and Glasgow Central train station, St. Enoch’s Square is reachable to
HOME AT FIRST's SCOTLAND guests in GLASGOW (15-min. walk), EDINBURGH (2 hrs.) and CENTRAL SCOTLAND (2.5 hrs.).
ADMISSION: Free!
MORE INFO.

Glasgow's Traditional Christmas Market. Photo courtesy christmasmarkets.com.

Glasgow's Traditional
Christmas Market.

Photo courtesy christmasmarkets.com.


Christmas Market in IRELAND

Dublin, Ireland: DEC. 6-9 & 13-16
   DUBLIN DOCKLANDS CHRISTMAS FLEA MARKET:
Christmas market with stalls selling all manner of crafts, jewelry, decorations, and seasonal food and drink.
OPEN: 2 consecutive weekends 6-9DEC18 & 13-16DEC18.

HOURS: Th-Fr 1PM-8PM; Sa-Su 11AM-6PM.
LOCATION: Point Village at the north of the River Liffey at Mayor Street Upper and North Wall Ave in Dublin’s Docklands.
GETTING THERE: Public transport is best. From
HOME AT FIRST's apartments in central Dublin, take the Dublin Light Rail tram to the Point Luas Stop at the eastern end of the RED Line, then walk about 150 feet northeast

Dublin's Christmas market is located in the Docklands section on the city's east end where the River Liffey opens into the Port of Dublin. Photo courtesy dublindocklands.ie.

Dublin's Christmas market is located
in the Docklands section on the
city's east end where the River
Liffey opens into the Port of Dublin.

Photo courtesy dublindocklands.ie.

to the market in Point Square shopping mall.
ADMISSION:
Free!
MORE INFO.
  

Christmas MarketS in PARIS

 

Paris's Montmartre neighborhood becomes a charming Christmas village
at the foot of the hill leading to Sacre Coeur basilica. Montmartre is
easily reached by métro from Home At First's central Paris apartments.

Photo Paris Tourism copyright parisinfo.com

Paris, France: THRU DECEMBER
  
     Scattered across Paris in the lead-up to Christmas are several traditional Christmas market with stalls selling all manner of crafts, jewelry, decorations, and seasonal food and drink. Some have entertainment, with amusements and ice skating. While the big Champs Elysees market is not happening in 2017, there are some smaller, atmospheric markets to lend spirit to the season at:

• Square René Viviani on the Left Bank across the Pont au Double footbridge from Notre Dame cathedral. Runs 14-23DEC18.

• In the fashionable, culturally rich Place St Germain des Prés square in the forecourt of landmark St Germain des Prés church.

• Christmas village at the foot of Sacre Coeur basilica, Montmartre becomes a romantic Christmas village full of little shops and cafés.

• An Alsatian-themed market at the Gare de l'Est (East Station). 5-21DEC18.

GETTING THERE: Take the metro or the RER from Home At First’s apartment in CENTRAL PARIS to any of these convenient locations.

ADMISSION: Free!
MORE INFO
.
 


Christmas Market in SWITZERLAND

BERN: FRESH SNOW ON THE OLD CITY

Bern's medieval old city is the perfect setting for a Christmas market.
Photo Swiss Tourism copyright Switzerland Tourism/swiss-image.ch/Jan Geerk

Bern, Switzerland: DECEMBER 1-24, 2018
  
  The medieval old city of Bern hosts its annual Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) on the Cathedral Square (Münsterplatz)
. Stalls with all manner of crafts, ornaments, mulled wine, and seasonal foods.

HOURS: Mo-We-Fr: 11AM-6:30PM; Th: 11AM-9PM; Sa-Su: 10AM-6PM.

GETTING THERE: Train service operates hourly from Home At First Swiss lodgings in Zermatt (connect at Visp), Kandersteg (through train), and Mürren (connect at Interlaken Ost).

ADMISSION: Free!
MORE INFO.

  


Christmas Market in ROME, ITALY

 

Rome's Piazza Navona — seen here in a 1730 painting by Hendrik Frans van Lint —
is a spectacular setting for a Christmas market.

Image: http://collections.lacma.org/sites/default/files/remote_images/piction/ma-31767162-O3.jpg

Rome, Italy: DECEMBER 1, 2018 to JANUARY 6, 2019   DATES TO BE CONFIRMED  
  
 
Rome has numerous Christmas markets. Nearest to Home At First Rome lodgings is the Christmas market in the large, historic Piazza Navona. Stalls with all manner of crafts, nativity scenes, ornaments, mulled wine, and seasonal foods.

OPENING HOURS: 10AM until midnight or later.

GETTING THERE: Walk (10min) from Home At First Rome lodgings in ITALY.

ADMISSION: Free!
MORE INFO.

 


Christmas Market in SIENA, ITALY

 

Siena's Renaissance Piazza del Campo is an ideal setting for a moonlit Christmas market.
Photo Swiss Tourism copyright Switzerland Tourism/swiss-image.ch/Jan Geerk

Siena, Tuscany, Italy: DECEMBER 1-2, 2018    DATES TO BE CONFIRMED  
  
  The medieval city of Siena hosts its annual Christmas Market on the Piazza del Campo
. Stalls with all manner of crafts, ornaments, mulled wine, and seasonal foods.

OPENING HOURS: morning until 8PM.

GETTING THERE: Walk (20min), bus, or taxi from Home At First Siena lodgings in ITALY.

ADMISSION: Free!
MORE INFO.

 


Ongoing thru the Holiday Season & into the New Year

BRITAIN, IRELAND, and SCANDINAVIA
Open-Air Skating at Home At First Destinations
           Where Christmas shopping, cultural exploration, people watching, and bargain hunting collide. Bring money. Or not. Here’s a sampling of some of the best this year:

OPEN-AIR ICE SKATING in Scandinavia

 

FREE PUBLIC SKATING AT STOCKHOLM'S ROYAL GARDEN NOW INTO MARCH 2018
Photo courtesy kungstradgarden.se

Stockholm, Sweden:
skating at
Kungsträdgården THRU 3MAR19

    Open-air ice-skating at Kungsträdgården park rink in STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN. Music and hot and cold snacks. Skate rental.

LOCATION: Kungsträdgården (Royal Garden) park rink is just north of Stockholm’s Old City (Gamla Stan) across the Strömbron bridge and within 10 walking minutes of Home At First’s Stockholm lodgings.

RINK OPEN: Weekdays 9AM-9PM and Weekends (Sa-Su) 10AM-9PM into early March.

RINK CLOSED: Dec. 24-25.

Stockholm, Sweden - public skating on the Kungstradgarden park rink.

Stockholm, Sweden - public skating on
the
Kungsträdgården park rink.

ADMISSION: Free!

SKATE RENTAL PER HOUR: SEK70/adult; SEK30/child.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: less than 5 minutes walking distance at our Gamla Stan Hotel, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN.

MORE INFO: STOCKHOLM SKATING.
 


 
Oslo, Norway: Free open-air skating at Spikersuppa rink in the city center
Photo courtesy Visit Oslo

11AM-9PM Daily through Mid-March

  Oslo, Norway:  

"Skating at Spikersuppa"

          Open-air ice-skating at Oslo’s Spikersuppa open-air skating rink in the city center. The rink is formed around a large sculptural fountain not operating in winter. A refreshment stand offering hot and cold snacks and drinks is adjacent to the rink. Home At First’s Oslo lodgings are just a few walking minutes away.

LOCATION: Spikersuppa rink occupies the parkland between Karl Johan's Gate and Stortingsgata just east of the National Theatre, west of Norway’s Parliament, and south of the University of Oslo.
OPEN: 11AM-9PM daily through mid-March.

ADMISSION: Free!

SKATE RENTAL: NOK100/adult/day; 10% reduction when you present your Oslo Pass (Home At First guests receive these for city transit and entry to attractions).

MORE INFO: OSLO SKATING, OSLO, NORWAY.
 

OPEN-AIR ICE SKATING in BRITAIN

 

PUBLIC SKATING AT THE TOWER OF LONDON MOAT NOV. 23 2018 THRU JAN. 6, 2019
Photo copyright Home At First

London, England:
 
At THE TOWER of LONDON thru Jan. 6, 2019

        Ice-skating at Britain’s top-rated
castle &
LONDON’s top-rated attraction: the Tower of London. 45-minute skate sessions for adults and children from 10AM-10PM. Drinks and snacks available at the Café Bar and Dip-Dunk Lodge café.
LOCATION: The Tower of London.
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s London Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower or across the river in Bermondsey, walk 5-8 minutes to the neighboring Tower of London.
OPEN: daily 11AM-9PM 23NOV18-6JAN19, except closed December 25.

London, England: Ice skating at the one-time moat of the Tower of London, a 10-minute walk from Home At First's London apartments. Photo courtesy toweroflondonicerink.com.

London, England: Ice skating at
the one-time moat of the Tower
of London, a 10-minute walk from
Home At First's London apartments.

Photo courtesy toweroflondonicerink.com.

ADMISSION: £14.50/adults; £12.50/seniors&students; £10.50/child 3-12; £42/family (2 adults + 2 kids or 1 adult w. 3 kids. Admission price includes skate rental.
MORE INFO: TOWER OF LONDON SKATING.

 


London, England:
  
  At SOMERSET HOUSE 14NOV18 thru 13Jan19
         Skating at the former home of English Queens and the Royal Navy, now home to the prestigious Courtauld Gallery and the new Embankment Galleries. In the daytime, the ice rink will be especially attractive to children and families, with skating lessons and ice guides to accompany inexperienced skaters. As darkness falls, the rink will be illuminated with flaming torches, and special architectural lighting. The Skate Lounge and Fortnum's Lodge offer fare including warming drinks and gourmet meals. Late night skating to DJ-presented pop music on certain nights with special entry fee.

London, England: Ice skating at the elegant 18th century Somerset House on the Strand.

London, England: Ice skating at the
 elegant 18th century Somerset House
on the Strand.

LOCATION: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina and in Bermondsey, walk or take the bus 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 5 stops to Temple station, walk 5 minutes to Somerset House. Total transit & walking time: 17-30 minutes.
TIMES: Hourly sessions most days from 10AM-10:15PM with some late-skate "Club Nights" from 8-11:30PM. Shortened hours December 24, 26, and 31 and January 1. Closed Dec. 25.
ADMISSION: up to £25/adult; £10.50/kids under 13. (Add service fee applies if tickets purchased on-line in advance). Morning £7.50 admission for certain dates. Skate Plus tickets for festive drinks and foods available at extra cost. See website for complete list of admission charges/times/dates.
MORE INFO, visit: SOMERSET HOUSE SKATING.

 


• Edinburgh, Scotland:
    
At St Andrew Square 16NOV18 to 5jan19
          Ice-skating a few blocks northeast of
SCOTLAND’s top-rated castle & Scotland’s top-rated attraction: the EDINBURGH CASTLE. 30-min. skate sessions for adults and children from 10AM to 10:30PM daily. Drinks, snacks, and Christmas market here at Edinburgh’s annual holiday extravaganza.
LOCATION: St. Andrew Square is 2 blocks north of the east end of Princes Street Gardens northeast of Edinburgh Castle.
GETTING THERE: 15-30 minutes walk or 10-minute bus ride (Lines 19 or 40) from Home At First’s Terrace Apartments in EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

OPEN DAILY late-November 16, 2018, through January 5, 2019. CLOSED CHRISTMAS DAY.

ADMISSION: from £9-£12.50/adults; from

Edinburgh, Scotland - Outdoor skating rink at East Prince's Street Gardens between Home At First's Terrace Apartments and Edinburgh Castle. Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

Edinburgh, Scotland - Outdoor
skating rink at East Prince's Street
 Gardens BY THE SCOTT MONUMENT
between Home At First's Terrace
 Apartments and Edinburgh Castle.

Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

£5-£8/kids 4-15. Prices include skate rental.
MORE INFO, visit: EDINBURGH SKATING.

  


Occurring during the Holiday Season in

BRITAIN, IRELAND, and SCANDINAVIA
Christmas & New Years at Home At First Destinations
           Important customs — some religious, some secular, some with elements of both — are repeated annually during the year-ending Holidays. While they are celebrated in locations grand and common throughout their cultural regions, we choose to mention a few celebrations that we find especially inviting this year:

DEC. 13: ST. LUCIA DAY IN Scandinavia

Thursday, December 13, 2018 10AM-4PM
STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
”St. Lucia Day – Festival of Lights”

           Like Christmas itself, this popular Scandinavian feast day has both religious and secular associations tied to the calendar. The saint’s day of St. Lucia (Lucy in English) fell on or near the winter solstice on the old Julian calendar. Condemned to be burned at the stake as a devout Christian in pagan Rome, Lucy was miraculously left untouched by the flames. Scandinavians — looking for a hopeful sign on the longest, darkest night of the year — took to the Italian saint’s festival as reason to keep the faith and overcome the darkness. They have kept the festival popular long after losing most of their enthusiasm for organized religion.

Stockholm, Sweden - Each year a new Lucia is crowned as a symbol of the festival of lights. SIS Photo by T. Buckman.

Stockholm, Sweden - Each year
a new Lucia is crowned AS
THE REIGNING symbol of
the festival of lights.

SIS Photo by T. Buckman

Visions of the virginal young martyr dressed in white and wearing a crown of burning candles still strikes a chord in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway where, despite the change in the calendar, Santa Lucia promises light in the darkness, longer days to come, and grounds to celebrate the arrival of winter.

          Popular St. Lucia celebrations occur throughout Scandinavia. One authentic public Santa Lucia ceremony occurs this day in STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN at SKANSEN open-air museum, Djurgården. This year, the festivities will occur Thursday, December 13 with 3 processions (11AM, 1PM, & 3PM) at the Bragehallen, and 3 concerts (11:30AM, 1PM, & 2:30PM) at the Seglora church.

OPEN from 10AM-4PM. Santa Lucia activities from 11AM-4PM.

ADMISSION TO SKANSEN: SEK125/adult, SEK105/seniors/students, SEK60/kids 4-15.
NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: In Stockholm's Gamla Stan (Old Town).
GETTING THERE: Take the Djurgården ferry from Slussen to Djurgården and walk one minute to the Skansen entrance.

MORE INFO.

 


CHRISTMAS MUSIC in london, england

Evenings December 6-21  2018
LONDON – TRAFALGAR SQUARE
”Carolling around London’s Official Christmas Tree”

        The 70-foot-tall tree — a gift each year from Norway — is decorated only with Norwegian-style white lights. The official tree lighting is the first Thursday in December annually (Dec. 6, 2018) at 6PM, with
caroling by the tree at 6PM. The great tree will be lighted evenings from Dec. 6 until January 4, 2019. Carols by the choir of neighboring St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church and

London, England - Nightly during December choirs gather to carol around the national Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square.

London, England - Nightly during December
CHOIRS gather to carol around the national
Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square.

other guest choirs are sung around the tree from 4-8PM Mo-Fr and 2-6PM Sa-Su December 6-21, 2018 (except no carolling 15DEC).
        Feeling peckish? Stop at the
Café in the Crypt at St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church for a high-quality (Les Routiers rated Café of the Year 2012), opulent afternoon Serenitea (12-6PM; £19.95). Breakfasts, lunches, regular afternoon tea (£10.95) and candlelight dinners, too. During December traditional mince pies and mulled wine are available from 11AM. From December 4-24 the Café in the Crypt offers a special Christmas Lunch and Dinner menu with traditional favorites for very reasonable prices for Christmas pudding to Christmas lunch and dinner, to the full Christmas monty.
LOCATION: Trafalgar Square, London
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina or in Bermondsey, walk (or ride the bus) 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 6 stops & 9 minutes to Embankment station, walk north 10 minutes to Trafalgar Square. Total transit & walking time: 24-36 min.
ADMISSION: carolling around the tree: free to all.
STAGED INDOOR EVENING PERFORMANCES OF HOLIDAY MUSIC by professional musicians and singers — including Handel’s “Messiah” by candlelight December 20, 22, & 29, 2018 — at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, northeast arc of Trafalgar Square, require ticket purchase.

ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

MORE INFO.
 


CHRISTMAS CHURCH SERVICES in london

December 24 — Christmas Eve
LONDON — MAJOR CHURCHES
“Christmas Eve Services”

  ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, London, EC4M 8AD:
     Mattins 7:30AM; Holy Communion 8AM & 12:30PM;
     Christmas Carol Service 4-5:10PM.
     Take Bus 15 from Tower Hill 9 min. to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
     See:
ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

  ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELD, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ:
 
    Crib Service (suitable for children) at 1:30PM.

     Parish Carol Services at 4:30PM & 7PM;
     Midnight Mass at 11PM.

     Tube to Embankment, then walk 10 minutes north.
     See:
ST MARTIN IN THE FIELD

  WESTMINSTER ABBEY, Parliament Square, SW1P 3PA.
     Crib Service with hymns 12N

     Service of Lessons & Carols 4PM
     First Eucharist of Christmas 6PM at St Margaret's Church
     Christmas Midnight Mass 11:30PM. Advance Ticket (free)

         required.
     Tube west ten minutes to Westminster, then walk 5 minutes
      to Westminster Abbey.
     See:
WESTMINSTER ABBEY

  SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL, SW side London Bridge, SE1 9DA.
    
Building the Crib (children’s service) 4PM;
     Midnight Candlelight Mass 11:30PM.

London, England - St. Paul's Cathedral. Photo © Home At First.

LONDON: St. Paul's
Cathedral. Charles &
Diana married here.

Photo © Home At First.

     Twenty minutes from St. Katharine’s Marina apartments: walk across Tower Bridge, then

     follow the Queen's Walk west along the Thames past London Bridge. Follow the alleys to  the

     entrance of Southwark Cathedral by Borough Market.
     Fifteen minutes from
Bermondsey apartments: walk west on Tanner St. Turn right on
     Bermondsey St. Left on St. Thomas St. Cross Borough High St., walk straight along Bedale St.
     past Borough Market to Southwark Cathedral.
     See:
SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL

 


December 25 — Christmas Day
LONDON — MAJOR CHURCHES
“Christmas Day Services”

 • ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELD, Trafalgar Square,
    WC2N 4JJ.
    
Christmas Day Eucharist at 10:30AM.

     Tube to Embankment, then walk 10min north.
     See:
ST MARTIN IN THE FIELD

  WESTMINSTER ABBEY, Parliament Square,
     London, SW1P 3PA.

     Holy Communion 8AM;
     Sung Eucharist 10:30AM.
Matins 11AM

     Evensong 3PM
    
Tube west ten minutes to Westminster, then
      walk 5 minutes to Westminster Abbey.
     See:
WESTMINSTER ABBEY

 ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL, London, EC4M 8AD.

Southwark Cathedral. Photo © Home At First.
LONDON: SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL.
SHAKESPEARE LIKELY ATTENDED
SERVICES HERE.

Photo © Home At First.

     Holy Communion 8AM; Choral Eucharist 11AM;
     Festal Evensong & Procession 3:15-4:15PM.
    
Take Bus 15 from Tower Hill 9 minutes to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
     See:
ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

 SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL, southwest side London Bridge, London, SE1 9DA.
     Morning Prayer 8:30AM; Eucharist with Carols 9AM; Christmas Day Choral Eucharist 11AM.

    
Twenty minutes from St. Katharine’s Marina apartments: walk across Tower Bridge, then

     follow the Queen's Walk west along the Thames past London Bridge. Follow the alleys to  the

     entrance of Southwark Cathedral by Borough Market.
     Fifteen minutes from
Bermondsey apartments: walk west on Tanner St. Turn right on
     Bermondsey St. Left on St. Thomas St. Cross Borough High St., walk straight along Bedale St.
     past Borough Market to Southwark Cathedral.

     See:
SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL

 


NEW YEAR'S FIREWORKS & PARADE in london

31DEC18 8PM-12:45AM 01JAN19
LONDON — RIVER THAMES AT THE LONDON EYE & WATERLOO BRIDGE
“New Year’s Eve Fireworks”

       Ten minutes of the London Blitz occurs tonight just after midnight by
the big Ferris wheel on the Thames. Best views from the South Bank near the London Eye, across the river on the Victoria Embankment, and on the Westminster and Waterloo Bridges.
Expect crowds — about a quarter million people — and come early to secure your vantage, unless the weather is awful.

The Blitz returns to London every New Year's Eve. Photo courtesy london.gov.uk.
The Blitz returns to London
every New Year's Eve.

Photo courtesy london.gov.uk.

Before the fireworks, the great bell, Big Ben, will chime in the new year. Following the fireworks the massive crowd will sing "Auld Lang Syne", and a party will break out, with DJ music lasting until 12:45AM.
LOCATION:
River Thames near the London Eye giant Ferris wheel.
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s LONDON apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina, walk 5-8 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 6 stops & 9 minutes to Embankment station. Emerge from Underground and walk (if crowds permit) along Victoria Embankment towards Westminster until you are across from the London Eye giant wheel. From our apartments in Bermondsey walk 10-15 minutes to London Bridge Underground Station, then take the Jubilee Line 2 stops and 6 minutes to Waterloo Station. Walk north to the Southbank as close to the London Eye as crowds permit. Total transit & walking time: under 30 minutes.
Note: big celebrations normally occur at the same time at nearby Trafalgar Square, London’s equivalent of New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
ADMISSION: Crowd control has become so challenging that London charges £10/ticket for 100,000 tickets to restricted areas where views of the midnight fireworks and sounds of the post-fireworks DJ music are visible and audible. Get TICKET INFORMATION HERE.

GETTING HOME: London Transport will operate all its services this night. Between 11:45PM Dec. 31 and 4:30AM Jan. 1, fares will not be charged (as in past years).
MORE INFO, see: NEW YEARS EVE FIREWORKS.

 


January 1 2019  12N to 3:30PM
LONDON — PICCADILLY TO WESTMINSTER
“NEW YEAR’S DAY PARADE”

         “The greatest annual street parade in Europe” with 10,000 musicians, dancers, acrobats, cheerleaders, clowns and floats twirling, marching and drumming their way from the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly near Green Park east toward Piccadilly Circus, then south on Lower Regent Street to Waterloo Place, turning east on Pall Mall, then southeast along Cockspur Street to Trafalgar Square for a right turn onto Whitehall, passing in front of #10 Downing

New Year's Day in London is as busy and boisterous as New Year's Eve. Photo courtesy londonparade.co.uk . Photo courtesy london.gov.uk.
New Year's Day in London is as busy
And boisterous as New Year's Eve.

Photo courtesy londonparade.co.uk.

Street on the way to the finish line at Parliament Street by Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Expect crowds of up to 500,000 in good weather.
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina, walk 5-8 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 7 stops & 10 minutes to Westminster station. From the Apartments in Bermondsey walk 10-15 minutes to London Bridge Station, then take the Jubilee Line 10 minutes and 3 stops to Westminster Station. Walk south 5 minutes to Parliament Square. Total transit & walking time: 20-28 minutes.
ADMISSION: free along the parade route. Ticketed grandstand seats are available at 7 locations along the parade route for £40/adult. Get TICKETS HERE.

MORE INFO, see: NEW YEARS DAY PARADE. 

 


EVENTS IN JANUARY 2019

 

Ongoing during Winter's chill —

BRITAIN, IRELAND, and SCANDINAVIA
Open-Air Skating at Home At First Destinations
           Where snow-globe scenery, cultural exploration, people watching, and post-Christmas bargain hunting collide. Bring money. Or not. Here’s a sampling of some of the best this year:

OPEN-AIR ICE SKATING in Scandinavia

 

FREE PUBLIC SKATING AT STOCKHOLM'S ROYAL GARDEN NOW INTO MARCH
Photo courtesy kungstradgarden.se

Stockholm, Sweden:
skating at
Kungsträdgården THRU 3MAR19

    Open-air ice-skating at Kungsträdgården park rink in STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN. Music and hot and cold snacks. Skate rental. The rink is adjacent to the traditional Kungsträdgårdens (Royal Gardens) Christmas Market (open thru December 22).

LOCATION: Kungsträdgården (Royal Garden) park rink is just north of Stockholm’s Old City (Gamla Stan) across the Strömbron bridge and within 10 walking minutes of Home At First’s Stockholm lodgings.

Stockholm, Sweden - public skating on the Kungstradgarden park rink.

Stockholm, Sweden - public skating on
the
Kungsträdgården park rink.

RINK OPEN: Weekdays 9AM-9PM and Weekends (Sa-Su) 10AM-9PM into early March.

ADMISSION: Free!

SKATE RENTAL PER HOUR: SEK70/adult; SEK30/child.

NEAREST HOME AT FIRST LODGINGS: less than 5 minutes walking distance at our Gamla Stan Hotel, STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN.

MORE INFO: STOCKHOLM SKATING.
 


 
Oslo, Norway: Free open-air skating at Spikersuppa rink in the city center
Photo courtesy Visit Oslo

11AM-9PM Daily through Mid-March

  Oslo, Norway:  

"Skating at Spikersuppa"

          Open-air ice-skating at Oslo’s Spikersuppa open-air skating rink in the city center. The rink is formed around a large sculptural fountain not operating in winter. A refreshment stand offering hot and cold snacks and drinks is adjacent to the rink. Home At First’s Oslo lodgings are just a few walking minutes away.

LOCATION: Spikersuppa rink occupies the parkland between Karl Johan's Gate and Stortingsgata just east of the National Theatre, west of Norway’s Parliament, and south of the University of Oslo.
OPEN: 11AM-9PM daily through mid-March.

ADMISSION: Free!

SKATE RENTAL: NOK100/adult/day; 10% reduction when you present your Oslo Pass (Home At First guests receive these for city transit and entry to attractions).

MORE INFO: OSLO SKATING, OSLO, NORWAY.
 

OPEN-AIR ICE SKATING in BRITAIN

 

PUBLIC SKATING AT THE TOWER OF LONDON MOAT NOV. 23 2018 THRU JAN. 6, 2019
Photo copyright Home At First

London, England:
 
At THE TOWER of LONDON thru Jan. 6, 2019

        Ice-skating at Britain’s top-rated
castle &
LONDON’s top-rated attraction: the Tower of London. 45-minute skate sessions for adults and children from 10AM-10PM. Drinks and snacks available at the Café Bar and Dip-Dunk Lodge café.
LOCATION: The Tower of London.
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s London Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina by the Tower or across the river in Bermondsey, walk 5-8 minutes to the neighboring Tower of London.
OPEN: daily 11AM-9PM through 6JAN19.

London, England: Ice skating at the one-time moat of the Tower of London, a 10-minute walk from Home At First's London apartments. Photo courtesy toweroflondonicerink.com.

London, England: Ice skating at
the one-time moat of the Tower
of London, a 10-minute walk from
Home At First's London apartments.

Photo courtesy toweroflondonicerink.com.

ADMISSION: £14.50/adults; £12.50/seniors&students; £10.50/child 3-12; £42/family (2 adults + 2 kids or 1 adult w. 3 kids. Admission price includes skate rental.
MORE INFO: TOWER OF LONDON SKATING.

 


London, England:
  
  At SOMERSET HOUSE 14NOV18 thru 13Jan19
         Skating at the former home of English Queens and the Royal Navy, now home to the prestigious Courtauld Gallery and the new Embankment Galleries. In the daytime, the ice rink will be especially attractive to children and families, with skating lessons and ice guides to accompany inexperienced skaters. As darkness falls, the rink will be illuminated with flaming torches, and special architectural lighting. The Skate Lounge and Fortnum's Lodge offer fare including warming drinks and gourmet meals. Late night skating to DJ-presented pop music on certain nights with special entry fee.

London, England: Ice skating at the elegant 18th century Somerset House on the Strand.

London, England: Ice skating at the
 elegant 18th century Somerset House
on the Strand.

LOCATION: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
GETTING THERE: From Home At First’s LONDON Apartments at St. Katharine’s Marina and in Bermondsey, walk or take the bus 5-12 minutes to the Tower Hill Underground Station, then take the District or Circle Line west 5 stops to Temple station, walk 5 minutes to Somerset House. Total transit & walking time: 17-30 minutes.
TIMES: Hourly sessions most days from 10AM-10:15PM with some late-skate "Club Nights" from 8-11:30PM. Shortened hours December 24, 26, and 31 and January 1. Closed Dec. 25.
ADMISSION: up to £25/adult; £10.50/kids under 13. (Add service fee applies if tickets purchased on-line in advance). Morning £7.50 admission for certain dates. Skate Plus tickets for festive drinks and foods available at extra cost. See website for complete list of admission charges/times/dates.
MORE INFO, visit: SOMERSET HOUSE SKATING.

 


• Edinburgh, Scotland:
    
At St Andrew Square 16NOV18 to 5jan19
          Ice-skating a few blocks northeast of
SCOTLAND’s top-rated castle & Scotland’s top-rated attraction: the EDINBURGH CASTLE. 30-min. skate sessions for adults and children from 10AM to 10:30PM daily. Drinks, snacks, and Christmas market here at Edinburgh’s annual holiday extravaganza.
LOCATION: St. Andrew Square is 2 blocks north of the east end of Princes Street Gardens northeast of Edinburgh Castle.
GETTING THERE: 15-30 minutes walk or 10-minute bus ride (Lines 19 or 40) from Home At First’s Terrace Apartments in EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.

OPEN DAILY late-November 16, 2018, through January 5, 2019. CLOSED CHRISTMAS DAY.

ADMISSION: from £9-£12.50/adults; from

Edinburgh, Scotland - Outdoor skating rink at East Prince's Street Gardens between Home At First's Terrace Apartments and Edinburgh Castle. Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

Edinburgh, Scotland - Outdoor
skating rink at East Prince's Street
 Gardens BY THE SCOTT MONUMENT
between Home At First's Terrace
 Apartments and Edinburgh Castle.

Photo courtesy edinburghschristmas.com.

£5-£8/kids 4-15. Prices include skate rental.
MORE INFO, visit: EDINBURGH SKATING.

  


 

A&P SHOWS IN NEW ZEALAND

          A&P (Agricultural and Pastoral) shows are the New Zealand equivalent of rural county fairs in the US and Canada. Most are small, local events held on one day. Some are larger, regional events held over a two to four days. A few are important events on the national calendar lasting as much as a week. In all cases, expect agrarian themes: animals, crops, and machinery, as well as rides and other amusements, lots of food and drink, contests and competitions, baked and canned goods, flower arranging, and, often, music, dancing, and the crowning of a queen. A&P shows are not put on for tourists, which means foreign visitors have a chance to see New Zealanders at play, doing what they love to do, in as authentic a setting as you are likely to find. Cultural snooping? Probably. But FUN!

 

Sawyer in competition at an A&P show at Murchison, Nelson Region, South Island, New Zealand. Photo © Home At First.

Sawyer in competition at an A&P
show at Murchison, Nelson Region,
 South Island, New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND A&P SHOWS OCCURRING IN JANUARY

Th-Su January 10-13, 2019 – between HAWKES BAY and WELLINGTON: New Zealand National Horse & Pony Show at Manfeild Park, Feilding, on Route 54 northwest of the city of Palmerston North, 2.25hrs SW of Napier and 2hrs N of Wellington. All things equestrian at this important show in one of the world’s great equestrian nations. Admission charged daily.

Sa, January 12, 2019 QUEENSTOWN REGION: the 104th Lake Hayes Show, at the Lake Hayes Showgrounds near Arrowtown, about 25 minutes drive from Home At First’s QUEENSTOWN INN. Open from 9AM with a parade at 12:30PM. Admission: NZ$10/adult. MORE INFO.

Sa, January 19-20, 2019 NELSON REGION: Golden Bay Show, at Golden Bay Recreation Park, Takaka Valley Highway, State Hwy 60, about 1 hour NW of Home At First’s Nelson Lodgings. From 8AM-5PM.

Sa-Su, January 19-20, 2019 WELLINGTON REGION: Horowhenua Agricultural, Pastoral, and Industrial Assn. presents the 111th Horowhenua API Show at Showgrounds Events Park, Victoria Street, Levin, about 80 minutes north of Home At First’s Wellington lodgings. A classic A&P show plus lots of vintage farm equipment. From 9AM each day. Admission: NZ$12/adult. Parking: NZ$5. MORE INFO.

Sa, January 26, 2019 WESTLAND REGION: Hokitika A&P Assn. Show, at Hokitika town, less than 10 minutes from Home At First’s WESTLAND HOMESTEAD. MORE INFO.

Sa, January 26, 2019 ROTORUA A&P Association 109th Summer Show, at the Agrodome, 141 Western Rd, Ngongotaha, 5 minutes drive from Home At First’s Rotorua Lodge II. 8:30AM-5PM. Admission: NZ$10/adult. Free Parking. MORE INFO.

 


J.M.W. TURNER — THE VAUGHAN BEQUEST EXHIBITION

National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin — January 2019

J. M. W. Turner: "EDINBURGH FROM BELOW ARTHUR'S SEAT" 1801
Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Ongoing the month of January 2019
  Dublin – National Gallery of Ireland  
“Turner — The Vaughan Bequest

          Each January Ireland’s National Gallery displays its superb collection of 31 watercolors and numerous drawings by England’s marvelous romantic landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, whose attempts to capture the fleeting illuminations of natural light presaged Impressionism. This year's exhibition is enhanced by a selection of monochrome land- and seascape prints from Turner's Liber Studiorum series.
LOCATION:
the Print Gallery, Millennium Wing, National Gallery of Ireland, Clare St. at Merrion Square West, Central Dublin.
ADMISSION:
free!
OPEN: Mo-Sa from 9:15AM-5:30PM (to 8:30PM Th); Su from 11AM-5:30PM.
GETTING THERE
from the nearest
Home At First Dublin apartments, walk two blocks north on Lower Fitzwilliam St to Merrion Square South, then two blocks west on Merrion Square S to Merrion Square W. Walk north one block to Clare St. The National Gallery is at the corner of Merrion Square W and Clare St. The entrance to the gallery is on Clare Street.
MORE INFO, see: TURNER AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND.

 

January 17-21 2019 Various Times Daily

 Sixmilebridge & Bunratty,  
 Central Ireland  

"Shannonside Winter Music Weekend"

          Lots of related musical forms – folk, bluegrass, jazz, gospel, and trad (Irish) – will be performed together in a dozen small venues in the small Central Ireland communities of Sixmilebridge, Bunratty, and Bunratty Folk Park over this 4-day weekend. Of the nearly 80 events (concerts, sessions, set-dancing, etc.) to be held over a 4-day-and-night program, all but a handful are free.

LOCATIONS: Sixmilebridge and Bunratty

are  near one another in southern County Clare, CENTRAL IRELAND, near Shannon Airport.

ADMISSION: many events free. Others range from €5-€20/adult.

GETTING THERE from Home At Firsts nearest lodgings in Killaloe, SE County Clare, about 15 miles NE of the festival sites: take the R463 SW from Killaloe to the R471 at Knockbrack Lower near Clonlara.

 

Slide dobro is just one of the traditional
instruments to be heard at the
Shannonside Winter Music Weekend
Photo courtesy SWMW

Take the R471 west to Sixmilebridge for some festival venues, then onward 1.5 miles to Bunratty for others.

MORE INFO, see: SHANNONSIDE WINTER MUSIC.

 


 

THE WORLD'S GREATEST & THE WORLD'S BRAVEST SKIERS RACE DOWN
THE SWISS ALPS ABOVE WENGEN & MÜRREN EACH YEAR IN JANUARY

Photo courtesy inferno-muerren.ch

January 18-20 & 23-26, 2019

  WENGEN & MÜRREN, jungfrau region, SWITZERLAND  

“THE LAUBERHORN” & “THE INFERNO”

          Two of the world's great downhill ski races occur this week across the Lauterbrunnen Valley from each other:

+ The 89th FIS Ski World Cup Lauberhorn race runs January 18-20, 2019, from the Lauberhorn, a minor peak across from the famed Eiger North Wall, to the alpine resort town of Wengen on a great, sweeping, descending curve: a course that draws the world's top professional ski teams to one of the premier events in the World Cup series. Past winners of the Lauberhorn downhill include many of the legendary names in the history of World Cup ski racing.

+ The 76th running of the International Inferno Ski Races is held later the same week; January 23-26, 2019. The course is an amazingly fast 7,000' descent from the nearly the 10,000' Schilthorn summit deep into the valley below at Lauterbrunnen. The race is the oldest and longest amateur downhill ski race in the world, drawing some of the most daring and experienced downhill ski racers in the world. The Inferno is often won by local entrants who risk life and limb for local pride and prestige.

LOCATION: Wengen & Mürren, in the Jungfrau Region south of Interlaken, Switzerland.

ADMISSION: Tickets are needed for the Lauberhorn downhill races Saturday & Sunday. See WEBSITE for various ticket options. Tickets are not needed for the Inferno races. 

GETTING THERE: HOME AT FIRST has chalet apartments in the village of MÜRREN, SWITZERLAND. You may have to reserve more than a year in advance in order to find availability during the height of the Swiss alpine ski season, especially this week of the two major ski races.

MORE INFO, see THE LAUBERHORN & THE INFERNO.

   


 

THE 2019 BERMUDA FESTIVAL CELEBRATES THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN
WITH A VARIETY OF PERFORMANCES OVER NEARLY TWO MONTHS.

Photo courtesy The Bermuda Festival

Ongoing January 19 - March 9  2019
Various Dates & Times - Various Venues

  BERMUDA   "The Bermuda Festival" — "Empowerment of Women"
        
44th annual festival originally launched by the internationally revered violinist Yahudi Menuhin. The festival has grown to include classical through pop music, plus magic, comedy, theatre, and all the performing arts. Performers come from around the world, including some home-grown Bermudian talent.
2019 PERFORMANCE
SCHEDULE

3 PERFORMANCE LOCATIONS: Mid-Ocean Amphitheatre at The Fairmont Southampton; The City Hall Theatre, Hamilton; Ruth Seaton James Auditorium, Cedarbridge Academy, Devonshire.

Performances from Jan. 19-Mar. 9: Various times: most begin at 7:30PM, 8PM or 8:30PM. Some afternoon matinees Saturdays and Sundays.
ADMISSION: Performance tickets are $60-$185/adults and about 50% less for students and 25% less for seniors.

TICKETS: available On-Line or by Toll-Free Phone from USA & Canada: (888)860-0996.

HOW TO BUY TICKETS. MORE INFO.

 


January 19 - February 19, 2019

  THROUGHOUT Iceland  

"Thorrablot" mid-winter festival

          Winter is hard in Iceland. And long. The old Icelandic month, Thorri, was the hardest of the year. Icelanders are a tough lot. They celebrate their toughest times with a tough festival, Thorrablot. Dancing, games, yarn-telling follow the traditional festival supper of Icelandic delicacies including rotten shark, sheep's head, and ram's stomach filled with sheep's blood porridge, all forced down the gullet with a potato schnapps called "Black Death." Pour me some potato poison. 

LOCATIONS: Thorrablot Icelandic cuisine is served at private parties and at distinctive restaurants throughout Home At Firsts ICELAND
  

 

Anyone for seconds?
John Mraz Photo copyright Home At First


  DUBLIN'S OWN 'THE ESKIES' TO APPEAR AT TRADFEST 2019 

the ESKIES in concert at Dublin's the button factory january 25 at tradfest
Photo courtesy TradFest

January 23-27, 2019

  Dublin, Ireland  

“TradFest 2019”

          Billed as “Ireland's largest festival of traditional music and beyond” the former Temple Bar TradFest now is the larger, more self-conscious TradFest, but still includes marquee concerts at several unlikely venues in the Temple Bar quarter of central Dublin: St. Michans Church, Dublin City Hall, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Werburgh's Church, Dublin Castle, and The Button Factory in addition to new, more imposing concert spaces in some of Dublin's most important historic buildings. There will be many free events, a music trail, open sessions, various master classes and showcases, a children’s club, pipe bands, street performers, and other activities and performances associated with the Irish phenomenon called TRAD MUSIC.

LOCATION: venues throughout central Dublin city.

ADMISSION: From Free to about €50, with most concert/activities tickets costing between €10-€40/adult.

GETTING THERE: To reach the western edge of the Temple Bar quarter from Home At First’s nearest Dublin Apartments, walk two blocks east along Cook St.

MORE INFO, see TRADFEST.

   


 

Casks at Gibbston Valley Winery, the original Central Otago Pinot Noir vintner.
Photo © Home At First

January 24-26, 2019  Various Times Daily

  Queenstown Region, South Island, New Zealand  

“Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration”

          Gathering in the world’s southernmost wine region for its annual 2.5-day & 3-night festival celebrating the region’s principal wine varietal, Pinot Noir, are aficionados and casual sippers from around the world. Central Otago’s brief, meteoric rise to a position of note as a producer of quality Pinot Noir is just the latest chapter in the evolution of New Zealand as a world-class wine producing nation. Queenstown – vibrant, youthful, sophisticated, and a little wild – make it an ideal host location for this festival, now in its 14th year. See the web site for the program information, for which attendees must register in advance.

LOCATION: Queenstown, Arrowtown, Cromwell, Alexandra, and at many local wineries of Central Otago.

ADMISSION: NZ$1500/person, which this year includes several tastings.

TICKETS: HERE

GETTING THERE: The event is headquartered in central QUEENSTOWN, a short (walkable) distance from Home At First’s principal QUEENSTOWN INN lodgings. Coach transportation is provided by the organization to all other festival venues.

MORE INFO, see: CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR FESTIVAL.
   


January 25, 2019 – Robert Burns Birthday

 Locations throughout Scotland,  
 Northern Ireland, & New Zealand  

“Burns Suppers”

          In America we have Independence Day as our national patriotic day, but we also have Thanksgiving, the holiday many Americans consider most representative culturally and spiritually to our society. Similarly, in Scotland, the national day, St. Andrews Day, November 30, has in recent years – since the formation of a Scottish Parliament and the establishment of a semi-autonomous state – taken on much greater patriotic importance there. However, there may be no more important day culturally and spiritually to those with Scottish roots and/or 

Robert Burns, the Bard of Scotland.
Robert Burns, Bard of Scotland

affinities than Robert Burns Day, which marks the birthday – January 25 – of Scotland’s flawed, but favorite, son. Like Thanksgiving, Robert Burns Day is principally celebrated with a traditional meal – including at least haggis, neeps, tatties, and Scotch whisky – coupled with a traditional set of activities: speeches, grace, toasts, recitations of Burns poetry, and singing, if possible in Scots language by practitioners who take great pleasure in knowing the vocabulary, accent, and music of Robert Burns’s native tongue and lingua poetica. Expect some attendees to Burns Suppers to be kitted in kilts, sporrans, and dirks. Many will doff tam o’ shanters upon entering the dining room. Accumulated toasts accompanied with the downing of wee drams of whisky may lead to the shedding of some tears of nostalgia for auld lang syne when the song of the same name, written by Bobby Burns himself, is sung at the evening’s close.
  


 

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Happy Holidays from
HOME AT FIRST