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Britain’s Christmas Splendour

England, UK

Tour Highlights

The lead-up to Christmas is a magical time in England, with windows and doorways swagged in lush garlands, festooned with holly berries and twinkling lights  
The splendour of this season can be seen, and felt, at every turn on the cobbled streets. This splendid seasonal tour features a host of picturesque and historic places, beautifully decorated at this special time of year, delicious food and sensational holiday entertainment!

Our first 5 nights will be in Stratford-upon-Avon, set in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside on the banks of the River Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace is a magical blend of heritage and drama and is one of Britain’s Heritage Cities. This thriving market town is a perfect combination of old and new and a perfect base for experiencing the festive season.

Then we spend 4 nights in Bury St. Edmunds - a jewel in the crown of Suffolk, surrounded by countryside with 1,000 years of history to explore.  Bury St. Edmunds - the home of Saint Edmund - the original patron Saint of England, offers visitors award-winning restaurants, fantastic shopping, annual festivals and stunning parks.

Our final 4 nights are in Dorking - an historic market town surrounded by the beautiful Surrey Hills. You can catch glimpses of the wooded hills and open downland as you walk along the historic streets of the town. 
Tour Highlights:

   • Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall
   • Shakespeare Distillery, Gin demo and tasting 
   • World Heritage Site - Blenheim Palace
   • Birmingham Christmas Market
   • Cambridge - one of England’s Heritage Cities
   • Evening Pantomime 
   • Thursford Extravaganza
   • Holkham Hall and Estate
   • London city tour including the Royal Albert Hall 

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for London
We arrive in London and transfer to our centrally located hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Our tour begins at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, where we immerse ourselves in 16th century Stratford! We will have a walking tour of the town followed by time on our own. Before dinner, Shakespeare Distillery - an artisan spirit producer, will come to the hotel and provide a session on how their gin is made, and then of course a tasting!
We meander through the Cotswolds - a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to visit one of the quintessential Cotswolds villages, and then proceed to Blenheim Palace - birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. During the holiday season this masterpiece of 18th Century Baroque architecture is transformed into a Christmas feast for the eyes and palate! We will discover this palatial building, followed by a delectable Christmas meal served in the Indian room.
A day at leisure in one of Britain’s Heritage Cities. This city’s magical blend of heritage and culture makes it one of Britain’s most important tourist destinations. Explore the quaint side streets with unique shops and stroll along the river and soak in the historical ambiance.
We spend the morning at Birmingham's festive Christmas Market - the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the UK. Later we enjoy a Sunday Carvery at a local pub.

The elegant city of Cambridge boasts spectacular architecture in its colleges, churches and courtyards combined with green parks, wide open spaces and the River Cam which winds its way through the heart of the city. Our city tour takes in King’s College Chapel - a Gothic masterpiece. We see the pub where DNA was discovered, and the Fitzwilliam Museum - one of Britain’s greatest art collections and known as the “finest small museum in Europe". Later we arrive in Bury St. Edmunds for a 4-night stay.
 Our walking tour of the historic centre of Bury St. Edmunds includes the Abbey Gate, Abbey Gardens and Abbey Ruins, the statue of St. Edmund, St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, St Mary’s Churchyard, Guildhall Street and the main market area. The great Abbey was once one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites. It is England’s oldest Norman building and 2nd oldest building overall. Afternoon at leisure. This evening we attend a Pantomime at the local theatre.
Our tour to Newmarket includes the new National Horseracing Museum with a chance to meet former racehorses and learn what they do after racing, in the flagship home of Retraining of Racehorses. This evening we attend the Christmas Spectacular in Thursford - the largest Christmas show in the country. This extravaganza of singing, dancing, music, humour and variety is set in magical surroundings of mechanical organs and fairground carousels. The show features a cast of over a hundred professional singers, dancers and musicians, including many West End performers.
We head towards the beautiful North Norfolk Coast and Holkham Bay - an area of extensive and dramatic natural reserves, and visit Holkham Hall. The first Earl of Leicester conceived the Hall as his vision of an Italian villa on the windswept coast. The family has lived here since the 1750’s and take great pride in sharing the house and its treasures with visitors. After our guided house tour, we will enjoy a scrumptious Afternoon Tea! Later we ride The Norfolk Locomotive ‘Lights Express’, a train fully decorated with multi-coloured lights, which steams through the countryside. From the comfort of plush carriage seats, you will be treated to an amazing light show with illuminated festive scenes nestled in the woodland, embankments and old preserved railway stations.
A Christmas visit to Hever Castle to see the beautifully decorated rooms, welcoming log fires and twinkling Christmas trees - a true holiday spectacle! We can follow the Christmas trail through the grounds, followed by a delicious Christmas lunch with all the trimmings! Later we arrive in Dorking for our final 4 nights.
A day in everyone’s favourite city, London! Highlights will include a visit to the Royal Albert Hall and a drive along Regent Street and Oxford Street with their iconic Festive Light displays. There will be free time to explore on your own before returning to our hotel.
A day at leisure. It’s a joy to wander around Dorking discovering craft shops, boutiques, art galleries, eclectic vintage shops and antique centres, or relax in a cafe or pub. With convenient rail links you can easily head into London for the day.
We visit the royal residence of Windsor Castle - the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world which has been the home of 39 monarchs. The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle. At this time of year the Castle is transformed with glittering Christmas trees, twinkling lights and dining tables laid for royal feasts to celebrate the festive season. Tonight, after we raise a glass of good cheer, we enjoy our Farewell Dinner.
Air Canada takes us home.

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