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England’s Christmas Splendour

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 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. We’ll spend the next 3 nights in the Heritage City of Cambridge. With a university that dates back more than 800 years, this city is a hotbed of history and architecture. Our final 4 nights will be in the unspoiled cathedral city of Winchester. Winchester is England's ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great. Today, Winchester combines the best of modern city life with the tranquility of the surrounding quintessential English countryside.  

Tour Highlights:    
• Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Distillery    
• World Heritage Site - Blenheim Palace    
• Birmingham’s world famous Christmas Market    
• Cadbury - The Home of Chocolate    
• Newmarket - The Home of Horse Racing    
• Cambridge - one of England’s Heritage Cities    
• Thursford Christmas Extravaganza    
• Cathedral cities - Winchester & Salisbury    
• 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. 

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for London. 
We arrive and transfer to our centrally located hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon for a 5-night stay. 
We meander through the Cotswolds - a designated area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to visit one of the quintessential Cotswolds villages. Then we’ll 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.  
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, and 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! 
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 begin with a visit to Cadbury’s World, where we will learn about the Cadbury family, see how Cadbury’s products are made, and watch the chocolatiers demonstrate traditional chocolate making skills. Next is Birmingham's Frankfurt Christmas Market - the largest outdoor Christmas Market in the UK, and the largest authentic German Christmas Market outside of Germany or Austria. The Market offers a wide range of traditional goods, gifts and tempting food and drink, such as pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts, and roasted almonds. Wash these delicacies down with gluhwein, weissbeer (wheat beer), or hot chocolate.
Our visit today is Newmarket - the Home of Horse Racing. This historic town is steeped in history, with an intriguing story as to how it became renowned as a centre for horseracing. Noted Royals over the past 2000 years have enjoyed countryside pursuits here. We will learn how Charles II fared in the first recorded horse race in history, why two royal palaces were built here and what the Queen does on her frequent visits here. Included in our tour is lunch and an afternoon Cream Tea. Later we arrive at our historic spa hotel - a secluded haven located on the outskirts of Cambridge, for a 3-night stay.  
We visit Thursford, home of the Christmas Spectacular - the UK’s largest Christmas show! The show features mechanical organs, fairground carousels, and a cast of 130 professional singers, dancers, and musicians (including West End performers). The 3-hour performance delivers an extravaganza of singing, dancing, humour and variety. 
This city of history and discoveries is home to more Nobel Prize winners than any other city. Cambridge is also one of the UK’s most beautiful cities to visit, with stunning architecture and charming cobbled streets. On our walking tour we’ll see The River Cam, King’s College Cathedral (a Gothic masterpiece) and The Fitzwilliam Museum (where DNA was discovered). There will also be free time to explore on our own. 
We proceed to London, where our city tour will take in many of the iconic sites. We’ll visit the Royal Albert Hall and discover how the building was founded 150 years ago, the royal love story that made it happen, and how the engineering challenge of the Royal Albert Hall echo was solved. After our tour it’s on to our lovingly restored manor house hotel, which blends boutique chic with 16th century character, set in acres of glorious Hampshire countryside.  
On our day in the New Forest, we step back in time and discover the natural beauty of this unique destination. We start at Beaulieu (with 800 years of heritage), and visit a stately home, a world famous motor museum and a 13th century abbey surrounded by picturesque gardens. Included is a sumptuous Christmas meal served in the magical surroundings of the Beaulieu Abbey Domus. 
Our Winchester city walking tour shows us the city of Alfred the Great and England’s ancient capital, bursting with historical and architectural treasures. We’ll see the iconic statue of King Alfred, the historic High Street, the Great Hall with its Round Table and connections to King Arthur, the site of Winchester Castle and Winchester Cathedral. There will be free time to discover the city on our own.  
We go to Salisbury - a perfect English city with an ideal fusion of medieval magnificence and contemporary culture. We visit Salisbury Cathedral - Britain’s tallest spire and home to one of the original Magna Carta manuscripts. There will be free time in the historic city centre where you will find tearooms, coffee shops, friendly pubs and fine shopping opportunities. Tonight is our Farewell Dinner - raise a glass of cheer to celebrate this Holiday Season tour. 
Air Canada flies us back to Canada.
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