NEWS

Tickets go on sale for Santa holidays to Lapland for Christmas 2021

Tickets go on sale for Santa holidays to Lapland for Christmas 2021

Families can look forward to a festive treat for 2021 with a visit to Santa in Lapland

This Christmas may end up being low key but families can already get ready for a fantastic festive 2021 with a Santa holiday to Lapland.

Santa’s Lapland and Inghams Santa Breaks have launched their Christmas dates for next year.

A family reindeer ride

The snowy breaks include husky sledding and reindeer sleigh rides, enchanted activities and a visit to the ‘real’ Santa at his home.

Huskies in Lapland

Families can choose from two breaks – Santa’s Magic with a selection of hotels or Santa’s Aurora where you stay at the Star Arctic hotel, great for those who want to spot the Northern Lights.

Star Arctic Hotel in Lapland

Star Arctic Hotel

Both are available as three or four night holidays with flights from 14 regional airports.

At the time of writing, 2020 holidays to Lapland could still be booked as well.

A spokesperson said: “Santa’s Lapland and Inghams Santa Breaks are paying constant attention to the guidance from the UK’s FCDO, ABTA, Public Health England and local health authorities in Finland.

“Following recent updates, they’re working closely with their partners in Lapland to see what these decisions mean for their Lapland holidays. The Lapland holidays are currently expected to go ahead as planned.”

For more information or to book a break visit Santa’s Lapland.

 

A child meets reindeers in Lapland

Illuminated trails light up famous sites around the UK for families this Christmas 2020

Illuminated trails light up famous sites around the UK for families this Christmas 2020

Christmas fun for all the family at seven light installations around the country

Tickets are on sale for fantastic festive trails at seven famous sites across the country.

World-renowned artists and designers have got together to create the illuminated events at historic and iconic venues including Kew Gardens, Blenheim Palace and Dunham Massey.

The outdoor experiences are designed for all ages to enjoy and celebrate the festive season.

Additional facilities and significantly increased hygiene procedures will be made available for trail visitors.

The events have been organised by promoter Raymond Gubbay Limited, Culture Creative and the individual venues.

Christmas at Kew

When: November 18, 2020 to January 3, 2021

What: Now in its eighth year, Christmas at Kew returns with a new trail to illuminate the fabulous gardens with more than one million lights.

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, TW9 3AE.

More details: kew.org/christmas #christmasatkew

Christmas at Bedgebury

Christmas at Bedgebury

Christmas at Bedgebury

When: November 20 to December 31, 2020.

What: This family-friendly one-mile magical festive trail is in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty countryside.

Address: Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest, Kent.

More details: christmasatbedgebury.co.uk   #christmasatbedgebury

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

Christmas at Blenheim Palace

When: November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: The Illuminated trail returns to Blenheim Palace transforming it with a bright and magical winter walk inspired by the landscape itself, featuring lasers and light projections.

Address: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP.

More details: blenheimpalace.com/christmas  #christmasatblenheimpalace

Christmas at Dunham Massey

Christmas at Dunham Massey

Christmas at Dunham Massey

When: November 20 to December 30, 2020.

What: The sell-out trail returns for a fourth year to this historic National Trust property in Cheshire.

See our review and guide from last year’s exravaganza Dunham Massey Christmas Lights 2019 plus exclusive video.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire. WA14 4SJ.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/dunham-massey #christmasatdunhammassey

Christmas at The Botanics

When: November 26, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: The new trail at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh will feature bouncing lines of light in the laser garden and giant luminescent sculptures rising high into the night sky.

Inverleith House will be it by a new festive projection across its historic façade.

Address: Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ.

More details: rbge.org.uk/christmas  #christmasatthebotanics

Christmas at Belton

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

What: Christmas at Belton will once again light up the historic tree canopies of this magnificent country-house estate.

There will be giant luminescent candles, glowing flowers and snowflakes, plus children can look out for Father Christmas.

Address: Belton House, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 2LS.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/belton-house #christmasatbelton

Christmas at Stourhead

Christmas at Stourhead

Christmas at Stourhead

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021

What: The after-dark trail lights up the beautiful National Trust gardens at Stourhead, Wiltshire for a second year.

Address: Stourhead, Mere, Wiltshire, BA12 6QD.

More details: nationaltrust.org.uk/Stourhead  #christmasatstourhead

For more details on the trails or to book tickets, go to mychristmastrails.co.uk

Lightopia 2020: Spectacular lantern and light festival returns to Manchester

Lightopia 2020: Spectacular lantern and light festival returns to Manchester

Family fun awaits at award-winning Christmas light festival

While many Christmas events are being cancelled, an award-winning and socially-distanced light festival in Manchester is set to go ahead.

Lightopia returns to the city with this year’s Christmas at Heaton Park event.

The festive family festival runs from November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

There will be new themes and creations but changes have also been made in light of Covid restrictions, to keep visitors safe including wider footpaths and three entry points to reduce queueing.

There will be a magical illuminated trail, designed so that people can maintain a social distance from each other and two car parks.

Lightopia 2020 will also pay tribute to Coronavirus frontline workers with a Local Heroes Area, featuring the words ‘thank you’ and a colourful rainbow display.

Lightopia creative director Ian Xiang said organisers are “excited” to bring Lightopia back to Manchester.

“We have once again created a world in which light, sculpture and art combine with traditional, Chinese lantern-making techniques to create an immersive experience, full of light and stories,” he said.

“We want our guests to become part of the Lightopia story, helping to create new forms of art as they interact and engage with the luminescent sculptures that trail through Heaton Park.”

Lightopia 2020 Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester

Lightopia

Among the new additions will be a Christmas showcase using the Grade I-listed Heaton Hall as its sparkling backdrop.

There will also be Santa’s sleigh, a giant interactive walking piano, an astronomy display and interactive Zodiac sign installation.

Children will love robotic controlled pads on the floor, which create light shows when stepped on.

Another area is dedicated to the Manchester skyline and an immersive Musical City area, will encourage visitors to dance their way through the lights.

Returning attractions include the Woodland Fairytale area, the Animals attraction and the Discovery space.

Lightopia 2020 Christmas at Heaton Park, Manchester

A Lakeside water show includes a state-of-the-art projection while dragon sculptures will lead the way to Lightopia’s food stalls and licensed bars.

The event from November 20 to January 3 runs between 5pm and 10pm and last entry is 8.30pm daily.

The event is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except during school holidays and closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Tickets are £20 online for adults (or £22 on the day), £13 for children (or £15 on the day) and £60 for families of two adults and two children (£68 on the day). Children under three can go free.

Essential carers of disabled visitors can attend for free, the disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee.

To book tickets, visit www.lightopiafestival.com

Follow on Instagram and Facebook @lightopiafestival #Lightopia

Liverpool family attraction popular with young children, closes for good

Liverpool family attraction popular with young children, closes for good

Mattel Play! will not be reopening following coronavirus closure

It was popular with youngsters who loved children’s favourites Thomas & Friends, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder.

But now Mattel Play! on the Royal Albert Dock has closed for good.

The adventure play centre at the Albert Dock launched in 2016 and was the first of its kind in Europe.

It was split into three themed areas dedicated to the iconic characters.

The Heritage Great Britain attraction closed in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus but has now revealed that it will not reopen.

Harold the Helicopter's sits in the middle of a ball pool at Mattel Play

Harold the Helicopter’s ball pool

A spokesperson said: “Following five wonderful years at the Albert Dock, we have taken the difficult decision to close Mattel Play! Liverpool.

“As the focus of the Albert Dock continued to be more bars and restaurants, we have therefore, following a discussion with the landlord, agreed to exit our lease earlier than planned.

“We would have very much liked to have remained at the Albert Dock throughout the summer months but the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the consequences which are likely to be felt for many months, made this ambition untenable.”

This website reviewed Mattel Play! and thought it was great for younger children who were fans of Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder and Thomas.

Fans of Thomas & Friends would also love Drayton Manor Park, reviewed here: Thomas the Tank Engine proves just the ticket for a boy’s birthday break at Drayton Manor hotel and theme park

Harry Potter Studio Tour London to reopen with new safety measures in place

Harry Potter Studio Tour London to reopen with new safety measures in place

Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter gets ready to reopen to wizarding fans following Coronavirus closure

Harry Potter fans will not be waiting much longer for the reopening of the hugely successful Warner Bros Studio Tour in London.

The Making of Harry Potter – a look behind the scenes of the wizarding films – will reopen on Thursday, August 20.

It was forced to close earlier in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The attraction is at the actual Warner Bros studios near London where a lot of the filming for the eight Harry Potter films took place.

It includes sets like the Gryffindor Common Room, Hogwarts Great Hall, Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank alongside thousands of props and costumes.

The Great Hall in Harry Potter

The Great Hall (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

And from the opening date, the Slytherin Common Room can be seen for the first time along with iconic costumes and props belonging to some of the house’s cunning characters.

The Slytherin common room in the Harry Potter movies

The Slytherin common room in the Harry Potter movies

So what will be different when Harry Potter Studio Tour London reopens?

There will be a number of Covid 19 safety measures in place.

The attraction has made some changes to manage social distancing and keep everything extra clean.

Do you have to wear face masks?

Visitors aged 11 and over must wear a face mask unless medically exempt. They can be taken off when the wearer is sitting down in a cafe.

How will social distancing be managed?

There will be less visitor numbers and there will be a one-way system around the studios.

The shops and cafés will only accept cashless or contactless payment options .

Cars will be parked with spaces in between.

What will not be open?

Hogwarts Express on plaform 9 and three quarters at the Harry Potter Studio Tour London

Hogwarts Express (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

The Hogwarts Express train carriage

Inside Privet Drive

The cloakroom and left luggage facilities

The Studio Tour shuttle bus service to and from Watford Junction Station will not be available

Will the toilets be open?

Toilets will be open with extra hygiene measures in place.

Will the studios be cleaned more regularly?

Yes, there will be extra cleaning throughout the day, especially of touch-points such as door handles and barriers.

And hand sanitiser stations will be positioned throughout.

Gringotts Wizarding Bank

Gringotts (Photo: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter)

Will the cafes be open?

The Hub cafes, Food Hall and Backlot Cafe will be open but there will be less menu choices.

Seating in the cafe will be spaced and visitors must not pay with cash.

We have loads of useful Harry Potter Studio tour information and tips for you

READ NOW: Harry Potter Studio Tour London – our full guide, review and must-read tips

READ NOW: Harry Potter Studio Tour London – EVERYTHING you need to know

The studio tour is still pre-book only, tickets are available now from the website.

Merlin Entertainment attractions opening date and new safety measures announced

Merlin Entertainment attractions opening date and new safety measures announced

What will change at Merlin’s theme parks and other attractions when they reopen as Coronavirus restrictions are lifted

All Merlin Entertainment theme parks, attractions and accommodation are to reopen on July 4 for day visits and short breaks – with safety measures in place.

Alton Towers and Warwick Castle have been welcoming visitors since June 6 but they will be joined by Thorpe Park, LEGOLAND Windsor, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, the Blackpool Tower, SEA LIFE Centres and Madame Tussaud’s.

The attractions will be limiting visitor numbers to allow for social distancing.

All visitors must pre-book tickets online.

There will be safety measures in place including new routes around the attractions and new queuing formats.

Staff will wear PPE and carry out enhanced cleaning, in alignment with Government guidelines.

Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments’ CEO, said: “We are delighted to be reopening following UK Government guidance.

“There has been a huge effort from our world class health and safety team, and all our teams across our attractions, to ensure we are ready to safely welcome guests back through our doors.

He said Merlin operates in 25 countries across four continents and the UK is the final country where attractions are still waiting to reopen fully.

“We look forward to welcoming guests from across the UK back to our sites, just as we have done successfully across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America,” he said.

“In each location, we have seen our guests embrace the ‘new normal’ and actively adhere to the new safety measures we have put in place.

“After the extended lockdown, we recognise that people need leisure and escapism and to make new happy memories with those they love. We look forward to helping them do just that.”

 

Home schooling: How to draw Mickey Mouse and over 20 other ideas from Orlando

Home schooling: How to draw Mickey Mouse and over 20 other ideas from Orlando

Visit Orlando unveils ideas to keep children entertained and educated during Coronavirus school closures

Orlando is bringing one of the most magical places on earth for children into their own homes in a bid to help millions struggling with home schooling.

Visit Orlando  has compiled a list of more than 20 free online learning activities to keep all ages entertained, engaged, and educated.

Lessons in science, art, biology and more take a fun twist as students can learn about space from astronauts, engineering from theme park designers and PE tips from a golf pro.

They can be found at the Visit Orlando blog.

Millions of families are not only learning how to school at home, but have also missed out on a fun vacation, so we hope this helps ease the pain on both fronts,” said George Aguel of Visit Orlando.

As the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is home to some of the most creative minds and entertainers out there, and our tourism industry has teamed together, using their skills to help kids and parents who are adapting to this current reality.

Creative activities

*Learn how to design theme parks, engineethrill rides and develop characters straight from Disney Imagineers in a free online program.

*Draw Mickey Mouse with Disney tutorials on the Disney Parks YouTube channel. Cast member Stephen Ketchum provides expert tips on how to draw the famous mouse from vintage 1920’s Mickey to the more contemporary version. 

Stephen Ketchum shows how to draw Mickey Mouse with Disney tutorials on the Disney Parks YouTube channel

Disney tutorials on the Disney Parks YouTube channel

*Characters from Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, National Geographic and Disney Parks help with lessons on the new Disney Magic Moments website, from story times with celebrities to cooking recipes to educational activities.

Drawing a lion in Orlando

*Interact with droids in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, test your Disney trivia, download official Disney playlists and more with Play Disney Parks, a mobile app that offers unique experiences and activities that bring the theme park environments to life.

*Go behind-the-scenes to learn how your favorite roller coasters run through the Science of Universal Orlando Resort program.

*Find live singalongs with celebrity musicians, techniques for sidewalk masterpiecesart tutorials, and a fun new craft each day on Crayola Experience‘s Facebook channel.

*Explore life’s oddities – such as how to make a shrunken head from an apple  on Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditoriums at home. Visit the website for a schedule of live Facebook content, at-home activities tailored for all ages, and unusual facts about famous people throughout history.

*Practice building flowers, dinosaurs and flying cars with the new LEGO challenges, tips and activities on the LEGOLAND Florida Facebook page.

*Young squires and princesses can revert back to medieval times by creating their own coat of chivalry or coloring a princess crown via the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament – Orlando’s Facebook page.

Science

*Storytime from Space is a series of audiobooks read by real astronauts. Children can also learn about living in space, Mars and rocketry or tour Space Shuttle Atlantis during an ongoing series of Facebook lives from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Parents can find additional downloadable activities here.

*Budding scientists can find videos on do-it-yourself projects like making rock and slime on the Orlando Science Center’s website. Other tutorials include making your own superhero training camp and creating dinosaur fossils.

A dinosaur at Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center

Biology Class Gone Wild

At 3pm daily, their YouTube channel shares live-action encounters with animals including Burmese pythons, crocodiles, alligators and lizards.

Baby alligators in Orlando

*Explore animals all over the world, including their habitats, dietsbehaviors and scientific classification, through SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s distance learning resources. The site includes hands-on classroom activities, teacher’s guides, videoand info books.

*Read with sea creatures duringUnder the Sea Story Times’ every Sunday and watch interactive and educational animal encounters on SEA LIFE Aquarium‘s Facebook page.

Sea Life in Orlando

Sea Life

*Pretend you’re exploring the jungle by listening to noises from nature, from sunrise in the swamp to giraffes munching their dinner. Wild Wednesday Nature Sounds is a new listening experience on Wild Florida‘s social channels.

Brain Games

*Put your problem-solving skills to the test through The Escape Game’s TEG Field Trips, with free online games that take students on virtual field trips through museums and historic landmarks by uncovering clues and solving puzzles.

Virtual PE

*PE goes online as students can practice their virtual swing at home with Topgolf‘s WGT Golf online or on mobile devices. Find additional resources like tips, drills and printable puzzles through their downloadable guide.

The Arts

*Learn how to juggle, face paint or dance like a Cirque du Soleil performer via CirqueConnect, a new digital content hub featuring a section devoted to kids’ content.

*#MUSEUMFROMHOME is with Orlando Museum of Art’s free online archives and social media channels, with options ranging from live video streams to critically acclaimed children’s book readings, to art-inspired colouring books.

*Comedy and magic come together to teach lessons about bullying, during two full-length productions filmed live onstage of ‘Pip-Squeak, An Anti-Bullying Magic Show,’ presented by The Orlando Repertory Theater, in partnership with Tony Brent.

History

*In times of crisis, it is important to be a helper. The Holocaust Memorial & Resource Center of Florida is encouraging children to share their stories of how they have helped others through YouTube video submissions.

*Learn about native Americans, pioneers and famous people in history on the Orange County Regional History Center’s website, with activities ranging from historic coloring pages to lesson plans to virtual tours of recent exhibitions.

National Trust now CLOSES its park and gardens to help stop coronavirus spread

National Trust now CLOSES its park and gardens to help stop coronavirus spread

National Trust closes its parklands from March 21

The National Trust has now CLOSED its parks and gardens to help restrict the spread of coronavirus.

The trust had been offering people free entry to its open spaces despite indoor areas being closed.

But there were crowds of visitors taking up the opportunity which made social distancing tricky.

Director General Hilary McGrady said: “Despite our desire to keep our outdoor spaces open, the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors has to be our top priority.

“We have now sadly taken the decision to close all of our parks and gardens, in addition to our houses, shops and cafes, to avoid crowding that puts social distancing at risk.

“We know that people are likely to need space and fresh air in the coming weeks and months and we will do all we can to provide access wherever possible.

“Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing measures.

“Over the coming weeks our digital platforms – our website, social media feeds, podcasts and video – will become even more important, ensuring the places of nature, beauty and history that we care for on behalf of the nation can remain open for business virtually while we are temporarily closed.

“We will also be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature wherever they are and to find moments of joy in the world around them. We will be providing rich content and staying in touch with our members and followers throughout this time.”

For more information go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Coronavirus school closures: Visit National Trust parks and gardens for free to keep children active

Coronavirus school closures: Visit National Trust parks and gardens for free to keep children active

Explore National Trust sites safely during the Coronavirus crisis

The National Trust has announced it is giving free access to its open spaces during the coronavirus outbreak.

It is closing indoor sites like houses, cafes and shops to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

But the trust is allowing families to enjoy its parklands and gardens, after the governent closed schools and asked people to social distance.

The trust is planning which gardens and parks will be open to the public based on factors such as whether they allow enough space for adequate social distancing.

Director General Hilary McGrady said: “The National Trust was founded 125 years ago for the benefit of the entire nation. We want to honour our mission – to enable people and nature to thrive.

“Over the coming weeks we will do all that we can to keep on providing public benefit through caring for places and giving people access wherever possible.

“While we will close our indoor areas to help fight the spread of coronavirus, we recognise that people are likely to need access to open space and to nature, beauty and history.

Outdoor space and fresh air is important for children and for everyone’s mental health.

Mr Grady added: “We’ll try to keep as many open spaces available as possible but this is a changing situation and we’re strictly following Government advice so please keep checking our website for updated information and always check the site before you visit any of our places.”

The trust has said that the wellbeing of its staff, volunteers and visitors is its top concern.

And many volunteers fall into the over-70s age bracket.

UK airline Flybe collapses into administration – all flights have been cancelled

UK airline Flybe collapses into administration – all flights have been cancelled

Coronavirus crisis is the final blow for struggling airline Flybe

UK airline Flybe has collapsed – all flights have been cancelled and passengers have been told not to go to airports.

Flybe told customers today its business had ‘ceased trading with immediate effect’.

“If you are due to fly with Flybe, please DO NOT TRAVEL TO THE AIRPORT unless you have arranged an alternative flight with another airline,” the company has told customers.

“Please note that Flybe is unfortunately not able to arrange alternative flights for passengers.

“If you have a booking sold by another airline that includes travel on a Flybe flight, please contact the relevant airline or travel agent to confirm if there is any impact to your travel plans.”

The budget carrier, founded in 1979, was once Europe’s largest independent regional airline.

The Exeter-based company operated nearly 40 per cent of UK domestic flights – more than 200 routes and around eight million people a year used its services.

The company

Chief executive, Mark Anderson, said the company had made ‘every possible attempt’ to avoid collapse but had been ‘unable to overcome significant funding challenges’.

“The UK has lost one of its greatest regional assets,” he said.

“Flybe has been a key part of the UK aviation industry for four decades, connecting regional communities, people and businesses across the entire nation.”

Coronavirus

The coronavirus has seen demand for flights plummet in recent weeks, putting added pressure on the company which was already struggling with rising fuel costs and competition from other airlines.

The government announced in January that it was in communication with the company about it finances and had announced a rescue deal.

The whole global airline industry is in crisis because of the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China.

Flight schedules have been cut and planes grounded.

Jobs

The collapse puts more than 2,000 jobs at risk.

The government has said it will help Flybe’s workers find new jobs and will work with other airlines to minimise disruption and replace services.

Help

Flybe passengers and staff are being offered free travel by all First Rail train operators, which consist of Great Western Railway, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Avanti West Coast.

EasyJet has offered rescue fares for passengers and free flights to Flybe staff to get home.

Passenger rights

Flybe customers who bought tickets directly from the company will not be protected by the Atol scheme.

But if you went through a travel agent or another third party you might be covered.

Some people may be able to get their money back if they paid by credit card or with some debit cards.

For all your rights go to the Martin Lewis MoneySavingExpert website,

Customers are also advised to monitor the Civil Aviation Authority website for further information .

You can contact the administrators by email at flybeadministration@uk.ey.com.

Thorpe Park will reopen in March 2020 with the world’s first Black Mirror experience

Thorpe Park will reopen in March 2020 with the world’s first Black Mirror experience

Surrey theme park to open in time for the Easter Holidays

Surrey theme park Thorpe Park is reopening on March 27, 2020 in time for the school Easter holidays.

The family attraction in Chertsey, built on an island, has more than 30 rides, attractions and events.

It is adding to these with the world’s first experience based on the Netflix show Black Mirror.

Black Mirror Labyrinth, designed around the world of programme creator Charlie Brooker, is a digital maze which uses cutting-edge visual technology.

It is said to use ‘sensory-defying environments to reveal an uneasy truth that manipulates and displaces your very existence’.

Black Mirror Labyrinth ride experience at Thorpe Park theme park

The park already has the UK’s fastest roller coaster Stealth and the country’s only winged coaster.

It also home to the world’s first horror-themed roller coaster Saw – The Ride, featuring a beyond-vertical 100ft drop.

The park is running various events this year.

HYPERSpring is between April 4 and May 31, 2020 and Supercharged Summer is from July 18 to September 6 .

And its Halloween event Fright Nights is returning from October 3 to November 1, 2020 giving visitors the chance to ride coasters in the dead of night and take on award-winning live action scare mazes and experiences.

Thorpe Park Resort is in Chertsey, England, 20 miles from Central London.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis reveals clever Ryanair booking tip to save money for families

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis reveals clever Ryanair booking tip to save money for families

Martin Lewis trick could save up to 60 per cent for families flying with Ryanair

Financial guru Martin Lewis has unveiled a money-saving trick passengers can use when booking Ryanair flghts. The advice particularly benefits families with children under 12.

The budget airline may offer regular cheap flights but the price can rise when adding on extras like cabin bags, seat reservations and priority boarding per person per flight.

It offers different levels of fare including regular, value and plus and generally pushes the ‘regular’ price through advertising, where customers can pay around £20.85 for the extras.

But Martin Lewis has revealed on ITV show This Morning and his website that if you choose the ‘value’ fare first and then add on the extras, you could save money.

And while this is a process we at The Family Holiday Guide always try, Martin says many don’t and instead ‘buy the ticket the airline wants you to buy’.

Martin Lewis told viewers: “In tests we’ve done, 16 out of 20 times you would be better off to get its ‘value’ fare – its cheapest fare – and then add on these extras yourself. In one case it was over 60 per cent cheaper.”

“So when booking with Ryanair, start with the value fare then add on – that’s usually the best way.”

Why this works best when travelling with children

The trick works best when travelling with children.

This is because children under 12 automatically get ‘free’ reserved seating with Ryanair, thanks to its family seating policy, which is designed to ensure children sit with their parents.

With this, at least one adult must reserve a seat (at a cost of around £4 to £6) if travelling with under-12s, and up to four children can be seated next to him or her for free.

Martin Lewis says: “As a result, there’s usually little point selecting a ‘regular’ fare, which has to be applied to everyone in your group, if you’re travelling with children this age.

“On the 10 bookings we checked where kids were part of the group, adding seats, cabin bags and priority boarding separately won every time – even when we selected only the priciest seats in rows 18-33.”

The Money Saving Expert website features 20 other Ryanair cost-cutting tips.

Children’s television favourite Peppa Pig inspires families with her top 25 adventures to have around England

Children’s television favourite Peppa Pig inspires families with her top 25 adventures to have around England

VisitEngland and Peppa Pig team up to launch a top 25 for under-fives

Peppa Pig is inspiring young children and their families to plan adventures around England.

The TV favourite is sharing 25 top experiences, based on her own travels in the popular programme.

It is part of a new Peppa Pig hub which has been launched on the VisitEngland website.

There is a downloadable activity sheet and tick list to help families follow in Peppa’s footsteps. plus young fans can also watch clips from the show.

The ideas, from becoming a King or Queen for the day at one of England’s castles to spotting creepy crawlies at a nature reserve, showcase the huge potential for family breaks across the country, whatever the weather.

A family at Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

There are also some ideas picked by Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Granny and Grandpa Pig plus Peppa’s younger brother George, to inspire the whole family to make memories.

According to recent VisitEngland research, spending quality time with family and friends is the main reason for families taking a UK break.

Among favourite activities highlighted by the survey are with visiting attractions, getting outdoors and going to the beach.

Peppa Pig is currently shown on Channel 5 Milkshake and Nick Jr.

Peppa Pig and Visit England map

Visit the new Peppa hub or view the interactive map.

Peppa Pig’s top 25 experiences to have on an England break

  1. Have a play day at a museum

    The Natural History Museum, London

    The Natural History Museum, London

  2. Be King or Queen of the castle
  3. Have a picnic at a stately home
  4. Drift along canals on a boating holiday
  5. Go on a steam train journey
  6. Go paddling in the sea
  7. Enjoy an icecream on a pier
  8. Go rock pooling
  9. Build a sandcastle bigger than you
  10. Get competitive at crazy golf
  11. Jump in muddy puddles in a forest
  12. Spot Creepy Crawlies at a nature reserve
  13. Smell flowers at a garden
  14. Go camping in the countryside
  15. Be a strawberry farmer for the day
  16. Get crafty at an art gallery
  17. Hunt for dinosaurs at a museum
  18. Sing along at a theatre show
  19. Listen to your voice echo in a cave
  20. Eat cakes at afternoon tea
  21. Sing and dance at a family festival
  22. Splash about at a water park
  23. Ride on the top deck of a tour bus
  24. See how high you can fly a kite
  25. Visit a petting farm
Top 20 family-friendly European holiday destinations revealed – and a UK hotspot is second

Top 20 family-friendly European holiday destinations revealed – and a UK hotspot is second

A holiday favourite in England is one of the best in Europe for family trips with children

Portugal’s Algarve region has been named the top family-friendly destination in Europe in a new survey.

The Algarve won top spot in the Columbus Direct analysis.

In second place was Cornwall, with its beautiful beaches and fantastic attractions.

St Ives, Cornwall

St Ives, Cornwall

Majorca, Corsica and Tenerife complete the top five.

Popular Spain and Greece were named the most family-friendly countries.

The analysis measured each area’s family-friendly hotels, child-friendly restaurants, flight times from the UK and number of children’s activities available.

The Algarve was rated highly for its hotels, restaurants and activities. The area is popular with families because of its beaches, attracting around four million visitors a year.

The Algarve

The Algarve

Stuart Lloyd, Travel Insurance Expert at Columbus Direct said: “It is great to see so many destinations provided by our European neighbours that cater to families on holiday and help make parents’ choice far easier and stress-free.

“It is also great to see Cornwall appear as one of the top places to go to as a family, with the rise of the staycation and also for outside of the UK wanting to holiday here.”

Here is the full top 20 destinations. Which is your favourite?

1. Algarve, Portugal

2. Cornwall, UK

3. Majorca, Spain

4. Corsica, France

5. Tenerife, Spain

6. Costa Brava, Spain

7. Rhodes, Greece

8. Corfu, Greece

9. Gran Canaria, Spain

10. Amalfi Coast, Italy

11. Malta

12.Ibiza, Spain

13. Menorca, Spain

14. Zante, Greece

15. Lanzarote, Spain

16. Malaga, Spain

17. Madeira, Portugal

18. Halkidiki, Greece

19. Mykonos, Greece

20. Fuerteventura, Spain

Don’t miss our reviews of Corsica, Majorca, Malaga, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

Ryanair launches three new routes from Manchester for summer 2020

Ryanair launches three new routes from Manchester for summer 2020

Ryanair extends its summer schedule with three new routes for 2020 on sale now

Ryanair has announced three new Manchester routes to Denmark, France and Ireland, starting in March 2020.

The airline will be flying to Copenhagen (daily), Kerry (twice weekly) and Paris Beauvais (four times a week), as part of its extended UK Summer 2020 schedule.

It is also increasing flights throughout the summer to Shannon in Ireland, from five to six times a week.

Ryanair’s Eimear Ryan said: “Manchester consumers and visitors can now book their summer holidays on 66 routes as far out as October 2020, flying on the lowest fares and with the greenest/cleanest major airline in Europe, with the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger/kilometre.”

To celebrate the new Manchester routes, Ryanair has launched a seat sale on its European network with fares from £14.99 for travel from now until the end of March 2020, which must be booked by Thursday, January 23, only on the Ryanair.com website.

Competition – win family tickets to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2020

Competition – win family tickets to the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2020

We have tickets up for grabs for the February show at the NEC in Birmingham

It’s competition time! We have teamed up with the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2020 to give you the chance to win tickets to this great family day out.

The winner will be able to choose a date to visit the show, which runs for six days, from February 18 to 23 at the NEC in Birmingham.

We have two sets of two tickets to give away which will allow two families free entry as children 15 and under don’t pay.

How to enter on Facebook

To enter, go to our Family Holiday Guide Facebook page and comment on the competition post, telling us why you want to win. Don’t forget to like our page and tag friends and family who would love to win!

How to enter on Twitter

To enter you need to make sure that you have liked the Family Holiday Guide Twitter page and then RT the competition post.

Our emails

Sign up to our emails here. When you sign up, we’ll also automatically enter you into our current prize draw!

All you need to know about the show

The UK’s biggest display of leisure vehicles, static holiday homes, lodges, tents and more will be spread over five halls.

There will be lots going on for families with activities like climbing and crazy golf for children to enjoy.

Plus there is a new area where children and adults can try out some of the most cutting-edge electric ride-ons, from bikes to scooters, skateboards and even unicycles on a special indoor course.

There is a theatre area with special guests like Shane Richie, Matt Allwright, adventurer Darren Hardy and chef, author, and Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain.

Dog lovers can watch canine agility demonstrations and see the famous Springer Spaniel trio Max, Paddy and Harry, who have thousands of followers on social media.

Guests can try their hand at towing during free one-to-one sessions with experts from The Camping and Caravanning Club.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club will also be offering visitors the chance to get behind the wheel with campervan test drives and motorhome maneuvering sessions.

Plus the Holiday Park Experience and Glamping Village will be giving ideas and help for planning your 2020 trips.

A family at the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2020

Tickets

If you don’t win our prize then tickets for the show are available now and priced at £8 for adults and £7 for seniors.

Tickets on the door cost £10 for adults and £9 seniors – children 15 and under go free.

Competition terms and Conditions

We have two sets of two tickets for any day of the show.

Entries close at 11.59pm on February 10 and the winner will be announced on February 11.

No prize or part of the prize is exchangeable for cash or other services.

Entrants must be aged 16 or over and UK resident only.

The first correct entry selected at random after the closing date will receive the tickets.

More information

For further information about The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, the latest news or to buy tickets visit the website.

Big plans for Orlando for 2020 – new rides, resorts, restaurants and more

Big plans for Orlando for 2020 – new rides, resorts, restaurants and more

What is new for the Theme Park Capital of the World this year at attractions including Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld

Orlando in Florida is welcoming 30 new additions for 2020.

There will be a theme park expansion, the world’s tallest slingshot ride, an ‘acoustically perfect’ theatre, a new celebrity chef restaurant and one of the largest booms for hotel growth in decades.

Theme Parks

Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World Resort)

*The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway,’ will open.

*Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’ has opened and is the second attraction for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land.

Epcot (Walt Disney World Resort)

Epcot is undergoing one of the biggest transformations of any Disney park in history, bringing a host of new attractions and experiences in 2020, including:

*Three new films from January 17: Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 and Awesome Planet.

*Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in summer 2020, shrinking guests to the size of Chef Remy and racing them through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.

*Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.

*La Crêperie de Paris, a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot, debuting in summer 2020, offering both table and quick-service crepe options.

Universal Orlando Resort

*The Bourne Stuntacular, a cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne films, will debut in spring 2020 at Universal Studios Florida.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

*Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando, opening spring 2020, takes riders on the steepest vertical drop in Florida.

*Riptide Race at Aquatica Orlando will be Florida’s first-ever dueling water slide, featuring side-by-side racing lanes through nearly 650 feet of slide.

New Entertainment Beyond the Parks

Outside the famous theme parks, Orlando is reaching new heights this year, from some of the world’s tallest thrills rides to one of the most acoustically perfect spaces on earth.

*Steinmetz Hall at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opening September 2020, will achieve an N1 sound rating – the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.

Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

*ICON Park, located on International Drive and home to The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, will welcome more record-breaking attractions in 2020, including two major thrill rides:

The Orlando Slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the World’s Tallest Slingshot ride.

The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders freefall at up to 75 miles per hour.

*The Orlando Science Center’s ‘Pompeii: The Immortal City,’ runs June 6 to September 7, 2020 and is one of only four US sites for the interactive exhibit.

Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center

*’Drawn to Life,’ a new Cirque du Soleil show, transports guests into the world of Disney’s animation in Cirque’s signature style, opening at Disney Springs in March 2020.

*Wild Florida’s 75-acre drive-through safari park brings visitors nose-to-snout with giraffes, wild boars and other animals. The safari area will include a zipline over a grazing area.

*Two Orlando malls are set to undergo enhancements in 2020 – Pointe Orlando and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.

New Resorts and Hotels

Orlando has the second highest number of hotel rooms of anywhere in the US and is undergoing a huge hotel expansion.

*JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens February 2020 with 516 rooms, a Spa and a rooftop terrace with nightly views of theme park fireworks.

JW Marriott Orlando kids room

JW Marriott Orlando

*Universal Orlando Resort’s 2,050-room Dockside Inn and Suites opens March 2020. It is a coastal-themed budget hotel with rates starting at $76 per night.

New Restaurants

There are a host of new eateries adding to Orlando’s diverse food scene.

*Knife & Spoon at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is a concept from chef John Tesar, opening spring 2020.

*Ole Red, a new restaurant by country superstar Blake Shelton, will open at ICON Park in 2020 and merge southern hospitality, good food and live country music. Also coming to ICON Park in 2020 is Ox Grill, offering contemporary fare with steaks, pasta and a selection of international dishes.

*Camelo Pizzaria opens on International Drive in early 2020. The Brazilian thin-crust pizza place is the first location outside Brazil.

*Sixty Vines, a restaurant with Napa Valley-inspired seasonal cuisine, will open in spring 2020 in Winter Park and offer guests 60 varieties of wine on tap.

*Norman’s will be moving to Restaurant Row. Created by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, the concept will open in the Dellagio Plaza spring 2020.

*Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando opens September 2020. The locally owned restaurant will feature Mexican comfort food, tequila flights and entertainment. Also opening at Pointe Orlando is The Hampton Social, themed after the New York coastal resort region.

*AG’s Market, a lakefront food hall opening late 2020, combines retail, beverage and food options with a second-floor seating area showcasing the theme park fireworks.

For all the updates and tips for planning a trip go to VisitOrlando.com

Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States.

Gangsta Granny: The Ride comes to Alton Towers based on the popular book as part of the new World of David Walliams

Gangsta Granny: The Ride comes to Alton Towers based on the popular book as part of the new World of David Walliams

Grannies go free at Alton Towers in 2020 to celebrate the opening of the World of David Walliams

Staffordshire theme park Alton Towers has revealed that the star attraction of its soon-to-open World of David Walliams themed area will be Gangsta Granny: The Ride.

The world-first ride experience is inspired by Walliams’ biggest selling children’s novel Gangsta Granny.

Fans will also be able to stay overnight in one of four Gangsta Granny themed bedrooms in the Alton Towers Hotel.

Stay overnight in a Gangsta Granny room

Stay overnight in a Gangsta Granny room

We revealed last year that the World of David Walliams will be arriving at Alton Towers this Spring (2020) with a host of rides and attractions, bringing to life much-loved characters from the author’s children’s novels.

To celebrate the launch of Gangsta Granny: The Ride, Alton Towers is offering a new Grannies Go Free pass for 2020.

Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, Gangsta Granny tells the story of Ben who discovers that his Granny is secretly an international jewel thief.

David Walliams works with Alton Towers on the new Gangsta Granny ride

David Walliams works with Alton Towers on the new Gangsta Granny ride

Comedian, actor and best-selling author David Walliams OBE said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Gangsta Granny is becoming a ride at Alton Towers.

“I never imagined it would happen so it’s a real delight to see my characters brought to life in a ride.

“I’ve worked really closely with the team at Alton Towers to make sure the ride is just as funny and exciting as the book. I think children and their parents and even their grandparents are going to love it!”

The new 4D ride experience will see guests join the main characters as they attempt the greatest heist in the history of the world: to steal the Crown Jewels.

On-board a royal carriage, they will set off on a Crown Jewels tour only to be caught up in Ben and Granny’s adventure.

The ride will whizz, twist and spin passengers 360 degrees through a series of scenes where they will see, feel, hear and even smell an electrifying and unique retelling of the Gangsta Granny story.

Using state-of-the-art special effects, 3D projection-mapping and animation inspired by the artwork of Tony Ross, passengers will descend with Ben and Granny into the sewers, be chased through the streets of London and even come face to face with the Queen.

Gangsta Granny The Ride at Alton Towers

In other parts of the David Walliams area will be Raj’s Shop, a Royal Carousel, Raj’s Bouncy Bottom Burp and other surprises.

John Burton, Creative Lead for Alton Towers Resort, said: “David’s stories are full of witty characters, intrigue and exhilaration so it’s been a fantastic challenge to build all that into a new ride experience.

“It’s the first time we’ve attempted such a complex combination of a physical ride experience, high-tech special effects and brilliant story-telling to ensure guests feel they are with Granny and Ben on every step of their adventure.”

Alton Towers in Staffordshire, a member of the Merlin Entertainments family, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

It opens for 2020 on March 21.

The park says the new area will open in the Spring but has not given an official launch date yet.

Grannies (and Grandads) go free

Alton Towers is offering one free adult (aged 60 and over) ticket per full price child ticket when bought by March 20. The free tickets can be used during the 2020 season (March 21 to November 1, 2020). For full terms and conditions, go to www.altontowers.com/tandcs

Gangsta Granny-themed rooms

There are four themed rooms in the Alton Towers Hotel. They cost from £281.50, based on a family-of-four with bed and breakfast, book via altontowers.com

Gangsta Granny Facts

It was first published on 27th October 2011.

The anniversary edition was published in 2018.

Gangsta Granny was David’s first children’s number one bestseller.

It stayed at the top of The Sunday Times top ten for 24 weeks.

Overall sales of Gangsta Granny are 1.75 million in the UK alone.

Gangsta Granny has also been adapted for the stage by the Birmingham Stage Company.

A television adaptation was commissioned by the BBC in 2013 and first aired on BBC One on Boxing Day 2013. The cast includes Miranda Hart, Rob Brydon, David Walliams as Ben’s Dad and Joanna Lumley as The Queen. It is currently available to view on Netflix.

David Walliams

David closed 2019 as the UK’s biggest-selling author. His titles took three of the top 10 overall bestselling books of 2019 as well as the top three bestselling children’s books of the year.

He is one of the most influential children’s writers and has revolutionised reading for children.

Since the publication of his ground-breaking first novel, The Boy in the Dress (2008), global sales of his books have exceeded 37 million copies.

Across his titles, he has celebrated a total of 55 weeks at number one in the overall book charts and more than 150 weeks at number one in the children’s charts – more than any other children’s writer.

His most recent novel, The Beast of Buckingham Palace, was published in November 2019 and went straight to number one in in the overall industry bestseller charts where it remained for four weeks and included the coveted UK Christmas number one spot.

*For more information on Gangsta Granny: The Ride and other new attractions inspired by the books of David Walliams visit  www.altontowers.com/Walliams.

Discover the best and worst rated airlines in latest Which? survey

Discover the best and worst rated airlines in latest Which? survey

Which? reveals the results from its 2019 airline survey

British Airways, Ryanair and American Airline have been named among the worst performers in the Which? Annual airline survey.

In contrast, Jet2, Easyjet, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic were praised for their efforts by passengers.

BA was criticised for its food and drink, seat comfort and value for money in the survey of 6,500 holidaymakers.

The airline was second from bottom in the long haul category and third from bottom in the short haul section.

Ryanair was voted worst short haul airline for the fourth successive year with passengers criticising its confusing luggage rules.

Vueling and Wizz Air were also near the bottom of the list.

Among the best performing airlines in the survey was Jet2, which gained five stars for its customer service, and EasyJet.

In the long haul category, American Airlines finished bottom of the list, with one customer claiming ‘the cabin was scruffy, the staff rude, the food awful’.

Singapore Airlines was top of the long haul list with Emirates and Virgin Atlantic also performing well.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “Year after year, the same culprits continue to sink to new lows, yet for many of us, there is a choice.

“You don’t have to keep booking with an airline that has let you down – or one that you loved for years but has slipped in quality.

“If you get a choice and you are flying short haul, choose Jet2. It is better quality than BA and often has better fares than Ryanair. If you are heading to the states, Virgin Atlantic beats BA hands-down.”

Leading family holiday company expands across Europe with four new resorts

Leading family holiday company expands across Europe with four new resorts

Al Fresco Holidays launches in four new resorts for 2020

A leading family holiday company has added four new resorts across Europe for 2020

Al Fresco Holidays will now operate mobile homes in six countries after launching in holiday parks in Croatia, France and Italy.

Among the new options are Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia, Le Soleil de la Mediterannee and Camping Club Le Napoleon in France as well as Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany.

The new Croatian park is near a shingle beach, overlooking the Brijuni archipelago – a National Park consisting of 14 islands. It is near the historic city of Pula.

Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia

Brioni Sunny Camping in Croatia

The new French sites include Le Soleil de la Mediterranee in the Roussillon region, which boasts a large waterpark featuring a lagoon, lazy river and two giant waterslides.

Camping Club Le Napoleon, in the Languedoc in southern France, is a family-focussed site with a waterpark, games room, a sauna, massage services and  onsite beautician.

Camping Club Le Napoleon in southern France

Camping Club Le Napoleon in southern France

In Italy, Montescudaio Camping Village is a large holiday park situated in the Tuscan countryside. It has a pool side restaurant, takeaway, and onsite bar.

Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany, Italy

Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany, Italy

Some of Al Fresco’s existing parks have been upgraded for the new season with new waterslides at Duinrell in the Netherlands, which we reviewed here, and a new waterpark at Marina D’Erba Rossa in Corsica, which we visited here.

There will be new mobile homes at certain parks with the newly designed three-bedroom Da Vinci Lounge and the Toscanini Lounge which has an open plan kitchen.

The following campsites across Europe will have new mobile homes: Zaton Holiday Resort in Croatia, the beachsidePra Delle Torri park in Italy, the five-star Marina Di Venezia and Bella Italia on the shores of Lake Garda, which we reviewed here.

Most parks open between April and October next year, for exact opening times visit the Al Fresco website here.

Al Fresco Holidays is currently one of the market leaders in European mobile home holidays.

The company has over 70 locations across France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Holland and Austria.

Many have indoor and outdoor pool complexes, entertainment, organised activities, children’s clubs and eateries.

Park sizes vary hugely but all offer the essentials like on-site shops, bakeries, take-aways and laundry facilities.

*Main pic: Children’s pool at Montescudaio Camping Village in Tuscany.

Families flock to Winter Funland 2019 in Manchester for a huge Christmas experience out of the cold

Families flock to Winter Funland 2019 in Manchester for a huge Christmas experience out of the cold

A panto, ice rink, circus, Santa AND funfair all under one roof at huge Christmas event for children

Thousands of families have been flocking to Manchester to escape the cold weather into an entirely indoor Christmas extravaganza.

The UK’s biggest Christmas indoor event Winter Funland 2019, includes a huge ice rink, a Christmas circus, a pantomime, a vast indoor funfair and of course, Santa Claus.

There is also loads of food and drink for sale including vegan, vegetarian, gluten and lactose free options.

For parents of young children, there is plenty of space to park prams and buggies as well as a quiet breastfeeding area and baby changing facilities.

Last year, over 85,000 people visited the event.

Winter Funland event director, Andy Windmill, said: “Last year’s event was a phenomenal success and this year is bigger, brighter and full of even more festive fun.

“We have pulled out all of the stops to ease queues for Santa, quicker service for food and of course – brought in even more exciting funfair rides.”

Winter Funland is at EventCity, opposite intu Trafford Centre and there are over 3,000 free car parking spaces.

It runs until January 4, 2020. Visits are in sessions of four hours.

All-inclusive admission tickets are £23.50 per person and under 3s are free. Fastpass tickets to visit Father Christmas at Santa’s Grotto are also available from the website here www.winterfunland.com

EasyJet announces new route from Liverpool to Turkey

EasyJet announces new route from Liverpool to Turkey

Families in the north west welcome the airline’s new route to Antalya

Europe’s leading airline Easyjet is launching a new route from Liverpool to Antalya in Turkey.

Flights will operate weekly on Thursdays throughout the summer, providing families from the North West with a direct route to another popular Turkish resort.

It joins Easyjet routes already available to Dalaman and Bodrum in Turkey from Liverpool.

The port of Antalya offers lots of historic attractions and is situated on what is known as the Turquoise Coast for its stunning blue waters.

Flights will take off from April 2, 2020 and the new service is expected to carry over 8,000 customers during its first season.

Seats are now on sale with fares from £60.16 return.

Ali Gayward, EasyJet’s UK Country Manager, said:We are delighted to confirm today that we will be launching a new route from Liverpool to Antalya.

“As the largest airline at Liverpool, we’re focused on strengthening our network and providing our customers in the North West with excellent services by offering great value fares, a convenient schedule and more choice when they travel.”

Antalya will become the 33rd destination on easyJet’s Liverpool network.

John Irving, CEO for Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said: “We are delighted to see easyJet add a further new route to their expanding network from Liverpool.

“We expect Antalya to prove popular with the region’s holidaymakers who can now take advantage of our award-winning Faster, Easier, Friendlier approach to the passenger experience, helping to get their holiday from here off to a great start.

“Holidays to Turkey are popular with passengers from across the North West and North Wales.”

To book and for more information visit the Easyjet website.

Picture shows John Irving, CEO of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Ali Gayward, EasyJet’s UK Country Manager, celebrating the announcement of the new route from Liverpool to Antalya. 

The UK’s largest habitat for world’s rarest lions opens at Chester Zoo

The UK’s largest habitat for world’s rarest lions opens at Chester Zoo

A pride of Asiatic lions have moved into a new home at Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has today opened a special new home for a pride of Asiastic lions – the world’s rarest lion species, on the brink of extinction.

The lions have taken their first steps in the new conservation area, which is designed to recreate the environment of the Gir Forest region of India, where the last few hundred Asiatic lions live in the wild.

Lionesses Kumari and Kiburi and adult male Iblis, all aged 12, explored their new home before it opened to the public.

Lioness Kumari

Lioness Kumari

Dave Hall, team manager of carnivores at Chester Zoo, said: This brand new habitat at the zoo – the largest in the UK – really is a fitting new home for them.

“Asiatic lions are impressively built animals, with compact bodies, powerful legs and strong jaws and teeth, making them superb hunters.

“Their retractable claws, which they use for gripping tightly on to prey, can be up to 38mm long and they have rough tongues, like sandpaper, for scraping meat from bones.

“They are truly majestic animals.”

The species is ‘endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List’ of threatened species – meaning it faces a high chance of extinction.

Poaching, human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and disease have caused a catastrophic decline in Asiatic lion populations, which once roamed across Northern Africa, Greece, Turkey and Asia but are now confined to one small region of India.

Around 650 of the lions are thought to remain in the wild and this facility could be a major boost to the European breeding programme for the species.

Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo’s chief executive officer, said: “This remarkable species is facing a very uncertain future. The European endangered species breeding programme is critically important. If the worst was to happen in the wild, good zoos would be the only thing standing between Asiatic lions and extinction.

“We’re very proud to be able to give the Asiatic lion pride the world’s best conservation breeding facilities. We also hope the new area will help us raise much needed awareness about the plight of Asiatic lions.”

The area – which has been specially created by the zoo’s carnivore experts – spans 4,780 square metres.

Male Iblis and female Kiburi Asiatic lions at Chester Zoo

Male Iblis and female Kiburi

It is a dry forest habitat with raised hilltop viewing points for the pride, heated rocks, a water hole and heated indoor dens, which zoo experts hope will one day be the perfect environment for cubs.

Dr Pilgrim added: “Lions were among the first carnivores cared for here by Chester Zoo’s founder George Mottershead. He was a pioneering animal welfare advocate, who realised his vision for the first ‘zoo without bars’.

“Our ongoing habitat creation programme continues to deliver George’s ‘always building’ philosophy, which has pushed the boundaries of world-class animal welfare and  conservation in zoos.”

Chester Zoo welcomes 1.9 million visitors a year and is the UK’s most visited zoo and England’s most visited tourist attraction outside London.

Asiatic lion facts:

*The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) is a subspecies of the lion which today survives only in India.

*Asiatic lions stand at between 1 and 1.2 metres tall.

*They are the most sociable of the big cats, led by a dominant male who is the only male in the pride who can mate.

*Their long tails with black tufts at the tip help them to balance, communicate their mood and lead other lions through long grass. The tuft hides a sharp spike at the end of the tall, which is their spine.

*Only the males have manes, which are to attract females and intimidate other males.

*They communicate in varied ways like grooming each other and rubbing heads.

*Lions defend their territory by roaring and scent marking. Scents also help a male to discover if a female is in season.

*Asiatic lions spend between 16 and 20 hours each day resting. They have few sweat glands so they wisely tend to conserve their energy.

The ‘World of David Walliams’ is being created at a popular theme park

The ‘World of David Walliams’ is being created at a popular theme park

Work has begun to bring the magic of David Walliams’ books to life at Alton Towers resort

Alton Towers Resort has announced that a David Walliams World will be launched at the UK attraction from Spring 2020.

The partnership with the comedian, actor and best-selling author, will see some of his best-loved characters brought to life at the Staffordshire resort.

The theme park said the project is ‘shrouded in secrecy’ but will centre around the existing Cloud Cuckoo Land area.

Nearly 100 specialists from Alton Towers’ creative team and experts in the latest theme-park technology are working on the project.

It will include:

*A ground-breaking headline attraction

*A number of other attractions and characters across the theme park and within the resort’s hotels.

David Walliams OBE was the UK’s biggest selling author in 2017 and 2018. He began writing children’s books in 2008 and has published 12 novels as well as short story collections and picture books.

He said: “It’s a huge thrill for some of my favourite characters to be getting their own attractions at Alton Towers.

“I can’t wait to experience them for myself and from all the work that has gone in I think people are going to love it. All will be revealed next year.”

The resort has been working with David Walliams and HarperCollins Children’s Books for the past two years on the project and construction work has already begun.

Alton Towers Resort managing director, James Walker said: “We are delighted to be able to announce our partnership with David Walliams on what promises to be a hugely exciting addition to Alton Towers Resort in 2020.

“David’s books have really captured the imagination of Britain’s children and their families. So it’s a huge honour to be working with David on this fabulous collaboration for 2020, the year in which we celebrate our 40th birthday as the nation’s favourite theme park.”

 

Sign up to be the first for updates by visiting www.altontowers.com/Walliams or following @AltonTowers across social media.

More information about the arrival of ‘The World of David Walliams’ at Alton Towers will be released soon.