Newmarket Holidays


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Searching for Santa – a magical Lapland experience

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At Newmarket Holidays, we do our best to ensure that all of our guests have the best experience possible – which is why we love to receive feedback letting us know we’ve done a good job.

We recently received this letter from Averil, who travelled to Lapland on one of our Santa

Experience Day Trips with her family. We loved how she captured the magic of the day, so we wanted to share her letter in full.

‘I know that I am really late with this letter – but hopefully better late than never! And I did want to thank you so much for our wonderful trip to Lapland which my three grandchildren, daughter-in-law and I took with you in December. It was magical! And so well organised that I wanted to congratulate you on creating something very special…

Picture this… we fly from Humberside in the dark and, before long – and sustained with breakfast on board – we can see the white world of Lapland below us, dotted with the darkness of fir trees.

A warm welcome greets us from the brightly clad Laplanders – “Gud Yule!” they cry as we board the coach which takes us from the airport of Pajala to Santa’s village. Our hosts meet us and guide us to the large wooden cabin where there is a café, (we’ll have our lunch of meatballs there later) a small gift shop and a huge hangar of a room where there is thermal clothing we can borrow.

We’re suited and booted and ready to explore. Being somewhat timid of nature, I’ve imagined myself standing on the sidelines, happy to watch my beloved grandchildren enjoying the activities in the snow. No way! Our guides inform us that there are sledges for our use; snowmobiles; a tepee where there is storytelling by the fire and – what’s that?

I can hear the excited barking of dogs. The huskies are harnessed to their sleds, desperate to get going. Forget standing on the sidelines! I hear the call of the musher. I can see him waving to us. I grab the grandchildren! Quick! He’s waiting for us! And we’re off! Across the snow to grab our places on the sled. The air is clear, the sky golden and the snow sparkling like diamonds as we hurtle off into the forest. It is exhilarating! Breathtaking. Magical!

As is the ride on the snowmobile – although this time I have snowball fun with the two little ones as daughter-in-law and older grandson take to the skidoo.

We have our lunch and then we’re off again. The guides tell us that Father Christmas has arrived from the North Pole – not that far away as we are all well into the Arctic Circle. But there are reindeer to see first and a sleigh ride through another part of the forest – this time at a steadier pace. The sky is darkening already. There are fires burning, candles in the snow, fairy lights, and lanterns hanging from the trees…

And now it is time to see if we can find the great man. Does he really exist? It’s only half past one, but the light is fading. Our way into the forest is illuminated by the lanterns. We follow the track… into the trees… there is a hut and a huddle of people and yes… another guide waiting for us. She points to the log cabin – Father Christmas is there! But, while we wait, she explains, Mother Christmas has made us hot berry juice and ginger biscuits which we eat by the brazier, glad of the light and warmth.

Then it’s our turn. We head up the path. It is quite unreal. The door opens. He is there! He is waiting to greet us. To ask the children what they would like him to bring for Christmas. Father Christmas is alive and well! The children are quite overwhelmed but they manage to present him with the letters they’ve written. He gives them a little gift with promises of coming to visit on December 25th. Wonderful! Even I am captured by the magic of it all.

Outside again, and we can see a miniature train with a skidoo pulling it. The forest is dark, really dark now, as we race through and back to the village. It’s almost time to go. Just time to play with the sledges, to make snow angels, to shed our borrowed clothes and put our own back on before we go outside to wait for the coach to take us back to the airport. And then… then…

There is a strange and eerie light… faint at first, but growing stronger and more powerful until the sky is suffused with an iridescent green… the Northern Lights… sent especially for us… I am sure.

What a wonderful day. Thank you so much, Newmarket, for a precious memory that we will all treasure for ever…’

If Averil’s letter has inspired you to create special memories with your children and grandchildren, visit our website now. You’ll find more details of this Christmastime family experience, including dates and departure airports.


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Best of British – Edinburgh Tattoo

Edinburgh TattooThe world-famous Edinburgh Tattoo is preparing for its 66th annual show.

Here at Newmarket Holidays, we offer escorted tours to many locations around the world. However, we’re also extremely proud to offer a wide range of holidays and tours here in the UK and Ireland, from the astonishing landscapes of the Giant’s Causeway and the Hebridean Islands, to favourite destinations like Belfast, Bath and Blackpool.

To celebrate all of the wonders that Britain has to offer, we’re going to be looking at some of our favourite British events and locations in more detail, bringing you key tips for your holiday from our well-travelled team along the way.

So let’s get started! We’re beginning our ‘Best of British’ theme with a real treat, the Edinburgh Tattoo, to which we’ve been taking guests for over 30 years.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is a unique and popular traditional event, featuring the British Armed Forces and military bands from around the world. The event takes place in the magical setting of Edinburgh Castle, with the great oak castle gates sweeping open to the esplanade and inviting you in to experience a show unlike any other. Preparations are currently underway for the 66th annual show, taking place this August during the world-renowned Edinburgh Festival.

The show has a traditional feel and international appeal, with an annual television audience of over 100 million worldwide. Performers from more than 46 countries have participated in the show and 2015 is no exception, with this year’s theme being ‘East meets West’. Brigadier David Allfrey, the Tattoo’s producer, had this to say of this year’s event:

‘The cast for 2015 looks rather special with five major international contributions in the mix’.

Notable contributors announced so far include the 70-piece Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes from Charleston in South Carolina, the Top Secret Drum Corps featuring 30 percussionists from Switzerland and the Crossed Swords Pipe Band from Berlin.

Another special focus of the show this year will be an appearance from the Royal Air Force, set to observe the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. To mark this occasion, which holds a special significance for many people in Britain, the RAF Pipes and Drums, the RAF Squadronaires and the Queen’s Colour Squadron will present an inspired mix of dance band classics and precision drill. Representatives of The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, The Band of the Royal Air Force College, The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will also be contributing to the musical celebration, under the combined title of the RAF Massed Bands.

This vibrant and colourful spectacular will be concluded in the traditional manner, with a lone piper on the battlements above Edinburgh Castle and a wonderful fireworks display. Teresa, our Product Manager for the Edinburgh Tattoo, noted this as one of her favourite parts of the event:

‘This close to the proceedings is truly atmospheric and the absolute highlight of the show for many of our guests.’

Newmarket Holidays offer a variety of trips to the Edinburgh Tattoo, including a choice between coach and air travel. Join us to get a great view of all the action at this unforgettable event.


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Bangkok – Buddhas, night markets and sailing to the shops

Our Long Haul Product Director, Richard, explored Thailand to put together our escorted tour. Here are his reasons to visit the amazing city of Bangkok.

To get a real feel for Thai life – and an overview of many of the country’s terrific sights – Bangkok is a great city to base yourself in.

richard 28 nov floatingCompared to Europe, here daily essentials and eating are all very cheap. There are tons of restaurants, serving all sorts of food from around the world, and menu choices are usually extensive. You’ll also find ‘7-11′ stores everywhere, selling basics like water and drinks plus interesting, local snacks at a fraction of hotel prices.

As a city, Bangkok is quite easy to get around. The new Skytrain is cheap, clean and very easy to use, and you can also experience more traditional methods of travel like the tuk tuk or the Chao Praya River’s public waterbus (the best way to reach the Grand Palace). It’s a very safe city too – do consider walking from place to place in the shopping and tourist areas as it’s often not that far.

Bangkok’s incredible sights include the Grand Palace and the amazing Buddhas – an emerald one, one that reclines and a five and a half ton golden one! Most people head for the night markets of Patpong too, where, as well as some very colourful and imaginative nightlife, you’ll find clothing and souvenirs on numerous popular stalls.

Just outside Bangkok you’ll find more fascinating places to visit. For a poignant reminder of the events which took place in Thailand during WWII, head out to Kanchanaburi on the banks of the River Kwai. You can walk across the bridge itself (now largely reconstructed) or take the train through the dense jungle along the route of the Death Railway.

For another unique experience, get up early and travel by speedy long-tail boat to the famous floating markets. See colourful local sellers plie their trade with a vast range of wares, which they offer from their boats.

You can visit Bangkok with Newmarket Holidays on the ‘Follow the Mekong – Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam’ tour. Departures are available in 2015 and 2016, flying from Gatwick Airport.


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Happy Birthday, Elvis!

This year Elvis Presley would have marked his 80th birthday. The legend of ‘The King’ lives on in two fantastic Newmarket Holidays tours – sure to fascinate whether or not you’re an Elvis Fan!

If you’d like to discover Elvis’s life story through items that actually belonged to him, you can see over 300 artefacts from the Presley Family Archives at the ‘Elvis at the 02′ exhibition . Our 2-day coach break, which includes coach travel and your hotel stay, gives you a chance to see inside the gates of Graceland – in the largest retrospective of his life ever staged in Europe.

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And if you’d like to see Elvis’s stomping grounds in America for yourself, take a look at our brand new tour video. In it, you can get a flavour of our popular Elvis Presley’s Memphis, New Orleans and Nashville holiday - to his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi; Memphis, where he grew up; and his iconic home, Graceland (on an optional tour). It also includes the wonderful Deep South music cities of New Orleans and Nashville.

Click here or on the image to play video:

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If you’re thinking that maybe ‘It’s Now or Never,’ then ‘Don’t be cruel’! Visit our website to treat yourself to a fantastic holiday – and a great way to celebrate the unforgettable Elvis Presley.


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Guest Blog – Independent Reviews

On our website, you can read reviews of our holidays collected by an independent reviews company, Reevoo. In this Guest Blog, Edwin from Revoo explains why this independence matters when you are choosing your next break.

If you’ve ever stared blankly at an especially dense restaurant menu, paralysed by the number of options, you’re not alone. More choices makes choosing harder – and it seems like we’re given nothing but choices these days. Previously, your parents probably had a tour company that they always used, or would pick one based on advice from a neighbour or friend.

The modern tour booking process has become an exhausting effort to digest all of the information available online. That’s the modern problem – how on earth do you choose?

In an ideal world, the real and honest opinions of people who went on these tours and booked with these tour companies would be readily available to guide you. Unfortunately, in the real world – that is, the real internet world – these holidaymakers’ opinions are often mixed together with fake reviews or testimonials. The fake positive reviews are written by the businesses themselves, and some even pay agencies or freelancers to write them in bulk. The fake negative reviews are written by their competitors. It’s illegal, but it happens. Sadly, news stories about fake reviews on TripAdvisor are a regular occurrence.

I work for independent reviews company Reevoo and we hate fake reviews. In fact, they are our raison d’être. Nine years ago, one of our founders was looking for a camera on Amazon, but didn’t feel as though he could trust the reviews there: “There has to be a better way, because these reviews are exactly what I should trust most on this page, more than the manufacturer’s blurb.”

With his co-founders he came up with a method of collecting and displaying reviews on the brand’s behalf through a third party. With an impartial moderator, only people who have actually bought the product or service are allowed to write a review. We still do it that way today for all of our clients, including Newmarket Holidays.

The company could collect and publish their own reviews, but with fake reviews out there, you might not trust them. They could show reviews that look like the ones on TripAdvisor, but you might not trust them either (especially when you’ve just read a BBC news article about fake reviews on TripAdvisor).

Newmarket Holidays understands that, just as a ‘Norton Certified’ trustmark indicates that a third party has vouched for the security of the payment on a website, showing a Reevoo trustmark indicates that there are no fake reviews on www.newmarketholidays.co.uk. The company understands how important trust is to you.

There is actually more going on out there than just fake reviews. All reviews could be real, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t misleading you.

Imagine a company that shows real reviews but removes all the bad ones, or edits the content to remove negative comments. Unfortunately, such deception is rarely talked about in the press, but I dread to think how often this happens – our anecdotal evidence suggests it’s probably more than you think. How often are innocent consumers misled, convinced into buying something that they wouldn’t have if they had known the whole truth?

The whole truth is what Newmarket wanted when it chose to work with Reevoo. Transparency is important to both of us – because it’s important to you, the consumer. Think about how confident the company must be to display the negative experiences that some people may have had for all to see. It’s not about hiding these stories – it’s about acknowledging that things can go wrong, and learning from it in order to make things better next time around. Better services will get better reviews, which will help people make better decisions.


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Let the good times roll in the Deep South

Memphis, New Orleans and Nashville are home to centuries of American music history, from soulful spirituals to Dolly Parton and, of course, Elvis Presley. Music fan Carmel, who produces our brochures, discovered these charismatic cities on our tour.

This holiday makes you feel like you’re living through music history. You can “Put on your blue suede shoes”IMG_0433_CROP (2) and go “Walking in Memphis” with Springsteen, follow the route the devil took down to Georgia or tap along to ‘Duelling Banjos’ as you pass by the Appalachian Mountains and ‘Deliverance’ country.

Foodies won’t be disappointed either. There’s New Orleans for Gumbo and Jambalaya, Memphis for THE best ribs (smothered in smoky Deep South sauce) and the obligatory, mouth-watering Nashville steak. And all washed down with a lethal ‘Hurricane’ cocktail, frozen margaritas and/or lashings of ice cool beer!

Most of all, this tour is a must for music lovers – whether you love Jazz, R&B, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Gospel, Bluegrass, or my personal favourite, Country (yee haw!). From the French quarter of New Orleans, straight through Mississippi State, to Tennessee – home to both Memphis and Nashville – music is everywhere, including the streets. The only drawback is that you can’t possibly visit ALL the bars/clubs/honky tonks. You can step straight into music history, though, at the legendary pilgrimage spots for all serious music fans – Sun Studio, Studio B, The Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium (original home of The Grand Ole Opry) and, of course, Graceland.

Elvis’s home reveals some fascinating facts, such as his penchant for using different lighting to record different genres. Gospel was always recorded under bright white lights, R&B under blue, and perhaps most telling of all was recording ‘Are you Lonesome tonight?’ in total darkness. In fact, the sound right at the end of the one-take recording is Elvis hitting his head on the microphone.

Graceland itself is quite a modest sized building (although the furnishings are anything but!). Rooms such as The Jungle Room – full of animal prints and wooden jungle animals – have to be seen to be fully appreciated. Elvis used this room as a recording studio and had it carpeted throughout (even the walls) to help with the acoustics. Visiting the house is on the ‘bucket list’ of every true Elvis fan, and it’s a poignant experience because Elvis is also buried in the grounds.

Another poignant note is IMG_0528_CROP EDIT (2)touching on the US Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 60s. You can follow the progress of Martin Luther King from the Montgomery bus boycott (sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks) through to his assassination at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis. During time in Memphis we visited The National Civil Rights Museum, where the history of the struggle to end segregation is also very well documented.

There’s something for everyone on this trip – from amazing food to fascinating history – but for many, it will all be about the music. Time to go? “It’s now or never”!

Click here for more details and to book our Elvis Presley’s Memphis, New Orleans & Nashville tour.


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Meet the team behind our popular coach breaks

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The trend for ‘staycations’ – and the idea of an easy, affordable way to tour the UK and Europe’s favourite places without having to drive – is making coach holidays ever more popular. They’re among Newmarket Holidays’ most successful holiday types and we have a wide variety on offer, so we caught up with the people behind them – our Product Director Teresa Taylor and Product Manager Sonja Okpu.

How long have you been Product Managers, and prior to this, what was your travel industry background?

TT: 30 years along with other things. Before that I worked for Stardust Mini Holidays and before that for a hotel company.

SO: 6 years with Newmarket but prior to that I worked with the Disney product and brand for 15 years, which has helped give me an eye for detail. I’ve also worked for a coach wholesaler and for hotels.

What makes a good coach holiday product? How do you choose them?

TT: Having a mix of things to see and do, and where possible, a mix of indoor and outdoor attractions in case the weather’s bad. We get ideas for holidays from a variety of sources, such as suggestions, TV programmes and topical events. When the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned, for example, we began tours to Edinburgh to see her. More recently, we heard that they were opening the Coronation Street set. Railway journeys are also always good on coach holidays because you only need to travel in one direction. The coach will pick you up and you can go a different route home – think the Wise Men!

SO: As we have to work so far in advance for the majority of our tours, our eyes and ears always have to be open. Together with our experience, this helps us to predict what customers will want in 12-18 month’s time. Having great relationships with our suppliers and partners is also essential to developing new ideas and bringing them to life.

Which are your favourite Newmarket coach breaks?

TT: The Edinburgh Tattoo is really fab. There’s a lot of travelling if you live in the South/Southwest, but it’s well worth it because the event is unique. Also, I love the Royal Albert Hall concert breaks – it’s such a very special venue.

SO: In Europe, it would have to be our Monet’s Gardens and Paris tour . It’s incredible value for money when you consider everything that it includes and it’s a tour for which we get consistently good reviews. In the UK, dare I say that my heart lies with our flower show tours? I love going to check these out each year and they’ve helped me discover my green fingers!

What are your travel tips?

TT: Don’t take too much luggage – and always travel in flat, comfortable shoes and loose clothing.

SO: Organising a holiday isn’t always as easy as it looks, so my top tip would be to let someone else do all the hard work for you and just sit back, relax and enjoy – et voila!

Finally, what new tours can we look forward to in the future?

TT: We’re doing an overnight break to a new Elvis exhibition at the 02 which will feature over 300 artefacts direct from Graceland. I think it’ll be fascinating whether or not you’re an Elvis fan.

SO: I’m really excited about Longleat in 2015, both for summer and winter. For summer we have a tour that includes Longleat’s House, Gardens and Safari Park, plus a gorgeous scenic tour of the Cotswolds and time in the beautiful city of Bath. Then for next winter we’re doing an amazing Christmas at Longleat and Salisbury’s Christmas Market tour. It combines Longleat’s ‘Festival of Light’ with a visit to Salisbury, which is stunning. Both have so much to see and do!

Click here to see all of our coach holidays, including Sporting Events by coach, Royal and Historic Tours, Midweek Breaks and more!

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