Newmarket Holidays

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Help us choose the Nation’s Sweethearts!

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Last month we asked you to nominate a truly inspirational couple as the Nation’s Sweethearts – a pair who had been through it all, with a loving marriage that stood the test of time year after year – and we wanted to give our community the chance to give their favourite couple a second honeymoon in Lake Garda.

It could have been friends, neighbours, family – or you and your partner. We’ve now received some absolutely amazing entries about couples who, truth be told, could all earn the title.

After careful deliberation to shortlist our 20 favourites, we now need your help to choose our winner. Click here to read some of the inspirational stories and vote for the couple you think deserve to be sent on their second honeymoon courtesy of Newmarket Holidays!

Voting will be open until April 22nd, with the winners announced in the same week. Whoever you choose as the Nation’s Sweethearts will be whisked away for an eight-day holiday on the shores of the beautiful Lake Garda in Italy, with all flights, transfers and accommodation at Hotel Drago provided. We can’t wait to see who you pick!

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Our top five castles around the world

In Britain, we really do love castles. Full of history and drama, every castle has a few good stories to tell. To celebrate these magnificent structures, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite castles from Britain and beyond.

1. Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

Char Warwick

This medieval castle, situated in the town of Warwick, was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It was refortified during the Hundred Years War, and in 2014 it celebrated its 1100th birthday.

The castle has been a popular tourist site since the end of the 17th century. It, boasts a collection of armoury on display that is second only to that of the Tower of London.

‘These walls have seen something of the splendour of every generation of our [English] story’

– Arthur Mee

Explore this magnificent, medieval castle on this festive tour.

2. Scaliger Castle, Sirmione, Lake Garda

Marco Lazzaroni Sirmione

This 13th century castle, also known as Rocca Scaligera, is a rare example of a medieval ‘port fortification’. Unlike most castles, it was not occupied by the nobility, but was instead used as protection against threats, both from enemy nations and locals.

The picturesque castle is completely surrounded by water and can only be entered by two drawbridges.

‘Gazing at the Lydian laughter of the Garda Lake below

Sweet Catallus’s all-but-island, olive-silvery Sirmio!

– Alfred Tennyson

Discover everything this 13th century castle has to offer on our Italian Lakes tour.

3. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Ronnie Macdonald Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle sits atop Castle Rock, towering over Edinburgh city. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since the Iron Age (2nd Century AD). There has been a royal castle on the rock since the reign of David I in the 12th Century. As one of Scotland’s prized strongholds, the castle has been involved in many historical conflicts – including the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th Century and the Jacobite Rising in 1745.

Castle Rock is actually the plug of an extinct volcano, estimated to have risen about 350 million years ago.

‘The Castle of Edinburgh …this gigantic rock lifts itself above all that surrounds it, and breaks upon the sky with the same commanding blackness of mingled crags, cliffs, buttresses and battlements’

– JG Lockhart

This tour of Edinburgh, the Highlands and the Caledonian Canal visits one other castle alongside Edinburgh castle.

4. Trakai Island Castle, Lithuania

cangaroojack trakai island castle

This castle was built on the largest of three islands in the Lake Galvė. Construction began in the 14th century but the castle suffered major devastation during an attack by the Teutonic Knights in 1377. It was finally completed in the 15th century.

The striking castle is made out of red bricks characteristic of brick gothic architecture. However, due to the multiple phases of construction, the castle also possesses some Romanesque features, making it look much like a real-life fairytale castle.

‘Old castle! Long centuries echoed your name!

Great men rose to glory with you!

You saw the Great Vytautas’ power and fame,

His regiments on a review.’

– Maironis

This unique castle is just one of the highlights on our Jewels of the Baltic tour.

5. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Disneyland Paris

Loren Javier Disney

Although it isn’t the oldest on our list, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is also a very popular tourist attraction. Each Disneyland around the world features one of these recognisable landmarks. The castle in Paris was completed in 1992, inspired by various castles and other structures from across Europe, including the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany and the Mont Saint-Michel monastery in Normandy, as well as the castle from the Disney film of ‘Sleeping Beauty’, of course.

The castle is also home to a dragon – 27 metres long from head to tail. In the park you can walk through the dimly lit cavern where the dragon sleeps. You can even hear the dragon puff smoke and growl occasionally.

‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.’

– Walt Disney

If you have children or grandchildren, a Disney Summer Magic tour would make their year.

Photos by Flickr users Char, Loren Javier, Marco Lazzaroni, Ronnie Macdonald.

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The search for the Nation’s Sweethearts is on!

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Do you know a couple whose relationship is an inspiration to everybody? A couple who have been through it all, whose loving marriage has stood the test of time again and again? A couple who could truly be considered the Nation’s Sweethearts? If so, then we want to hear from you!

In our new competition, we’re looking for a couple who have passed their Silver wedding anniversary, experienced 25 years as a truly inspirational pair, and deserve to celebrate in style with a second honeymoon in beautiful Lake Garda. It could be a parent, neighbour or friend – it could even be you!

To enter, simply submit a photo of the couple, and a short explanation of why they deserve to be named the Nation’s Sweethearts. It could be a simple description, an anecdote that sums up their relationship perfectly, or even a poem!

Once all the entries have been received, we’ll shortlist a top ten of the UK’s most inspirational couples, with the final winners being crowned the Nation’s Sweethearts. The winning couple will win an eight-day second honeymoon on the shores of the beautiful and vibrant Lake Garda, with all flights, transfers and accommodation at Hotel Drago provided.

Entries should be submitted via Facebook by 10th April 2015, with the shortlist announced in the week commencing the 13th April, and the winners revealed in the week commencing 20th April.

We wish all of our entrants and nominees the very best of luck, and we can’t wait to hear all of your stories! We’re sure picking a winner won’t be easy.

Terms and Conditions

The Newmarket Holidays Nation’s Sweethearts competition will run until 10th April 2015 and all entries must be submitted by 10th April 2015. To be eligible for entry, nominees must have celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary (ie; have been married for 25 years or more). Entries should be accompanied by a photograph and short piece of text explaining why the nominated couple deserves to win. Entrants may nominate themselves, or be nominated by friends and family. By entering, you are giving Newmarket Holidays permission to use your images for media purposes.

The winners will be selected in the week commencing 20th April 2015 and will be contacted via email. Winners will have five days to claim their prize – if you do not respond, Newmarket Holidays have the right to select another winner. The prize consists of a holiday for two to Lake Garda offered by Newmarket Holidays. No cash alternative is available. Newmarket Holidays have the right to withdraw this trip if it cannot go ahead, for an alternative with the same prize value. This competition is open only to residents of the UK aged 18 years or over. Employees of Newmarket Holidays, their families or anyone else associated with this competition or its operation are not allowed to enter.



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Best of British – The Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs

Experience the power of song at the Royal Albert Hall

welsh male voice choirs

On our blog, we’re celebrating the best that Britain has to offer, which you can experience on some of our favourite tours. You can read our first feature, which looks at the Edinburgh Tattoo, here. This week, coming so soon after St David’s Day, our focus is on the Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs, who will come together to sing at the Royal Albert Hall in May of this year.

Product manager Teresa says …

‘This concert is something to be experienced. The sound of hundreds of voices all singing together is truly magical.’

Forged from the unbreakable spirit of the coal mining and quarrying communities of Wales, the Welsh Male Voice Choir combines the power of the ensemble with the beauty and subtlety of harmony singing.

The concert includes vocal performances from as many as 30 choirs from across Wales and beyond, each outfitted in different colours to mark them out as their voices blend. The concert will also feature some of Wales’ top musical talent, while the man at the helm will be the incomparable Dr. Alwyn Humphreys MBE, who has been described by the Welsh Secretary of State as ‘a legend – not only a credit to the world of music, but to the Welsh nation.’

Wales is a country famous for its vocal talent, from Tom Jones to Shirley Bassey, Katherine Jenkins to Bryn Terfel. The music peformed during this concert is also guaranteed to be very evocative, combining a mixture of hymns and spiritual music and with a few more contemporary pieces thrown in for a bit of fun.

London’s unique Royal Albert Hall – home to the BBC Proms and the Classic Brit Awards – is a fitting setting for this wonderful event. With its sense of tradition, intimate feel and excellent accoustics, the venue is one that performers themselves regard as very special. Just entering this historic building creates a sense of occasion.

Don’t miss this unique event, bringing Welsh musical talent together to create a truly unforgettable experience. Visit our website to find out more.

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Searching for Santa – a magical Lapland experience


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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