Check-in: Deals and breaks in Ireland and abroad
Panto and paintings in Dublin, a feast with Santa and last call for Christmas markets
Spectacular natural beauty: Finland, celebrating 100 years of independence
The Westbury Hotel, Dublin: five-star feasting with the festive afternoon tea
Dean Hotel, Dublin: teaming up with the Irish Museum of Modern Art on a private look at Lucian Freud’s paintings
Finland celebrates 100 years of independence this winter with a whole host of experiences and packages. Visit the natural hot springs, feast with locals or take in the spectacular natural beauty of this northern getaway. visitfinland.com
Lunch with Santa
On Sunday, December 11th, the Ice House Hotel in Ballina welcomes the man in red for a day of family fun. Enjoy storytelling, face painting and cookie decorating, as well as a festive three-course feast before Santa himself arrives by boat to meet little guests. Adult lunch starts from €27.50 per person, with children’s lunch and Santa visit from €18.50. icehousehotel.ie
From the pioneering minds that brought us HomeExchange, a website that allows members to organise two-way home exchanges around the world, now comes Passport. The new program allows members to use one “balloon” to arrange a stay in any other member’s home without necessarily hosting them in return. A balloon can be earned by hosting another HomeExchange member, also in a one-way arrangement, thus expanding the range of exchange opportunities. Sign up at homeexchange.com.
Miami: The annual festival for art dealers, makers and collectors takes place this weekend in Miami’s South Beach area. More than 269 galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa will show modern and contemporary works.
Dublin: The Dean Hotel and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) have joined forces with a new package that includes includes two nights B&B, an Imma gift upon arrival, a private tour of Lucian Freud’s paintings in The Freud Project at the Garden Galleries, a Hailo executive car to and from the museum and, on return to the hotel, a dinner for two at the award-winning Sophie’s rooftop restaurant; from €590.
London: Elton John displays his private collection of 20th-century photography in one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year, at Tate Modern.
Westbury panto package
Families seeking a Christmas experience with a difference this year need look no further than the Westbury Hotel’s pantomime package for two adults and two children. The five-star hotel, just off Grafton Street in Dublin, will treat little ones to a host of festive surprises, as well as tickets to the Gaiety’s panto, Robin Hood and his Merry Men. The Westbury’s festive afternoon tea can be sampled, too, with seasonal sweet and savoury treats including a Black Forest Yule log and a praline chocolate eclair. The Enchanting Pantomime Experience at the Westbury starts from €530, including accommodation, tickets, and breakfast. The festive afternoon tea starts from €47 per person.
Touchnote: Select your favourite travel photographs, choose a recipient, and this app will print and send your own personalised postcard anywhere in the world. Available for free on iPhone and Android.
Bali: Book by December 11th for an all-inclusive week in Bali at Melia’s four-star Sol Beach House Benoa resort, from €1,519pps, January to March.
Iceland: Experience deepest winter and the northern lights on a trip to Reykjavik with Wallace Travel Group. Three nights, flights, accommodation and tour, from January 29th, €499pps.
Christmas markets: Last call for shopping and fun in Prague, Budapest, Vienna or Berlin. Three nights hotel and flights, €219-€315pps.
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