Get Ready for Christmas – Festive Markets across Wales

The festive season will soon be beginning in earnest, so if you’d like to spend the second half of December lazing by the fire with mulled wine and a good book, rather than battling through crowds of high street shoppers in search of gifts, then the Rare Hideaways team can help. We’ve compiled a list of the best Christmas markets around Wales, the perfect places to pick up gifts, decorations and tasty festive treats. Pop these dates and locations in your diary and you can get your Christmas shopping sorted in no time.

Llandudno Christmas Fayre, Conwy

(15-18 November)

One of the major markets coming to North Wales this November is the Llandudno Christmas Fayre. Kicking off on Thursday 15th November and running until the Sunday of that week, this market is a celebration of festive food, drink and crafts that will be hosting 130 different stalls. Highlights from the local area include Edwards of Conwy, a local butcher famous for its excellent sausages and pies; Jaspel’s Craft Cider, which is made in Anglesey, and the Snowdonia Cheese Company. Tickets only cost £4.50 (or £3.75 if you book before the end of October) and under-16s go free! Find out more here.

Colby’s Winter Fair, Pembrokeshire

(17-18 November)

Colby Woodland Garden in Amroth is a beautiful place to visit, no matter what the time of year. During the spring and summer months it comes alive with flowers and foliage; come autumn its walled garden, ponds and bridges make it an excellent place for an atmospheric adventure with your little ones. In November the garden also plays host to a winter fair, where you’ll be able to browse a variety of stalls selling homemade goods and local arts and crafts. Find out more here.

Tredegar House, Newport

(24 November-22 December)

Tredegar House is a stunning 17th-century house situated just outside Newport in South Wales. Visit this historic place during the festive season and you can enjoy the fantastic Christmas celebrations. Kicking off on Saturday 24th November, the Christmas season at Tredegar House incorporates a fantastic market, which will run every weekend. Browse jewellery, soap, homeware, decorations, and plenty of tasty food & drink, before enjoying a guided tour of the traditionally decorated house and grounds. Find out more here.

Llanerchaeron, Ceredigion

(1-2 December)

This gorgeous Georgian villa situated in the Aeron Valley is the ideal place to kick-start December. Head to Llanerchaeron for the first weekend of December and you can enjoy the annual Christmas Fair. Adult tickets are only £5 and give you access to the house, food and craft stalls, and even Father Christmas himself! Visit on a different weekend in December, and enjoy a traditional workshop which will teach you how to make a wreath or table centrepiece. Find out more here.

Don’t forget that Rare Hideaways can help turn a fun Christmas day trip into a festive weekend away. Our carefully selected self-catering properties are located all around Wales in some of the most beautiful settings imaginable. Click here and get browsing!

Glorious Gardens

Summer has officially arrived, which means it’s time to slap on some sun cream, pull out that picnic blanket, and plan a delightful getaway in the UK. In Wales, you can make the most of the sunshine by heading to one of these gorgeous hotels, all of which are known for their fantastic gardens.

Tre-Ysgawen Hall & Spa, Anglesey

Tre-Ysgawen is a country house hotel and spa dating back to 1882 which is known for its fine dining. The gardens surrounding the hotel are a key attraction, and feature a laburnum arch, an old well, a snowdrop wood, and – most notably – a number of sculptures, including the 19th century “Lady”.

Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, Llandudno

This historic hotel is situated within 200 stunning acres of wooded parkland and gardens. Book a stay here and you can wander through the lovingly maintained grounds admiring the walled gardens, lily ponds, rockery, rose bushes, and follies. The crowning glory is the 17th century formal garden filled with precise box hedges.

Holm House, Penarth

Head to picturesque Penarth, a coastal town just south of Cardiff, and you can stay at Holm House. Penarth is known as “The Garden of the Sea”, so it’s fitting that Holm House boasts immaculately manicured gardens, where you can enjoy gorgeous sea views. Experience the luxury of a Holm House break by making use of this fantastic Midweek Sunset Escape offer, which includes a 25-minute spa treatment.

Bear Hotel, Crickhowell

Just named one of the Best Summer Pubs in Britain by The Times, The Bear Hotel in Crickhowell is the perfect place for a summer escape. Plan a stay in this former stagecoach inn, or simply stop by for lunch, and you can dine in the beautiful summer garden, which boasts some spectacular floral displays.

Lake Country House & Spa, Llangammarch Wells

You might book into the Lake Country House to enjoy the luxury spa treatments, but you’ll want to stay for the beautiful grounds. Stroll past the lakes and along the banks of the River Irfon, fish and play tennis, and spot resident woodpeckers in the trees.

Llansantffraed Court, Abergavenny

Llansantffraed Court is a hotel and restaurant housed in a spectacular redbrick building. Best known for its award-winning food, the hotel is also notable for its beautiful gardens. The 20 acres of grounds feature a walled kitchen garden, manicured lawns, ancient trees, a lake and fountain, and even a 16th century church.

Grove of Narberth, Narberth

The Grove of Narberth is a luxury hotel situated in the rolling Pembrokeshire hills, just a 12 minute drive from the coast. In the beautiful grounds you’ll discover centuries-old oaks and beeches, formal box hedges, a restored 17th century walled garden, and a kitchen garden. Visit during the summer, and you can expect to see rhododendrons and colourful flower borders in bloom.

Portmeirion, near Porthmadog

We couldn’t talk about glorious gardens without mentioning Portmeirion, the coastal town famously designed and constructed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village. Visit this curious place and take a tour of the quirky, beautifully kept gardens. Notable features include the pagoda and lily pond of the Japanese Garden, the rhododendrons, and the monkey puzzle trees.

Take a Welsh Road Trip

The road trip may be an American tradition – but who says you can’t have an awesome driving holiday in Wales?

Not only is our beautiful nation filled with stunning natural landscapes, it’s also home to countless historic sites, tourist attractions, and friendly villages boasting excellent accommodation.

To give our readers some road trip inspiration, we’ve taken a look at three fantastic routes of The Wales Way.

The North Wales Way: Castles & Coastal Villages

The first of these routes is also the shortest, at 75 miles, making it ideal for a weekend break. The official route follows the North Wales Expressway and starts just outside Chester.

The first major attraction is the 13th-century Flint Castle, which sits on the River Dee. Come off the expressway at Conwy Road Bridge and you can pay a visit to another historic site: the spectacular Conwy Castle in the picturesque market town of Conwy. This formidable fortress was built for Edward I; two more of his castles, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, can be found just off this route on the Menai Strait.

This route also boasts highlights such as the Conwy Brewery, the Welsh Mountain Zoo, and the 19th-century South Stack Lighthouse. The village of Rhoscolyn on Anglesey, meanwhile, is the perfect place to stop for a spot of lunch and a stroll along the beach.

The Coastal Way: Beaches & Wildlife

If you’re seeking a longer road trip, try out the 180-mile Coastal Way, which runs from St David’s all the way to the Llyn Peninsula.

Early highlights include St David’s Cathedral, the Abeireddi Blue Lagoon, and the charming Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill. As you head north you’ll have the opportunity to sample some local fare at the Bluestone Brewing Company, NOMNOM Chocolate, and Caws Cenarth Cheese.

The key attraction of the Coastal Way is the opportunity to visit gorgeous beaches and spot local marine life. At Cardigan Bay, you can hop on a boat and see dolphins and seals. Other fantastic coastal sites include the Borth Submerged Forest, Barmouth Beach, and the quirky village of Portmeirion.

For the ultimate coastal experience, extend your stay on the Llyn Peninsula, and spend some time exploring the gorgeous beaches. You can even take a boat over to Bardsey Island to do birdwatching and seal spotting.

The Cambrian Way: Mountains & Cities

The longest route in the Wales Way family is the Cambrian Way, which runs for 185 miles down the spine of Wales.

Starting in Llandudno, you’ll take the A470 into the heart of Snowdonia. Here you can visit the Swallow Falls, Surf Snowdonia, and Castell Dolwyddelan – not to mention hike, cycle or horse ride through the spectacular mountains.

Coming out of Snowdonia you’ll rejoin the A470, and drive through beautiful mountainous countryside as you come into the Brecon Beacons. Highlights here are numerous and include Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales, Cyfarthfa Castle, and the Brecon Mountain Railway.

From here you’ll head into our vibrant capital city, Cardiff, where you can catch a game of rugby at the Principality Stadium, visit the historic castle and explore the museums, shops and world-class restaurants. With Newport and Swansea only a short drive away, you can easily continue your city tour of southern Wales.

The only question is… which route will you choose?

Photography supplied by Visit Wales Image Centre © Crown Copyright (2018)

A Culture-Packed Weekend: 48 Hours in Cardiff

Cardiff is often unfairly overshadowed by the other UK capitals – but if you book a trip to this vibrant, historic city you’ll see that it holds its own against the likes of London and Edinburgh.

If you’ve booked a weekend away to Cardiff (or if you’re considering doing so soon) here’s our ultimate guide to enjoying a culture-packed 48 hours in our exciting capital.

Friday PM

Arriving at Cardiff, you’ll want to check into your hotel and get moving. The city is filled with fantastic hotels, but a stay at No. 10 Cardiff or Cathedral 73 will put you in chic modern accommodation in a great location. Alternatively, you can stay a little out of the centre in a suburb like Penarth – Holm House Hotel being a highlight.

From here, venture out into the city to experience the nightlife. You can grab a casual dinner in the Brewery Quarter, or something more refined on Pontcanna Street, before heading to the trendy bars on Mill Lane or down at Mermaid Quay.

Saturday AM

Once you’ve finished your full Welsh breakfast (complete with cockles and laverbread), you’ll want to start sightseeing. The best place to begin is Cardiff Castle, which is famed for its elaborate interiors, hidden wartime shelters and hilltop Norman keep.

Banqueting Hall, Cardiff Castle

From the castle you can wander over to the National Museum (just 10 minutes on foot) and immerse yourself in the art and history of our wonderful nation.

Historic Gallery, National Museum Cardiff

Saturday PM

After lunch, spend your afternoon doing something a little different. Book far enough in advance and you can catch a rugby match down at the Principality Stadium. Alternatively, book tickets to a matinee at the National Theatre Wales, or the Wales Millennium Centre.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Later on, you can enjoy dinner at one of Cardiff’s finest dining establishments. There are many to choose from, but one of our favourites is the award-winning Restaurant James Sommerin on the seafront in Penarth. You can get here in just 25 minutes by hopping on a train from Cardiff Central.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

After dinner, stick around to enjoy a cocktail in one of the nearby bars – just don’t forget that the last train from Penarth leaves just before 11.30!

Sunday AM

Make the most of your Sunday morning by heading down to Castle Street and hopping on a bus to St. Fagan’s National Museum of History. This open-air museum is free to enter and open seven days a week; at its heart is a 16th century manor house surrounded by other historic buildings.

National History Museum, St Fagans

Wander through the museum complex and you can learn about the history of the Welsh people, getting a key insight into how people here have lived through the ages. Bring a picnic and you can enjoy it on the grounds – alternatively, you can grab lunch at one of the onsite cafés.

Sunday PM

Before you head off, spend your last hours in Cardiff enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s green spaces (weather permitting). There are plenty to choose from, but Bute Park is our favourite.

As for the journey home? We suspect you’ll spend it planning your next visit to our beautiful capital…

 

Images © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)

The Best Walks in Wales – and Where to Stay Nearby

With its rolling green hills, gorgeous coastal paths, and impressive mountain ranges, Wales is a true haven for people who love to walk. If you’re planning a walking trip here, read on for a list of our nation’s finest walking routes – and the hotels where you can stay nearby.

Llangollen Canal – Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel

For a gentle, scenic six-mile walk along one of Wales’ most famous waterways, book a stay at Pen-y-Dyffryn Hotel. From here, it’s just a 30-minute drive to the Horseshoe Falls, where you can embark on a walk along the Llangollen Canal.

This route will take you to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a feat of 18th century engineering rising 130 feet. Though dizzyingly high, the aqueduct is safely fenced, meaning you can bring your dog along to enjoy the view. At the end of your walk, return to the comfort of Pen-y-Dyffryn and enjoy a hearty evening meal in the award-winning restaurant.

The Gliffaes Tree Walk – Gliffaes Country House

Our second walk comes courtesy of Gliffaes Country House, in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Book a stay here and you can explore 33 acres of grounds and woodlands.

To make the most of your beautiful surroundings, set aside an hour for the Gliffaes Tree Walk. This route will introduce you to the ancient oaks, beeches, redwoods and maples on the hotel grounds. It’s the perfect way to work up your appetite for afternoon tea, which is served daily between 4 and 5.30pm.

The Stackpole Wildlife Walk – Elm Grove Country House

The pretty village of St Florence in Pembrokeshire is home to the Elm Grove Country House, a 4-star hotel boasting 20 acres of lawns. Though there are plenty of excellent walking routes in the region, a favourite of the hotel’s owners is the Stackpole Wildlife Walk.

This walk begins at Stackpole Quay and heads south along Barafundle Bay, following the coast until Broadhaven Beach. From here it heads northwest to the Lily Pools in Bosherton, and up to the Eight Arch Bridge; crossing over will put you on a track heading east in the direction of Stackpole Quay.

Porth Clais to St Justinians – Twr y Felin Hotel

The Pembrokeshire Coast offers so much for walkers, which is why this is a favourite walk of Emma’s at Twr-y Felin.

Start at Porth Clais Harbour and head west to St Justinians. The walk features views of Ramsey Island and St Brides Bay and takes in one of the more rugged sections of the coastline, making you feel close to the sea and rock (but the route is not strenuous), which is great for bird and seal watching!

Brechfa Forest – Ty Mawr Country Hotel

If you prefer exploring dense woodland to open coastal paths, then Ty Mawr is the hotel for you. This award-winning establishment has plenty to recommend it, but the key draw for walkers is that it sits on the edges of Brechfa Forest. When you check in, the staff will be able to recommend a number of different routes, varying in length and difficulty.

Ceiriog Valley – The Mulberry Inn

The Mulberry Inn is another hotel where you don’t have to venture far to discover an excellent walking route. Situated in Llwynmawr, not far from Chirk Castle, this establishment boasts comfortable modern rooms, an 18th century bar, and pretty gardens. The inn is also surrounded by beautiful walking routes, and offers special discounts to walkers.

Laugharne & the “Dylan Thomas” Trail – The Browns

Our final destination is Laugharne, home of Dylan Thomas. For the ultimate Laugharne experience stay at The Brown’s (Thomas’s favourite pub) and take a stroll through the town and surrounding countryside.

One excellent route takes you from the centre of town to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse and then north to the Delacorse Farm, before looping back south via St Martin’s Church, where Thomas is buried.

 

© Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)