Gatwick announces more flights to Lapland for winter

London Gatwick has said that it will offer more flights to Lapland compared to UK airport this winter – with a total of 120 flights bound for the home of Father Christmas in December.

Six destinations in and around the Lapland region – Enontekio, Ivalo, Kittila, Kuusamo, Tromso and the capital, Rovaniemi – can all be reached direct from Gatwick. In comparison, the UK airport with the second highest number of Lapland services in December is offering a third fewer flights than Gatwick.

The expansion of services comes in response to growing demand from British tourists to visit Lapland in the northernmost region of Finland.

Last December, the number of British visitors to Rovaniemi was up 13.9 percent on the previous year. In October 2018, the number of passengers heading to Rovaniemi from Gatwick almost tripled year-on-year.

The airport has also launched several new winter routes offering more choice for their Christmas market destination. easyJet has already launched new flights to Aarhus and Warsaw, while British Airways will start operating new services to Cologne and Lyon in the coming weeks.

In addition, in December, Gatwick will offer more flights than ever before to the European cities with some of the most renowned Christmas markets in the world – with 315 flights going to Amsterdam, 306 to Geneva and 227 to Copenhagen.

Stephen King, Head of Airline Relations, Gatwick Airport said: ‘It’s fitting that Gatwick now offers more flights to Lapland than any other UK airport, as this winter wonderland is the ultimate family destination and Gatwick is widely recognised as the ultimate family airport. The number of Brits travelling to Lapland for a winter escape is rapidly increasing every year and we’re pleased to be responding to that demand.

‘If meeting Father Christmas or going on a sleigh ride doesn’t tick the winter holiday box, Gatwick’s short-haul network of over 160 routes offers something for everyone, with new services to breath-taking destinations like Aarhus and Cologne and more flights than ever before to many of our passengers’ old favourites.’

Uncovered: The fairy tale castles of Germany

Fancy something a bit different for your holiday this year? Germany has a wealth of fairy tale castles that are great for visits for the whole family.

Research by Agoda.com has revealed the top castles to visit in Germany. Majestic old palaces and turreted stone castles might be the stuff of children’s fables, but for the cultural traveler they offer a beguiling glimpse into European history. Whether intact or in ruins, these fantastical buildings provide insight into the lives of nobility throughout the Middle Ages, with many restored palaces also housing extensive collections of art, antique furniture, weapons, and medieval artifacts.

Most of the best-preserved castles lie outside the major cities, their more remote locations contributing to their preservation throughout centuries of war. The more famous of these can be found in the southern states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, amid some of the most beautiful and pristine countryside in Europe.

To explore Germany’s fairytale castles, travelers starting from Berlin can enjoy a scenic overland journey via road or rail to Frankfurt am Main, launching trips to Trier, and taking in the wine country of Mosel.

From there, travelers can enter the Swabian Alps region, visiting Heidelberg and Stuttgart and the small medieval townships that line the valleys. To complete the fairytale tour, travelers can then go on to Füssen to see two of the country’s most famous castles, then on to Munich, the hub of Bavarian culture.

TOP GERMAN CASTLES

MESPELBRUNN CASTLE

Owned by the Ingelheim family, this moated castle (wasserschloss) is concealed in a quiet valley in the Lower Franconian countryside. It starred as one of the locations in the Cannes-nominated 1958 film, Das Wirtshaus im Spessart, based on a German fairy tale. It’s located in dense Spessart forest, about 50 km from Frankfurt.

BURGHAUSEN CASTLE

This thirteenth century castle is the longest fortress in Europe – more than a kilometer in length. It houses six courtyards, multiple towers and gates, gardens, chapels, and protected inner chambers that successions of Bavaria’s Dukes and Duchesses used as a second residence. The castle is located on the Salzach River, close to the Austrian border.

HEIDELBERG CASTLE

Now in ruins, this medieval stronghold hails from the thirteenth century. Destroyed by war, fire, and lightning, it has long been a romantic figure of the poets and artists of Heidelberg, winning the admiration of many writers, including Victor Hugo and Mark Twain. The castle overlooks Heidelberg city in the north of Baden-Württemberg, a two-hour drive from Frankfurt.

LICHTENSTEIN CASTLE

Once a fortress for the knights of Lichtenstein, this neo-gothic castle sits precariously on a rocky bluff overlooking Honau in the Swabian Alps. Its remote location in mountainous woodland helped keep it safe from destruction, and it’s still owned by the Dukes of Urach today. It’s also in the Baden-Württemberg state, a day-trip from Stuttgart.

ELTZ CASTLE

Thirty-three generations of the Eltz family have called this castle home. Perched on a hill, with pointed spires and Tudor woodwork, it’s the archetypal medieval castle, complete with a vast collection of antiques, paintings, and weapons. It’s a moderate 45-minute hike from Moselkern train station to the castle.

HOHENZOLLERN CASTLE

The flags on Hohenzollern Castle’s turrets flutter 855 meters over the surrounding countryside, a position it has enjoyed since the eleventh century. The not-so-humble home of the Prussian royal family, it was destroyed and rebuilt twice, restored to its current form in the late nineteenth century. It’s close to the Swiss border, in the foothills of the Swabian Alps.

SIGMARINGEN CASTLE

Now owned by an offshoot of the Hohenzollern family, this eleventh-century fortress has changed ownership numerous times, and was once even the seat of the French Vichy. The striking centerpiece of Sigmaringen, a quiet medieval village on the Danube, the castle today houses collections of porcelain, armor, carriages, and torture devices.

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Technically not a castle, in that it wasn’t built specifically to protect, this extravagant palace was the creation of the eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria, inspired by the medieval castles of fairy tales. Its extravagant design in turn served as the inspiration for one of the most iconic fairytale castles today: Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle overlooks the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria, 100 kilometers from Munich.

Prices slashed at hotels across Europe

If your thinking of taking a trip to Europe, now is a great time to go.

Research has revealed that hotel prices have dropped by almost 50 per cent since last year. 

The study by TripAdvisor showed that an average nights stay in locations across Europe have seen prices drop dramatically from last year as the Eurozone continues to struggle. 

Popular cities including Rome, Barcelona and Lisbon have seen hotel prices plummet. 

Hotel rates in wallet-friendly Albufeira in Portugal have seen a drop from around £82 a night to £47 for a good nights sleep – a 42 per cent drop. 

Even popular tourist spot Arles in France which boasts impressive Roman monuments – has seen a drop in hotel prices from around £83 to £55, 34 per cent. 

TripAdvisor spokesperson Emma Shaw says: ‘It has been an economically-troubled year for much of Europe, particularly for the Eurozone countries, and we are seeing that hotels are dropping their prices in some very well-known tourist destinations. 

‘For travellers looking for value for money, this is clearly good news. And with deals to be had in many destinations across Europe,  2012 looks like a good year for the short-haul holiday.’