SGT Victorian Christmas: London and Dickens’ Rochester

London Holiday Lights, Shopping, Markets and Dickens Christmas Festival

8 days/8 nights

London acquires a special sparkle around Christmas time. The weather is frosty, the Christmas lights are twinkling, store fronts glisten and shoppers line the streets. One seasonal highlight is the giant pine tree that beautifully adorns Trafalgar Square each year, a gift from the people of Norway. Many traditional markets are on around the capital. Hyde Park is transformed into a ‘Winter Wonderland.’ There’s ice skating, carol services, Nutcracker Suites, pantomimes, mulled wine, hot cider, some ‘wassailing’ to be done!

Each year, early December brings Victorian festivities to Rochester, a ‘real’ Dickensian Christmas where you can experience the entertainments taking place around the charming town, its cathedral and castle.

Get into the Holiday spirit at some well known historical attractions, decked out in the winter finery – Hampton Court Palace, Canterbury Cathedral and Hever Castle. Surely this tour will be a lovely start to a wonderful Holiday season! 

THIS IS A SUGGESTED ITINERARY AND CAN BE MODIFIED TO ESPECIALLY SUIT YOU.

This tour begins in London and ends in London.

TENTATIVE ITINERARY

 Day 1                        Saturday

Arrival London at your leisure; today is free for you to explore and recover from your international journey as you wish.

Getting right into the shopping mood, we recommend maybe spending time at Notting Hill’s Portobello Road Market (Saturdays only.) This is a very popular destination for antiques, new goods, second hand items and several specialty shops like The Travel Bookshop, as featured in the Notting Hill film. Yes, it’s a real place!

Another option is Borough Market, London’s premier ‘foodie’ market (TH-FR-SA only.) The oldest fruit and veg market in the city, there have been traders here since at least 1014. The heart of the market is the local people, vendors and fellow shoppers, a buzzing and friendly environment where you can sample organic treats, breads, cheeses and meats.

OVERNIGHT: London

 

Day 2                        Sunday

Today we will explore the “Sunday Street Markets” of London’s East End and Greenwich. Your driver/guide will meet you in your hotel lobby a bit early, about 8am to catch the best of the markets.

Thanks to the London 2012 Olympics, the East End of London is enjoying somewhat of a Renaissance but many traditional aspects remain. We can explore the rich heritage of this area, a melting pot of newcomers to London from Flemish Huguenots to the current Bangladeshi community. The Whitechapel neighborhood is home to Spitalfields Market, the ‘Thieves Market’ of Brick Lane and the famed ‘Petticoat Lane’ Market.  Greenwich is known as the place where the east and west are divided at the meridian line. This place has much to offer including a selection of interesting flea and craft markets.

This evening, continue exploring the capital with your guide to see the London Christmas Lights on a panoramic tour. See Regency Street, Oxford Street, Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Hamleys, Fortnum & Mason all a sparkle! Our evening’s adventure will include a stop in a traditional London pub for a meal and, if you choose, a sample of mulled wine.

OVERNIGHT: London, as above; Dinner, bed and breakfast

 

Day 3                        Monday

Today, enjoy the festivities and markets in Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

Here, find the Angels Market with over 100 vendors offering a selection of unique gifts and the Yuletide Market selling Holiday decorations. There is a variety of jewelry, crafts, accessories, clothing and culinary delights. The Bavarian Village is the place to dine, drink and enjoy live music. Warm yourself for a bit by a roaring fire inside the Tavern. Want some thrills and chills? Winter Wonderland is home to several rides, ice skating, a giant ferris wheel, a haunted house and even a circus!

Your tour guide will provide one late morning transfer to Hyde Park and one late afternoon transfer back to your hotel. The day is yours to do as you wish enjoying Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

OVERNIGHT: London, as above; BB

 

Day 4                        Tuesday

Enjoy a free day in London for shopping and relaxing as you wish.

Certainly a day where you are spoilt for choice! Some popular places for shopping in London include Covent Garden, Bond Street, Kings Road, ‘toy mecca’ Hamleys and Knightsbridge department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Kensington Church Street has some quaint antique shops, Notting Hill and Mayfair offer high end boutiques and Camden brings ‘the funk’ option for the latest in street gear, music and local art. Camden Stables Market is another great spot for antiques.

Prefer more time in the holiday markets? The South Bank Centre Christmas market is situated along Queens Walk between South Bank Centre and the London Eye. This is a German style market featuring traditionally decorated wooden chalets selling a wide range of hand-crafted gifts; there is a beautiful carousel and usually a selection of delicious treats such as Glühwein, bratwurst, gingerbread hearts and roasted almonds.

Later, perhaps a carol service at St Paul’s Cathedral or choral concert at St Martin’s-in-the-Field church? Each offers a variety of holiday concert options. (Tickets subject to availability, priced separately and subject to schedules.)

OVERNIGHT: London, as above; BB

 

Day 5                        Wednesday

A ‘great day out’ of the city today. Hampton Court Palace is set in over 60 acres of gardens and parklands along the scenic River Thames. Along with the Tudor Kitchens, Henry VIII’s State Apartments are the most popular attraction inside the palace. The Great Hall is the palace’s largest and most impressive room, with an ornate carved-wood ceiling and a collection of Flemish tapestries that date back over 500 years. There is one of the few ‘real’ tennis courts to be seen here too.

Hampton Court never fails to disappoint with special winter showcases throughout the Holiday season, typically with ice skating, caroling and examples of a Tudor era Christmas celebration. Whatever they have in store this winter, certainly to be a crowd pleaser!

Evening free to enjoy wassailing as you wish in the local pubs. Alternatively, perhaps catch a performance of a holiday favorite, either a local pantomime or The Royal Opera Nutcracker Suite as a lovely evening out? Again spoilt for choice! (Tickets subject to availability, priced separately and subject to schedules.)

OVERNIGHT: London, as above; BB

 

Day 6                        Thursday

Today we embark on a few lovely days in the countryside. Some attractions in the county of Kent really ‘deck their halls’ for the season, with Father Christmas sometimes in residence! During our time, we’ve ample opportunity to mingle with the locals in quaint towns and villages off the beaten track. Imagine sipping a hot beverage around a crackling fireplace…

The Tudor masterpiece Hever Castle is one worthy destination. Most recently owned by the Astor family, this was the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife Ann Boleyn. An example of art imitating real life, The Other Boleyn Girl was partially filmed here too. This petite, moated castle features a lovely winter garden with topiary and hedge maze. The estate will have traditional seasonal decorations, roaring log fires and fairy lights in addition to the permanent exhibitions, which include some of Ann Boleyn’s personal items.

We can round out our day exploring some of the towns and villages in the area, such as Tunbridge Wells, a former spa town where Regency high society went to “take the waters.”

OVERNIGHT: Kent; Dinner, bed and breakfast

 

Day 7                        Friday

Today visit historic Canterbury, where we can pay our respects much like Chaucer’s Pilgrims inside the wonderful Canterbury Cathedral. In the centre of this picturesque, medieval place is another small traditional Christmas Market to enjoy. The town itself is lovely with a variety of local and popular high street shops, pubs and cafes.

OVERNIGHT: Kent, as above; Dinner, bed and breakfast

 

Day 8                        Saturday

Rochester Dickens Victorian Christmas Festival

This gem of a city, with its cathedral and Norman castle, overflows with Dickens’s sites, such as plaques on the places mentioned in his books and ‘Mrs Havisham’s House.’ The man himself lived here for a time.  Each year, the first weekend of December brings Victorian festivities to Rochester in the form of a Dickensian Christmas, where you can experience street entertainment, readings, songs and dance. Each day there are parades through Rochester and the magnificent surroundings so sure to prove another fabulous day.

Our tour concludes this evening with a drop off at your London hotel. This evening is free for you to enjoy the theatre or London nightlife as you choose. 

OVERNIGHT: London Accommodation is included this evening.

 

Sunday

 Depart for home or extend your stay in London.

Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to unforeseen changes in opening days or times.

Toll Free Tel: 1 866-725-5250
specialgrouptours@yahoo.com

Tour Rate: dependent upon how many in your party

SUGGESTED TOUR PACKAGE: Your accommodation for 8 nights with breakfast daily and 3 dinners. Your price also includes all entrance fees to attractions when with your guide, transportation, services of driver/guide-companion and all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide.

Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, theatre/concert tickets, other London city tours, attraction passes and transport passes are not included but can be added to your package as you wish. Ask us for details.