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Ice skating in EnglandMany major British cities have gotten into the winter ice-rink craze, London among them. The city has several sites where you can take a whirl across the ice. A sampling:

¶ The courtyard of the 18th-century Somerset House on the Strand from Nov. 22 to Jan. 28 (

¶ The grounds of Hampton Court Palace Dec. 2 to Jan. 14 (

¶ The natural setting of Kew Gardens Nov. 25 to Jan. 7 (

¶ Broadgate Ice near Liverpool Street (

¶ Gardens of the Natural History Museum through Jan. 21 (

¶ Canary Wharf Ice Rink in its Canada Square Park (

¶ Under the North Wall of the Tower of London Nov. 25 to Jan. 15 (

¶ The Greenwich Ice Rink in the Old Royal Naval College Dec. 2 to Jan. 14 (

Snow hotelsThe snow hotel season will be starting soon. Radium Kirkenes, owner of the Gabba Reindeer Safari Park, announces the opening of its 12 double “snowsuites” on Dec. 15 outside Kirkenes, Norway. In addition to the suites, there is a snow reception, snow bar and winter activities.

A package including one night’s accommodation, breakfast, dinner, use of the sauna and a hot drink costs 1,750 Norwegian kroner (about $265) per person. See

The Snow Castle of Kemi in Finland opens Jan. 28. It includes a snow restaurant and a snow chapel. There are reindeer sled rides and a program of children’s activities.

The cost per person, double occupancy, is 125 euros per night and includes an arctic sleeping bag, breakfast and taxi transfer to a local hotel for a morning shower and sauna. Details at

Valentine’s Day waltzIt’s not too soon to start dreaming about something special for Valentine’s Day, and Vienna, Austria, might have the perfect romantic evening for you and your sweetie.

On Feb. 14, the Johann Strauss Ball takes place in Vienna’s Kursalon, the ballroom that was the original site of the Strauss promenade concerts. The dress code is black tie, lounge suit and formal evening dress.

Highlights will include the traditional opening of a Viennese ball, classical music, dance workshops before the opening, midnight show, quadrille and disco lounge.

The Vienna tourist board is offering a package for those who would like to attend this classic event. Prices come in three categories; each includes airport transfers in a private limousine, two nights in a four-star hotel, breakfasts, a half-day sightseeing tour and a ticket to the ball.

Each price is per person, double occupancy. Category A costs 239 euros and includes seating in an adjoining room with three-course dinner. Category B costs 229 euros and includes seating in the Festival Hall. Category C costs 215 euros and includes seating in an adjoining room.

Find details at

Three nights for twoThrough Dec. 31, 13 hotels in Zurich, Switzerland, are offering the ZurichBREAK, a package that lets you stay for three nights and pay for two.

Details at Click on “Hotel and Accommodation,” then “Special Offers.”

New, hip guidebooksFrommer’s, the guidebook company, is partnering with the network that brought you music videos, “Pimp My Ride” and “Cribs” to create a new series of trendy guidebooks for young travelers.

“MTV Italy” ($24) and “MTV Ireland” ($22) are the first books in the series. “MTV Europe” ($25) is due out in early December. Guides to Spain, France and England, will be published in 2007.

The publisher says the books will lead readers “to some of the world’s hottest party scenes and outdoor adventures” while also listing traditional attractions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Best betsAustria

The holiday season starts Saturday in Vienna with the opening of the city’s Christmas market on the City Hall square. Amid a colorfully decorated park, about 140 stalls will sell gifts and Christmas foods and drinks to set off the season’s celebrations. Other markets opening this weekend are those at Schönbrunn Palace (Nov. 18 to Dec. 26) and one in the Biedermeier quarter of Spittelberg (Nov. 17 to Dec. 23).


The Christmas season in England is off to a start with a number of Christmas markets opening, many borrowing traditions from the Continent. Birmingham opens its Frankfurt Christmas market in the city center, the largest of its kind outside Germany and Austria.

Through Dec. 20, it features 80 stalls selling a variety of crafts and foods ( Leeds also invites Frankfurt to its city center tomorrow through Dec. 17 with 40 stalls featuring gifts, spiced wine, bratwurst and other foods ( Through Dec. 20, Manchester’s market includes a German market, European market and an arts-and-crafts market in chalet-type stalls. It includes European as well as English gifts and decorations and German and European foods (

Look for gifts in heated pavilions on the grounds of Blenheim Palace outside Oxford from Friday through Sunday at the Living Crafts for Christmas show. Eighty crafts workers will sell gold and silver jewelry, ceramics, clothes, art, toys, handmade soaps and candles, cheeses, Christmas foods and drinks. Entry costs 7.50 pounds (about $15) for adults, 2.50 pounds for children, and includes admission to the gardens and grounds. Find details at


Thursday at midnight this year’s Beaujolais nouveau will be released, an event marked not only by wine lovers in France but also by customers around the world, who await quickly shipped bottles as the young wine must be drunk within a few months of its sale. More than 100 festivals in the Beaujolais region, which runs from Lyons to Basse-Bourgogne, will mark the occasion. If you miss the opening, head to Lyons where tasting will be going on for several days.

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