3 Cool things happening in London this weekend

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It’s getting colder out there, but that’s no excuse to batten down the hatches! There’s always a great selection of things to do in the Capital. Here’s our 3 favourite picks for the weekend.

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3. Hyper Japan Christmas Market, Kensington Olympia

Dive into the best of Japanese culture at this unique take on the Christmas market. Browse unique toys and gifts, or bop along to some live music, including J-Pop and traditional drumming. Tickets from £8, nearest station: Kensington (Olympia)

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2. Ja Ja Ja Festival

This Nordic festival showcases the best music that Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have to offer (not to mention some traditional tasty food). Enjoy a full day of quirky live electro-pop at Queen Mary University of London on Saturday. Tickets from £25, nearest station: Mile End.

1. Southbank Centre Winter Festival

Rides, Scandinavian Cider tents and a Christmas market, all with a beautiful view of the River Thames. Get your gloves on, entry is free! Nearest station: London Waterloo.

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5 Awesome Ways to Celebrate this New Year’s Eve

1. The Traditional

Fireballs festival, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

B Campbell, Flickr

Image: B Campbell, Flickr

Goodness gracious, blazing balls of fire! Stonehaven’s Fireball festival sees a parade of participants swinging flaming balls above their heads. Following the parade, the fireballs are cast into the sea at the harbour, and the stunning firework display at the Bervie Braes begins. This traditional welcome to the new year has been part of Aberdeen’s Hogmanay celebrations for over four hundred years. If you’re looking to end the night in a more contemporary setting, head back to the market square for a disco until 2am.

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2. The Wild Night

Newquay

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If partying into 2015 is what you’re looking for, then heading to Newquay this New Year is for you. The street party and midnight firework show are local traditions, and local bars and clubs offer tempting specials on food and drinks. Bar Help will even hose you down with ‘snow’ to welcome you to 2015.

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3. The Family Outing

Winter Wonderland, Cardiff.

Jon Candy, Flickr

Image: Jon Candy, Flickr

Get your skates on and spend the new year on ice at the Admiral ice rink in Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland. Those of us with less balance can enjoy a great selection of rides and attractions, as well as live music and a free bus service.

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4. The Wild Card

Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

Image: Stephen Harper, Flickr

Stephen Harper, Flickr

Fancy toasting the new year 500 feet in the air? You can do just that at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker tower. DJ’s, great views and the world’s largest glass floor make for a one-of-a-kind new year experience at Portsmouth’s world-famous landmark. Tickets are £45 and must be pre-booked here.

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5. The Big Bang

London

Matthias Rosenkranz, Flickr

Image: Matthias Rosenkranz, Flickr

Who can forget the Capital’s explosive welcome to 2014, and this year’s celebration looks to be just as epic! The midnight skies light up with increasingly innovative pyrotechnic displays, using the world famous landmarks along the River Thames. The event draws over 500,000 visitors each year, more than any other new year celebration in the UK, so turn up early to guarantee a good viewing spot. Tickets for the event are £10 and are available here.

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thetrainline’s Top 5 Christmas Market Countdown

Get into the festive spirit with a visit to a traditional Christmas market. We’ve picked 5 top options to wet your appetites! Here we go.

5. Exeter Christmas Market, Exeter

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Set against the stunning backdrop of Exeter Cathedral, Exeter Christmas market is open from 20 Nov – 20 Dec. That’s 31 days to explore a wide range of stalls, 20% of which sell original produce from local traders. Highlights include speciality cheeses, Christmas crafts and live glass blowing demonstrations. Even better, Exeter Central Station is just a few minutes walk away.

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4. Bath Christmas Market, Bath

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Bath boasts one of the largest Christmas markets in the country. For 18 days you can browse over 150 wooden stalls and the street market to the backdrop of carols, all in the impressive shadow of the beautiful Bath Abbey. The market is located in the centre of this vibrant city, so a trip to the shops or retiring to a bar or restaurant is a must. Bath Spa station is just a short walk away. Entry is free.

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3. Christkindelmarkt, Leeds

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Set in the stylish Millennium Square, Christkindelmarkt features authentic German traders and over 150 wooden stalls. There’s a great selection of beers and beverages for the adults, as well as a wide variety of food, jewellery and handmade toys for the whole family. Christkindelmarkt is open from 14 Nov – 20 Dec 2014. Entry is free, the nearest station is Leeds City.

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2. Edinburgh

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Want to know something awesome about Edinburgh? There’s not 1, but 3 Christmas markets in the city centre during the festive period. The European Christmas Market in Mound Precinct and East Princes Street Gardens offers a traditional (and somewhat romantic) take on the Christmas market experience, and boasts all the old favourites alongside artists and one-off gastronomic experiences. The Children’s Market in St Andrew’s Square gives a selection of festive, child friendly shopping experiences and festive treats. Also in St Andrew’s Square, The Scottish Market showcases the finest food and drink Scotland has to offer. Entry to all the markets is free, the nearest station is Edinburgh.

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1. Winter Wonderland, London

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No Christmas market countdown would be complete without London’s epic Winter Wonderland. Not only is there a huge selection of bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from, but a thrilling selection of rides too. Check out the Bavarian village for bratwurst, beer and bands. Or for something a little different, grab a cocktail at Bar Ice with handcrafted tables, walls and sculptures. Top it all off with a ride on the giant observation wheel, and toast the evening with a mulled cider and a beautiful view. Winter Wonderland is open from 21 Nov – 4 Jan, entry is free (certain attractions subject to charge). The nearest tube stations are Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch.

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Got any suggestions? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

#WinTrainStuff top 7 Brilliant and Rubbish pictures (so far)

You’ve been sending us hundreds of your Brilliant and Rubbish photos for #WinTrainStuff! We’ve seen everything from superheroes to sizzling bacon! As such, we’ve embarked on the near impossible task of choosing 7 of our top favourites so far.

And finally..

Don’t forget you can still post your brilliant or rubbish picture with #WinTrainStuff to our facebook wall, twitter or Instagram to be in with a chance of winning a Brilliant or Rubbish prize. We’ve also got a whopping £2000 train travel to give away here.

Good luck!

How to have a frighteningly fun Octob’aaargghhh!

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SCARE YOURSELF SILLY

It’s that spooky time of year again, and there are some great Halloween events to to get your blood curdling. Here’s our top pics for what to do in 3 scary cities

London

  • Get scared senseless at the London Dungeon, where the Master of Tricks will take you on a frightening tour with villains such as Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper.
  • Experience the fear of all fears with Phobophobia at the London Bridge Experience. Offering a frightful thrill seeking experience for horror fans in the bowels of London Bridge (this one’s more for the grown-ups).
  • The Old Royal Naval College opens their doors for their Horrid Halloween Highlights tour, a trip through the haunting history of the college and the spooky Victorian skittle alley.
  • Head to Shocktoberfest in Crawley, West Sussex. This 18-night event offers an interactive Halloween experience and boasts a new haunted house and zombie paintball. Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.11.01

Edinburgh

  • Take a ride to the dark side with an Edinburgh Ghost Bus tour. Have fun on this theatrical
    Ghost bus tours operate around London, York and Edinburgh.

    Ghost bus tours operate around London, York and Edinburgh.

    sightseeing tour of the city with comedic horror theatre, all on board an original 1960′s Routemaster bus! Tours start from £15, and are also available in London and York.

  • Meet everyone’s favourite gruesome pair, Burke & Hare. At the Edinburgh Dungeon.
  • The National Museum of Scotland have tracked down scary, spooky, weird and wonderful artefacts for Octob-aargh! Featuring some rather scary pirates.
  • Take a City of the Dead Tour. ‘Voted Edinburgh’s best Ghost Tour’ by Lonely Planet, explore the spooky history the underground and graveyards of the city.

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  • Have a tasty Halloween at the Halloween Spook-tacular at Cadbury World. Show off your talents in live entertainment show ‘The Scream Factor’ with this year finalists competing to win the ‘mystery prize’, Presented by Dermot O’Scary. While you’re at it, why not tell us about your brilliant or rubbish talents to win £2000 train travel?  Enter here.
  • Take the kids on a boat trip at the Dudley Canal Trust Children’s Halloween event, featuring light shows, puppetry, and a prize for the best fancy dress.
  • We wouldn’t be thetrainline.com if we didn’t recommend a ghost train! Take a ride on the Severn Valley Railway Ghost Train at Kidderminster. There’s a children’s disco from 17:30, followed by a journey through some spooky stations, and goody bags for all.
  • If you’re feeling medieval, head for an encounter with the headless horseman at Warwick Castle. During the day there’s a pumpkin tour and story telling. For the adults, there’s after dark ghost hunting. Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.51.23

DISCOVER A CITY

Poppies at the Tower of London. Image: Boss Tweed, Flickr.

Poppies at the Tower of London

Manchester

  • Take a walk through knowledge at Manchester Museum. Tour the Vivarium, where you can see live reptiles and frogs in their natural habitat, and meet a fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex named ‘Stan’.
  • Go shopping in Trafford Centre, with it’s 280 shops and restaurants.
  • Get constructive with the kids at Legoland Discovery Centre, also in Trafford Centre. You can enjoy indoor rides, building workshops and a 4D cinema. For some spooky Lego fun, check out their ‘Brick or Treat’ event, until 2nd November. Nearest stations: Manchester Piccadilly & Manchester Victoria.
  • Visit Horonation Street. From 27-31 October, ‘Coronation Street The Tour’ is taking a Halloween twist! Walk the path of Coronation Street’s killers and victims with ‘Murder Walks’. Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.56.27

Bristol

This vibrant West Country city has a great selection of things to see and do this half term.

  • Step back in time on Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner. Don’t forget to see the impressive Clifton suspension bridge, also based on a design by Isombard Kingdom Brunel.

    Clifton Suspension Bridge. Photo: B. Sutherland, Flickr

    Clifton Suspension Bridge. Photo: B. Sutherland, Flickr

  • Bristol museum and art gallery hosts an extensive collection of art, nature and history, including a life-size replica of the Wright Flyer, the first powered aircraft.
  • In the evening, why not warm up with a meal in one of the city centre’s many bars and restaurants. If you’re a fan of top quality cocktails, make a reservation at The Milk Thistle, a prohibition themed bar across 4 floors, also offering a canapé and buffet menu. You’ll also be in the right place to enjoy Bristol Cocktail week, 20-26th October.

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London

  • It’s not all about Big Ben and St Paul’s Cathedral. Why not take a look at the Tower Poppies, an installation at the Tower of London by artist Paul Cummins. 888,246 ceramic poppies are gradually filling the tower’s famous moat up to November 11 (nearest station: Tower Hill). When you’re done, hop over the river to see some naval history on board HMS Belfast.
  • If you’re a fan of a mystery, you can discover the story behind Sherlock Holmes, ‘The man who never lived, and who will never die’ at the Museum of London, and If you’ve got a sweet tooth, The Chocolate Show is at London Olympia from 17-19 October. (Nearest station: Kensington Olympia)
  • Catch a show! If you’re a fan of theatre, you save up to 60% on your ticket price with a train and theatre deal from thetrainline.com. View the latest offers here.

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 GET YOUR COAT, WE’RE OFF TO THE SEASIDE!

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The sun might have taken leave of us for a while, but there’s still plenty of family fun to be had at Britain’s beautiful seaside

Blackpool

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.09.44 Blackpool zoo hosts the Halloween Spooktactular from Sat 25th October – Sun 2nd November. Boasting pumpkin carving at the Pumpkin Grotto, a Blood-thirsty Birds Quiz trail, and scary story telling. Brilliant for the family. Tickets start from £11.50. While you’re on the seafront, you can even check out the supposedly haunted ghost train on the Pleasure Beach. Don’t forget to stay until it’s dark to catch the world famous Blackpool Illuminations, which shine up to 9th November.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.11.42Brighton

This classic Sussex city destination boasts a wide range of great restaurants, museums and events throughout October. The Booth Museum of Natural History houses exhibits including a killer whale skeleton and dinosaur bones. Brilliant for the kids. For the grown-ups, head to Brighton Marina for some outlet shopping and dining, or catch a laugh at the Brighton Comedy Festival, running throughout October.

Margate

The original British seaside resort isn’t just about sandy beaches and ice Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.11.55creams. Margate has developed into a buzzing hub of cafe culture, retro shopping and contemporary art. Grab lunch with a view at the Harbour Arm, go vintage shopping in the Old Town and get your fill of contemporary art at the Turner Contemporary Gallery. If you’re feeling particularly dramatic, you could call in at the Tom Thumb theatre, one of the smallest theatres in the world, which was formerly a Victorian coach house.

Brilliant for Android: What’s new in our mobile app

Not only have we worked to improve the overall usability, we’ve also introduced some great new features to help manage your journey, integrate with your calendar, and introduced push messaging to our Android app for the first time. Android Screenshot

Pin your train

Track your train throughout its journey from the Live Departures section. You can also see the same information about trains that have already departed by tapping ‘earlier trains’.

Share your journey

Meeting a friend or family member at the station? You can now share the details of your journey via email or text. You can also tap to zoom in on your collection reference, making collecting your ticket at the station that bit easier. Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 17.16.31

Calendar Integration

With calendar integration, you can add your full journey details to your Android phone’s calendar. Never forget your journey again.

Push Notifications

When logged in, push messages (such as important reminders and updates for your journey) now appear in the notifications tray. You can turn these off in the app settings any time.

We’d love to hear what you think! Download our mobile app.

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Brilliant for Bank Holiday

Time is precious. Stuck on inspiration for what to do with that extra day off this bank holiday? We can help! Here are some brilliant things to do in 3 UK cities this bank holiday. Don’t forget to try our Best Fare Finder to find great deals on fares to all these cities.

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London

Explore London for the day, or make a night of it with a Train & Hotel deal.

Family Fun
  • London offers a world-beating selection of family friendly museums and attractions. Kids go free at the London Transport Museum, where you can take a ride through London’s history with their great interactive collections featuring original busses, tube trains and trams.
    (Nearest tube: Covent Garden)
  • Check out the largest official collection of James Bond vehicles at the London Film Museum’s Bond in Motion. Tickets are free for kids under 5 and family tickets are available for £38.
    (Nearest tube: Covent Garden)
  • Catch a show in the West End. London’s theatre mecca offers a great selection of plays and musicals for all tastes. Take a look at the latest dinner & show packages and theatre offers on thetrainline.com.
Shopping
Neals Yard by Stu Smith

Grab lunch in one of the colourful cafes of Neal’s Yard. (Photo: Stu Smith)

  • Explore Covent Garden, with stores offering everything from fashion, unique gifts, and rare sweets to handmade jewellery and artisan coffee. Be sure not to miss Seven Dials, Floral Street and Neal’s Yard to get the best taste of this distinctive area. (Nearest stations: Covent Garden, Leicester Square)
  • Want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street? Pick up some new threads in Carnaby Street, the birthplace of swinging London. There’s a great selection of high street stores and independent boutiques to browse, as well as some great bars and cafes.
    (Nearest station: Oxford Circus)
  • Browse the world’s first pop-up mall at Boxpark Shoreditch, showcasing a selection of fashion, lifestyle and food brands, and made entirely of shipping containers.
    (Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street)

    Fancy a spot of shopping in London but stuck for where to go? Help is at hand!

    Fancy a spot of shopping in London but stuck for where to go? Help is at hand!

    BookTrainTickets_01

Food & Drink

For the family - All Star Lanes, Holborn

All Star Lanes have 4 family friendly restaurants across the capital, all boasting a retro diner serving up tasty American classics, and bowling lanes. Get any kids main, a soft drink, choice of a dessert or shake and one game of bowling for £15. The bar offers a wide selection of drinks and cocktails, so it’s brilliant for grown ups too. (Nearest tube: Holborn)

The commuter’s treat - Plum & Spilt Milk, Kings Cross 

Here’s one for those of you who commute in and out of King’s Cross St Pancras on the East Coast main line. A restaurant boasting great dishes crafted creatively from all British ingredients. Wake up with a fresh east coast kipper with parsley butter for breakfast, or look out for the red mullet with braised fennel for a tasty end to your day.

The pig-out - Barbecoa, St Paul’s

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Wine and cheesecake at The Pudding Bar, Soho (Photo: The Pudding Bar)

The UK’s first barbecue steakhouse, founded by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Barbecoa boasts British meat cooked on pit Smokers, fire pits and wood fired ovens, and a table overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral. Don’t forget to match your meal with a whiskey from their global selection. (Nearest tube: St Paul’s)

The alternative - The Pudding Bar, Soho

Dessert is the new main course! Pop into Soho’s newest dessert restaurant for a tasty dessert and matching wine. Try the tasting menu, with wine for 2, at £32 per person.
(Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road)

Book your bank holiday tickets to London

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Brighton

Family Fun
  • Dive into Sea Life Brighton. Sea Life provides a really fun and educational day out, whatever the weather. Then for an extra train adventure, wander over to Palace Pier and take a ride on the world’s oldest operating electrical railway, the Volks Electric.
  • Visit the Royal Pavilion. Walk in the footsteps of 19th century royalty in the spectacular seaside palace and gardens. thetrainline top tip: Download the free Brighton Museums app for iPhone and Android to get £1 off adult admission.
  • Head to the Brighton Sand Sculpture Festival. Take a journey ‘around the world in sand’. See some of the world’s most famous landmarks. The festival includes sand sculpture workshops, live demonstrations, unique photo opportunities, a children’s sand pit and café. Don’t forget to hit Brighton Beach and try your own sand castle skills! Tickets from £3.
Shopping
  • Brighton Lanes by Peter turvey

    Brighton’s Lanes (photo by Peter Turvey)

    Get lost in the Lanes. From independent shops to funky restaurants, bars and cafés, the labyrinth of the Brighton Lanes is an essential retail discovery. Keep an ear out for some live music too!

  • Browse Brighton’s shopping centre at Churchill Square, with it 90 shops, restaurants and cafés showcasing everything from Lego to Apple.BookTrainTickets_01
Food & Drink

Fish & chips for all the family -  Harry Ramsden’s, Marine Parade

Harry Ramsden’s restaurants have been serving traditional British Fish & Chips for 75 years. Located right next to Brighton pier on Marine Parade, Harry Ramsden’s Brighton gives diners a view of the seafront whilst tucking into your meal.

The fine dineThe Coal Shed, Boyces St

Tuck into gourmet steak and seafood in the heart of Brighton. Specialities include 35 day, dry aged Scottish steaks, and a wide selection of fish dishes including cuttlefish, oysters, sea bass, bouillabaisse and lobster. The Coal Shed was even named as one of the best restaurants in the UK by the Observer Monthly Food Awards.

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Edinburgh

Family Fun
  • Visit Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh’s best known landmark has dominated the Scottish capital for centuries, and helped shape the city you see today. thetrainline top tip – Book a fast track ticket at no extra cost to skip the queues and to get a free guided tour of the castle.
  • Take a flight through history at the National Museum of Flight. Get inside Concorde, explore the hangars and take a look at the world’s first jet airliner, the De-Haviland Comet.
  • Get a fright at the Edinburgh Dungeon and enjoy a combination of special effects, actors, theatrical sets and rides. (Nearest station: Edinburgh Waverley)
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  • Grassmarket is a picturesque area with independent merchants, designers and artisans. Bustling with some of the best shopping Edinburgh has to offer. Also home to some of Edinburgh’s best restaurants and bars.
  • Browse high street favourites in Princes St, including Topshop, House of Fraser and John Lewis. Don’t forget to explore the beautiful Princes St Gardens on the south side, and a popular selection of shops and restaurants in Princes Mall.BookTrainTickets_01
Food & Drink

For the family - Wannaburger, Queensferry St

An American style diner in the West end of Edinburgh. Offering a full menu of burger combinations with all the classics alongside some more unusual treats. Kids meal with mini burger, fries and drink for £2.49.

The fine dine - The Ship on the Shore, Leith

This waterfront wine bar and sea food bistro was featured in the Guardian’s Top 10 Edinburgh Restaurants, Offering a range of fine seafood in the form of shellfish and lobster, as well as a separate Crustacea & Mollusc menu. All with a waterside view.