Cottage of the Week – Hen Wrych Hall Tower, Conwy

Happy New Year! We hope you had a fantastic Christmas and saw 2014 out in style. We’ve chosen one of our favourite featured properties as the first Cottage of the Week for 2015. Hen Wrych Hall Tower offers truly stunning accommodation where perfectly preserved features dovetail with contemporary comfort. So while you can relax and marvel at the majesty of your historic surroundings while you toast your toes by the open fire, you can also do so whilst watching a DVD and becoming the envy of your friends by sharing your status via Wi-Fi.

If you can drag yourself out of the heavily carved king-size four-poster bed and the additional comfort of your historic hideaway then you’ll find much to enjoy in the surrounding area, including a five minute walk to the beach, local pubs restaurants and shops just a mile away. Hen Wrych Hall Tower sleeps 2 and currently has great availability for 2015. Find out more and make it your next romantic getaway by visiting the property listing on cottages4you.

Alternative Ways to Welcome 2015

However you choose to celebrate the end of the year and the arrival of 2015, one thing we all have in common is the desire to celebrate with gusto and have a good ol’ knees’ up.

Everyone knows about THE party in Edinburgh to celebrate Hogmanay, and they know about it for a reason: it’s one of the best New Year’s Eve parties in the world (we think so anyway). Standing alongside Big Ben in London as the clock strikes midnight and the revelers whoop and cheer along to a spectacular fireworks display is also pretty hard to beat.

But if you fancy a New Year’s Eve with a difference then take a look at some of our suggestions for an alternative New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

Witness the Allendale Tar Barle in Northumberland…

Hadrians Wall panorama

Enjoy the heritage of Hadrian’s Wall country

The village of Allendale in Northumberland is tucked away in the beautiful countryside of the Allen Valley and Hadrian’s Wall country. Normally a sleepy village built around a large main square encompassed by old buildings and a number of inviting pubs. Late on New Year’s Eve you wouldn’t recognise it as the same village. Enjoy a lovely meal in one of the pubs with a pint of real ale and warm up beside a cosy log fire before venturing outside to watch the famous Allendale Tar Barle Ceremony.

It dates back to the Dark Ages but this Pagan tradition has never been forgotten. Join locals and visitors alike as the village comes alive. At 11.30pm the guisers (local men in costume and painted faces) carry barrels of tar and paraffin into the square where they’re lit. The flaming barrels are then heaved onto their heads and they march through the village – at least they’ll be nice and toasty! The procession culminates at midnight with the barrels being flung onto a huge bonfire swiftly ensued by singing, dancing and merriment. It’s a spectacle not to be missed.

Be the first to get your foot in the door…

Continuing with tradition the first footers then leave Allendale’s square to call on local residents. The tradition of ‘first footing’ is an age-old English tradition, but not so well known these days. At midnight residents try to be the first person to call on a friend’s door and offer them a gift. Much to the delight of the village’s female residents, traditionally handsome men are preferred to carry out the custom! Entering through the front door is said to bring good luck for the following year and then they must leave through the back door. Give it a try this New Year – who wouldn’t want a little good luck for 2015?

Enjoy New Year in Newquay…

Worship the winter sun in Cornwall

Cornwall is often thought of as a summer holiday destination with its family attractions and fabulous beaches. On New Year’s Eve, Newquay’s central square is transformed into a carnival of colour and fancy dress. The more outrageous the costume the better.  Count down to midnight surrounded by locals and visitors from all over the country, you’re guaranteed a great end to 2014 – and some amazing coastal views to boot!

Have a flaming good time in Scotland…

Things heat up in the Shetland Isles

Enjoy street parties, fireworks, music and a New Year’s Eve you’ll never forget in Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh has long been famous for its Hogmanay celebrations, but for something different, check out these other Scottish destinations for New Year’s Eve ….

Crowds of people the world-over flock to Stonehaven on Hogmanay. Nestling just south of Aberdeen, close to Dunnotar Castle in the north east of Scotland, the Fireball Festival is a tradition that has been kept alive for over 100 years at least. Stand well back at midnight and savour the buzz of the atmosphere. Bad spirits are banished as fireballs are flung around the heads of locals who parade through the streets so the New Year’s good spirits can enter.  It’s a sight that has to be seen to be believed.

If you can’t make it to Stonehaven for Hogmanay then take a couple of weeks to recover from your New Year revelries and then venture further north to the Shetland Islands . On the last Tuesday of January every year Shetlanders and tourists alike celebrate the Viking fire festival of ‘Up Helly Aa’; a mesmerising parade of Vikings advance through Lerwick town centre culminating in torching a Viking longboat – which a chosen few have spent all year building!

Celebrate Norse traditions in the North East…

Revelers heading to Newcastle this New Year will find themselves surrounded by myth and legend in Gateshead’s Norse-themed Winter Carnival. Wrap up warm to witness one of the biggest events in the country. Thor, as well as elves, wolves and other beasts prowl the streets to the beat of the Spark drummer’s rhythms. Enjoy a carnival atmosphere at Monument before following the parade along the street to Newcastle Civic Centre for a spectacular, musical fireworks finale.

Warm and cosy on New Year’s Eve…

Pavilion Gardens: Perfect for a winter walk

If standing outside for hours in the depths of mid-Winter doesn’t get you in the celebratory mood, then how about at night at the opera instead? The Edwardian Opera House in Buxton is a glorious building in the heart of the town, next to the beautiful Pavilion Gardens. Enjoy a 3-course pre-theatre dinner in the Pavilion Octagon before taking a short stroll to the theatre. The British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra will fill the room with all your favourites from TV, ballet and musicals to name a few, rising to a grand crescendo of a midnight sing-along where the whole audience is encouraged to join in.

Whatever you do this New Year, tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for the sake of Auld Lang Syne.

Cottage of the Week – Felin Hedd, Tregaron, nr. Aberystwyth

Felin Hedd, ref. 0N3

We now feature over 700 properties in our Green Scheme – including our lovely new Cottage of the Week.

To join our Green Scheme a property must be energy efficient, offer effective water and waste management and provide guests with plenty of information on shopping local and making the most of attractions in the area (so there’s no need to drive!). Felin Hedd ticks all those boxes and more. The fact that it’s also part of our Luxury and Baby and Toddler collection, offers a hot tub, pool table and comes fully decorated for a festive break is just the icing on a very nice cake!

Felin Hedd sleeps 8 and 2 pets. Find more info and make a booking on the property’s listing on cottages4you.

Views of France

They may not be festive, but we’re seeing a lot of interest in French properties for 2015 at the moment and we thought these views of France were too good not to share. If you fancy reserving yours then take a look at our France page for a huge selection of fantastic gites, villas and more. 

THE WONDER OF WINTER – Our First Entries

A few early entries to our Wonder of Winter photo competition, featuring walks in the snow, frosty landscapes, four-legged friends, cosy cottages and more. In fact, there’s already more than enough to make even the most hardiest ‘winterphobe’ feel a little festive!

Now the temperature’s dropped and snow has started to visit our shores it’s the perfect time to capture your very own ‘Wonder of Winter’. Visit our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages to enter your photo and you could win a £100 Amazon voucher. (Terms and Conditions).