04 April 2009
As the Easter holidays fast approach, Virgin Trains, which has just launched a brand new timetable, has revealed that record numbers of Brits are planning to spend the Easter break relaxing in the UK instead of flying off abroad. With research claiming that 1 in 5 of those who holidayed abroad last year planning to stay in the UK in 2009*, it appears that Scotland, Manchester and Liverpool are proving the most popular destinations on the Virgin Trains Network with a 40% overall increase in train tickets sold for this Easter period compared to last.
With the credit crunch still biting and research revealing that 48%* of us are, or intending to, cut back on holiday spending, it appears more of us than ever before are taking advantage of the UK as a holiday destination. With good value train tickets, especially when booked in advance, and more frequent off-peak services it’s the perfect time to enjoy a hassle-free UK break. Whether it’s a walking holiday in the Lake District, whistle-stop city break in Manchester or a cultural trip in Liverpool, there is something for everyone…
UK Easter Hot Spots:
EdinburghA seductive mix of modernity and heritage, Edinburgh is a must-visit City for all those who have not set foot across the border. To symbolise the new Edinburgh the striking £420-million Scottish Parliament is a must see building to start your sight seeing tour with Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile and New Town (which is actually quite old) next in line. When it comes to shopping, Princes Street’s is the place to start with the “oldest independent shop” Jenners at No.48 being a must-visit. On and around the Royal Mile is the place to get twee souvenirs of the kilt/whisky/shortbread-in-a-tin variety. Although Edinburgh’s reputation is for festivals and events rather than nightlife, the relaxed licensing laws mean that most bars stay open until 1am – a perfect way to end your busy day.
Virgin Trains Fare:Birmingham – Edinburgh weekend returns from £102.20
Birmingham – Edinburgh weekday returns from £102.20
The now-famous new Bullring is the epicentre of Birmingham’s all-round shopping experience with £500 million of retail excitement capped by the iconic Selfridges. The city centre is linked by street after street of shopping choice, which includes the designer label homeland of The Mailbox as well as key sights such as the Pallasades. Martineau Place and City Plaza. Broad Street is probably the most exciting area to go for a late night drink in Birmingham as it is 1/2 mile long and houses almost nothing but bars and clubs. Places to try include Ipanema, Bar Risa (a bar and nightclub and is connected to Jongleurs Comedy Club next door) and Oh Velvet!. If you are after a very cosmopolitan evening, head to The Living Room. Birmingham is said to have more canals than Venice and walking the towpath gives you a chance to see the city and its surrounding towns in a new light. In the centre of the city, over 15 miles of canal have been improved to make safe and enjoyable walking - you don't need a boat!
Virgin Trains Fare:London - Birmingham weekend returns from £45.50
London - Birmingham weekday returns from £29.70
The Lake District
The Lake District (also known as The Lakes or Lakeland), is a rural area in North West England. Highly considered as a popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and its mountains, and its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the Poets. The central and most-visited part of the area is contained in the Lake District National Park, one of fourteen National Parks in the United Kingdom. It lies entirely within Cumbria, and is one of England's few mountainous regions. All the land in England higher than three thousand feet above sea level lies within the National Park, including Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
Virgin Trains Fare:London – Oxenholme The Lake District weekend returns from £78.70
London – Oxenholme The Lake District weekday returns from £78.70
Newly crowned as European Capital of Culture 2008, Liverpool is the only place to be this year. This cultural centre is overflowing with history and legendary creative clout. Liverpool boasts two cathedrals which are major attractions in their own right. The Anglican Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral are fine examples of internationally-recognised architecture. Many gems of the National Museums Liverpool fall within the heritage site. The refurbished World Museum Liverpool and Walker Art Gallery are housed in this part of town, while theTate Liverpool and Merseyside Maritime Museum have their homes on the waterfront, at the Albert Dock, alongside the not to be missed Beatles Story. If you're looking for theatres in Liverpool there is an array of choice offering contemporary, classic and touring productions.
Virgin Trains Fare:
London – Liverpool weekend returns from £66.40
London – Liverpool weekday returns from £62.70
ManchesterMake time to enjoy a host of cross-cultural treats at the first ever Manchester International Festival, before indulging in a healthy helping of quirky shops, museums and eateries – all handpicked to guarantee you a satisfyingly unique experience. Manchester is a dramatic mix of old and new. The futuristic design and innovative shapes of its contemporary architecture sit side by side with the spires and grinning gargoyles of its proud past.Manchester’s gay scene is famously one of Britain’s friendliest, busiest and most welcoming. There is a huge range of stylish gay and lesbian bars and clubs in the Gay Village, and while here you’ll find shopping heaven, and an arts scene to match anywhere in Europe. From fantastic culture to legendary nightlife and friendly people – a warm welcome awaits you...
Virgin Trains Fare:
London – Manchester weekend returns from £66.10
London – Manchester weekday returns from £61.05
Within the City of Westminster, the entertainment district of the West End has its focus around the film capitalLeicester Square and home of electronic advertisements, Piccadilly Circus. London's theatre district is here, as are many cinemas, bars, clubs and restaurants, including the city's Chinatown district, and just to the east isCovent Garden, an area housing speciality shops. Europe's busiest shopping area is Oxford Street, nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) long — which makes it the longest shopping street in the world and home to many shops and department stores including Selfridges. Across Hyde Park is Knightsbridge — home to the Harrods department store.
London offers a great variety of cuisine as a result of its ethnically diverse population. Gastronomic centres include the Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the Chinese food restaurants of Chinatown. Furthermore, there are Easter Egg hunts happening all over the Capital including places such as the beautiful Kew Gardens, Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath and The Foundling Museum in Russell Square. All hunts include a host of family-friendly Easter activities plus plenty of chocolate goodness.
Virgin Trains Fare:
Manchester – London weekend returns from £66.10
Manchester – London weekday returns from £87.05
Top tips for your UK holiday:
Book your train tickets early! The sooner you book the cheaper it will be. You can always purchase tickets on the day of travel but this isn’t the most cost-effective way of travelling
Book any bicycles onto the train. You can’t just turn up and board with your bicycles – space has to be pre-booked
Bring lots of things to keep the kids busy – there is nothing worse than starting the holiday off with bored children! If you forget ask a member of staff for the ‘kids’ free backpack they keep on board for such occasions
Plan your journey – rushing is no way to start a holiday either. Make sure you leave yourselves plenty of time as the journey is all part of the holiday
Don’t plan everything around the weather – you will only end up being disappointed! Plan rainy day and sunny day activities and make sure you have an abundance of options
Do confirm your train times – particularly at weekends as these can be subject to alteration due to essential improvement works.
Says Arthur Leathley, Communications Director Virgin Trains, “We have certainly seen a surge in interest for the Easter school holiday period as the British public decides to explore the UK. Popular destinations include Scotland, Manchester and Liverpool, and with extra seats and more frequent services than ever before we are keen to encourage even more people to holiday in the UK and use the train wherever possible”.
For further information or to book Virgin Trains log on to http://www.virgintrains.com/ or telephone 08457 222 333.
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For further information please contact Sarah Rhodes, Mindy Bhachu or Lewis Stagnetto on 020 7403 6900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Ed:
* Research taken from VisitEngland March 2009
* Advance fare prices taken from Virgin Trains website to travel between 7th and 20th April 2009. All advance tickets are subject to availability.
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Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group. We have operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997; the current franchise runs to March 2012.
Virgin Rail Group is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach.
Virgin Trains has been listed as the Best Train Operator in a survey by the Institute of Customer Service and has been voted Best Rail Company by Travel Weekly magazine and Best UK Domestic Train Service by Business Traveller magazine.
Virgin Trains has been awarded the Global Travel Awards 2009 ‘Best Rail Operator’ Category as voted by Evening Standard readers.
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