MILLENNIUM CELEBRATIONS: Seasonal bargains as travel companies cut winter holiday prices

IF YOU cannot stand the millennium hype, there is still a chance of getting away from it.

There are still a number of unsold holidays, as a glance at Teletext (or or a visit to your local travel agency will reveal.

Prices of holidays in the Mediterranean over Christmas and the New Year are always a lot higher than in the rest of the winter, but this year there are some relative bargains to be had. The best deals are for departures immediately after Christmas or the New Year.

Warmer destinations are more troublesome. Our favourite winter getaway, the Canary Isles, is full. There is still some room in the Gambia, and across in southern India - Kerala and Goa - plus Sri Lanka. But Caribbean islands, like Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados, have been booking well for years.

Walt Disney World in Orlando has been booked solid for at least a year, but fans of Mickey can get a cheap flight to Los Angeles and go and see him at his original home, Disneyland in Anaheim. The signs are that transatlantic flights still have plenty of room, especially in the week between Christmas and the New Year. Although many European flights are being cancelled, most of the long-haul flights are operating normally over the holiday season - and that means two dozen wide-bodied planes, each way, each day, between London and New York alone, and fares are available as low as pounds 200 return.

And it is a similar story for some flights down under to Australia and New Zealand. Earlier this month, charters from Gatwick to Perth with Austravel were being sold for as little as pounds 99 one way, pounds 199 return - the lowest- ever fares for 16,000 miles of travel.

For the few souls brave enough or fed up enough to try to fly somewhere on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, there is the vexed question of whether you will actually be able to get to the airport without a car. It depends where you start from. The best links are to London's airports: the Gatwick Express ( is operating a half-hourly service from 5.30am until 4pm on Christmas Day, then all day on Boxing Day. The Heathrow Express is running as normal all the way through, from just after 5am until shortly before midnight. But other departure points might prove more difficult.

What about the ferries, and trains through the Channel Tunnel? The cross- Channel ferries are likely to be busier today than ever, as people stock up with festive food and (especially) drink. But from Christmas Eve onwards they should quieten down. Most ferries are shutting down for Christmas Day itself, though the car-carrying service Eurotunnel keeps running around the clock between Folkestone and Calais. The last Eurostar trains from London Waterloo to Paris and Brussels leave at around 4pm on Christmas Eve and there is still some availability. And just in case you need some retail inspiration, there are day trips available to both cities for just pounds 45 return between now and mid-January.

But as this celebration is to do with the birth of Christ, you might ask what the chances are of getting to Bethlehem itself - or to Rome where they are about to celebrate Holy Year?

It is not too difficult getting a flight to Tel Aviv, close to Bethlehem, or to the Italian capital, but once you get to either place it will certainly be tricky finding room at the inn. And in the case of Rome, that is likely to persist all the way through the year, with many millions of pilgrims planning to visit the Vatican.

Suggested Topics
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam