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 teletext.co.uk) 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 (gatwickexpress.co.uk) 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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us