It is when the stalls are set up and the candles lit at Nuremberg's annual Christmas Market that you know that the countdown to the big day has begun.

Memo of the week

A polite reminder has been posted on the Foreign Office's website ( Would British citizens still holding quantities of the national currencies of the 12 European countries that will be adopting the euro on 1 January 2002 please exchange the cash for sterling or euros. It is estimated that more than £500m of currency from the 12 euro nations remains in the UK, and the cut-off point for exchanges is 28 February, excepting Ireland and France, where the final dates are 9 February and 17 February respectively.

How to... find an alcoholic drink in Utah

Utah is famous for two things – polygamy and being a dry state – neither of which fills the visitor to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with much excitement. But the truth is that polygamy was outlawed in 1896 and the state, while not exactly sloshing with booze, is adequately lubricated by 37 state-run liquor stores, 97 smaller shops, 500 pubs and 300 private clubs. The problem facing ski fans is that the alcohol laws are arcane in the extreme. They are summarised on a website, Beer sold in pubs and shops, for example, has a maximum alcohol content of 3.2 per cent. Wine can be ordered in licensed restaurants, but only one bottle at a time. And you can join one of the private drinking clubs on the spot but spirits come in meagre 1oz shots, although you can line up a second. The conclusion is that it is possible to get drunk in Utah, but it will take some effort.

Ticket and accommodation packages for the 2002 Winter Olympics are still available from but there are just a few tickets remaining for the most popular events. The opening ceremony is on 8 February.

Fly with lions in Africa

Most people would give a pride of wild lions a wide berth. You certainly wouldn't share an aeroplane with six of the creatures. But that is what a South African firm, African Wildlife Adventures, is proposing. It is for a good cause: the lions are being relocated to Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Nature Reserve in South Africa to increase the gene pool and reduce inbreeding in the park. The project is being sponsored by, among others, KwaZulu Natal Wildlife and the University of Natal. Bookings are being taken for the African Wildlife Adventures trip (7-14 December) to help to capture and relocate lions from Madikwe Game Reserve to Hluhluwe and the project continues with another trip in February and March 2002. The trip costs $6,000 (£4,400) (00 27 31 202 9090;

Event of the week

It is when the stalls are set up and the candles lit at Nuremberg's annual Christmas Market that you know that the countdown to the big day has begun. The traditional market, which always opens on the last Friday of November, attracts 200,000 visitors every year and has managed keep the fun fairs out. Instead, tourists tuck into the local gingerbread and mulled wine in the shadow of Frauenkirche church. The highlight is the torchlight procession, this year on 13 December.

Harry Potter movie locations

Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, the British Tourist Authority has produced a map of the locations featured in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The map is available online at www.visitbritain/ moviemap and features such historic treats as Alnwick Castle, where the quidditch game is played, and the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral, the backdrop for Hogwarts School.