VIDEO: Turkish Tannenbaum

On Tane Baum in Istanbul” from Manzara Istanbul on Vimeo.

Want to feel some holiday warm and fuzzies? Take a few minutes to enjoy this Turkish video from Manzara Istanbul, a vacation apartment rental agency in Turkey‘s most popular city. The agency is run by a German Turk, who coordinated his entire staff to sing a not-exactly-stellar but very sweet version of the Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum” (aka “O Christmas Tree”), in German, no less. It’s part music video, part travelogue of the lovely Galata neighborhood, much of it off key, but heartfelt. You can also see the making of their awesome green glass bottle Christmas tree in Istanbul, but the narration is all in German. For more information on the musicians, the (very impressive) production team behind the video has a post here.

Manzara has also released another holiday video for this year, with more endearing Turks, beautiful shots of Istanbul, and great music, but the traditional Arabesque style is a bit on the cheesy side.

Mutlu Yillar (Season’s Greetings)!

Christmas Travel: Happy, Budget-Minded Places To Go

Christmas

Many travelers have places to spend Christmas nailed down far in advance. Tradition may have us going back home to join with family and friends in an annual celebration. Airline tickets may have been purchased months ago, cashing in on the best rates. A place to stay is not an issue, we’ll take a sofa at one place or another, surrounded by those we care for.

Others don’t have such happy plans in place. Maybe economic concerns made advance planning impossible. Maybe the whole idea of gifting, taking time off work, getting there and other concerns have them stuck at home with no apparent way out. For those people, we have a list of happy places we can go, scattered around the United States, that offer an alternative to a “Bah Humbug” attitude at budget prices.

New York City
New Yorkers have celebrating Christmas down to a science and the city goes all out this time of year. Christmas trees, lights, Broadway shows or simply window-shopping make for a good time. Ride a horse-drawn carriage in Central Park (about $100), ice-skate at Rockefeller center ($20), or just stand in the middle of Times Square for a hefty dose of Christmas magic.

Christmas, Florida
Odds are pretty good that we won’t see a white Christmas at this central Florida location but a stop by Christmas, Florida, can sure get us in the mood. About 20 miles east of Orlando, it’s Christmastime year-round here with Christmas trees and reindeer on display all the time. Not far is the Fort Christmas Historical Park, a replica of the original fort, built in 1837 during the Seminole Indian War and all the central Florida attractions, all dressed for the holidays.

Woodbury, Connecticut
How about zooming over snow covered hills for a new Christmas tradition? Connecticut’s Woodbury Ski Area lets us do just that on a zip line ($89 for four hours) or we can fly down a mountain in our own tube. The mountain has three zip line tracks, close to a mile of tubing trails, and over 20 different snow tubing courses. You can also enjoy the areas 12 courses or skiing, snowboarding and snow bikes that are lighted for night use.

Harbor Christmas Parades, California
Scattered around California, are a number of harbor, boat and yacht parades that may be just what your Christmas Grinch needs to get in the mood. San Diego Harbor’s Parade of Lights, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Oakland’s Lighted Yacht Parade are free and host hundreds of lighted pleasure craft. The Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights is a seasonal trip through the harbor’s waterways with views of decorated houses.

Christmas boat parades are not limited to California. Check this video for a look at Portland, Oregon’s Christmas Ship Parade:


Want to find some holiday events close to you? A national listing of all local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s might be a good place to start.

[Photo credit- Flickr user Tom Hilton]

Discounted Holiday Events Make For Rich Seasonal Travel

holiday events

As we make plans for travel through the first of the year, holiday events are often included. At home or on the road – traditional, old fashioned or new – different holiday events are in place for us to enjoy. Some are free to see, others have a ticket or admission price, but all aim to be a part of our holiday travel plans. Here are a few of the more noteworthy holiday events to consider.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular“- New York City
Norwegian Cruise Line has been designated the official cruise line of the Rockettes and is offering a 25% savings on tickets to the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” through December 30, 2012 (use promotional code “Cruise”).

Norwegian also launched a sweepstakes that gives “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” attendees a chance to win a cruise for a family of four on Norwegian Breakaway, which will be the largest ship to homeport year-round from New York City beginning in May.

Holiday Ballet “The Nutcracker” from Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre
- Atlanta
To many of us, nothing says “holidays” like a good performance of “The Nutcracker” and Atlanta’s Georgia Metro Dance Theater has one of the best.

In its 11th year of creating holiday magic, they invite you to come and watch the timeless tale unfold as a young girl’s gift of a nutcracker comes to life and a handsome prince whisks her away through the land of snow.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights- Orlando
Walt Disney World in Orlando has a seasonal display featuring millions of glittering lights
at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Synchronized to holiday music, buildings are blanketed in sheets of multi-colored lights with thousands more forming twirling carousels and heavenly angels in a show that cycles every ten minutes.

Included with standard admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, Santa and his reindeer will be on hand through January 6, 2013.


CHILL: A Dazzling Ice Kingdom in a Giant Igloo at the Queen Mary
- Long Beach
Retired ocean liner the Queen Mary has been transformed into an amazing winter wonderland for the whole family called CHILL through January 6, 2013. A giant igloo, home to The Ice Kingdom, features a one-of-a-kind exhibit with larger-than-life ice creations.

Ice Tubing, an Ice Skating rink, a Holiday Village, complete with Christmas trees, “Candy Lane,” gingerbread decorating, carolers and Santa Claus will be on hand too as we see in this video:



Looking for discount tickets to these and other holiday attractions? Suddenly Frugal, an online source has all of these and more listed as well as a list of the 11 Best Freebies When You Travel.

[Photo credit- Flickr user ZakVTA ]

Cirque Dreams Travels The Country, Tours Military Bases Worldwide

cirque dreams

The first-ever Cirque Dreams World Tour performed at 17 U.S. military bases throughout ten countries in January. Now, Cirque Dreams Holidaze promises to light up the 2012 holiday season transforming stages at five military bases in Korea and across the United States into a magical holiday wonderland.

This is not your mother’s Christmas pageant either. The traditional elements are there but that’s about where tradition ends. Gingerbread men flip in mid air and toy soldiers march on thin wires. Snowmen, icemen, penguins, Christmas tree ornaments and dancing puppets all come to life to an original music score.

Honoring tradition, seasonal favorites accompany hundreds of astonishing costumes and holiday dreams in a setting of gigantic gifts, colossal candy canes and 30-foot towering soldiers creating a wonderland of spectacle.

Fans won’t have to travel far to see the international cast of multi-talented and brilliantly costumed artists come to life and perform astonishing feats of disbelief.

The Cirque Dreams Holidaze U.S. tour begins on November 13 in Abilene, Texas, then travels up the West Coast, down through the Midwest, into the South and ends in Schenectady, New York, on December 30.

Here’s a preview:




Cirque Dreams’ stable of popular shows include Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Cirque Dreams Illumination, Cirque Dreams & Dinner onboard Norwegian Epic and upcoming Norwegian Breakaway, Cirque Dreams Rocks, and Cirque Dreams Holidaze, now in its fourth consecutive touring season and success from The Kennedy Center.

[Photo Credit: Cirque Productions]

Mutlu Yillar (Happy Holidays) from Turkey

holidays turkey

Christmas
Day has arrived, and here in Istanbul, it’s just another Sunday but you could be fooled by all the festive decorations. Much of the city is festooned with colorful lights and ornamented trees, but with a Turkish twist. Most of the population is Muslim, while unlike in more conservative countries, many families will roast turkeys, decorate trees, and exchange gifts on New Year’s Eve. Turkey was the birthplace of St. Nicholas, and now Santa Claus (or Noel Baba) can be spotted on many Istanbul streets, selling lottery tickets. The traditional Christmas tree is called a Yılbaşı or Noel Ağacı and can be found (real or fake) at large supermarkets, while holly-like kokina plants with red berries are sold on street corners and in flower shops. No matter what, when, or how you celebrate, you can say Mutlu Yıllar (Happy New Year) and toast Şerefe to a great 2012.

%Gallery-142418%