Baltic Cities Christmas Markets Knitting Tour

Prices from £1,379

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30 Nov 2019 - 6 Dec 2019
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 19072
With: Carol Meldrum

Prices

Prices from £1,379
Single Supplement: £245
Deposit: £250

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This tour to Tallinn, in Estonia and Riga, in Latvia, is the perfect way to start your Christmas preparations.

Tallinn is one of Europe’s newest capitals and boasts a rich mix of architecture and culture. The Old Town was almost untouched by war and remains perfectly preserved. A fine Christmas tree will be the centrepiece of Old Town Square, where we’ll have some time to explore the Christmas market. We’ll visit the highlights of the city with our local guide, learn about Estonian handicrafts and take part in a workshop with local experts.

Riga is the largest city in the Baltics and is a fascinating mixture of proud Latvian traditions and influences of the various countries that have occupied it. The Old Town’s architecture is stunning. We’ll visit the highlights of the city with our local guide and have time in some of the three Christmas markets that take place in the city at this time of year. We’ll also explore the rich heritage of Latvian costume and take part in a mitten knitting workshop with a local expert.

The tour is accompanied by our Arena Travel expert, Carol Meldrum, who has designed a project especially for this tour.

CAROL MELDRUM'S WORKSHOPS

"Our project is inspired by the beautiful knitted mittens from Latvia and Estonia. Over the course of the trip we will work through the techniques needed to create a colourful slipper sock, perfect for keeping your toes cozy in those chilly winter evenings.

The project is worked in the round from the toe up using magic loop technique. For the foot upper, you will have a choice of traditional stranded knit patterns to work from or can go crazy with the stripes.

We will also look at adding embellishments such as embroidery or surface decoration to give your cozy toes slippers their own personality!

We aim to cover the following skills:

  • Turkish / Eastern cast on
  • Magic loop technique
  • Increasing
  • Changing colour - jogless stripe
  • Stranded knitting in the round
  • Carrying yarn over more than 3"

DAY 1

Meet Carol and your Tour Manager at London Gatwick airport for your early evening flight to Tallinn. With a late arrival in Tallinn, we will transfer direct to the hotel on arrival.

DAY 2

We start today with a walking tour in the old town of Tallinn. The Old Town is divided into two areas, the Lower Town and the Upper Town. In the Upper Town we’ll visit:

  • St Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral; built in a typical Russian Revival style during the period when the country was still part of the Russian empire. The cathedral is richly decorated and has eleven bells cast in St. Petersburg
  • Toompea Castle; an ancient stronghold site in use since the 9th century. Today the castle houses the Estonian parliament
  • Dome Church, also known as St Mary’s Cathedral, is the oldest church in Tallinn and mainland Estonia. Originally a Roman Catholic cathedral, it became Lutheran in 1561 and is now the seat of the Archbishop of Tallinn
  • Kohtuosa viewing platform provides excellent views over the roofs and spires of the Old Town as well as the high-rise buildings in the newer part of the city. In the background is the Gulf of Finland and the port.

In the Lower Town we’ll see:

  • Danish Kings Garden, named after the Danish reign that lasted for over a century in Tallinn and northern Estonia
  • Town Hall Square, also known as Raekoja Plats, is the centre of the Old Town. In winter it is filled with the magical Christmas market, the centrepiece of which is a towering spruce tree
  • Viru Gates, a pair of picturesque ivy-covered towers, were built in the 14th Century as part of the Tallinn city wall. The towers are all the remains of what was a much more complex gate system, most of which was pulled down in the 1880s to make room for traffic.
  • During the tour we’ll have an opportunity to sample Vana Tallinn, a dark brown rum-based liqueur produced in Estonia.

    We’ll also visit the Estonian Handicraft House, the location to buy authentic Estonian handicrafts. Works of the best artisans are represented here, including textiles from natural materials as well as wood, metal and ceramic. We’ll have the opportunity to visit the workshop of Riina Tomberg, a lecturer in Estonian native textiles and expert on Estonian traditional knitting. At Katariina Lane we’ll see the various open studios of the Katariina Guild craftswomen.

    This afternoon we’ll enjoy a workshop with Carol at the hotel.

    This evening we’ll take part in a medieval dining experience. The restaurant is designed as the home of rich merchant and we, as his guests, will enjoy delicious Hansa-era (15th century) food and drink and period music.

    DAY 3

    Today we continue our tour of Tallinn by coach and on foot. We’ll visit:

    • Charming Kadriorg Park & Palace, the grandest example of palace and park design in Estonian architectural history
    • Pirita seaside area, a breathtakingly beautiful location with a refreshing scent of pine trees. It was also the home of the sailing regatta at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 and is still a busy sporting location
    • Tallinn TV Tower, home to the highest view point in Estonia

    Our visit will end at Eesti Käsitöö Kodu, the largest handicraft centre in Estonia selling high quality beautifully crafted items. With the help of the local experts we can learn how some of the items are made.

    The remainder of the day is free for you to spend some more time at Tallinn’s Christmas Market.

    DAY 4

    This morning we leave Tallinn and make our way to Riga. On route we’ll stop to stretch our legs in Parnu, the fourth largest city in Estonia and a popular holiday resort.

    Lunch is included today, after which we visit a textile company. Founded in 1914, it has a long tradition of wool production and home textile design. The company produces woollen yarn, woollen and linen fabrics, blankets, rugs, plaids and tablecloths. The company is especially proud to be amongst just a handful of producers of ethnographic fabrics based on authentic examples from the rich cultural heritage of the Baltic region. We’ll watch the wool being process using historical equipment.

    This evening we’ll diner together at a restaurant in the Old Town offering contemporary Latvian cuisine.

    DAY 5

    This morning we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the Old Town. The tour will include:

    • Town Hall Square, completely rebuilt after being destroyed in World War II
    • House of the Blackheads, reconstructed between 1995 and 1998 the original building was erected in the 14th Century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried merchants, shipowners and foreigners in Riga
    • Dome Square, deemed to be the heart of the city, this square is the largest in the Old Town
    • Riga Cathedral, commonly known as Dome Cathedral, is the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral in Riga and the seat of the Archbishop of Riga.
    • The Three Brothers is a collection of three houses that form the oldest dwelling complex in Riga. Each represents a period of development in housing construction
    • Riga Castle was founded in 1330 and rebuilt between 1497 and 1515. Today it is the official residence of the President of Latvia
    • Riga Central Market; the market buildings consist of five pavilions constructed using old German Zeppelin hangars and incorporating Neoclassicism and Art Deco styles

    During the tour we’ll also have time to visit some yarn shops.

    This afternoon we’ll visit the National Costume Centre; the storehouse for the magnificently rich heritage of Latvian national costumes. Every item here has been lovingly handmade by Latvian craftspeople. Latvia was founded nearly 100 years ago, but the history of the national costume is many centuries older. Archaeological findings and costumes restored from 1000-year-old fragments have allowed them to recreate the traditional costumes that are worn today. Mittens are a very important part of several Latvian traditions. Probably the most popular role played by mittens was at a wedding. Tradition says that before an unmarried girl entered marriage, she had to fill a hope chest and mittens were an important part of the chest. A bride would knit between 100 and 300 pairs of mittens and no pair could be identical to another.

    Our final visit today is to Tines, a Latvian handmade knitwear company. Tines is a family run business and offers a wide range of high-quality knitwear. Only natural materials are used, 100% wool and linen.

    DAY 6

    This morning we’ll enjoy a Latvian mitten knitting workshop with a local expert.

    This afternoon you’ll have some free time to explore Riga’s Christmas markets, just follow the scent of gingerbread and mulled wine! Lovely gifts include hand-knitted shawls and mittens and socks, aromatic candles, artisanal spoons and other woodwork. In the city centre there are markets at Dome and Livu Squares, as well as in Esplanade Park.

    This evening we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant serving contemporary European cuisine.

    DAY 7

    This morning we’ll enjoy our final workshop with Carol, before transferring to Riga airport for our late afternoon flight to London Gatwick.

    PRICES:

    Twin/double room: £1379 per person
    Single supplement: £245
    Deposit: £250

    INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

    • Air Baltic flights from London Gatwick (20kg of hold luggage)
    • 6 nights accommodation including buffet breakfast
    • 1 lunch & 3 dinners
    • Coach transport as described above
    • Local English-speaking guide
    • Walking tour of Tallinn Old Town
    • Visit to Kadriorg Park & Palace
    • Visit to TV Tower
    • Estonian Arts & Crafts workshop
    • Visit to textile factory
    • Riga city tour
    • Visit to National Costume Centre
    • Latvian mitten knitting workshop
    • Two half day workshops with Carol Meldrum, kit included
    • The services of our experienced Tour Manager
    • Tips for drivers and local guides

    NOT INCLUDED:

    Meals and drinks unless otherwise stated, travel insurance.

    NON-CRAFTERS

    Why not bring a non-crafting partner with you?
    If a non-crafting family member or friend wishes to accompany you on any of our holidays, and is sharing a room with you, then the following reductions will apply to the price the non-crafter pays:
    Europe - £50

    WHY NOT MEET US THERE?

    Stitchtopia Holidays are designed with all crafters in mind, wherever you live in the world! If you would like to make your own flight arrangements and meet us at our first hotel, please let us know - we would love to tell you more about our “meet us there” holiday discounts.

    THE "STITCH TOGETHER" PROGRAMME

    For single travellers who are interested in our trips, but don’t have a friend able to come with them why not join our "Stitch Together" programme to help with the costs of a single occupancy room? We have designed a way for you to find someone to share a room with on any of our Stitchtopia Holidays.

    Find out more about our "Stitch Together" programme >>

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