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seasonal focus n autumn getaways

seasonal focus n autumn getaways

Foreverautumn

n Sunset at Menemsha, on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Don’t pack away your suntan lotion, swimming costumes or flip flops when summer ends. There are lots of holiday options available throughout the autumn, from Mediterranean sunshine escapes to cruises or short breaks on temperate Guernsey. It is also the time to see spectacular foliage displays and when you can enjoy nature’s bountiful harvest, as Peter Ellegard reports some terrific deals to be had as well with airlines keen to fill seats before the flying season ends and hotels wanting to boost occupancy rates. For one type of holiday, autumn is high season, however. Leaf peeping, autumn colours or fall foliage tours – whatever you call them, they are the holidays which celebrate nature’s annual spectacle when leaves turn to glorious hues from dazzling yellows and rich oranges to fiery reds. Traditionally associated with the chocolate-box villages of New England, they have become so popular there that tours fill up months in advance and accommodation has to be n Guernsey's Saumarez booked way ahead in many areas. Park in autumn While few areas outside of New England

hen the lazy, hazy days of summer draw to a close and a chill returns to the air at night, most people’s holiday thoughts are either fast-fading memories or involve making plans for the

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following year. But for those not tied to taking their annual sojourn during the summer school break, autumn represents a great time to go on holiday. Mainland Europe often basks in warm sun well into October, with the Mediterranean’s sunshine resorts still pleasantly warm. Not only can you escape the crowded beaches of high season, but there are usually

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Visit Guernsey

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are sold specifically for leaf-viewing tours, the phenomenon is not just confined to the region. Autumn colour displays can be seen in many areas of North America, from Eastern Canada right down the Eastern US as well as in the Mid-West. Even the Rocky Mountains and parts of the West Coast get in on the act, too. Here, you can enjoy just as stunning a show but without the crowded roads and booked-out accommodation.

n Oxen at Old Sturbridge Village

foliage season Canada is a great option for leaf peeping with its profusion of forests, and days are still mild. The colours can be seen throughout Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario in the east, and in the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia in the west. Atlantic Canada has many festivals that a tour can tie in with, among them Prince Edward Island’s Fall Flavours cuisine festival (www.fallflavours.ca), from September 7-30, and the Celtic Colours International Festival (www.celtic-colours.com), a music and dance celebration from October 5-13 across Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Ontario’s Algonquin Park has superb autumn colours, as does southern Quebec, where they are celebrated in

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Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

the Symphony of Colours festival at mountain resort Tremblant (www.tremblant.ca), from September 8October 14. Tour operators highlighting autumn colours in Canada include Frontier Canada (www.frontiercanada.co.uk) and Prestige Holidays (www.prestigeholidays.co.uk). North America’s foliage season runs from early September to as late as November, the more northern areas seeing the leaves turn first. Several tourist offices track colour changes with weekly reports online. They include Pennsylvania Tourism, which has a special section on its website (www.visitpa.com) during the season. New York State is another good option for leaf peeping, which can be done on a Wine, Waters and Wonders tour combining Niagara Falls, Rochester and the wineries and countryside of the Finger Lakes. The Capital Region is also good for viewing autumn colours, particularly Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. You can view them from on high in a hot air balloon, on a zipline in the Shenandoah Valley, on chairlifts at Wintergreen Resort, on horseback, hiking through the Shenandoah National Park and driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Michigan, Ohio and Oregon’s stunning

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seasonal focus n autumn getaways

autumn colours – did you know? l The timing of autumn colour displays can vary as

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West Virginia Division of Tourism

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n Canaan Valley, West Virgina

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

“Autumn is far more than falling leaves; it is a time of mellow days and harvests”

Columbia River Highway, with its towering 620-foot Multnomah Falls, also put on superb shows.

cranberries and pumpkins But it is New England that draws most visitors for its spectacular foliage displays. Tours often take in several of the six states, with the pretty mountain villages along Vermont’s Route 100 in the Green Mountains, Maine’s White Mountains and New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway always popular. New England gateway state Massachusetts serves up its own foliage delights with the rolling hills of the Berkshires among the best places to enjoy the annual spectacle. The Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway (www.jacobsladderscenicbyway.org) weaves for 35 miles between Lee and Russell, parallel to the Massachusetts Turnpike freeway but taking drivers back to a timeless era through sleepy villages such as Huntington. Stop off at the bright yellow Huntington Country Store (www.huntingtoncountrystore.com) to stock up with local goodies and souvenirs n Pumpkin and try its famous wrapples, apple and smile cinnamon-filled pastries – the perfect lunch snack on an autumn day. Even cities such as Boston put on colourful shows. Autumn is far more than falling leaves, though; it is a time of mellow days and harvests, and many places celebrate nature’s bountiful gifts, even on the coast. Massachusetts’s Nantucket Island has been farming

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the weather dictates when and how brilliant they are. Late September and early October are generally best for New England. The most intense colours are usually in eastern areas of the US and Canada. Autumn colours are more brilliant in North America because it has more deciduous tree species than in Europe. Trees responsible for vibrant shades include maple, oak, hickory, dogwood, poplar, birch and aspen. The colours are produced by different pigments. Some create yellows and oranges, others reds and purples. The onset of cooler weather after warm summer days is the trigger. Higher elevations change colour earlier than lower areas. Websites with up to date information and maps during the US leaf-viewing season from September-November include the Foliage Network (www.foliagenetwork.com) and the Weather Channel (www.weather.com).

cranberries for over 150 years, and October 6 will mark the harvest with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s 10th Annual Cranberry Festival (www.nantucketconservation.org) at Milestone Cranberry Bog with music, family activities and, of course, fresh cranberries. Pumpkins abound in autumn across North America and they feature strongly at events such as the Yankee Candle Village Fall Festival in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, in October, which includes pumpkin decorating. Autumn is a great time to explore the coastline of Massachusetts’ Plymouth, Cape Cod and Islands region, with tour operator America As You Like It (www.americaasyoulikeit.com) featuring it on a nineday tour that takes in Boston, Plymouth, with its Plimoth Plantation living history museum depicting a pilgrim village and featuring a replica of the Mayflower, Cape Cod’s bohemian Provincetown and the pristine Cape Cod National Seashore, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island. The tour operator also offers a 10-day Southern New England tour, much of it in Massachusetts and with many outdoor activities to enjoy the changing seasons.

wine festivals In Vermont, the annual Killington Hay Festival (www.discoverkillington.com) runs for five weeks from September 3-October 8 and includes a collection of over 40 giant hay animal sculptures throughout the town plus daily and weekly family-friendly events and activities.

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seasonal focus n autumn getaways

Star Clippers

Autumn is wine harvesting time and a good time to visit wineries for a tour and tastings. You can go on biking tours through vineyards in places such as Solvang in California’s Santa Barbara wine country and Sonoma and Napa Valley further north. There are also wine harvest festivals, such as the Paso Robles Harvest Wine Weekend (www.pasowine.com/events/harvest.php) in Central California, from October 19-21. The wineries of France, Spain and other European countries are also busy harvesting and there are festivals in Spain’s sherry capital, Jerez de la Frontera, and across Tuscany in Italy among wine-growing centres. You can take autumn wine tours across Europe with specialist companies including Arblaster & Clarke (www.winetours.co.uk) and Grape Escapes (www.grapeescapes.net) while, on the home front, English wineries such as Biddenden Vineyards (www.biddendenvineyards.com) in Kent offer free guided tours during harvest time. Britain can still enjoy surprisingly-warm days during autumn, as last year’s record-breaking October demonstrated. But if you want to be sure of basking in warmer temperatures without reaching for your passport, head to the Channel Islands. Guernsey’s Autumn Walking Week, from September 8-16, has a whole programme of guided walks from short walks around the harbour town of St Peter Port to longer coastal rambles, while the Autumn Floral Guernsey Festival (for both, visit www.floralguernsey.gg/events), from September 29-

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October 20 or 24 respectively. Some Europe river cruises still operate during autumn, among them a seven-day cruise between Amsterdam and Basel which is part of the 13-day Enchanting Rhine itinerary from AMA Waterways (www.amawaterways.com). Departures continue until November 10.

n Solvang vineyard

n Ripening grapes

n Guernsey lilies

Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau

Pilos, plus Syracuse in Sicily. Holland America Line (www.hollandamerica.co.uk) has expanded its South America programme from autumn, with three ships cruising the region on itineraries from 13 to 68 days. It includes a 14 or 18-day cruise to Valparaiso in Chile from Boston or Fort Lauderdale on

Visit Guernsey

One of the best ways to enjoy the change of seasons and scenery in autumn is on a cruise. Cultural cruise specialist Swan Hellenic (www.swanhellenic.com) offers the chance to explore historic cities and ancient ruins on its 15-day The Mediterranean World cruise departing Naples on October 24 aboard recentlyrefurbished Minerva, with highlights including visits to Pompeii and Pisa in Italy, Tunisia’s Sousse and Malta’s Valetta. Prices are from £1,695 per person. The week-long Autumn in the Inner Hebrides cruise aboard Hebridean Princess from Hebridean Island Cruises (www.hebridean.co.uk) sails from Oban on October 23 through Scotland’s western isles with prices from £2,000 per person. Tall ship sailing company Star Clippers (www.starclippers.co.uk) has added new, shorter “taster cruises” with a five-night mini-cruise from Athens to Malta in October costing just £999 per person, including flights and transfers. Departing on October 20, the cruise visits Greek ports Monemvasia and

n Sail away on Star Clipper

Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau

autumn afloat

October 7, also includes walks as well as talks, lectures and workshops.

great value Guernsey is great value in autumn, helped by the sixweek Tennerfest (www.tennerfest.com), from October 1-November 11 this year, when menus at over 160 participating establishments start from just £10. Take boat trips to the neighbouring, car-free islands of Herm

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seasonal focus n autumn getaways

n Arriving in St Peter Port

autumn getaways facts packages

n Rodos Palladium,

or Sark for the day, explore Guernsey’s many attractions and museums – many indoors if the weather is inclement – or just stroll around St Peter Port. Stay at five-star The Old Government House Hotel and Spa (www.theoghhotel.com), in the heart of the town, and round the day off with a soothing spa treatment or relaxing in the garden and around the outdoor heated pool, which is open until the end of October, weather permitting. You can also take traditional afternoon tea complete with scones served with jam and Guernsey cream in the hotel’s Sir John Coward Lounge. Around the Mediterranean, many sunshine resorts are still open right through autumn, with the pace of life winding down after n Pool at Guernsey's Old Government the hectic House Hotel summer months. You can often find holidays at bargain prices compared with those in peak season, and families can find escapes during the October half term at better value than in summer. Cosmos Holidays (www.cosmos.co.uk) offers greatvalue autumn breaks to destinations including Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey. October also sees the launch of holidays to Atlantic island Madeira, criss-crossed by its levada walking trails, with new Monarch flights from Gatwick and Birmingham offering stays from short breaks to 14 nights or longer. Cooler autumn temperatures also make it more comfortable to explore destinations such as Malta’s historic capital, Valletta (www.cityofvalletta.org). The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of 16th century Baroque architecture, a legacy of the Knights of St Johns, streets dotted with cafes and wine bars, imposing city walls and its beautiful Grand Harbour. A good base for exploring Valletta is the 136-room, five-star Phoenicia Hotel (www.phoeniciamalta.com), located

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Cosmos Holidays

Rhodes

Cosmos Holidays offers a seven-night couples’ holiday in Rhodes staying at the five-diamond Rodos Palladium in Kalithea from £546 per person halfboard, departing Gatwick on October 3, and including flights but not transfers. The same holiday departing August 22 costs from £822. www.cosmos.co.uk For families, Cosmos offers the five-diamond, all-inclusive Hotel Papillon Zeugma in Turkey’s Belek resort, featuring two children’s swimming pools and waterslides, playroom, playground and family rooms. A sevennight autumn half-term stay departing October 21 costs £633 per adult and £289 per child, including flights, compared with £1,101 and £441 respectively for an August 15 departure. America As You Like It’s 10-night Southern New England tour, costing from £1,072 per person, starts and ends in Boston and takes in places such as Salem, location of the famous witchcraft trials, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The prices includes flights, car hire and room-only accommodation. www.americaasyoulikeit.com Let the train take the strain on a seasonal 10-day Falls Colours & Scenic Trains tour with Holidays By Rail that incorporates scenic tourist trains, lake cruises and some coach travel through five of the six New England states. Prices start at £1,379 per person, excluding flights, with departures from Boston on September 27 and October 4. www.holidaysbyrail.com Guernsey’s five-star Old Government House Hotel and Spa, in central St Peter Port, offers a two-night Discover Guernsey Autumn package, which includes a hire car, a three-course dinner and a special picnic hamper, from £246 per person. www.theoghhotel.com n Phoenicia Hotel, Malta Phoenicia Hotel

The Old Government House Hotel

Visit Guernsey

These are some of the autumn holidays on offer:

An autumn break staying in the Phoenicia Hotel, Malta, costs from just £62 per person, based on two adults sharing for three nights, based on a City Breaks Advance Purchase rate. www.phoeniciamalta.com

Hebridean Island Cruises’ Autumn in the Inner Hebrides round-trip voyage from Oban starts on October 23 and includes a full day tour of Islay, morning visits to Lismore and Eigg and an afternoon on Mull, for shopping and strolls in picturesque Tobermory. Prices for available cabins range from £2,000-£4,190 per person. www.hebridean.co.uk

at the city gates. It has recently been awarded both the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012 and the Expedia Insiders’ Select status 2012, ranking it as one of Malta’s most popular hotels.

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