Cheap holidays in New York have been mounting in popularity for at least a decade, ever since the advent of cheap flights to the Big Apple became possible, with the intervention of carriers such as Virgin Atlantic and Air India offering excellent-value fares. Nowadays, more people than ever before take the six-hour journey from the UK to experience New York’s peerless shopping opportunities, it’s amazing diversity of districts, its world-famous sights and just the incredible buzz that the city seems to possess.
Well it is not surprising that other US cities would like a piece of that action as well. Florida destinations such as Orlando and Miami obviously have an appeal that is all their own, as does the unique entertainment and casino Mecca of Las Vegas and the host of Hollywood itself, Los Angeles – but there are many other cities in America that have a similar feel to New York, while lacking its high-profile.
Perhaps one of the leading candidates for this category is Chicago, in the midwest. With a population of almost 2.7 million, it is the most populous city in the region and has a cosmopolitan heritage to rival that of its east coast counterpart – not least its huge contributions to jazz and blues music, or its notorious history as one of the centres of the Prohibition-era mob families.
Now tourist chiefs in the city are urging visitors to come this winter and be “dazzled” by the festive activities taking place in Chicago, including the 98th annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which takes place on the 23rd of this month in Daley Plaza – also host to a traditional German-style Christmas market, which will be selling unique gifts and ornaments, plus tasty warming snacks such as mulled wine, potato pancakes and goulash.
On the 18th of this month, gates open at the Millennium Park ice rink for the 11th year in a row, where skating is free once a nominal charge for skate rental has been paid. With around 100,000 visitors every year, the rink will be open until March.
The tourism office also recommends the 11th annual Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier from between 2 December and 8 January, with some 170,000 square feet of rides, inflatable slides, Christmas lights and much more.