Get right into the heart of Liverpool’s seasonal celeberations

Liverpool probably isn’t the first place you think to go at Christmas time (unless of course you are local and want to do some Christmas shopping!), but year after year it’s becoming one of my favourite places to visit at Christmas time, and this year is no exception – this can be attributed to DreamWorks who are opening an exclusive ‘illuminating lantern experience’ at St George’s Hall.

This exciting DreamWork’s exhibition includes characters from the likes of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. According to the visitliverpool site, the exhibition consists of ‘100 spectacular figures and 25 enlightening and memorable scenes’. I won’t give too much more away, but if the giant Shrek peeking out from the top of St Georges Hall isn’t enough to tempt you to go then I don’t know what is!

The famous Ice Festival is also back – which last year was situated on top of Liverpool One, consisting of an ice skating rink, carnival rides and food and drinks stalls galore! Also don’t miss the chance to play on the games stalls around the festival, making it really feel like a carnival – go on hook-a-duck, you know you want to! However this year, there’s an exciting surprise for visitors to the Festival – now having moved to the Pier Head, right in front of the Liver Buildings which are beautifully lit up creating a wonderfully festive atmosphere. The Ice Festival now includes an ice rink and various stalls, but this time an exciting addition of a 45m ice slide – definitely not one to be missed! There is also something for adults, with an exclusive-to-the-festival ice bar (which I personally LOVED).

 

Although Liverpool’s Christmas markets may not be ‘world famous’, they are certainly something to experience. Conveniently placed right outside St George’s Hall, they will ultimately spread across the whole of Liverpool city centre. The stalls have an array of Christmas goods, from seasonal hot beverages, to traditional German sausages to sweets galore!

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The Christmassy locations in Liverpool not only offer a fun day out for people of all ages, with the numerous fair ground rides like the carousel, helter skelter and mini roller coaster on top of Liverpool One. The Ice Festival itself offers fun activities like the ice rink, ice slide and the famous Ice Bar – providing fun for all generations! The Christmas Markets located all across Liverpool Town Centre, from St Johns Shopping Centre, to Liverpool One all the way down to the Albert Dock and Pier End – meaning everywhere you go it’s officially Christmas time.

The stalls at the markets not only offer festive themed food and drinks, but also handmade memorabilia, from candles, to wooden ornaments to wind-chimes and beautiful flower arrangements. This provides you with the opportunity to buy stuff for yourself and even a Christmas present for a loved one, with that unique charm that the item is a one-off and is unlikely the receiver will have seen it anywhere else (and you won’t have to break the bank to buy it!)

 

The return of the ‘Snowflake Trail also offers shoppers an exciting treasure hunt style activity. The snowflakes are placed all over Liverpool, similar to the previous superlambananas, yet adding an enchanting christmas feel to the trail. The snowflakes are’decorated by twelve of the region’s most exciting visual artists‘. This trail adds not only a fun activity to add some excitement to your day in Liverpool, but also the chance to tweet when you find a snowflake and interact with others in Liverpool who have found it – this as well as the Christmassy feel they add to the city centre.

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The Liverpool Christmas celebrations are definitely one to visit this Christmas, with stuff for all generations to enjoy – and the biggest pro, they’re not a million miles away, practically right on your door step!

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A Magical Christmas in Hamburg

Sure, there are incredible Christmas markets all over, probably one in your local hometown, but, why not go the extra mile this Christmas and take a trip to (in my humble opinion) some of the best Christmas markets in the whole world – Germany.

Now, these markets aren’t just a train or bus journey away, a plane is most likely your best bet – and with planes come costs. Then you’ll need a hotel for at least one night – which again comes at a cost. Not forgetting the money you’ll have to spend at the markets if you want to enjoy it to its full. So, no fear, the whole reason I’m writing this post is to help save you as much money as possible for a trip to the breathtaking Hamburg… you could think of it as a Christmas present to yourself.

I took my trip to Hamburg at the start of December with my boyfriend. We are both students and so evidently aren’t made of money. We’d (or maybe I should just say I’d) been wanting to visit the German Christmas markets for a while. Our first choice was the capital Berlin, but after hearing about a one-off flash sale of flights to Hamburg through a budget holiday site I was subscribed too we jumped at the opportunity – bagging return flights from Manchester Airport to Hamburg Airport for £30 each! So this is my first tip, subscribe to sites like HolidayPirates and myholidayguru which constantly send you updates on cheap holidays, hotels and flights.

Second tip – although similar to the first – is to subscribe to discount sites like Groupon and LivingSocial which are constantly updated with holiday deals, in particular, hotels. This is where we found our hotel for the stay – a 4* modern hotel, 25mins from the airport and 10mins from Hamburg town centre (where the Christmas markets are located) for only £60 each for two nights.

Food is an expense whilst on holiday – and as we only had a Room Only basis Hotel Room for our stay, eating out was our only option. However, this is where travelling at Christmas time comes in handy, especially when it comes to the Christmas markets. Third tip – buy food at the markets, as they are known for having a wide array of food and drinks – and from my point of view, could save you a lot of money for dinner time, with the opportunity to get traditional Bratwurst sausages, baked potatoes, sweets, crepes, doughnuts and mulled wine – pretty much anything your heart desires!

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Once arriving at the airport, the first thing we did was got to grips with the train systems in Hamburg, with the regular trains running across the whole city, and the underground running through the city centre. Fourth tip – try to avoid taxi’s if possible. The number one method for saving money whilst abroad is using the public transport – and the underground in Hamburg allowed us to get to and from our hotel to anywhere in the city centre in less than 10 minutes and for less than €5.

 

The other beauty of travelling to a magical city like Hamburg at Christmas is not only the beauty of the city centre, with everywhere lit up, making the whole city sparkle, creating the most magical winter wonderland you’ll possibly ever see – it’s the stalls. They not only sell festive food and drinks but also gifts and mementos, at cheerfully cheap prices – and the most wonderful thing about the items on the stall is that the majority of them are hand-crafted, making for a one-off, unique gift for your loved ones.

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All-in-all, Hamburg at Christmas is truly enchanting, and the Christmas markets are an unforgettable experience. So, if one Christmas you’re looking for a change, Hamburg is definitely one to visit.

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Places of Interest in Manchester

Here’s a short post on places of interest for tourists in Manchester, including museums, shopping centres and music venues. I will also add information about what train stations are closest to each station to make things a bit easier for you!

 

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Roadworks on Oxford Road

Although the new plans for Oxford Road may be impressive and make one of the busiest roads in Europe somewhat less busy and more accessible for buses, taxis, bikes and pedestrians, the disrupt to the roads usual flow in the meantime is causing some major issues for commuters in Manchester.

Many bus routes have been cancelled or delayed due to these ongoing roadworks, with many commuters having to find alternative routes to work or uni. The plans for Oxford Road may provide these commuters with easier transport once they are finished, but in the meantime they are causing major disruption – especially coming up to the busy Christmas period. The new ‘bus gate’ means drivers must turn right at Hathersage Road between 6am and 9pm, 7 days-a week.

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The roadworks are not only disrupting bus routes for commuters but also providing some issues with pedestrians with loud drills and diggers creating some chaos, and also some disruption to paths, with many commuters having to walk along dangerous roads to get to their destination.

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The roadworks have also affected access from side roads along Oxford Road, including roads leading to MMU Buildings, which may cause major disruption to students and staff at MMU.

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How Journalists are using/utilising Instagram

Many Journalists – in order to keep up with the times – are now taking advantage of new social medias like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. All these sites allow journalists to post/view articles and receive essentially a ‘livefeed’ on worldwide events by simply the click of a button. However, sites like Instagram prove to make this job somewhat more difficult – being a picture posting site and certainly not an ‘article posting’ site.

However, with Instagram’s popularity rapidly increasing with it’s monthly active users being just over 500 million, and this figure rising by 16% each month (Source – Stats), it’s become virtually impossible for journalists to avoid it.

Many journalists have had to become aware of their ‘visual voice’ on Instagram – being clear about the story they want to tell through their feed, and making the right impression on those who click on their profile, and hopefully encouraging them to follow their page. Creating a ‘voice’ can be done through captions (either long-form storytelling, captions to get feedback on a new project, write personal notes to fans, or sharing small snippets of everyday life). (Instagram’s top features) Instagram has also launched a new feature, in pages being able to view their ‘Insights’ – showing engagements, views and their top posts. (Instagram’s new features)

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For those who find difficulty in using Instagram in a professional way, there are many unknown-to-many features on Instagram that many journalists are already utilising:

  • To facilitate crowdsourced projects – showcasing work from around the area/worldwide.
  • To tease long-form reporting – almost like live-reporting, with journalists posting from places they visit as they visit them with interesting stories or images (possibly portraying the smaller picture of a large news story to come)
  • To showcase – whether this be photography, or simply lifestyle or travelling, many users of Instagram develop a following due to the audiences awe at the lifestyle they portray through their feed.
  • To present news in a modern/new format – picture/video based news profiles are a new, upcoming thing and becoming increasingly popular, with more and more news organisations posting short videos/images of news stories, making news simpler and quicker to consume.
  • To experiment – although it might not work out for all, there’s no harm in news organisations testing Instagram out for news reporting – also giving reporters more experience and insight into new social medias.

(How newsrooms can make the most out of Instagram)

Surprisingly, many popular news organisations have already started using Instagram to post news:

BBC – They have developed a format called BBC Shorts, and the videos are uploaded to the main BBC News Instagram account. The corporation come up with “a way of turning every news story into a 15-second, self-contained story”. The videos are either with or without sound,  and also provide a text summary or quote alongside the video, in order to still get the message across to the audience, as well as a hashtag so those who don’t follow the page have other ways of finding the story – these posts often include a link to a longer video or article to provide additional information or put the story into context.

 

CNN International – They use Instagram both for distribution and newsgathering – the platform helps strengthen the broadcaster’s presence on the ground, but also provides “insightful views of what happens in the field and behind the scenes”. Some of CNN’s Instagram initiatives include CNN In the Air, which asked people to submit pictures they’d taken from plane windows around the world, often the images are  compiled into ‘social media walls’ and featured on CNN.com.

 

(Why publishers are using Instagram to connect with their audiences)

Ways in which I could use Instagram throughout my course – Instagram is a social media platform in which I am extremely familiar with, giving me somewhat of a head start, as I am aware of what features I could use to promote a story or event. I could use an image from a story I have reported and post it to Instagram with a short caption, hashtags and a link to the whole article, providing a short insight into the story but also the opportunity for the audience to explore further into the story, and into my work.

 

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My First Impressions of MMU

My first few weeks at MMU

With still living at home for the course of my first year at uni, the thought of travelling to Manchester everyday and stepping into a foreign location for the first time seemed somewhat daunting.

I knew vaguely through a few exchanged messages of some students on my course, but not enough for me to have felt comforted on my first day. The induction week suddenly seemed to be one of the scariest moments in my life yet – staring University, meeting new people, studying in a completely different city to what I was used to (with the expectations of getting lost firmly planted at the back of my mind) – suddenly I felt completely grown up.

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Geoffrey Manton Building Interior

My first day

From not being able to find my bus stop, to struggling to find anyone I was familiar with to completely failing at finding the Geoffrey Manton Building – my first day was probably what you would call a complete disaster. However, after finding one person I knew in front of the Business Building, I found we were both in the same position and both laughed at our struggles of finding anything. We eventually found the building and managed to make it to our first lecture (on time, thankfully!). My first day turned out to be a massive eye-opener, that uni was not as scary as I first thought it might be; everyone was as friendly as I hoped, the tutors were understanding of our fears and slowed us into the topics. In small groups we were given the task to interview a member of staff as if it were a news report, which at first was a terrifying thought, but turned out to be quite enjoyable and during just my first day I’d already learnt some vital skills to becoming a journalist.

Experience so far

My following days and weeks at uni went in a similar fashion (minus the getting lost). I feel now as if I have gained a considerable amount of independence, from travelling round Manchester by myself, having control of my own money and getting myself to classes on time. The prospects of my course are exciting and hopefully enable me to chose a future career. I hope the rest of my time here at MMU will be as positive as my first few weeks have been – with the ability to make good friends, and come out at the end with an amazing qualification.

 

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First blog post

This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

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