Entries Tagged as 'Netherlands'

Christmas and New Years in Holland with P&O Ferries


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It is now just a short few weeks until Christmas and the best way ensure the ‘most wonderful time of the year is indeed wonderful is with a little bit of planning. Here is a look at all the goings on in Holland over the last few months of 2017. Book now for your mini break or holiday in Holland with P&O Ferries.

Dutch Christmas Markets

There is an excellent and varied selection of Christmas markets for holiday shoppers to peruse opening late November and running right through to the New Year. Here is a guide to some of the markets not to miss this season. With P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam crossing you can visit these events with ease and comfort with overnight passage, you can bring your car to load up with Christmas goodies and depart on the day of your choosing. For more information click here

Magical Maastricht the furthest in land Christmas market from the port in Rotterdam, this is one of the grander busier Christmas markets Holland has to offer. The giant ferris wheel and ice rink in Vrijthof Square are difficult to miss but be warned large crowds are expected. The market is held throughout the entirety of the month of December, opening seven days a week, for more details on opening times view their website here.

If you plan to buy presents have no fear for the logistics, there’s underground parking for you to stow your gifts and return to all the fun of the market unencumbered. The market is set up as a series of wooden chalets for you to explore with hand made wares to delight the even most discerning of recipients.

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Starting December 16 is Maastricht’s Magical Culture Festival. If you seek a little more than lights and shopping for your Christmas break then the 200 performances, workshops, guided walks, concerts and plays, not to mention museum and gallery events will surely have something to offer you. The programme is set to be released any day now.

For weekend trips or holidays with less travelling involved, bear in mind you can cross most of Belgium in a few hours, the Dordrecht Christmas Market is a viable option. It is however just a three day event so plan carefully to be there from December 15th. This is a beautiful event in the harbour due south of Rotterdam. over 200 stalls are established in the 2.5km market, the largest in all Holland. An excellent choice for boat lovers, the old harbour is bedecked with history and you’ll have the chance to sea Dutch maritime history in action. As a port market this event has a unique feel that you just won’t get in other major cities as much of the good for sale are shipped in from around Europe. Dordrecht market takes place on the Friday of the third weekend of December so with P&O Ferries you could plan a wonderful weekend retreat around this event.

For many of us what constitutes Christmas was solidified in the Victorian with much kudos going to Charles Dickens. Now it may seem strange to leave Britain to celebrate one of its most renowned authors but hey it’s Christmas – roll with it. On the 16th-17th December, Deventer hosts its Dickens Festival.

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Deventer is a relatively small city, populated by about 5000 people, it is however rich in history and wealthy in 19th century architecture making it perfect for that Victorian Christmas feel. The Dickens Festival sees characters brought to life with upwards of 950 characters set to amble the market performing set pieces and gibing with the public. There’s plenty of time for you to read up on some of your favourite tales so as not to miss a thing. This is a popular event hosted annually with well over 130,000 people in attendance last year so prepare for queues. It will be well worth it though, the atmosphere dreamt up by the crowd will give you a sense of nostalgia and wonder that could catch even the meanest of Scrooges by surprise.

For literature fans, history buffs and anyone with an active imagination the Dickens Festival certainly shouldn’t be missed.

Other honourable mentions worthy of your consideration for Christmas 2017 is the Alkmaar Winter Festival returning for its fourth year. This city is famed for its cheese markets and we are sure you will be able to find some stashed away somewhere. The fair focuses on authentic Christmas fair with shopkeepers and performers alike pulling out all the stops to provide a lively and fun atmosphere for Christmas revelry. The fair opens on December 10th.

The Dutch capital is naturally the place to be for New Year’s Eve there is a lot going on in the build up. The central museum square is built in to a Christmas village for you to meander through on your way to and from galleries or restaurants. There is also the Light Festival, illuminating the city streets and canals with professional light engineers competing to bring a little wonder to nightly sojourners. And multiple markets with different themes are dotted throughout the month for you to pick and choose at your leisure. For full details click here

Book now for your ferry to Holland this December, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from P&O Ferries!

Image Credit: Ralph Peter Reinmann , shadowgate , Kevin Dooley

P&O Ferries post-season Holidays in Holland


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Your casual holiday goer expects to travel when the sun is at its zenith in the height of summer. The trouble is, this is not a unique thought. That’s why you find prices slightly inflated over the summer months, crowds that little bit busier and let’s face it, hell is other people. That is precisely why late summer and early autumn are ideal times to visit those places you’ve always wanted to see. Children have gone back to school and since tourism season is waning most venues are actually glad to see you rather than fretting that all the wheels are turning sufficiently.

In this post we’re taking a look some of the major venues in Holland you’ll be pleased to find ‘surprisingly’ accessible now that the main summer hubbub has diminished. Of course when you venture to a major city’s major attraction there will always be some footfall but you’ll certainly find them less populated given the season.

If you are drawn to Holland for its historical and cultural reservoirs then you will undoubtedly find succour in the major cities, namely Amsterdam. Though you should be wary that some of the less renowned museums are little more than shops that you pay to enter. To avoid this stick to the established and well listed museums they assuredly will not disappoint.

Perhaps the ichiban (no.1) museum you’ll find listed in Holland is the famous Rijksmuseum perhaps the largest museum in Holland, as an institution it began over 200 years ago in The Hague before moving to the modern capital in the late 1800s. It boasts a million pieces in it’s inventory dating back to the year 1200. It is home to masterpieces by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals.

Rijksmuseum is in close proximity to the other major art gallery in Amsterdam, which is perhaps most tourists’ first port of call the Van Gogh Museum. Both museums can be found on Museumplein ‘Museum Square’ in the southern borough of the city. The Van Gogh Museums attracts nearly 2 million annual visitors and is home to all the iconic pieces that Van Gogh’s name summons to the minds eye.

The third museum we would suggest is the Wereldmuseum or World Museum. As a country with a proud naval tradition many treasures from across the globe were collected by interested parties. These parties formed the Royal Each Club in Rotterdam and welcomed merchants, explorers scientists and the like each of whom would pick up curiosities while they worked abroad. Eventually these items formed a broad enough collection to warrant one of the great ethnographic museums in Europe.

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The final museum you may probably have heard of is Anne Frank’s House. Amongst the splendour of Amsterdam’s famous canals and idyllic walkways is a place of real history with a story continues to captivate. For more information on this museum click here Though it may bring a solemn pall to your vacation you’ll find it resonates as a human experience which is immensely rewarding.

With the summer months waning you may still be fortunate enough to see the sights of Amsterdam by water and in the sun. Amsterdam may not have the romantic celebrity of Venice but its architecture is still beautiful to behold and it is transformed with autumnal colours to make a view which easily matches Poets Walk in New York’s Central Park.

You can also take in the seasonal changes in Vondelpark. This park situated right in the heart of Amsterdam, constructed during the era of formalism which gives it an exacting and elegant landscape for you to enjoy. Water also runs through it so you may like to take to a boat for a relaxing afternoon.

If you favour a bit more open space than a city park then Hoge Veluwe Holland’s national park is a broad expanse due east of Utrecht. Its 21 square miles of country is perfect for a late summer picnic or hike in the country. The real draw of Home Veluwe is its sheer diversity of habitat. Ranging from dunes to dense forest if you have a mind to the spectrum of wildlife preparing for winter will make a trip to this nature park truly rewarding. You can also hire bikes to get around a bit quicker.

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Hoge Veluwe is home to two museums the Kroller Mueller museum houses artworks by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir and many others. The gallery itself was constructed as a means of meshing art and nature, indeed there is a sculpture garden outside to reinforce the concatenation. The other major museum of the park is the Museonder an underground museum, that’s not to say few people know about it, the exhibition itself is a journey of the world beneath our feet. You can learn all about the subterranean world as well as findings of animal bones and the lives of underground creatures as well as the systems of trees.

Book now for your late summer holidays to Holland. P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam overnight service is at your service.

Image Credit: Roman Boed , bertknot , Shepard4711

Summer Holidays in Holland with P&O Ferries


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At last summer is here, don’t waste a moment of it, before you know it fun in the sun will be on the other side of winter. P&O Ferries is taking a look at all the exciting and unique adventures you can take part in over summer 2017 and beyond with in Holland. With P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam service the Netherlands will open up to you for a mini-break getaway or long stay family holiday, take a look to see what’s in the Dutch oven this summer.

We will start out with one of things Holland is famous for, no not tulips, clogs or windmills, we’re talking about herring. Early summer is absolutely the best time of year for you to get your herring fix since the season for herring fishing commences on June 17. If you wish to be there for the inaugural day when the first batches are being sold then there’s no need to wander about the port cities asking for herring like some fish junkie. The opening of herring season coincides with Flag Day or Vlaggetjesdag to use the vernacular. Though the celebration is mostly for a good street party there is plenty of local heritage and cultural tradition to be enjoyed, national dress and songs and dance.

To get right in to the spirit of the occasion head to Schveningen in The Hague. Schveningen is one of the big seaside resorts in Holland, think Yarmouth or Blackpool only Dutch. Even if you were planning a city break to one of the main centres of Holland you should still be well within proximity for a day trip to the beach it is a fantastic way to break up a cultural visit if you were mainly planning on visiting galleries and museums.

A little later in the year Schveningen also hosts Holland’s Fireworks festival in the second week of August. It will surely add that little bit of magic t you evening and make summer 2017 one to remember. If you have ever wondered where New Year’s Eve firework’s displays are refined, dreamt up and experimented with a fair portion of it can be attributed to the International Fireworks Festival. Various participating countries get to display fireworks, at least 80% of which need to be produced domestically, and get to thrill the crowd for 11-13 minutes. The festival is held over 4 days on the Schveningen beach and is open to the crowd August 11-19.

But enough of this, let us get back to the important issue of herring. Each year the new season or Hollandse Nieuwe meaning New Dutch Herring become plump enough to eat after spring plankton bloom. You may have though raw fish was the domain of sushi samplers, igloo dwellers, Gollum and castaways but the Dutch also deserve to have their names on that illustrious list. The traditional way to eat herring in the Dutch way is uncooked in a bun with chopped onions and pickles, fabulously tasty and healthy too. With the first fresh hauls being sold buy mongers and stall merchants you should be able to find Herring just about anywhere this time of year. If you’re coming across this post a little late and refuse to let it happen again the date for next years Hollandse Nieuwe is announced in November, and we salute you.

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There was some exciting news for football fans about Euro 2020. We do have a World Cup in between but since the next Euros will be the 60th anniversary the tournament will be hosted across major capitals of the continent including Amsterdam. So if you can’t get a hold of tickets for the matches to be held in the UK then keep an eye out if you want to attend the 3 qualifying games or the final 16 match. All of which to be held in Amsterdam’s soon to be refurbished stadium. Euro 2020 matches will also be played in Brussels, you can get there with P&O Ferries Hull to Rotterdam service If any teams from the UK are going to be playing in these games there’s sure to be a lively party boat atmosphere on the over night crossing.

One of the finer ways to enjoy summer, is in the garden. Of course though a lot of us have very fine gardens there tends to be that niggling doubt that other people have done it better. Had better ideas, or are just fortunate enough to have the right setting and enough time or money to implement maximum garden grandness. Therefore this June in Amsterdam gardens that are normally closed off from the masses by canal houses are opening up to the public.

On the third week of June that’s 16th -18th for €15 you will be granted access to some of the finest gardens in the Netherlands. You will be able to refresh yourself in tea rooms or languish in gazebos. Take inspiration from some of the master gardeners design schemes and plant portfolios.

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Book now for your summer holiday to Holland with P&O Ferries, Hull to Rotterdam will see you in the Netherlands for all the excitement of the sunny season!

Image Credit: Rool Paap , JD Hancock , langs de osylaan

Holland’s Spring 2017 Flower Season


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Holland bursts in to bloom a little earlier than the uk, in fact we receive a lot of our cut flowers for bouquets and the like from our Dutch neighbours. They celebrate the first of their tulips on National Tulip Day in just the last weekend of January, whereas in the uk there is ne’ry so much as a snowdrop to be found.

You don’t need to be green fingered in order to enjoy flowers, after a long winter you may be surprised at the pleasure a simple bloom can give you, unburdening and full of promise. These flower displays are a fantastic way to get you out and about, if you’ve had your fill of museums or gastro-tourism these flower shows will get you out in the open air appreciating a bit of natural beauty. They’re a brilliant juxtaposition to the lively nights out that can be had in the urban centres of Holland, you could tack them on to a romantic trip or use them for inspiration to liven up your own garden back home.

In the dying days of March, spring will truly have arrived as the famous Keukenhof gardens open their gates to the public. Keukenhof gardens are only open for a brief period, from March 23rd – May 21st.

The Keukenhof gardens are boasted as ‘the most famous and largest flower park in the world’ what greater praise could we add? Situated just outside of Amsterdam between Holland’s capital and the Hague. You can easily plan a day trip to Keukenhof and be back at your accommodation in time for evening plans or an early one. It’s navigable from nearby cities like Leiden and Haarlem as well.

The major draw of Keukenhof is that in spring the upwards of 7 million bulbs will come in bloom, making the luscious park practically a wonder of the world. If you don’t favour tulips then there are plenty of alternatives to marvel at orchids, carnations, roses, daffodils and much more. They make for an enchanting walk, carefully arranged for maximum impact.

The theme for Keukenhof 2017 is ‘Dutch Design’ a tribute to the great innovators, engineers, artists and designers that Holland has produced and exported to the world.

In Keukenhof’s Oranje Nassau Pavillion a reconstruction of the iconic Piet Mondriaan squares painting comprised entirely of a flower mosaic made up of tulips has been arranged as the centrepiece of this year’s theme. A beautiful animation of the abstract work.

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The Keukenhof gardens are open from 8AM to 7:30PM every day, but the ticket office closes at 6.

During the first weekend of April an event called ‘Get in to the Green House’ will make hundreds of greenhouses both professional and amateur open to the public. Horticulture is big business in the Netherlands and this is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn from the masters, whether you’re after abundance or vibrancy you’re sure to pick up some tips.

This event attracts over 200,000 visitors each year and is becoming a big enterprise that now involves some of the largest names in dutch horticulture. Activities, workshops and events are put on for children and there are talks and tours for adults about everything from growing to eating.

Since the date of Get in to the Greenhouse crosses April Fool’s day we recommend you attend with a certain spirit of fun, since there will be plenty of kids about. In French speaking countries, April 1st is known as ‘April Fish and the given prank involves attempting to attach paper fishes to people’s backs. All done in good humour, but be on your guard nevertheless.

Tulip Festival

We all know Holland is closely associated with Tulips; and we’re sure you could name a few other common tropes. If you want your holiday to the Netherlands to be all about Tulips, bikes, windmills and wooden clogs then the Tulip Festival is where you need to be.

April 14th – May 8th is the official opening time for the Tulip Festival, which is technically a 100km route throughout the country from Noordoostpolder in Flevoland, this is short way from Amsterdam but you’ll find yourself in unfettered countryside, so it is worth it, the sort of countryside that may make you consider purchasing watercolours.

You do not have to travel the entire 100km to get a good feel for the Tulip Festival, there is 19km bike path called the garden route, which will let you see a lot more of the festival than you can on foot. There is also a picking station for you to take some tulips back with you and other goods sold by the people make a living on the flower trail.

It would be remiss of us to ignore all the other major goings on in Holland this spring. The first week of April brings National Museum Week a real treat if you in intend to take a cultural tour of Holland as hundreds of museums will be opening for free and at discounted prices April 3rd-9th.

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The King’s Day Parade April 27th sees Amsterdam explode in to a big orange street party that attracts crowds form all over Europe to revel amongst the canals of Holland’s Capital.

Discover Holland at it’s most beautiful when the tulips are in full bloom! Travel with P&O Ferries in Spring 2017 from Hull to Rotterdam.

Image Credit: Howard Lifshitz , Jack Versloot , Antonio Olmedo

Christmas in the Netherlands with P&O Ferries


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The season of good will is upon us. If you’re looking to try something a bit different this year or are looking for a bit of an adventure during what Andy Williams, and yours truly, would refer to as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ then hop aboard with P&O Ferries and spend Christmas in Holland.

The way Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands is not all too different to how we do it in the UK, but there are a few additions which you will not want to miss. For starters the weather won’t be much different, provided we don’t have yet another ‘unusual’ winter you’ll be looking at averages of 6 degrees, there’s slightly less rainfall than in the UK too. So ‘pack warm’ really goes without saying.

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If you aren’t acquainted with Dutch customs one of the major distinctions is that in Holland, the traditional figure of Sinterklaas has a position of eminence in the season. Sinterklaas meaning ‘St Nicholas’ has been amalgamated in to Santa Claus, however the Dutch have him too, as a separate entity. As you can see by the picture of Sinterklaas he is confusingly dressed in very similar attire to the bloke from the north pole but the two characters are very different.

Sinterklaas arrives in Holland every year by boat, from Spain, and has a grand parade in a different city each year, which is televised all across the country. This year Sinterklaas is arriving in Amsterdam on Sunday13th November. He doesn’t come alone, the parade boats should span up to a kilometre bedecked with ‘Zwei Piet’ or ‘Black Peters’ something like Santa’s elves, only a bit more contentious. The onlooking crowd gather along canals to wave in Christmas and are thanked in turn by the float riders with treats and sweets. Definite fun for the family, for more information click here.

Another part of Christmas in the Netherlands that you just won’t find here is the Mid-Winter Horn Blowing, don’t let this catch you by surprise. Take accommodation in the east country and you’ll find throughout the days of Advent at dawn some of the locals will draw out huge horns made of elder and let them call out above wells as has been done throughout the ages. Many attribute this as a Christian tradition but some of the symbolism involved has its roots in pagan theatrics.

Whereas Boxing day in the UK tends to be, for a lot of us, dedicated to digestive intensive care in Holland Christmas is celebrated over two days including December 26th. It’ll mean carol services are a bit more accessible as the crowds can spread over both nights.

Should you find yourself missing a bit of traditional British Christmas fare during your stay in Holland then stop by Deventer on the weekend before Christmas for their annual Dickens Festival. You’ll find Deventer due east of Utrecht just as short drive from the capital and a straight shot off the ferry in Rotterdam.

The purpose of this festival is to bring the pages of Dickens to life, everywhere you turn you’ll see famous and infamous characters as well as some of the smaller but equally beloved roles. For some of us it just doesn’t get more Christmassy than Victorian era Dickens. There will be stalls a-plenty to do some shopping as well as vendors for a Christmas bowl of smoking Bishop, Bob!

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If all this talk of Winter, and Christmas is getting too much for you then there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Whilst everyone else is regretting their midwinter indulgence or abstaining this January, you could book yourself a get away for the latter half of the month and reign the true Dutch New Year with the opening of the new Tulip Season. Rather than prancing about in revelry, which is, of course, perfectly acceptable in moderation, celebrate the new year in a more soulful way, by appreciating some of the first flowers of 2017. Tulips are big business in Holland, come National Tulip Day on January 21st you won’t want to be anywhere else other than Dam Square in the country’s capital. Tulip growers assemble a huge garden comprised of the blooms outside the Royal palace of Amsterdam that’s completely free for anyone to come and pick. Tulip season lasts until the end of April, the transformation of a central in the Amsterdam to a vibrant colourful garden in the midst of winter is truly something to behold.

For traditional New Years Eve revellers, be warned Amsterdam is party central so get your bookings in early lest ye be disappointed.

Book now with P&O Ferries for your Hull to Rotterdam trip this winter, this season tends to get a bit hectic, so plan ahead!

Image Credit: Jason Popesku , Michell Zappa , Lennart Tange

P&O Ferries: Autumn Holidays in Holland 2016


Now is the time to be looking ahead, how will you spend what little is left of 2016? The summer months are flying by all too quickly but when there’s a plan for autumn and winter there is no cause to mind quite so much. Here we have some grand ideas for you to sneak in a little (or not so little) holiday to the continent for the dying months of 2016. As the seasons change you’ll find plenty to do in Holland during temperate weather. The countries capital is also a fine sight in autumn as the leaves change over the canal you won’t need to speculate over the nation’s obsession with orange.

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Amsterdam’s Markets

One of the great benefits of going on holiday with P&O Ferries, is that, should you choose to, you can take your car. This means there’s plenty of room to bring stuff back with you (provided you’re not the type to pack everything but the kitchen sink). You’ll find Europe’s markets draw a lot of tourists at this time of year, they tend to multiply as Christmas approaches. And well they should, it’s a perfect arrangement if you choose to spend the festive season avoiding the mad dash that is travel at Christmas, take a trip a few months early, and perhaps even get some presents in.

The most likely shopping hubs you’ll see in the Dutch capital, if Saturday’s night time excursions don’t get the better of you, are the Sunday markets. We’ll start off with:

Pure Markt: A fortnightly Sunday market starting at 11AM open until 6PM. Pure Markt can be attended at Amstell Park on September 11th or Park Frankendael later on September 25th. If you are self catering, this market is a great opportunity for you to experience local produce, fresh and in season; perhaps with some helpful advice on how to serve it as well. There are also music and food stalls, to keep you occupied & it’s also a good spot to pick up Dutch keepsakes if you’re bringing back souvenirs.

Early next month on September 4th, is the monthly Sunday Market at Westergasfabriek, an old gas works that has now become a cultural hub. This market is open from midday to 6PM. If you are in to fashion, art or design then there’s no better place to be on a Sunday in Holland. A vibrant crowd, live music and plenty of food and drink to keep you buoyed.

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If Sunday market is a little too early in September, you’ll get another chance to visit Westergasfabriek, on the 17th and 18th for NeighbourFood & Flea Market. On the Saturday Neighbourfood will be dishing up all the best local produce and on the following day a sprawling flea market opens up. Those of you with a keen eye can quite easily pick up a bargain with authentic Dutch fare on sale, it may be second hand but that old world charm cannot be reproduced any other way.

The other major flea market of September in Amsterdam is IJ-Hallen which is to be held the weekend before Neighbourfood, on the 10th and 11th. This is one of the larger markets held in Amsterdam at the NDSM-wharf, sure to be filled with with curios, bureaus and all other manner of so-and-so.

Anyone taking a cultural tour of Amsterdam, you’d have to try quite hard not to imbibe some form of culture in Amsterdam, will find themselves gravitating towards Museumplein. This is the large square in centre of Amsterdam where you’ll find places like the Van Gogh museum & other galleries, notable churches and places of interest. On September 18th, Museum Market will be open all day and is sure to draw a big crowd. This is an arts and crafts market, which will be great for anyone who is good with their hands, but also inspiring for kids. You’ll have close proximity to all the nearby galleries and museums as well as live music and food, heaven.

And finally just because it wouldn’t feel right to neglect such an auspicious occasion on a post about Dutch markets. The Alkmaar Cheese Market will be drawing to a close at the end of the month on September 30th. If you haven’t experienced the cheese market, then it does come recommended, being steeped in history, ceremony and healthy love of cheese.

Markets are not hard to come by in Amsterdam, for more information on them click

Book now for your last chance to holiday in Holland in 2016, P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam service can get you there!

Image Credit: Daviddje , Jos Dielis , Ferdi De gier

Holland This August and September


Summer is here, if you haven’t made plans yet don’t worry that sunny season will pass without you having some fun. P&O Ferries have some of the hottest events happening in Holland 2016 for you to have some fun in the sun.

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The major holiday season in the Netherlands runs from April right through to Autumn, but the high point is around July overlapping in to August. There’s no need to be concerned about hospitable climes though some sun screen will certainly help if you’re attending the parades and festivals.

The first weekend of August is all about Gay Pride Especially in Amsterdam this one of the biggest events of the season. What will seem like the entire city comes to a standstill and erupts in to a 48 hour party. This is one of the grandest Gay Pride events around the globe, Holland has long been at the forefront of sexual equality pioneering gay marriage and also monuments for homosexuals. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun, so come along to show solidarity an open heart is all that’s required. Upwards of half a million spectators are expected to view the canal parade that marks the occasion; long boats and floats will travel the canals of the Dutch capital with fabulously bedecked flag wavers of the gay community to fan the flames of Gay Pride in Amsterdam.

On the same weekend just one city over in the Hague the Westland Floating Parade will also be happening. Should you be fresh off the P&O Ferry at Rotterdam’s Port you should absolutely stop by to witness it. The Westland is the third largest economic driver in the Netherlands – the floating parade is opportunity for the spoils of this force to be put on show. With an emphasis on entertaining and amazing, growers of all kinds of produce from flowers to vegetables and fruit invigorate 60 canal boats to amaze crowds reaching up to 300,000 with the glorious abundance of their bounty. You’ll want to pick out your spot in advance, the parade lasts three days passing through the Hague, Delft Vlaardingen and few other locations.

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To get a taste of some the fresh goods floating by in the parade we suggest you stop off at The Hague Market on Herman Coster Street. This is the largest outdoor market in Europe, locals call it the ‘Haagse Mart’ you’ll be able to buy just about anything you can imagine here on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. What makes this market in particular so unique is that it lies at the fault lines between the Hagues two multicultural districts – this gives it such a diversity that they estimate a footfall of around 25,000 people visit it daily. Up to 500 different stalls are set up come hail or high water, you’ll easily be able to get to and from the Market via tram – this is a brilliant way to quickly get the pulse of the city or try or immerse yourself in Dutch society.

Of course if epic markets are the reason you’re taking a P&O Ferry to Holland then we cannot fail to mention the Alkmaar Cheese Market. Just north of Amsterdam in Waagplein, Alkmaar a real testament to mankind idiosyncrasies occurs. The Cheese Market dates back as far as 1365,
Throughout the year from April to September 2nd each Friday between 10AM and 12:30PM cheese hauler and official of the cheese guild ply their wares and showcase the forms of their fathers in cheese flinging displays. A truly staggering sight to behold, and certainly fun. The first and final cheese markets of the year are always worth a visit for the spectacle that is put on purely for the love of tradition and cheese. If you’re a fan of cheese then stop by on your way to or from Amsterdam. For more information about the Alkmaar Cheese Markets click here.

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What better way to bring your summer holiday to an end than with a bang? Scheveningen’s International Fireworks Festival is on between August 12 and August 20th. This is no ordinary display, competitors from around the world come to showcase the latest innovations in pyrotechnics to put on truly awe inspiring displays. Provided the weather holds the fireworks festival runs four nights in a row and there are fairly formal rules for competitors. Each entrant has to assure that 80% of their fireworks are manufactured in their home country and you are granted 11-13 minutes to wow spectators. If you are in Holland this August it will certainly be worth your while to spend an evening in Scheveningen – if you need help finding it, simply look up.

Come to Holland this summer with P&O Ferries, the Hull to Rotterdam crossing is taking bookings now!

Image Credit: MaxAmy Photography , FaceMePLS , Cycletours Holidays

Holland is all aglow with Vincent Van Gogh


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With winter just around the corner now is the time to plan your late holiday for 2015. P&O Ferries’ Hull to Rotterdam will keep your spirits lifted as the cold weather descends – take a look at our guide to vacationing in Holland this year.

The festival season my be drawing to close but there’s always a party somewhere in the Netherlands. This year the Dutch have been celebrating the life of their most famous artist Vincent Van Gogh to commemorate the 125th year since his death. Though we now approach the dying months of the year there are still plenty of events left for you to attend in order to pay tribute to one of the grand masters of the art world.

Witness the last bit of floral grandure for 2015 at Keukenhoff’s renowned flower gardens. This year’s theme is Van Gogh’s 125 years of inspiration. The last of the dutch tulips for the season can still be beheld, arrangements inspired by the Vincent’s impressionistic style melding motion with emotion, bright colours meshing the vibrancy of life with the sorrow of its inevitable decline. One of the most iconic Van Gogh pieces Sunflowers has been re-envisioned with the Dutch nations favourite flower the tulip.

For that last glimmer of lush plant life before the barren winter you would do well to visit the gardens of Appeltern. This is one of the biggest open gardens in Holland it has been open to the public since April but now is your last chance to get a look around before they close up for the off season.

Appeltern

There are over 200 model gardens on display, you’ll need more than a single day to fully appreciate them all but it would be a grand idea to look about for ideas for the coming spring. Appeltern is a great venue to bring the kids, especially if you want to encourage them to have green fingers, there’s also a hedge maze, gnome path and treehouse to explore. If you take your plant life seriously then the Whisper Tour, sign posts and audio recordings, allows you to find out all about the plants and offer you tips on how to grow them as well as navigate the expansive park.
As part of this year’s tribute to Van Gogh 10 garden designs have been specially arranged to commemorate the artist and his work after being specially selected from dozens of landscape architects. Appleton is due east of Rotterdam and just short from the country’s capital Amsterdam.

The final flower celebration of Van Gogh may is a little sooner than you’d think. If you’re trip to Holland is just around the corner then be sure to keep an eye out for the Zundert Flower Parade. The town of Zundert is near Antwerp, the hamlets there each try to build the best float and parade them through the streets. This year’s parade is on September 6, traditionally it is done on the first Sunday of September. Naturally the parade is Van Gogh themed, the whole of Zundert tends to make an appearance for the event and they pull out all the stops to be the very best of hosts with live entertainment and food and drink aplenty.

Eindhoven light festival

Our next event is set right in the heart of Holland, a bit of a drive but well worth it. The Eindhoven light festival GLOW is set to start on November 7th running for the entire seven day week. The city centre truly comes aglow this winter, as the days become shorter you’ll find that night becomes all the more vibrant. If you’re spending time in Holland this winter we can’t recommend highly enough that you take advantage of the winter light installations. For night time strolls they really can’t be beat, you’ll get to see the transformation of casual street during the day to an ethereal faery like place. The light displays are dreamed up by artisans from across the globe and they’re designed to really evoke a sense wonder at the urban world we live in. Each year GLOW is given a theme for its light displays and this year’s is, you guessed it, Vincent Van Gogh. So you know the designers behind these displays will have done there best to take you on a journey as you explore Eindhoven under the magnificent lights of GLOW.

If you can’t be in Holland for GLOW then don’t despair at the end of November from the 27th right through to February 2016 Amsterdam is holding its own Light Festival. Each year The old canals and rivers of Amsterdam are decorated with more than your casual christmas fairy lights. Light engineers and artists cooperate to transform the city each night in to a wondrous a plane of the imagination. These installations, as with the GLOW festival, make for memorable romantic twilight and midnight walks, you will want to be hand in hand with your loved ones strolling through the streets of Amsterdam to really make the most of this event. As a canal riven city Amsterdam offers boat tours at night so that you can drift by the installations and admire the craftsmanship and imagination that has gone in to making them.

The crossing from Hull to Rotterdam for you cultural tour of Holland is open for bookings, why delay?

Image Credit: Robert Lennon , Olga , Lennart Tange

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