Entries Tagged as 'P&O Ferries'

Europe’s hidden romantic treasures


Paris, Amsterdam, and Bruges- They are known as the most romantic cities in Northern Europe. But there are plenty of  steamy and dreamy places scattered across France, Belgium and the Netherlands that would make for great  getaways too.  Here is a guide to our favourite “hidden” romantic destinations you and your other half should pay a visit to.

romantic-destinations-nudist-village-France

  • Deauville
    Known as “the queen of the Norman beaches” and “the Parisian Riviera”, Deauville is one of the most popular seaside resorts among the French and international upper class. The town services can meet the most demanding needs. A wide choice of luxurious 5 star hotels, glamorous designer shops and a renowned casino make Deauville the ideal destination for hedonist couples in search of the finest worldly pleasures.
  • Nudist village Cap d’Agde
    We’ve all got different ideas of romanticism and, needless to say, whatever makes you and your other half happy makes us happy too. Therefore, if spending endless hours naked is your ideal vacation you’ll love Cap d’Adge’s Naturist Village. Only an hour’s drive from Montpellier, this unusual summer resort has its own rules and traditions, with total nudity being the norm not only on the beach but also in restaurants and hotels. For more information visit the Cap d’Adge Village official website
  • Annecy
    Situated on the lake of Annecy and surrounded by the Aravis mountain range, Annecy is possibly the most romantic city among the hidden French destinations. Rightly honoured with the nickname Venice of Savoie, the city is immersed in a surreal magic atmosphere due to the incredibly well-preserved medieval center and its stunning network of canals. The Italian and Swiss borders can be easily reached by car, so you may also want to expand your romantic holidays beyond France.

Feel like driving to France? Take a look at P&O super fast ferry from Dover to Calais. We run up to 46 crossings a day and each crossing takes only 90 minutes.

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Netherlands

  • Kagerplassen (the Kaag Lakes)
    A small lake district in South Holland, the Kagerplassen tends to be forgotten by some guides, which is a crying shame since the uncountable waterways running through the picturesque villages are a pleasure for the eyes. The area offers a decent variety of activities, such as lake cruising, water sports and walking tours. A must-visit for lovers of inspiringly wild landscapes.
  • Haarlem
    The best romantic alternative to the capital. We love Amsterdam, don’t get us wrong, but Haarlem, the capital of North Holland, has stood in the shadow of its bigger brother for way too long. We can almost guarantee there’s not much you will dislike about this charming city and its amazing cultural sites, such as the Grote Markt and the Tulip Centre. If you’re lucky enough to be around in early spring, you may want to drive through the bulb fields in the surrounding countryside. During spring time it’s filled with an explosion of colours and emotions that will never leave your couple’s book of memories.
  • De Groote Peel National Park
    Europe’s biggest peat-bog, De Groote Peel National Park, is the ideal destination for all lovers of immense landscapes and intense silences. The park is no regular bog: it preserves a uniquely large peat that has survived human cutting which used to be extensive in the past. One of the richest varieties of birds in Europe enriches the network of lakes and heath land with an explosion of colours, which you can comfortably enjoy from the 3km route of bridges and footpaths. Located only a 40-minute drive from Eindhoven, De Groote Peel National Park is an easily accessible and attractive destination.

Driving to the Netherlands has never been easier thanks to P&O Ferries. Our Hull to Rotterdam route will make your romantic getaway the most comfortable experience of your life.

romantic-destinations-belgium

Belgium

  • De Haan
    This might not be the sexiest place you’ve come across in your life but it offers a quiet life away from the rest of the world, with easy access to attractions at the same time. De Haan offers not much more than peacefulness, gorgeous Belle Epoque architecture and Albert Einstein’s house. We think that’s plenty, but should you get bored, Bruges is only a 30-minute drive away. If you happen to be around in the summer, you have easy access to the whole Belgium coastline as well.
  • Ghent
    Bruges is known for being Belgium’s most romantic city, but why not try somewhere new? We at P&O Ferries recommend Ghent, Belgium’s second biggest city and certainly a great romantic alternative to Bruges. The splendid architecture the medieval architecture of the city alive. Ghent also sports Belgium’s largest car-free area, and its well-signed walking paths will help you to enjoy your visit to the fullest. The city hosts many cultural events throughout the year, and if you love good food, you’ll be happy to hear that a vibrant culinary tradition is well alive. But Ghent is much more than this, which is why we believe you should definitely give it a try.
  • River cruising
    There’s hardly something more romantic than dining under a starry sky on a boat. You can take several different river cruises across Belgium, you just need to choose which suits you best. P&O Ferries recommend you this 5-day cruise in North-East Belgium . Share a boat with six other people and be introduced to Belgium’s hidden treasures such as the castle of Ooidonk St. Martens Latem from a unique barging perspective.

P&O Ferries have a convenient daily ferry that takes you from Hull to Zeebrugge overnight.

A guide to the best events in Belgium summer 2012


Brussels Flower Carpet

Brussels Flower Carpet

Most European cities can be deadly quiet in August, so we want to be sure that you’ll have loads of fun during your holiday in Belguim. Therefore, we’ve made you a complete list of our favourite upcoming events in Belgium’s main cities. Enjoy it.

BRUGES

  • Klinkers (July 27 – August 8 ) One the most popular events among Bruges’ youth, Klinkers open-air festival, has a lot to offer tourists too. Enjoy the magic of an entire day immersed into superb live music, films and comedy shows in amazing venues throughout the city centre. We at P&O Ferries can assure you it won’t be a let down.
  • MA Festival (August 3-12) If you’re hungry for knowledge then you’ll be happy to know that a wave of culture is about to invade Bruges. The MA festival will turn your holidays into a memorable cultural journey thanks to an incredibly wide variety of events such as nocturnal concerts, lectures and international organ and instrumental ensembles.

Do you want to attend any of these events? P&O Ferries have convenient ferries to Zebrugge, which is only a 30-minute drive from Bruges.

BRUSSELS

  • Maypole Festival (August) If you’re a fan of out-of-season extravaganza you’ll probably enjoy this one. For centuries, a maypole (or Meyboom) has been raised in Brussels every August to commemorate a wedding that took place in 1213. Even if you’re not into maypoles you’ll certainly enjoy the costume parade that accompanies the pole to the Grand Place. It’s one of the most popular events among locals, and guaranteed fun!
  • Brussels Flower Carpet (August 14-19) Every two years an unusual carpet made of flowers covers Brussels’ most beautiful square, Grand Place, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nearly a million colourful begonias are set up over a 19,000 sq ft. area to portray beautiful scenes from Belgian history and folklore. A must see (and smell) for both adults and children.

Brussels is a short journey from Zeebruggee port , one of P&O Ferries destinations.

ANTWERP

  • Navigaytion/Gaypride (August 6-12) No matter where you are, Gay Pride is one of the most extraordinary manifestations of human tolerance and, let’s face it, loads and loads of fun (and often drunkenness). But in Antwerp, Gay Pride has a unique meaning. Here the gay community is particularly vast and well integrated, a reason why the programme makes the most of the venues throughout this beautiful city. Get ready for art exhibitions, dj performances, parades, street parties and much more.
  • Rubensmarkt (August 15) While some countries are busy celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Antwerp keeps its feet on the ground and commemorates the greatest Flemish painter of all time, Sir Peter Paul Rubens. For this occasion the area around the Grote Market goes back in time and fills with market stalls recreating Rubens’ beloved Antwerp. Lovers of vintage shopping will be in heaven.

Only 40 minutes away from Brussels, Antwerp can be easily reached by car from Zeebrugee too.

A guide to the best events in France summer 2012


paric beach

A beach in the heart of Paris

Travelling around France in the coming weeks and not sure what to do? The period between late July and early August is not the busiest as most French people take their holidays then. But no need to panic, here is a list of events you may want to attend on your French holidays.

PARIS

  • Paris Plages/Paris Beaches (July 20-August 19) Let’s hope for sunny weather during your Parisian holiday. For the tenth year in a row, the Seine banks and many other spots across the whole city turn into full-fledged beaches. The incredibly extensive programme offers activities that will certainly entertain both adults and children: beach volley, water sports, aqua gym classes and evening concerts are just some of the ingredients for a memorable tropical holiday in the heart of Paris.
  • Tour de France (July 22) If you’re a fan of cycling, you can’t miss this one. On July 22 the 99th Tour de France, the world’s most prestigious cycle race, finishes on the famous Champs Elysees. Strong emotions are guaranteed for the final stage, a moment that will certainly make for an unforgettable holiday. Get your handkerchief out and watch the cyclists pass the finish line.
  • Rock en Seine (August 24-26) Just outside the Parisian borders in the Domaine National de St. Cloud, Rock en Seine is France’s biggest rock music festival. Enjoy three days of superb rock music immersed in a melting pot of spectators and get ready for this year’s big names: Green Day, Placebo, Deus and The Black Keys.

ROUEN/ NORMANDY

  • Les Musicales de Normandie/Normandy Classical Music Festival (June 16 – September 2) Over the summer, Normandy fills with classical music thanks to Normandy Classical Music festival. The aim is to promote local architecture through concerts in churches and abbeys. The festival honours some of the greatest orchestras in France and voices such as Sophie Marin-Degor, Chantal Santon, Magali Léger and Marie Gautro. You can download the full programme here.
  • Les Terrasses du Jeudi Festival / Terraces on Thursday (until July 26) Scattered across some of the most beautiful spots in Rouen, Les Terrasses du Jeudi offers great quality rock, jazz and hip-hop performances by regional and national musicians. As the name suggests: If you don’t want to miss the fun, be there on Thursdays.

CHAMPAGNE

  • Medieval summer at the Sedan castle (July-August) While on a family trip in the Champagne area you probably want to avoid wine tasting sessions as kids and a hangover isn’t exactly a good combination. Instead, why not spend the day at the Sedan Castle, the largest castle in Europe? During the summer, there are tournaments of chivalry open to the public, which include spectacular fights between medieval knights trying to knock off their enemies with lances and swords. Great fun for the whole family!
  • Troyes Street Festival (July 20-August 26) Troyes Street festival is a great opportunity to discover the local millenary history from an original perspective. The festival offers an attracting variety of theatre performances with a special focus on local heritage, a must see if you’re hungry for knowledge.

Driving to France is super easy thanks to P&O Dover-Calais ferry and its 25 daily crossings.

Amsterdam events and more Dutch fun this summer 2012


amsterdam gay pride

Planning to travel around Holland this summer but panicking over what to do? No worries, we’re here to help. We’ve examined Holland’s top festivals and celebrations and here’s the definitive guide to the best upcoming events for summer 2012.

AMSTERDAM

  • Gay Pride festival (July 28 – August 5) There is something to experience for everyone at the Gay Pride festival and, needless to say, Amsterdam’s edition is no exception. This year’s program is incredibly extensive, including sports and numerous cultural initiatives, but the climax of the Festival is the canal parade on the 3rd: a powerful and slightly naughty celebration of diversity and fun across Amsterdam’s stunning network of canals.
  • Comedytrain International Festival (June 27- 4 August) Laughter is the cornerstone of any memorable summer trip, which is why P&O Ferries suggests you to visit the Comedytrain International Festival, possibly Europe’s largest stand-up comedy event. Performances are in English and the organizers have managed to get some of the world’s best comedians booked, such as Adam Hills (Australia), Eddie Bannon (Ireland), Adam Bloom (UK), Paul Provenza (US) and Ron Vaudry (Canada).
  • Hartjesdagen/Little Hearts Days (August 17 – 19) For one weekend a year Amsterdam’s men and women experience the true meaning of being soul mates, literally ending up in their partners’ clothes. According to folklore, the origins of this cross-dressing festival go back to a time of the year in the Middle Ages when plebeians (yes, that’s you) were allowed to hunt deer, an activity normally reserved for nobility. The connection with today’s extravagant celebration is hard to see, but still, we believe you’ll have lot of fun with this one.

Amsterdam is just a one-hour drive from Rotterdam, one of P&O Ferries’ main destinations.

ROTTERDAM

  • City Racing Rotterdam (August 26) Every year in August the City Racing Festival breathtaking demonstrations by top international race car and F1 drivers to the heart of Rotterdam. This year’s special guest will be first-class F1 driver Nico Rosberg from Mercedes GP team.  A must-see for all petrol heads.
  • Zomercarnaval (July 28) One of the largest parties in Europe, Zomercarnaval will add a tropical flavour to your Dutch holidays. Every year Rotterdam’s summer carnival is peacefully invaded by more than one million people from all over the world. We recommend the Battle of Drums, a music event where over a hundred percussionists try to, literally, beat each other into submission.
  • Day of romantic music (August 12) If you’re visiting Rotterdam with your other half you don’t want to miss one of Europe’s most romantic moments. If you dedicate an entire day to relaxing at Het Park, you‘ll discover numerous concerts scattered across this renowned venue. Expect to see and hear everything from classical and popular romantic music to arias and gipsy folk.
  • Pleinbioscoop (August 15- 21) Have you ever watched a movie under a starry sky? Well, in Rotterdam there’s a first time for everything: enjoy the latest hits from the world cinema right in the heart of Museumpark, a venue well-known for its unique atmosphere.

P&O Ferries has a convenient overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam: only £189 each way for 2 people with a car and your own ensuite cabin.

DUTCH SUMMER CARNIVAL

Wherever you’re staying in Holland this summer get ready for out-of-season carnival! For the 22nd year in a row between June and August De Parade theatre festival travels though Holland’s major cities filling public spaces with dance and theatre performances, fine restaurants and DJ performances. Kicking off in Rottterdam’s Museumpark, De Parade’s summer extravaganza passes thorugh Demn Haah (6-15 July), Utrecht (20 July – 5 August) and Amsterdam (10-26 August).

Image Credit

Brussels goes Medieval, OMG! Ommegang!


Ommegang

For nearly half a millennia the Grand Place in Brussels has erupted in to a festival of pageantry in the first week of July to commemorate the ‘Joyous Return’ of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to Belgium.

This year Ommegang will take place over 3-5th July. Since it’s held in a public place you’ll be able to see some of it for free, but naturally if you want good seats in the stands then you will have to book ahead. You’d do well to bear that in mind when thinking about planning your accommodation too, it’s likely the city will fill up.
On the 4th July, a pavilion is set up in the square and you can attend shows for jousting and falconry. A display of swordsmanship is put on as knights battle it out in Grand Place, and there’s a medieval fair of crafts and various other acts from jesters to magicians.

This is one of the oldest traditions in Belgium, Ommegang is a general term used in central parts of Europe for medieval pageants, but the one in Brussels is by far the largest and most famous. Over 1400 performers will make up the procession, they form an impressive sight garbed in traditional attire showing off feats of horsemanship and the choreographed dances of days gone by.

The people of Brussels go all out for Ommegang. The procession will be backed with live music from professional tenors Sebastien Romignon Ercolini and Dominique Corbiau, as well as an expert light show from director Giles Daoust. This promises to be one skilfully produced procession and a great evening’s entertainment.

The procession runs from 9PM-11PM and finishes up with a novel battle-royal of stilt-walkers. Great entertainment after the pomp and precision of the Ommegang pageant, a number of stilt walkers get in to a brawl trying to trip each other off of their 5m stilts until just one man remains.

Ommegang does run quite late in to the night, but the early stages of the procession will be well worth taking your kids to see. They promise a bit of historical splendour to encourage a greater appreciation of the cultural heritage of Belgium. Adults will be able to enjoy themselves too; this is Belgium after all, so expect a healthy stock of ales for you to sample.

Belgium is just an overnight ferry-ride away, you’ll pull in to the port at Zeebrugge and from there it’s just a short journey to Brussels

Image Credit: David Spender

The national park near Calais


national-park

In these tough times when a lot of us are watching the pennies the alternative of a rural holiday, as opposed to spending time in an expensive city, could be just the ticket. Travel to France is still wallet friendly if you go by ferry from Dover to Calais with P&O Ferries. You’ll be able to take the kids and your car and then all of France is open to you. There’s not even that much need to move on too far from the port city to enjoy yourselves, instead just head a little out of Calais to the national park.

It’s called the Parc Naturel Regional des Caps et Marais d’Opale, an idyllic country setting for family holidays, this national park sprawls between Calais, Boulogne-Sur-Mer and Saint Omer. The landscape offers beaches, quiet rivers, woodland and open landscapes and marshes, perfect country for a bit of exploration in the great outdoors.

For accommodation you can take your pick between chalets, campsites and caravan sites, these are all within a close proximity of family oriented activities. The northernmost parts of the national park run along the Channel so a stroll down the beach or a bit of a dip is always on the cards. This area is between Calais and Boulogne-Sur-Mer which means you aren’t too far away from urban areas if you fancy eating out or want to pay a visit to a museum or aquarium.

The national park is ideal for hiking, it has numerous trails which you can see on foot or by bike and there stables if you’d like to see Parc Naturel Regional des Caps et Marais d’Opale from horseback.

To keep the kids busy contact Passion Adventures, a company which arrange excursions for tree top adventures and let you hire out quad bikes to race around on.

The park is home to various places of interest such as La Tour de l’Horloge museum which documents France’s history from the time of Viking invasions up to Francois I in in Henry VIII’s time. This little pit-stop in the heart of Parc Naturel Regional des Caps et Marais d’Opale is a great family day out, it has activities and dress ups as well as an educational aspect.

The other must-see place is St-Joseph village, a town stuck in the early 20th century, a great little place to do some shopping or stop for food. You can buy a family pass or get a group ticket to have a look around this curious little town.

If you prefer to unwind when on holidays then you can make the most of the rivers in the national park by going trout fishing, licenses can be hired for half days or more here.

The journey from Dover to Calais take about 90 minutes with P&O Ferries and you can get a budget friendly price when taking your kids and the car.

Image credit: vincent ☆

P&O Ferries recommends: Pack your dance moves and head to the Cactus Festival


logo_kleur

No, it’s not a place where middle aged women in floral skirts show off their prize winning plants. The Cactus Festival is all about music.

It attracts thousands of people from all over the world every year. If you’re an avid festivalgoer, this international music festival in Bruges should definitely already be circled in on your calendar. If not, we recommend you do it immediately.

Previously both Paul Weller and Kate Nash have headlined at the festival. This year, it’s Razorlight’s, turn to do the honour. The line up also includes baroque folk-rockers Yeasayer, rock icon Chris Cornell and the electro band Shantel whose gigs usually end up with stage diving and crowd surfing. With genres ranging from jazz to reggae and rap there should be something for every music lover at the Cactus Festival.

Situated in Minnewater Park in the middle of Bruges, its location couldn’t be better. The city is a UNESCO world heritage site so the beautiful scenery itself should be enough incentive to drag yourself over there for a festival weekend.

Being in the middle of Bruges has its advantages. There are plenty of hotels and hostels to shack up in nearby and if you want the real festival feel, bring your tent along and camp in the official camping.

The Cactus Festival takes place on the 6-8th of July, perfect for a weekend away. Check out the rest of the line up here.

Sounds like your cup of tea? Catch one of the P&O ferries from Hull to Zeebrugge, only a short bus ride away from Bruges.

World Bboy Classic Championships 2012


break-dancing

If you were planning on a quiet getaway to the Netherlands this summer then then you may want to choose your dates carefully. In July the country will be wracked with festivities, you’ll be hard pressed to find a week without some form of festival; be it music, culinary, performance arts or just a plain unexpected celebration of the weird and wonderful.

On the 14th July, Rotterdam will hold the Street Science Festival. This is a break dancing competition of the highest calibre; professional dancers, DJs and MCs will attend from all around the globe to impress the crowds with creative and innovative music and performances. The competition is brought to you by World Bboy Classic and Street Science; it taps in to the latest trends of Hip Hop as well as its modern day mentality.

The festival will last over the weekend starting out with a block party and trainer market along with a gathering of ghettoblaster collectors to get the celebration started. There will also be talks, panels and workshops for you to pick up some tips and perhaps a couple of insider tips.

The main event, of course is the dance competition, an impressive display even to people who have never given break dancing much of a… break. To see last year’s final click here.

This competition is a test of real skills, they aren’t just mastering choreographed moves, qualifiers challenge ‘The Great 8’ a troupe of the best of breakdancing teamed up just an hour before the performance. The qualifying duo will incorporate two professional break-dancers who have never worked together before to outshine ‘The Great 8’.

P&O Ferries have an overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam so you can get go direct to the Street Science Festival this July.

Image credit: newlow

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