Entries Tagged as 'P&O Ferries'

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


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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

Beer Passion in Antwerp


bierpassieweekend

It seems that summer is well and truly upon us, and after complaining about British weather throughout the cruel winter, now is the time to enjoy a bit of sun – somewhere else.

At the end of June, Antwerp will be hosting its thirteenth annual Beer Passion weekend. Belgium is famed for its beer, be it a cool and light ale enjoyed in the sun or a darker heady brew, the staunchest of allies in trying times. At Beer Passion you’ll be able to sample them all – over 200 beers from 40 Belgian breweries. Each variety of Belgian beer will be represented, from Trappist and Abbey ales to strong blond beers, red beers, brown beers, wheat beers and many more.

Beer Passion runs for three days from June 29th to July 1st. Entry is free but a courtesy €3 Beer Sommelier tasting glass (20 cl) should be bought at the reception tent for use during the festival, and they make great souvenirs too. You also need to purchase tokens (€2 apiece) at the reception tent which can be redeemed for beer and food.

Antwerp’s Beer Passion festival is being held at Groenplaats, an historic town square bordered with cafes and restaurants. If you need help finding it, it commands an excellent view of Antwerp’s Cathedral of our Lady, so just head towards the steeple.

The spirit of this festival is an enjoyment of beer in all its diversity. You’ll get the chance to meet the brewers to learn about what you’re drinking, and it is custom for them to bring along new beers to try out on the crowd. If you intend to try every beer there, then we salute you, but a sustained drinking of 66 and half pints per day is likely to kill you, or at the very least get you thrown out of your hotel. You will, however, be able to buy a few crates of beer to enjoy back home.

It’s likely that accommodation will fill up fast so try to book early. There are plenty of hotels for you stay in in Antwerp, and if you want to be first in line at the festival then there’s a Hilton on Groenplaats Square.

Antwerp is a little over an hours journey from the Belgian port city Zeebrugge, you can take an overnight P&O Ferry from Hull to get to Beer Passion 2012.

Try P&O Ferries’ Car Park Shopper and Cruise à la Carte


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P&O Ferries are always trying to make your on-board experience as hassle-free as possible. Cruise passengers from Dover to Calais can now try out two offers that add great value to your trip while costing only a fraction of your ticket price.

Many of you will be using P&O Ferries to hop across the channel and stock up on alcoholic beverages, either for a special occasion or to buy in bulk for the months ahead. The Car Park Shopper service now lets you take advantage of the wallet-friendly prices while letting you remain onboard for the duration of the round trip.

From as little as £12, you can book the Car Park Shopper and load up on beer, wines and spirits as well as cosmetics and toys. P&O staff will be on hand to take care of the heavy lifting and packing, during which you can enjoy a meal or a cup of tea before heading back to Dover.

Speaking of meals: Next time you go on a cruise trip to Calais, why not spend a few quid extra and enjoy a three-course meal in Langan’s Brasserie? The famous West End restaurant has worked with P&O Ferries to recreate their splendid atmosphere, service and food on board P&O’s ships.

By booking the Cruise à la Carte, you secure yourself a place in the P&O Club Lounge, where you’ll be welcomed with a glass of champagne and can indulge in complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks. On the return journey to Dover, you will be served a delicious three-course meal in Langan’s Brasserie – what better way to end a relaxing trip?

To view the details of these offers, both of which are available on cruises from Dover to Calais, go here.

P&O Ferries: Discover Leiden


leiden

If you’re looking for somewhere to go this summer and are not after sweltering beaches, may we advise that you consider the Dutch city Leiden?

Leiden is a well-kept secret, since it’s surrounded by the larger cities of the Netherlands like Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. This city has a rich history and is situated at a crossroads in Holland, so you’ll be able to get to all the other tourist hotspots in the country.

There’s plenty to see in Leiden. The city was founded in the 16th century and became a centre for the European wool trade. It saw a major decline but diversified its industries attracting artists, scientists and engineers who gave the city a major boost in culture and affluence in the late 19th century.

There’s a curious mix of old and new in Leiden. It is home to the oldest university in the Netherlands, with a fifth of its population forming the student body. This gives Leiden a vibrant nightlife which contrasts with the city’s aged setting.

The old industrial aspects of the city (e.g. the canal network) make a great way to tour through the city. When Leiden returned to wealth in the 19th century, many large and lavish buildings were constructed, making Leiden a picaresque city ideal for afternoon jaunts. It is a relatively small place easily traversed by foot or on bike.

The two main walking tours you can take are:

Muurgedichten – The Leiden is decorated with wall poems, and you can take a paid tour, have a bit of a poetry lesson, print out a map and see for yourself. Alternatively, you can just amble through Leiden with your eyes peeled.

Hofjeswandeling – A tour of the city courtyards, this will expose you to some of the finer architecture Leiden has to offer as well as some of the history and local lore.

This tour will take you through the Wan der Werff Park, named after the mayor who was accused of hiding food reserves when the town was under siege by the Spanish. To show the sincerity of his denials, he offered to cut off his arm and offered serve it to the public.

We would also recommend you visit the Burcht of Leiden, which is one of the best preserved Motte Castles in the Netherlands. It sits high upon an artificial hill and commands the best view of the city, with foundations dating back to the 9th century.

There are three National Museums in Leiden covering Natural History, Antiquities and Ethnology. The National Museum of Ethnology hosts one of the world’s largest collections of ‘the artefacts of man’ compiled and researched with the help of Leiden University.

Shopping and eating out is a varied experience in Leiden – it retains the ‘melting pot’ aspect of its early years with the local populace cooking up all forms of cuisine. Prices range from absolute luxury to those suitable for the city’s student population.

Shopping areas are but a 15 minute walk from the central station. You can make your way to De Slegte, a 3-floor bookstore found on the Breestraat. This shop has a large selection of second-hand books at great value.

Tourists out for a bit of exploration should stop off at Verswinkel for freshly made bread rolls made right in front of you – they’re among the very best in Europe. They’re represented at Leiden’s open markets held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You’ll also be able to get there late on a Thursday, when most of the shops in the city remain open until 9pm.

Leiden is located near the centre of Holland so P&O Ferry’s can take you Rotterdam and you’re just a short trip from the wonders of Leiden.

Image credit: carolune

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