Entries Tagged as 'P&O Ferries'

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

P&O Ferries top picks for Belgium Holidays late 2016

Already looking forward to those autumnal retreats, sneaky weekends away and half-terms abroad? We don’t blame you in the slightest, here is a selection of choice events happening in Belgium later this year.


We all know Belgium is famed for two main things, rather unfairly we’d just like to say there’s so much more going for it. Nevertheless titles such as beer chocolate capital of the world have been hard earned and well deserved so let us first impress upon you the serious and important business that is the Belgian Beer Festival.

Not such a messy affair as Germany’s Oktoberfest, but certainly just as much fun, you can find a top quality beer festival in Belgium at just about any time of year. Though the art of micro brewing has caught on in a major way in the UK, the Belgians have a long established tradition and some of the oldest breweries in the world. So any discerning beer drinker knows full well, you can’t whack a good Belgian ale.

A great start for anyone new to beer festivals or if you want an established and easy festival (not that any of them could be called ‘difficult’) is the tried and true Belgian Beer Weekend. In 2016 you can attend this event from 2-7th September right in the heart of Brussels at the Grand Marche. This could be called one of the more official Belgian Beer Festivals as it’s hosted by the National Federation of Belgian Brewers, how much more authoritative could you get?

This event is held every year at the first weekend of September, you’re still likely to get that good beer garden weather but it isn’t so hot to be uncomfortable or quickly heat up a pint of the good stuff. Given the prime location of the event you won’t struggle to find it or find your way back to your accommodation which is excellent all things considered. Belgian Beer Weekend is more than opportunity to over-indulge, it’s a competition amongst the breweries to find the best amongst them. After the critics have made their choices theirs even a Knighting ceremony. Arrive in time for the opening ceremony and you’ll get to witness numerous speeches, which may not be so great if you aren’t brushed up on your Dutch, but there’s also traditional garb to admire and a parade of historic beer carts as well a lively fanfare to keep everyone peppy.

Belgian Beer Weekend is as much a networking opportunity for businesses as it is for the general public. It opens for visitors at 6PM running late in to the night, you purchase a glass and then roam the stalls sampling the goods. Heaven.

As we mentioned there is always beer festival going on in some corner of Belgium, usually the further afield you have to go the finer you’ll find the brew is. So keep an eye out for those Trappists Abbots, Pales, Reds, Browns, Blondes, Stouts and just about everything else – and remember to take care.

Here’s a list of some of the Beer Festivals you can attend in 2016.


Now for a tradition dating all the way back to 1982, it’s Dinant’s annual Bathtub Regatta. Yes we assure you, it’s not made up there are videos to prove it. Each year Belgium’s most persevering competitors congregate on the River Meuse in Dinant to race one kilometre in just a highly decorated bath tub – the only rule, there are no rules: except no sinking other tubs or using a motor. This highly onerous occasion happens in mid August, so there is no time to lose booking your P&O Ferry to Zeebrugge.

The Regatta is free for spectators, simply a fun day out watching people succeed and some circumstances succeeding not so well.

Belgium is steeped in military history and bears many scars and memorials to battles of the 20th Century. At the close of August this year Mons is hosting Tanks in Town to celebrate the 72 year since Liberation by the 83rd US Armed division. There are more details on the events webpage here. This is always fantastic event to help keep history alive, you’ll get to walk amongst the tanks and other armoured equipment used in nearby battlefields, a humbling and amazing experience.


Christmas comes early to Belgium so if you’re of a mind to see Bruges, Antwerp or Brussels before it’s prematurely bedecked for winter festivities then be sure to book now lest you risk catching the Christmas bug far far too early. That said it never is too early to start thinking about how you’re going to spend Christmas and New Year’s. Prime spots on P&O Ferries for crossings during the festive season do tend to fill up fast so start making your plans now to avoid disappointment.

Take the overnight P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge and enjoy the last remnants of Summer in Belgium

Image Credit: Tim Samoff , Edward Russell , Russell Trow

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.


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.


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

France 2016 this Summer with P&O Ferries

This promises to be one of the most hectic summers yet for tourists to France and all for the love of the beautiful game. France is playing host to this years UEFA European Championship June 10th to July 10th 24 countries a battling it out to be crowned champs. So you know what that means, a very heavy footfall, so if you wish to make the channel crossing from Dover to Calais make sure you are well booked in advance, this goes for accommodation too!

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If your heart beats for England, most of the group matches for the Lions are between June 11th to 20th even if you can’t get tickets to the match, there are plenty of public screenings for you to attend to support our boys. The P&O Ferries are sure to be lively no matter the outcome, after the group stages are over, all bets are off but we’re sure there will be plenty for England to two in the latter stages of the competition.

If you live and breathe sport then why not combine your trip to the Euro’s with the set of of the Tour de France? On the 2nd and 3rd of July you’ll be in a prime location at the north of France to see the world’s greatest bike race set off. Making this trek will give you some great views of the French countryside. From Cherbourg and Utah beach to Mont St Michel, you’ll get to see some of the great vistas of northern France. It’s a three week bike race so make sure catch a bit of it if you happen to be in France this July.

It will be difficult indeed to avoid the furore that Euro 2016 and the Tour de France brings to France, but by no means is it impossible. With the weather now bearing down us it’s the perfect time to take a country holiday. The northern coast boasts remarkable cycling routes as well as numerous places to camp. If the rustic style isn’t your wont then have no fear the smaller towns make the lion share of their trade at this time of year so you’ll be in good company as you take easy in the north of France.


The coast of Brittany comes highly recommended for family holidays and short break getaways. It is close enough to the port at Calais so there will be no long tedious journey homewards at the end of it all, you can enjoy the beaches temperatures can pass 18 degrees quite easily. There’s also plenty of local history, from the World Wars to the Corsair past of towns like St Malo, you’ll find castles and museums to explore as well as points of local interest.

For more information on locations such as these we urge you to look up European Heritage Days

. This is a foundation now over 30 years old, which also works in the UK too, that encourages not just tourists but locals as well to really immerse themselves in a countries history and culture. Heritage Days opens up doors to town halls and military sites, private galleries and more that are normally closed off to the public, however on these days you can not only enter, but get a tour as well.

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This summer Disneyland Paris has an outstanding deal for P&O Ferry users. Your crossing will be absolutely free terms and conditions apply but essentially a standard car with up to 9 passengers, so long as one paying adult is in attendance. For more information click here.

If you seek to avoid all the sporting hoi polloi that summer in France has to offer then travel south to the Loire Valley. This region comes highly recommended especially if you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie or just want to sample French cuisine in a rustic setting. You can avoid the tourist traps that bistro in the country capital might have with inflated prices and sample fresh produce prepared the old fashioned way in one of the most scenic regions of France.

Book ahead for wine tastings or tours of the local abbeys and cathedrals. Take up residence in a grand chateaux and journey outwards in to Loire’s countryside and small towns and villages. The local markets offer excellent prospects for antiquing holidays, cheese connoisseurs and just about everyone in between. The Loire Valley is also an excellent place to bring the kids, there are multiple zoos and safari parks, the natural landscape makes it excellent for animal habitats, and an aquarium as well.

Book now for France’s Summer of Sport with P&O Ferries

Image Credit: Nazionale Calcio , Anne Arnould , Jeremy Thompson

P&O Ferries Guide to Holidaying in France 2016

With the January slump over now is the time to look forward to your travels in 2016. If you are after a short break or full family holiday, P&O Ferries’ Dover to Calais service can get you there. Here we are going to take a look at what you might need to know when booking your trip this year.


The Port of Dover is a 70 mile car journey from London, using the M20 on to the A20 at Folkestone, from there it’s just a short drive up the coast. There’s also the option of using the M2 on to the A2 which will grant you the option of passing through Canterbury.

Should you wish to get to the Ferry by train then it will take about an hour from London to Dover Priory Station via HS1. From there it is a 25 minute walk to the port, there are taxis available as well as car rental services. The De Bradelei Wharf on the waterfront is a excellent spot for you to pick up any of those last minute necessities or to have a look around before boarding.

If you’re coming a long way a final rest before you make the crossing is easily done. Book accommodation at the Spa, Dover Castle or a Premier Inn, there’s plenty of choice you could even go local and take a room in one Dover’s B&B’s for something a bit more homely. Click here for more information on Dover Port Facilities .

There are five P&O Ferries currently making the 90 minute crossing from Dover to Calais: the Spirit of Britain, Spirit of France, Pride of Canterbury, Pride of Burgundy and the Pride of Kent. They run almost none stop so you can catch one roughly each hour. If your schedule is a bit fluid then consider purchasing a Flexi-ticket which will give you more options should you need to alter your booking.


P&O Ferry Tickets

Tailor your ticket type to suit your needs. P&O Ferries offer a variety of choices:

Saver: This is for your basic crossing offering the best value, provided you travel as booked this ticket is deserving of its namesake.

Standard/Full Flexi: These tickets offer some flexibility when you travel. Be it traffic, weather or anything else you’ll be well prepared with one of these tickets. The Standard Flexi allows you to make changes to your booking without charge, same with the Full Flexi provided the registered car is the same. Both Flexi Tickets are refundable, the standard version grants you +/-4 hours from your booking time, should you arrive early or late; with the Full Flexi you can depart at your leisure on the date booked. Flexi Tickets also entitle you to 30 minutes free Wi-Fi on one device, more than enough for a 90 minute trip don’t you think?

Premier Tickets: Grant you all the benefits of a Full Flexi ticket with Wi-Fi for the duration and access to the Club Lounge.

Club Lounge: A purchasable addition to your voyage to make things run all the smoother. For as little as an additional £12 you’ll get the best views and seating, a complimentary glass of champagne or soft/hot drink served by one of the stewards. It adds a bit of luxury to your journey, perfect if you wish to unwind or travel without the crowds. Club Lounge clients have access to an exclusive menu as well as priority boarding.


Once you Arrive

If you and kids have your eyes set on Disneyland Paris then it’s 186 miles, roughly 3.5 hours non-stop by car, most of which is a straight drive south on the A26 then A1. Have no fear this journey is well sign posted as the major route to the French capital.

Those of you in no hurry to head south should take some time to enjoy Nord-Pas-de-Calais. There are some worthy sights, Auguste Rodin’s Burghers of Calais statues have wholly different connotations in France in comparison to standing before casts outside the Houses of Parliament.

The fortress church Eglise Notre-Dame de Calais and Tour de Guet a 13th century watchtower are landmarks so easily missed by many who view Calais as a mere port city, the entrance and exit of France.

Duty Free

When you pay tax on goods in a country like France then there is no requirement to pay tax or duty on it again when it is brought to the UK. Any goods you bring must be for your own use and not used commercially There are guidelines on how much each person is allowed to bring which are best abided by, here’s the list:

3,200 Cigarettes
200 Cigars
400 Cigarillos
3 KG Tobacco
110L of Beer
90L of Wine
10L of Spirits
20L of Fortified Wine

We highly recommend you to stick to these totals and familiarise yourself with HMRC guidelines.

If you intend to use a credit card it’s best to forewarn your distributor since fraud rates have gone up shops are being more careful, if you’re at the till it’s best to know who to call before hand should you run in to difficulty. Wine and beer distributors can easily be found in directories so shop about for the best deals, you can go further afield than Calais, but there’s not much need to if you’re on a P&O Ferry Day Tripper ticket.

Safe travels for 2016, book now for passage to Calais with P&O Ferries!

Image Credit: Ingolf , Nine LaMaitre , Marc Cousin

Take to France this Winter with P&O Ferries


What’s the best way to beat those winter blues? Shake things up a bit, that’s how. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway with your partner or the family, want to celebrate Christmas somewhere new or hope to make 2015’s New Year’s celebrations the most exciting yet we thoroughly encourage you to choose a vacation in France as the answer.

When most people think of winter holidays to France their mind immediately springs to the slopes of the Alps or perhaps Pyrenees. Worthy holidays though they may be you can get more out of France if you don’t isolate yourself to the mountains. The city streets are where things really come alive. You may run the slight risk of having the weather work against you but bear in mind Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world there’s much to see indoors. Since tourists are less likely to be holidaying during the festive season queues at the major locations – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral will be shortened considerably.

With Christmas on the horizon you won’t want to miss the seasonal markets that are popping up all over France. If you are just making a short trip to France before 2016 then the closest markets to Calais where P&O Ferries will be dropping you off and picking you are listed here.


As you may expect there is a huge Christmas market in Paris and the celebrations in Lille are also considered to be some of the grandest in France. You might also want to consider hopping the border to Belgium to take advantage of some the great markets in Brussels, Lieges or Bruges. Alternatively you could catch a P&O Ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge – it’s an overnight voyage but you’ll land straight in Belgium which will place you perfectly for day trips to both France and Holland.

If you wish to tour the northern coast of France the City of Caen is host to a sizeable Christmas market with upwards of 50 stalls, it opens late December running straight through to the new year. So you could make it a part of your New Year’s celebration and make a triumphant return to the UK for 2016. Caen is just a short way away from Mont St Michel, an historic strategic location that’ has been fortified, it has a long religious history and is listed as an UNESCO world heritage site. It’s well worth a visit and though there isn’t a Christmas market there’s plenty of shopping to be down there. It is decorated for the Christmas season though you’ll find that Mont St Michel is illuminated at night all year round.

The capital of Normandy, Rouen is also a holiday favourite for this time of year. Rouen is famous for being the site of Joan of Arc’s death in 1431 – they begin Christmas celebrations at the start of December with Christmas markets (Marche de Noel) opening in the shadow of the grand Cathedral Notre Dame of Rouen. It’s a perfect place to visit whether you wish to embrace the spiritual side of the holiday, want to do some Christmas shopping or hope to keep the kids entertained with the skating rinks.


The major christmas market to visit in north France is in Lille – there are around 3900 in this city, if you can’t find the perfect gift here then you simply aren’t trying hard enough. This city lights up in December with an 18m ferris wheel, ice-rink and dozens of specially erected Christmas chalets built up in the city centre. Each of these chalets is meticulously designed and laid out by the provender, the overall effect of this market will bring a smile to every face. The sights and smells of Christmas along with the copious amounts of carolling and festive feasting make Lille a true centre of the Christmas spirit.

If, however, your intention is to get to the beating heart of the season and sup deep of the good cheer that vibrates across us all then the place for you to be this Christmas is Strasbourg. The city is close on the border to Germany, and therefore has a fantastic cultural mesh, Christmas unites and at Strasbourg you’ll find it seamless.

This year the markets in Strasbourg open on November 27th and are open through to New Year’s Eve. It has the honour of being the traditional city of Christmas markets since it was the site of the very first seasonal event way back in 1570. It was then known as Christkindelsmärik or ‘Market of the infant Jesus’ and it has been growing ever since. As well as the traditional tree you’ll find it hard to miss the extensive light displays, ferris wheel three hundred square meter ice-rink. Entry is free for children and the market opens from 10AM to 8PM every day. This is one of the largest Christmas events in Europe with an anticipated footfall of 2 million people all in all, there are 300 chalets established for the sale of goods and they’re all in fierce competition with each other to be the most festival stalls at the market.

Weather this winter in France with P&O Ferries, the Dover to Calais service will get you their to celebrate Christmas on the continent!

Image Credit: Panoramas , LenDog64 , Mike Norton

P&O Ferries’ guide to the Festive Season in Belgium


The time is now to sort out your winter holiday. Accommodation starts to fill up fast the closer to Christmas and New Years’ we get so don’t delay! P&O Ferries run from Hull to the port city, Zeebrugge in Belgium for you to brighten up your winter.

An urban tour of Belgium is really best suited to the winter months. The streets are less hectic and if you are fortunate enough to have timed it right, a light dusting of snow in places like Bruges will get even the staunchest Grinch in the Christmas mood. The spirit of Belgian cities such as Antwerp and Brussels is communicated through its architecture. Places with such long histories and so many stories to tell have the ability to really make a holiday enticing, you can fall in love with such places simply by walking down the street. To help you arrange your getaway this winter here is our run down of some of the most scenic parts of Belgium to be admired whilst wrapped up warm, as well as some dates for the Christmas Markets this December.

Both Belgium and France are prime locations for Christmas shopping. Whether you want to spend the whole week gift shopping or intend on a quick weekend getaway then you’re sure to find that perfect something for your loved ones. In Belgium some of the Christmas Markets open in late November and they can remain focal points for tourist shoppers as well as locals in to the new year. Cities such as Bruges and Belgium have cobbled streets and narrow avenues that are perfect for window shopping. Chocolatiers and cafes do their best to outdo each other with tantalising window displays hoping to lure in travellers seeking succour. However with an open market you get to stand shoulder to shoulder with your fellow Christmas reveller, barter for heartwarming bric-a-brac, hear jaunty christmas music, with ringing bells in the distance. A city like Bruges has a truly magical atmosphere come the early evening, swaddled in scarf and gloves both kids and couples will be enthused with a sense of romantic wonder as you bask in glow of fairy lights explore the old town’s of Europe.

Winter Wonders

Brussels’ christmas begins with the opening of Winter Wonders which has its grand opening on November 27th, you are welcome to this Christmas fairly land right through to January 4th. Over this period shops stay open all weekend in the hope that the market stalls won’t draw away too much of their custom. The streets are really the place to be though, as the capital city of Belgium the display of Christmas lights is a sight to behold. You can get a sweeping panoramic view of the city by taking a ride on the specially set up ferris wheel which will probably help you find the ice skating rink set up at Place de la Monnaie so you can get a little time on the ice before retreating for hot chocolates or maybe something a bit more fortifying. The only true centrepiece of Winter Wonders is the Christmas tree, a gift donated by the city of Riga, the capital of Latvia, this magnificent fir tree takes pride of place and you’ll definitely need to see it when it’s lit up at night during the Christmas Parade.

Ghent is a less talked about attraction in Belgium, it is overshadowed by the fame of Bruges and the magnitude of Brussels. If you have, however, already seen Brussels at Christmas then it will be worthwhile to try a change of pace in a different city. It lies between Bruges and Brussels so consider a stopover especially since it will put you in good proximity to cross the border and give a French Christmas a try at the markets of Lille. In Ghent you can expect upwards of over 50 different market stalls spread across the city, they do a roaring trade in traditional gifts such as candles and decorations, but there will also be food vendors spreading good cheer with chocolate and waffles as well as a healthy supply of gin to keep things festive.

Ghent boasts some of the finest religious architecture in Belgium with Sint Baafs Cathedral and the Belfry which will be holding special Christmas masses this year. It would also be well worth your while to stop off at the major museums of the city which are holding late night openings as the sun starts to set a little earlier at this time of year. Then is also just a short drive from the P&O Ferry port at Calais, if you would prefer to have a shorter time on the water or just live closer to dover then take advantage of the dover Calais crossing and get to Ghent through the France.


Your perfect Christmas is just a click away, book now for a Christmas like no other with P&O Ferries Hull to Zeebrugge service.
Image Credit: Rodrigue ROMON , Matt Barber , Darla Hueske

Holland is all aglow with Vincent Van Gogh


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.


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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