Christmas comes early

Our popular Christmas market cruises book up quickly, so now’s the perfect time to think about organising your festive fun

Imagine yourself wandering around the Christmas markets in chocolate-box Bruges, picturesque Amsterdam and impressive Hamburg. Or strolling the Nordic winter wonderlands of Oslo and Copenhagen, surrounded by the seasonal scents of mulled wine, roasted nuts, cinnamon treats and spiced biscuits…

On our Christmas market cruises you can indulge in the joys of the season to your heart’s content. And with no luggage restrictions, there’s no worrying about how many festive trinkets and presents you can bring back. To get you in the mood, here’s a selection of our favourite cities for Christmas markets and our pick of the top festive shore experiences.

Captivating Copenhagen

The Danish capital is buzzing with yuletide joy during the Christmas festivities. One of the treats of being in Copenhagen during the winter season is seeing the Tivoli Gardens transform into a winter wonderland. Opened in 1843, Tivoli is one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world, as well as one of Copenhagen’s most famous sights. In November and December every year, the landscaped gardens, old-fashioned rides and gorgeous buildings are transformed into a stunning festive wonderland, with thousands of fairy lights, beautifully decorated trees and Christmas stalls selling traditional Danish goodies such as gløgg (Danish mulled wine) and pancakes.

Get in the season’s spirit with a selection of Christmas shore experiences in Copenhagen. Wrap up warm and soak up the festive cheer on the Tivoli Christmas Market experience. You can step into a Scandinavian Christmas. Wander through a world of bright lights, decorations and cheer as you immerse yourself in a beloved Copenhagen tradition. Mouth-watering smells fill the air, so why not treat yourself to homemade roast pork or caramelised almonds as you browse the many stalls for souvenirs and treats for family and friends?

With other festive experiences ashore such as the Christmas Castles of Copenhagen and Christmas in Copenhagen, as well as the Christmas markets in the picturesque Nyhavn harbour area, you’ll be spoilt for yuletide choice.

Picture-perfect Bruges

Wandering the colourful streets of Bruges, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. This city does Christmas well. The stepped gable roofs, picturesque canals and cobbled streets look like something out of a storybook all year round. Add the twinkling fairy lights that adorn the city in the festive season, the mouth-watering smells of hot chocolate and waffles, the towering Christmas trees, icy canals and snowy streets – as well as the world-famous Christmas market, with its pretty wooden chalets selling gifts and food galore – and you have the perfect Christmas weekend break.

Join the Christmas Spirit in Bruges shore excursion and enjoy a guided walk through the ‘must-sees’ of the city: the Market Place with its merchant guild houses, the Belfry Tower, the Town Hall and the Gothic-style Chapel of the Holy Blood (exterior views only). Then browse the pretty stalls of the Christmas market, selling hand-made decorations, gifts, chocolates and tasty local delicacies, while watching ice skaters twirl around under the sparkling lights of the Christmas trees.

Make the most of the Belgian festivities with a jaunt to the capital. On the Christmas Spirit in Brussels experience you’ll get the chance to see some of the city’s famous buildings such as the Royal Palace and the European Parliament buildings, as well as wander around the traditional Christmas market, where over 200 wooden chalets offer a huge array of Christmas goods, craft products and delicacies. You can also take a trip on the Ferris wheel for fantastic views over the city.

Hanseatic Hamburg

Tradition and history combine at the wonderfully festive Christmas markets in Hamburg. The Town Hall Christmas market is filled with quaint stalls selling hand-made Christmas decorations and gifts. Look out for traditional decorations from the Erzgebirge region of Germany and wooden creations from the Tyrol region made by local carpenters and craftsman. Try a traditional ‘printen’ cookie made by bakers from Aachen or some classic gingerbread from Nuremberg. And send eyes skyward for Santa as he flies his sleigh over the rooftops of the market throughout the afternoon and evening.