Get In The Christmas Spirit
Get in the Christmas spirit in November and December on coach tours and shopping trips to more than 350 Christmas markets in the UK and on the Continent. Departures from literally anywhere across the UK are now on offer with dozens of coach companies who can be found on this site. Just click on Step 1 and scroll down to Christmas markets for your link to an operator departing from near you.
While the German markets might be the most famous, many British villages, towns and cities - and stately homes - also have established pre Christmas events, markets and Dickensian festivals which are just as colourful. Traditional market stalls, street entertainers, minstrels, Christmas carol singers and fairground rides all help to set the festive scene.
Lincoln which held the first Christmas market in England is still one of the biggest with more than 300 but Cathedral cities such as Bath, Winchester, Canterbury, Worcester and York have become increasingly popular. London has markets in Hyde Park, Oxford Street and on the South Bank and they can also be found in Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff. For a Dickensian theme visit Lightwater Valley in north Yorkshire or the home of Dickens in Rochester.
In Norfolk, the Thursford Christmas Spectacular - a mix of traditional Christmas entertainment, songs, carols, dance and music - is one of the most popular Christmas shows in England and hugely popular with coach tour operators. Likewise Wicksteed Park in Northamptonshire presents a nostalgic The Way We Were shows with a Christmas theme based on the music of the 50s and 60s.
Continental Christmas Markets are now held not only in Germany but literally in most European countries with those in France and Belgium easy to reach by coach. Lille is the main market in France and Brussels leads the way in Belgium. The main market in Holland is in Valkenburg and there is a month long Christmas market in Amsterdam too.
Naturally some of the biggest and best Christmas markets are held in Germany. Cologne is the most famous with six separate markets, the best being by Cologne Cathedral on the Alter Markt. One of the biggest in Germany with over 300 stalls is Düsseldorf while other major centres are Rudesheim, Nuremberg, Aachen, Trier and Dortmund.
UK Xmas Market tours
(note all prices quoted are from per person)
Grand UK (01603 619933) has several new Christmas Market tours for 2010 including Bath Christmas market, Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre and Lincoln Christmas Market – all four day tours costing £179pp.
Harry Shaw (02476 455544) in the west Midlands combines a visit to a Xmas market with a shopping centre trip including Durham Victorian Market/Metro Centre, York St Nicholas Fayre/McArthur Glen Shopping Outlet and Rochester Dickensian Christmas/Bluewater – from £90 for two days. A Dickens Xmas Market tour to Rochester Castle is also on offer with Bakers Dolphin from Somerset (01934 415000) - from £179 for 2 nights DBB.
Booking site Door2Tour has a Lincoln Xmas Market tour with Diamond Holidays from south Wales -2 night’s DBB including executive coach travel (from £125). Bibby’s (01524 241330) from North Yorkshire also has a short 2-day trip to Lincoln (from £119 for 1 night DBB).
Go to Bath Xmas market with Andrews (01298 871222) from Derbyshire (2 nights half board for £159) or with D&H Harrod (01366 381111) from Norfolk who have a 2 night break to Bath and the Swindon Designer Outlet centre for £155. Shaws (01788 342224) operating from Cambridgeshire feature Bath, the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace and the American Museum at Claverton (£280 for 3 nights DBB). Shaws also offers a Christmas shopping trip to Sheffield’s Meadowhall centre, Leeds Christkindelmarkt and the annual St. Nicholas Fayre in York (£130).
David Palmer Travel (01924 895849) from West Yorkshire have short 2-day trips with overnight accommodation to stately homes such as Belvoir Castle, Althorp and Chatsworth (from £89)
From the south coast Angela Holidays (023 8040 3866) has a Thursford Christmas Spectacular including a visit to Norwich and tickets to the show – from £199 for 2 nights DBB. Chalkwell Coaches (01795 423982) from Kent also have a similar tour staying in Norwich with a visit to Bury St Edmunds and tickets to the show (£205)
Scotland is not just for Hogmanay. Head to the Edinburgh and Glasgow Xmas markets with CAB Travel (01405 765599) from east Yorkshire, which includes 3 nights DBB - from £199. Andrews from Derbyshire/south Yorkshire has a similar tour to Scotland – from £179pp for half board as does Galloway (01449 618070) from East Anglia - £199 for 3 nights.
Continental Xmas Market tours
(note all prices quoted are from per person)
Cologne Xmas Market continues to be one of the most popular destinations for a pre Christmas festive break and lots of coach operators have tours to the famous German city. They include Gold Crest Holidays (01943 433 457) with pick-up points in the north, Midlands and south, who feature Cologne and neighbouring Bonn Xmas markets on a 3 day/2 night tour which costs from just £179. Derbyshire operator Andrews also offers Cologne and Bonn on a longer 3 night/4 day tour (from £279) as does booking site Door2Tour. The tour with Newmarket Holidays includes return flights from regional airports to Cologne, 3 night’s B&B, transfers and guided city tour - from £279pp.
Travel by coach to the home of one of the prettiest Christmas markets in Germany. Rudesheim with Travelsphere (0844 567 9978 www.travelsphere.co.uk). It has more than 120 stalls, live music and entertainment and a wonderful nativity scene. This four day tour includes 3 nights BDD - from £189.
Skills (0845 450 2221) of Nottingham also feature Rudesheim along with visit to Weisbaden and Frankfurt Markets on a 5-day tour by club class coach (from £289).
A new tour for 2010 is from south coast operator Angela Holidays (023 8040 3866) who offer an 8 day club class coach holiday to Austria with visits to the St Wolfgang, St Gilgen and Salzburg Christmas Markets, mixed in with scenic drives through the stunning Austrian countryside in winter. £469 for 7 nights DBB
Another unusual destination is with national operator Leger Holidays (0844 504 6251) who feature Berlin’s Xmas markets as well as those in Potsdam and Dresden, home to Germany’s oldest festive market, traditionally called Striezelmarkt (from £399 for 6 nights).
Enjoy a pre Christmas holiday with a difference in Italy with booking site Door2Tour who offer a tour to Diano Marina on the Italian Riviera with Crusader Holidays. The tour features Menton & Nice Xmas Markets and an optional excursion to Monaco & Monte Carlo (from £575).
Christmas markets in Valkenburg in Holland and also across the border in the German town of Monschau are available with Clarksons Holidays (01977 642385) from Yorkshire - 4 days from £239.
Last but not least get in the festive spirit with Shaws (01788 342224) operating from Cambridgeshire. Their Champagne Christmas Market special to Reims includes a guided tour and tasting at Champagne Martel (£295pp).