November 22, 2017 | Kirker Holidays
As the battle of the Christmas TV campaigns gets underway, what better way to celebrate the big countdown (or to escape the incessant advertising) than on a short break to one of Europe’s most festive cities? Specialist tour operator for discerning travellers, Kirker Holidays offers no less than 25 destinations in its Christmas Markets collection including – new for this year – Bologna, Riga and Vilnius, as well as a delightful array of escorted Christmas Cultural Tours. There’s also the option of a memorable trip to St. Petersburg for New Year.
Rather than heading to the classic Christmas markets of central Europe, BOLOGNA offers an appealing alternative and runs until 6 January. As well as 23 miles of colonnaded arcades, gravity-defying towers, wonderful art and world-famous cuisine, this historic city has one of the oldest gatherings of festive stalls (dating back some 200 years), held in front of the impressive 12th century San Pietro Cathedral. Savour sweet torrone (nougat) made with almonds and honey, and stock up on hand-made nativity figures in this magical setting.
Until 11 December, stay four nights for the price of three at the four-star superior Corona D’Oro from £746 pp*, saving £153 pp. From 12-29 December, stay three nights for the price of two from £575 pp*, saving £130 pp.
RIGA’s Cathedral Square provides an imposing setting for the Latvian capital’s Christmas Market (from 26 November to 7 January). Mulled wine, smoked meats and Latvian honey are just some of the tantalising goodies on offer, whilst local products such as patterned hats, mittens and socks, wooden candlesticks, hand-made candles and pretty silver and amber jewellery make perfect gifts to go under the tree.
Three nights at the four-star deluxe Grand Palace cost from £597 pp*.
Completing Kirker’s trio of new Christmas Market short breaks, VILNIUS (from 1 December to 7 January) boasts three atmospheric markets selling traditional toys and souvenirs, and tasty Lithuanian delicacies including delicious raguolis, a traditional hollow ‘tree cake’ created on a rotating spit for special occasions.
Three nights at the four-star deluxe Stikliai cost from £646 pp*.
Kirker’s Christmas Markets collection features tailor-made short breaks to: Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Bruges, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Lille, London, Lucerne, Krakow, Montreux, Munich, Prague, Riga, Salzburg, St. Wolfgang, Stockholm, Strasbourg, Tallinn, Vienna, Vilnius and Zurich. Prices start from £457 pp* for a three-night stay in Lille, including return Eurostar travel and accommodation with breakfast at the four-star Hermitage Gantois. Many of Kirker’s Christmas Market breaks also feature ‘four nights for three’ or ‘three nights for two’ special offers.
*Christmas Market short breaks prices are based on two sharing and include flights (London – regional departures available) or Eurostar travel, return private car transfers (most destinations), accommodation with breakfast, Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing, and the services of the Kirker Concierge to book opera tickets, expert local guides or a table for dinner.
If cultural experiences rank high on your Christmas list, Kirker offers two tempting festive escorted tours to Germany, each created to blend visits to classic European destinations at their most magical with unforgettable art, music and ballet performances:
Baden-Baden at Christmas: At the foothills of the Black Forest, the stylish spa town of Baden-Baden provides a pretty backdrop to this festive five-night break. Staying at the elegant five-star deluxe Brenners Park Hotel & Spa, enjoy world-class performances by the visiting Mariinsky Ballet (Romeo & Juliet and The Nutcracker), a visit to mediaeval Strasbourg and ample time to explore Baden-Baden at your own pace.
Departing 21 December, the price is from £3,277 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Heathrow), five nights’ accommodation with breakfast, four dinners, one lunch, first-category ballet tickets, excursions as per the itinerary, and the services of a Kirker Tour Leader and local guide.
Christmas in Dresden: Explore the architectural, artistic and musical treasures of one of Europe’s greatest cultural centres during a five-night stay at the Steigenberger de Saxe in the heart of Dresden’s old town. As well as first-category tickets to The Nutcracker and Eugene Onegin at the Semper Opera, there is an optional performance of Hansel und Gretel to enjoy, plus captivating guided visits to the sensitively restored Frauenkirche, the Green Vaults and Zwinger Gallery.
Departing 23 December, the price is from £1,998 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Heathrow), five nights’ accommodation with breakfast, three dinners, one lunch, first-category tickets for two performances at the Semper Opera, excursions as per the itinerary, and the services of a Kirker tour lecturer and local guide.
Got Christmas covered but considering a New Year getaway? Join Kirker’s sublime new six-night cultural tour to St Petersburg and welcome 2018 in flamboyant Russian style. This is a wonderful time to visit the city, its opulent palaces and frozen canals dusted in snow, and its galleries and museums delightfully quiet. An entire day is devoted to exploring the treasures of the Hermitage, whilst visits to the colourful onion-domed Church on the Spilled Blood, the Fabergé Museum, Pavlovsk (built for the son of Catherine the Great as a private residence) and Catherine Palace at Pushkin guarantee a wonderful start to the New Year.
Departing 29 December, New Year in St. Petersburg costs from £2,745 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Heathrow), six nights’ accommodation with breakfast at the five-star Hotel Astoria, four dinners (includes a New Year’s Eve Grand Gala Dinner at the hotel), one lunch, excursions as per the itinerary and the services of a Kirker tour lecturer.
Still looking for gift ideas for friends and family? Kirker Holidays offers Christmas Gift Vouchers, the perfect present for discerning travellers this festive season. Tailored to any value, the vouchers can be sent either to the recipient or the purchaser, together with a copy of one or more of Kirker’s brochures.