Christmas and New Years' Eve celebrations can be wonderful experiences when shared with loved ones in iconic locations. Join one of our cruises and tours to the most interesting places to farewell the old year and bring in the new. We have the traditional Christmas Markets and Advent cruise in Europe. For something more exotic try a Nile River Cruise African Safari or Mekong River cruise. If you are looking for remoteness over the holidays we have Antarctica, Raja Ampat in Indonesia or an Amazon River cruise and finally, discover the Galapagos islands.
One of the most exciting highlights on a European cruise in December is the abundance of Christmas markets. A special kind of festive magic is in the air as each town is bejeweled in twinkling Christmas lights. Visitors partake in hot mulled wine whilst the smell of gingerbread, roasted chestnuts and bratwurst lingers in the air.
Many of these markets have been operating for centuries upholding the seasonal traditions and values of the local people. Scheduled shore excursions will feature visits to the best Christmas markets. The stalls sell high quality, locally made, hand crafted items that make wonderful gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones back home.
The Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market is one of the most beautiful markets in Europe. The select artisans adhere to strict regulations and sell traditional Hungarian textiles, wooden toys, jewelry, ceramic and glass ornaments. You will also find an array of gingerbread, marzipan and chocolate goodies. Entry is free.
In 1298 Albrecht I granted the Viennese people the right to hold a December market, known then as “Krippenmarkt”. The Viennese Dream Christmas market is held in the backdrop of the spectacularly lit City Hall. Children can enjoy learning to make Christmas cookies or candles and a festive spirit is imbued by choirs singing carols. This market opens mid-November and runs through until Christmas.
The beautifully decorated Maria Theresien Platz Christmas Village and Market is set amongst the world famous Ringstrasse and the illuminated Rathaus. It is Vienna’s largest Christmas market and one not to be missed. 10 restaurateurs offer an array of delicacies and mulled wines. Artisans display a variety of decorated wooden, glass and ceramic items. The market opens late November and runs to early January.
On the banks of the Danube, the Passau Christmas market is set in the backdrop of St Stephens Cathedral in the old historic heart of this beautiful Baroque town. You will find wooden carvings and leather goods, jewelry and festive gifts, as well as hand crafted Christmas ornaments. One of the delights in Passau in December is to follow the Nativity Path (Krippenweg) to see the varied nativity scenes that are exhibited.
Strasbourg records show a Klausemarik or a Saint Nicholas market was held on the 6th December every year dating back to the late 12th century. There are around 300 brightly lit and decorated stalls ready to enchant you with authentic, locally made wares. Sip the hot white Alsatian wine, spiced with cinnamon and lemon . Taste Bredele, Alsatian Christmas cookies.
Nuremberg Christmas Market is one of Germany’s oldest. Records date the market in this exact same location of the Main Market Square, from 1628. Look out for are the Zwetschgenbaum. These well-loved figures are made from prunes! More than 350 different figures are available, not for consumption.
Located in Wenceslas Square, Republiky Square and the best one in the Old Town Square. The Old Town Square is worth visiting for just the atmosphere alone. You will find a gigantic Christmas tree fully dressed in lights and seasonal decorations. Underneath the tree there is a beautiful nativity scene, complete with live animals that children will especially enjoy. This market offers a program of entertainment which includes a mix of traditional Czech folk dancing and musical performances.
Cologne is on the Rhine River in Germany. The impressive is visible for miles around. The markets are front of the Cologne Gothic cathedral. Watch glassblowers making ornaments. The emphasis here is on offering quality, locally made products. Don’t miss the hot roasted chestnuts and the 82-foot Nordmann fir will proudly twinkle in the glow of 50,000 lights!
You will find an engaging mix of locally made handicrafts from Winter knitted fashions to leather goods, wooden toys and hand-painted ornaments. The city is famous for classical music. You can be sure to hear the bells ringing, local choirs singing and the sounds of “Salzburger Turmblasen” playing brass from the towers around the Residenzplatz.
A second Christmas market is in the courtyard of the beautiful Hellbrunn Palace. Hellbrunn was a location in the Sound of Music. 700 conifers embellished with 10,000 red baubles and fairy lights decorate the palace exterior, turning it into a magical wonderland. All Salzburg
This cobblestone village consists of half-timbered houses dating back to the 15th – 18th century complete with a 13th century “Dolder” or defensive gate. Now imagine this historic town sprinkled in a dusting of snow and illuminated with thousands of fairy lights and you have yourself a living Christmas card.
This market excels at traditional crafts and home-made gifts, children singing folk music and local acapella singers entertaining with Christmas songs. Don’t miss the wide variety of local delicacies to try. These include Loksa a dense salty pancake with roasted pork. Or perhaps goose wing in red wine sauce. Ciganska pecienka (Roma styled pork) is very popular as a snack on the go. It includes chicken or pork in a bun with onion and mustard. For the sweet tooth don’t miss the strudel with a cup of mead (honey wine), a sweet drink served hot to keep out the chill. The market usually runs from mid-November through until the end of December.
Note: All Christmas markets dates can change, please inquire. See the magic for yourself on this AmaWaterways Christmas cruise video
For more information about the Christmas market cruises and the delightful places they visit please contact Blue Danube Holidays
See the market information here: Budapest markets - Viennese Dream Christmas Market - Maria Theresien Platz Christmas Village and Market - Passau Christmas Markets - Strasbourg - Nuremberg - Prague - Cologne - Salzburg - Hellbrunn - Riquewihr - Bratislava
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