Benelux: Christmas markets

European Christmas markets are colourful affairs with bright lights and Christmas trees, traditional and often locally made gifts, cakes and biscuits and, of course, mulled wine or something stronger to get everyone in the festive spirit.

Most are held in town squares and also have ice rinks and other attractions. The most famous market in Holland is underground, in caves beneath Valkenburg.

The markets are hugely popular with older couples as they make an easy three or four-night break, either on a coach holiday or river cruise.

Travelscope sales manager Tim Fleming said more Christmas tours have been added for 2007, especially to Valkenburg, the operator’s biggest seller.

He said: ‘This mainly appeals to the mature couples market. They like to see other peoples’ traditions and it’s a chance to sort out the Christmas presents.”

Over-55s specialist Grand UK Holidays offers a five-day Best of Belgium tour, which includes Ostend and two days in the Christmas markets in Bruges and Brussels from £269 per person half-boar.  It also offers a five-day tour to Valkenburg, which includes a morning excursion to Winterland in Maastricht from £269 half-board. Prices include coach and ferry travel and a tour manager.

Sales director Harold Burke said demand for the markets is increasing, with most bookings coming from regular clients.

He said: “They go for the atmosphere and the shopping. All our feedback shows Christmas markets are a nice experience and get people in the mood for Christmas.”

>> next page:  Christmas markets: Belgium

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.