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Christmas on the Continent: Sail to Europe’s Best Festive Markets with P&O Ferries

(17 October 2019) As the clocks go back and the dark nights draw in, there is no better time to plan a festive getaway to one of the many Christmas markets Europe has to offer. From Bruges’ charming snow-dusted cobbled streets to off-the-beaten-track Dordrecht’s waterside winter wonderland, P&O Ferries has curated a list of the best markets to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit. All located within 90-minutes’ drive of the nearest port and with the advantage of no luggage restrictions, what better way to do all your Christmas shopping and naturally, sipping a glühwein as you go.

Bruges, Belgium

Rozenhoedkaai (c) Toerisme Brugge

If your wish is for a fairytale experience, look no further than the magical, medieval city of Bruges, only a 30-minute drive from the Port of Zeebrugge. With cobbled streets, fairy lights shimmering off foggy canals and horse-drawn carriages providing the setting, visitors can explore the city’s main Christmas market found in Grote Markt (22nd November – 5th January), complete with rustic wooden chalets selling a myriad of festive trinkets, an ice rink, and plenty of inviting cafés and chocolatiers in the surrounding streets.

Arras, France

(C)Arras Pays d’Artois Tourisme

Only an hour’s drive from Calais, atmospheric Arras boasts one of the best Christmas markets in the region (29th November – 30th December). Set in the town’s Grand Place, famous for its impressive baroque architecture, over 140 artisans sell their wares, from handcrafted wooden toys to festive ornaments and gourmet specialties. What’s more, the market is perfect for families, with an ice rink and toboggan slide, street performers and even an appearance from St Nicholas himself on 6th December, who will abseil down the town’s 75-metre high belfry before handing our treats in the Place des Héros.

Dordrecht, Netherlands

Dordrecht, City by the Water
(C) NBTC Holland Marketing

South of Rotterdam, Holland’s oldest city, Dordrecht is renowned for its Christmas market, located only a 40-minute drive from the port of Rotterdam. The market itself is made up of a 2.5km trail of vibrant stalls that weaves its way through the city’s historic centre and harbour, where traditional Dutch sailing ships are decked out with thousands of lights. Taking place over a long weekend (13th – 15th December), visitors can make the most of their visit by staying in neighbouring Rotterdam, travelling to the market by car (25 minutes) or by taking the more scenic waterbus (40 minutes).

Dublin & Galway, Ireland

Christmas Market & Lights Eyre Square, Galway
(c) Tourism Ireland

While the Ha’Penny Market runs every Saturday in Dublin’s iconic live music venue The Grand Social, its Christmas edition is well worth a visit from the end of November. Located just across the famous Ha’Penny Bridge, a mere 15-minute drive from Dublin’s port, the alternative market is packed with stalls selling quirky Christmas gifts, from handmade arts and crafts to vinyl records and vintage clothing.

For those with a sense of adventure, further afield on Ireland’s dramatic west coast is Galway, host to one of the country’s longest-running Christmas markets (15th November – 22nd December). As the European Capital of Culture 2020, now is the perfect time to visit the picturesque city ahead of the crowds, and explore its Christmas market filled with artisan crafts and seasonal foodie treats.

Sarah Rosier, Director of Passenger Sales at P&O Ferries, said: “Christmas on the continent always has such a special feeling, and with so many incredible destinations on our doorstep, what better way to get in the festive spirit than at one of the many charming Christmas markets Europe has to offer.

“With a myriad of routes and flexible, accessibly-priced ticket types, P&O Ferries allows passengers the freedom to travel by car, motorcycle, minibus, motorhome or even by foot. What’s more, there are no pesky luggage restrictions, so travellers can do as much Christmas shopping as they want, without having to worry about getting it all home.”

There are up to 23 sailings a day between Dover and Calais with P&O Ferries, which are 90 minutes in duration, giving flexibility to fit your schedule and ensuring a relaxing trip across the Channel. On board you’ll find a variety of eateries, including The Brasserie for an à la carte dining experience, as well as the Food Court, offering a full range of family favourite dishes. For those who want to travel in further comfort, spaces at the Club Lounge are bookable from just £12 per person.

Daily overnight crossings also operate from Hull to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. A range of comfortable cabin accommodation options, discount shopping and onboard entertainment await.

For more information, or to book a crossing, visit www.poferries.com.


For further information, please contact:

Harriet Bell, MSL – +44(0)7917525982
Rachel Sewell, MSL – +44(0)7515923183
Dan Bridgett, P&O Ferries – +44(0)1304 863308