For me, Christmas begins as soon as I buy that first gift for a loved one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to start searching the aisles in September, but shopping for Christmas presents reminds me just how exciting the whole thing is going to be. Seeing friends, all of the family getting together, delicious food (and far too much of it) and general festive cheer makes Christmas my favourite time of year. However, I have got to the point where I’m now bored of my usual shops and in all honesty, the men in my life have enough socks and handkerchiefs, so for Christmas this year I’m championing the European Christmas Market as my ideal shopping destination. I’ve put together a list of our amazing Eurostar and Mini Cruise Christmas shopping havens and what each of them has to offer. Hopefully, this year’s gifts will be rather more exciting.
The ‘City of Love’ takes Christmas to the next level. One of the most romantic cities in the world guarantees to take it up a notch in winter and plays host to some of the most incredible Christmas markets in Europe. The streets look spectacular with an atmosphere like no other, creating an amazing, romantic mood you can’t help but fall for. It’s already my favourite city in the world, but a Eurostar Christmas break to Paris would send me weak at the knees. In a little over two hours you can be strolling around the streets, crepe in one hand and shopping bags in the other, looking for the perfect gifts. With its sparkling illuminations, wondrous smells and charming festive music, Paris has stolen my heart … and my Christmas savings!
If you enjoy Christmas, you will fall in love with Lille. From November 20th to December 30th, 83 wooden chalets line the streets of the quaint town in northern France, offering delicious festive food, arts & crafts and the most unique homemade gifts you could ever dream of. A stunning Ferris wheel turns in the main square which is transformed into a breathtaking winter wonderland, dominated by an 18-meter high Christmas tree. Shop windows compete to be the most original, and the 3900 shops in the city offer something for every taste and every budget. Our Lille Eurostar breaks can get you there in an hour and a half, meaning Christmas shopping heaven is within easy reach.
Easily my second favourite city in Europe, Amsterdam comes to life at Christmas time. Whether you’re seeking shopping inspiration, ice-skating fun, or just a sweet snack under the fairy lights, there are seasonal treats to be found both in and outside central Amsterdam. With traditional Christmas markets for gifts and toys to flower and food markets for those unique little stocking fillers, Amsterdam’s usual charm flourishes at this time of year. Make a full trip of it and take one of our Amsterdam Mini Cruise breaks! Once you get there I guarantee there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
There won’t be many settings more beautiful at Christmas than medieval Bruges, with an abundance of cobbled streets, historic buildings and horses and carts plodding by. A huge variety of illuminated Christmas Markets are located on Simon Stevin Plein and Markt Square, forming a ring around an open-air ice rink and creating a scene you’d expect from a big budget movie. Our Bruges Eurostar breaks can get you to this beautiful city in less than four hours, and with such stunning scenery along the way you’ll be there before you know it. Or, if you want to take an alternative Christmas break, our Bruges mini cruises are hugely popular at this time of year for those looking to escape the festive stress!
Brussels will hold its annual Winter Wonders in the heart of the city from 23rd November 2013 through to 1st January 2014. Hailed as ‘Europe’s most original Christmas market’ by British tour operators, the Christmas Market stretches over two kilometres. It includes stalls, chalets, attractions, activities and terraces, everything you could possibly need for the perfect festive experience. People come to enjoy the food and drink, stock up on delicacies for the holiday period and gifts for loved ones, or to buy a souvenir of this excellent event. As the route is located in the heart of the capital of Europe, visitors can discover the charms of Brussels in winter-time, not to mention the friendliness of its citizens and the numerous seasonal traditions of many other countries and cultures. Our Eurostar trips to Brussels will have you full of festive cheer in around 2 hours.
Are you visiting any of these destinations for your Christmas shopping?