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Christmas comes early


Our popular Christmas market cruises book up quickly, so now’s the perfect time to think about organising your festive fun

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen at Christmas

The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen transform into a winter wonderland during November and December

Imagine yourself wandering around the Christmas markets in chocolate-box Bruges, picturesque Amsterdam and impressive Hamburg, or strolling the Nordic winter wonderlands of Gothenburg, Oslo and Copenhagen, surrounded by the seasonal scents of mulled wine, roasted nuts, cinnamon treats and spiced biscuits…


On our Christmas market cruises, you can indulge in the joys of the season to your heart’s content. And with no luggage weight restrictions, there’s no worrying about how many festive trinkets and presents you can bring back. To get you in the mood, here’s a selection of our favourite cities for Christmas markets, and our pick of the top festive shore excursions.


Captivating Copenhagen

The Danish capital is buzzing with yuletide joy during the Christmas festivities. One of the treats of being in Copenhagen during the winter season is seeing the Tivoli Gardens transform into a winter wonderland. Opened in 1843, Tivoli is one of the oldest operating amusement parks in the world, as well as one of Copenhagen’s most famous sights. In November and December every year, the landscaped gardens, old-fashioned rides and gorgeous buildings are transformed into a stunning festive wonderland, with thousands of fairy lights, beautifully decorated trees and Christmas stalls selling traditional Danish goodies such as gløgg (Danish mulled wine) and pancakes.


Get in the season’s spirit with a selection of Christmas shore excursions in Copenhagen. Wrap up warm and soak up the festive cheer on the Tivoli Christmas Market shore excursion, or on The Nutcracker at Tivoli Gardens shore excursion (only available on Aurora’s R621 cruise) you will be transported to Christmas Eve in Copenhagen in the 1870s, where a little girl named Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree with her favourite gift in her hand – The Nutcracker.


With other festive shore excursions such as the Christmas Castles of Copenhagen and Christmas in Copenhagen, as well as the Christmas markets in the picturesque Nyhavn harbour area, you’ll be spoilt for yuletide choice.


Experience Christmas in Copenhagen on Aurora’s R621 cruise and Arcadia’s J620 cruise.


Picture-perfect Bruges

Wandering the colourful streets of Bruges, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. This city does Christmas well. The stepped gable roofs, picturesque canals and cobbled streets look like something out of a story book all year round. Add the twinkling fairy lights that adorn the city in the festive season, the mouth-watering smells of hot chocolate and waffles, the towering Christmas trees, icy canals and snowy streets – as well as the world-famous Christmas market, with its pretty wooden chalets selling gifts and food galore – and you have the perfect Christmas weekend break.


Join the Christmas Spirit in Bruges shore excursion and enjoy a guided walk through the ‘must-sees’ of the city: the Market Place with its merchant guild houses, the Belfry Tower, the Town Hall and the Gothic-style Chapel of the Holy Blood (exterior views only). Then browse the pretty stalls of the Christmas market, selling hand-made decorations, gifts, chocolates and tasty local delicacies, while watching ice skaters twirl around under the sparkling lights of the Christmas trees.


Make the most of the Belgian festivities with a jaunt to the capital. On the Christmas Spirit in Brussels shore excursion you’ll get the chance to see some of the city’s famous buildings such as the King Baudouin Stadium, the Royal Palace and the Grand Palace, as well as wander around the traditional Christmas market, where 220 wooden chalets offer a huge array of Christmas goods, craft products and delicacies. You can also take a trip on the Ferris wheel for fantastic views over the city.


This year, visit Bruges and Brussels (both from Zeebrugge) on Arcadia’s J617 cruise in November, Ventura’s N633 and N636 cruises in December, Oriana’s X623N cruise in December, Aurora’s R621 cruise in December, Arcadia’s J620 and J621 cruises in December.

‘The Singing Christmas Tree’ in Gothenburg

‘The Singing Christmas Tree’ in Gothenburg is one of the city’s most popular Christmas attractions

Gorgeous Gothenburg

Warm your cockles with a steaming glass of glögg (Swedish mulled wine) and sample local delicacies such as smoked sausages and reindeer meat as you wander the gorgeous festive stalls of Sweden’s largest Christmas market at Liseberg amusement park. Nicknamed the ‘Christmas City’, Gothenburg is full of festive cheer. With over five million fairy lights decorating the park, reindeer pulling sleighs, scents of toasted almonds, cinnamon buns and pine trees, and the yuletide delight of the market-goers, it’s a Christmas-lover’s delight.


On the Christmas City & The Singing Tree shore excursion you can experience a short panoramic tour of the ‘Christmas City’ as well as making a stop at ‘The Singing Christmas Tree’, one of Gothenburg’s most popular outdoor attractions. No, not a singing conifer tree – this is the city’s finest choir who, standing in the formation of a Christmas tree and dressed in festive colours, muster up seasonal cheer with an impressive array of carols.


A selection of Christmas shore excursions is available in Gothenburg. Log in to Cruise Personaliser  to see which ones are available on your cruise.


Soak up Gothenburg’s festive cheer on Arcadia’s J620 cruise this December.


Hanseatic Hamburg

Tradition and history combine at the wonderfully festive Christmas markets in Hamburg. The Town Hall Christmas market is filled with quaint stalls selling hand-made Christmas decorations and gifts. Look out for traditional decorations from the Erzgebirge region of Germany, and wooden creations from the Tyrol region made by local carpenters and craftsman. Try a traditional ‘printen’ cookie made by bakers from Aachen or some classic gingerbread from Nuremberg. Look out for Santa as he flies his sleigh over the rooftops of the market throughout the afternoon and evening.


The wonders of Christmas in Germany come to life on the Hamburg at Christmas shore excursion, where you’ll visit St Michael’s Church, the largest north German Baroque church and Hamburg’s main landmark. After a brief public sermon (in German), you’ll have the opportunity to listen to a short organ recital, followed by a guided tour of the gorgeous Town Hall Christmas market.


Experience Germany’s capital at Christmas on the Berlin at Christmas shore excursion from Hamburg. Not only will you see some of the city’s famous highlights (Potsdamer Platz, the remnants of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie, among others), you’ll also get the chance to wander in Berlin’s Christmas markets. With around 60 to explore, Berlin is the capital of festive markets.


Germany is the home of many Christmas traditions, and there is a wealth of festive shore excursions on offer during cruises to Hamburg. Log in to Cruise Personaliser to see which ones are available on your cruise.


This December you can sail to Hamburg on Aurora’s R621 cruise and Arcadia’s J621 cruise.


Find out more about all of our Christmas market cruises and shore excursions >