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Festivals at sea


We don’t just call at the world’s most exciting places, we also time our visits so you can experience the best local celebrations

St Peter Port, Guernsey

St Peter Port, Guernsey

Liberation Day, St Peter Port

Occupied by German forces for almost five years during the Second World War, the residents of Guernsey were near starving when liberation came on 9 May 1945. Today, it’s still the biggest celebration on their calendar, with thousands gathering on the seafront to watch the Liberation Church Parade. This joyous celebration of freedom fosters a carnival atmosphere, with local schools participating in a relay race, and music, dance and other entertainment on the Crown and Albert Pier. The day ends with a dazzling firework display, which you can enjoy from the deck of Aurora.


Christmas on board

If Christmas always leaves you more frazzled than festive, we’ve got the winter break all wrapped up. On a Christmas cruise, you’ll find your ship beautifully decorated and enjoy a sumptuous Christmas dinner. There are presents for all guests, there's a local choir and we have entertainers singing off all departures. What's more, festive films are shown on the onboard cinemas and in-cabin TVs. Family-friendly ships will feature children’s parties and a visit from Santa, plus a gingerbread village created by our talented ship chefs.


Christmas market, Bruges

Journey to Belgium and experience the wonderful Christmas markets which take place in Bruges’s central square. Ice rinks, the warming scent of mulled wine and traditional wooden chalets selling artisan gifts will soon get you into the festive spirit. It’s also the perfect place to find unique gifts and to shop for indulgent Belgian chocolates – always a winning present!


Ólavsøka, Torshavn

Ancient Viking traditions survive to this day in the Faroe Islands, where their biggest summer festival marks the day that Løgting (the Faroese Parliament) begins its session. The name Ólavsøka means ‘Saint Olaf's Wake’, and is taken from the death of Saint Olaf at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030 – although it’s thought that these celebrations predate even that event. The party starts on 28 July with a procession, followed by dramatic boat races in the harbour in traditional wooden vessels.


New Year’s Eve in Hamburg, Madeira or Tenerife

There’s almost nothing better than watching fireworks reflected in water from the sophisticated comfort of the deck of a ship. Our New Year’s Eve cruises visit: Hamburg, where the celebrations are known as Silvester; Madeira, where the capital Funchal is decorated with thousands of glistening lights; and for those in the mood for a sandy stroll, there’s laid-back Tenerife. We can guarantee a New Year to remember on board a P&O Cruises ship.


National Day, Gibraltar

Balloons, flags and even people: Gibraltar turns almost completely red and white on 10 September in honour of National Day. The celebration begins with a fancy-dress competition for children and a street party in John Mackintosh Square, with music, dancing and a feast of traditional Gibraltarian food. But the most spectacular part of the day happens in the afternoon, when 30,000 red and white balloons (one for each member of the population) are released from the top of the Parliament building.


Photography: Getty