Europe

Christmas Tours

written by | Posted on September 1st, 2010

In France, Trafalgar Tours packages Christmas in Paris, where traditional markets, with their iconic clusters of wood chalets, offer holiday treats such as mulled wine, ginger bread, sausages and specialties from various regions, along with toys, clothing and other gift items. While Paris lights up elegantly for Christmas—the Champs Elysees twinkles with lights from late November until January—only during this season will merry-go-rounds appear in every arrondissement; the Christmas Creche be on view at the oldest (6th to 11th century) church in Paris, the pretty Eglise St. Germain des Pres; or the cobbled courtyard of the Hotel de Ville, which will be flooded and frozen for ice skating. Trafalgar offers the 7-night Christmas in Paris Superior, priced at $999 pp dbl, land only; and Christmas in Paris, a 7-night tour priced from $850. Additionally, the operator combines London and Paris for an escorted 8-night package, priced at $1,398 pp dbl. All tours are escorted and include a choice of three- and four-star accommodations, breakfast, sightseeing in the city and countryside. Travelers (ages 5-11) save 10 percent off tours, and triple room discounts are also available.

Trafalgar also offers An English Christmas for six nights priced at $1,025. And what better place to spend the holidays than London, home of plum pudding, mulled wine, Tiny Tim and Father Christmas. Aside from all of the holiday activities and decorations, clients bound for London can enjoy the historic sites like Somerset House, the Tower of London and Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace—all with ice-skating rinks in play for the season. Throughout December, a section of Hyde Park is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with fairground rides, a giant wheel, circus, food and drink stands, a chance to visit Santa’s Grotto and a Christmas market. In early December, clients will find the Christmas Craft Fair at the Alexandra Palace in north London where Britain’s top craftspeople display, demonstrate, and sell their crafts. And all during the holiday season, Trafalgar Square is one of the best places to hear carolers serenading nightly around the giant tree, while the River Thames sets the scene for spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks.

TourCrafters has designed a 7-night Christmas Special in Rome, and the company points out that scrambling around ancient ruins, climbing to the top of church domes, searching for gladiators, visiting the Santa Maria Maggiore Church, where the earliest known nativity was created in AD 1300—Rome with kids can be a blast. During the holiday season (early December through Epiphany on Jan. 6) Rome is aglow. Piazza Navona is transformed into a huge Christmas market, with a merry-go-round, huge nativity scene, and Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) on hand; and Saint Peter’s Square, where the Pope delivers his Christmas message at noon on Christmas day, has the largest tree, and welcomes a colorful parade on Dec. 13 to honor Santa Lucia. Of course any time of year, the Colosseum probably tops the list of sights for adults and kids alike, along with the catacombs along the Old Appian Way. Musts are visiting the Explora Children’s Museum, and stopping for pizza and holiday sweets everywhere. The tour package includes transfer on arrival, accommodations with breakfast, half-day sightseeing tour of ancient Rome, free gelato at gourmet Gelateria in Via Cavour, Christmas lunch, a 2-day pass for Hop On & Off, entrance tickets to “3-D Rewind, Vatican Museum” tour, and 8th night free at some hotels. Cost pp dbl in a three-star hotel is $885; in a choice of four-star hotels from $965, and in a five-star hotel, $1,745; triple and quad room rates available. Departures are scheduled Dec. 18 to 21.