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Wonderful winter escapes for discerning travellers

19th October 2012 Print

Make the most of the colder months with a festive short break to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets or an unforgettable Northern Lights experience.

As dark evenings and cold mornings become an everyday occurrence for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s a decision to be made. Hibernate until spring, or seize the opportunity to indulge in everything that’s wonderful about this time of year. Specialist tour operator for discerning travellers, Kirker Holidays believes in making the very most of the winter months, fully embracing the season with
a tempting selection box of seasonal short breaks.

New for 2012, Kirker introduces Northern Lights itineraries, created to give clients the best possible opportunity of observing one of the natural world’s most spectacular phenomena, the Aurora Borealis. With solar conditions this winter promising to provide some of the best Northern Lights’ displays in recent memory, there has really never been a better time to tick this once-in-a-lifetime experience off your travel wish list.

Norway - Combine Norway’s cosmopolitan capital, Oslo, with an adventure north of the Arctic Circle on this superb five-night holiday. After two nights at the five-star Hotel Continental in Oslo, spend the next three in a converted fisherman’s cottage on the magical Lofoten Islands –
a superb location from which to spot the Northern Lights. As well as Aurora-hunting, there’s
a Lofoten Nature Safari and a visit to the Polar Light Centre to enjoy.
Price is from £2,170 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), transfers, accommodation with breakfast, evening meals on the Lofoten Islands and excursions.

Sweden – After two days in stylish Stockholm, sampling delicious local cuisine and browsing festive treats at the Christmas Market in Gamla Stan (the old town), a short flight takes Northern Lights seekers to the heart of Swedish Lapland for two nights at the iconic Ice Hotel. Snowmobiling, dog-sledding and reindeer sled rides across snow-covered landscapes await, as do very good odds on spotting stunning Aurora Borealis displays across the night sky.
Price is from £1,298 pp (two sharing) including all flights (international from London and internal from Stockholm), private car transfers, accommodation with breakfast and Kirker Guide Notes to restaurants and sightseeing in Stockholm.

Iceland – Perfectly located beneath the auroral oval, Iceland’s the ideal destination for a short winter break. From a comfortable four-star base at the Hotel Borg in Reykjavik, Kirker’s expert local guide escorts clients on a hunt for the Northern Lights, using local knowledge and weather reports to find the best areas for viewing. This five-night trip also includes a tour of Iceland’s Golden Circle by 4x4 ‘super jeep’ and two nights at the rurally-located Hotel Ranga, where open-air Jacuzzis offer a sublimely-decadent spot from which to await your very own aurora display.
Price is from £1,674 pp (two sharing) including flights, private car transfers, five nights’ accommodation with breakfast and excursions.

Another excellent reason to travel at this time of year is to take in one, or more, of Europe’s characterful Christmas Markets. Eschew the mass-produced trappings of the UK High Street and stock up on hand-crafted toys and decorations instead, interspersed with regular stops for delicious stollen cake or elaborately-iced gingerbread, washed down with warming mugs of hot chocolate or mulled wine.

Kirker Holidays offers competitively-priced short breaks to 14* of Europe’s finest festive fayres, from Brussels to Budapest and Krakow to Cologne. First to open its Christmas Market this year is Copenhagen (on 16 November) while Tallinn keeps the seasonal spirit alive longest, finally shutting up shop in the city’s mediaeval Town Hall Square on 8 January.**

Each of Kirker’s Christmas Market breaks includes flights or Eurostar, private transfers (except Bruges), accommodation with breakfast, Kirker’s guide notes to restaurants, museums and sightseeing, and the services of the Kirker Concierge to book concert tickets, expert local guides or a table for dinner. Prices start from £359 pp for a three-night break to Tallinn, staying at the four-star superior Hotel
St Petersbourg in the heart of the old town.

Special offer: Book a Eurostar-based itinerary by 31 October and receive a complimentary upgrade to Standard Premier (first class) for travel between 1 November and 31 December. Combine this with one of the free night offers also available from Kirker Holidays during the Christmas Market season for a welcome saving that can be put towards extra festive goodies or an indulgent meal at one of Kirker’s recommended restaurants.

For example, enjoy three nights for the price of two at Bruges’ four-star deluxe De Tuilerieen hotel -from £399 pp, saving £120 (valid for Sunday – Thursday stays). Or save £106 pp on a three-night stay at the four-star superior Carlton Hotel in Lille, where the city’s Place Rihour hosts Northern France’s largest Christmas Market from 21 November until 30 December. Price is from £399 pp during November and December (excludes 7-9 December).

Renowned for its cultural credentials, Kirker Holidays’ expert team can also create a short break that combines ample Christmas shopping opportunities with an opera or ballet performance at one of Europe’s most prestigious venues. Aïda at Prague’s State Opera House, La Bohème at Munich’s Bayerische Staatsoper, The Magic Flute at Stockholm’s Opera House and Madama Butterfly at the Copenhagen Opera House are among the myriad options available, as is The Nutcracker – a perennial festive favourite for which tickets can be included (subject to availability) in Kirker’s Christmas Market packages to Budapest, Prague, Stockholm and Vienna.

Alternatively, escape Christmas in the UK altogether and head to the Austrian capital, where Kirker’s five-night ‘Christmas in Vienna’ escorted holiday promises a comprehensive programme of sightseeing - with visits to the city’s finest museums and galleries - as well as two performances at Vienna Staatsoper: The Nutcracker and Ariadne auf Naxos. Departing 23 December, the price of £1,896 pp (two sharing) includes flights (London – regional departures available), transfers, accommodation with breakfast at the four-star K&K Palais hotel, Christmas lunch and three dinners, one opera and one ballet performance, and the services of a Kirker tour lecturer.

Or why not give the pleasure of a Kirker short break to a loved one this Christmas? The ideal present for discerning travellers, Kirker gift vouchers can be tailored to any value and sent either direct to the desired recipient or to the purchaser, accompanied by a copy of one or more of Kirker’s holiday brochures.

*Kirker’s 2012 Christmas Markets brochure offers tailor-made short breaks to the following European cities: Berlin, Bruges, Brussels, Budapest, Cologne, Copenhagen, Lille, Krakow, Munich, Prague, Salzburg, Stockholm, Tallinn and Vienna.

**Please note that Christmas Market dates are subject to change.

For further information, to order Kirker gift vouchers or for a copy of the 2012 Christmas Markets brochure or Northern Lights leaflet, visit