Wednesday, 16 March 2011 12:00 AM
If you're considering getting away for Christmas, why not choose to explore the amazing Belgian Christmas markets? Famed for delicious food, a festive atmosphere and fantastic gifts, they are the ideal destination for a seasonal break.
As soon as you board the train in London, your holiday can begin. And by taking Christmas holidays by train, you'll find you can relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the festive season in the UK. Indeed, on your rail journey to Belgium you will be able to simply sit back and let the world speed by, read a book, sleep or talk to your friends or family.
And when you arrive, you'll be refreshed and ready to start your holiday. Moreover, by taking escorted train holidays, not only will you be able to enjoy the simplicity of rail travel, but you will find all the little details of your getaway are sorted out for you – leaving you to worry about nothing but having a stress-free, fun break.
Belgium is well known for its fantastic Christmas markets, which boast an incredibly festive atmosphere. And you'll find that while the temperature is typically a little warmer here during the winter than other European countries, the spirit of Christmas is still strong.
There is a range of Christmas markets to go to and you'll find that you can pick the ones that interest you most. If you'd like to visit the largest markets in the country, however, you should head to Liege.
Boasting some 180 stalls, the market here sprawls between the Place Saint-Lambert and the Place du Marche. The air is suffused with the smells of the wonderful delicacies on offer, from chocolates and waffles to local specialist beers. Lit up with fairy lights, the market is charming to behold.
And while you're here, you may want to sample some of the lively nightlife on offer. There are a great number of pubs and bars catering to all kinds of tastes open until the early hours, which might be perfect for you if you're keen to embark on a little revelry during your Christmas trip.
If you would rather visit a smaller market, however, why not head to Bruges? Often referred to as the Venice of the North, this town is known for its extensive canal network.
Comprised of roughly 30 stalls, the market here offers wonderful traditional fare and delights the senses. Like the larger market in Liege, the stalls are decorated with fairy lights and you'll find the scent of cooking delicacies heavy on the air.
The stalls offer an excellent range of regional food and drink, so why not indulge in a little mulled wine or some special Belgian chocolates while you browse the gifts on offer?
Alternatively, you could visit the seasonal ice rink – something that may be particularly perfect if you are travelling with children or are on a romantic festive break with your partner.
And since there is also plenty of fine medieval architecture to be seen here, you'll find that you will never be short of things to do and see.
Over in Brussels, you'll find another market brimming with tasty treats and fabulous trinkets. Here you will be able to sample fantastic regional beers – including some that are not available anywhere else! Alternatively, why not sip some red wine or nibble famous Belgian waffles?
Meanwhile, this market boasts an ice rink too, so you'll be able to get out your skates once more and indulge in this incredibly fun, seasonal activity to your heart's content.
However, if you're eager to explore a little more of Brussels while you're visiting the market, you'll find that there is much to see. Alongside a selection of museums – such as one dedicated to the nation's comics – you'll find a fascinating medley of architecture. The medieval Grand Place is a particular must, while you can also see post-modern structures while you explore.
For the very best festive breaks, Christmas rail holidays cannot be beaten. Allowing you to travel in the most relaxing way, your rail adventure will take you to Belgium's very best markets. Tasty treats are a theme in all of these and you'll find your trip contains a constant feast of mulled wine, local beer and regional delicacies such as waffles and chocolate.