Leger Holidays annual Awards & Christmas Party 2018

Our annual Awards and Christmas Party

On the 18th November, Leger head office staff were joined at the Sitwell Golf Club in Rotherham by our coach crews and battlefield guides to get into the Christmas spirit.

And, yes… we know what you’re thinking, Christmas in November?! With many of our coach crews whisking you lovely lot off to the Christmas markets and on your festive escapes throughout December, we had to get in their diaries early!

But, it’s all for good reason, as this year, we’ve combined our Christmas party with our annual Drivers Awards, as well as our Battlefield Guide Award and awards for our Head Office staff.

Our awards recognise the hard work put in from our staff across all operations of the business, and whilst every member of staff is invaluable in providing our customers with the best experiences on a Leger holiday, there could only be a handful of winners. So, without further ado… he’s our big winners of the night.

Driver of the Year

Awarded for driving ability, excellent destination knowledge, high levels of customer service and commitment to their role.

In third place…

Driver of the Year 3rd place - Mike Brannan
Driver of the Year 3rd place – Mike Brannan

Mike Brannan

Coming in second place…

Driver of the Year 2nd place - John Doyle
Driver of the Year 2nd place – John Doyle

John Doyle

And our 2018 Driver of the Year is…

Driver of the Year 1st place - Nana
Driver of the Year 1st place – Nana

Nana


Coach Crew of the Year

Awarded to crews who have demonstrated outstanding levels of teamwork, excellent customer rapport and a positive approach to their tours.

In third place…

Coach Crew of the Year 3rd place - Mike & Keiron
Coach Crew of the Year 3rd place – Mike & Keiron

Mike & Keiron

In second place…

Coach Crew of the Year 2nd Place - Pete & Sandra
Coach Crew of the Year 2nd Place – Pete & Sandra

Pete & Sandra

And, drum roll please… our Coach Crew of the Year for 2018 is…

Coach Crew of the Year 1st Place - Nana & Leah
Coach Crew of the Year 1st Place – Nana & Leah

Nana & Leah


We’re always thrilled to hear how our coach crews have such a positive impact on your holidays and the Coach Crew Awards are always very close. There are a number of crews who have also had an excellent year who were also acknowledged with the Coach Crew Special Recognition Award. The following crews were named for this special accolade:

Paul & Lisa

Adam & Paul

Steve & Danny

Tony & John

Ivo & Dean


Driver Newcomer of the Year

This award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in their role, demonstrating initiative, enthusiasm and aptitude in their first season of driving for Leger.

And the winner is…

Driver Newcomer of the Year - Danny Wilson
Driver Newcomer of the Year – Danny Wilson

Danny Wilson


Battlefield Guide Award

Our Battlefield Guides offer such a diverse wealth of knowledge and experience, and each of them shine in their own light. Our Battlefield Guide Award not only focuses on the a guide’s outstanding knowledge and commitment, but also acknowledges an individual who has demonstrated great compassion and empathy, as well as going above and beyond their role, assisting passengers in difficult circumstances.

The winner of the award is…

Battlefield Guide Award – David Warren

David Warren


Employee of the Year

It’s not very often you get to see the faces behind the operations at Leger HQ, but their work certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. From piecing together our intricate itineraries, to the minute-by-minute timings of your holiday, from the staff members who answer your phone calls, to those who produce the brochures you so eagerly await dropping on your door mat, our head office is a hive of activity, and for the first time, this hard work has been recognised in the award ceremonies.

Awarded to the employees who have shown enthusiasm and initiative in tasks over and above their day-to-day roles and responsibilities, here is the run-down for our prestigious Employee of the Year award…

In third place…

Employee of the year 3rd place - Danny Leeming
Employee of the year 3rd place – Danny Leeming

Danny Leeming, Operations Executive

In second place…

Employee of the Year 2nd place - Caroline Thorpe
Employee of the Year 2nd place – Caroline Thorpe

Caroline Thorpe, Head of Branding and Creative

And our winner for 2018…

Employee of the year 1st place - Paul Reed
Employee of the year 1st place – Paul Reed

Paul Reed, Head Battlefield Guide


Long Service Award

Awarded for loyalty and commitment to the business, this award recognises the milestone of 25 years of continuous employment with Leger Holidays.

Long Service Award - Susan Porter
Long Service Award – Susan Porter

Susan Porter, Reservations Executive

There are also a number of staff members who hit their milestone of 20 years of continuous employment with Leger this year. Congratulations and thank you to:

Lisa Thompson, Customer Relations Executive

Lisa Taylor, Senior Product Executive

Cheryl Hamilton, Product Executive

Caroline Thorpe, Head of Branding and Creative

Tracey Dodds, Pre-Travel Team Executive

Deborah Harris, Reservations Executive

Rachel Steel, Accounts Executive

Ben Hancock, Operations Executive

Danny Leeming, Operations Executive

Julie Richardson, Reservations Manager

Joanne Risdale, Flight Co-ordinator and Reservations Executive

Craig Rattigan, Senior Developer

Andrew Parkin, Creative Manager


Newcomer of the Year

And from the long-standing staff members to those making waves in their first year of employment for Leger Holidays. Our winner for 2018 is…

Newcomer of the Year - Katie Weale
Newcomer of the Year – Katie Weale

Katie Weale, Web Design Manager


And, with the formalities over for the evening, it was time for everyone to let their hair down and party the night away!

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

Leger Christmas Party 2018
Leger Christmas Party 2018

We’d like to say a huge thank you to PA Entertainments, and the brilliant Undercovered Band who provided the entertainment for the evening.

With another fantastic year almost under our belts, we’d like to say thank you to you all for your continued support,
and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Christmas Holidays: The Beauty of Escaping it All

Set the scene of Christmas… big family dinners, drinks with your nearest and dearest, festive cheer to set you up for the next year.

What you don’t see on these picture-perfect Christmas cards and in the adverts for this years’ must-have gadgets, is the stress, the expenditure and the mountains of washing up.
For some people, that first chorus of this year’s Christmas carol bombardment fills them with dread. If this is you, we’ve got some advice… it’s time to take back Christmas!
Forget about the sprouts and put down the turkey baster… this year, it’s all about you!

Escape the Country


The odds for a white Christmas might leave you more likely to win the lottery, but winter scenery is within reach.
Sure, we can’t predict snow, but the Swiss Alps and the Italian Dolomites will give you that winter cosiness that every traditional Whovillan wishes for.
Snow-capped peaks, outstanding natural beauty and a chill in the air, the first gift of Christmas away from home is certainly the change of scenery.

Be Looked After


Forget about being the people pleaser, and the ‘who wants trifle, who wants pudding’ fiasco, you can have everything taken care of for you.
Your days expertly planned to maximise your experiences whilst you’re away. Like, a ride on the Swiss Glacier Express or just a Boxing Day stroll around Rome.
You also don’t have to worry about cooking, as all of our Christmas breaks have a festive dinner included. Yum!

Be Around Like-Minded People


You certainly don’t have to be lonely at Christmas. The great thing about escorted tours is that you’re around people who have the same love for travel as you do!
And, if you’re all enjoying Christmas away together, then you’ve all got something in common.
Our Single Traveller Christmas holidays offer a great way to surround yourself you great people, and the best part of all is that there is no single supplement!

Treat Yourself


When was the last time you put yourself first? We all do it, whether it’s work, family or friends, the easiest option is to satisfy others before yourself.
So, why not treat yourself at Christmas? And, we may be biased, but is there any better present than the gift of travel?
Ticking destinations off your bucket list, sightseeing in some of Europe’s most impressive cities – and, when there’s less crowds to stifle your views – a Christmas getaway could be just what Santa ordered.

Something for the Inner Scrooge


Maybe, you’re just not a Christmas person. And that’s perfectly okay! You are allowed to walk away from the cold weather and family gatherings, because this is about you.
In fact, the ultimate treat for the self-professed scrooge could well be a Spanish fiesta! Swap the sprouts for sangria, sit back, relax and enjoy the Spanish Coast.
There’s nothing wrong with a real winter warmer, after all.
 
If the thought of all this and more sounds like just what the doctor ordered, it’s not too late to book your Christmas getaway. Click here for more information.

Five Fun Festive Facts for Christmas

Are you a Christmas connoisseur or a New Year know-it-all? Why not test your elf-like skills this Christmas and indulge in a little festive trivia to impress at the dinner table…

1. Did you know that the very first Christmas market took place all the way back in 1298?

Vienna is the place where the December market first saw the light.  Little did they know that the European Christmas Markets would become a tradition that is still going strong centuries later.

2. Austrians pull out all the stops when it comes to celebrating New Year.

At the stroke of midnight all church bells throughout Austria ring and in major cities people see in the New Year by dancing in the streets to the tune of the famous Blue Danube Waltz.

3. Delicious warm Glühwein is ever present at the European Christmas markets. 

It is made using red wine, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lemon or orange zest.  And did you know you can keep the mug as a souvenir?!

4. Turkeys are safe in Germany at Christmastime! 

A roast goose is the traditional dish served and is often filled with apples, dates, chestnuts, onions, and/or prunes.  It is also common to stuff the goose with a meat or dough filling.

5. In Italy Christmas gifts are not exchanged until the day of Epiphany on January 6th

Children hang up their stockings, so that ‘la befana’, an old lady, can bring them presents and her arrival is celebrated by eating traditional sweet Christmas cake known as panettone.
 
For a fun-filled festive experience try one of our Christmas Market or Festive Breaks.  We have a superb collection of fully escorted tours and short breaks to choose from. Visit www.leger.co.uk
 
 

Christmas Markets: ‘Tis (almost) the Season

As the old Wizard track goes, we really do wish it could be Christmas every day. There’s just something about the cold winter nights, the twinkling lights and the smell of roasting chestnuts filling the air.

While we seem to be heading through this year at colossal speed, it does give us one thing that we can really start to look forward to… Christmas market season!
Yes, before we know it, we’ll be gearing our coaches up to send them on their merry way into the continent, taking all of our lovely passengers to their exciting holidays visiting the best Christmas markets.
But, if you’re still looking for a trip to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, here’s where our Christmas markets by coach and air will be heading in 2016.

Germany

Berlin Christmas Markets
Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas market season without a great selection of German markets. Big cities and twinkling lights, from Berlin to Cologne, you can really get the traditional Christkindlmarkt experience.
Dipping into the lesser known destinations, we’ll visit the markets of the Rhine Valley and the small yet perfectly formed resorts such as Monschau.
With plenty of Glühwein, stollen and steins, even Berlin’s toboggan run, there’s heaps of fantastic festive fun to be found in Germany.

Austria

Salzburg Christmas Markets
The Austrian lake district, Innsbruck and of course, Salzburg. We’re ticking off all of the top destinations in Austria.
Whilst Austria shares many traditions with its Bavarian neighbour, one thing you can count on is the romance of it all. The picturesque settings of the small towns can easily outweigh the big city buzz if you’re after something more cosy and scenic for you and your partner.
Even if you’re heading out to the markets solo, with so much to enjoy and the abundance of Christmas spirit, you certainly won’t feel lonely.

Belgium

Bruges Christmas Market
The master of beer and chocolate, enjoy some tasty festive treats and say hello to beautiful Belgium. From picturesque Bruges to the heart of Brussels, stay in style as you combine the most popular Belgian Christmas markets with 5-star luxury hotels!
We’ve even got you covered if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten track, heading to Ypres and the underground cave markets of Valkenburg.
So, get your hands on some jenever (gin), Glühwein, and some tasty deep fried sweet dumplings, oliebollen, and get into the true spirit of Christmas in Belgium.

Denmark

Copenhagen Christmas Market
Fancy some Danish flavouring this Christmas? We’ll also be heading off to Copenhagen’s fabulous Christmas markets, including the picturesque Tivoli Gardens, set in the downtown area of Denmark’s capital city. The gardens will be host to a true Nordic atmosphere with wooden huts, Christmas lights and even Father Christmas’ reindeer.
With spectacular illuminations and Danish treats aplenty, it’s the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy the festive atmosphere with a mug of spiced grogg.
But, that’s not all! See where else we will be heading this festive season, all of our Christmas market tours by coach are available to book now. Click here for more info.

Strange Christmas Traditions From Around the World

It’s the weekend before Christmas and whilst those of us that leave everything to the last minute will be flustered with panic, others, who are slightly more prepared, will be relaxing into the festive feeling – It’s tradition!

Christmas is one of those times of year where we love to stick to tradition, whether it be your usual yule tide traditions or your special family traditions, we just can’t seem to get enough of tradition.
And, it’s still the same, all around the world. So, to help you get into the cheery festive spirit, we’ve put together some of the strange Christmas traditions around the world – There could be some great Christmas crackers for the dinner table.
 

Sweden

In 1966, a 13-metre tall goat was built in the town square of Gavle, completely made out of straw. As the clock struck midnight on Christmas Eve, the goat burst into flames.
It became a tradition of the town to rebuild the goat every year, but that didn’t stop the vandals from burning it down. By 2011, the goat had met its maker 25 times!
The burning of the Gavle Goat became such a regular occurrence, in 1998, bookmakers started to take bets for its survival.
 

Russia

In the days of the Soviet Union, Christmas wasn’t celebrated much throughout Russia as New Year was the far more important time.
Now, Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January. The Orthodox Church more importantly celebrates advent, starting on the 28th November right up until the 6th of January, making it a whopping 40 days long. And people say Christmas starts earlier and earlier.
 

Croatia

Well, it does in Croatia. Preparations for Christmas starts on the 25th of November! The 25th is St Catherine’s Day, and celebrate a further two Saint’s Days throughout December.
On St Nicholas’ Eve, the 5th December, children clean their shoes and boots and leave them in the window in the hope St Nicholas will leave chocolates and sweets in them.
And, just one more, there’s an old Croatian tradition that young men gave their girlfriends a decorated apple at Christmas – and we’re not talking a fancy computer.
 

Finland

Quite a large number of Finnish families have their own sauna, and there’s an ancient tradition related to their beloved steam room.
On Christmas Eve, the Sauna will be warmed up for a spot of relaxation before heading out for the festivities of the evening. However, you have to be out by sunset as it’s believed that the spirits of dead ancestors came to bathe in the Sauna when the skies turn dark.
There’s also said to be an elf that lives inside each sauna – The saunatonttu. It is customary for people to bring a drink into the sauna in Finland, whether beer or fruit juice, to pour a little onto the floor in honour of the saunatonttu.
 

Catalonia

In Spain’s province of Catalonia, there’s a Christmas character called Tió de Nadal, or The Christmas Log. It’s a small, hollow log, propped up on two legs with a smiling face painted one end.
From the 8th December, the date of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, families give the log food to ‘eat’ and a blanket to keep it warm and on Christmas day, people will sing songs and hit the log with sticks to aid its ‘digestion’ as the log drops sweets, nuts and dried fruits.
The log can also go by the name of Caga (pronounced caca) Tio – From the above description, we’ll let you figure out what that means.
 

Czech Republic & Slovakia

Some people dread the thought of a Christmas being grilled about their love life – others love the opportunity to ask about a loved one’s love life. Well, in Czech Republic and Slovakia, there’s a tradition to help with that.
On Christmas day, you stand with your back towards the door and throw a shoe over your shoulder.
If the shoe lands with the toe pointing at the door, well, congratulations, you’re going to get married soon. However, there’s no indication as to how long you will be waiting, so there may be a few more years of the dating inquisition.
 

China

In China, only around 1% of the population are Christian, so most people will know few things about Christmas. It’s only really celebrated in the big cities, however, these big cities treat Christmas just like us with lights, decorations and Christmas Trees.
A tradition that is becoming popular on Christmas Eve is giving apples, and once again, we’re not talking flashy computers. There must be some meaning behind this, right? Well, Christmas Eve in Chinese is ‘Ping An Ye’, and the Chinese for Apple is ‘Ping Guo’, and because they sound similar, this is the tradition.
 

And, what does Santa get up to on the run up to Christmas?

Well, you may think he’s in his workshop, however, he’s been tracked down by his personal postcode, H0H0H0 (with zeros). This postcode directs the letters to Santa, the kind that bypass parents, to Canada.
Whilst these used to end up undelivered, as there was no centralised address for Santa, now, thousands of Canada Post volunteers have been helping Santa reply to millions of letters ever year in different languages, including Braille!
 

Whatever you will be doing this year and wherever you will be, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you all in 2016.

If you’re wanting to experience Christmas around Europe, click here to see where we can take you in 2016.
 

Taking back Twixmas – The Perfect Time for a European Escape

Bruges at Twixmas

All that build up to Christmas day and it feels like it’s over before you’ve even had chance to finish off your Christmas Pudding. Then, you’re faced with mountains of washing up, turkey leftovers to feed you for a week and a whole array of TV repeats you don’t miss from the nineties. Welcome to Twixmas.

Yes, it sounds like a chocolate bar, and whilst there may be a lack of gold wrapping, Twixmas can prove to be just the treat you were looking for.
Traditionally starting on the 27th December right through to New Year, it covers the time in which plenty of people venture out of the house for a spot of sale shopping. But, if that’s not your thing, how about a European escape?
Now is the time to take back Twixmas! Here, we’ve pulled together our top adventures to spend your Twixmas in style.

Cruising the Rhine Valley

Spend Twixmas in Cologne
What better way to shake off that Christmas hangover than setting sail on a relaxing river cruise down the beautiful Rhine Valley of Germany?
From the quaint towns of Rudesheim and Koblenz to the stunning Cologne, you certainly won’t be left longing for the Christmas soap re-runs. In fact, if you’ve received a new camera for Christmas, there certainly some sights to behold here.
The Gothic architecture and the sweeping river views are certainly a sight for sore and bleary eyes – or, of course, you could take in the hair of the dog in one of Cologne’s 3000 pubs, cafes and restaurants. The German’s certainly produce some great beer.

Hop into Holland

valkenburg-1523
Visiting Valkenburg throughout Twixmas can offer you some fantastic activities worth leaving the house for.
With its quaint cobbled alleyways, you have a chance to dive into the shops and spend any left-over Christmas money on treats for yourself. How about a lovely meal in one of the many restaurants and bars?
You can even take a stroll around the stunning castle garden of “Kasteeltuin Oud-Valkenburg” and visit the castle mill whilst you’re there.
If you fancy some time out of the daylight on street level, head underground into the Roman catacombs taking a candlelit tour around the underground network of 2000-year-old caves.

Twixmas Treats in Bruges

bruges-12471
Christmas doesn’t have to be over, not when it comes to indulging, anyway. With plenty of flavoured beers and that oh-so-delectable Belgian chocolate to tuck in to, there’s plenty to enjoy in Bruges.
This pretty town has plenty of stunning sights to see, and how better to see them than from a horse and cart? Head over to the Markt Square where your chariot will await.
Plus, you can take a look around the famous chocolate factory Choco-Story, take a boat tour of the canal or rest your feet with a selection of tasty flavoured draught beers in the Beer Wall pub.

Picture Perfect Prague

czech republic prague, charles bridge at dawn
Take a trip into historical Prague. There’s plenty of Iconic sights to see such as the Prague Castle, the Old Town Hall and the famous Astronomical Clock.
It’s also the perfect place to get snappy, head over to the Charles Bridge to get some stunning photographs of the city.
If you’re up for a bit of fun, head over to the mirror maze on Petra­n Hill, the “Hall of Laughter” should do the trick of relieving those post-Christmas blues.
Did you know: The term ‘Twixmas’ actually comes from the old English phrase ‘Betwix’ that means the middle position.
There’s still time to book your perfect Twixmas break, take a look at our range of Twixmas tours, here.

How much time do we spend on Christmas?

How much time to do dedicate to Christmas? Leger Holiday’s research reveals Brits spend an average of 1.5 years preparing for the big day in our lifetime!

Christmas is the most important time of year for us Brits. Over half of us claim they spend too much time getting organised for Christmas, with almost a quarter of people admitting that they find Christmas stressful. Take a look at our infographic below to find out what our main bug-bears are during the festive period.

Of course, Christmas is still a magical time for most, as 89 per cent of people still admit to getting caught up in the festive spirit, even more so for the 6 per cent who deliberately extend their holiday preparation over the whole year, beginning Christmas preparations in January!
One way to get wrapped up in the festive spirit is to head to one of Europe’s fantastic Christmas Markets. From Mulled Wine to tasty local delicacies, you can even pick up unique gifts for your loved ones, really take the stress out of the run up to Christmas.
Legerlogostleger

The Inside Guide To Europe's Christmas Markets

Berlin Christmas Market

Welcome to all the Christma-holics, the festive fanatics and the yule-tide yea-sayers! We’re now under 100 days until the big day and here at Leger HQ, we’re in the festive mood already, preparing for our annual Christmas Market pilgrimages.

With a fantastic selection of new and popular tours – we’re even sending our brand new, luxury coach, Luxuria, off on some jolly journeys across the continent – we can’t wait to get your journeys started.
So, in the midst of our festive excitement, we’ve put together our inside guide to the fabulous markets of Europe. Whether it’s your first time, or you’re just looking for the perfect experience, here’s our guide to the perfect places to suit you.

First Timer -Bruges

Fancy trying out the Christmas Market experience for the first time? You want twinkling fairy lights, traditional wooden stalls and picturesque scenery, right?
A great choice for any first-time visitor is Bruges, especially if you’re looking for fairy tale yule-tide escape. With a cosy Christmas atmosphere, it’s the perfect location to get a taste of everything you’d expect from a festive market.
With an impressive ice rink in the centre of the famous market square, you can skate up an appetite for some delicious Belgian treats. From waffles to local beers, there’s plenty to keep those cheeks rosy as you experience everything this fascinating market has to offer.

A Romantic, Christmas Market Break – Salzburg

OK love bugs, here’s one for you. Thinking about that romantic escape? You and your significant other, enjoying the Christmas period just like in the rom-coms? Find your picture perfect scene in Salzburg.
Mentioned as far back as the 15th century, with stalls set around a stunning, baroque cathedral, there is a magical air around the markets as the fairy lights twinkle and the smell of roasted almonds and mulled wine fill the air in the city of Mozart.
You can even top it off with a romantic horse and cart ride through the charming Old Town, who said romance was dead?

The Bigger the Market, The Better – Cologne

If you want to visit multiple markets in a large city, Cologne has exactly what you’re looking for.
The city has an impressive 8 markets! Some of which are amongst the biggest in the whole of Germany. There’s even a floating market on the River Rhine.
With the main market set in the shadow of the magnificent Cologne Cathedral and others set in its picturesque old town, whether you’re there for the scenery the experience or just something different, it may sound rather cliché, but, there really is something for everyone.

Excellent for Restricted Mobility Access – Erfurt

If you’re looking for an easily accessible market, if you have mobility problems or require the use of a wheelchair, Erfurt could be perfect place for you.
Erfurt Christmas market contains an accessible infrastructure meaning it is accessible and enjoyable to everyone!
With a huge candle-lit Christmas tree and more than 200 wooden huts flanked by half-timbered houses, the atmosphere here could only be beaten by one in a certain grotto in the north…Unless the elves are having a bad day.

Something For The Whole Family – Dresden

If you’re wishing to share the experience with the whole family, Dresden offers a fantastically fun experience for young, old and everything in-between.
With elves’ houses, a children’s bakery and a grotto for the big guy himself, there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained and with plenty of mulled wine, local beers and shopping opportunities on offer, there’s plenty for the adults to enjoy too.

A Market Off The Beaten Track – Wurzburg

Some people fancy heading somewhere a bit more niche, off the beaten track so to speak. If this is you, try Wurzburg.
Smaller than its German cousins, Wurzburg’s main market hosts around 100 stalls offering regional produce and food.
There’s also a small Artists’ Christmas Market over the weekends on the run-up to Christmas, with more than 40 artists selling jewellery, hand-made teddy bears and jam to name a few.

A Christmas Market For Delicious Local Delicacies – Freiburg

If you’re a lover of all things tasty, then Freiburg is one to enjoy. Set in Germany’s Black Forest, you’re in a haven for some Black Forest Gateau.
There’s plenty more sweet treats on offer too, from ginger cake to nicely decorated biscuits. If you’re looking to re-fuel, there’s a whole host of delicious hearty meals on offer as well as some tasty local snacks such as the potato pancakes, Kartoffelpuffer.
But, maybe more importantly, there’s a wide selection of mulled wines and punches, a perfect accompaniment to the food on offer at this fantastic market.
With so many fantastic Christmas Markets in Europe, it’s hard to choose where you want to head off to next. Are there any that have caught your eye this year? Check out our full list of Market tours, here.

The truth about the Christmas Truce

It was the war that was meant to be over by Christmas. In 1914, 5 months into WWI an end was far from in sight. However, on 24th December an unofficial temporary truce was agreed along the Western Front. Soldiers from opposing sides laid down their guns and celebrated Christmas together.

This year, possibly more than ever, the Christmas truce of 1914 has struck a chord with the nation. Featuring on TV adverts, being widely talked about in the press, even a memorial statue for the much debated game of football in Flanders Field, Belgium, was unveiled earlier this month by Michel Platini, president of UEFA.
What happened on that day has become one of the most famous and mythologised events of the war. With stories of carols, swapping of treasured items and, of course, the famous game of football between the British and the Germans, it has become a wonderful example of humanity. Whilst we may not be able to piece together an exact account of what happened on this momentous day, we do have a clear idea of specific events that make the Christmas Truce of 1914 one of the most heart-warming stories in British History.
Late on Christmas Eve 1914, following the first air raid in British History after a German aeroplane dropped a bomb on the town of Dover, the British Infantry were astonished to see Christmas trees and paper lanterns lining the German trenches. Carols were sung and eventual communication between both sides began.
Whilst ‘Silent Night’ has become synonymous with the Christmas Truce, soldiers have documented in letters home that it was in fact ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ that encouraged both sides began to sing in harmony.
Whilst a truce was largely observed, not all of the Western Front adhered, fighting was on-going in certain areas and deaths were recorded on Christmas Day. Soldier Pat Collard, for instance, wrote to his parents, describing a horrendous Christmas under fire, concluding: “Perhaps you read of the conversation on Christmas Day between us and the Germans. It’s all lies. The sniping went on just the same; in fact, our captain was wounded, so don’t believe what you see in the papers.”
At first light on Christmas Day, a number of German soldiers emerged from their trenches and began to approach their enemies calling out ‘Merry Christmas’ in their native tongue. Wary that this could be a trick, the British stayed in their trenches. Soon realising their enemies were unarmed they climbed out of their trenches to join them halfway in No Man’s Land to exchange handshakes.Christmas truce handshake
Rifleman J. Reading, writing to his wife about the truce confirmed some of the heart-warming events we remember today. “During the early part of the morning the Germans started singing and shouting, all in good English. They shouted out: “Are you the Rifle Brigade; have you a spare bottle; if so we will come half way and you come the other half.” At 4 a.m part of their band played some Christmas carols and “God save the King”, and “Home Sweet Home.” You could guess our feelings. Later on in the day they came towards us, and our chaps went out to meet them. Of course neither of us had any rifles. I shook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars.”
During the festivities of the truce, there were more sobering events also taking place. Soldiers used the ceasefire to retrieve the bodies of their fallen comrades. J. Reading’s letter continued “We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet that it seemed like a dream. We took advantage of the quiet day and brought our dead in.” As a result of the truce, some soldiers were laid to rest in No Man’s Land side by side with their opposition in joint burials.
Although it is one of the most significant stories of the truce, there is no hard evidence to suggest the football match between battlefield enemies went ahead as reported as there is no official account that mentions it. Research suggests the British played football amongst themselves as the Germans watched on. This letter, sent by Mr J. A. Farrell, a Bolton Post Office employee, indicates there was no German involvement in the game. The letter that was sent to the Post Office, published in the Bolton Chronicle 2nd January 1915, reads: ‘…In the afternoon there was a football match played beyond the trenches, right in full view of the enemy’…”
A letter sent home to a father from his son on the Front Line was relayed in the Rugby Advertiser on January 16th 1915 indicating that although there was a hope of such a game, the plans fell through.
“Walter Cooke, son of Mr H Cooke of Church Lawford has written home to thank his friends for the plum pudding and good things they sent him for Christmas. He says: ‘They wanted to play at football but that fell through. They kept their word, and did not fire a shot all Christmas Day and Boxing Day’.”
As the war continued, the truce was never repeated. The following year, the threat of disciplinary action by the officers was enough to stop any further attempts of a cease fire on Christmas Day. However, that year soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate Christmas on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destroy the Christmas spirit.
 
Find out more about WWI with our great choice of Battlefield tours.
 

Let the Festive Fun begin! – Top picks for a perfect Winter break.

Let The Festive Fun Begin

Autumn is kicking in, the nights are getting longer and there’s a notable chill in the air. There’s one thing that is creeping ever closer, Christmas!

That hectic mad rush to find the last turkey in the supermarket, cooking for a small army then the mountains of washing up.
Whilst some may shudder with the thought of Christmas, here at Leger we couldn’t be more excited. With mulled wine and minced pies just around the corner, we’ve just launched our Festive brochure with a glorious choice of the perfect festive getaways.
From beautiful Bavarian markets to secluded picturesque forests, you really can just get away from it all. With more and more people choosing to spend their yule-tide away from home, the tourism market around the world is now booming with festive delight. With Christmas markets, ice rinks and beautiful scenery, Europe really does have it all. Our tours have taken you to some fabulous destinations and to get you into the spirit, here’s a list of some of our favourite cities to visit this festive season.

Strasbourg

Christmas tree
The Capital of the Alsace Region in eastern France, Strasbourg is well known to be the host of the oldest Christmas market in France, Christkindelsmärik.
Christkindelsmärik has been held annually since 1570, it is located close to Strasbourg’s magnificent cathedral. It is thought to be the most famous Christmas markets throughout Europe. Its enchanting aroma of warm wine and spices and the sight of the 100ft tree is enough to warm the heart of any scrooge.
Known as the village of sharing, its local residents, as part of a long standing tradition, place gifts under the tree for the town’s most disadvantages citizens. Strasbourg really is the home of Christmas Spirit.

 

Salzburg


Salzburg Christmas MarketThe fourth-Largest city in Austria, Salzburg really is a work of art.
Its old town is famous for its baroque architecture and is one of the best preserved cities in the northern Alps. The birth place of Mozart, music lines the streets. Situated just north of Salzburg lies the charming town of Oberndorf, the town where the world renowned Christmas carol, Silent Night, was composed.
Around Christmas time, the city really does come alive, with plenty of Gluhwein (mulled wine) and Lebkuchen (Christmas cookies) served in a variety of places you really can experience the true meaning of Christmas is Austria.
If you’re lucky enough to stay over New Year, you won’t be disappointed. You can drink Champagne, enjoy the fireworks and waltz your way into 2015.

Prague

Christmas in PraguThere’s a certain romantic charm to Prague that comes alive during the festive season. There are plenty of Christmas markets to choose from where you can find traditional Czech products such as Christmas ornaments, wooden carved toys and you can even treat yourself to a real piece of frankincense.
With Ice Skating in the old town and carols being sung around the beautifully lit markets, you really will feel the festive spirit. You can treat yourself to a grog or maybe even a medovina to keep your hands warm as temperatures in Prague around this time of year rarely rise above 2 degrees Celsius, it will be sure to leave you merry this Christmas.
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, or just wanting to get away from it all. Europe really is your oyster.
 
 
We have tours that feature these destinations as part of your itinerary, take a look at our festive page for more information about where we can take you and take care of you this Christmas.