Decorative lighting is a hallmark of Christmas on Malta, where
towns and villages compete with one another to put up the most
impressive illuminated decorations.
NEW YORK--London and Paris draw hordes of visitors over the
holidays, but other European cities offer lights and festivities as
well, each with its own twist.
The following are samples of some of the lesser-known European
Visitors to this Mediterranean nation will see thousands of
colored lights in the shapes of stars, angels and bells strung
through city streets and in shopping areas. Although the Christmas
tree has worked its way into Maltese homes, the Christmas crib is
still the most important holiday decoration. During December, a
collection of cribs--made from wood, clay, wax, papier-mache or
bread--as well as figurines are exhibited at St. Frances Hall.
Creche scenes that often are elaborate--with motorized figures,
miniature gardens and real waterfalls--decorate other public
Additionally, there are band marches, processions depicting Mary
and Joseph on a donkey, and candlelight caroling. From now through
the holiday season, Ulysses Tours offers a six-night package that
includes six nights in Valletta with buffet breakfast daily;
sightseeing in the capital and around the island and on Gozo, plus
From Dec. 22 to 29, the land cost at a Lapsi Balluta Bay Hotel
is priced at $599 per person, double occupancy; at the deluxe
Holiday Inn Crown Plaza, the cost is $818.Portugal's Hotel Quinta do Lago, Loule, will put the accent on
golf for guests spending the holidays on the Algarve at the
141-room resort, owned and operated by Orient-Express Hotels.
Phone: (800) 431-1424 or (212) 371-7646
Offering a choice of three on-site championship golf courses,
the hotel has designed vacation packages that also utilize Quinta
do Lago's two golf schools, which incorporate lessons and a
full-week golf academy for all levels of play, staffed by
All packages include seaview accommodations; daily American
buffet breakfast; nightly golf club cleaning and storage; a
golfer's gift pack and complimentary airport and golf course
transfers. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy.
The seven-night Golf Academy package for the complete or
near-beginner includes two hours of daily personal instruction, 12
hours of lessons on the driving range and one round of nine holes
with a golf professional on the final day. The cost per person is
For intermediates, the Golfer Improvement program offers one
hour per day of driving range lessons and 12 hours of playing in
foursomes; the cost is $432. Advanced golfers (minimum handicap of
28 for men, 36 for women) pay $319 for a four-night Birdie package
that includes three rounds of golf at the guest's choice of
courses, advanced reservations for tee times and dinner at the
hotel's Ca D'Oro restaurant.
For seven nights on the Eagle Stay program, features are five
rounds of golf and one dinner at both the Navegadores and Ca D'Oro
restaurants. The Non-Golfers package includes health club massages,
a facial, a manicure and a tennis lesson plus a one-day,
chauffeured shopping trip to Faro and two hotel restaurant
All programs will be available through the winter months. For
reservations, call Orient-Express Hotels, which also owns the Reids
Hotel in Madeira and the newly acquired Hotel Da Lapa in
Lisbon.Canary Islands packages during the holiday season are available
from Spanish Heritage Tours.
All packages, priced per person, double occupancy, include the
cost of transatlantic air with Air Europa, with departures from New
York (Kennedy) on Mondays and Tuesdays, returning from Tenerife on
Sundays and Mondays.
In addition to air fare, the program features five nights in
Tenerife and one night in Madrid; buffet breakfast; free daily
entrance to the casino; transfers and all taxes and service
charges. All rates are per person, based on double occupancy.
Clients can add a five-dinner option, priced from $50. Christmas
dinner supplements range from $99 to $165 per person, and a New
Year's gala evenings range from $139 to $239.
The operator's six-night Winter Escape program, priced from $819
for those traveling before the holidays (Nov. 1 through Dec. 15),
costs $1,165 for the Top Value category up to $1,769 in Grand Luxe
from Dec. 16 through Dec. 24. The package is priced from $1,129 to
$1,899 from Dec. 25 through Jan. 2, and other winter rates are
available through March 31. Other vacation packages featuring
superior and deluxe accommodations are available to Puerto de la
Cruz; the lead cost is $1,049.Reminders of coming Christmas cheer come early to the
Netherlands, when St. Nicholas rides through the center of
Amsterdam on his gray horse to address the children on the Leidse
Spanish Heritage Tours
Phone (800) 456-5050, (718) 544-2752
Bright lights come on shortly thereafter all over the country.
Amsterdam's hotels, canal houses, trees, bridges and boats light up
for the holidays for two months, starting on Nov. 1.
On Dec. 15, you have the start of Gouda by Candlelight, with its
market decorated with hundreds of candles as the tree is lit by the
mayor, who reads the Christmas gospel, followed by communal
caroling; in Utrecht, the traditional Christmas Eve carillon is
part of a musical celebration in and around the Dom Tower.
Clients heading for their holidays in Holland will find extra
Christmas cheer in Winter, the Amsterdam Way hotel packages, loaded
with special offers and discounts. Depending on the hotel -and
there is a choice of 26 tourist-to-deluxe properties-- prices for a
two-night stay range from $70 to $190 per person, based on double
occupancy, including breakfast.
Netherlands Board of Tourism