*ENDED & WINNER NOTIFIED*
A couple of months ago I took the wrong exit on the motorway, as we dashed towards Calais to catch the ferry. We ended up in the most prettiest of cities- Ghent. The kids and I were enthralled by the gorgeous castle and cathedral; we wanted to stay to explore. Alas we couldn’t! It is now firmly on our bucketlist.
One very lucky subscriber to our new magazine will have the chance to squeeze in a wonderful short break before Christmas to this beautiful town.
A visit to Ghent this Christmas is the perfect seasonal treat for all the family. A hidden gem amongst Flanders’ many cities, this East Flanders town certainly knows how to celebrate. It’s a beautiful city with much of its medieval architecture still intact has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Ornate guild houses adorn its meandering canal and labyrinth of meandering cobblestone lanes. With a UNESCO recognised bell tower and beautiful Patershol district, there is plenty to see in Ghent. In fact, behind the beautiful facades, there is an illustrious history going back to the Middle Ages when Ghent thrived in times past, with its connections to the wool trade.
This Christmas, there are plenty of activities to amuse all the family in the city. For most children and adults the Christmas season doesn’t really start until after the 6th December, Sinterklaas Day (St. Nicholas Day). On this day, the mythical character Sinterklaas leaves presents for children and bags of typical Sinterkaas sweets including chocolate gold coins, Speculoos (ginger spiced) biscuits and chocolates shaped like Sinterklaas , all of which are visible and available to buy in abundance during this time.
After, Ghent and its city centre is transformed into a winter wonderland together with markets, ice rink and giant Ferris wheel. A great place to visit any time of year, Ghent really comes into its own during the festive season which takes place from the 9th December, this year.
While there it’s worth taking a visit to The Castle of the Counts, a medieval-looking castle situated in the heart of Ghent. Inside, it houses a unique Torture Museum complete with guillotines, thumb screws and other ghastly torture machines. Popular with children, this winter, the castle will host a “Midwinter and Festival of Light” when beautiful illuminations will transform the castle’s deep stone stairwells and intricate architecture into a beautiful light show.
Meanwhile, in St Baafs Square, at the end of the Korenmarkt, there’ll be a cornucopia of 130 market stalls selling everything from Christmas decorations, and jewellery to wooden gifts and other trinkets to suit the whole family. Parents can sip of mulled wine and delicious fruit flavoured jenevers. For a very local twist, try the Cuberdon flavoured jenever which is a local conical shaped syrup sweet with a distinct flavour. No visit to Flanders should go without a visit to the local Frietkot (chip shop) where the speciality- twice fried chips served with lashings of delicious flavoured sauces and mayonnaise- will be hit with the kids!
St Peters Abbey will host a fascinating historical exhibition, the War in Short Pants, about the story of children who stayed in Belgium during World War One and whose lives were irreversibly disrupted by the occupation. Another highly recommended activity is to watch the Van Eyck brother’s masterpiece, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,is being restored at the city’s Fine Arts Museum in full display. For fans of the Nutcracker, watch this splendid seasonal performance of ballet, suited for the whole family, at the Ghent Opera House by the Royal Flemish Ballet from 19-23 December.
Has that made you want to pack your bags and go?
Well, you could be in with a chance to win a family short break worth over £700! We are giving away return ferry tickets, 2 nights’ stay in a family room and a lovely meal for the family. All you have to do is pack up and jump in your car! And it really is that simple!
DFDS operates from Dover to Dunkerque, running large comfortable ferries every hour. It’s just over an hour and half crossing which we usually use with a quick visit to the restaurant and then the kids playing in the soft play area or watching a film in cosy corner (that’s when I leave hubby for a moment… or two to nip into the shop). There is WiFi onboard too.
From the ferry terminal you are on the motorway (this section in France is free) within 10 minutes and you can be in Ghent within an hour and 15 minutes all on motorway.
This competition is based on a 2 -night overnight stay in a family room at Ghent City Hotel*. Also including one family meal to the value of €250 in one of Ghent’s central restaurants during the visit.
All you have to do is subscribe to our great new family travel and outdoor adventure magazine, Inspireroo
WINNER: Mrs T Bernard
* subject to availability.