KCBS European Christmas Markets
Judging the Beer Fries & BBQ Contest – Winter Edition
November 29 – December 7, 2020 | $3795
What's included in the tour:
Accommodations for 8 nights at 3-4 Star hotels*.
All transportation during the tour: train tickets between cities (1st Class when available), transportation to and from venues (breweries, museums etc.) and tram passes.
All event (brewery, museum, etc.) entry fees.
Group lunches (6).
Group dinners (6).
*Accommodations based on double occupancy.
Tour cost: $3795.00 USD
Late in November, cities in Europe magically transform into Christmas wonderlands with festive atmosphere. Markets appear in town squares and the air is filled with holiday joy and jubilant spirit. We will experience Christmas markets in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. As we travel through these countries, we will immerse ourselves in the local culture as we explore the cites of Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Cologne and Sint Truiden. Each city has it own unique atmosphere and experience. This trip is exclusive to KCBS judges and their spouses.
Our adventure begins in Amsterdam. We will gather in the lobby of our host hotel near the Leidseplein. From here it is a short walk to the boat dock where we will take a short tour of the city via canal. We will gain a unique perspective of the city while learning of its history. After our tour, we will travel by tram to the Dam Square for our first Christmas Market. We will spend time visiting the small shops and stalls which define the market, before proceeding to lunch. After lunch we will venture into the Red Light district and stop at our first brewery, De Bekeerde Suster. This small brewery produces several different styles of beer, all of which are delightful. Afterward, we will travel back to the Dam via the distillary Wynand Fockink. This distillery produces a sprit unique to this area of the world called Jenever. We will have the opportunity to sample several of the many varieties of this gin-like sprit before proceeding back to the Dam. The rest of the afternoon is free to shop or explore the city. This evening we will meet in the hotel lobby before going our first group dinner at a local Dutch restaurant. (L, D)
Today is a leisurely day. After breakfast at the hotel, we will board the tram for the short ride to the Van Gogh Museum. This museum houses one of the most extensive collections of Van Gogh’s work and we will enjoy a private tour. Afterwards, we will venture into the Museumplein, a park-like area behind the museums, where we will visit another Christmas Market. We will take time to explore the stalls and vendors before going to lunch. Our next stop is the Brouwerij t’IT , possibly one of the most famous microbreweries in Amsterdam and a producer of over 12 different styles of beer. The brewery is located in a picturesque windmill, Northeast of the Centrum. We will enjoy a tasting of their beers before returning to the Dam where we can spend the afternoon further exploring the city. We meet again in the evening to dine at a local steak house. (B, L, D)
We rise early and travel to the train station where we board the train to Brussels. The trip takes approximately 2 ½ hours and, upon arrival we will go directly to our hotel to check-in and drop our luggage. Our guide, Quint will meet us in the lobby for a walking touar of the city. Quint is a native and has been guiding for a number of years. He is full of stories and information about the city and is sure to be entertaining. After our tour, we will have
lunch before exploring the Christmas Market in the Grand Place area. The entire area is decorated and the market extends in several directions outside of the Grand Place and includes an ice rink and Nordic Village. The afternoon is free to explore this wonderful area. We regroup at the hotel for dinner at a Chez Leon, a local restaurant. After dinner, we will travel once again to the Grand Place and experience the night holiday lights. (B, L, D)
Today is a full day. We rise early and board the train for Bruges. Bruges is a wonderful, medieval city with canals and winding streets. Our first stop is the Church of Our Lady which is home to the Michelangelo’s famous Madonna and Child. This famous statue is one of the many works of art stolen by the Nazis during WWII and recovered by the combined American forces as in the movie Monuments Men. After our visit, we will walk the short distance to Brouwerij de Halve Maan, the largest brewery in Bruges. On our tour we will learn of the unique engineering feat which makes this brewery extra special. After our tour, it’s off to lunch at restaurant around the Grote Markt. Once we finish lunch, we will have a short tour of the area around the market and learn of some the history of Bruges. The tour ends at the Christmas Market where we will be free to brouze the offerings of the shops, stalls and street vendors of the Market and perhaps visit the Belfry of Bruges. We will gather at the Le Trappiste (a unique cellar bar) late afternoon for our trip back to the train station and the train to Brussels. We will spend the rest of the evening on our own, exploring Brussels. (B, L)
Today is a bit more relaxing. After breakfast, we will take the train to TrainWorld, one of the largest train museums in the world. Our guild will take us through the history of the train in Europe, which possibly has the most extensive rail system in the world. After our tour, we will travel to the St. Catherine area of the city and explore the smaller Christmas Market here before having lunch. After lunch, we will have the opportunity to visit the iconic Brasserie Cantillon. This brewery dates back to the early 1900’s and produces one style of beer, Geueze, using the same techniques and much of the same equipment that they have used for the past 100 years. This is a somewhat sour beer which is naturally fermented with airborne yeast from the Senne River. We will enjoy a tour and beer tasting before traveling around the block to another brewery, Brasserie de l’Ermitage. This brewery is at the other end of the brewing spectrum from Cantillon – they use modern equipment and produce contemporary styles of beer. We will sample their beer before heading back to the Grand Place where we spend the afternoon on our own. We meet again in the hotel lobby and dine in the Grand Place area. (B, L, D)
Another big day. We rise early and, after breakfast, board the train for Cologne (or Köln), Germany. Upon leaving the train station, our first sight is the famous Kölner Dom or Cologne Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral dates back to the mid 1200’s and is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europoe. This amazing landmark survived WWII while almost all other buildings were destroyed by Allied bombing. After our visit, we will visit a number of small breweries while heading towards the Cologne Christmas Market. Many German cities historically have their own beer style and Kölsch is the beer of Cologne. The beer is very light and drinkable and served in a small special glass called a Stange. You will notice a flavor difference between the different breweries. We will stop for lunch before finally reaching the Christmas Market and will have ample time to explore the market vendors and kiosks before returning to Brussels. Dinner tonight in Brussels is on our own. (B, L)
We pack before breakfast and board the train for the 1 hour trip to Sint Truiden, host city for the Beer, Fries & BBQ – Winter Edition contest. Sint Truiden is a wonderful, little town with one of the largest market squares in Europe. It is here that we wil visit our last Christmas Market and take in the sights of the city. We will visit the constest site in the afternoon before returning to the city for dinner at an amazing steak house. Time permitting, we will visit a wonderful brewery on the outskirts of Sint Truiden. (B, D)
Contest Day! We rise early and have a light breakfast before the short cab ride to the constest site. Contests in the EU are run the same way they are in the US so we want to get to the judge sign-in early. We will have plenty of time to walk around the site and visit the teams and vendors and enjoy some of the bear after the contest. (B, D)
Today is our final day. We enjoy breakfast together before heading home or to our next destination. (B)
This tour involves substantial walking through breweries, museums and the cities we visit. In addition, climbing of stairs, navigating entryways, etc. is required. Many venues visited on this tour would not be considered ADA compliant. If you have concerns regarding these issues, please contact our staff as this might not be the best tour choice for you.