"The Oldie is an incredible magazine - perhaps the best magazine in the world right now" Graydon Carter, founder of Air Mail and former Editor of Vanity Fair

Subscribe to the Oldie and get a free cartoon book


Join Huon Mallalieu and Kirsty Fergusson for a Festive Tour of the Low Countries 9th - 14th December, 2024

Tours | December 2024

Listen here to Tom Assheton interviewing Huon Mallalieu about this tour - listen here

The canals of Belgium and Holland are at their most hauntingly romantic before Christmas, and there’s the added bonus of Christmas markets and hot vinous drinks. Huon Mallalieu, our Exhibitions correspondent and Country Life’s Art Market columnist, and Kirsty Fergusson will be leading this tour to a region they know extremely well.

Huon and Kirsty

We will be staying in Antwerp at the Hotel Franq (www.hotelfranq.com), part of the Relais & Châteaux group.

Hotel Franq, Antwerp

Huon writes, ‘The concentration of cultural superlatives in Flanders and Brabant is unrivalled. Belgium was the much fought-over “cockpit of Europe”, and also produced outstanding art and architecture, accompanied by glorious food and beers. We shall avoid the warfare and relish the rest.

‘As well as seeing Van Eyck’s greatest works, we shall visit Rubens and some dealers in great tapestries and textiles, and perhaps sense why Belgium was the centre of the early-20th-century art world. We shall also cross the border to discover overlooked Dordrecht. None of the distances is too great.

Rubens-Antwerp lamentation triptych with inner and outer panels

‘Another discovery for some will be a remarkable new Belgian whisky. All this and a great winter market.’

Monday 9th December – Antwerp

Depart St Pancras on the 0901; arrive Antwerp in time for lunch at Bourla, in the Graanmarkt. Afternoon tour including the Fine Arts Museum and Rubens House, both of which have recently reopened.


Tuesday 10th December – Antwerp and Mechelen

Morning stroll around town taking in the Gothic cathedral; visit to Christian Vrouyr, the Armenian carpet king. Then a half-hour drive to pretty, untouristy Mechelen, which has more UNESCO sights than any other city in Flanders, not least St Rumbold’s Cathedral and the Stadhuis. Lunch at the Het Anker Brewery.


Wednesday 11th December – Ghent

Morning tour of St Bavo’s Cathedral including the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, the masterpiece of the Van Eyck brothers. Lunch at restaurant De Witte Leeuw, on the canal, followed by a visit to two of Huon’s art-dealer friends: Francis Maere, who has wonderful Symbolist/Surrealist paintings (Delvaux, Spilliaert); and Jan Muller, who specialises in Old Masters and 19th-century paintings.


Thursday 12th December – Bruges

Morning tour of the medieval hospital and visit to the De Halve Maan brewery. Lunch at the Duc de Bourgogne on the river, followed by optional tour of the Groeningemuseum, which has a superb collection of Flemish Primitive and Renaissance works.


Friday 13th December – Dordrecht

This charming small city (‘the Venice of Holland’) has the biggest Christmas market in the region. Lunch at Villa Augustus, followed by a visit to the medieval Grote Kerk.

Christmas market


Saturday 14th December – Return to London

We will be catching the 10am train after breakfast, arriving at St Pancras at 12pm; you are free to get a later train if you prefer.


Call 01225 427311 or please email Katherine at reservations@theoldie.co.uk. Price per person: £2,250 which includes all meals, wine with meals, transport and entrances. You need to book and pay for your own Eurostar tickets. Single supplement: £300. A non-refundable deposit of £750 will be required, with the full balance due on 1st September 2024.

Limited to 20 readers.

Booking Request

To make a provisional booking, please fill in the information below. Once we have received it, we will call you to take your payment and confirm your details.

Number of Tickets