Christmas in Belarus


Christmas in Belarus

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 6 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers

Dossier

Belarus is an enigma, a corner of Europe that few have heard about and even fewer have visited. With only tiny numbers of travellers crossing the borders from better known Ukraine or Poland, Belarus has remained well out of the spotlight of international tourism, its secrets remaining hidden, its cities seldom visited and its countryside little explored. Too often associated with Soviet monotony, Belarus is slowly starting to reveal its subtle charms to the outside world.

Get ready for the most unusual Christmas in your life! Pagan holiday celebrations, Ballet at Bolshoi theatre, Residence of Belarusian Santa Claus… We have mixed everything together to present the most wonderful experience for the magical Christmas time!


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○ | Wildlife ●●○○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Tour Highlights

  • Mir Castle
  • Brest Fortress
  • Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of comfortable hotels, centrally located
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary.
Group Size: Maximum of 12
Start Point: Minsk
End Point: Minsk
Transport: Minibuses or Mercedes Sprinters
Countries: Belarus

Tour Itinerary Notes

While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.

Day 1 – 21 December 2019 – Arrive Minsk

Arrive in Minsk where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Minsk. No meals or guided activities included today.

Minsk

Minsk is a fascinating city and almost unique in Europe. Although it has existed for almost a millennium, gaining prominence due to its position on the strategic trading route between the Black and Baltic Seas, it was almost destroyed during the Second World War. Most buildings were obliterated as Belarus was occupied by Nazi Germany, but since then it has been reconstructed in the typical Soviet style. Presenting almost a blank slate for designers, it represents one of the best examples of Soviet planning to be found, and although things are starting to change now it has very much retained this flavour, giving a glimpse into a way of life that has largely disappeared from elsewhere behind the Iron Curtain. As yet it has largely resisted the onslaught of western commercialism, making it an intriguing place to explore. With a number of pleasant parks and wide boulevards, Minsk is a good place just to wander around, taking in its monuments to fallen heroes and visiting its old churches.

Day 2 – 22 December 2019 – Minsk - Brest
This morning we explore some of the key sights of Minsk, including the main avenues that are fully illuminated and decorated for the holidays with large Christmas trees. Visits include Independence avenue, Victory avenue and the architectural monuments of the XVIIth - XXth centuries with its folk craft fairs. We continue to Brest via Mir Castle, and impressive architectural monument, included into the list of World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Overnight in Brest. (B)

Mir Fortress

Mir Fortress looks like something from a fairytale dramatically situated next to a lake and with white plasterwork a striking contrast to red brick towers and roofs. The fortress was built over a number of years, beginning in the 16th century, and various additions to it have been made throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. It played a significant part in the Second World War when Russian and German forces fought nearby. The fortress is great fun to explore, full of winding staircases and with great views from its towers over the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Brest

Pushed up against the border with Poland, Brest feels slightly less Belarusian, and more western, than other cities. The city is rich in culture, with numerous influences making their mark felt here, from Orthodox to Russian to Polish, and like many other cities has a fine collection of churches – St Simeon’s Cathedral is particularly beautiful. But Brest’s main centre of interest is its fortress, dating back to the 19th century. The fortress was home in the Second World War to a regiment of Soviet forces who defended it against the onslaught of Nazi troops invading the region, and although they were eventually killed after a long siege they became renowned as heroes within the Soviet Union. Today the fortress stands as a reminder of Belarus’s troubled past and the resilience of its spirit, and contains numerous monuments dedicated to the history of that period. Like Khatyn, Brest Fortress gives an insight into the psyche of Belarus today and is invaluable in understanding the nation.

Day 3 – 23 December 2019 – Brest and Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
We take a tour of the Brest’s main sites including the imposing fortress, which played a significant part in the Second World War and is an important site in Belarusian history. During Christmas it becomes a magic place full of decorations, lights and trade fairs. We travel into the wild to the UNESCO world heritage site of Belovezhskaya National Park, one of the largest forested areas in Central Europe. During Christmas time it turns into a magic forest. Here, deep in the woods, you will find a little gingerbread-like wooden house with a lot of lights. It is a house of Ded Moroz (Belarusian Santa Clause) and he is ready to meet you with warmth and hospitality! Overnight in Brest. (B)

Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park

First established as a national park in 1939, this wilderness area has existed since the middle ages. It entered the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1992 and gained Biosphere Reserve status in 1993. The park contains primeval forest and stretches across the border into Poland. The park is home to 212 species of bird and 59 species of mammal, including the iconic bison. Several hundred are known to inhabit the park after becoming almost extinct in the early 1900’s.

Day 4 – 24 December 2019 – Nesvizh - Minsk

This morning we travel to Nesvizh. We will have a short city tour and lunch and then this afternoon visit Radzivills Palace with its beautiful buildings, palaces, monasteries and 16th Century houses. After the visit we will return to Minsk for the night. This evening we attend the Swan Lake Ballet* at the National Opera and Ballet theatre. Overnight in Minsk. (B)

*2020 show TBC

Day 5 – 25 December 2019 - Minsk

Today we visit the open-air museum of Folk life and the folk celebration of Kalyady. Included today is a visit to the museum, a theatrical performance*, a masterclass on cooking followed by a tasting, horse riding, kindling a great fire and immersing ourselves in the world of Christmas Carols in a Belarusian village. Overnight in Minsk (B)

*TBC for 2020

Day 6 – 26 December 2019 - Minsk Departure
Tour ends with a transfer to the airport (B)

Tour Inclusions / Exclusions 

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation in centrally located hotels
Services of English-speaking guide
Transport throughout the tour
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks


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