Best river cruise events for 2022 to book now - Cruise International

Best river cruise events for 2022 to book now

By Cruise International | 16 Mar 2022

Floriade-river-cruise

Floriade Expo. Credit: Shutterstock

This year, there’s a hat-trick of reasons to take a cruise on the Rhine or Danube as Europe’s most popular waterways are the gateway to three spectacular events. Jeannine Williamson explains how to book the best river cruise events for the year ahead.

Best river cruise events for 2022 to book now

Floriade Expo 2022, Holland

Floriade-river-cruise

Credit: Anton Ivanov/Alamy

When: April 14 to October 9 2022

Where: Almere, Holland

What: The springtime delights of the Dutch bulbfields have long been a delight for garden enthusiasts, and there’s an extra special reason for green-fingered visitors to head to Holland on a cruise in 2022.

The Floriade Expo, held in the city of Almere outside Amsterdam, takes place only every 10 years. Spread over 150 acres, the global horticultural event showcases gardening expertise, innovation and inspiring ideas with input from the world’s leading horticultural experts.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘growing green cities’, and after the six-month show finishes there are plans to turn the site into an eco-friendly residential neighbourhood.

Pavilions, ornamental gardens, a vast greenhouse and an arboretum will be filled with more than 3,000 trees, shrubs, plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit, and an aerial cable car will give visitors a bird’s-eye view of the dazzling displays.

From vertical sustainable gardens to tasting sessions, Floriade is a feast for all the senses. A packed programme of arts and culture events will run alongside the displays and include talks inspired by the idea of bringing the country into the city.

Floriade-river-cruise

Anne Swithinbank

River cruise lines are offering themed sailings to coincide with the unique exhibition, and some will be hosted by gardening gurus who will lead the trip to Floriade and share tips during onboard talks and Q&A sessions.

They include Arena River Cruises, which has sailings accompanied by Christine Walkden, who has appeared on Gardeners’ World, and Helen Yemm, author of Gardening in Pyjamas. Saga passengers will be joined by horticulturist, writer and broadcaster Anne Swithinbank.

Who sails there?

  • Arena River Cruises’ Floriade and The Delightful Dutch Waterways cruise, departing May 21 and 25 (arenarivercruises.co.uk)
  • Saga’s Flowers of Floriade and Keukenhof cruise, departing April 20 (travel.saga.co.uk)
  • Scenic’s Dutch Sights and Belgian Delights cruise, departing May through October (scenic.co.uk)

Oberammergau Passion Play, Germany

Oberammergau-river-cruise

When: May 14 to October 2 2022

Where: Oberammergau, Germany

What: In 1663, the residents of the Bavarian village of Oberammergau promised to recreate the life, death and resurrection of Christ every decade if God spared them from more fatalities from the Black Death plague sweeping across Germany.

Their prayers were answered and the following year they performed the passion play for the first time.
Roll forward a few centuries and the 42nd performance of the epic spectacle of music and drama was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the performance has been revived this year.

To take part in the world-famous play, which involves a cast of 2,500 locals, participants must either have been born in Oberammergau, lived there for 20 years or been married to a local for 10. No wigs are allowed so actors grow their hair and beards for the roles.

The six-hour play starts in the afternoon and is spread over two halves, with a three-hour interval that allows plenty of time for visitors to have dinner and see the picturesque town, which is also noted for its woodcarvings and ornate painted buildings.

bavaria-river-cruise

Bavarian village, Germany. Credit: Roman Kraft via Unsplash

The play is performed in German, but English-speaking members of the audience receive a souvenir booklet with a complete translation of the text.

Throughout the season, river lines are offering the opportunity to see the play on selected Rhine and Danube itineraries or as a pre-cruise land extension. With both options, all the arrangements are taken care of and passengers benefit from transport to and from Oberammergau, preferred seating for the performance and dinner during the interval.

Who sails there?

Rhine in Flames, Germany

rhine-in-flames-river-cruise

Credit: iStock

When: September 10 and 17 2022

Where: Middle Rhine Valley, Germany

What: The dramatic Rhine in Flames is the largest and oldest fireworks show in Germany, dating back to the 18th century. The festival is held each year over five weekends from May to September, when huge firework displays light up the night sky at different locations along the river.

Castles and historic buildings bask in a red and orange glow and the whole spectacle is reflected in the shimmering waters of the Rhine below. The finale takes place in the Middle Rhine Valley in September, coinciding with Germany’s wine harvest, and these are the main dates for themed river cruises.

During the festival a flotilla of illuminated vessels sail past the vineyards of the famous wine-growing region, and visitors from near and far raise their glasses beneath a cascade of glittering fireworks.

rhine-in-flames-river-cruise

Captain Wido Arts

Wido Arts, captain of Arena River Cruises vessel Calypso, says: “The Rhine in Flames festival is really special because there’s competition between celebrations in different places along the Rhine, so every year the festival has to be bigger, better and more spectacular.

“Each year the music is different, but the atmosphere is always amazing. Calypso is one of a small number of river cruise ships sailing in the flotilla, because for safety reasons larger ships are no longer allowed to join.

“The flotilla comprises lots of day boats and maybe a maximum of five smaller river cruise ships, and when the ship is sailing with the flotilla you can experience the whole festival from beginning to end, which is something really special.

“The best thing is seeing passengers happy after experiencing the festival. They love the whole atmosphere – the music in combination with the fireworks is spectacular, and thousands of people turn out to watch along the river, so it’s a really big event.”

Who sails there?