Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Fight meningitis with a Christmas tour of the German markets

Andy Hopkinson | 15th June 2022

Kick off your Christmas celebrations early this year, with a fabulous tour of Germany and its famous Christmas markets, whilst at the same time fighting back against meningitis

German Christmas markets tour to fundraise for Meningitis Now

We’re one of the two charities being supported in the annual visit to the magical Mosel and romantic Rhine regions between 24 and 30 November – the 20th anniversary of coach trips to the Christmas markets organised by fundraiser Sylvia Stoneham. And, just like our own Five Valleys Walk, this tour is back after a two-year gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sylvia, from Houghton-le-Spring in Tyne and Wear, has been organising these tours for many years now and all the profits are donated to charity. With the support of her passengers she has raised over £100,000 over the years and this year hopes to raise a further £5,000, which as well as supporting our lifesaving and life-changing work, will support The Fire Fighters Charity.

Sylvia tells us: “I'm delighted to be supporting Meningitis Now because I know about the disease and the impact it can have on individuals and families. My husband Len has had meningitis twice now, in 1995 aged 38, and at the start of 2020. 

First raised funds back in 1995

“I first raised funds for you way back in 1995 with a coffee morning, raffling a PC (a massive prize back in the day!) and a music and family fun weekend, following Len's illness.”

This was the start of what has turned into a 25-year fundraising career for the mum of three and nana to two. “I have an amazing career,” she says, “all stemming from that first foray into fundraising all those years ago!’

The Christmas Market trip includes luxury travel aboard a Siesta Club Class Premier coach and return overnight ferry travel with cabins between Newcastle and Amsterdam, together with four nights' dinner, bed and breakfast accommodation in the family-run Hotel Waldeck in the beautiful medieval village of Burgen-Am-Mosel.

German Christmas markets tour to fundraise for Meningitis Now

Wine tasting and chocolate

Also included is a wine tasting experience in a wine museum and a Rhine cruise, including the famous Lorelei Rock. Daily excursions take in the Christmas markets in Aachen (including the Lindt Chocolate Factory shop), Cologne, Ahrweiler, Rudesheim and Bernkastel-kues.

“Anyone and everyone can join us if they can get to the ferry terminal in Newcastle,” Sylvia adds. “We can meet them there, or there are local pick-up points in the northeast, for example Middlesbrough, Bishop Auckland and Sunderland.

“If people can't make it they can still be part of the event by promoting it to their family and friends, or donating tombola or raffle prizes. We hold fundraising activities in the hotel every night – including Len's (in)famous quizzes. 

Rewarding Herman with a trip home

“I’d like to thank Siesta International Holidays, who have supported the event for the last 19 years,” Sylvia adds. “I really couldn't do it without their help and support, especially Julie who helps me so much with the planning. And my lovely friend Andrew, from Design For Writers, who gives his time freely, designing and supplying all the beautiful marketing materials, including our mascot, Herman, who helps promote the event and is rewarded with a trip to his homeland every year! 

“And of course, everyone who joins us, both regulars and newbies; they are always so generous!”

Here’s where you’ll be going:

Aachen: During Advent, the market squares and winding lanes around Aachen cathedral and Town Hall are turned into a magical Christmas village, with all the sights, sounds and aromas of Christmas! Make sure you sample the local speciality, Aachener Printen – a kind of gingerbread.

Cologne: This famous cathedral city boasts several Christmas markets – you can even ride on the mini train from one to another! These markets are all different in theme, with a fantastic selection of culinary delights, local crafts and beautiful gifts.

Ahrweiler: Beautiful architecture, a small market square with a cosy Christmas market and lovely local shops feature in this lovely walled Roman city. 

Rudesheim: Our destination following our lovely Rhine Cruise. Rudesheim has it all; The Rhine river on its doorstep, its main street lined with market stalls, and the traditional market square where friends and family gather with visitors to sample the culinary delights offered at every turn! There’s also a cable-car, offering stunning views.

Bernkastel-Kues: One of the prettiest medieval villages we’ll visit this year, a true chocolate-box backdrop to the cosy Christmas market in the market square. Look for the huge advent calendar on the windows of the half-timbered houses behind the market. Each day a window opens to reveal a poem or story. 

What’s not to love? And all for the bargain price of £499 for six nights/seven days.

To find out more and reserve your places – they are limited – phone Sylvia on 07544 567 161 or email

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