10 European Holiday Highlights
July 2017 | By Susan Milne | 3 minute read |
Timeless traditions make the Holiday Season extra special across Europe. Take a look at 10 highlights that make visiting in December festive and fun!
Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides
Take in the alpine scenery on a romantic sleigh ride through the snow at Innsbruck in the Alps. Wrapped in warm blankets, you’ll be cozy and warm on this peaceful encounter with nature – just the thing to capture the magic of Christmas!
Sparkling Christmas Lights
It’s not just the Christmas markets and trees that light up the season. Many prominent buildings are lit with colorful lights at Christmas time making Europe’s cities sparkle. Busses and trams are also decorated adding to the brightness of the season.
Gingerbread and mulled wine are two popular treats of the season, along with a range of local specialties. Stockholm’s Old Town hosts a Swedish Christmas market where reindeer, elk meat, smoked sausages and Christmas sweets are amongst the delicacies to try.
Christmas/New Year Concerts
There’s music everywhere during the Holiday Season! From concerts and carol sings to Christmas market entertainment, you’ll easily get into the Christmas spirit. Vienna is top of the list for New Year with its New Year’s Eve balls and New Year’s Day concerts by the world’s leading conductors and musicians.
Skating in the open air is a European tradition. You’ll find rinks in many city centers including Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Brussels and Oslo. In Holland, skate on natural ice along the famed canals, lakes and ponds.
Winter Wonders in Brussels
In Belgium, the central Christmas market is also a Winter festival. In addition to more than a mile of stalls, lights and tasting sessions, there’s an original light and sound show, video mapping on the façade of St. Catherine church, a giant fir tree, Christmas parade, Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds, slalom slide, ice rink and more.
Barcelona: Markets with Spanish Flair
Further south in Barcelona, the city is equally as festive. Christmas markets are found in front of Barcelona Cathedral as well as la Sagrada Familia. Family oriented activities are featured at The Spanish Village festival, the Christmas fair at Placa de Catalunya and the Children’s Festival.
This expansive Christmas market is Germany’s oldest, founded in 1434. Known for its traditional food including the Stollen fruit loaf, also called Striezel. Join in the festival to celebrate this delicacy by being a part of the Stollen procession around the Baroque Old Town.
Traditional Christmas Sounds
Ancient instruments add to the fairy tale atmosphere as they accompany seasonal dance displays and carol concerts – the Baghèt bagpipes in Lombardy, Italy and other Medieval instruments are seen and heard at this time of year.
Art, Crafts & Decorations
Christmas markets are a top spot to track down locally made products and Christmas decorations. Traditional plum figurines in Germany, decorated eggs in Prague, angel chimes, handmade Christmas ornaments, wooden toys and jewelry. This is the perfect place to buy your gifts.