10 Reasons to Spend Christmas in Europe
From experiencing atmospheric festive traditions, to embracing the après ski scene in Europe’s most idyllic mountain towns, with our favourite time of year approaching, we take a look at why you should spend Christmas in Europe.
The Christmas Markets
There aren’t many traditions more evocative of Christmas in Germany than the season’s outdoor markets. Between the bustling stalls, visitors can sip on steaming cups of mulled wine and tuck into warm stöllen and roast chestnuts. In fact, these Bavarian-style markets can be found all over Europe, from the romantic Austrian city of Salzburg, to England’s vibrant capital, London.
Outdoor Ice Rinks
Christmas markets often come hand-in-hand with sparkling open-air ice rinks. The Natural History Museum Swarovski Ice Rink and Skate at Somerset House – two of London’s most popular rinks – are celebrated as destinations in their own right, each set within impressive surroundings, amidst architectural grandeur and twinkling lights.
Performances spanning a wide range of genres are on offer across Europe year-round, but December brings an influx of festive shows, perfect for a seasonal dose of Christmas spirit. From classic pantomimes such as Cinderella to nostalgic plays like The Snowman and whimsical ballet The Nutcracker, London certainly stands out for its theatrical offering.
Cosy Winter Fare
With the wintery days and first snowfall comes a feast of warming winter fare, which is distinct to each location. Indulge in a rich fondue or raclette on the Swiss slopes, tuck into an Italian beef stew infused with rosemary and red wine, or embrace the heartiest of French festive cuisine.
Warming Winter Cocktails
Mulled wine and hot spiced cider are of course widespread at this time of year. But with such an outstanding selection of bars across Europe’s most happening cities, this is just the beginning of the winter cocktail offering. Step into chic bars and onto cosy winter terraces to try a new Christmas tipple.
The Mountain Towns
Flanked by snow-capped mountains and pine forest, there aren’t many settings more idyllic at this time than Europe’s mountain towns. Dotted across the 1,200-kilometre expanse of the Alps are a number of romantic Alpine towns, each of which has its own unique appeal.
The Aprés Ski
While some of these Alpine towns offer tranquillity, others are at the heart of Europe’s vibrant après ski scene. Join the skiers of towns such as St Moritz and Cortina d’Ampezzo as they come in from the slopes to celebrate the setting with a glass of Champagne.
From alpine lodges to manor house hotels and grand castles, nostalgic settings abound throughout Europe. After all, what better way to end the day than sitting by a roaring log fire amid such splendour?
The Annual Traditions
While many traditions have been adopted worldwide, some of Europe’s festive customs have remained lesser known, from regional culinary specialties across Italy, to the handicrafts that can be found in Germany’s Christmas markets.
The Winter Festivals
A number of festivals pop up across Europe during the build-up to Christmas, bringing together the season’s markets, shows, ice rinks and more, all in one place. One of the most popular in London is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, where highlights this year include The Nutcracker on Ice.