Around this time of year, we always start to think about the same things. The company Christmas dinner, organising a meal with friends, decorating the house, putting up the tree, setting up a nativity scene, or both.
Many people grumble when they hear the word Christmas, but pretty much everyone gets in the festive spirit sooner or later.
If you have decided to go on a trip over the festive period this year, then here is a selection of the best cities to visit for a real Christmas wonderland.
A city that is already very charming as the best preserved medieval city in Europe, it becomes even more magical at Christmastime. 24 November marks the start of the festive period with the opening of the Christmas market – considered one of the best in the world. It’s also worth making a visit to the Christmas gift fair ‘Winter moments with flowers’ which is open over the same period.
The Christmas lights are worth seeing from the Hallen Tower, or even on a river cruise through the canals. Despite its festive spirit, the city is peaceful and ideal for getting away from the crowds.
The French city is a Cultural Heritage site, and hosts traditional German fairs that make it an especially good place to visit over the Christmas period. It has the oldest Christmas market in Europe, dating back to 1750. The city has beautiful Christmas lights, and boasts of being the ‘Christmas capital of Europe’.
The Austrian city offers the perfect example of an alpine Christmas. Some of its traditions include the terrifying Krampus and Perchten, who go round giving ‘lucky’ whip lashes on the streets, where you can often hear the famous Christmas carol ‘Silent Night’. Music plays a particularly important role, which is no surprise given that the celebrated musician Mozart was born in this baroque city.
I know, just reading the name makes you feel cold! But at Christmastime, this frozen city becomes the perfect example of festive spirit. What’s more, as Russia follows the Orthodox calendar Christmas is celebrated on 7 January, which means it is ideal for those who want to extend the festive season a little longer. Children will be excited to meet ‘Grandfather Frost’, or Ded Moroz, who heralds in the Christmas spirit together with his granddaughter the ‘Snow Maiden’, or Snegurochka. A giant Christmas tree presides over the Kremlin square, and the biggest ice rink in the world can be found on one of the city’s main boulevards.
The Swiss city is a romantic paradise. The snowy rooftops and well-decorated houses offer a picture-perfect view, with markets that are jam-packed with souvenirs and hand-crafted gifts, all set to a soundtrack of Christmas carols. Why not go ice skating and warm up afterwards with a glass of the local mulled wine – Glühwein.