When thinking about travel in Europe during the month of December, most tourists immediately think of Christmas markets; nevertheless, these vibrant fairs are not the only attractions for travelers.
Festivals of the same vibrant color commemorate the season with lights, ice sculptures, musical performances, and ancient practices that extend back hundreds of years.
These winter events bring together a number of vacationers’ favorite places to go and things to do, including shopping, tasting local cuisine, going on tours, perusing local arts and crafts, competing in pageants, listening to live music, and enjoying other forms of entertainment.
How Exactly Does One Celebrate Christmas in Europe?
Celebrations in Europe begin on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Eve, which is also the first Sunday of Advent. This marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Following the season of Advent, on December 6th, the majority of countries that are predominantly Catholic celebrate the Feast of Saint Nicholas.
Even though this may not be a common practice in many nations, many of the finest places to spend Christmas in Europe in 2022 nonetheless make it a point to incorporate this custom into their holiday celebrations.
After the meal, the most important part of the celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, when people go to Midnight Mass and share a hearty lunch with their family, close friends, and other loved ones.
Best Places to Visit in Europe for Christmas
Here are some of the most idyllic places to spend Christmas in Europe that you have been looking for for a long time. During this time of the year, each and every town and city is vibrant with color and brimming with bright light.
One of the most popular aspects of this event is the Christmas-themed villages, as well as Santa Claus and the ever-charming festivity. The following is a list of the top destinations in Europe to celebrate Christmas, each of which is certain to provide you with a memorable experience:
1. The City of Nuremberg, Germany
The Christmas market in Nuremberg is considered to be Europe’s most famous, and it was the first to achieve recognition as a major tourist destination.
The scene takes place in a wide square that is surrounded by historic structures and is emphasized by a pinnacle-studded church that is drenched in lights. The backdrop may be a movie set. On one side of the image is a gorgeous fountain that is likewise illuminated, while the rest of the setting is filled with rows of cabins, each of which is its own glimmering fantasy.
In spite of the fact that many of the products you will see at the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg are the same as those, you would find anywhere else in Germany, be on the lookout in particular for modern crafts and design in addition to the traditional regional handicraft.
2. Stuttgart and the Black Forest, Germany
The Black Forest region of Germany is home to some of the most picturesque Christmas markets in all of Germany. One of the largest and oldest of these markets can be found in Stuttgart, Germany (it has been here for 300 years), and it features approximately 300 magnificently decorated cabins that offer gifts, food, and everything else related to Christmas.
A portion devoted entirely to children offers activities such as a train ride that travels through a model town and a Ferris wheel that has oversized Christmas tree decorations.
3. The City of Strasbourg in France
This Alsatian city on the Rhine features not just one, but multiple Christmas markets spread throughout the city’s major and small plazas. The Christmas market in Strasbourg is both the oldest and the best in all of France, and it is held in a setting that cannot be topped.
The backdrop is comprised of half-timbered homes, and garlands of lights are strung between each of the homes. Extensive light shows illuminate the public squares. The market may be found in the charming area of Petit France in Strasbourg. It is close to the river and has old houses on either side.
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Under the great Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, you’ll find the largest of the markets. Here, wooden cabins sell a variety of goods, including snacks, handicrafts, and Christmas decorations.
4. Dresden’s Opera House, Germany
The Striezelmarkt in Dresden was established in the early 1400s, which means that it is steeped with a heritage that spans several centuries. The Dresden Christstollen, which is a delicious buttery yeast bread with candied fruits baked inside, is revered more than any other Christstollen in this city as well as the rest of Germany.
Not only is it sold and devoured in great quantities, but it is also commemorated with a procession that features the world’s largest Dresden Stollen, which measures 13 feet in length and weighs four tons.
5. Scenes Precepe, Italy
St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first public nativity scene in 1223 when he constructed a copy of the nativity at his mountain hermitage at Greccio, which is located close to Assisi.
In Italy, this type of nativity scene is known as a Precepe. The annual ritual was carried on at that location and eventually expanded throughout Italy, where it underwent numerous iterations according to the region and town.
6. The German city of Munich
As is the case with other major German towns, the Christmas market in Munich really consists of a number of distinct markets, each of which has its own identity and focus. The primary one is located at Marianplatz, immediately adjacent to the elaborate neo-Gothic city hall.
In these booths, which are decorated with lights and adorned with frosted gingerbread hearts, you’ll find a beautiful choice of holiday decorations and presents.
In addition to figures that were created in vast quantities, you’ll also be able to locate figures that were hand-modeled and crafted by artisans from nearby Oberammergau and Alpine communities in Bavaria. These figurines are made of wood and have intricate carvings.
7. City of Vienna, Austria
It’s possible that no other city in Europe puts on as much of a musical show in celebration of the holiday season as Vienna does. It seems as though every cathedral has concerts, and the opulent settings befitting the music’s baroque origins are on display.
Palaces offer additional performance spaces, particularly the stunning Schonbrunn Palace, which plays host to a number of events throughout the year.
Classical, chamber, and choral music predominate, with the Vienna Boys Choir’s performance of “Christmas in Vienna” at the Wiener Konzerthaus being the most well-known concert in the city. Sacred music is particularly suited to be performed against the majestic backdrop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
8. Croatia’s Capital, Zagreb
Even though Christmas markets, where people come to buy decorations and presents, are a part of the celebration in Zagreb, Advent is much more than just a collection of Christmas fairs.
From the end of November to the third of January, the capital city of Croatia transforms into a magical land filled with lights, music, art, entertainment, and gastronomy.
9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
During the months of November through January, Amsterdam comes alive with the brightness of dozens of light displays that decorate bridges, illuminate buildings, and reflect off of the city’s canals.
The Amsterdam Light Festival is held annually with a new focus, and illumination artists are given complete creative leeway to interpret this year’s topic, resulting in some truly breathtaking displays. The districts surrounding the Amstel River and the Canal Ring contain the majority of the displays.
10. The Capital of Lapland in Finland, Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi, which is situated 6.4 kilometers within the Arctic Circle, offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to feel as though they are celebrating Christmas at the North Pole.
Rovaniemi, which is located in Finland, has been recognized as the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus” since the year 2010. Santa Claus Village, located in Rovaniemi, is an extension of Santa Claus’s workshop.
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The Santa Claus Village, in contrast to Santa-themed amusement parks, does not charge admission and offers visitors a more genuine glimpse into what Santa’s hometown “really” appears to be like.
In the end, Because of the recent snowfall that has blanketed the rooftops, the availability of Christmas conifers for purchase, the aroma of cinnamon and gingerbread in the air, and the commotion that comes with some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, it is unquestionably going to be a spectacular spectacle.
And for those who can’t help but be a part of these massive celebrations, here are the best spots to spend Christmas in Europe, which will add a magical touch to your winter vacation.