Shopping, eating or just craving a little festive cheer? There are a few places in Europe who know how to ‘do Christmas’ just like Santa would. Take note of the festive mini-break you need to plan in for next year…
The small Derbyshire village of Castleton, nestled at the heart of the Peak District National Park, is a sight of wonder at Christmas. There are not many places so close to home that can really bring Christmas to life, but Castleton has been a favourite festive destination for many families, for generations, thanks to its pretty displays and quaint traditions. It offers a real escape from the stresses of Christmas, and for everyone (kids and adults) to indulge in a little magic. Christmas lights fill the streets, and each shop is decorated to perfection, with extended opening hours, and plenty of hospitality, events and activities, bringing that festive atmosphere we crave, right on our doorstep. A Christmas tree festival, carol by candlelight in caves, and entertainment on the streets make Castleton an enchanting place to go for your fill of festive cheer.
Fancy taking a trip to the capital this Christmas? You won’t miss out! Christmas in London is packed with festive concerts, markets, ice skating, Santa’s grottos and warming food and drink delicacies to indulge in. See some of London’s most famous landmarks lit up in spectacular fashion; hear all your favourite Christmas carols at venues like Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral; and take in the bustling atmosphere of shopping hubs like Oxford Street, Mayfair, Bond Street, the quirky, Camden Market, and Harrods, of course. Highlights also include: the beautiful outdoor ice skating rinks at Alexandra Palace, Hampton Court Palace and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, and Christmas markets, including the South Bank Centre, Tate Modern and London Bridge.
Nuremberg is a fabulous medieval city in the heart of Bavarian Germany. The centre truly comes alive at Christmas with Christmas markets and more. Fabulous nightlife, a vibrant café and alfresco dining culture, and 14 Michelin-recommended restaurants (two with Michelin Stars) – all immersed within the stunning medieval town walls – make Nuremberg a truly exciting city to visit. The history of Nuremberg’s medieval roots shape the town and its architecture, and its many historical sites, including the Kaiserburg castle and the Nuremberg Trials Memorium, are a must see. There are also excellent shopping opportunities in the pedestrianised town centre.
The cobbled streets of Copenhagen are festooned with lights, the beer is in full flow, and the inviting scent of gløgg (mulled wine) and toasted almonds fills the air. Stay in a picturesque waterfront hotel in the colourful Nyhavn harbour, conveniently located for the Christmas market at Tivoli fairground, the shops along Størget, as well as the city’s palaces, museums and restaurants. There’s also a series of Christmas concerts held at churches across the city to enjoy, and several outdoor skating rinks too. Don’t miss the Kastellet, one of the best-preserved star fortresses in northern Europe, and the Amalienborg (the main residence of the Danish royal family) considered to be the greatest example of Danish Rococo architecture. Be sure to climb the aptly named Round Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the capital too.
The Croatian city of Zagreb is the perfect location for culture, arts, music, architecture and a buzzing atmosphere, making it a very popular choice for a short city-break. Zagreb has proven that it is not just a summer destination with its range of Christmassy activities, including the annual Zagreb Advent Festival which won Europe’s Best Christmas Market two years in a row (2016 and 2017). The festival offers a huge number of activities for all visitors, including live music, festive food and drink, Christmas bells, clowns and art. Visitors can enjoy an impressive ice-skating show in Leden park, explore endless market stalls for the perfect Christmas gifts or watch an outdoor movie in the European square.
Explore the Prague Christmas markets in December. Highlights include: a guided city tour of Prague and the city Christmas Markets; a trip to the Prague Castle Christmas markets; a guided tour of Kutna Hora Christmas markets; a visit and tour of the Staropramen Brewery; and a traditional gyspy style show and dinner