The holiday season is upon us, when everything and everybody prepares the wonderful celebrations of Christmas – every nation in its own way. In Europe most major cities organize traditional Christmas fairs around this time of the year, and some go even further, completing the fairs with celebrations and other traditional activities that happen at Christmas time. Here is a short selection of the most interesting ones that you must visit if you happen to be in Europe around this time of the year.
The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen
The Tivoli Gardens is one of the “must-see” sights for visitors in Copenhagen (Denmark) all year long, but in December it transforms into something even more attractive – a veritable winter wonderland. Besides the thrill rides and the stalls selling traditional Christmas food and drinks, along with hand-crafted merchandise, the garden itself transforms into something taken out of a fairy tale, with dozens of decorated Christmas trees and thousands of lights flickering all over the place. A wonderful adventure and some traditions mixed with the surroundings of a modern European capital city – a must visit for those traveling in Denmark in December.
The Budapest Christmas Fair
The best place to soak up some Christmas spirit along with some exotic Hungarian traditions during the holiday season. The fair has over 100 participants, with stalls selling hand crafted, traditional foodstuffs, drinks (go easy with the “palinka” – it’s real fire water!) and ornaments, all approved by a jury as being hand-crafted and traditional. The fair is spiced up with traditional songs and dances, showing the nation’s Christmas traditions and colorful national wear.
The Christmas Markets of Paris
Oh, Paris, the wonderful capital city of France – what can be more romantic than a visit to the City of Light during the holiday season! Paris is home to a series of Christmas events and fairs, including the Gourmet Christmas Fair at the Palais Brongniart, the Christmas Markets of the Champs Elysées, the Marché de Noël de la Place Saint Sulpice or Marché de Noël de Montparnasse. You can even visit Versailles, the wonderful palace of the Sun King (Louis XIV of France) for a special Christmas fair between December 5th and December 26th this year, visiting the architectural wonder of the old Paris and the traditional Christmas fair at the same time. There are several Christmas fairs to choose from – the only problem is how to make time to visit them all.
On a personal note – I think the best way to visit these wonderful examples of Christmas fairs is by train. Riding a train during winter has its specific atmosphere, seeing all the mountains and plains covered in snow makes the trip add to your Christmas spirit. And if you get bored on the way… well, classic slots can produce hours of fun, and they can chase the boredom away.