A look at Europe: The return of Christmas to the continent


Can you hear it?

In the distance, coming from across the Atlantic.

The tap-tap-tap of wooden chalets being built, the soft chime of chiming bells, the sip of mulled wine poured into a steaming cauldron, the sizzle of bratwurst roasting over an open fire and the brassy notes of a group singing festive tunes next to a Christmas tree.

That’s right, after two years of cancellations, false starts and atmosphere-sapping changes, the magic of Europe at Christmas is set to return in full in 2022.

In fact, the fun has already begun.

In Copenhagen, the venerable bar Hviids Vinstue has already served its first mulled wine of the season. The cozy 300-year-old wine tavern does it every year at 11:00 sharp on November 11. Several Christmas markets in Vienna and all of the Christmas markets in Manchester, England also opened for the season that day.

And there are hundreds and hundreds of other festive events waiting in the wings.

By the end of November, Europe will once again be decked out in its festive best, with Christmas markets filling the town squares, Christmas lights twinkling above the streets packed with shoppers, Christmas trees spectacular beaming alongside iconic landmarks and locals indulging in festive food and drink at every opportunity.

Christmas tree standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.” width=”630″ height=”355″ style=”max-width: 630px !important;max-height: 355px !important;” />
Giant Christmas tree standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/wayra)

Of course, the Christmas markets are the highlight, as these little fairytale fairs manage to distill almost all the magic of the season into a single experience, right down to the floating aroma of gingerbread and the sounds happy friends and loved ones catching up. season. Shop for gifts, eat, drink, or just stroll past the wooden chalets, soaking up Hallmark Channel-level comfort under the twinkling lights.

And it’s snow free! If you’re lucky and the snowflakes fall while you’re at a Christmas market, well, you’ll have to be a curmudgeon not to be immediately gobsmacked for Europe at Christmas.

The tradition of Christmas markets has its roots in Germany and Austria, so destinations in these countries are undoubtedly the best places to visit. You’ll find plenty of markets, each with its own personality and atmosphere, in big cities like Berlin, Vienna, Cologne, Dresden and Hamburg.

However, you can also find fabulous versions in cities like Paris, Prague, Brussels, London, and even Barcelona.

Grossarl Austria
Snowy Grossarl at night. (Photo by Scott Hartbeck)

In all my years of visiting Christmas markets, I can honestly say that I’ve had just as much fun at the lesser-known places, especially those with scenic backdrops like Grossarl in the Austrian Alps or Montreaux on the shores of the lake. Leman. .

It’s not everything at the Christmas markets though, because it’s also the time of year for enchanting candlelit concerts in St. Lucia in Scandinavia, wild Krampus runs in the Alps, nibbling on chocolate letters in the Netherlands, plus dozens of other fun traditions that Europeans cherish this time of year.

No matter the city, town or village, you can bet the local events calendar will be filled with quintessentially European holiday events and winter fun – no doubt to make up for lost time in 2020 and 2021.

The best part? You are invited to join the party.

All you have to do is get here and Europe will take care of the rest.


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