Mulled wine, skating rinks, reindeer-drawn sleigh rides through the snow, St. Nick lookalikes -- Christmas has arrived in Europe!
This winter, hotel search site www.trivago.com has selected a handful of beautiful European cities with ultra-charming Christmas traditions.
From Finland to the Czech Republic, stay and experience Christmas at its roots and send those holiday spirits soaring.
Radisson Blu Hotel (Cologne, Germany - Weihnachtsmarkt)" width="52" height="52"/>
The traditional German Weihnachtsmärkt (Christmas markets) attract visitors from around the world and date back to the Late Middle Ages. One of the most enchanting of these markets lies at the base of the colossal Cologne Cathedral. Get lost in the aisles of cottage-shaped stalls adorned with glittering lights. Here you’ll find merchants selling all the classic German treats -- from potato pancakes, marzipan sweets, the famous mulled spiced wine -- to Christmas cookies of every assortment, artisan German sausages and rich-smelling chestnuts literally roasting over an open fire. There are few celebrations in the world that rival the oh-so-German Weihnachtsmarkt in garnering Christmas spirit.
Hotel de la Porte Dorée (Paris, France – Light displays)" width="52" height="52"/>
Paris is affectionately nicknamed “The City of Light” -- for good reason. Over the holiday season (from the end of November onward) the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe and the Notre Dame Cathedral shine with blankets of shimmering light that illuminate the city skyline. Don’t miss the breathtaking decorations of the upscale department store, Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann -- designed by fashion moguls Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior.
Old Town Residence (Prague, Czech Republic - Saint Nicholas Day)" width="52" height="52"/>
Saint Nicholas Day, on December 5, marks the beginning of Christmas festivities in the Czech Republic. On the eve of this day, children of Prague head to the Old Town Square, where they are greeted by adults dressed as angels, devils or the Christmas saint himself. Here children earn sweets and treats if they prove their benevolence -- or coal, if they have been naughty over the last year. Exceptionally troublesome children may even be thrown into potato sacks if they’re not careful! Families end the evening at the festive Christmas markets, feasting on traditional sausages and pastries.
Ounasvaaran Pirtit (Rovaniemi, Finland - Santa Claus Village)" width="52" height="52"/>
What better place to celebrate Christmas than Santa Claus’ hometown on the Arctic Circle? Nestled away in the Finnish village of Rovaniemi, visit Santa in his office, engage him with questions about gifts and traditions or send off a letter with the official Santa Claus postmark! Follow up your visit with the jolly man with a trip to the Christmas Exhibition that displays holiday decorations and historic traditions from around the world or take a reindeer tour though the stunning Lapland wilderness. End the evening with a skate on the city center ice rink.
The Mad Hatter (London, UK – Ice-skating rinks)" width="52" height="52"/>
From late November to January, the holiday magic to be felt in London is truly infectious as the city dons its Christmas adornment. Don’t miss the spectacular storefront and Christmas light displays seen along Regent Street, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. Perhaps the greatest pleasure to be experienced here over the holidays are countless outdoor ice rinks, popping up everywhere in the city. When December 24 arrives, the English enjoy traditional Christmas pudding prepared, according to tradition, five Sundays before Christmas.
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