Christmas is now only three weeks away and so most of us are frantically trying to get the last of our presents together in time for the big day. Many people may be heading off to mainland Europe to visit some of the fantastic Christmas markets, in the hope of finding something a little bit different. Whilst there is likely to be a range of handmade crafts, food stalls and plenty of festive cheer; you may be surprised to also find these things amongst the festivities.
Throughout the month of December, the people of Budapest can travel in style whether they are visiting the Christmas markets or not. Each year, two trams are chosen to be decked out in fairy lights, creating a magical feeling for everyone climbing on board. In 2015, it is Tram 2 (travelling along the Danube Promenade) and Tram 19 (between Batthyány Square and Kelenföld Train Station) which have been chosen to be bedazzled with thousands of LEDs.
Anybody visiting the Venice Christmas market will be able to catch a glimpse of the largest glass Christmas tree in the world. The island of Murano is famous for its hand-blown glass sculptures and every year they display a three-ton tree made entirely of the material. The impressive installation stands at twenty-four feet high and is made from over 1,000 coloured glass tubes.
A Sporty Square
Berlin has a variety of different Christmas markets to discover, but it’s the activities taking place in Potsdamer Platz that may attract the attention of sports fans. Every Christmas, the square is transformed into a winter playground, offering the chance to have a go at ice skating, curling and even tobogganing. Known as Winterwelt, the entertainment also includes the chance to learn to skate like a pro, from a pro.
Chasing The Claus
As Christmas time approaches, everyone is usually doing their best to please Santa Claus in order to ensure they are on the nice list for the year. However, the people of Küssnacht in Switzerland don’t seem to worry about this, as they dedicate an entire night to chasing the jolly, red fellow out of town. Situated on the shores of Lake Lucerne, Küssnacht residents take part in the “Chasing the Claus” event on the 5th of December, taking the lead from a Pagan ritual that was used in the Middle Ages to rid the town of evil spirits. As well as making as much noise as possible using cow bells and other instruments, people parade through the streets wearing enormous bishop’s mitres that look like stained-glass windows.
Feng Shui Festivities
It’s not unusual to be confronted by rows and rows of quaint, little stalls when visiting a German Christmas market, but it’s not very often that these are organised according to an ancient Chinese philosophical system. In Bergisch-Gladbach, North Rhine-Westphalia, everything is arranged in line with feng shui principles, creating a much calmer way to peruse the various wares on offer. It also makes it a lot easier to find what you are looking for.
A visit to the Nuremberg Christmas market will open you up to the world of Zwetschgenmännle, or prune men in English. These quirky little figures can be found all over the various stalls of the Christkindlesmarkt and are perfect for those looking for something different to bring home. Made in over 300 different styles, the statuettes are produced almost entirely from prunes except for the head, which is a walnut (of course). You’ll find prune men in different positions, doing different jobs and in different guises, whilst a Nuremberg saying states that “with a prune man in your house, money and happiness stay, too”.
As you can see, there are many different idiosyncrasies that make each European Christmas market stand out from the next. We can offer trips to a range of different destinations throughout the continent; just give us a call today.