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Festive Breaks in Europe

Chris Butler December 04th, 2017 2,267 views


Christmas is fast approaching, and if you haven't already, now is the time to book a getaway for a festive break in Europe.

Here is our festive guide...

London

If you are in search of Christmas shopping, you may be stretched to find a more impressive destination than the UK capital, London. From the traditionally iconic Oxford Street and Covent Garden, to the quirks of the niche independent shops of Camden and Dalston, the city is big enough to cater for every kind of personality. If you head to Knightsbridge, you will find the most iconic department store of them all, Harrods, along with other established stores like Harvey Nichols offering you an abundance of ideas for Christmas gifts!

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The winter wonderland festival in Hyde Park, which runs from early November until the New Year, offers a whole range of activities ranging from ice skating and displays of a series of ice sculptures, to roller coasters and giant observation wheels.

For a less conventional experience, you can sit back and relax and dine in the pop-up Igloo by the Thames outside of the Coppa club. Here, you can get stunning view's of the Tower Bridge and Tower of London, without freezing to death in the process. The igloo’s are made from transparent plastic and have heating systems and blankets to help you feel right at home, where you can order food from the Coppa club's extensive menu.

Amsterdam

We’ve all heard about Amsterdam and what it has to offer throughout the year, but what about in the festive season? The city has built an ever-growing reputation as one of most exciting European cities in the winter period for a number of reasons. The Amsterdam Light Festival, which runs from the end of November to mid-January, features a wide display of interesting installations and sculptures, found scattered through city streets and canals. This year has the theme of “existential” and sees an installation by acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which will surely promise to be unforgettable.  Walking tours are available to make sure you don’t miss out on seeing any of the lights throughout the city.

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As well as the lights of the festival, a whole range of Christmas markets are scattered throughout the city and in nearby towns. The Rembrandtplein market in the city centre has built a reputation as one of the best of its kind, selling a range of traditional Dutch pastries, mulled wine and chocolates, along with other festive gifts.

If you happen to be in Amsterdam on Christmas day, and you are a bit of a Scrooge looking for something to blow away the Christmas blues, head to the renowned Rijksmuseum to see some of the Netherlands most acclaimed art. Along with covering the history of Dutch art, including some of the great works of Vincent Van Gogh, if you’re there on a Saturday, you can even get the chance to create your own art.

Lisbon

Lisbon may not sound the most obvious destination to venture to in the festive period, but on closer inspection, Portugal’s capital offers a great ‘alternative’ festive experience, perfect for those tradition rebels. Churches throughout the city like Sao Roque ring out with live concert singers, serenading people with traditional Portuguese hymns, generating an authentically festive experience. Thank god you won’t be put through listening to jingle bells for the 50th year running!

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A great family event to see in Lisbon in December is the annual circus held at the Coliseu De Lisboa, an old theatre that first opened in 1890. The theatre, which is home to some of the biggest music concerts in Europe, becomes home to the circus for the whole month of December, where some of the finest acrobats and illusionists perform and is guaranteed to blow your mind!

There is plenty of traditional Portuguese food to eat, and Lisbon is as good a place as any to try some. The Bolo Rei is the national Christmas cake, and just about any market in the city will have it on sale. The Campo Pequeno, a once bullfighting arena, becomes a Christmas market in December and is one the best places to get some traditional Lisbon delicacies.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is arguably the prettiest place on the list and is perhaps anywhere in Europe. Its reputation as a great winter location is easy to understand, with its uniquely ethereal atmosphere that is elevated further when the winter lights of Christmas glow throughout the city. Don’t expect a lot of sunlight in December, with an average of only 4 hours a day, but what it lacks in natural light, it certainly makes up for in its decorative lights, serving more than just an aesthetic purpose.

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Along with Christmas lights, you may even say the wondrous lights of the aurora borealis. Later in the year and particularly towards the end of December is one best opportunities to witness them in all their magnificence.  You may be able to see them from downtown Reykjavik, but if you venture out towards Seltjarnarnes on the coast, due to minimum light pollution, you will have the most fulfilling experience of the aurora in all its beauty.

The city is only home to 200,000 residents but has managed to create a bustling cultural hub unique to its location, with acclaimed musicians like Bjork and Sigur Ros, coming from and still residing in the city. The city has embraced their connections to music and the arts, and many live music venues, including bars and pubs, host live music events regularly. Who knows, maybe Bjork will do a surprise guest slot!

Whatever festive break you have in mind this winter, be sure to check out our winter offers and see our Facebook page for more inspiration!

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