Christmas is that one time of winter many people look forward to, despite the short days and shivering temperatures. It’s the perfect time of year to explore some of Europe’s countless festive markets, enjoy a mug of warming mulled wine or even pay a visit to Father Christmas. Others prefer to use the Christmas holidays to escape from the cold and head for the warmer climes of southern Europe and beyond. However, Europe truly presents something for everyone:

1 ) Lapland, Finland

For families with children, there are few more magical places to visit than Lapland in northern Finland. Home of Father Christmas and guaranteed snow throughout the season, Lapland offers a truly festive experience that your children will treasure for the rest of their lives. The number-one destination in the region is the small city of Rovaniemi, where snow stays on the ground for almost six months of the year. Not only can you enjoy the whole Father Christmas experience, but you may even see the spectacular northern lights. Just make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes, since the mercury can plummet to 30 degrees below zero!

Featured Hotel: Arctic Light Hotel
 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Valtakatu 18, Rovaniemi, Finland, Finland
Arctic Light Hotel
Arctic Light Hotel
Arctic Light Hotel
Arctic Light Hotel

2 ) Leipzig, Germany

Germany is one of the birthplaces of the Christmas market, a tradition that has taken Central Europe and beyond by storm over recent decades. However, while many of the more famous Christmas markets are inundated with tourists, Leipzig remains relatively off the beaten track to foreigners. In fact, Leipzig’s Christmas market has been going for over 550 years! It starts on November 24, and it features both a medieval-style market and a more modern venue. Mulled wine flows in vast amounts, but there’s fun for all the family thanks to the Fairy Tale Forest and the Santa Claus stage on the Market Square.

Featured Hotel: Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Salzgaesschen 6, Leipzig, Leipzig, Saxony 04109 , Germany
Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof
Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof
Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof
Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof

3 ) Strasbourg, France

Starting on November 27, Strasbourg’s Christmas market was first established in 1570, and it has continued the tradition ever since. The main event takes place near the truly spectacular 466-foot-high Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral, a Gothic church that was the world’s tallest building during the Middle Ages. Several other markets are held throughout the city center, and you’ll find countless small wooden stalls selling local crafts, food and mulled wine. Other festivities include live music, sound and light shows, and street parades. If you’re still not convinced, Strasbourg’s Christmas market was voted Europe’s best in 2014 by Europe Best Vacation.

Featured Hotel: Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Place Saint Pierre le Jeume, Strasbourg, Alsace/Lorraine 67000, France
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile

4) St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia’s ‘Window to the West’ is also one of the country’s grandest cities, exemplified by such wonders as the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Winter Palace. Celebrating Christmas in St. Petersburg presents a very different experience from most other destinations in Europe. For a start, in Russia, the main festive figurehead is Father Frost and Christmas Day is held on January 7! A proverbial winter wonderland, visitors can expect a white Christmas and many winter activities such as outdoor ice-skating at the festive markets. For some cozier indoor entertainment, the Mikhailovsky Theatre also presents an outstanding Christmas program.

Featured Hotel: Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/7 Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, Saint Petersburg, Northwest 191186, Russia
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe

5) Canary Islands, Spain

While guaranteed snow, mulled wine and festive markets usually pique people’s interest when it comes to Christmas, others would rather get away from the cold. The Canary Islands are one of the few European destinations that offer consistently mild weather even during the depths of winter. In fact, there’s nowhere else in Europe where you can spend Christmas Day reclining on a beach in preparation for a big dinner. All of the islands celebrate Christmas in their own way, and being a relatively religious country, traditions are still an important part of the routine. Hotels and resorts in the region also offer plenty of family-orientated Christmas activities.`

Whether you’re looking for Christmas festivities at their finest or a warm-weather getaway during the holiday season, you’re sure to find something in Europe, particularly with the extensive network of cheap flights to take advantage of. Those seeking to spend Christmas further afield will also find plenty of popular options, such as New York, Melbourne or even Sri Lanka.

Featured Hotel: Vincci Selección La Plantación del Sur
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Calle del Roque Nublo, 1, Costa Adeje, Tenerife 38670, Spain
Vincci Selección La Plantación del Sur
Vincci Selección La Plantación del Sur

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