FFE Magazine

Top 20 European Christmas Celebrations this year – Part 1


Brussels – The capital of Belgium is host again to this season’s “Winter Wonders”. Winter Wonders is a renowned annual Christmas event bringing together a unique atmosphere, quality activities, varied culinary specialties, discoveries of other worlds, and enchanting lights, delighting both the locals and visitors alike in a 2-km open area.

Apart from its traditional features that include the Christmas markets, skating rink, merry-go-rounds, the Big wheel, and toboggan run for the family. Winter Wonders 2012 will have several additions attractions, namely:

  • The Grand Place basking in light with a monumental electronic Christmas tree and the traditional Christ Child’s crib
  • Dreams in light: a light course composed of 5 artistic light installations
  • Balkan Trafik! – A music festival that expresses European multiculturalism between Western and Eastern Europe
  • Skating madness: When the skating ring turns into a spectacular, freestyle disco!
  • The Stock Exchange exhibition featuring China’s Terracotta Army
  • Les Flamboyants Fire parade
  • Les Pastoureaux Choir concert

General Information:

Winter Wonders begins on Friday, 30 November 2012 to Sunday, 6 January 2013.

Open from Monday to Thursday: 12 noon to 9:00 PM and Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Public holidays:

    Monday 24.12: 12 noon to 6:00 PM

    Tuesday 25.12: 12 noon to 10:00 PM

    Monday 31.12: 12 noon to 6:00 PM

    Tuesday 01.01: 12 noon to 10:00 PM

For more information, visit: www.visitbrussels.be

Essen region – At Belgium’s Essen Region, the O.B.E.R. (Objective Beer tasters Essen Region) will hold its annual Christmas Beer Festival. Visitors will get to taste more than 150 of the finest Belgian Christmas and winter beers. Visitors get to judge which brew is the best using 15 cl tasting glasses. A glass can be obtained for three Euros, but if returned to the organizers upon leaving, visitors get a refund… Why return it though? Keep it as a souvenir!

 Photo from flickr

(Image L to R) Local cheeses are served to compliment Belgian brews; the famous O.B.E.R 15 cl glasses

General Information:

The Christmas Beer Festival begins on Saturday, 15 December 2012 to Sunday, 16 December 2012

Open at 13:30-24 H on SAT and 12:00-20 H on SUN

Free entry

Tasting glasses 15cl

Smoke free hall

Food prepared with Christmas Beer

Taxi service 1 Euro from Essen railway station

For more information, visit: www.kerstbierfestival.be


Copenhagen – Christmas at Tivoli gardens is practically tradition for the local Danes. Tivoli’s Christmas market boasts as one of the best in Europe with its unique gift items, decorations, sweets and food, and hot drinks to keep anyone warm. Tivoli garden will add a Russian theme to its Christmas event this year. A replica of a Russian city, with Tivoli’s version of St. Basil’s cathedral, will be the focal point of the square. Various shops and food outlets as well as a Siberian Lantern ride, one of Tivoli’s 28 Christmas rides, will surround the Basilica.

A showing of the Nutcracker will also be held at Tivoli Concert Hall starting 22 November 2012 with set designs and costumes by Queen Margrethe of Denmark!

The annual fireworks festival will be from 26 – 30 December. In addition, Tivoli Gardens will be the ultimate romantic spot this season as it opens for dinner reservations on New Year’s Eve, followed by fireworks at midnight

General Information:

Open from

16/11/2012 – 23/12/2012Monday – Thursday,

Sunday11:00 – 22:0016/11/2012 – 23/12/2012

Friday, Saturday11:00 – 23:0026/12/2012 – 30/12/2012

Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday11:00 – 22:0026/12/2012 – 30/12/2012

Friday, Saturday11:00 – 23:00

For more information, visit www.tivoli.dk / www.visitdenmark.com

Aarhus – Christmas in Den Gamle By – The Old Town is a fun and educational experience for families and friends. Both locals and foreign visitors can experience how Danes have traditionally celebrated Christmas in the past. With more than thirty exhibitions distributed among the historical buildings, visitors can magically teleport to different scenes and periods of Danish history when the holidays were spent. 

Photo from smiling globe

Visitors may ride traditional horse-drawn carriages for a more authentic experience of Den Gamle By or The Old Town.

General Information:

Open from

17/11/2012 – 23/12/2012Monday – Sunday10:00 – 18:00

26/12/2012 – 30/12/2012Wednesday – Sunday10:00 – 17:00

For more information, visit: www.visitdenmark.com



Christmas in Italy is a cultural experience unlike any other. Italians hold their traditions very close to their hearts and this will show in their Christmas activities for 2012. They will celebrate the season by incorporating their very own culture, food, and art in these activities and events. Some of these include:

Murano: Natale di Vetro

The island of Murano, famous for its beautiful Venetian glass, hosts Natale di Vetro (Christmas in Glass) each year. The event features the lighting of seven-meter-tall glass Christmas tree, as well as other spectacular glass decorations.

When: 6 December 2012 – 6 January 2013

Photo from flickr

(2008)  The Murano glass Christmas tree

Gubbio (Umbria): Christmas in Gubbio

This small medieval town boasts massive holiday decorations, including a 650-meter-high Christmas tree, the tallest in the world.

When: 7 December 2012 – 10 January 2013      

For more information, visit www.alberodigubbio.com

(2011) Christmas lights form the world’s largest Christmas tree on the slopes of Mt. Ingino, Gubbio

Umbria: Jazz Winter

Cool jazz can heat up winter in Umbria as sister festival to the summer jazz event held in Perugi. This festival spreads jazz throughout the city in myriad forms — evening concerts, jazz-accompanied lunches, outdoor and indoor concerts, and more, with all flavors and styles of jazz showcased. Highlights include twice-daily marching parades featuring Funk Off, the New Year’s Eve holiday jazz-accompanied dinners, and the New Year’s Day Mass for Peace in the city’s gorgeous cathedral, complete with gospel singers! Many of the events are free (particularly those at Palazzo dei Sette), although a few of the indoor concerts have an entry fee.

When: 28 December 2012 – 1 January 2013

For more information, visit www.dreamofitaly.com or www.italia.it

Photo from flickr

Scene at Umbria’s Jazz Winter Festival back in 2011.

(Information courtesy of www.dreamofitaly.com)



Christmas in the UK is definitely a whirlwind of experiences. The UK offers different activities that cater to families, shoppers, those looking for a cultural and alternative way to spend the holidays. Here are some activities you will surely enjoy.

For families:

Santa’s Magical Journey, Thursford, Norfolk

Treat your children to a festive experience that they will never forget. Journey through a snow-coated fantasy world animated with polar bears, penguins, giant sized teddy bears and elves hard at work in the toy factory as you head to meet Father Christmas in his charming house bursting with presents.

When: 17, 18, 24 and 25 November and 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 23 December 2012

The Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

An unmissable glittering wonderland takes over the National Arboretum this Christmas, as thousands of twinkling lights illuminate the towering trees of the Old Arboretum. Take the 45-minute trail that highlights the trees’ mystical shapes and then head inside for another wonderland, filled with decorative snow, icicles and the sound of carols, to learn about the history of Christmas trees and meet Father Christmas dressed in traditional green.

When: 30th November – 23rd December 2012

Photo from Visit England

Mystical trees have faces to make the experience truly ‘enchanted’

For a historic Christmas experience:

Victorian Christmas Weekend, Blists Hill Victorian Town

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of a bygone era as the town heaves with Victorian characters donning bonnets and top hats. Dip into the various traditional shops for unique stocking fillers such as white mice sweets and pretty lace collars.

When: 8 – 9 and 15 – 16 December 2012

Photo from love telford

Blast from the past! Blists Hill folks sing Christmas carols in Victorian clothing

For those seeking an alternative way to spend the holidays:

Ministry of Burlesque Christmas Special, Bath

Christmas is given a markedly different flavour at the Ministry of Burlesque’s seasonal special at the Komedia in Bath. All the joys of cabaret are on offer, from costume to comedy, showgirls to songs and a healthy dose of double entendre. It is the bare underbelly of Victoriana at its best, and an excellent alternative Christmas night out. The Auditorium Meal Deal includes a delectable three-course meal sourced from the very best top quality local produce.

When: 30 November and 21 December 2012

 Photo from komedia

A full house of entertained guests at the Komedia in Bath

For the avid shoppers:

Manchester Christmas Markets

Christmas shopping is a festive day out at Manchester’s award-winning Christmas Markets. Considered to be amongst the best in UK and Europe, the markets transform the city centre with their charming traditional wooden chalets.

When: 17 November – Sunday 23 December 2012

For more information, visit www.visitengland.com

Photo from blog.thistle

A view of Manchester’s Christmas Market




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