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Christmas Vacation Destinations

What makes a city a good choice to visit during the holiday season?  History, aesthetic beauty, and culture make the top of my list. One thing many people may not be aware of happens every December and is a rich European tradition.  Each and every year, many cities in Europe host Christmas Markets. Themed around the holiday season, with decor, lights, and nativity scenes, markets traditionally include vendor stalls filled with all kinds of arts and crafts. Here are some cities that are known to hold some of Europe’s most popular Christmas Markets!

Must-Visit Christmas Vacation Destinations in Europe

Nuremberg
For hundreds of years, Christmas markets have been one of the most popular German traditions, held right alongside Munich’s famous Oktoberfest. German cities such as Stuttgart, Munich, and Hamburg hold world famous Christmas markets; but one that stands out is held in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg. Nearly two million visitors flock to this beautiful city to observe the nearly 400 year old tradition of the Christmas market that is held there. One of the great things about the Nuremberg market is that the city has made a serious stance against the commercialization of the month long event, keeping the focus on family activities and displays. There are usually around 200 candlelit booths where local vendors display their holiday oriented food, crafts, and gifts. If you have a sweet tooth you won’t be disappointed, as you will find an ample variety of ginger bread men, sweet mulled wine, and German chocolate. There is even a special children’s market with some old fashioned rides for the kids to enjoy, while parents can partake in baking, candle making, and wreath making demonstrations.

Vienna
As if the city of Vienna needed an excuse to be more beautiful, every year they host one of the most popular Christmas markets in Austria. You will find a cornucopia of wooden toys, delicious treats, as well as the delicious traditional Christmas punch. Like most cities with Christmas markets, you will find many fine musical performances throughout the festival. This world famous market is not open as long as others, beginning December 12th and ending on the 22nd. Try taking your car rental in Vienna over to some of the surrounding towns, as they offer smaller versions of these beautiful festive decorative celebrations.

Brussels
Every December Brussels’ Grand Place, (main square, where the town hall is located) is decorated in beautiful lights and the central plaza is filled with lighted trees and an original animated nativity scene. The market contains more than 200 stalls and has more of an international flair than other Christmas markets. While you can get your fill of all kinds of food from around the world,  the traditional Belgian food is what many come for. Things like Belgian chocolate, Belgian waffles, gingerbread, cookies and beer keep visitors flocking back year after year. Once you have had your fill of delicious decadent treats, you can visit the skating rinks. There is even a kids rink to keep parents happy. A car rental in Brussels is a great way to get where you need to be this Christmas season.

Prague
Prague’s Christmas market definitely takes has a more laid-back approach to this celebration. Peruse the intimate market in search of homemade Czech-made products like wooden toys, beautiful crystals mined nearby, custom jewelry, as well as traditional European sweets. You can even purchase live fish, which is the traditional cooked up fresh for Christmas Eve dinner in the Czech Republic. The songs of Czech school children fill your ears and laughter fills the air at the petting zoo for children.  The city of Prague is a great place to spend the holidays!

Whichever city you decide to travel to, a car rental in Europe is a great way to get around and see the sights at your own pace!  Do you have a favorite Christmas vacation destination?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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12 Responses to Christmas Vacation Destinations

  1. ryan says:

    I am surprised that these European nations still call them ‘Christmas Markets’, rather than something more politically correct, and inclusive of all people and religions. Many religions have significant holidays during the month of December including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and others. Hans, are we to believe that the population of Europe is too homogenised to acknowledge that the holidays of minorities are equally important? I think they should rename these ‘Holiday Markets’ as to not appear insensitive others.

  2. ryan says:

    And quite frankly I am a bit intrigued by the fact that these secular nations of the European Union cling so feverously to certain monastic traditions of yore which serve no other purpose than a gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, namely, Santa Claus.

  3. Adrianne says:

    Ryan, I’m not surprised in the least. What’s not to cling to? Petting zoos, ice skating, candlelit vending, chocolate chocolate chocolate and mulled wine? This Christmas market thing sounds pretty cling-worthy to me! A large part of contemporary holiday traditions are actually pagan in origin, anyhow, but to the credit of the medieval Christians, they were quite happy to bring forth the noise, the funk and the figgy pudding. Now here’s the really great part: In these modern times of freely exchanged ideas and traditions, we have even more reasons for excellent celebrations than ever before! I bet that in the coming months, Hans can tell us about many other great festivals, secular and spiritual alike. :)

  4. Adrianne says:

    Ryan, I’m not surprised in the least. What’s not to cling to? Petting zoos, ice skating, candlelit vending, chocolate chocolate chocolate and mulled wine? This Christmas market thing sounds pretty cling-worthy to me! A large part of contemporary holiday traditions are actually pagan in origin, anyhow, but to the credit of the medieval Christians, they were quite happy to bring forth the noise, the funk and the figgy pudding. Now here’s the really great part: In these modern times of freely exchanged ideas and traditions, we have even more reasons for excellent celebrations than ever before! I bet that in the coming months, Hans can tell us about many other great festivals, secular and spiritual alike. :)

  5. I think what makes all these markets special is the fact that for the most part, they are non-commercialized. The Christmas markets don’t really have anything at all to do with Santa Claus.

  6. I think what makes all these markets special is the fact that for the most part, they are non-commercialized. The Christmas markets don’t really have anything at all to do with Santa Claus.

  7. ryan says:

    Hans, I certainly appreciate your candor on the subject, however, to excuse the vital participation that Santa Clause has in these ‘Christmas Markets’, is not only a vast understatement but also defies the very reason for the season itself. These ‘Christmas Markets’ are devoid of the wherewithal to even construct an event such as the aforementioned were it not for the pomp and circumstance of he whose role lies in question. Every Christmas season brings forth unto the people a myriad of superfluous design intended to entrap those whom are less the weary to suspicion, and by doing so, leading them to embrace pleasure through certain tangible allurements such as Adrianne described, being; wine that has been thoroughly mulled over; trinkets that are given as gifts to one another in order to measure the esteem in which one is held; chocolate that provides no health benefit save a transient surge of dopamine to the brain; and an iconic figure known not for his unsung recognized merits, but for his fabricated celebrity and mythology; Santa Clause. Santa Clause has exploited his once glorious image and adopted a systematic paradigm that perpetuates the whole facade of holiday materialism, and he has done this solely operating from his snowy hamlet in the northern most pole. Please allow me this moment to avow that I have no personal grievances toward the Mr.Clause himself. I also enjoy brisk walks through candy cane enshrouded streets, lights that shine in various attractive colors, songs that put the mind at peace, and many other details synonomous with Christmas. Nonetheless, all these distractions steal the focus of the meaning of Christmas altogether; the birth of Santa Claus himself; but not the Santa Clause that is enshrined as the familiar harbinger of wooden toys and spiced egg-nog; but as the historically relevant saint who was born on Christmas day, the same Santa Clause who has, in these modern times, turned his red clothed back away from all of us. Hans, I respectfully disagree with your lacadiscal outlook on what I would suggest is a trivial homage to what Christmas and Santa Clause should embody, however, in the spirit of goodwill and fortune, which is so veneered during this season, I believe that whatever brings people together is a noble enough endeavor.

  8. ryan says:

    Hans, I certainly appreciate your candor on the subject, however, to excuse the vital participation that Santa Clause has in these ‘Christmas Markets’, is not only a vast understatement but also defies the very reason for the season itself. These ‘Christmas Markets’ are devoid of the wherewithal to even construct an event such as the aforementioned were it not for the pomp and circumstance of he whose role lies in question. Every Christmas season brings forth unto the people a myriad of superfluous design intended to entrap those whom are less the weary to suspicion, and by doing so, leading them to embrace pleasure through certain tangible allurements such as Adrianne described, being; wine that has been thoroughly mulled over; trinkets that are given as gifts to one another in order to measure the esteem in which one is held; chocolate that provides no health benefit save a transient surge of dopamine to the brain; and an iconic figure known not for his unsung recognized merits, but for his fabricated celebrity and mythology; Santa Clause. Santa Clause has exploited his once glorious image and adopted a systematic paradigm that perpetuates the whole facade of holiday materialism, and he has done this solely operating from his snowy hamlet in the northern most pole. Please allow me this moment to avow that I have no personal grievances toward the Mr.Clause himself. I also enjoy brisk walks through candy cane enshrouded streets, lights that shine in various attractive colors, songs that put the mind at peace, and many other details synonomous with Christmas. Nonetheless, all these distractions steal the focus of the meaning of Christmas altogether; the birth of Santa Claus himself; but not the Santa Clause that is enshrined as the familiar harbinger of wooden toys and spiced egg-nog; but as the historically relevant saint who was born on Christmas day, the same Santa Clause who has, in these modern times, turned his red clothed back away from all of us. Hans, I respectfully disagree with your lacadiscal outlook on what I would suggest is a trivial homage to what Christmas and Santa Clause should embody, however, in the spirit of goodwill and fortune, which is so veneered during this season, I believe that whatever brings people together is a noble enough endeavor.

  9. All this time I was referring to the Tim Allen movie.

  10. All this time I was referring to the Tim Allen movie.

  11. Amber says:

    just to comment on ryan’s comment. i think what is wrong with america is that we lack in tradition because we are so worried about offending other people/traditions/religions and don’t just enjoy what has worked. i think it is a shame i cant say merry christmas in public without hurting people. i am all for equality, but christmas is something completely different from hanukkah and kwanza, neither of these other holidays “revolve” around presents and the hallmark image christmas has become. To call it a holiday market would be useless just because it makes no sense. I have traveled to europe many times and have definitely and have found because people dont tip toe around trying not to offend people they seem to be much happier and at the same time still are immersed in different cultures.

  12. Amber says:

    just to comment on ryan’s comment. i think what is wrong with america is that we lack in tradition because we are so worried about offending other people/traditions/religions and don’t just enjoy what has worked. i think it is a shame i cant say merry christmas in public without hurting people. i am all for equality, but christmas is something completely different from hanukkah and kwanza, neither of these other holidays “revolve” around presents and the hallmark image christmas has become. To call it a holiday market would be useless just because it makes no sense. I have traveled to europe many times and have definitely and have found because people dont tip toe around trying not to offend people they seem to be much happier and at the same time still are immersed in different cultures.

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