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Here we are. The end of the year, marked by countless parties across Europe. Christmas and its procession of traditions draw the crowds and develop the creativity of the organizers. The Christmas market (the best in Europe are to be found here) is often the main event of the festivities of a city, while other events in December are more original. This is the case, for example, of the Festival of Lights in Lyon, which shows the “capitale des Gaules” (at night) in a whole new light. Or even Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, a very popular festival celebrated by torchlight. Want more ideas? Here’s where to go on a trip to Europe in December, depending on the festivals and events that take place there.
Lyon for the Festival of Lights | France
Where? Lyon, central-eastern France (map)
When? For the dates of the next event, go to the official website
To start our tour of travel ideas for December, head to Lyon. Every year since 1989, the Festival of Lights has been held during this period. At nightfall, the city is lit up like never before and images are projected on the facades of houses or major monuments as visitors stroll through the night. This festival has a solid popular anchorage: a religious festival on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception or the Virgin Mary, also known as the Illuminations, are the reason the festivities take place around this date.
Paris for a New Year’s Eve on the Champs-Elysées | France
Where? Paris, capital of France
When? New Year’s Eve, December 31
There are many ways to celebrate the New Year across Europe. One of the coolest, in our opinion, is in Paris. After dinner at a good restaurant to enjoy the French cuisine, take your best champagne and go have a few glasses on the most famous avenue in the world: the Champs-Elysées. For the occasion, the street is closed to traffic, leaving tipsy Parisians and tourists alike free to stroll, shout, and dance in the middle of the magical illuminations, to which only Paris holds the secret. The night finds its climax during the big fireworks display marking the transition into the new year. Perfect for unforgettable moments – and photos.
Copenhagen, for the extraordinary Tivoli Christmas Market | Denmark
Where? In the Tivoli Gardens in southern Copenhagen (map)
When? For the exact dates, check the official event website
At Destination(s) Europe, we love Christmas markets and the one in Copenhagen is one of our favourites. Specifically, one in particular; that of Tivoli. And what is special about it? It is held in the heart of an amusement park, within the Tivoli Gardens. In the middle of the more-or-less modern rides, you will be welcomed by a thousand Christmas trees, a crowd of artists, and sellers of delicacies of all kinds. If you want a truly timeless moment, this is where you need to go.
Rome for Midnight Mass | Italy
Where? Vatican City, in the heart of Rome (map)
When? Every December 24, Christmas Eve
Of course, this event is not for everyone. You can attend Midnight Mass in front of your television… but if you are visiting Rome, why not pop into the Vatican to attend it in person? Find yourself in the heart of the most famous (and most splendid) church in the world, St. Peter’s Basilica. It is quite simple: simply get a free ticket from the prefecture of the Pontifical Household. If you are a Christian (or just curious), this can be an unforgettable moment.
Edinburgh for the Hogmanay | UK
Where? Edinburgh, in the east of Scotland (map)
When? For specific dates, visit the official website
In Scotland, we never do things like everyone else, and New Year is no exception. The celebrations there are called Hogmanay and, in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, it takes on gigantic proportions. During the course of three days of celebrations, locals parade with torches to the sound of bagpipes and drums and dance until the end of the night at Edinburgh Castle. And for the more adventurous, why not take part in the Loony Dook, a dip in the River Forth at South Queensferry on the first day of the year?
There you have it, our little list of destinations in Europe for a trip in December is over, but it is obviously not exhaustive. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas with us in the comments!