Christmas in Europe: here are the festive events taking place this year
Many traditional European Christmas markets and events have been canceled for a second year due to the pandemic.
As travel restrictions have tightened and some countries have returned to containment after detecting the Omicron variant, there is less chance of soaking up the holiday spirit.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t places where you can get your fill of Christmas cheer up just yet.
Here are some of the most festive experiences taking place again this year.
Christmas markets in Wroclaw, Poland
While it might not be the first place you think of for traditional Christmas markets, Wroclaw has a lot to offer festive visitors.
Taking place in four different locations in the city, this Christmas market has been around since the 16th century and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Surrounded by interesting architecture and buildings painted in pastel colors, the main site of Rynek Square looks like a fairy tale.
With stalls selling crafts, local food and drink, and delicacies from around the world, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit.
Open until December 21, there is no compulsory vaccination or test and it is not compulsory to wear a mask outside. Find out more here.
If you are in the EU and are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID test, a trip to Finland is still possible. That means you could take a Christmas trip to Lapland.
The capital, Rovaniemi, is the official residence of Santa Claus. The elves say his real home is somewhere in the mysterious “Ear Fell”, but since only a few secrets are known, the merry bearded man has established an office in the city.
Santa Claus Village is technically open every day of the year and you can easily get there by bus from central Rovaniemi. Here, besides meeting the man himself, you can go on husky and reindeer rides, snowmobile tours, and even stay in an igloo hotel.
But that’s not all you can see in this magical arctic region. Dark winter days offer a chance to glimpse the Northern Lights and the region’s beautiful natural environment.
Even if things change, many tour operators offer full refunds or rebooking if COVID-19 restrictions are updated and you cannot travel. Plan your visit here.
Legend has it that the very first public Christmas tree in Europe was exhibited in Tallinn in 1441. And the festive spirit of this medieval town has continued ever since.
The market is held on the town hall square where the Christmas tree is displayed. Decorated with lights and ornaments, traditional Estonian seasonal foods such as black pudding and sour cabbage are on sale here. The market runs until January 2, so you still have plenty of time to check it out.
There is also a diverse program of Christmas events held in the town square with rides and attractions for children. Instead of a traditional train, a double-decker bus will take visitors to Tallinn’s Old Town this year.
Estonia is currently open to fully vaccinated travelers without any restrictions. You can read more about the country’s COVID-19 rules here.
Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona
This festival was once a one-day event to commemorate the feast of Santa Lucia on December 13. It now spans three full weeks with activities such as nativity scenes, festive storytelling, and a pinata-style Yule log known as the caga tio.
There is also the Christmas market with almost 300 stalls outside Barcelona Cathedral. Located on Avinguda de la Catedral, it operates until December 23, the eve of Christmas Eve.
Masks are mandatory when social distancing cannot be maintained and visitors may be limited on weekends when the market is busy. Find out more about the Fira de Santa Llúcia here.
_Although many of these events are still open to those who live nearby, travel restrictions change quickly and could still apply to visitors from out of the country. You can stay up to date with where and how you can travel in Europe here. _