The Christmas and New Year period is one of the most magical times of the year. Everywhere is looking festive, there’s a sense of joy in the air and people are starting to look forward to all of the exciting things to come in the new year. Spending Christmas and New Year at home is always nice but have you ever considered going abroad for this period? A spectacular destination and a wonderful time of year combine to create unforgettable memories. Here are our five favourite places abroad to visit during the Christmas and New Year period.
Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is beautiful throughout the year but the city truly comes alive at Christmas. The Old Town Square is lined with traditional Christmas markets where you can get all sorts of handmade goods and soak up the buzzing, festive atmosphere. A stroll along the Vltava River or across it via Charles Bridge is also best experienced during this period. The city is glowing with Christmas lights and it feels like a scene from a movie! There are also a few Christmas market stalls at the top of Castle Hill and while you’re there, be sure to try Svařák. It is the Czech take on English mulled wine with a stronger touch of lemon and citrus flavours to balance out the sugars.
There is nothing quite like a Christmas or New Year trip to New York, and the city that never sleeps certainly needs very little introduction. Whether you have watched Kevin run through the streets on Home Alone or binge-watched all of the Christmas episodes of your favourite show that probably is set in New York (Friends, anyone?), there is nothing quite like being there yourself. Central Park’s ice rink, an abundance of bustling shops and of course, all of the usual tourist sites. New York tends to get very cold at this time of year though so be sure to wrap up warm!
Budapest is another exceptional European city break that is arguably best experienced during the Christmas and New Year period. The city has consistently been voted the best Christmas market city in Europe and it is no surprise when you learn everything that Budapest has to offer. Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market is one of the main events with Christmas stalls lining the street as far as the eye can see. As well as all of the handmade gifts and mulled wine stalls, be sure to keep an eye out for sült kolbász (sausages), tökipompos (special pies) or soup in bread bowls. The Basilica Christmas Market is the internationally renowned market that is completely separate from the aforementioned one and sits right in the centre of the city. If you get a chance, a visit up to Buda Castle, particularly on New Years Eve, is a truly special experience.
Rome is a beautiful destination to visit all-year-round but it provides a truly special experience during this time of year. It provides a more traditional Christmas atmosphere with plenty of concerts & masses in the city’s churches. There are also spectacular Christmas trees dotted around the city including Saint Peter’s Square, Piazza Venezia and Piazza di Spagna. There is also an ice rink and no festive trip to Rome would be complete without trying some of their famous Panettone or Pandoro dessert which is a tradition during the Christmas period.
Rounding off our list is the lively and picturesque German city of Munich. The main attraction to this place during the winter festivities is the magnificent Christkindlmarkt Christmas market located on Marienplatz. It is one of the oldest in Europe, being held in the city every year since the 14th century. The city also offers the opportunity to ice skate between November and January, meaning you can skate and get in the festive mood for either Christmas or New Year. Finally, the Tolwood Winter Festival is not to be missed. It is a cultural event where the site is filled with tents of differing themes. It is also the home of the best New Year’s Party venue in town, so don’t miss out!