10 Dec 2020 by Olga Brighton
Usually December brings plenty of outdoor seasonal festivals, parades, Christmas markets and spectacular ice-rinks. However, this year is like no other; and many countries have restricted or cancelled public gatherings and events, including traditional Christmas markets.
These wonderfully Christmassy locations may need to be saved for safer times as new travel restrictions are imposed, but when you do get to visit, they are guaranteed to bring some festive cheer to all the family.
The current travel environment is fast-moving - and restrictions vary depending on where you live and where you plan to go. So if you plan on travelling make sure you check your local Government advice before you book or travel. For UK residents, it’s the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). It will take longer to organise a trip as you may need to take special measures like completing health declarations and taking tests just before travel. Speak to your local travel provider and importantly - check your insurance cover to ensure you have suitable protection in place. Globelink COVID Travel Insurance will get you covered for emergency medical expenses, including compulsory quarantine, necessary medical repatriation, curtailment and more.
One of the most quintessentially Norwegian attractions that is magically Christmassy is, the fairytale Pepperkakebyen - the world's largest gingerbread city, in Bergen, Norway. Since 1991, thousands of volunteers, school children and local businesses, have participated in the construction of Pepperkakebyen. You’ll see everything from picture perfect minature houses, local landmarks, signature buildings, shops, cars, boats, trees and lakes. This glorious gingerbread kingdom plunges you into the world of traditional flavours, colours and spices intended to represent a snowy night time in Bergen.
Bergen itself is a perfect location for a Christmas vibe. It is Norway's second largest city, but maintains a small town feel, brimming with character. Cobbled streets, and traditional houses clinging to the hillside around the city. Its Instagram worthy wharf including UNESCO World Heritage site “The Hanseatic Wharf” is reminiscent of times when Bergen was the trade centre between Norway and the rest of Europe.
Today, the wharf houses shops, galleries a museum and is a perfect place to hang out and soak up local atmosphere.
This quaint little town has Christmas tradition dating back 500 years. Although there’s no Christmas market this year, Rothenburg ob de Tauber is set to keep its Christmas spirit glowing by decorating this 800 year old town in festive lights and decorations. It’s the most impeccably preserved Bavarian Medieval town in Europe and this chocolate box location transforms itself into a living Christmas Card in December. It’s thick stone town walls surrounding the town, studded with 42 towers and tiny, crooked wooden walkways offer unique roof top vistas of the town’s half-timbered houses and red-tiled roofs. Walk through the cobblestone streets past houses adorned with festive window boxes and minuscule shops packed to the rafters with traditional Christmas treats. It’s one of the most cosy Christmassy places you can imagine.
To feel the spirit of Christmas, head to Ingólfstorg square in Reykjavik, Iceland. Alpine-like wooden huts, delightful Christmas lights and a seasonal purpose built ice-rink all help to create the Christmas spirit in the capital of the Land of Ice and Fire. You can hire helmets and skates and admission is free. There’s warming Christmas drinks, gingerbread, and other foods to help you while away the hours in the beautiful Christmas market.
Ireland can boast of its own magical woodland Santa experience in amazing Luggwoods set in the foothills of the Dublin mountains. This year families can look forward to a special, adapted guide through the forest by charming Luggwoods fairy tale characters along the new Woodland Walk of Wonder. Enjoy the scent of fresh pines, twinkling lights on all the way to Santa. Additionally, Luggwoods offers Zoom with Santa so you don’t miss out even if you prefer to stay home.
Santa’s keeping busy at Santa Claus Village 6.2 miles north of Rovaniemi. This Christmas themed village that includes holiday accommodation, has everything imaginable for a Christmas themed family break. Set in a huge open parkland, there are a wide variety of attractions including an ‘Arctic Circle’ experience, Christmas House, Snowman Ice World, you can take a reindeer safari in a sleigh, book a trip to see the iconic Northern Lights and many others. The key event of course is meeting Santa and his elves and soaking up the atmosphere.