How to Celebrate the Holidays in Europe


Christmas is coming, and cities (and towns) throughout Europe are getting ready to celebrate the season. Here’s a look at what visitors can look for in Germany, Ireland, the UK and Switzerland.

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets as the year comes to a close. We already looked at some of the notable markets in the southwestern part of the country, but there are many more worth exploring.

In Erfurt, the 163rd Christmas Market covers the grand Domplatz (Cathedral Square) with 200 booths and a fun fair from November 26 to December 22; Lutherstadt Wittenberg’s is close to the local church (November 28 to December 22); and Wartburg Castle, Eisenach, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has a medieval market (November 30-December 1; December 7-8 and 14-15) with knights and craftsmen, minstrels and candle makers, street performers and lantern makers.

In Ireland’s County Clare, Dromoland Castle is offering both Christmas and New Year’s packages to wrap up 2013 and kick of 2014, with caroling and visits from Santa for the kids and mulled wine (or a six-course New Year’s menu) for Mom and Dad. The packages can be adjusted for stays of one, two or three nights. 

In County Mayo, meanwhile, Ashford Castle is offering a Christmas Package that includes  mulled wine and mince pies served upon arrival on Christmas Eve, a special holiday dinner in the George V Restaurant, a visit from Santa (with gifts), a performance of Christmas carols by a local church choir and jazz after dinner. On Christmas day, guests can play golf or cruise on the Lough Corrib with traditional music and hot whiskeys. A treasure hunt and a gala dinner follow for th eevening, with music by the Keith McDonald & the Show Band Show and more mulled wine and mince pies before bed. (There are also pre-Christmas packages and New Years deals as well.)

In the UK (and Geneva), several Red Carnation hotels are offering holiday packages—for example, at Reubens Hotel, guests staying between November 29 and January 2, 2014, can take advantage of the two-night “Magical London” package that includes a glass of warm mulled wine (or a mug of hot chocolate) upon arrival, free in-room movies and late check-out (and by “late,” we mean 6pm) on the date of departure. Guests staying on Christmas Eve receive a full Christmas stocking, and guests booking a suite get their own Christmas Tree.

The four-star Montague Hotel is offering a similar package for guests staying from November 19 to January 30, 2014 that includes access to the 'Montague Ski Lodge' (the hotel’s Garden Grill, adapted for the season) to try one tasting experience per person that includes a tasting platter of flavored vodkas and a food tasting platter. (Again, guests staying in a suite get a personal Christmas Tree.)

Geneva's Hotel d'Angleterre is helping guests combine their holiday shopping with their vacation--from the end of October through mid-January of next year, the hotel's Christmas Shopping package provides a limousine and a chauffeur to bring guests to the exclusive Bon Génie Grieder store, as well as the assistance of a personal shopper. 

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