Christmas is the season of family gathering, it is full of joy, nostalgia and generosity. ‘The most wonderful time of the year,’ so they say. And yet, the festive season could be overwhelming to some. Christmas brings certain responsibilities that need to be fulfilled. Our modern manifestation of Christmas could be somewhat busy, even stressful to many: deadlines to meet at work, the obligation to social engagements, preparation of gifts and decorations. A lot of Christmas activities can put a strain on your mind, and the more time you spend stressing out over these things, the less time you will have to truly enjoy the holiday’s magic. If only there is a way to avoid these hassles without missing out on the best parts of Christmas…
And there is! As of today, more and more people choose to go on holiday for Christmas. It’s a great way to avoid most of the stress without forgoing the chance to rest and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.
Cruising is an excellent choice since it still provides its customers with the festive atmosphere onboard: many cruise lines offer excellent services during Christmas time, including decorations, musical performances, signature food and drinks, gifts and much more. At the same time, cruise guests also have the chance to have a peek at how different parts of the world celebrate Christmas during their shore excursions, since they are always on the move, from port to port.
Here are some suggestions of fascinating places for you to stop by on your travel:
- Christmas markets in Germany
Picture by Dar1930 on Pixabay
The history of Christmas markets goes way back to the Late Middle Ages, in the German-speaking parts of Europe. Germany is regarded as the origin of this wonderful tradition, and by default, they do have the greatest Christmas markets to offer. There is hardly anything that can convey the kindled spirit of Christmas like the atmosphere you feel whilst walking under the twinkling lights of these cosy markets: the red, white and green decorations, the smell of candied nuts being roasted, food stalls oozing with smoke from sizzling pans and hot ovens. Carols are sung, arms are linked, cups of mulled wine are raised, and the cold seems to disappear in that magical haze of light and warmth.
It is recommended to visit a Christmas market during the evening, and with an empty stomach. Hot food is an attraction here, and you don’t want to miss out on any of the tasty treats that Christmas markets offer. Try candied nuts and fruits, mushrooms cooked in cream sauce, grilled sausages, flammkuchen and much more.
- Immerse in the wonderful festive air in Palermo, Italy
Picture by Talpa on Pixabay
If visiting Italy is on your bucket list, a Christmas visit to Palermo could be very worthy of your consideration. The city is one of the historical centres of Europe and it is a must-visit city for the Christmas season.
Italy is a Christian country and the strong faith of the people here is reflected by some of the most impressive and remarkable works of architecture. The churches in Palermo are masterpieces to behold. During Christmas time, celebrations are increased in numbers, with various events and celebrations such as gospel concerts and live nativities. You will also have the opportunity to visit Massimo Theatre, the largest opera house in Italy, the third biggest in Europe. Performances here will guarantee to give you goosebumps, although a ticket needs to be booked quite far in advance.
According to Forbes Magazines, Palermo is one of the best cities to visit for its cuisine, ranking fifth in the world and first in Europe. During Christmas season, the Old Quarter is filled with stalls for the Palermo Street Food Festival. Street food vendors work their magic here, you are guaranteed to leave the festival satisfied just like after having a big Christmas meal.
- Husky safaris and northern lights in Tromsø
Picture by John Huang on Pixabay
If you are looking for a more quiet, serene Christmas far away from crowded places, think of Tromsø.
Tromsø – or the “Gateway to the Arctic Ocean” – is not only the largest city in the northern part of Norway, but it is also a scene of natural phenomenon. If you go to the far north, you’ll have the privilege of capturing the magical colours of northern lights. In the winter months, they are frequent and they add something surreal and special to the polar city.
Tromsø not only has its extraordinary auroras to offer but also hosts hugely diverse wildlife. Whales, reindeer, moose, and golden eagles have long inhabited this polar region. Tromsø is on the way to be certified as a ‘sustainable destination’– a special seal of approval for resorts that systematically counteract the negative impact of tourism on the environment. As part of this, the city is committed to providing visitors with special experiences and preserving local nature, the environment, culture and social values. Popular winter activities include reindeer and husky sledge tours, snowshoe & snowmobile tours, and northern Lights hunts.
- Attend the King’s Day in Spain
Picture by Thomas B. on Pixabay
In Spain, you have the chance to expand your knowledge of Christmas celebrations, since there are quite some unique traditions for you to pick up if you choose to visit the country during this time of year. During Christmas, you can join the locals in various activities, such as the Day of little candles, or the Day of the Holy Innocents (a Spanish version of April Fool’s Day). One of the most noticeable activities during the New Year celebration is perhaps the King’s Day. On the evening of January 5th every year, Spanish towns and cities become lively with the colourful parades of Dia de los Reyes (Day of the Kings) – the celebration of the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth. The parades comprise of musicians, animals, and elaborate floats. The Three Kings, usually the local officials in costume, throw sweets to children along the way. The Kings are the ones who deliver gifts to good children on this holiday and are much more popular than Santa Claus to the kids here! As a bonus, winter in Spain is warmer than most European countries, so it is the perfect haven for those who are not a fan of biting cold winters.
Here are only some of the suggestions out of a vast array of options that you can choose from for your Christmas adventure. But wherever you choose to go, there is one thing to keep in mind: Christmas is a holiday, after all. The most important thing is for you and your loved ones to be relaxed and enjoy the holiday to the fullest. Get rid of all the stress and worry and do the things that bring you joy and happiness, that’s what the Christmas spirit is all about!