A HOLIDAY HEAP // The magic of Christmas in Europe.
There’s no question that Europe really, truly loves and embraces the Christmas season. Here in Germany they may not coat their houses in Christmas lights (I’m sure energy conservation is a factor) but absolutely everybody lives and breathes the markets, gluhwein (mulled hot wine) and dazzling displays all around town.
I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve been able to visit a zillion Christmas markets all over Europe over the past few years. This year though, I visited just my 3 absolute favorite.
Home, sweet home! The markets in Heidelberg infiltrate nearly all the squares in the Old Town. The Hauptstrasse, the longest pedestrian-only street in Europe, connects all of them. Visitors, students and locals return loyally night after night to drink tasty gluhwein, socialize, and ice skate. For two special weeks a market is even setup on the grounds of the castle which overlooks the city.
Our buddy Vince joined us for an afternoon of sausages and cheer!
Directly below the castle is my favorite beer hall/brewery in all of Germany – Kulturbrahaus. It’s BEAUTIFUL and offers absolutely delicious traditional German dishes as well as their crazy-delicious beer. This is our go-to spot when we have visitors.
Recently named the #1 Christmas Market in Europe (beating out Vienna) Strasbourg is an absolute spectacle. First, it’s got that great French charm swirled together with adorable cross-timbered German construction. There are zillions of markets throughout the city, my favorites being the one in La Petite France and by the Notre Dame of Strasbourg church. The icing on the cake though – unlike anywhere else I’ve visited, they go absolutely CRAZY decorating the sides of the buildings. HUGE lit displays of wreaths, reindeer, ribbons, flowers, you name it, adorn the windows above.
When in France we dine on crepes! Oui?!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Perhaps the North Pole of Europe, Rothenburg is cookie-cutter perfect. A small, walled Roman village, the residents here take the holiday very, very seriously. Christmas spirit feels tangible and holiday cheer contagious. Not the most accessible of destinations the delightful village still reels in tourists far and wide. One of our favorite stops was in the original Kathe Wohlfahrt store. Glistening rooms of ornaments and decorations staged as an indoor village.