November, December, and January are some of the biggest months for festivals and events throughout Europe. This is in no small part because it’s the Christmas season, and everyone loves to travel and check out the amazing things that Europe has to offer.
Since it is also approaching winter, some of you may be travelling to southern Europe to escape the cold and the snow. So what are some of the best festivals in southern Europe to check out? The ones that most people don’t know about? Let’s dive in and see what’s happening!
Europe has some of the best craftspeople in the world, and Christmas is their bread and butter. This is why Christmas markets have exploded in popularity throughout the continent. Not only is it a great opportunity to see the wonderful creations these people make, but it’s an excellent place to find gifts for your loved ones during the Christmas season.
The Natal e na FIL festival market in Lisbon runs from 5th – 9th December 2018 and offers many local delights, crafts, and food. A popular part of the market is the chocolate market, where you can find the best chocolate masters in the country showing off their delicious creations. It’s a large market, but often gets overlooked for markets in other countries such as Germany and France.
Venice also has a range of Christmas markets that open in mid-December. Held in the piazzas, the markets include music, concerts, and entertainment. Look for events in Strada Nuova, Campo Santo Stefano, and the pop-up ice rink in Campo San Polo.
Going outside southern Europe for a moment, if you’re looking for something unusual, try the Christmas market in Tallinn, Estonia, at the Town Hall Square. This market continues well into January because the Eastern Orthodox Church has 7th January as Christmas Day. Late Christmas or not, you can enjoy the Christmas tree that is set up at Tallinn’s Town Hall each year. This has been going on since 1441, and Tallinn was the first place in Europe to have a Christmas tree. You can enjoy black pudding, sour cabbage, gingerbread and many other Christmas delicacies.
Beyond Christmas Markets: Barcelona
One of the strangest traditions is the Tio de Nadal in Barcelona. When you visit you will find many great things to do, as well as seeing wooden logs with faces painted onto one end. The children call these logs – which give out sweets and presents – Caga Tio, or a ‘Poo Log!’
While in Barcelona, you can check out the Gothic basilica Santa Maria del Mar, which hosts an amazing Christmas concert that many people don’t know about.
Few people choose Malta as a Christmas destination, but they may be missing out. Yes, it can be rainy and windy there at this time of year, but you still can enjoy the lights in Valletta that run throughout the Christmas season. You get a reasonably affordable trip, wonderful people to meet, and some great Christmas festivities including the Malta International Christmas Festival. This music and dance festival running from 27th – 30th December is only a few years old, but it is a wonderful time for everyone.
So while you could go to Berlin, London, or Paris for Christmas and visit the tourist attractions, you might have a better time by going off the beaten track and checking out some very unique Christmas events in the sunny south.