We hate to ask, but do you know what you’re doing for Christmas yet? Here’s a thought. Pop over to Europe and do something exotic, fun, romantic, exciting. You know, something a bit different than last year, and the year before and… well you what we mean. There’s classic castles, reindeer rides, Dickens parties and everything. Come on, at least have a look. And if you don’t fancy anything, you can head down to Kent and check out the Santa Train…
Resheath the carving knife and get dressed to the nines — someone else is slaving away in the kitchen at the Castle of Weikersdorf traditional Austrian Christmas Eve celebration near Vienna. Waltz away to live music, fill up on the four-course dinner and end your night with a short walk to the monastery to see midnight mass and creation of the nativity scene. Stay in Vienna a few days ahead at the Austria Trend Hotel and check out the nearby Christkindlmarkt — a Christmas market with over 150 stalls of arts and crafts.
Without reindeers, the children of the world would go without presents. On the other hand, the Fins do say they taste quite good in a burrito with chilli sauce. But at Christmas time we want to see Santa’s four legged helpers, well, walking on four legs. On a reindeer farm tour in Rovaniemi, you can do far more than that. The tour includes a snowy sleigh ride, where on a clear night you may see the stunning Northern Lights. Afterwards sit down with a hot drink by the campfire and hear more about Arctic Lapland. Afterwards, you can get into the fiesta spirits at the Amarillo Mexican restaurant in the Sokos Hotel Vaakuna Rovaniemi — where we promise it’s chicken, beef and shrimp, not Rudolph, Dancer and Blitzen.
There’s no scrooging around at the Christmas Market of Deventer from 17-19 December. This Dutch market is famous for its Dickens festival, where locals dress as Charles Dickens characters and walk along between the Christmas trees and 200 stalls. Why not try some Deventer Koek gingerbread? Stay nearby in Apeldoorn at the Bilderberg Hotel De Keizerskroon, where you can thaw out in the Turkish steam bath and sauna.
You’ll be thinking Santa has switched from reindeers to trains with a ride on the Santa Special train on the Kent and East Sussex railway. Every weekend in December, and the 22-24th of the month, kids get a present, drink and chocolate, while adults slug back sherry, port or orange juice with a tasty mince pie. There’s even a traditional pipe organ at the station while the kids ride on the Victorian Carousel. Relive the days of yore in Hastings with a tipple or two at the Piano Bar in the Best Western Royal Victoria Hotel and take in the sea views across the channel.