See the illuminated Old Town Square with the Christmas market in Prague. FILIP SINGER/EPA/CORBIS
From London’s yuletide carols to Cologne’s Christmas markets, Europe is full of holidayhavens. In many locales, there’s even a good chance of snow. If you are ready for a great Christmas escape, try one of these cities in Europe.
1. London, England
Even Scrooge would enjoy modern London’s cultured Christmas parties. You’ll find performances of Handel’s Messiah, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker in cathedrals and other venues throughout the city. Skaters glide across ice rinks on the spot-lighted grounds of the London Eye, the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. In Hyde Park, which also has a rink, traditional carousels and ice sculptures make the annual Winter Wonderland sparkle. So do the Christmas lights and festive window displays along Oxford and Regent streets.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
The names of the city’s attractions — Wenceslas Square, Bethlehem Chapel — are good indicators of how festive a Prague Christmas is. Even if it’s 10 degrees below zero, this 700-year-old medieval city will warm you with its celebrations. Christmas markets, like the one in Old Town Square, are filled with decorated wooden stalls selling hand-made puppets and other toys and gifts. Take in the traditional Christmas trees and thousands of lights, and enjoy the outdoor nativity scenes. If you’re here in early December, you might catch the arrival of Mikulas, the Czech Santa Claus.
3. Cologne, Germany
Some of Europe’s Christmas markets have been active since the Middle Ages, so it’s no surprise that Cologne, which has five, is a seasonal hit. Starting on the last Monday before Advent, millions come to shop for yuletide handicrafts filling each market’s Buden (quaint wooden huts). The star of the show is the Am Dom market, in front of a mighty twin-spired cathedral, the Kölner Dom. Feast on sticky gingerbread and warm yourself up with a mug of Glüwein (mulled wine).