Christmas in Europe? 3 destinations that will warm you up

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

‘Tis the season for magical Christmas celebrations in luxury destinations

People across the globe agree that the true meaning of Christmas is love. But the way people observe the holiday, how their celebrations have evolved over time, who brings the presents – and above all, when – varies from country to country.

Come with us to London, Amsterdam and Rome and see what Christmas surprises are in store. Merry Christmas! Vrolijk Kerstfeest! Buon Natale!

Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe

Festive Fun in London

Private jet charter to London for Christmas

Great Britain shares a great many of its Christmas traditions with the U.S. The 25th of December is the main holiday. Father Christmas – or, more often these days, his American counterpart Santa Claus – brings presents to good girls and boys. And people gather around a well-laid table for a lively feast that is more “party hearty” than “heavenly peace”!

The Christmas pudding makes celebrations on this side of the pond uniquely British. This traditional December dessert often prepared as early as November, is made of dried fruit, nuts and beef suet, left to mature for several weeks and served doused in flaming brandy.

To make sure the Christmas meal ends with a bang, pairs of party-goers pop Christmas crackers in festive sparkly wrapping to find a joke, a gag gift and a colourful paper crown that becomes part of the Christmas day costume. At 3 p.m. sharp, everything stops for another holiday highlight: the Royal Christmas Message.

Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe

There is no accounting for taste, as they say. And yet, tacky Christmas jumpers with motifs from the sublime to the ridiculous have become a must-have fashion statement for holiday revellers.

Whether they feature sparkly snowflakes or light-up Christmas trees, the motto with these silly sweaters is clearly “More is more!” Christmas jumpers can be an icebreaker or a conversation starter on any holiday occasion, spreading good cheer wherever they go.

Fun fair with Christmas flair; that’s one way to describe the charming mix of roller coasters and rides, market stalls and decorations, and exciting events that turn Hyde Park into a winter wonderland from November until early January.

Ice skating under twinkling fairy lights, Christmas melodies from the iconic Victorian bandstand and a chance to meet Santa himself: London knows exactly how to inspire the Christmas spirit in everyone, young and old.

Nice (NCE)
→ London (BQH)

from €9,590
BTC 0.5845

Flight time: 02:00 h

Fly to London

Paris (LBG)
→ London (BQH)

from €4,790
BTC 0.2922

Flight time: 01:00 h

Fly to London

Geneva (GVA)
→ London (BQH)

from €9,590
BTC 0.5845

Flight time: 02:00 h

Fly to London

Sinterklaas is coming to Amsterdam

Private jet charter to Amsterdam for Christmas

Kerstmis, as it is called in Holland, is all about family gatherings and feasting on holiday specialities.

The locals exchange a traditional Christmas cake known as Stollen instead of gifts – because Sinterklaas already came the night of December 5th. He arrives on a steamship full of packages from Spain with his trusty sidekick Zwarte Piet, an eagerly awaited event as early as mid-November that is broadcast live on TV!

High time for children to write their holiday wish lists, stow them in their spotlessly clean shoes and place them by the fireplace or the front door. They best not forget to put out a carrot for the white horse Sinterklass rides across the rooftops when he delivers sweets and small gifts through the chimneys.

On Pakjesavond, or “package eve”, there is a mysterious knock at the door, and a sack full of presents appears for overexcited kids up way past their bedtimes. If they are quick, they may glimpse the big man himself as he makes his getaway! Adults generally pick a name out of a hat to decide who gives a present to whom. Every gift comes with a funny poem about the giftee, read aloud to everyone’s amusement on the night.

Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe

The Amsterdam Light Festival illuminates the city’s canals every December and January. These artfully arranged installations have become as much a part of the Dutch capital’s Christmas celebrations as the market stalls surrounding the huge ice rinks on Leidesplein or Museumplein, right in front of the legendary Rijksmuseum.

Locals and visitors alike take to the ice to indulge in Holland’s favourite pastime. In particularly cold winters, ice skaters may even have a chance to glide on the frozen canals.

Nice (NCE)
→ Amsterdam (AMS)

from €10,890
BTC 0.6624

Flight time: 02:16 h

Fly to Amsterdam

Vienna (VIE)
→ Amsterdam (AMS)

from €11,790
BTC 0.7209

Flight time: 02:28 h

Fly to Amsterdam

Paris (LBG)
→ Amsterdam (AMS)

from €6,190
BTC 0.3799

Flight time: 01:18 h

Fly to Amsterdam

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Private jet charter to Rome for Christmas

One of Rome's most popular holiday traditions is strolling through the city to admire the countless Christmas crèches. Legend has it there are more than 3,000 to behold!

A dedicated crèche museum displays nativity scenes from all over the world, and you can visit it all year round, not just during the holidays. The most impressive crèche, as you might expect, is the one on St Peter’s Square, featuring life-size figures and animals.

Seen with the city’s largest Christmas tree right beside, this Vatican City tableau is a true Christmas masterpiece.

As soon as the sun goes down on the 24th of December, the sacred season officially begins – with a shot of the cannon at Castel Sant’Angelo. Christmas Eve is still technically a day of fasting, which is why most families serve fish in the evening.

But that all changes on the 25th when Italians everywhere feast to their hearts’ content. They indulge in antipasti, pasta, huge portions of meat and perhaps the most traditional of all Italian Christmas dishes for dessert – though which one is a matter of vigorous debate.

Some prefer Panettone, a dome-shaped cake made with candied fruit originally from Milan, while others swear by the star-shaped Pandoro, a fruit-free version of the same cake. Never the twain shall meet!

Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe
Christmas in Europe

A witch that brings Christmas presents? Nothing out of the ordinary – if you’re in Italy. The wise, kind-hearted La Befana flies through the country on her broom, passing out presents to the good boys and girls, but not until the night before Epiphany on the 6th of January.

She leaves a piece of “sweet coal” for anyone naughty, a lump of black sugar paste as a reminder to try a bit harder next year. La Befana marks the official end of the Christmas season – and the culmination of quite a lucky streak for the kids: after all, they already got gifts from Babbo Natale, Father Christmas or Gesù Bambino on December 25th!

Geneva (GVA)
→ Rome (CIA)

from €8,090
BTC 0.4919

Flight time: 01:41 h

Fly to Rome

London (BQH)
→ Rome (CIA)

from €13,590
BTC 0.828

Flight time: 02:50 h

Fly to Rome

Paris (LBG)
→ Rome (CIA)

from €10,990
BTC 0.6721

Flight time: 02:18 h

Fly to Rome

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