No doubt “Good King Wenceslas” will be running through your head as you wander through the holiday market of Prague‘s Wenceslas Square, named for the real Bohemian king of Christmas carol fame. But the city has even more to recommend it as a Christmas destination—it’s alive with seasonal arts and culture exhibits, nativity scenes at churches, and more Christmas markets at the Old Town Square and Prague Castle. Plus, Prague is so well-preserved, a walk through the Gothic and Baroque architecture of the Old Town will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Advent in Prague (December 1 to 23) is the only time you can see a uniformed lamp-lighter using an old-fashioned burning wick to light the gas lamps on the historic Charles Bridge.
Get your “hygge” on in the cosy Christmas city of Copenhagen. Hygge is a Danish concept embracing warm, snugly feelings that you get by curling up on the couch with loved ones, a fire, a cup of tea, a thick blanket, and a classic holiday movie. But you can also experience hygge outside among the twinkling lights of the Tivoli Gardens, with a mug of hot glogg in the quaint Nyhavn district, and at the city’s many Christmas markets.
Salzburg is a city of music, as it’s the hometown of Mozart—not to mention The Sound of Music‘s Von Trapp family. Expect to hear lots of the unique Austrian folk tradition of Advent Singing. Visit the “Advent Magic” of Hellbrunn Palace, where the courtyard is transformed with 10,000 red Christmas balls and lights strewn among the fountains and grottoes. For the scarier side of the season, be on the lookout for the folk figures of Krampus and Perchten, who are said to frighten away the dark spirits of winter.
Searching for non-traditional ways to decorate this year? Try these cool Christmas tree idea alternatives.