A Christmas Gift from Us to You: The Best December Events From Around The World

November 8, 2016

With Christmas parties, festive get togethers and present shopping, December can be manic. To make sure you don't miss the best of the month, we've rounded up our favourite silly season events. Ho ho ho!

We've got Christmas all wrapped up with our round up of December events from across the globe. Sip mulled wine and munch on mince pies at a Christmas market, be dazzled by the bright lights of Amsterdam (not those lights), watch the ball drop in Times Square or grab an ugly Christmas jumper and go for a run. Yes, we've got all bases covered, you just need to decide how many you can cram into one month.

Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets at Frankfurt, Germany

Christmas markets are top of our festive list this December. What better way to get in the festive spirit than ice skating and après-skate drinks of hot chocolate and mulled wine at the Bournemouth Christmas Markets, or nibbling on bratwursts at the German-inspired Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market. Head to the capital if you like to take this Christmas business seriously - the Spirit of Christmas Fair in London will give you the chance to find those extra special presents and also learn how to wrap like a pro with a gift wrapping masterclass. 

If you're planning a European winter escape then you'll still be able to get your festive fix with charming options all over the continent. Head to Munich or Düsseldorf for traditional German markets that sell the best Krakauer (lightly spiced version of bratwurst), plätzchen cookies and glühwein (mulled wine). Alternatively, visit France's oldest and largest Christmas market at Strasbourg for delicious sweet treats such as gingerbread-spiced nougat and be sure to visit the Strasbourg cathedral while you're there.

Throughout the Advent period, Austria brings the Christmas cheer with markets in Vienna and Salzburg offering handcrafted tree ornaments to add that finishing touch to your decorations. Let's hope you've been good and are rewarded by St Nic and not hit by the Rute of the Krampusses. 

Festival of Lights

Festival of Lights in Amsterdam

Chilly winter nights are synonymous with December, but with our selection of light festivals you won't be kept in the dark. The Amsterdam Light Festival offers an alternative way to see the city, with extravagant light displays on show around the city and along the river. Hop on over to France for the Lyon Festival of Lights to see over 70 amazing light installations decorate the city with colour. Be sure to sample the traditional Lyonnaise 'bouchon' style food from the food stalls lining the streets.

Don't miss the Tunnel of Lights at the Winter Lights Festival in Kuwana (a short drive from Kyoto) if you're spending time in Japan over the festive period. See the botanical gardens come to life in the evening when the seven million LED lights are switched on.

If you're lucky enough to be jetting off for some winter sun in the tropical paradise that is Hawaii, the Festival of Lights in Kauai is definitely worth a visit. Be there for the grand switch on, it's a sight you'll never forget. Or, if you're a bit of a nautical fan, head to Portland, Oregon for the Christmas Ship Parade where locals decorate their boats in bright lights and parade them along the river,

Alternative Christmas Events

Dragon ice sculpture

If you've drank your fill of mulled wine and can't bear to eat another gingerbread man then perhaps you need to shake things up a little. How about a trip to the icy wonderland that pitches up in Bruges every December? Ice Magic is a cool (pun intended) alternative to Christmas fairs and markets escpecially if you're into sculptural art. If you can't tell Picasso from Banksy then maybe try the Ugly Sweater Run in Atlanta, Georgia. This is one charity event you won't want to miss with runners of all ages and abilities donning their cringiest Christmas jumpers for a jog around a 5k track.

Take a complete break from the Christmassy madness of December by travelling to the other side of the world where you can find events that don't revolve around Mr Claus. Bagan holds the annual Shwezigon Pagoda Festival in late November to early December where locals and tourists gather at the temple to enjoy Zatpwe songs, puppet shows and dancers whilst gifting the temple with flowers and money. Photographers should head to New Orleans or Angkor Wat for photo festivals whilst runners can find events in Honolulu and Porto.

New Years Eve Celebrations

Fireworks at Hogmanay in Edinburgh

A December event round up would not be complete without a selection of New Year's Eve options. Dodge the awkward family party and head off around the world to welcome the new year in in style. Without doubt, watching the ball drop in Times Square, New York City at the Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve party is on everyone's bucket list. Brave the crowds or watch from a nearby hotel to be in the thick of one of the world's biggest New Year's Eve celebrations.

If the thought of being packed into a small space with a million other people is your idea of hell, try the Colours of Malaysia festival in Kuala Lumpur instead. You'll only have a few thousand people to contend with at this event, which features performances from brightly dressed dance troupes, parading floats and a selection of Malaysian food stalls. 

Hogmanay in Scotland is another New Year's Eve party that should be on your bucket list. The three-day celebration is centred around eating, drinking and having one hell of a party. In Edinburgh, big name acts such as Paolo Nutini and Biffy Clyro take to the stage, entertaining the masses before everyone belts out Auld Lang Syne and toasts to the New Year. Similarly, the Bangkok New Year's Countdown at Centralworld delivers one of Asia's biggest New Year's parties with beer gardens, food and souvenir stalls and of course fireworks. 

If fireworks are your thing, and you don't want to travel as far as Asia, book a hotel in Dubrovnik and enjoy the merry-making that takes place at the New Year's Eve Concert. It's not everyday you get to bring the new year in at Kings Landing. Just watch out for Cersei - last time we checked she was on the war path. 

Have you got anymore fun December events to add to our list? Tweet us @travioor or post a comment on Travioor's Facebook page.

Laura Peveller
After completing her degree in English Lit and Creative Writing Laura set off on the adventure of a lifetime - a six month round the world trip to NZ, Oz, Fiji and San Francisco where she was well and truly bitten by the travel bug. Laura is now eager to travel again and continue with her love of writing and photography. Follow her on Twitter @LauraPev