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Just moved to a new city and can’t wait to discover the coolest spots during the Christmas period? We explored the favorite to-do’s in some of the Spotahome cities. These tips are from expats and locals who live or have lived in the city, to guarantee you an authentic experience and the opportunity to learn about the cultural traditions.


Scandinavian Christmas Market

Christmas markets in Germany...awwwwwwweeeeee, right?


What is more typical than drinking a typical Glühwein covered up to your nose in your cosiest winter outfit, listening to German christmas-tunes in front of one of those cute ski-slope houses?

You're right, that is the quintessential Christmas experience, but if you need a slightly different Christmas Market for a change then maybe the Scandinavian Christmas Market inside the Kulturfabrik in Prenzlauer Berg ( can help you out. Once you enter the door to the patio of this traditional cultural centre, you will be in another world. Centaurions and other ancient Scandinavian mythical creatures will pass by and you can appease your thirst with a Swedish Glögg or a Finish Glögi. Yes, there seems to be a difference but don’t aks us, which one...they definitely sound pretty similar :p
Also your culinary senses won’t be neglected... Have you ever tried Elk Sausage or Raggmunk & Lingonberries (a typical Swedish winter dish with potatoes)?

And yes your new city is cold in winter - very, very cold - but don’t worry, the Scandinavian Christmas market offers not only one but several features to keep you warm. Besides open-air winter fires and a mobile Sauna, they have a winter fur coat installation with pre-warmed coats, which you can borrow to warm yourself up.

Tb to chillin in a giant heated jacket at da Christmas Market ❄️???? #hagrid #harrypotter #magic ?✨

Una publicación compartida de Bethan ??? (@bethanjensen) el



Austrians love their BBQ! So who said it’s only a summer thing to do?!? That’s why you can find a whole village on the banks of the Danube during winter. In 13 rustic BBQ cottages or Grillhütten as the Wieners call them, the art of BBQ is celebrated in the Feuerdorf during christmas-time. Every hut has a huge fire as well as a BBQ in the centre and is surrounded by a big table and benches. You can rent a hut with your family or friends - what is more Christmasy than enjoying a nice dinner with your loved ones surrounding a fire?

Enjoying a cold, rainy Sunday evening by the fire and excellent food ??

Una publicación compartida de Andrea (@naturallyandy) el

How does it work?

Every hut can be rented. The prices for the evening are 120 Eur and 90 Eur during the day. You share the price between 8-12 people and your BBQ choices are very wide and reach from a Southern States/US theme to a Patagonian theme. Prices are between 19 Eur and 55 Eur per person.

What if we are just 2 people or we don’t want to book an entire hut?

You can also find a bar, which is accessible without pre-bookings in the Feuerdorf. No need to reserve anything you can just go and see the little Winter-BBQ village and have a couple of drinks there. During winter time they regularly have afterwork events in the Bar.

How to get there?

The Feuerdorf is conveniently located in the city centre directly at the riverside of the Danube. Just get off at “Schottenring” (U2 or U4) or “Schwedenplatz” (U1 or U4).


Madrid is one of those cities that is always awake. This is true every time of the year, but in December it is impossible not to feel the spirit of Christmas! Almost every corner of the city is covered in lights and beautiful ornaments that will make your day! But it is not only about lights, there are lots of special activities you can do in Madrid in Christmas:

Christmas Markets

We can say this an international tradition: Christmas shopping. Of course in Madrid you can walk through the centre of the city...Gran Vía, Fuencarral, Cibeles, Colón, Serrano… It looks wonderful at this time of the year! But the traditional Christmas market of Madrid is the one in Plaza Mayor - here you can find lots of figures for nativity scenes, Christmas musical instruments, toys, joke items and, of course, Christmas ornaments! Besides, you will see lots of street spectacles such as storytellers, magicians and clowns.


Also in the center of Madrid, you can find one of the madrileño childrens favourite Christmas spectacles… Cortylandia!

This was created by El Corte Inglés, and it is located outside their store in Preciados - Callao, in Maestro Victoria Street. If you go there, you will see a great part of the El Corte Inglés facade decorated with Christmas ornaments, performances for kids and, of course, you will find Santa Claus and The Three Wise Men!

Nativity Scenes (Belenes)

If you are in Madrid at Christmas you will see different versions of the traditional Christmas Nativity Scene. Above all, you will find them in churches and cultural centres. Two of the most famous ones are in the CentroCentro Cibeles and the international nativity scenes in La Casa del Lector in Matadero Madrid.

If you don´t want to miss anything, here you have a route through the most beautiful ones!

Ice Rinks

You will find several ice rinks in different points of the city. These are perfect to go with family:

In Colón from the beginning of December to mid-January, in CentroCentro Cibeles from mid-December to min-January and Vallecas from the beginning of December to mid-January.

Cultural events

There are also some cultural events you can attend. The Conde Duque Cultural Centre and CentroCentro Cibeles have lots of different performances and activities for kids. Apart from that, most of the theatres in Madrid prepare special activities too - Circo Price is one of the most famous.

You can go to Matadero Madrid where you will find the Christmas International Cultures Fair from mid- to the end of December.

Finally, if you are a craftmanship lover, then you should go to Plaza España, where you will find the Craftmanship Fair from December to January.

The Lights Parade

To celebrate the Winter Solstice, you can attend The Lights Parade, which will take place in December in Madrid Rio from 7pm to 10:30pm. The date varies each year, so check before you make plans. When the parade finishes, you can enjoy a fireworks spectacle characterised by its Autumn - Winter colors.

Three Wise Men´s day Parade

Last but not least, The Three Wise Men´s Parades! On 5th of January at night, you can choose among 9 different parades which take place in different parts of the city. The biggest one, called The Great Three Wise Men´s Parade, takes place in the center of Madrid, but you must go early if you want to see something!


The 12 Pubs of Christmas

What could be more “Dublin” than the 12 Pubs of Christmas? This Irish tradition is quickly gaining fame outside the country because, well, why wouldn’t you want to put on an ugly Christmas sweater and challenge your friends to drink a full pint in every stop on a tour of 12 different pubs? If the challenge of being the last man standing wasn’t enough, each pub has its own special rule, and breaking that rule results in a “punishment” for the offender, usually in the form of a dare or a shot. We made it to pub no. 7 last year before settling in for a nightcap, but are all the more fired up this year to make it the whole round.

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How does it work?

You agree beforehand to a list of 12 pubs that you will visit throughout the evening. It’s a good idea to start early, as it can get tougher and tougher to stick to the schedule as the night goes on (and it gives you more time to enjoy without getting completely trashed… which is definitely not the objective). At each pub, there is a rule to be adhered to. You can make up your own, or take a look at this handy list from Oh, and importantly, everyone must wear a hideous Christmas outfit. The more ridiculous, the better!

How to make it happen

The Dublin Visitor Centre has put together three different routes with suggested pubs but beware - many pubs in Dublin are now banning groups celebrating this festive tradition. Here is the 2016 list of pubs that won’t grant entry to 12 Pubs groups, and check back for subsequent lists of pubs.

Remember - drink responsibly kids!

Join the locals for a dip in the Irish Sea

The ULTIMATE Irish Christmas tradition is going to require a great deal of courage (and by courage, we mean a shot of Jamesons for breakfast). There is nothing that shows the strength of the Irish character and desire for a bit of craic more than the annual dip into the freezing coastal waters on Christmas morning all around Ireland. The Forty Foot at Sandycove is THE place in Dublin to dive in and, so that your swim is not just to get frostbite on your toes, have a search around as there are many people raising money for charity with the swim.

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How does it work

Santa hats and bathers at the ready! Be careful to check the sea conditions and make sure someone is keeping watch as the below 10 degrees water temperatures really can shock the system. Here’s a list of Dos and Don’ts.


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

If you’re lucky enough to be spending Christmas in London, and somehow manage to get bored of the Harrod’s Food Halls, you are in for a treat. Germany’s best Christmas markets come to you in London’s very own Hyde Park, with stalls in the Bavarian Market of the Winter Wonderland actually imported from the motherland of Christmas markets including all the authentic fare you’d expect to find such as a good Bratwurst, Glühwein (with the optional shot of Amaretto thrown in) and Churros (yeah ok, they mixed up countries there but we aren’t complaining). If you were looking for a bit more than hot wine and stodgy winter food, don’t sweat (if you actually could sweat in that cold, that is) - Winter Wonderland has shows, live music, ice skating, rides, games, Christmas markets to pick up that unique gift and even its very own ice bar.

How does it work

Winter Wonderland is open from 10am to 10pm daily until 1st January 2018. Entry is free but you will need to pay for some ticketed attractions and shows (you can find out which here. Be forewarned - take cash! Last year there were only a few very expensive cash machines near the entrance and you will need it to pay for basically anything once you’re inside.

Christmas at the Charles Dickens Museum

Where better to celebrate the spirit of Christmas present than at the Museum dedicated to the author of A Christmas Carol? Visit Dicken’s own home and see how a true Victorian Christmas would have been celebrated. You can even watch a special performance of A Christmas Carol at the museum itself, as well as other festive events.

How does it work?

The Museum is open 10am - 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday. You can buy advance tickets here. Check the Museum’s events page for more info on special events and late opening evenings.

Winterville at Clapham Common

Winterville at Clapham Common claims to be “London’s Alternative Festive Experience” and it doesn’t disappoint with its street food experience, the “spiegeltent” with FREE live performances, an outdoor ice rink, a roller disco, a backyard theatre, themed bars and lots of (other) entertainment for the whole family - phew! I don’t think you’ll be getting bored here.

How does it work?

It runs Tuesday to Sunday from 3pm to 10pm (10:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights). It's free to enter on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and entry charge varies between £2 - £5, depending on entry time. You can find full details here.


The Windows of the Department Stores

In Paris, every year for Christmas, all the department stores make a big effort to decorate their windows. It’s a tradition in France to go to Paris to see these windows, you can see animated characters with sounds around you! The most famous is the one at “Les Galeries Lafayettes” but you also have the ones at “Le Printemps” and “Le Bon Marché” which are very impressive as well. These details on the street put kids, parents and the rest of the family always in a childhood dream mood during the Christmas period :)

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While you are in front of the windows, get in the stores and you will see a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the ground floor !

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How does it work?

This is on from November to January, from 7 am to 12 am

Galerie Lafayette: 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Printemps: 64 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009 Paris
Le Bon Marché: 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007 Paris

I hope you've got lots of ideas to get into the festive season! Have we missed something wonderful? Let us know in the comments below!

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