Europe in winter is a fun and exciting place, with snow and cold temperatures and of course special shows, events and festivities! Well, there are also warm places in Europe during winter, but that’s another story. Many European countries have unique festivals organized for the winter season… let me give the Muslim traveler some highlights of these festivals that can be enjoyed in some of the best European cities.
So, start now, and plan for a fantastic winter vacation this coming season! A chance to participate in some splendid festivals while on your winter vacation in Europe.
Picture Credit: Amsterdam Light Festival Facebook
The light festival is all about fantastical light sculptures created by local and international artists. This winter, the festival will mark its 7th anniversary, bringing light to Amsterdam’s beautiful city center and its canals. As the festival is held over a period of two months, there is ample opportunity to view its splendor.
Picture Credit: Amsterdam Light Festival Facebook
Travelers and even locals can take in the sights of the light festival at several different locations around Amsterdam by boat, foot or bike. There are even special canal cruises arranged for viewing the wonders of this festival in its entirety, as the view from the water is the most spectacular.
So, plan a winter trip which will allow you to partake in this annual event while enjoying a uniquely planned European winter vacation.
Dates: November 29, 2018 to January 20, 2019
Picture Credit: Ice Sculpture
If you are visiting Belgium this winter, don’t miss out on their famed annual snow and ice sculpture festival which is a treat for young and old alike. Usually revolving around a theme chosen by the festival organizers, this event showcases the talents of many ice sculptors worldwide.
For a small entrance fee everyone can enjoy the magic and wonder of an icy world during this European winter season.
Dates: Late November 2018 to Early January 2019
Location: Close to the Central Station, Bruges
Dress Code: Warm clothes as the temperature is usually around -6°C!
Tickets: A fee is charged for entrance
Picture Credit: Newmarket Holidays
Another well-attended festival during the winter months in the Christmas Market that annually crops up in Burges. Located close to the city center of Bruges, close to Market Square, this Christmas festooned market is a must visit even for the MUSLIM traveler.
Not only is the market a place for all things Christmas including the traditional Christmas foods and drinks, but it also boasts a range of handmade customized products that make the ideal souvenir from Belgium.
There is also an ice rink located within the market area where you can try ice skating!
Dates: November 23, 2018 to January 01, 2019
Tickets: entrance is free to all, except for a small fee for enjoying ice-skating on the ice rink.
For more details, visit: https://www.visitbruges.be/
Picture Credit: Discovering Belgium
Another famous ice sculpture festival in Belgium is the one held at Hasselt annually. With over 300 tons of ice used to make the sculptures, the entire area is an Iceland of wonder that can be visited for two months. This year’s theme is Antarctica to honor the adventurer and Hasselt native Adrien de Gerlache who went there 120 years ago.
Dates: November 19, 2018 to January 08, 2019
Time: 12.00 noon to 10.00 pm daily, except on some special days when they close at 11.00 pm.
Dress Code: Warm clothes as the temperature is usually very cold!
Ticket prices and more details: http://www.ijssculptuur.be/en/
Picture Credit: Up Hella Aa
A 24-hour festival consisting of parades and community celebrations, is a sight to behold. It is the biggest fire festival of the Shetland Isles held annually to celebrate the coming end to winter in the middle of winter. A tradition that has been upheld since the Vikings, this festival must be seen to be believed, and a great exposure for Muslim travelers visiting Scotland this coming winter.
Date: January 29, 2019 (held on the last Tuesday in January annually)
For more details, visit: https://www.shetland.org/things/events/culture-heritage/up-helly-aa
Picture Credit: Deccan Chronicle
This carnival is a signature event held annually in Nice, France. The festival which goes on for two weeks revolves around a unique theme annually. The theme finalized for this winter is ‘King of Cinema’ to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the celebrated Victorine Studios on the Côte d'Azur.
The carnival has six parades which boast 17 floats with over 1,000 people participating in these parades. These parades take place both day and night and make the city a place for fun and enjoyment, a two-week party in essence!
Picture Credit: Venice Carnival Italy
Planning on visiting Italy this winter? Well, while there don’t miss out on the annual Venice Carnival which has been taking place for centuries. The Carnival which is considered one of the biggest celebrations in Italy; is abundant with masquerade balls to people parading the streets in Venetian masks.
The Carnival filled with activities for children and adults alike with food fiestas, live performances, traditional events, and other entertainment. Some of the events of the Carnival include water shows, street shows, parades, best mask contests, balls, youth festivals and special events such as ‘the flight of the angel’ and the ‘festa delle Marie’.
Dates: February 16, 2019 to March 05, 2019
Tickets: some events are free to view, and others require tickets. Complete details can be obtained at http://www.carnevale.venezia.it/en
Picture Credit: Heavenly Holland
Are you a chocolate lover and chocoholic? Well, this Chocoa Festival is the place to be for you! At this festival you can learn all about chocolate – its origins to the latest trends and developments of today. You can meet renowned chocolate makers, taste a variety of different chocolate blends, learn the process of chocolate making and even become a connoisseur of chocolates - even more than you are right now!
So, make Amsterdam a must visit location this winter while on your European winter tour, and enjoy some chocolate in the cold.
Dates: Saturday, February 23, 2019 & Sunday, February 24, 2019
Time: 10.00 am to 06.00 pm
Location: Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam
Tickets: Buy online at https://www.chocoa.nl/events/chocoa-festival/
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.