5 European Christmas Events You Should Try

It's no secret that I adore Halloween, but that's not to say I'm not partial to a little holly jolly snowflake filled Christmas joy too! Increasingly we're seeing the so-called 'closed season' grow shorter and shorter as more parks, both here in the UK and in mainland Europe, indulge us with a full blown festive fantasy! The UK still has a little way to go when it comes to having actually operating parks over the winter season so I'll hold off on writing a guide for that just yet, but what I can do is tell you all about some of the incredible Christmas events taking place in some of Europe's biggest and best parks!

So grab your ironic Santa hat and shit Christmas jumper and grab your mug of hot chocolate, it's about to get festive up in here - here's five European Christmas events that you should try!

No prizes for guessing I would kick this guide off with a mention of my beloved Phantasialand and their winter event Wintertraum. After years of wishing and admiring the event from afar, I finally booked myself a little trip to the park late December last year to try out their, frankly incredibly, Wintertraum event! Despite it being cold as balls, the park manages to operate a pretty much fully functioning ride line-up with the exception of River Quest and Wakoboto which is insane. Honestly, there is absolutely NOTHING like riding Taron in the dark in the blistering cold with those sub-degree temperatures whipping you in the face. Fabulous stuff.

Plus there's a whole bunch of fab winter themed shows and night-time spectaculars - including a fire-filled projection mapping affair on Chiapas and a massive end-of-the-day showstopper in Berlin square to see you out. And to top it all off, every inch of the park is covered in Christmas decorations including a giant fire breathing dragon statue in China, REAL (fake) piles of snow and absolutely stunning twinkly lights in the forecourt of Hotel Ling Bao. It's just a really stunning event where you still get the benefit of riding all of your favourites!

I mean, obviously Disney do a fantastic Christmas event - they pretty much invented them and their middle name is magic so how could they not? I will warn you - Christmas at Disney is almost sickeningly sweet so maybe one to avoid if you think you might die of a sugar overload here. It being Disney, you've got all of the rides running as the whole places is designed to operate year round. If you're lucky enough to catch the place in a snowstorm, Disneyland Paris is one of the most gorgeous parks in the world. Plus you get to see Main Street all decked out in her Christmassy best which is enough to warm even the coldest Scrooge-hearted.

And if you're like my and love a Disney Christmas ornament, the place is absolutely stacked full of the stuff in every store, so there'll be no shortage of shopping opportunities. Festive themed treats are also a thing, although I do find on the whole that Disneyland Paris are still light years behind their American and Asian counterparts in this department! And to round it all off - a ton of festive themed shows and character meet and greets. Meet Santa, Jack Skellington, the core characters in their Christmas outfits, take in the Christmas parade, hang out with Mickey as he lights the tree and this year celebrate the festive season with Stitch at his Stitchmas show in front of the castle. Magic!

Winter at Europa Park is more about the festive vibe than anything else. The park do their best to have as full a ride offering as possible but the fact of it is that the bigger coasters like Silver Star, bluefire and Wodan simply can't operate if it gets too cold - so definitely one to avoid if you're a first time visitor. But if you're looking for a wholesome, all encompassing winter event then look no further. The park looks absolutely stunning covered in fairy lights and Christmas decorations and no expense is spared as every corner is dripping with festive goodness and trees.

The park also hosts the winter themed Circus Revue as well as the Winter Starlight Parade that traverses the park spreading the Christmas magic as the sun goes down. But above all, winter at Europa Park is all about cosying down somewhere warm in between rides with a toasty glass of Gluhwein and getting slightly pissed before facing the bitter temperatures for more riding and nosying around the Christmas market. A perfect traditional European Christmas!

If you want pure, unadulterated Christmas magic without the cheese of Disney then look no further than the obscenely spectacular Winter Efteling. It's literally worth the trip just to see the entrance all sparkly and lit up for winter - almost enough to bring a tear to your eye (that is, if you're not dead inside like I am). Don't expect the rapids or water coaster to be open (I mean, why would you but it's worth mentioning) but let's face it, Efteling is all about the dark rides anyway so those attractions are not exactly missed. Plus, Baron 1898 and Joris en de Draak are actually operating so that's wonderful in itself if you don't mind your face going numb from the cold!

Again, if you can get it in the snow, the more magical it is, especially around the Fairytale Forest. The details are so cute - little icicles added here and there for that extra touch of winter magic! There's also some more rather unique attractions like the open firepits to gather around and warm yourself to as you chug down your pink hot chocolate (yes that's a thing!). There's also a giant pop up indoor section with ice-skating and a cross country ski attraction that takes over one of the kiddie vehicle rides. It's just all so cute and magical!

One for the thrillseekers for sure - again without the water rides of course. All the big coasters are open and if you visit on the right weekend (hint, it's the end of November) then you'll have the delight of being able to walk on to Shambhala without a queue. The decor is...well it's weird as fuck, it's about 300 santas stuck all over Mediterranea. Bizarre, but enjoyable nonetheless. Christmas at PortAventura is all about one thing - the shows. And there are a shit ton of them! No less than 17 different holiday themed shows and attractions to enjoy across the park including a Christmas parade, meet and greets with characters in their Christmassy best and a nighttime spectacular on the water including fireworks.

The PortAventura Christmas World show is probably one of the maddest shows I've ever seen at a theme park - there's just so much going on and it's all so weird and random, it's amazing. Plus, on top of all that Christmas fabulousness you get the chance to ride Dragon Khan and Shambhala in the dark - so what's not to love?!

So there you go - hopefully you're not short of ideas now of places to visit to split up that dreaded closed season. I myself am keeping it light on trips this year as we're heading to Belfast for Christmas but we will be spending a weekend at Disneyland Paris to keep us going!

Talk later xoxo,