Best Events in Europe This January
Traveling on a whim and without a plan is great, until you realize you missed that amazing festival by just one day. Don’t be the traveler who arrives after the party! Here are the 7 great events in January if you’re in Europe.
Events in January
1. Vienna, Austria – Glorious Ball Season
January is Ball Season in Vienna. While this may not be your average type of go-to entertainment, when in Austria, you may as well go with the traditions. There are balls throughout the city until the end of February. But if you witness just one, make it the Vienna Philharmonic Ball on January 19.
How to get there by train: Vienna is easily accessible by train from throughout Austria. There are high-speed and overnight connections from several destinations, including Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Germany.
2. Paris, France – La Grande Parade
If the New Year’s Eve hangover hasn’t gotten the better of you, make your way down to the Champs-Elysées on January 1. Here you can take in a grand Parisian tradition – the New Year’s Day Grand Parade. Brass bands and carnival floats set the tone, and the entire road is shut down to allow you to move along the iconic street freely.
How to get there by train: Paris is a major rail hub in Europe, and thus easy to reach by train from throughout France and the continent. There are several overnight trains from long-distance destinations, arriving at one of Paris’s eight train stations.
3. Venice, Italy – Venice Carnival
Don’t be put off by reports of torrid winters in Venice. It’s actually one of the best times to visit this fascinating city. Time it around the famous Venice Carnival, and you’re bound to have a truly entertaining experience. Think masked balls, extravagant parades, intriguing characters taking gondola rides, and even an impromptu street party or two. The festival runs from January 23 to February 9.
How to get there by train: There are two stations in Venice: Venezia Mestre, the last stop on the mainland, and Venezia Santa Lucia on the west side of the island. There are regular trains to Venice from throughout Italy. You can also take international trains from several destinations including Munich, Vienna, Paris, Budapest, and Zagreb.
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands – Amsterdam Light Festival
Each year Amsterdam runs a 55-day long light festival. It makes the winter months in the capital city that much more entertaining. The festival kicks off in late November and runs until mid-January. You can expect an array of stunning lighting displays throughout the city center and along its charming canals.
How to get there by train: Amsterdam is a major rail hub. There are trains throughout the Netherlands and from neighboring countries.
5. Bruges, Belgium – Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival
Bruges may be intriguing and charming enough on its own, but with a snow and ice sculpture festival, chances are you’ll leave the city in more awe than you expected. Each year artists sculpt 300 tons of ice and 400 tons of snow into truly spectacular creations. The festival runs throughout winter until mid-January.
How to get there by train: There are several daily trains between Bruges and other major Belgian cities. There are also long distance trains from several international destinations.
6. San Sebastian, Spain – La Tamborrada Festival
The Basque Country’s San Sebastian gets even louder in January with the arrival of the La Tamborrada Festival. On January 19 and 20 each year, hundreds of drummers take to the streets with their own instruments. They have one objective in mind – to be louder than their counterparts. The festival usually kicks off around midnight on the 19th.
How to get there by train: There are daily trains between Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian. There are also easy rail links to the west of Spain, and from southern France and the Bordeaux region.
7. Kiruna, Sweden – Kiruna Snow Festival
Winters in Sweden may be brutal, but they can also be beautiful. Throw a snow festival like the one in Kiruna into the mix, and you’ll also be able to describe it as thoroughly entertaining. The Kiruna Snow Festival takes place from January 27 to 30. You can expect dog sled challenges, reindeer races, and ice sculpture contests, all just a snowball’s throw away from the Arctic Circle.
How to get there by train: Kiruna is far north, so it requires a fairly lengthy train journey. There are two daily night trains from Göteborg and Stockholm. You may need to change once in order to arrive at Kiruna.
There’s something about a big annual event that can cement your memories of a specific city or region for years to come. January may be on the colder side of things throughout Europe – but if you can time your visit to coincide with one of these festivals, you’ll find some of the best entertainment to keep you cozy. Of course, if visit Europe in January and pack a Eurail Global Pass with your baggage, there’s no reason why you can’t visit more than one!
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