These Are the Best Events in Europe in December

Traveling through Europe in December is not just about snowcapped mountains and festive markets. Though you’re there in the middle of winter, there is a lot on the go around the continent, from Christmas markets and New Year’s Eve Parties, to art events and music festivals. These are the best events in Europe in December.

Events in Europe in December

Throughout Germany — Christmas Markets

If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas markets, then you simply have to head to Germany. It feels as if each city and town has some form of Christmas celebration on the go during December. Though most markets are worth visiting in their own rights, those in Cologne, Munich, Berlin, and Rothenburg are among the most impressive. Most markets open in late November and run throughout December.

How to get there by train: Germany has a comprehensive rail network, and it’s possible to reach all large cities, and most smaller towns, by rail.

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Copenhagen, Denmark — Christmas at Tivoli Gardens

There are few better places in Denmark to celebrate Christmas than at Tivoli Gardens. Both locals and visitors alike flock to this festive wonderland in November and December to explore the market, sample sweet treats, and marvel at the lights and decorations. There is also entertainment throughout the festive season for both young and old.

How to get there by train: Copenhagen is a major rail hub in Denmark. There are trains to the city from throughout the country. There are also easy connections from Germany — a direct Eurocity train from Hamburg takes 5 hours.

Lyon, France — Festival of Lights

From December 7 to 11 this year Lyon will again host its popular Fete des Lumieres, or Festival of Lights. You can expect the nights to be filled with spectacular lighting displays that include everything from humble candles through to the very latest technology. There’s a palpable festive spirit in the city over this time that makes it a joy to visit.

How to get there by train: There is a direct TGV train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Lyon that takes under 2 hours.

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London, England — New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display

The English capital may be in the grips of winter, but the spectacular annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display is impressive enough to coax most people outdoors. It kicks off on December 31 at 8pm. Though you can purchase tickets to access the Victoria Embankment, many people find an open spot somewhere nearby to view them at no cost.

How to get there by train: The Eurostar connects continental Europe to the United Kingdom. Passage on the Eurostar is included with your Eurail Pass, with a mandatory reservation payable.

Vienna, Austria — Kaiserball

Few countries celebrate the festive season quite like Austria. And few cities in Austria do it quite like Vienna. If you’re looking to experience this in true style, book tickets for the annual Kaiserball at Hofburg Palace. It takes place on December 31, and is one of the glamorous ways imaginable to ring in the New Year. If the ball sells out, there are others taking place throughout the city. There are also famous Christmas markets that run throughout December in Vienna.

How to get there by train: There are easy rail connections to Vienna from throughout Austria, as well as neighboring capitals like Budapest and Ljubljana.

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Amsterdam, Netherlands — Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival runs from November 29 to January 20. There are over 35 stunning light-related artworks and displays from a range of international artists, designers and architects. They are set up along two routes in the heart of the city and are  perfect for self-guided walks through Amsterdam.

How to get there by train: Amsterdam is a major rail hub in Europe, and there are regular trains from throughout the Benelux region to the city.

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Les Deux Alpes, France — Rise

Rise Festival takes place in the resort town of Les Deux Alpes from December 15 – 22. It’s a popular festival that combines skiing and snowboarding with a range of independent artists. The music is mainly electronic, and the slope side parties are legendary. Tickets include access to the festival and ski lifts, making it the perfect escape for fans of winter sport and music festivals.

How to get there by train: Catch the TGV from Paris Gare de Lyon to Grenoble. From there, catch Trans Isere bus 3030 to complete the final stretch to Les Deux Alpes.

December is a fantastic time to travel through Europe. Spectacular winter scenery aside, your Eurail Global Pass will get you to dozens of fantastic markets, parties and festivals.

Looking for more things to do in Europe in December?
6 Different Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Europe
10 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe
The best major cities for New Year’s Eve in Europe