“Why the hell would I want to go to Germany and Austria in December?”
Two words: Christmas Markets.
Europe during the holiday season is an absolutely magical place. You’ll wanna take that dollar store tiara with you, because you’ll feel like you’re in a fairy tale. Between the festively decorated city streets (Europeans take fabulous Christmas decorations as a personal challenge) and the ridonkulous charm of the many Christmas Markets scattered throughout Germany and Austria, it makes for a European trip unlike any other you’ve taken.
Sure, it’s chilly (30’s and 40’s). But that just adds to the magic. Having been to Vienna, for example, in both summer and at the holidays, there’s no comparison. The holiday season trumps any other time of year. (Not to mention that there are considerably fewer tourists.) And you get to wear that fur muff!
[One of Vienna’s Christmas Markets]
So, what exactly IS a Christmas Market? It’s a large collection of wooden kiosks that are plunked down in various plazas and squares around the cities. Many countries offer these markets, but Germany and Austria have the greatest number and variety. The vendors sell every type of (mostly holiday-themed) Bavarian and European handicrafts imaginable. They’re an incredible opportunity to bring back decorations for your home as well as great – and inexpensive – gifts. (Although the Euro has bounced back a bit, it’s still at just $1.19, far from its high of $1.60 in 2009.)
Of course, you can’t shop without enjoying some hot chocolate and a terrifyingly addictive holiday pastry or five. And then, there’s the gluhwein (pronounced “glue-vine”) – warm, mulled wine, which, trust me, is much tastier than it sounds, and which can result in having to buy a steamer trunk to ship back all the drunken purchases.
Not that this happened to anybody we know. Or anything.
And for gay folk, cities like Vienna even offer a special homo holiday market, with more design-oriented versions of these Christmas crafts and gifts. Listen to holiday songs by divas and gay artists, attend a “Hot Chocolate” Christmas party, or just wander the aisles and enjoy the eye candy – and the knickknacks.
Want some more glamorous souvenirs than those offered by the Christmas Markets? Shopping streets like Vienna’s Golden Quarter will fill the bill and empty your wallet, all while it wows you with gorgeous street decorations and window displays.
[The two-story flagship Swarovski store in Vienna’s Golden Quarter]
If you’re taking Brand g’s 2019 Christmas Markets cruise on the Danube, you’ll not only hit a ton of these insanely charming markets, you’ll get to experience other sights that are enhanced by the wintry holiday weather, as well – like Neuschwanstein Castle (pictured at top) outside Munich, which was the inspiration for Disney’s Magic Castle and has an even more fairy tale-like atmosphere when covered in snow.
Everybody loves Europe in summer. But for a less crowded, and more unique experience, consider a Christmas Markets trip. It’s truly magical.
Fairy Princess costume not included.