Chocolate fairs, light festivals, carnivals, winter sports events… They are all happening here, in Southern Europe. Don’t miss out on these fabulous events in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal this month.
TEXT: ARNE ADRIAENSSENS | MAIN PHOTO: COGNE ICE OPENING. © WIKIPEDIA
Cogne Ice Opening
12-15 December, Cogne, Italy
When the temperatures start dropping, the hamlet of Cogne – amidst the Italian Alps – transforms into an ice-climbing paradise. During the Cogne Ice Opening, the village inaugurates the ice climbing season with a brisk weekend of intense Alpinism. Join some of Europe’s best climbers as they head up the village’s steep slope.
Photo © Eurochocolate
12-15 December, Paganella, Italy
Nothing makes you forget about your cold winter toes as a cup of hot chocolate. During the annual Eurochocolate Christmas exhibition, the rich-brown indulgence is celebrated in all its forms in a magically mountainous setting, surrounded by the Dolomites peaks. Conquer a chocolate climbing wall, get up-close and personal with the world’s best chocolatiers and taste as many kinds of chocolate as your stomach can handle.
Habits de Lumière
13-15 December, Epernay, France
Visiting Habits de Lumière is definitely a great tradition to start. In Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region, they end the year with light and colours as the city welcomes a mesmerising, glowing parade. The enchanting event lures people of all ages to the city centre and is always full of surprises. During the daytime, the spotlights are pointed at vintage cars and exquisite gastronomy.
Habits de Lumiere. Photo © Ville d’Epernay
23 December, Funchal, Portugal
It’s the day before Christmas Eve and you still haven’t bought all your gifts? No problem, at the Market Night on the island of Madeira, you can shop until the early hours! The markets stay open for you to buy the last remaining dinner ingredients you need, and in the shops, last-minute shoppers peruse the gift section, looking for that perfect present. When the crowd finally heads home, the Christmas days can officially commence.
Carnival of Alcázar de San Juan
25-28 December, Alcazar de Sant Juan, Spain
Better known as Europe’s last carnival, the carnival of Alcázar de San Juan (in Castilla-la-Mancha) is a true explosion of colours, sounds and experiences. Forget the fact that Santa Claus has just roamed the roofs and instead give in to a festival of costumes, drinks and music. It might get a bit brisky sometimes, but celebrating on the streets in between Christmas and New Year is as Southern European as it gets.
La Vijanera. Photo © Wikipedia
6 January, Silió, Spain
Where the festival in Alcázar de San Juan is the last carnival of the year, the one in Silió is the first. Better known as La Vijanera, this feast with fluffy costumes and folklore galore is always held on the first Monday of the new year. Its goal is to expel the evil spirits from the town and bring fortune to its citizens.
International Music Festival of the Canary Islands
9 January – 9 February, Canary Islands, Spain
The ever-sunny Canary Islands kick-off the new year with classical music. For one month, six islands (all but El Hierro) present a world-class classical programme in their most prestigious concert halls. Philharmonic orchestras from all over the world head south to give the Canary year a twonderful start.
International Music Festival. Photo © Wikipedia