Planning a trip in the weeks to come? While visiting a Christmas market might be high on the to-do list, it need not be the only reason to plan one last road trip in 2022. A number of cities and towns host events that are closely intertwined with the festive season. Here are some places to join local residents in some of their most cherished holiday traditions.

Nov. 29-Dec. 4: Chocolate festival in Tübingen, Germany

A charming student town on the Neckar sets the scene for what’s billed as Germany’s largest chocolate festival, ChocolART. Producers from around the world present the universally popular treat in countless forms at around 100 market stands. Workshops, tastings and a chocolate trail round out the program. As night falls, light projections on the facades of the half-timbered houses are additional draw. Entry is free. Online:

Dec. 3: Torchlight swim in Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

As evening falls, spectators line the bridge over the Mosel River to catch sight of more than 100 swimmers making their way across the river while holding their lit torches aloft. The swimmers set off from the harbor at Kuesen and cover a distance of over 1000 meters before reaching their destination on the opposite bank. Amongst those monitoring the swimmers’ progress is St. Nicholas himself, who watches the action from a barge. Online:

Dec. 3-4: St. Nicholas celebrations in Nancy, France

St. Nicholas, a 4th-century bishop known for his miracles and kindness, is the patron saint of many places, including the French region of Lorraine. On the first weekend of December each year, the region's elegant capital of Nancy celebrates its beloved St. Nicholas in grand style. Festivities take place in and around the Place Stanislas with its festively lit Christmas tree and include street artist performances, concerts, an ice rink, fun fair rides, and plenty of market stalls. One of its highlights is Saturday evening’s grand parade, which features numerous floats and characters tied to the legend of Saint Nicholas. Online:

Dec. 9-11: Light show in Epernay, heart of the Champagne country

Epernay, France, is home to some mighty impressive real estate, particularly its Avenue de Champagne, lined by the mansions of some of the world’s foremost producers of the prestigious beverage. During the three days of Habits de Lumière, the swanky street becomes a convivial party zone where illuminations light up the facades of the elegant buildings, street artists perform and champagne bars serve countless flutes of bubbly. A vintage car parade takes place on Sunday. Online:

Dec. 11: Krampus visit Munich’s Christmas market

With their twisting horns, fierce masks and hairy costumes, the Krampus are a fearsome sight, particularly to children who've been naughty the past year. Each year, around 400 of the beasts descend from their Alpine lair to scare young and old visitors to Munich’s Christmas market. Find them at the Marienplatz between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Online:

Dec. 11-13: Celebrating St Lucia in Sweden

Dec. 13 is celebrated as the feast day of St. Lucia, a young woman from Sicily who died a martyr at the age of 20. Lucia is particularly revered in Sweden, where shortly following her martyrdom in 304 AD, she was said to have arrived by ship and distributed food to the needy during a famine. In churches and town halls throughout the land, processions are staged in which a girl clad in white and wearing a headdress of lit candles sings traditional hymns, accompanied by other children dressed in white. A popular place to see a procession is the Skansen open air museum in Stockholm. Online:

Lucia is also celebrated in her native town. The Festa di Santa Lucia in Syracuse, Sicily, starts around 3:30 p.m., as a statue of the saint is carried from the cathedral on the island of Ortygia to the mainland, followed by a carriage and costumed characters holding candles. Exactly one week later, the procession retraces its steps back to the cathedral. Online:

Dec. 11-12: Recalling a victorious battle in Geneva, Switzerland

On the night of Dec. 11-12, 1602, the Duke of Savoy’s soldiers attempted to capture Geneva by scaling the city walls with long ladders. Following the fierce fighting in the battle that came to be known as the Escalade, the people of Geneva repelled the invaders. According to city lore, one Mère Royaume climbed onto the ramparts and poured hot soup over the head of one of the soldiers. The people of Geneva have celebrated their victory ever since. A procession of torchbearers dressed in period costume marches through the streets of the old city, stopping now and again to read a proclamation of victory before reaching St. Peter’s Cathedral. Amongst the historical and legendary figures portrayed is Mère Royaume, armed with her famous pot. Online:

Dec. 16: Gouda, Netherlands by Candlelight

Gouda, the Dutch city known for its cheese, has a unique way of welcoming the Christmas tree gifted to it by its sister city in Norway. For one night in December, Gouda’s electric lights are switched off and replaced by thousands of flickering candles, including those lighting up the spectacular Gothic Town Hall. Live music performed by bands and choruses helps build anticipation to the main event, the lighting of the Christmas tree at 7 p.m. Online:

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