At 11 a.m. on Dec. 26, hundreds of brave swimmers take to the frigid waters of North Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales to raise money for their favorite causes.

At 11 a.m. on Dec. 26, hundreds of brave swimmers take to the frigid waters of North Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales to raise money for their favorite causes. (

WinterfestLocation: Volksgarten, Salzburg, Austria

Date: through Jan. 8

Since 2001, Salzburg’s Advent season has been brightened by a contemporary circus of international repute. Only the best of the best troupes perform at this venue, a big-top tent set up in a leisure park close to the city center. Event organizers conceived the event to provide city residents and visitors alike with a respite from the hectic days leading up to Christmas. Culinary treats and a good glass of wine available on-site complement the circus’s upscale ambiance. Performances vary according to the day. The spectrum of performances by international acts ranges from visual art to performing arts with dance, music, drama, acrobatics or puppet theater, meaning real circus fans could enjoy a different show every night.

Admission: Varies with the performance; tickets for Gravity and other Myths, for example, begin at 42 euros.


Mechelen Christmas Horse ShowLocation: Nekkerhal-Brussels North, Plattebeekstraat 1, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium

Date: Dec. 26-30

The three World Cup equestrian disciplines of show jumping, driving and vaulting, along with a high-level dressage competition, as executed by Belgian and international athletes and young talents below the age of 25 are on display here. New to the program this year is an international pony competition, the FEI World Jumping Ponies Trophy, scheduled for Dec. 29 and 30. Dec. 26 sees the staging of the Big JM Kids Day Show, a gala show complete with ponies, horses, dance acts and music by famous performers. Integration Day, part of the evening program on Dec. 26, thrusts equestrian sport for the disabled into the spotlight; audience members on this evening will include the disabled and the disadvantaged.

Admission: Adult tickets 20 to 55 euros, depending on day and program. Tickets for the Kids Day Show are 20 euros for all ages.


Czech Touches of MusicLocation: Prague Castle and other venues in Prague, Czech Republic

Date: Dec. 25-29, Jan 2 and 4-6.

Classical music is the focus of this winter festival, a showcase for orchestral, chamber and recital work. Organizers strive to promote artists and composers under the age of 35, and place emphasis on the co-existence of traditional and contemporary music. Performances are co-organized with the Prague Castle and include cross-disciplinary projects within the realm of literature, film, architecture and the visual arts.

Admission: Ticket prices begin at 500 Czech Koruna, about $19.70


Elizabethan Christmas at Hampton Court PalaceLocation: Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU, England

Date: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily Dec. 27-Jan. 2

The court of Queen Elizabeth I sets the backdrop for the re-enactment of a Christmas tale written especially for the Hampton Court Palace by an award-winning playwright. The all ages storyline revolves around the entertainment director to a demanding queen’s frantic search for a last minute stand-in for his star choirboy. An array of characters dressed in lavish period costume play out scenes throughout the premises, from the Tudor Kitchens to the Great Hall. Much music and singing lends to the festive atmosphere.

Admission: Adult tickets from 19.80 pounds, ages 5-15 pay from 9.90 pounds.


Marche des 13 Desserts (Market of 13 Desserts)Location: Place Francois Villon, Les Alles Provencales, Aix-en-Provence, France

Date: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through Dec. 24

Around forty farmers and producers of artisanal products offer up a range of culinary specialties typical to the Provence region at Christmastime: wines, olive oil, jams, almonds, chutney, mustard, cookies, glazed chestnuts, honey, chocolate, and much more. Customers are attended to in a festively decorated marquee. The event is organized by the Bouches-du-Rhône Chamber of Agriculture.

Admission: Free


Europa-Park winter season Location: Europa-Park-Strasse 2, 77977 Rust, Germany

Date: Dec. 26-Jan. 8 and Jan. 13-15 (11 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekends)

Twinkling lights, glitzy decorations, and snow softly falling down upon 2,500 Christmas trees creates just the cozy atmosphere one craves at this time of year. Ride the big wheel and enjoy the panorama of the festively lit park, catch a movie in the 4D Magic Cinema, glide on the ice skating rink, wander past the ice sculptures, take in a circus revue, and don’t miss the nightly Winter Starlight Parade. Foodies can enjoy Swiss cheese fondue or a spit-roasted boar. For those who live a distance away, the park offers four-star hotel accommodation or heated log cabins. A special winter offer offers a 20% discount on overnight packages including lodging, breakfast and admission to the park.

Admission: 38.50 euros adults; 32.50 euros ages 4-11; free for those under 4 and children up to age 12 on their birthday.


Triberg Christmas MagicLocation: 78098 Triberg, Germany

Date: Dec. 25-30

Germany’s highest waterfall, surrounded by a million lights, illuminate the magical grounds of this annual Black Forest event. Acts well-known to German audiences take to the stage nightly to perform music and other forms of entertainment. Young visitors will enjoy puppet shows, a story teller and a petting zoo, while all ages will be mesmerized by the fire show. Gigantic displays of fireworks conclude the evening’s festivities Dec. 27-30.

Admission: 17 euros adults; 13 euros children.


Nativity Trail- crèche scenesLocation: churches throughout Bamberg, Germany

Dates: Through Jan. 6; some churches keep their nativity scenes up even longer.

From nativity scene to nativity scene

The tradition of setting up nativity scenes in Bamberg dates back over 350 years, when the Jesuits first set one up in the Old St. Martin Church. The tradition continues to the present day, with some 350 nativity scenes depicting the birth of Christ set up in churches and public squares throughout the city. Note that it’s not possible to visit churches during services. The city’s tourism office offers informational material regarding the scenes and guided tours.

Admission: Free


City BiathlonLocation: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Date: 5 p.m. Dec. 30

The thrill in watching this annual event comes from being in such close proximity to the competing athletes. The race takes place in the center of the festively decorated city center.

Admission: Free


Circumnavigando FestivalLocation: Genova, Italy

Dates: Dec. 26-Jan. 8

International contemporary circus acts, shows and exhibits bring a fun and avant-garde mood to this bustling port city. Clowns, aerial acrobats, jugglers and others provide entertainment in venues throughout the city.

Admission: prices range from 6 to 20 euros, depending on the show.

Website: Download the pdf brochure at

Schweizer Kunst-Supermarkt/Swiss Art SupermarketLocation: Rothushalle, Schoengruenstrasse 2, Soluthurn, Switzerland

Date: through Jan. 8. (2 p.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun.)

Authentic and high-quality art doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This art exhibition and sale offers a huge assortment of art in a warehouse-like atmosphere and clear pricing policies. The 89 participating artists present 40 of their original pieces, which are available for purchase at four distinct price points: 99, 199, 399 or 599 Swiss Francs. The event is intended as a means for people who’ve never set foot in a gallery to start to understand and appreciate art in its many forms.

Admission: Free


Tenby Boxing Day SwimLocation: North Beach, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Date: 11 a.m. Dec. 26

Each year, hundreds of brave swimmers, many dressed up in crazy costumes, take to the frigid waters, their derring-do observed by thousands of spectators. Following their plunge, the swimmers are awarded commemorative medals around a blazing bonfire. Swimmers register to participate by downloading a form which allows them to start fundraising for their own favorite causes. Last year’s event saw 600 fearless dippers raise over 12,000 pounds to benefit good causes both internationally and close to home. Those not taking to the icy waters can enjoy a crazy raft race and fancy dress parade on the beach.

Admission: Free


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