Ready for some fun? Here are some recommendations for events to attend the weekend of Dec. 17-18, 2016.

Rise & FallLocation: Mayrhofen, Tirol Area, Austria

Date: 1 p.m. Dec. 17

Teams of four athletes take on a relay competition encompassing four disciplines: ski touring and mountain biking (the “rise”); paragliding and skiing or boarding (the “fall”). Around 60 teams participate in this physically demanding ski season opener. The start and finish area is next to the base station of the Ahorn lifts.

Admission: Free


Christmas Beer FestivalLocation: Heuvelhal, Kapelstraat 7, B-2910 Essen, Belgium

Date: 1:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 17-18 (1:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Dec. 17; noon-7 p.m. Dec. 18; NOTE tickets for Dec. 18 ONLY were available at this writing)

This beery event has grown so popular over the years that its organizers have had to cap attendance in order to comply with fire regulations. Visitors can taste about 150 bottled beers and 22 brews on tap, along with Gluhkriek, or hot cherry beer. Full meals and snacks are also available on-site.

Admission: 21.40 euros includes seven tokens, a bottle of water, a festival guide and a 15 cl tasting glass. On Dec. 17, entry from 7 p.m. is open to those without tickets, but with the total amount of people in the hall limited to 900, you’d be taking a real risk of not being allowed in. Should tickets sell out, consider volunteering to guarantee your entry.


Zulu Sunrise Christmas PartyLocation: The NEC (National Exhibition Center), North Ave., Marston Green, Birmingham B40 1NT, England

Dates: Tickets available as of this writing for Dec. 14 and 19-23.

Zulu Sunrise is an African-themed dance and display of aerial and floor entertainment serving as the centerpiece to a professionally catered four-course dinner. Adding to the upscale feel of the event are cocktail and champagne bars, canapes, casino tables, an after-dinner disco with a professional DJ and a midnight breakfast.

Tickets: tickets from 48 to 71 pounds.


Burning the ClocksLocation: Madeira Drive, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1PS

Date: Dec. 21

On the shortest day of the year, Brighton & Hove’s residents create lanterns of paper and willow boughs which are paraded through the city and then burnt on the beach as a symbol of the end of the natural cycle of a year. The family-friendly event concludes with a fire and fireworks show. Organizers conceived this festival as a way to celebrate the festive season regardless of faith or creed.

Admission: free; donations can be made to the Same Sky community arts charity.


Louis Lewandowski FestivalLocation: Synagogue, Pestalozzistrasse 14, 10625 Berlin-Charlottenburg and other venues

Date: Dec. 15-18

This festival celebrates the tradition of sacred choral music in Hebrew meant to be listened to in a synagogue. The 6th edition of this festival honors the contributions of pioneers dating back to the seventeenth century, who paved the way for Jewish-German composer Louis Lewandowski and his 19th-century contemporaries.

Admission: Some events offer free entry, including the opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Dec. 15; others are ticketed events.


International Horse Riding ShowLocation: Festhalle, Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1, 60327 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Date: Dec. 15-18

Top names of the equestrian scene take place in a tournament that’s competition and entertainment rolled into one. Even those who aren’t part of the horsey crowd enjoy events such as dressage and jumping. A hall beautifully decked out for Christmas completes the holiday atmosphere.

Admission: ticket prices begin at 8 euros. Tickets are available for all events over the course of one day or specific time slots encompassing various disciplines.


Candle NightLocation: city center, Gouda, Netherlands

Date: Dec. 16

Gouda by Candlelight, known colloquially as Kaarsjesavond, is a decades-old Christmas tradition with a days-of-yore atmosphere. Around the town’s market square, the electric lights go out and thousands of candles in the windows around the square and in the Town Hall are lit to create a cozy glow. A program of entertainment on the streets and in the town’s establishments completes the holiday feeling. The towering Christmas tree is an annual gift from Gouda’s Norwegian sister city of Kongsberg.

Admission: free for most locations and performances


Valhalla FestivalLocation: Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Center, Europaplein, 1078 GZ, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Date: 10:30 p.m. Dec. 17 to 7 a.m. Dec. 18

The word “bizarre” probably doesn’t come near to describing this festival, an immersive night-time circus experience replete with offbeat acts, musical entertainment, magicians and more. Attendees themselves are encouraged to dress up in “Cirque Mondiale”-themed attire.

Admission: entry is limited to those 18 years and older; tickets cost 52.50 euros plus service fees.


Hogueras de NavidadLocation: Granada, Jaen and other cities in Spain

Date: Dec. 21

Jumping over a bonfire at the time of the winter solstice is considered a good way to prevent illness, a ritual that is practiced to date across many parts of Andalusia. The festival celebrates Saint Anthony, protector of fire and animals.

Admission: Free


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