frankfurt holiday celebration

You’ll be filled with holiday spirit in Frankfurt’s holiday celebrations. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Find Your Joy at the World’s Most Dazzling Holiday Celebrations

Holiday magic comes in as many varieties as there are families, groups of friends or cities to celebrate it.

Read on for a few favorite European locales (plus one uber-festive city in North America) for adding some serious sparkle to your celebrations this season.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Stroll the Markets in Frankfurt

Germany’s financial capital loosens its tie and kicks back to bask in the holiday season as residents gather after work at outdoor Christmas markets where Frankfurt’s traditional apple wine (proffered piping hot) is the drink of choice.

The city’s main Christmas tree gets erected in November with much pomp and circumstance in the Römerberg, Frankfurt’s medieval square that serves as the backdrop for the city’s most important and largest Christmas market.

By late November the square spills over with wooden stalls leading out to the banks of the River Main and St. Paul’s Square, with sweets and all manner of handmade gifts (candles, ornaments, jewelry, etc.) for sale.

The LGBTQ+ community gathers for “Pink Christmas” at the small and pretty-in-pink Christmas market on Friedrich-Stoltze Square.

Wherever you end up, be sure to ask someone to point you to a stall selling Bethmännchen, a regional almond and marzipan treat that tastes like good tidings, distilled.

Dazzle the Senses in Paris

paris holiday celebration tree with decorations and eiffel tower
You’ll Paris for the holidays. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re lucky enough to spend any part of the holiday season in Paris, prepare for it to be magical.

From the many outdoor Christmas markets where you can sip a vin chaud (hot mulled wine) to outdoor ice-skating rinks and some of the best shopping in the world, the City of Light is lit to the max.

Public menorah lightings are held at sundown during Hanukkah at sites across the city, including in front of the Eiffel Tower.

And retail therapy means marveling at the window displays of Paris’ famous department stores, like Galeries Lafayette, which always has one of the city’s most extravagantly decorated trees occupying its atrium.

For more free and festive holiday fun, head to the Tuileries Garden next to the Louvre for a Christmas market that takes on a carnival-like atmosphere. Just a short walk from the Champs-Élysées, La Magie de Noël is the city’s biggest Christmas market, complete with carnival rides, an artisan village, an ice-skating rink and dedicated festive nooks for sipping — what else? — Champagne.

Experience a Holiday Epicenter in Nuremberg

If you’re looking for the most Christmassy place in all of Germany, it’s got to be Nuremberg, where the Christkindlesmarkt spreads all across the old town and is the most famous Christmas market in all of Europe.

Red-and-white striped booths proffer things like the city’s famous Nuremberg bratwurst, sweets, gifts and more. And if you’ve had your share of glühwein, why not branch out and try Feuerzangenbowle (translation: fire tongs punch), which is a wonder to watch as it’s poured, using fiery metal tongs.

Holiday concerts take place all around town, too, including organ performances at St. Lawrence Church (Lorenzkirche) and Holiday on Ice at the city’s arena.

Shop for Unique Gifts in Stuttgart

stuttgart holiday celebrations
Stay for the holidays in Stuttgart. (Photo: Getty Images)

The capital of Germany’s southwest state of Baden-Württemberg comes to life for the holidays with its own unique Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), from the end of November until just before New Year’s.

Located on the city’s main historic square, Karlsplatz, Stuttgart’s Christmas market has a different look from others in Germany.

Look for elaborately decorated chalet-style rooftops here, as well as a dedicated Finnish-style market where you can shop for Nordic gifts and snack on reindeer sausages. Oh, the stories you’ll bring home!

Embrace Holiday Chill in Denver

Colorado’s biggest city is more than the gateway to some of the best skiing in North America. Come the holiday season, Denver’s Winter in the City celebrations make things festive and merry, with free events all around town.

Illuminated floats, giant balloons and traditional equestrian units join the Parade of Lights through Downtown Denver, with appearances by Santa and Waddles the Penguin, too.

Trees strung with twinkling lights surround the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park, where you can ice skate alfresco from late November well into February.

And don’t miss a wander through the Denver Christkindlmarket at Civic Center Park, where you can sip glühwein or a German brew and shop for holiday gifts at cozy wooden huts not so unlike what you’d see in the Old World.

Wondering how to put a chic, global twist on your holiday season? Explore La Fête by Le Méridien to set the perfect ambiance for your next soiree with festive cocktail recipes, tips on the art of entertaining and a curated playlist by Le Méridien’s global music partner, Nouvelle Vague. Or celebrate wherever your travels take you with La Fête by Le Méridien packages available at select hotels around the world.