Limited travel and restrictions on activities – not cool, pandemic. However, Christmas 2020 still has plenty to offer: from making mulled wine and traditional pretzels to decorating your house so you can’t move for tinsel. TWISPER, the social app with only positive and personal recommendations, has brought together their favorite ways to save the festive season this year.
Grab your Santa hat, dust off your baubles, and we’ll dive right in...
Dear Santa, please let Christmas markets be open
One of our favorite things about the run up to Christmas is definitely the festive markets that pop up in cities across Europe. And – fun fact alert – they’ve been a tradition since the first one took place in Vienna back in 1298. It’s no wonder that these are an essential Christmas experience for so many of us!
As you might imagine, quite a few winter markets won’t be open this year. But there’s still hope! The organizers of Vienna’s historic Dream Christmas Market are doing all the prep work right now in the hope that it’ll go ahead this year. Reindeer rides, a giant ferris wheel and countless stalls selling festive food, drinks and gifts make this an ideal place to embrace Christmas 2020.
Then there’s Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. One of the world’s oldest theme parks, it’s staying open with necessary precautions put in place. Your ticket to Tivoli Gardens includes the chance to visit Father Christmas and experience plenty of festive fun at the many restaurants and hotels, like Nimb, decorated for the season.
Hibernation mode: on
Of course, if you can’t travel and your local Christmas market is closed this year, you can still take part in the festive fun. Picture those adorable snow-frosted wooden cabins, grasp the memory of a steaming mug of vin chaud and remember the taste of a warm pretzel. Then recreate it at home!
If you’re in France or Germany, you’re in luck. Artisanal bakery Dreher Strasbourg delivers their festive goodies around the country so you can tuck into traditional Alsatian Christmas cookies while scrolling through Netflix’s festive selection. And if you fancy a lockdown challenge, why not try and make your own bretzels? There are plenty of simple recipes online for pretzels so all you bakers can enjoy an authentic taste of Strasbourg’s iconic Marché de Noël.
Deck the halls (while you stay in and watch Love Actually)
Just cos the festive season might be different this year, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pull out all the stops. Christmas tree up in November? We won’t judge. Tinsel on every surface? Delightful. Fairy lights wrapped around everything but the dog? Sounds perfectly safe. Here are the places you should model your decs off:
Montreux Christmas Market
This Swiss festive affair may be cancelled this year but it’s just the right kind of extra to inspire your Christmas decorations. No, it is absolutely not “over the top” to attach a Santa toy to a washing line inside the house and have him and his reindeer soar across your living room ceiling. In fact, it’s exactly what Christmas 2020 needs!
But you can always take things to the next level. Especially when the next level is Christmas at home in the ‘70s. Retro decorations, colored lights, cartoon characters with a festive twist – the tackier the better at Miracle. The seasonal pop-up bar is the ideal pitstop for a Christmassy cocktail in London (once it’s open again), not to mention invaluable inspiration for your home décor. Repeat after us: nothing is too much.
We desperately hope this enchanting festive spot re-opens in time for Christmas. Because recreating their iconic rooftop igloos and après-ski lodge in your living room might prove challenging. Not impossible though (if someone manages this – please send us a photo, we’re begging you!). The next best thing after a trip to the Alps!
Snow place like an ice skating rink
Speaking of skating rinks, there’s a chance this will be a permitted activity for Christmas 2020. In London, for example, Queen’s House Ice Rink and Hampton Court Palace, amongst others, are hoping to open for our enjoyment. Gutted you’re missing out on valuable skating time? Find yourself a pair of rollerskates on eBay and let loose on your local park. Don’t knock it – for lack of ice, this is actually a Christmas tradition in Venezuela. There you go, you’ve learnt something new too!
Take the plunge: ‘tis the season to be freezin’
If you live in Scandinavia or even near the coast in the UK, this may well be an unmissable (and theoretically lockdown-friendly) part of your Christmas routine already. For the rest of you, it might take a little more convincing. It is exactly what it says – all across Europe, revelers flock to the freezing cold water and immerse themselves in it for a very quick swim. Could you be persuaded? We might be tempted if we could grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate (or something stronger!) somewhere like 1842 im Haus Conditorei Schober afterwards.
Visit Santa Claus… on Zoom
Have you been naughty or nice this year? Honestly, the year we’ve had, we can’t blame you if it’s the former. But we’ll let Father Christmas himself decide. If lockdown lifts and travel to Lapland is permitted, go and visit Santa Claus Holiday Village in Rovaniemi. However old you are, reindeer sleigh rides, crossing the North Pole and meeting Mr Claus himself are excellent festive fun. And if you can’t travel, you can Zoom with him. Well, it makes a change from work calls or Zoom quizzes.
Not convinced by Zoom Santa? You could embrace another country’s tradition instead. Here us out: Zoom costume party. Will you be Germany’s Krampus? Buddy the Elf? Or perhaps one of Iceland’s 13 Yule Lads (because one Santa isn’t enough)?
Eat, drink and be merry!
Festive food and drink are easy ways to make Christmas 2020 a little more special even if you’re at home. We already mentioned pretzels and mulled wine, but there’s plenty more festive foodie ideas to inspire you. Missing gourmet meals? Tons of restaurants have been doing meal kits since lockdown so we can enjoy restaurant quality food in our own homes. Splash out on a luxurious Christmas dinner kit by Simon Rogan of L’Enclume or grab the festive burger kit from Mac & Wild - the only downside is washing up isn’t included.
Find more festive inspiration with ESN on TWISPER
Hands up who’s feeling festive now? We hope you’ve inspired you to embrace Christmas 2020 wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Still feeling like a Scrooge? Follow ESN on TWISPER for more recommendations for amazing places to eat, sleep and drink and get planning your next adventure.