There are lively, colourful Christmas markets, lights and entertainment in these pretty European cities:
Austria (Vienna); Belgium (Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges); France (Paris, Lyons, Lille, Strasbourg, Nancy, Metz), Germany (Berlin, Heidelberg, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, Munich, Trier, Dusseldorf); Netherlands (Amsterdam); Sweden (Stockholm).
Austria: Vienna Kaiserball – waltzing into Vienna’s glamorous ball season is this, the ultimate in posh dances, set in the Hofburg Palace. No expense spared. December 31st.
England: Officially the London sales start in early January, but many high street shops start their sales just after Christmas. Combine shopping with Christmas and New Year celebrations, throw in a few sights and some sensational, free museums and you might be able to ignore the chilly grey skies. Snow is rare.
Scotland: Edinburgh has post-Christmas sales, plus a totally wacko Hogmany, Dec 31st, a truly wild and wooly underwear occasion, with a torchlight procession, a Fire Festival, fireworks, concerts and much insobriety, in a city dark yet strangely light. . . Beware low light, cold, wind and high precipitation.
Sweden: Santa Lucia Day, (blonde girls celebration/parade) especially Stockholm, Dec 13th.
Russia: St Petersburg, Russian Winter Festival, late December.
Also see European Festivals or Arts Festivals for suggestions, information and dates.