A quick note before you read the below post – this was written after my trip to Luxembourg in mid December, but in the chaos leading up to Christmas, I sadly didn’t get to publishing it during the festive period... eek! I know it’s a bit late, but I hope this can still be an interesting read, and helpful for any of you who ever find yourself considering a trip to this pretty wee city!
Now there’s no denying that London is beautiful in the festive season, and I am lucky enough to work right at the heart of it all. Famous Carnaby Street is filled with lights so spectacular that people come from far and wide just for them. At the end of the street we have the world-famous department store Liberty’s which, come December, transforms its entire top floor into a Christmas Shop A.K.A a wonderland of fairy lights and glass baubles the likes of which you’ve never seen! With Oxford Circus just around the corner, one can walk beneath larger-than-life angels whose wings stretch the width of Regent Street, and dazzling shop fronts as far as the eye can see.
Regent Street's larger-than-life Christmas decorations this season
Breathtaking as it all may be, there is one problem with London at Christmas… It. Is. Mental. Already the busiest shopping street in Europe, foot traffic on Oxford Street increases tenfold come the festive season. It is almost impossible to enjoy the magical surroundings in the lead up to Christmas because of the sheer volume of people. Constantly looking at your feet or trying to spot a gap through which you can skirt in the slowly-strolling families who insist on walking shoulder-to-shoulder, I often find I have walked along the most beautifully decorated part of the city without having appreciated it at all. I’ll be honest, it isn’t the most enjoyable experience, and I, along with the rest of the London population, usually leave feeling pretty damn frazzled.
An average day trying to walk along Regent Street towards Oxford Street in the Christmas season. Remember to breathe...
Having experienced the mayhem firsthand the last 2 years, knowing full well what was coming, my sister and I decided to head to one of the many quieter European cities that offer the same festive magic without the chaos. We researched to explore our options, but as nearly every European city puts on a pretty great Christmas market, and as we both figure anywhere new is somewhere worth visiting, we simply picked the cheapest option which happened to be somewhere we didn't know much about: Luxembourg.
A teeny country of only 540,000 inhabitants – but three languages!! – Luxembourg city is a beautiful place where Germanic and French culture meet; where bratwurst is paired with a glass of red wine, and the Christmas Markets display signs for Gluhwein alongside Vin Chaud. Regarding which language is the right one to use between French, German, and Luxembourgish (yes, it’s a thing), your guess would be as good as mine. I would say “bonjour” and be met with a “guten tag.” Assuming German was the one to use in this instance, I would utter a timid “danke” only to be answered with a smile and a “de rien.” Just in case you thought travelling to foreign language country wasn’t complicated enough!
Coming from a small country myself, I found myself extremely fond of the place, and the pride the people take in belonging to what is a pretty elite group. It's not only the small scale that makes Luxembourg a special spot though, it is a beautiful city to walk around, right up there with the best of them. The architecture is a stunning mix of German and French styles, and there are whole parts of this ancient town built into the cliffs around it. It is a perfectly sized destination for a weekend escape, and unlike some of Europe’s larger cities, you don't leave feeling flustered and frustrated at not having seen so much.
As for Christmas markets, it was a winner - glühwein was steaming at every second stall, fires warmed the crowds, local school children sang carols in red scarves and beanies, mini pancakes were served with lashings of Nutella and Creme fraiche, rather than the stock standard stalls there were things as interesting as blacksmiths hard at work on unique Christmas decorations... the delights go on. I'll let the photos do the talking from here and leave you with a piece of advice... If you are ever looking for a European destination to escape to for a weekend, give Luxembourg a go!
Luxembourg's Christmas Market on Place d'Armes open from November 23rd to December 24th.