By Mrs. B
Europe is amazing year round, but you can find some fun and unique activities in the winter! Even with the shorter daylight hours and having to bundle up, you’ll find some fantastic adventures to delight travelers of all ages.
Ring in the New Year with a plunge in the North Sea
This is hands-down one event I think everyone should experience while in Europe. Wash away 2016 and bring in 2017 with a dip in the North Sea and free hot soup to warm you after. If you want a detailed version of what to expect you can find it in this post. While there are dive locations all over the Netherlands, I recommend hitting the original location in the Hague (Scheveningen, Netherlands). You can find more info and all the locations here.
Hit the slopes
Europe provides a winter wonderland of skiing, snowboarding, and tubing activities for those who want to play in the snow! Take the opportunity to experience the Alps up close and personal. Many people head to the Garmisch area in Germany, just on the Austria border, but you can also find prime winter fun in Switzerland, France, or Italy. If you want to try an indoor venue you can visit SnowWorld in the Netherlands. This provides indoor seating for those in your group who may want some downtime as well or if you want to take little kids along.
Thaw out at an indoor waterpark
Indoor waterparks are a great way to beat the winter chill! You’ll find several all over Europe. Most have pools, slides, wave pools, lazy rivers, restaurants, and more. At Aqualand in Cologne, Germany, you can spend the day enjoying slides, pools, lazy rivers, and relaxing. Tropical Islands just outside of of Berlin, Germany is built inside a former blimp hanger…complete with sand! Aquapalace in Prague, Czech Republic offers a resort and water park with both indoor and outdoor areas.
Make a toast
Warm up with an adult beverage at a brewery, winery, or distillery. These can be found all over Europe and many offer tours and tastings. While a few are adults-only, there are many that are family friendly. The family-friendly ones offer non-alcoholic drinks for those who are underage. The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam even has interactive games and activities for kids and adults alike.
Visit an amusement park
Check out the local amusement parks for some winter fun! Amusement parks often offer winter decor or themes in Europe. Disneyland Paris decorates their park and characters thematically. Phantasialand in Cologne, Germany has exciting winter experiences like the Sea of Lights, winter shows, ice skating rinks, and more. Hogwarts in the Snow in the UK will delight any Harry Pottery fan!
Chill with some amazing ice sculptures
Bundle up and hang out with larger-than-life ice sculptures! There are generally a few large ice sculpture events each year and the locations vary depending on which city is hosting. The main ones this year are Ice Magic Hasselt in Belgium, featuring fantasy world ice sculptures that take you on a magical journey to Antartica. In Metz, France there is the Metz Fairy of Ice 2016 that features ice sculptures from fairy tales like those from the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christen Andersen.
Scan the skies for the Northern Lights
Winter is a great time for hunting down the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Some of the best places to spot the Northern Lights in Europe are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, and Ireland. You can even stay in an igloo in Finland if you’re looking for a fun splurge.
You’ll find Fasching events in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Fasching is also known as Carnival or Mardi Gras. You can find a multitude of events all over these countries, some large and some small. These events range from January to February, so check what is going on for your area. Most villages have a Fasching parade which are fun to watch but know some of the costumes can be a bit inappropriate with sexual undertones. Alcohol is handed out freely at the parades to adults. There are also several days of events like Women’s Day and Rose Day.
Ease out of winter with an Easter Market
Easter events start before spring arrives in Europe. There are several types of Easter Markets to enjoy. A favorite can be found in Sankt Wendel, Germany. There you can shop the vendors, see tiny Easter displays set up, enjoy the decor, and delight in a tasty chimney cake. Several klosters (monasteries) also hold Easter Markets but these are a bit different. They are mainly vendors selling artwork or crafts for Easter. While these can be fun to visit, they are less kid-friendly and there are fewer food options.
Mrs. B blogs at World Traveling Military Family. She’s a military spouse who follows her Active Duty Air Force husband all over the world. They have lived in Alabama, Iceland, Japan, Germany, now in Guam! They have 3 kiddos and a Westie, two teens at home and one in college. They are always looking for travel adventures and like to share travel info with others. She loves being creative and making things, traveling to new locations, meeting new friends along the way, and of course posting about all their adventures!