The nights are drawing in; the weather has turned; a pre-Christmas tonic is needed. The answer is – a short break in SouthWest Germany. With its half-timbered houses and cheerful taverns, nowhere is more Christmassy than the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Shop at authentic Christmas markets; enjoy sunny days and crisp nights; relax in a spa or heated pool in a luxury hotel overlooking a beautiful lake. Or, ride a roller coaster through a winter wonderland. It is all on offer in SouthWest Germany: just a hop away, via daily flights direct to Stuttgart’s convenient international airport.
Heidelberg Christmas Market: November 21 – December 22, 2016
One of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets spreads across six historic squares in Heidelberg’s historic Old Town. Decorated with twinkling lights, some 140 wooden stalls are full of temptations, from hand-carved wooden toys and Christmas tree decorations to mulled wine and delicious treats. For skaters, there is a real ice rink on Karlsplatz square, with romantic views of the world-famous castle high above, in the background. The city is on the Neckar River. Perfect for that special occasion is a boat ride up to Stift Neuburg, the ancient Benedictine abbey that holds its own traditional Christmas market.
More information: www.heidelberg-event.com/events/weihnachtsmarkt/?lang=en
Europa-Park: where winter means fun
It doesn’t get more fun than Europa-Park this winter. What was recently voted “Best Amusement Park Worldwide” for the third year running is transformed into a winter wonderland. There are snow-dusted Christmas trees, the scent of mulled wine, carol singing, thousands of Christmas lights and crackling log fires. Go to Christmas-themed circus shows; eat delicious festive food; take the Snowflake Sleigh Ride; scream on giant coasters, such as WODAN. Germany’s largest theme park opens its gates for the winter season from November 26 until January 8, 2017 (closed December 24 and 25) and again from January 13–15, 2017.
More information: www.europapark.de/en/park/seasons/winter-europa-park
Lake Constance: stylish holiday fun at Hotel RIVA Konstanz
With glorious views of Lake Constance and snow-capped peaks, Hotel RIVA Konstanz is one of Europe’s most romantic destinations. This 5-star superior hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has 51 exquisitely furnished rooms, a spa and a roof terrace, with a heated pool and lake views. This is a delightful spot to spend Christmas or New Year’s Eve, with gala menus and a glamorous New Year’s Eve ball. Not forgetting RIVA’s Lake Restaurant and Ophelia Gourmet Restaurant, with its two Michelin stars. Stroll the cobbled lanes of Konstanz; shop in the Christmas market and aboard the Christmas ship.
More information: www.hotel-riva.de/en
Stuttgart Airport: get to Winter Wonderland quicker than Santa
Getting to SouthWest Germany in winter is easy from the UK. Fly to Stuttgart, the region’s capital on convenient daily flights from Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. Fly with British Airways, flyBe, Eurowings, Air Berlin, Ryanair or easyJet. Germany’s sixth largest airport is your gateway to fun. Go Christmas shopping in Stuttgart; pop down to Heidelberg, Europa-Park and Lake Constance. With direct access to the motorway and the efficient rail service, you can relax and enjoy your break just minutes after touching down.
More information: www.stuttgart-airport.com