Vienna, above, lights up for Christmas and New Years
Originally published in GPS.OutTraveler.com
From canal parades in Amsterdam to beautiful outdoor lightning installations in Vienna, Europe’s gay-friendly coolcaptial cities (Amsterdam, Antwerp, Valencia, Vienna, and Zurich) offer a tantalizing array of Christmas activities right through the new year.
- Christmas Canal Parade (December 9, 2010-January 1, 2011)
A series of four major Christmas activities take place in and around Amsterdam canals and several important plazas throughout December. The highlight takes place on December 23, as a specatular, lit-up parade of boats sails from the Prinsengracht to the River Amstel. Information: WinterMagicAmsterdam.com.
- Skating on the Scheldt (December 11)
Belgium is a very Catholic country. Though no longer very religious, they really love Christmas. This year Antwerp’s ice-skating rink will be located in Steenplein, overlooking the river Scheldt. Alongside the rink, visitors will find a Christmas market and food and beverage stands. The city counts no fewer than 107 nativity scenes. Information: Antwerpen.be.
- Innocents Day and New Year’s Mascleta (December)
This artsy, design-oriented Spanish city has become a popular destination for LGBT travelers in recent years. Christmas season is a fun time to visit. On December 28 Innocents Saints Day, Valencia’s version of April Fool’s Days sees all sorts of pranks and hijinks such as fake/inventive newspaper headlines. The biggest New Years Masletá (an eplosive fireworks display) takes place in the Paseo de la Alameda. Information: TurisValencia.es.
- Designer Lighting Design (Through December 23)
“Light-UP,” Vienna’s contemporary holiday light installations, feature designs ranging from perched clouds in the Volksoper district to an open-air ball room on Graben. Eco-conscious readers note: 70% of the designs use energy-saving LED technology. Information: CoolCapitals.com/Vienna.
- Christmas Lighting at the Bahnhofstrasse (Through January 2, 2011)
Zurich also has a Christmas holliday light installation, known as “Lucy,” stretching along the world-famous Bahnhofstrasse. Lucy is turned on at 6pm every night through New Years. Information: Zuerich.com.
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