For tropical whimsy
The Little Red Dot isn’t known for building or staging anything by halves. The annual Christmas Wonderland at the Gardens by the Bay goes all out with a food and crafts market plus carnival rides such as a carousel, a Christmas train and water bumper boats. Then, be dazzled by the stunning large-scale light installations handmade by craftsmen from Italy – look out for the 21m Christmas tree and the 314m² mirror maze. As this is a tropical fantasy fairground, stay for the nightly magical snowfall at “Blizzard Time”. Until 26 December.
For underground fun
A network of underground passageways and caverns runs under the ruins of the hilltop Valkenburg Castle in Limburg region, just over two hours by car southeast of Amsterdam. Within the castle’s 900-year history, they’ve previously served as escape routes for medieval knights; now, the last 22 years have seen these dark corridors of carved marlstone take a merrier turn during the Advent season for the annual Velvet Cave Christmas Market. Until 29 December.
For the sprawl that started it all
What began as a one-day affair in 1434, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden – three hours south of Berlin – is now the oldest in the country. Over 240 stalls congregate in Altmarkt Square, with the main highlight being the braided pastry once called striezel (hence the market’s name), now known as stollen. On 7 December, local bakers will gather here for a Christstollen bake-off at its 25th Stollen Festival. Until 24 December.
For old-time traditions
Barcelona’s oldest Christmas market, Fira de Santa Llúcia, is 233 years old and is sprawled in front of the Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Of particular interest is the massive selection of Tió de Nadal, known in Catalonia as Caga Tió – an infinitely more adorable version of the Christmas stocking. It consists of a wooden log with a face on it which gets covered with a blanket before being “fattened up”. Come Christmas Day, kids sing a special song and hit the log with a stick, after which it releases a present. Until 23 December.
For a cultural crossover
Just half an hour by train from Tokyo, the Meiji-era Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse is a shining example of adaptive reuse, and has become a shopping and dining hub that’s drawn over 60 million visitors since it opened in 2002. The annual Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse Christmas Market has the area decked out like a German hamlet with lit-up Christmas trees, retail stalls as old-style countryside huts, a skating rink and the comforting aroma of schnitzels and warm pretzels. Until 25 December.
For the love of literature
For five weekends leading up to Christmas, the Cow Palace Arena and Event Center in Daly City, just south of San Francisco, becomes a giant indoor costume party and method-acting stage for The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party. Over 800 actors will be dressed as characters from the renowned English author’s novels, populating the stone-paved alleys, lamplit dining halls, theatres and boisterous pubs. Guests are encouraged but not required to attend in costume. Until 22 December.
Illustration by Ellice Weaver at Making Pictures
To book a flight to these destinations, visit singaporeair.com
A version of this article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine