Skip to main content

Festive Markets

By December 16, 2023No Comments
Ice skating in festive market. – London, England (photo by Fas Khan )

Happy Holidays from Santa Barbara Travel Bureau!             We loved celebrating with those who could make it to our holiday party and look forward to making your travel dreams come true in the new year.


  We are grateful for all of you and for the fabulous gift of travel.


The festive season is celebrated beautifully around the world, with Europe a leader in holiday cheer and festive markets. With 2024 upon us, now is the time to map out your travel plans.  It’s not too late to plan a New Year’s trip or experience the holidays in a distant land.Santa Barbara Travel Bureau gift certificates are an ideal gift for the travelers in your life.  Redeemable to visit anywhere in the world- and in any amount, we will gift wrap and mail or email a lovely travel certificate to your special someone.In the spirit of the holidays, this months newsletter details the dreamy festive markets of Europe.  The streets are beautifully decorated, the Christmas markets are charming, and there’s an array of holiday activities. Visitors can try traditional treats, sip mulled wine, and go ice-skating, all while being immersed in an atmosphere that captures the spirit of the season.

Come December, Zagreb’s installment, Advent Zagreb, transforms King Tomislav Square into a festive wonderland filled with twinkling lights, souvenir shops, and cozy food stalls – be sure to try paprenjaci, peppery Croatian gingerbread cookies. There’s also an ice rink and a 1924 Christmas tram that delights young ones with sweets and a cameo from Santa and his elves.

Christmas magic in Ban Jelacic Square.  –J. Duval/Zagreb Tourist Board

Holiday Charm outside Dublin

In December, Grafton Street sparkles with lights strung overhead and buskers interspersing holiday tunes with pop classics. Travelers can hear a chorus of accents lilting over hot toddies and hearty stews in Dublin’s pub-heavy Temple Bar district, while bells chime from nearby Christ Church and Saint Patrick’s cathedrals. A 45-minute drive west through the Irish countryside takes travelers to County Kildare, where the atmosphere is a bit quieter, though still plenty festive. Visit Saint Brigid’s Cathedral and its twelfth-century Round Tower before heading to Kildare Village for some holiday shopping.

Sink into The Apartment at Kildare Village for a private shopping session.

Winter Wonderlands in Germany

The enchanting towns, fairy-tale castles, and alluring mountains that draw summer travelers to Germany later transform into winter wonderlands with snow blanketing its pine boughs, holly leaves, and cobbled streets. Bavaria bursts with Christmas spirit, from the sweet aroma of roasted almonds and freshly baked Christmas cookies to the raucous escapades of masked marauders at Krampus parades.

Ingolstadt Village decked out in lights.

Holiday Feasts and Festivals near Milan

Christmas in Italy means feasts and festivals stretching from L’Immacolata Concezione (the Immaculate Conception) on December 8 through Epiphany (or Three Kings Day) on January 6. Milan kicks off the holiday season with the Feast of Saint Ambrose (the city’s patron saint) on December 7 and a street-market festival called Oh Bej! Oh Bej! – which roughly translates to “How beautiful!” or “So nice!” Expect plenty of roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, and a Christmas tree lighting.

At Fidenza Village, around an hour’s drive southeast of Milan, visitors can stop by Santa’s house or pose with life-size reindeer statues as they browse more than 120 shops. When it comes to holiday atmosphere, guest experience and services director Gianluca di Biase says, “The village is like a secret treasure chest to explore – you never know what you’ll find until you’re here.” Throughout the year, Fidenza holds more certainty, including outposts of international brands and homegrown designers who built the Italian fashion industry and continue to move it forward: Etro, Missoni, Sergio Rossi, Giuseppe Zanotti, Fratelli Rossetti, Armani alongside other international names such as Boss, Jimmy Choo, and Stella McCartney.

Italy’s Fidenza Village, not your average shopping experience.

Fidenza Village shows off Milan’s culinary prowess too: Try violetta, a violet-flavored ice cream developed exclusively for the village at the award-winning Vero Latte ice-cream shop. Stop into Parma Menù to taste Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses and shop for handmade tortelli. And pick up some easily shippable gifts for the culinary connoisseurs in your life, including balsamic vinegar of Modena, a traditional panettone (Christmas cake with dried fruit), or boxes of holiday nougat and hazelnut truffles from chocolatier Venchi. No matter where you choose to spend the holidays, Santa Barbara Travel wishes you all the best in the New Year.  Our experienced travel advisors look forward to making your travel dreams come true and wish you a very merry holiday season!