Great Escapes

European Travel Blog


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New Year in Cologne

If you’ve ever been to Cologne, you’ll already know that it’s a beautiful city and a great place to visit at any time of the year. But what about heading over to celebrate the New Year? We’ve looked at different events and activities that you can find in Cologne on 31st December, which we hope will inspire you to take a trip…

Fireworks display

Find a spot along the riverbank of the Rhine or one of the bridges for the best view of these spectacular midnight fireworks. Be sure to get a spot fairly early, as it gets quite busy later into the evening.

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River cruise on the Rhine

With a selection of boats to choose from, all with a different party style, you can watch the magnificent fireworks display while cruising along the river Rhine. Setting sail in the early evening, you can take your pick between a night of live performances, including authentic Cologne music or 70s and 80s, just to name a few. You can book a river cruise here.

Visit the Old Town

Explore the historic old town, where you can find lots of little shops down meandering streets and eye-catching colourful buildings – a lot of which were rebuilt after the Second World War.

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Image credit: Charlie Dave

Live music

If you’re more interested in a beer-and-a-band kind of evening, make your way down to the Lanxess Arena, get a traditional Kölsch beer and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. This year a band formed in 1970 titled “Bläck Fööss” will be gracing the stage.

Panorama Cologne Triangle

Although the building isn’t open to watch the late night fireworks, it’s still worth a visit, as from here (for those of you who don’t mind heights) you can see a panoramic view of the city from 29 floors up, which will no doubt look incredible when lit up at night. Find out more about booking a ticket here.

Köln Panorama

If you’d like more information about short breaks to Cologne, or would like to book a trip, pay a visit to our website.


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Foreign festive foods

With Christmas nearly upon us, the supermarkets are now well and truly laden with traditional treats and food that we all know and love – mince pies, Christmas puddings, chestnuts ready for roasting, turkeys, sauces – the list is endless. But if you’re off on a Christmas getaway or short break abroad this year, or want to know where’s good to go at Christmas for a bit of a culinary overhaul, what might you expect to be eating this December 25th? We’ve looked at different traditional cuisines across Europe and a little further afield, to see what feasts appear on their tables…

France
Christmas eve is the main event for the French, as they celebrate le réveillon (or ‘wake-up’ meal) after attending midnight mass. Here, the aim is go all-out trying new, fancy recipes and impress the family with creative culinary skills. Meats such as goose, duck and partridge are popular, but also refined dishes including filet mignon garnished with truffles can appear on the table in a French household. Christmas day sees entrées include escargots, (cooked land snails) and oysters, and mains can be anything from a traditional turkey, to fish, lobster or boar (depending where you are in France). Thinking of taking a short Christmas break to France? Visit www.greatescapes.co.uk for more information.

Holland
Holland sees food fairly similar to ours grace their tables, including roast pork and game meats, although interestingly, part of their festivities can include grilling and cooking your own meat and veg at the table together. ‘Kerstkrans, wreath shaped pastry decorated with glacé fruits and filled with sweet almond paste, ‘speculaas’ – spiced cookies, and ‘Duivekater’ which is sweet bread, are also gorged on during this time of the year. If you’d like to find out more about short Christmas breaks to Holland, visit www.greatescapes.co.uk.

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Image credit: Agnes Kantaruk, Shutterstock

Italy
Festive dishes in Italy vary across the different regions, so if you’re visiting this year, you could find some very unusual food at Christmas time. Basilicata, a region in the south of Italy, traditionally sit down to a dish called ‘Baccalà Con Peperoni Cruschi’, or in English – salted cod with fried peppers.

In Sicily, you might be enjoying ‘Timballo Di Pasta Al Forno In Crosta’ – which is macaroni pasta in pork sauce baked in a breadcrumb-lined pan.

But perhaps the most similar to our traditional dinner can be found in the Lazio region in the central peninsular of Italy, where they like to dig into ‘Abbacchio Al Forno Con Patate’, which is roast suckling lamb with potatoes – now that’s more like it!

Germany
A goose with red cabbage and dumplings can be found on the table in a German household at Christmas, stuffed with a meat or dough filling and served with gravy. Another traditional meat which makes an appearance during the festive season is duck, filled with a variety of fruits, and again served with red cabbage and dumplings. If you fancy dining on a German inspired Christmas dinner, you can find an easy recipe for roasted stuffed duck here.

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Image credit: Dar1930, Shutterstock

Goa
If you venture slightly further afield to the western region of India, you’ll be met with an even more intriguing Christmas menu. ‘Sorpatel’ – a traditional Goan curry made with pork meat and liver, pork vindaloo, and ‘bebinca’, a Goan coconut flavoured layered dessert, typically served with ice cream. Christmas is a magical time in Goa celebrated by both Hindus and Christians alike. The day is commemorated with feasting, fireworks and many festivities all over the state. If you’d like to book your traditional Goan Christmas break, you can visit www.goaexperience.co.uk.

Hopefully we’ve given you a little insight into what some other countries might be tucking into this Christmas, so if you start to see new and intriguing festive foods entering our UK supermarkets, you might be more tempted to give them a go and embrace an international Christmas.