Winter in Europe is a beautiful and magical time of the year. A dusting of snow covers the narrow streets as people scurry about preparing for the holiday. The city of Hamburg, Germany was one of the most wonderful Yuletide celebrations that I had seen. The city is home to over 30 different Christmas Markets where one can shop for unique gifts, enjoy homemade treats and have a warm mug of Gluhwein in a specially decorated mug. You pay a small deposit that gets returned if you give it back or you can choose to keep it.
The largest of the Christmas Markets is in the City Hall Square. The ornate Rathaus serves as a backdrop for rows and rows of holiday booths and carnival rides for the children.
You can find everything from hand carved Nativities, decorated gingerbread cookies, handmade Kissing Balls and miniature replicas of the city’s famous buildings. The shops are laid out on different “streets”, Handwerskgasse for homemade crafts, Naschgasse for sweets and Spielzeugggasse for children’s toys.
Santa Claus is well represented in Germany at Christmastime. In most of Germany, Der Weinachtsmann is Father Christmas or Santa. He didn’t appear in Germany until the 1800’s but that doesn’t make him less important to the season. The Jolly Old Elf makes an appearance over the heads of the market goers on his reindeer driven sleigh.
There are other Christmas Markets throughout the city and it’s impossible to see them all.
For many years, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, lit up the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Begun as a gift from Jennings Osborne to his six year old daughter in Little Rock, Arkansas. The display kept growing until neighbors complained of the traffic and inconvenience. By 1993 the display had grown to over three million lights.
Disney Project Director, John Phelan reached out to Osborne’s attorney about bringing his display to Disneyworld. In 1995, the first Osborne Spectacle of Lights adorned the backlot at the then Disney/ MGM Studios. They appeared every holiday until January 2016 when work began on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Henri Landwirth’s “Give Kids The World” features a resort Give Kids The World Village an 89-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida. Children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations. Due to changes in the world because of COVID, this year, the village is lit with over a million lights. The product of hard work by all of the Central Florida community, this village takes on a truly sparkling holiday magic.
Night Of A Million Lights will run through Jan 3, 2021. For more information check out their website and order tickets.
Where can you find the perfect mix of Halloween and Christmas? Look no further than Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. The old New Orleans Square attraction gets a holiday overlay beginning in September and running through the Holidays.
Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is trying his hand at Christmas decorating. Jack O Lanterns with Santa hats, Wreaths with skulls and spider webs and Scarecrows impersonating the man in the red suit appear on the grounds of the deserted mansion.
Inside, the townspeople from Halloweentown are busy at work getting ready for Jack’s big holiday mash-up.