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With Newport Jazz Weekend, Isle of Wight Festival, Jack Up The 80’s, and Eklectica all taking place this summer, could this be the year that you will discover The Isle of Wight? There are so many more things to do in the Isle of Wight than visiting one of these music festivals and a great idea is to combine a festival with a walking or cycling holiday to the Isle of Wight.
A place which in many ways exists in its own time warp, the Isle of Wight is ideal for an active break: half of the island is designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, there are more than 200 miles of cycle routes, it is easy (and cheap!) to reach and enjoys a milder-than-most-parts-of-the-UK climate.
Half of the Isle of Wight is designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’
Sherpa Expeditions Manager Tali Emdin explains about some of the things to do in the Isle of Wight:
“Everything on the Isle of Wight is on a manageable scale – there are no huge towns or big industrial blights but long chalky downs, sandy beaches and enchanting woodlands. You will find plenty of seaside rock, ice cream and fish ’n’ chips, but also great traditional pubs, quiet paths, historical churches and gems of villages.
Any given day along the famous ‘Coastal Path’ will take you through some wonderful areas...
For those that are considering what to do on the Isle of Wight, Queen Victoria’s Osborne House is quite a sight (you can even walk down to her private beach for a peek of her original ‘swimming machine’). At The Needles Park, the backbone of the island dives into the sea like a dragon’s tail with chalky sea-stack scales, while
seeing the sunset from the only surviving medieval lighthouse in Britain at St Catherine’s Oratory is definitely worth the steep walk up!”
Whether you are looking for an Isle of Wight holiday on foot or by bike, you can choose one of the following two trips with Sherpa Expeditions:
ON TWO WHEELS | Isle of Wight Cycle
Pick up your hire bike at the traditional seaside resort of Ryde, the largest town on the island, and let your holiday begin! Ideal for anyone looking for a short town-and-country cycling break, the circular route is undulating and distances are kept fairly short, giving you time to stop and explore. Highlights include sophisticated Cowes, world famous for its regatta; the astonishing brick-built Quarr Abbey; taking the cycle path to Freshwater Bay, which follows an old railway line; the tidal estuary at Newport, known for its chain ferry; and Chale, the shipwreck capital of the island.
Learn more about the Isle of Wight holiday: 5-day Isle of Wight Cycle >>
ON FOOT | Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
Spend a week circumnavigating the island and taking in its great natural beauty, enjoying glittering sea views across the Solent and the English Channel, its well-known white cliffs and sea-stacks around The Needles and of course miles of beaches. Following mostly public footpaths and minor lanes, there are several attractions to break down each walking day, including a visit to the holiday home of Queen Victoria, Osborne House; the thatched church at Freshwater Bay; timeless seaside resorts such as Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown; and the great Palmerston fortresses.
Learn more about the Isle of Wight holiday: 8-day Isle of Wight Coastal Walking >>
Isle of Wight music festival dates
Newport Jazz Weekend: 30 May – 3 June 2018
Isle of Wight Festival: 21 – 24 June 2018
Jack Up The 80’s: 10 – 12 August 2018
Eklectica: 7 – 9 September 2018
Both holidays join in Ryde, Isle of Wight. For more information on these trips and for bookings please contact our team of travel experts by email or phone or click through to the trips:
>> Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
>> Isle of Wight Cycle
Each year on the 17th of November you will find lots of people going out to celebrate Take a Hike Day. Originally initiated by the American Hiking Society in 2013, the day is mostly known and observed by our north American friends.
Aim for the day is, perhaps not too unexpectedly, to go out for a hike and appreciate the outdoors. By dedicating a specific day in the year to go out on a walking trip, more awareness and attention will be given to the benefits of walking. Not only is going out for a walk good for your personal well-being, by actually going to the outdoors, hikers will at the same time learn more about nature and their surroundings.
Autumn days in November can be beautiful, crisp and sunny, with the colours of orange, red and brown dominating the European countryside. In southern Europe there are even islands at this time of year where sunshine is almost guaranteed and there are flowers flourishing.
If Take a Hike Day inspires you to explore even more and go on a walking holiday for a week or two, have a look at the below trips that depart daily throughout the year or in the coming months:
Happy Take a Hike Day!
Few places in Europe celebrate autumn in such a dynamic way as Madeira…
Through a wide range of festivals, you can experience a lively autumn in Madeira. Most likely, your main reason to visit Madeira in September, October & November is exploring the Portuguese island on foot. But there are many more things to do in Madeira in autumn besides navigating the island’s ancient levadas and walking paths. From wine and apple cider festivals to celebrating the organ and stunning nature, below find an overview of some of the festivals to attend this autumn.
Madeira Wine Festival
When >> 26 August – 09 September 2018
Where >> from Estreito de Câmara de Lobos to Funchal (start & finish of the Madeira Island Walking trip)
What >> The wine festival has been running since the '70s and coincides with the island’s Wine Harvest Festival, European Folklore Week and street entertainment in Funchal. Late August/early September is when the annual grape harvest takes place in Madeira and attending these is certainly a reason to plan your travel dates accordingly. There are musical performances, ethnographic parades, demonstrations of old-style viticulture tools and even the opportunity to join in treading the grapes!
More >> madeirawinefestival.com
When >> 13-15 September 2018
Where >> the island of Porto Santo northeast of Madeira (ask our team for details on how to get there)
What >> The world-famous explorer once called home Porto Santo Island and each year in September, the island close to Madeira organises many events evolving around the epic Portuguese discoveries from the 15-16th century. You can for example witness the ‘disembarking of Columbus’, browse a 16th century market for food & craft, listen to orations as they were held at the time, and join in many of the other things to do at this time of year. Expect to be drawn back in time when visiting this small island close to Madeira in September.
More >> festivaldocolombo.visitmadeira.pt
Apple Festival & Apple Cider Festival
When >> 15 & 16 September 2018
Where >> Ponta do Pargo (on the far west of the island)
What >> In its 34th year in 2018, the Madeira Apple Festival is a rural event to celebrate the ‘pêro’ – what Madeirans commonly call the apple. The small festival takes place in Ponta do Pargo in the western tip of Madeira and attracts apple farmers from the surrounding farmsteads. Festivities usually include apple cider tasting, a street parade, exhibitions, and several musical performances. Besides the festival, Ponta do Pargo is a charming town to visit on its own. Or wait a few weeks for the annual Madeira Cider Festival in the weekend of 22 & 23 September.
Madeira Nature Festival
When >> 2-7 October 2018
Where >> around the island of Madeira (check the stand at the Largo da Restauração for more info)
What >> Just like the Madeira Flower Festival in spring, the island’s nature festival celebrates all activities on the island that involve nature. The natural heritage of the island is rich thanks to its subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil and Madeira is even nicknamed ‘Garden Island’ or ‘Ilha Jardim’. Everything that you can do during the Madeira Nature Festival takes place on the land, in the air or in the sea and includes activities like birdwatching, mountain biking, levadas walks, sailing, and short leisure flights.
More >> madeiranaturefestival.visitmadeira.pt
Madeira Organ Festival
When >> normally at the end of October, exact dates for 2018 to be announced
Where >> Funchal, Machico & Porto da Cruz (which you’ll visit at the beginning of the walking holiday)
What >> The organ is a relatively unknown part of Madeiran heritage and can be found in several churches and cathedrals across the island. A series of 12 concerts will be held to showcase the instrument and beautiful music it can produce. The festival will have Portuguese and internationally renowned master organ players perform in stunning venues like the Cathedral of Funchal, College Church, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Church of St Peter.
More >> festivaldeorgaodamadeira.com or on their Facebook page
Madeira is a year-round walking destination with pleasant temperatures to be in the outdoors and there are lots of things to in Madeira apart from walking. For more information and advice on planning your holiday, feel free to contact our team of travel experts in London.
The 8-day Madeira Island Walking holiday departs daily, year-round.
Guernsey is well known for its beautiful scenery and fantastic food, so why not join the two together on your next trip to the island?
Since 2015, Guernsey Island hosts the 2-week long Guernsey Food Festival in September. The event aims to support local food and drink producers as well as showcase the island’s wide variety of fresh produce, fabulous restaurants, well-known chefs and local delicacies. A visit to the island at this time of year is the perfect chance to taste all that Guernsey has to offer.
The festival includes plenty of events around the island for all to enjoy, ranging from beer-and-cheese-pairing to chilli-eating competitions. As different events are dotted around the island, it’s the perfect excuse to try Sherpa's great walking itinerary and burn off some of the delicious food.
The first weekend of the festival usually focuses around the Big Guernsey Market, where more than 40 food and drink stalls display the best of Guernsey cuisine along Crown Pier. There are also opportunities to join a boat trip around the oyster beds of Herm to see the island’s delicious delicacy of the Herm and Rocquaine oysters, or if you prefer to stay on solid ground, visit one of the live food shows along the pier and watch top chefs prepare their favourite dishes live on stage.
The Grape, Apple and Grain Festival traditionally takes place over the second weekend of the festival and is when you can enjoy a variety of craft beers, real ales & ciders, and sample a variety of street foods from all over Guernsey, whilst enjoying the live music and entertainment.
Capital St Peter Port offers a range of restaurants where you can have a bite to eat before venturing to one of Guernsey’s treasures: Castle Cornet, guarding Guernsey harbour and with fabulous views of the island and neighbouring Herm and Sark.
On day 3 of our Guernsey walking trip, you hike along more rugged terrain and get close to the coastline to see the largest cave in Guernsey, Le Creux Mahié. Then go up to Les Tielles, a beautiful part of the cliffs with fantastic views, and a great place for a picnic.
Sherpa Expeditions’ walking holiday further takes you around the Bailiwick of Guernsey, following the Channel Island Way. The 110-mile route circles the island in daily stages, usually around 5-6 hours per day. The route takes you from the Guernsey capital, St Peter Port, to Petit Bot Bay, onwards to Perelle Bay and back to St Peter Port where you can then catch a ferry to explore Sark and Herm. There’s also the option of continuing to Alderney to explore the third-largest Channel Island.
- The Guernsey Food Festival is organised by Visit Guernsey and is ‘the greatest food festival ever to arrive on Guernsey’s shores’. It celebrates the island’s culinary side and, as it takes place in September when average temperatures range around 18°C/64°F, is a fantastic time to visit the island.
- Another big Guernsey event takes place annually, which is the Guernsey Heritage Festival - in 2018 from 30 March-10 May. This popular Festival returns for its fifth year and 2018 shines a spotlight on life in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under German rule and the islands’ subsequent liberation from the Occupying forces after WWII.
Text & images courtesy of Visit Guernsey.
5 Regions in Europe to experience the grape harvest and indulge in your favourite wine
With Europe’s grape harvest season coming upon us again in September, we wanted to give you some ideas for walking experiences that will appeal to oenophiles – and which wines you will best enjoy where.
During the grape harvest season in September, weather in southern Europe is generally ideal for walking. On top of that, there is a lot to see on the vineyards when entire villages work together to get the harvest in on time. If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon one of the many local wine festivals taking place this time of year.
Learn more about these five regions in France, Italy and Portugal that are great for walking – and wine tasting – in the late summer.
Loire Valley >>> Sauvignon Blanc
The ever-popular Sauvignon Blanc was one of the very first fine wines to be commercially bottled with a screw cap and the Loire Valley is known to be producing some excellent delicate varietals – especially the Upper Loire areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. With a cool continental climate that slows down the ripening on the vine, the region’s winemaking history dates back to the 1st century!
Explore vineyards, wine estates and chateaux as you walk through the Valley of the Kings on the Vineyard Trails of the Loire – our itinerary is 8 days and takes you from Amboise to Saumur.
Tuscany >>> Chianti
Historically known for its squat bottle wrapped in a straw basket, Chianti just celebrates its 300th anniversary: the area now called ‘Chianti Classico’, between Florence and Siena, was originally designated in July 1716 by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in an attempt to regulate the wine trade. Chianti wine must be produced with at least 80 per cent Italian Sangiovese grapes.
Discover the famous Chianti wine region and more of Tuscany on Foot on an 7-day self guided walking holiday in Italy between April and November.
Burgundy >>> Chardonnay
Burgundy has the highest number of ‘appellations d'origine contrôlée’ in France and Chardonnay, one of the world’s most planted grape varieties, originated here, where it remains the most commonly grown white grape. Its ability to adapt to different weather conditions makes it one of the ‘easiest’ grapes to cultivate and today it has more than 30 clonal varieties in France alone.
Starting in the walled city of Beaune, the region’s wine capital, explore the very best Burgundy Vineyard Trails on an 8-day self guided walking holiday.
Provence >>> Provençal Rosé
One of the most iconic, picturesque regions of France, Provence is also the home of French rosé, which today accounts for more than half of the production of Provençal wine. The main grape variety cultivated here is the darker, thick-skinned Mourvèdre, which in France is found almost exclusively along the southern coast, as it needs a warm, sunny climate to ripen fully.
On the 7-day In Van Gogh’s Footsteps itinerary, enjoy a stroll in Les Alpilles, a small massif standing out as its white peaks rise apparently sheer from the plain of the Rhône valley, its slopes covered in vineyards along with olive and almond trees.
Douro Valley >>> Port
The first demarcated wine region in the world was officially established in 1756 when the Port industry developed. Today it has the country’s highest wine classification as a ‘denominação de origem controlada’, while the Douro ‘vinhateiro’ (winegrowing) area is designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The 7-day Douro Rambler takes you deep into small working wine estates of golden terraces laced with vines, offering plenty of opportunities for scenic boat trips on the Douro River, wine tasting tours and visits to the Port lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto.
For more information on each trip you can download the trip notes. Or for any specific queries you may have, our team of travel experts can be contacted via phone or email.
The appeal of a Mediterranean holiday is timeless. The three islands off the western coast of Italy – Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica – offer a diversity of iconic landscapes and memorable festivals.
Either with your family, your partner or a group of friends, the gastronomy and landscapes of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica will almost certainly appeal to your fellow travellers. Whether you want to get up close to Europe’s tallest active volcano in Sicily, swim in Sardinia’s emerald waters or explore Corsica, the most mountainous Mediterranean island, there are several trips to the islands departing in August, September and October. And to help you make a choice, below we’ve listed some of the best events and festivals to the islands for you!
Right in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is famous for its natural beauty. The island is a cyclist’s paradise with a network of quiet roads hugging a rugged coastline. People visit Sardinia for its hospitable people, exceptional cuisine and a unique culture that includes its own dialect.
Why go to Sardinia in August?
1st Sunday in August: Vermentino Wine Festival | In the centuries old wine village of Monti.
7 August: The Archers Tournament | 24 archers dressed in medieval outfits join the tournament in Iglesias.
8-16 August: Time In Jazz | The island’s annual international jazz festival takes place in Berchidda.
14 August: Fireworks and Fried Fish | A firework display in Alghero that is followed by eating fried fish.
August: XXVI Summer Music | Daily live music concerts in the Chiostro di San Francesco that celebrate Sardinia’s classical music in Alghero.
Why go to Sardinia in September?
6-7 September: Corsa degli Scalzi | A commemoration of the 16th century rescue of a holy statue in the lagoon town of Cabras, it’s an 8km run with the statue from the beach back into town.
17-25 September: Round Sardinia Race | A sailing race that starts and finishes in the port of Cagliari and makes a circle around the island.
29 September: Festa Sant Miquel | The villagers of Alghero celebrate their patron saint with fireworks and parades.
September until early December: Autunno in Barbagia | A celebration of local food, handicraft and cultural traditions of the towns and villages in the mountainous Barbagia region.
Why visit Sardinia in October?
30 October: Sagra della Castagne | Head to Aritzo to join the village’s annual chestnut fair.
In Sardinia, enjoy gentle walks and explore secluded bays by bicycle. Discover lighthouses and ancient watchtowers on long sandy beaches, taste the clear spring water of the Montiferru Mountains, swim through rock arches and watch the sunset turn the limestone cliffs yellow and pink…
Go walking in Sardinia with Sherpa Expeditions or find out about our cycling in Sardinia holiday.
Sicily has two impressive volcanoes: Stromboli and Etna. Their presence has shaped island life and travellers can bathe in therapeutic hot mud, relax on the black beaches and take in panoramic views across the Mediterranean Sea.
Why visit Sicily in August?
1 July – 4 September: Calatafimi Segesta Festival | Lots of theatre performances, and concerts of jazz and classical music in and around the Greek theatre of Segesta.
12-14 August: Norman Palio | A festival held on Palermo’s Piazza Armerina to commemorate the moment Sicily was liberated from the Sarecens by Roger de Hauteville in 1071.
13-15 August: Renaissance Music Festival | A music festival in the village of Erice set on the top of a mountain when top renaissance and medieval music is performed.
17 August: Festival of Saint Agatha | Catania city’s most important religious festival related to the city’s patron saint Agatha of Sicily.
24 August: Festa di St Bartolomeo | Lipari, one of the Aeolian islands just off the shore of Sicily, celebrates their patron saint Bartolomeo with stunning fireworks.
Why go to Sicily in September?
13-27 September: Festa della Vendemmia | A festival in Piedimonte Etneo that is devoted to the grape harvest. There are wine tastings, wine-making demonstrations, and of course lots of food.
16-25 September: CousCous Fest | This festival in San Vito Lo Capo attracts international chefs who join a competition in preparing couscous, of course accompanied by live music, dancing, and a very positive vibe.
29 September – 2 October: Sherbet Festival | Held in Palermo, this is a festival that dedicates four days to sorbets and ice creams.
Why go to Sicily in October?
1-10 October: Sagra del Miele | The famous ‘honey of Hyblea’ was much loved by the Romans and Greeks in their days. The locals of Sortino (next to Pantalica National Park) honour the miele (honey) in October each year.
Take your chance to get close to the island’s impressive volcanoes on a walking holiday to Sicily.
Dense maquis mountain ridges and granite peaks soar to 2,700m to create a rugged terrain. This is Corsica.
Why visit Corsica in August?
2-5 August: Porto Latino | In St Florent, join this Latin-American music festival in the village’s citadel.
5-7 August: Foire de l’Amandier | This annual festival marks the almond harvest with cooking demonstrations of Corsican dishes, tastings and painting exhibitions – it takes place in Aregno.
5-7 August: Musica Classica | A classical music festival in Santa Reparata di Balagna in an open-air setting.
15 August: Assumption de Marie | This is an important festival that is celebrated all over Corsica to mark the passage of Virgin Mary into heaven.
16-17 August: Fiera di U Nuciola | If the almond has its own festival, the hazelnut should have too! The festival takes place in the square of Cervione.
Why travel to Corsica in September?
3-11 September: Festival du Tango | Add some days to join the tango festival in Bonifacio’s old Citadel with guitarists, dancers, street performers and lots of food.
9-13 September: U Mele in Festa | If you like to take part in one of Corsica’s oldest celebrations, join this festival of honey in Murzu to honour Virgin Mary.
13-17 September: Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques de Calvi | International polyphonic singers take to the stage in Calvi’s citadel.
14 September: Festa di u Ficu | In the village of Peri, join this festival celebrating the harvest of figs. It’s in the north east of Ajaccio.
Why visit Corsica in October?
29 September – 2 October: Tour de Corse | A FIA world rally that starts in Bastia this year and finishes in Porto-Vecchio. There are many laps that go through the island’s narrow villages so you’re sure to enjoy superb views.
On Sherpa’s Corsica walking holiday, start in Corte’s old town in the heart of the mountains and cross the north-south watershed onwards to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the iconic rock formations of Les Calanches.
For more information on these festivals or our cycling and walking holidays in Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia, have a look at the specific trip notes or contact our team of travel experts in London.
- 10% Off Cornwall Walking Holidays
- Win A Travel Voucher
- Contribute to the Path
- Help Set a World Record
Get 10% off your October trip to Cornwall when you book a Sherpa Expeditions walking holiday on the
Cornwall Coast Path. By travelling this fine part of Britain in October this year, you help set a new
record on the iconic 630 miles long walking trail. Donate your saved 10% to the South West Coast Path Association
for conservation purposes or even raise extra funds for the charity and get a chance to win a Sherpa
Expeditions travel voucher. (*terms & conditions apply)
Every year in October the South West Coast Path Association
organises “The Challenge”. Goal is to break last
year’s 9,144 miles world record of walking and running the path in one month (that is like 56 times
Everest!), while at the same time raising funds for the maintenance and development of
England’s longest trail.
The individual walker with the highest donation to the association
during The Challenge month of October is rewarded with a £63 travel voucher offered by Sherpa
Sherpa Expeditions is a proud member of the South West Coast Path Association and likes to keep
the path accessible for many generations to come. We believe the South West Coast Path offers one of
the finest walking trails in Great Britain and Sherpa Expeditions travellers can explore the path via our walking and cycling holidays.
Because we expect a high interest in the event, we ask you to make bookings for your October
walking holiday at least one month in advance.
discount offer applies to 3 trips: Cornish Coastal Path North - Padstow to St. Ives; Cornish Coastal Path West - St. Ives to Penzance; Cornish Coastal Path South - Marazion to Mevagissey. 10%
discount offer is valid for new bookings made before 04 September 2016 and is applicable to trips
departing between 01-31 October 2016. Direct bookings only. Discount is on the trip price only and does
not apply to extensions, flights or supplements. Subject to availability; cannot be used in conjunction with
any other offer and cannot be redeemed for cash. Sherpa Expeditions encourages travellers to donate
their discount to the South West Coast Path Association.
Sherpa Expeditions travel
voucher is worth GBP 63.00 and needs to be validated on a Sherpa Expeditions holiday
departing before 31 December 2017. The travel voucher is rewarded to the individual that donated the
highest amount of funds to the South West Coast Path in the month October 2016. Your donation must
have received the South West Coast Path before 02 November 2016 to be eligible for the travel voucher.
The receiver of the travel voucher will be announced in the South West Coast Path Association and
Sherpa Expeditions newsletters. Subject to availability, cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer
and cannot be redeemed for cash.
The festive season has started with plenty of different celebrations around Europe. Here are five festivals you can join this December or January in Slovenia, Rome, Germany, Tyrol, and Andalucía.
1. Three Kings Parade | Andalucia, Spain
Cabalgata Los Reyes Magos is the Three Kings Parade celebrated across Spain on the 6th January. In Andalucia, towns and cities welcome the Three Kings when the evening falls on the Iberian Peninsula on the 5th January. It's a colourful parade where the kings toss out sweets for the children waiting along the streets for the parade to pass by.
Thousands of spectators come to witness the arrival the three wise Kings Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar dressed in traditional costumes.
When: 6 January 2016
2. Nativity Scene | Postojna Cave, Slovenia
The Live Nativity Scene in the Postojna Cave in Slovenia, about 1 hour drive from Trieste, is a unique performance. The caves are an attraction on its own already, but when the biblical scenes come to life they're even more rewarding. Fantasy stalactite forms, the inventive play of light, harmonious music and singing in a very acoustic environment together create an almost surreal Christmas atmosphere. At the cave's entrance a Christmas market takes place. If you want to experience the nativity scene, it's best to make a booking in advance. Shows run every half hour from 1-3pm.
When: 25-30 December 2015
3. Krampustag | Eastern Tyrol, Salzburg & Bavaria, Austria
Perhaps less suitable for younger children, in Austria on the 5th of December the Krampustag is celebrated. Young men dress like demons: wearing fearsome masks made out of wood, fur robes, tails and use branches as weapons to chase away bad spirits. The processions organised are known as Perchtenläufe and are truly spectacular to watch. The Perchtenläufe originally take place only four nights a year, on December 21 and 24 and New Year's Eve and January 5. Good places to observe this festival are Gastein, Altenmarkt, St. Johann and Bischofshofen in Salzburg, Henndorf and other places in Eastern Tyrol and Bavaria.
When: 21 December 2015 - 5 January 2016
Sherpa Expeditions self guided walking holidays in Tyrol & Bavaria
4. Christmas market | Stuttgart, Germany
One of the best places to go for a typical German Christmas market is Stuttgart. It is said to have one of the most beautiful markets in Europe and has a very nostalgic feel to it. The market is set up in and around the Old Palace on the Renaissance inner courtyard. There are over 280 wooden Christmas stalls, which sell a range of Christmas items and gifts. Obviously there's also plenty of German snacks and drinks available, try for example roasted chestnuts, gingerbread, Swabian specialities and mulled wine (gluewhein).
When: 28 November - 23 December 2015
Sherpa Expeditions trips in Germany
5. Fireworks | Rome, Italy
For those of you who are in Rome over the holiday period, make sure to be part of the New Year's Eve celebrations in town. Prepare for lots of fireworks after the midnight countdown. It's especially spectacular with the backdrop of some of the world's most impressive monuments like the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, and San Marco square. Prepare for lots of noise as well; people throw old pots, pans and furniture out of their windows to 'let go of unhappiness and prepare Rome for a happier future'.
When: 31 December 2015
Sherpa Expeditions trips in Italy
Image of Three Kings in Spain, copyright of ©Europe Video Productions | Image of Postojna Cave, copyright of ©Shadowgate Postojna Cave | Image of Perchtenlauf, copyright of ©riegersburg.com | Image of fireworks in Rome, copyright of ©neigesdantan
Christmas traditions across Europe are as varied as the villages, mountains and countryside in which they take place. To give you an idea what traditional Christmas celebrations look like in Italy, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, France, Iceland, Slovenia and Germany, we did a little research among our friends and came to the below typical traditions.
ICELAND - GLEÐILEG JÓL!
Because the days are so short and dark the Christmas lights are put up early in Iceland. Icelanders celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December. On Christmas day the traditional meal that most Icelanders enjoy is smoked lamb (hangikjöt) served with leaf bread (Laufabrauð). The leaf bread is a hard, deep fried, thin bread that families get together to bake, cutting decorative patterns in the dough.
Baking holds a special place at Christmas time as it provides an opportunity for families and friends to do something together while the kids dance around the Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols.
There are 13 Santas, or Yule lads, in Iceland with each providing children a small present in their shoe for each of the 13 nights before Christmas. If the kids are naughty they get an old potato. This tradition has helped to ensure good behaviour for the second part of December!
ITALY - Buon Natale!
On Christmas Eve, children across the country leave out a glass of wine and cake for Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). In some cities, like Trieste, San Nicolò (Santa Claus) brings presents on December 6, while in Verona the tradition of Santa Lucia sees the whole city celebrate with Christmas markets and children receiving presents on December 13.
The traditional cakes eaten through the season include pandoro
, originally from Verona, and panettone
, from Milan, both sweet breads with raisins and candied fruit included in the panettone. On Christmas Day the hero dish is roasted capon (cockerel).
CZECH REPUBLIC - Ježíšku panáčku!
Advent, the period of fasting that begins four weeks before Christmas holidays, is the most eagerly awaited time of year for many Czechs as it means the preparations for Christmas can begin.
On Christmas Eve, fairy-tales are told and houses are decorated with mistletoe and of course a Christmas tree. Traditions include an all-day fast (it is said that whoever lasts until the evening will see a golden pig) or the throwing of a slipper (if it lands with the toes pointing at the door, it means that the girl in the house will marry within a year). Meatless dishes are served for lunch – peas, barley, or a mushroom casserole.
Other unique Czech Christmas traditions include; placing a candle in a nutshell and put it in the water. If the candle doesn’t sink, it means a prosperous year ahead.
SLOVENIA - Vesel božič!
Around 60% of Slovenians are Christians and typically only this part of the Slovenian population celebrates Christmas. For many other non-Christian Slovenians New Year’s Eve is celebrated, instead of Christmas, however the family gets together on January 2 for the celebratory meal.
Children in Slovenia can receive gifts from St. Nicholas, Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, or Grandfather Frost. St. Nicholas visits on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. Santa Claus or Baby Jesus visits on Christmas while Grandfather, or Father, Frost may appear on New Year.
THE NETHERLANDS - Gelukkig Kerstfeest!
Most organisations in the Netherlands share in the festive spirit by rewarding their employees with a kerstpakket
(Christmas box). Traditionally this contains groceries like lobster soup, bread sticks, ragout & patties, candles, crisps and maybe even a bottle of mulled wine.
The main Christmas meal is embraced by everyone, usually even two days in a row on the 25th and 26th (second Christmas Day) of December. These dinners in the Netherlands typically include either a roulade with trimmings or a raclette dinner.
GERMANY - Frohe Weihnachten!
For most Germans the one colourful tradition is the Christmas market. Beginning mostly in late November in almost every German city, town or village, Christmas markets will pop up on the local square and often in several other locations with beautifully decorated stalls, entertainment and all kinds of delicious foods like Glühwein (mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts.
Heiligabend (Christmas Eve) is the main day where presents are exchanged. Traditionally a small meal like potato salad with small sausages (Frankfurter/Wiener Würstchen) or carp are served before the opening of gifts.
FRANCE - Joyeux Noël!
As you would expect in France, the Christmas meal is something to behold with a Christmas turkey served with pommes dauphine
(crisp potato puffs made by mixing mashed potatoes with savory choux pastry), green beans rolled in bacon, and some chestnuts. And it wouldn’t be a French Christmas without some good red wine of course!
Several days before Christmas the towns and villages of France take on a festive air. Town hall facades are decorated, huge trees are erected in the major squares and the main streets begin to dazzle with a wonderful array of Christmas lights.
Image of reindeer in Iceland, copyright of ©Dokiai Aikido
| Image of panettone in Italy, copyright of ©tristanf
| Image of square in Slovenia, copyright of ©Nicola since 1972
| Image of Christmas market in France, copyright of ©sarahstierch