Party season is here, so wrap up warm and get into the holiday spirit. Here at BedandBreakfastworld.com, we've taken a look at some of the best festivals and events taking place around the world in December 2011, from traditional Spanish fiestas to magical places to do your Christmas shopping. Read about Christmas on the beach in Sydney, Hogmanay in Edinburgh and the Festival of Light in Lyon, before getting in touch to let us know what's happening near you this December.
Christmas Markets, Worldwide: from the beginning of December
The tradition of holding a Christmas market (or Christkindlmarkt) during advent first originated in Germany and Austria in the Middle Ages. Nowadays you can find rows of cosy wooden huts popping up in cities and towns all over Europe and beyond, festooned with lights and laden with all things Christmassy, from brightly coloured toys and decorations to tasty treats and hot mulled wine. Berlin and Vienna are top choices for those looking for the authentic German Christmas market, but Prague, Budapest and Tallinn boast just as much charm and festive spirit, along with their own unique Christmas traditions.Read our guide to Christmas Markets in Europe
Befana Toy Fair, Rome: beginning of December - beginning of January
From the middle of December, Rome's Piazza Navona is converted into a children's wonderland as the annual toy fair sets up shop. Sweets, toys and nativity figurines are all on sale under the bright lights in one of Rome's most famous squares. Children also leave letters for La Befana, an old woman who rides through Italy on a broomstick the night before Epiphany delivering toys to the good children and coal to the naughty.Book a Rome bed and breakfast
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Seville: 8th December
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is observed by Catholics throughout Spain as the day on which the Virgin Mary was conceived, and the Andalusian city of Seville offers some of the finest celebrations in the country. Although originally a religious occasion, anyone can join in the fun, and a day of prayer is followed by a night of partying. Traditional song and dance takes its place with modern music and street parties on this festive public holiday.Book a B&B in Seville
Festival of Lights, Lyon: 8th December
In the middle of winter, when most of Europe is feeling gloomy and cold, the city of Lyon in France lights up. The tradition of the Fête des lumiéres dates back to 1643, when Lyon suffered an outbreak of the plague. The town councillors made a promise that if the town was spared they would pay homage to the Virgin Mary. From the 19th century the celebrations were held in conjunction with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and on the 8th December each year, candles appear in the windows of every shop and home. The council also provide a number of large lighting displays throughout the city, designed by architects and artists, which create a truly unique and festive atmosphere.Book a B&B in Lyon
Christmas Day on the Beach, Sydney: 25th December
Once the holiday season rolls around, here in the Northern Hemisphere we all start dreaming of a white Christmas, sipping on a glass of mulled wine and watching the snowflakes fall. But Christmas Day in the middle of summer is something everyone should try at least once, and Sydney is the place to do it! Thoughts of a winter wonderland will be far away, as barbecues take the place of log fires, and gloves and hats are replaced by shorts and sunglasses. Don't worry, Santa Claus is never far away!Book a B&B in Sydney
The Peter Pan Cup, London: 25th December
If sunshine and beach barbecues aren't your cup of tea, you may prefer our other Christmas Day event, the Peter Pan Cup. On Christmas morning, while most of us are opening presents under the tree, a foolhardy group known as the Serpentine Swimming Club can be found diving into the icy waters of the Serpentine Lake in London's Hyde Park. Author JM Barrie was once a patron of the race, which has taken place every year since 1864, and his most famous character gave his name to the event.Book a London B&B
Hogmanay, Edinburgh: 30th December - 2nd January
Far more than just New YearÂ's Eve celebrations, Hogmanay in Edinburgh has developed into a spectacular festival which lasts at least 5 days. From the atmospheric torchlight processions and the traditional ceilidh to the lively street party, the festivities offer something for everyone, and as the big hand reaches 12, you can have a go at singing Auld Lang Syne like a local.Book a B&B in Edinburgh
Do you own a B&B or guesthouse in one of the destinations featured? Visit our sign up page to list your property with BedandBreakfastworld.com.