Europe’s Christmas markets under the shadow of Covid-19

  • 30 ноември 2020, 21:30
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Rooted in Medieval German lands, the tradition of organizing street markets during the four weeks of Advent has since swept over most of Europe. So potent is its spell that no one could have imagined that the small wooden huts agleam with fairy lights and selling Christmas decorations, mulled wine, pretzels, bratwurst and gingerbread, can one day be gone.

But this day has come, alas. Faced with a tantalizing impossibility to ensure adequate social distancing for such type of congregations amid a raging pandemic, many European cities are half-heartedly cancelling Christmas fairs alongside other long-planned festivities. Others are scaling their events down, dispersing them all over the city (Luxembourg) or switching shopping and other activities to the virtual realm. And a minority, including Budapest, have dared to go ahead full steam, but with epidemic prevention measures in place.

Cancellations and question marks

Among the traditional fairs that have already been cancelled are those in Nuremberg, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne (Germany); Lyon, Paris and Strasbourg (France); markets in Prague, Vilnius and Tallinn (voted Best Christmas Market in Europe for 2019), Birmingham and London (‘Winter Wonderland’). The Christmas market in Trento, the “city of Christmas”, will not take place this year and other reputable Italian markets - in Bolzano, Cimego, Eggental, Glurns, and Gröden have also been called off.

‘Winter Wonders’, Brussels’ famous market on Grand-Place boasting 200 plus chalets, fairground attractions, a covered skating rink, a Christmas tree and sound-and-light show, will not be held due to the area’s high infection rate.

Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz - Vienna’s largest and busiest market, hangs in the balance. It may or may not open on 7 December depending on the epidemiological situation.

Budapest stands tall

Named Best Christmas Market 2020 by European Best Destinations travel organization, Budapest’s Advent Feast at the Basilica opened on 20 November. The market features 160 exhibitors, the largest 3D light paintings in Central Europe, a special gastronomic offer, 200 family and children's programmes, including a free ice rink, all spanned over 40 days, until 1 January.

“Love and safety” is the slogan of this year’s edition of Advent Feast at the Basilica. And this is not just empty talk, as organizers have adopted a no-nonsense approach to epidemic prevention. Masks and the use of hand sanitizers are mandatory; disposable socks are provided for skating rink users; a thermal camera monitors the fair as a whole; there is a Covid tent and qualified medical staff staying on duty, just in case.

Source: TheMayor.EU