Christmas is around the corner and European governments are trying hard to offer proper holidays to their nationals (residents or expats) despite the pandemic. But without Christmas markets, ski resorts, bars, restaurants or clubs… What will Christmas holidays look like in Europe this year? Here is a quick overview for the UK, Spain, France and Belgium.
First, if you are a non-EU resident, check our article about the travel rules to follow when entering the EU here.
Spending Christmas 2020 in the UK 🇬🇧
Under the new rules declared by the prime minister on November, 30th, 10 people from 3 families will be allowed to meet for Christmas celebrations but only for 5 consecutive days between December 23 and December 27. These gatherings are allowed only in private homes, places of worship and outdoors, but not in hospitality or entertainment venues. Travel will be allowed. Carol singing is expected. Christmas markets in all the major cities have been cancelled. Government hasn’t yet decided to allow traditional Christmas religious services like midnight Mass.
Check official guidance on the Christmas arrangements here.
Spending Christmas 2020 in Spain 🇪🇸
Government has announced that the Christmas celebrations should be limited to the immediate households or a maximum of 6 people as well as the implementation of a 1am nighttime curfew on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
In Spain, the year-end festivities from Christmas Eve until Three Kings Day (Reyes) on January 6 that are usually celebrated with parades, nativity scenes, processions, parties and Christmas concerts, have been cancelled.
Traveling to a different city or region will depend on the rules that have been introduced by the respective regional government.
Several regions of Spain have recently announced new rules ahead of the Christmas holidays. Valencia will keep borders sealed until January 15 and the Canary Islands will let visitors enter with an antigen test instead of a PCR.
Spending Christmas 2020 in France 🇫🇷
France will come out of lockdown on December 15th but curfew will be installed. Government has announced that museums, cinemas and theaters, which were scheduled to reopen, will remain closed, and no big public gatherings will be allowed. Bars, restaurants and clubs will also remain closed.
The government has been urging the French to continue being vigilant and implement social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
For ski fans, there might not be such a merry Christmas this year, as ski lifts will remain closed till January, 20th 2021. But people can still enjoy the clean air of the beautiful mountains, and shops will be open, although bars and restaurants will remain closed.
Spending Christmas 2020 in Belgium 🇧🇪
Belgium has eased its coronavirus restrictions from 1st December with shops allowed to reopen but bars, restaurants, theatres and cinema remaining closed. Cultural events and Christmas markets have been cancelled. Fireworks are banned.
For Christmas (December 24th and 25th), the government has announced that households can invite one extra person and people living alone are allowed to invite two close contacts at the same time.
All in all, no matter where you will be, you may be able to reunite with your loved ones this time but you won't be able to celebrate Christmas the usual way, that’s for sure. It is important that we don’t jeopardize the efforts made by all in recent weeks and months to stop the spread of coronavirus. This year, saving lives must come before celebrations.