When does the festive season come alive? For me, it’s in Warsaw’s Old Town, perusing the outdoor Christmas market while the first fluffy snowflakes fall from the sky. We don’t have snow – yet – but we do have the best market I can ever remember.
From Podwale to Pl. Zamkowy, find dozens of cute wooden cabins specializing in stuff you’ll only ever buy at Christmas, not to mention a number of little hidey holes for mulled wine breaks – yep, why not chill down with hot wine in Santa’s sleigh?
That’s all a lead-up, however, to the main event – the great big tree outside the castle. That was lit last night, with an estimated 100,000 people turning up for the illuminations…
For the third year on the spin, the Rynek has been hijacked by an ice rink: open till 9 p.m., skating in the open while Xmas lights glimmer above is a true ‘Welcome to Warsaw’ experience.
Though for me, the highlight of the Rynek are the stalls selling mulled wine and sausages. Sweet, sticky and scalding hot, for me grzane wino is the definitive tipple of the Polish winter.
Even the local shops have got in on the act, festooning themselves with twinkling seasonal baubles and festive trimmings.
The New Town is no poor relation when it comes to Christmas lights, and once again find a long stretch of Freta transformed into a ‘corridor of light’…
… Which concludes at a true Xmas monster: I secretly love this cheerful installation, though I do pity the poor sods who open their curtains and have to view it every day (and hear it – the lights are accompanied by some annoying cartoon character chirruping away…).
Now all we need, a nice sprinkle of snow – Jack Frost: over to you…
(words & photos: AW)