The British dream of a white Christmas is brought up every year, whether it be in hopeful forecasts for the snow to fall, or over-the-top decorations of snowmen and sleighs on every street.
In reality, snow brings the UK a predictable torrent of logistical problems from limping public services and transport, indignant falls in the iced streets and cars sliding off the glazed roads left, right and centre.
Our quest for a Christmas getaway with a near-guaranteed sprinkling of snow, building from our trips to Croatia and Slovenia last year, led us to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
Just a few miles south from Helsinki via the Gulf of Finalnd, Estonia offers the perfect combination of Nordic and Scandinavian climate, along with the crown of ‘Best Christmas Market in Europe’.
Tallinn’s quaint market sits in the centre of the old town, which is made up of multicoloured houses, famous historical landmarks Kiek in de Kok and Maiden’s Tower and cathedrals and churches intertwined with museums (including the must-see Marzipan Museum).
The impressive Christmas tree sits around 30-feet tall in the centre, cutting through the silhouette of stalls selling food, drink and any conceivable trinket made of amber, a popular stone for Estonians, you can imagine.
Thankfully, the former Soviet country has mastered any inconvenience the white stuff can cause, with paths gritted and all the soul warming elk and bear meat, sauerkraut and ‘Glog’ (mulled wine), that the market stalls have to offer.
However, what we tend to forget in our pursuit of the postcard perfect Christmas is that snow can be cold.
In this case, an bone chilling -11c (with a ‘feels like’ of -18c) on the coldest day!
Public transport runs a dream, and is free with the highly recommended Tallinn Card which also allows free or discounted entry to most places, and makes visiting even further attractions such as the fascinating Seaplane Museum, the impressive Kadriorg Palace (picture above), intimidating Soviet-era TV tower and even the zoo, quick and simple.
Tallinn makes for a truly magical Christmas experience, just make sure to wrap up warm!
Visit www.visittallinn.ee/eng to find out more!
article and photographs by Tom McBeth