With winter just around the corner we thought that a list with things to do in Bucharest in December might come in handy to all you roaring travellers that plan to visit us.
The 30th Of November And 1st Of December
Just as autumn steps aside and lets Lady Winter begin her rule, we have two important days to celebrate which usually translates to fun activities and heavy partying.
On the 30th of November we celebrate Saint Andrew and therefore we party and it is also our very own Halloween night.
Who is this Saint Andrew? Well, according to the Bible, he is one of the 12 Apostles, the one responsible to convert the local population to Christianity . To be more easily accepted by the locals, ancient pagan traditions merged his image with a local god, The Great White Wolf. The story says that on the night of the 30th of November, Saint Andrew used to give meat to the wolves for the winter to come so they won't attack the houses of the locals. Somehow, in the midst of centuries, the wolves turned into evil spirits like strigoi and moroi that are lurking the earth in the dead of night trying to enter our houses and bodies. Not to worry, tradition gave us the weapon to fight evil: garlic. You are supposed to eat it, smear it on your back, chest, forehead, joints, furniture, windows, doors and gates, door knobs. You have a pet? Smear the poor dog, cat, hamster with garlic too! You wouldn’t want to see your pet turned into some soul-sucking, flesh-eating fluffy-monster!
If you survive the night then you get to witness the celebration of Romania’s national day on the 1st of December, the day when Transylvania became part of the Kingdom of Romania in 1918 (we were a kingdom back then) after centuries of struggling. To honor this day there’s a big military parade and several events throughout the city with concerts, street food and the likes.
Quite recently the government decided that the 30th of November should also be a non-working holiday besides the 1st of December so if you are coming to Bucharest on these days you’re in for a lot of fun. All the bars and pubs in the Old Center have special parties and themed events planned. Just pick one and go! I wouldn’t exaggerate with the garlic, though!
Christmas Markets And Shopping
Several Christmas markets take place this year in Bucharest. One of them is Bucharest Christmas Market that is open between the 29th of November and the 28th of December. It has two locations one at Universitatii Square and one in Cismigiu Park. There will be lots of lights, decorations, carols, concerts, traditional goodies and jolly Santa.
Bucharest Christmas Market in Universitatii Square. image source
If you want something smaller and more focused on finding that perfect Christmas gift then the Christmas Fairs’ Marathon is for you. Between November 28th and December 23rd you can drop by Europa Royale Hotel on Franceza street (next to Manuc’s Inn in the Old City Center) to find handmade everything, toys, antiques, cosmetics.
Another option is the popular Christmas gifts fair at the Dalles Gallery open from the 28th of November to the 23rd of December. The address is Nicolae Balcescu no.12 which is near the Intercontinental hotel and Universitatii metro station.
If you are in Bucharest on the week-end of 5-7 December then there’s one fair that is an absolute must and that I, personally, would not miss: the cookie fair or the sweets fair at Sala Palatului (behind the Royal Palace). You can call it however you like, the important thing to note here is that it is a big hall full of candy, cookies and sweets from all over the world. Chocolate producers and master confectioners will have their products for sale and specialists will help you find the perfect recipe for cakes or whatever delicious thing you want to bake for the holidays. If this isn’t winter wonderland, I don’t know what is!
December is a special month for everyone but for the kids is truly magical and this year marks the first edition of Santa Klaus Kingdom. Kids can meet Santa Klaus in an enchanting Christmas atmosphere, practice skiing on the first indoor ski run or have fun on the skating rink, escalade wall, tubbing slide or go for a ride on the carousel. The entrance fee is announced to be 25 lei and the nearest metro station is Aurel Vlaicu. Opens November 28th.
At the first sign of cold weather the hunt for the perfect mulled wine recipe starts. We like it simple or with sugar, cinnamon and other spices or with fruits like apples and orange slices, somewhere at a cozy bar or at home, as a way to relax or as a natural cold remedy.
We like it so much that even if it's not on the menu of a pub it is pretty sure that they are willing to make it for you. So far we found the spicy mulled wine at Energiea Pub (for more details click here) or the fruity one from Klein Cafe to be quite good but the cold days just started so the hunt continues.
Mulled wine in winter outfit @Energiea Pub
We even have a festival dedicated to mulled wine between the 17th and the 27th of December in Constitutiei Square just in front of the Palace of Parliament. Besides mulled wine you can find there traditional food, Christmas decorations and folks music. Kids can be entertained with pottery and weaving classes.
We are not crazy in love with skating like the Dutch but we are fond of it and have the ice rinks to prove it. It’s basically the easiest way to convince a local to go for some outdoor exercise on a frozen winter day. My personal favorite is the one on the lake in Cismigiu Park but it’s not big and tends to get a bit too crowded on weekend afternoons. Other skating rinks around the city center are at Unirii Square and in Tineretului Park (Tineretului metro station).
Remember the themed run from Dealu Mare wine region in October? Well, December brings another FunRun event, this one dedicated to Santa Claus: 'Mos Craciun Alearga' (English: Santa's Running).
Santa will definitely run because the participation kit comes with a Santa costume that participants have to wear during the race. After the actual run there will be an outdoor party with hot beverages and winter goodies.
The event takes place on the 6th of December in Mogosoaia Park near Bucharest. Kids up to 14 years can enter the 1.5kms kids race. The adults can choose between the 5 or 10 kms track. Unfortunately, their site does not have an English section so to enter the event just write an e-mail to contact (@) perform.ro .
Entrance fee is 80 lei until the 23rd of November and 90 lei until the 5th of December. For children is 40 lei. Important to note is that 15% from the ticket price goes to an organization that supports pediatric Orthopedics activities in Romania.
It is also a good opportunity to visit Mogosoaia Palace, you can find here an English article with all the basic info on the Palace and a collection of winter photos with the domain.
How to get to Mogosoaia? With the metro to Parc Bazilescu station and then with bus 460 (suburban line) to Parcul Brancovenesc station. For more info check Transportation In Bucharest.
Christmas lights are turned on the 29th of November and going for a stroll on the boulevard between Romana Square and Unirii Square becomes the number 1 activity in Bucharest. Once the night falls everyone is out to enjoy the lights, especially photographers.
Facebook gets full of beautiful pictures and if you are lucky enough to snow then you are in for some photographic treats. Best places to snap some winter photos are Victoriei Blvd., Cismigiu or Herastrau Park, Kisseleff Road, The Village Museum and the Old City Center.
These are our recommendations for things to do in December in Bucharest. Do share with us your stories or pictures of your days here during this magical month and a way too early Merry Christmas to everybody!
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