Rick Steves' European Christmas

Join Rick Steves for a colorful, musical celebration of Christmas across Europe. From England to Wales, France, Norway, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, you'll see the bright Christmas markets, hear local choirs, share holiday traditions with families...and even play in the snow.

European Christmas Station Support

We are pleased to bring you a brand new Rick Steves' European Christmas Pledge Special. Building on the success of its original release in 2007, Rick has created for 2009 all-new finely produced pledge breaks. With a compelling premium strategy and the many marketing resources available on this website, Rick Steves' European Christmas is now more than ever a powerful fundraiser and a public television holiday tradition.

Sample Press Release

Rick Steves' European Christmas

A feast for the eyes, from one of public television's top pledge drive hosts!

After producing more than 100 travel shows, Rick Steves and his television crew finally celebrate Christmas in Europe. The result — a picturesque celebration in Rick Steves' European Christmas a co-production of Back Door Productions and PBS. This colorful montage of the holiday's rich history of traditions explores the sights and sounds of celebrations from Bath, Paris, Oslo, Burgundy and the traditions of Nürnberg, Salzburg and Tuscany in a European snapshot of Christmas.

A consistent top performer in pledge drives through the years, Steves' latest contribution, Rick Steves' European Christmas is sure to grab the attention of the wanderlust traveler and entice support for your public television station with a magnificent companion book, DVD and CD.

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, this special gets you down on the carpet with wide-eyed children, up in the loft with the finest choirs, and into the kitchen with grandma and all her secrets. Experience traditional European Christmas like never before: from flaming puddings and minced pies in jolly old England to angelic girls' choirs donning flickering crowns of candles in Oslo.

Christmas in Europe is a rich and fascinating mix of Christian and pre-Christian traditions; yule logs and mistletoe, shepherd's bonfires and fondue, monastic chants and a Christmas yodel. Celebrate Christmas through the eyes of a delighted child, an awe-struck pilgrim, and a loving parent. Tuscan peasants, trendy Norwegians, Victorian English, dirndl-clad Tyrolians, all contribute to this heart-warming pledge experience.

Each scene is filled with inspiring sounds of traditional European holiday music — unfamiliar to most American ears — performed by families and choirs in their homes, chapels and cathedrals. In England, spirits soar as choral groups sing like angels and ebullient conductors perform centuries-old carols in acoustically perfect churches. In the little village of Swainswick, tiny tinseled singers belt out a joyful song of a donkey that took Mary to Bethlehem. Up north in Norway, the ethereal voices of the Norwegian Girls Choir celebrate the return of the sun and little Santa Lucias brighten the season with their namesake's traditional tune.

Rick Steves' European Christmas is filled with fun history. You'll uncover curious holiday facts like why Cromwell outlawed Christmas and how Charles Dickens caused it to boom again, why English turkeys wore boots in December, and that there are no plums in plum pudding, nor mince in mince pies. You'll discover how to please Norway's pesky Julenisse (hint: leave a bowl of porridge in the barn on Christmas Eve) and that Tyrolians are still singing Silent Night in the village of its birth.

The Rick Steves' Europe film crew consists of Steves, co-producer Simon Griffith, and editor Steve Cammarano. The show is produced by Back Door Productions based at Steves' corporate headquarters, Europe Through The Back Door Inc., in Edmonds, WA. Oregon Public Broadcasting presents the series, and is distributed through PBS. To learn more about Rick Steves' books, bus tours, and television projects, visit www.ricksteves.com.

For review tapes or DVDs, photos, or interviews, contact Ashley Sytsma (ashley@ricksteves.com) at Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door, 130 Fourth Avenue North, Edmonds, WA 98020, Tel: 425-608-4293 / Fax: 425-771-0833.

 

Viewer Guide Articles

Public television stations have permission to reprint this article (with photos) in their viewer guides. Please note that there are five versions of the article: 767, 314, 188, 115, and 93 words.

Check out downloadable publicity photos for the Rick Steves' European Christmas Pledge Special (see "Download Promotional Media" below).

Rick Steves' European Christmas — Festivities in 7 Countries [767 words]

Once upon a time a PBS crew set out to film traditional Christmas celebrations in seven European countries. For the 12 days of Christmas, they captured on film...go ahead, sing it: 12 carol concerts, 11 mugs of glühwein, 10 living mangers, 9 happy families, 8 Christmas feasts, 7 Euro-cultures, 6 mistletoe kisses, 5 alternative Santas, 4 pounds of weight gain, 3 midnight Masses, 2 fleeting reindeer, and a festive hour of public TV.  

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, this special gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible —you'll see Christmas in a new light.

Rather than visit a bunch of shopping malls and Christmas markets, viewers enjoy an inside look at sacred, traditional, and intimate family Christmas traditions. Steves explained, "Our goal was to give a look at European Christmas through the eyes of a child, a parent, and a pilgrim. Rather than a 'happy holidays' sales gimmick, we wanted to bring home a true celebration of Christmas. As the recent commercialization of the holiday season has driven me abroad for several recent Christmasses, I was happy to take our crew to a continent where people aren't counting the shopping days left until Christmas."

Steves had two crews fan out across Europe visiting seven countries in the two weeks leading up to the 25th. While the crews could only actually be in two places on Christmas Eve and Day (Salzburg and Rome), they managed to fake Christmas Eve in the other places. This required calling on Rick's European friends (mostly tour guides and families who run B&Bs that he recommends in his guidebooks) to let the crews come into their home as they celebrated "Christmas Eve"...several days before the actual holiday. As those European friends cooked the goose, got cozy with their kids, invited the grandparents, hung out under the mistletoe, and so on, the PBS crew was right there — on the carpet, in the kitchen, and under the tree with cameras rolling. Since the crew was footing the bill, they encouraged each family to pull out all the stops and put on a blow-out Christmas to remember...and they did. The kids will always recall the strange year they celebrated Christmas twice.

Scheduling was tricky, as there were predetermined dates the crew had to make, such as concerts (a choir singing "Silent Night" in the church where it was first performed) and holidays (like December 13 when Norway celebrates Santa Lucia Day). Each crew generally had three or four days to film a region, and then one day to travel to the next. The script playfully lets the Christmas season build — but never quite reaches a holiday climax — in each country. Then, in a festive finale, bells ring throughout the Continent as Christmas Day sweeps across Europe.

After considering everywhere from Poland to Greece to Ireland, Steves settled on seven cultures to feature. He explained, "England is so perfectly jolly and ye olde, with a Dickensian ambience and a wonderful tradition of caroling. Norway is the home of three of my grandparents, so it gave us a great chance to be with family while giving a glimpse at the wintry Nordic culture. We show off the rich (and tasty) traditions of a French culture. Bavaria and Tirol are bursting with holiday traditions — home of those famous Christmas markets, 'O Tannenbaum,' and 'Silent Night.' We couldn't miss Italy, where we'd film life in Tuscany — so salt-of-the-earth in everything it does, especially holidays — and a very memorable Christmas Eve Mass at the Vatican. Finally, our storybook 'white Christmas' village would be high in the Swiss Alps."

The tour guide in Steves was determined to both delve into the rituals of Christmas and "meet the locals." He succeeded, learning about Epiphany, Advent wreaths, the origin of St. Nicholas, and the pagan roots of so many Christian traditions, then making it all more vivid by connecting with people. Steves and his crew celebrated the holiday with Umbrian peasants, trendy Norwegians, Victorian English, dirndl-clad Tiroleans, and Burgundian monks — all of whom contributed to this fascinating and heartwarming story.

Celebrate a European Christmas here on KXXX, Sunday, December xx at X:00. Buon Natale! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas."

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas — Festivities in 7 Countries [314 words]

Once upon a time a PBS crew set out to film traditional Christmas celebrations in seven European countries. For the 12 days of Christmas, they captured on film...go ahead, sing it: 12 carol concerts, 11 mugs of glühwein, 10 living mangers, 9 happy families, 8 Christmas feasts, 7 Euro-cultures, 6 mistletoe kisses, 5 alternative Santas, 4 pounds of weight gain, 3 midnight Masses, 2 fleeting reindeer, and a festive hour of public TV.  

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, this special gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible —you'll see Christmas in a new light.

Rather than visit a bunch of shopping malls and Christmas markets, viewers enjoy an inside look at sacred, traditional, and intimate family Christmas traditions. Steves explained, "Our goal was to give a look at European Christmas through the eyes of a child, a parent, and a pilgrim.

The tour guide in Steves was determined to both delve into the rituals of Christmas and "meet the locals." He succeeded, learning about Epiphany, Advent wreaths, the origin of St. Nicholas, and the pagan roots of so many Christian traditions, then making it all more vivid by connecting with people. Steves and his crew celebrated the holiday with Umbrian peasants, trendy Norwegians, Victorian English, dirndl-clad Tiroleans, and Burgundian monks — all of whom contributed to this fascinating and heartwarming story.

Celebrate a European Christmas here on KXXX, Sunday, December xx at X:00. Buon Natale! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas."

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas — Festivities in 7 Countries [188 words]

Once upon a time a PBS crew set out to film traditional Christmas celebrations in seven European countries. For the 12 days of Christmas, they captured on film...go ahead, sing it: 12 carol concerts, 11 mugs of glühwein, 10 living mangers, 9 happy families, 8 Christmas feasts, 7 Euro-cultures, 6 mistletoe kisses, 5 alternative Santas, 4 pounds of weight gain, 3 midnight Masses, 2 fleeting reindeer, and a festive hour of public TV.  

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, this special gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible —you'll see Christmas in a new light.

Celebrate a European Christmas here on KXXX, Sunday, December xx at X:00. Buon Natale! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas."

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas — Festivities in 7 Countries [115 words]

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, this special gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible —you'll see Christmas in a new light.

Celebrate a European Christmas here on KXXX, Sunday, December xx at X:00. Buon Natale! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas."

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas — Festivities in 7 Countries [93 words]

Once upon a time a PBS crew set out to film traditional Christmas celebrations in seven European countries. For the 12 days of Christmas, they captured on film...go ahead, sing it: 12 carol concerts, 11 mugs of glühwein, 10 living mangers, 9 happy families, 8 Christmas feasts, 7 Euro-cultures, 6 mistletoe kisses, 5 alternative Santas, 4 pounds of weight gain, 3 midnight Masses, 2 fleeting reindeer, and a festive hour of public TV.  

Celebrate a European Christmas here on KXXX, Sunday, December xx at X:00. Buon Natale! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas."

 

Host Biography

Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of U.S. markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his company, Back Door Productions.

Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel expert, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tour podcasts for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, London and Athens.

Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 50 other country, city and regional guidebooks, phrase books, and "snapshot" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the U.S. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel.

Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, "I realized I didn't need my parents to travel!" He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), a business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 80 full-time employees. ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, website, European Railpass Guide, and free travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a successful European tour program with more than 450 departures — attracting around 12,000 travelers — annually.

Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening their perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church (and has hosted the ELCA's national video productions). He's a board member of NORML (The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). And Rick has provided his local YWCA with a 24-unit apartment building with which to house homeless mothers.

Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. Rick was divorced in March, 2010. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

 

Fact Sheet

Description:

From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, Rick Steves' European Christmas gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible — you'll see Christmas in a new light.

Program Information:

*Standard Version: RSCH HD Base
  • Length/Format: 56:46
  • Feed: 11/18/09; 1330-1500/HD03
*Core: RSCH HD Pledge 
  • Length/Format: 80 minutes approx. with 4 acts/4 breaks
  • Feed: 11/23/09; 0600-0730/HD03
*NEW Pledge Event: RSCH HD Pledge Event
  • Length/Format: 120 minutes approximate with 4 acts/4 breaks
  • Feed: 11/23/09; 0730-0930/HD03

Thank You Gifts for Pledge Supporters:

Read a full description of the items offered (see "Station Gift Descriptions" below), and download on-air stills (see "Download Promotional Media" below). Please place orders at pledge@ricksteves.com.

$80 Level

  • Rick Steves European Christmas DVD
  • Rick Steves European Christmas Book
  • Rick Steves European Christmas Music CD
    • Station Cost:  $10.00
    • Market Value:  $47.97
    • Item #: ZZ-CHRSET

$200 Level

  • Rick Steves' European Christmas DVD
  • Rick Steves' European Christmas Book
  • Rick Steves' European Christmas Music CD
  • Rick Steves' All 100 Shows Box Set 2000-2014
  • Rick Steves' Europe Planning Map
    • Station Cost:  $32.00
    • Market Value: $157.95
    • Item #:  ZZ-CHRCOMBO

All levels will include Rick Steves' Best Destinations Newsletter.

Stations pay all shipping charges.

Questions: angie@ricksteves.com

To order, please contact:

pledge@ricksteves.com
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door
130 Fourth Avenue North
P.O. Box 2009
Edmonds, WA 98020
Tel: 425-771-8303
Fax: 425-771-0833

 

Download Promotional Media

Here you will find everything you will need to make your promotion of Rick Steves' European Christmas as visually pleasing as the tree lighting on St. Peter's Square. If you would like assistance in downloading these images, or prefer another format, please email Ashley Sytsma at ashley@ricksteves.com or call 425-608-4293.

Rick Steves' European Christmas Photos: High-resolution photos for viewer guides, websites, and other publications.

Rick Steves' European Christmas Pledge Premium Images: Completed Screenshots or composite images to create your own.

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas Preview

A Rick Steves' European Christmas preview is available for download. You can embed this Flash video (.flv) directly on your public television website.

  • Download a 30-second promo (please right click and select "Save Target As")

 

Rick Steves' European Christmas Photos

 

Pledge Premium Images

Below are composite JPEGs of each of the pledge levels shown below, formatted for a 1920 x 1080 screen.

You can download a zipped archive that contains high resolution JPEGs of all six pledge premiums, flat or 3-dimensional, for use in your own layouts.

A layered Photoshop file containing each pledge level as an editable group (with rasterized type) is also available for download.

All levels: Screen image

$80 level: Screen image

$200 level: Screen image

All items: Screen image

 

Station Gift Descriptions

Rick Steves' European Christmas DVD
Experience Christmas with Rick Steves in England, Norway, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland! Available for the first time outside of TV pledge drives, this DVD gives you the beautifully-filmed, hour-long "Rick Steves' European Christmas" PBS-TV special — plus 45 minutes of content you won't find in the TV version, including full-length choir performances, Pope John Paul II's last midnight Christmas Mass, interview with the Christkind, Italian manger scenes (presepi), and a musical slide show of European Christmas images.
(Retail: $19.99)

Rick Steves' European Christmas Book
In this full-color 240-page companion to Rick's PBS-TV special, Romans cook up eels, Salzburgers shoot off guns, Germans buy "prune people" at markets, Norwegian kids hope to win marzipan pigs, and Parisians ice-skate on the Eiffel Tower. With thoughtful insights, scores of colorful photos, and more than a dozen recipes, this book perfectly captures the spirit of the season. It's a delightful way to learn something new — and old — about Christmas. 
(Retail: $14.99)

Rick Steves' European Christmas Music CD
20 musical selections from the TV show, including special full-length performances by the Norwegian Girls Choir (Oslo), The Sixteen (London), the Bath Abbey Choir of Boys and Men, the Premiere Brass Quintet (Bath), the Wilhelm-Loehe School Choir (Nurnberg), the Nonsuch Singers (London), and Phonema (Beaune). It's the perfect "soundtrack" for your own holiday festivities this year!
(Retail: $12.99)

Rick Steves' All 100 Shows DVD Anthology
You'll get all 100 Rick Steves' Europe TV shows and specials on 14 DVDs with outtakes and interviews.
(Retail Price $99.99)

All levels will include Rick Steves' Best Destinations Newsletter.

Stations pay all shipping charges.

Questions: angie@ricksteves.com

To order, please contact:

pledge@ricksteves.com
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door
130 Fourth Avenue North
P.O. Box 2009
Edmonds, WA 98020
Tel: 425-771-8303
Fax: 425-771-0833