Even though the winter officially starts on the 21st of December, it sneaks into our lives approximately one month before. The air becomes heavier to breathe, and it becomes harder to move around with all the layers of clothes we carefully pile up beneath our winter coats. The winter never comes alone. It has an army of sorts, that just takes over our tender summer habits and way of life. Think the snow, Christmas, blinking decoration lights, and unjustified enthusiasm in the air. Winter in Novi Sad, however, usually doesn’t announce itself with snow or overwhelming Christmas decorations. You know it’s winter time in Novi Sad when the city center smells of donuts, candies, and mulled wine.
Taking a walk on the dimly lighted main city square at the end of November or early December is the best way to get acquainted with the winter in Serbia. Every time, this walk enhances my senses, making me strive for a cup of mulled wine or a few bites of those tiny, overly sweet chocolate donuts.
Every year in December, the city of Novi Sad organizes a colorful Christmas market at the city’s main square, mirroring the tradition of the most of other European cities. The spacious square becomes filled with stands and booths, selling food, drinks, creative gifts, or Christmas decorations. The market is accompanied by a small stage that welcomes various shows, concerts, and performances, creating a lively atmosphere of the Winter Fest of Novi Sad.
As the remainder of the year grows shorter, the city starts to breathe out with the joyous and refreshing Christmas spirit. The stores’ windows get the Christmas ornaments, and the clerks start wearing Santa Claus’ hats. The city decorations are the most appealing for the youngest, and those with young spirit - they can take a photo in the Santa’s carriage, or hug a large, brightly lighted snowman, or sit on the bench situated inside of a giant blinking gift made entirely of decorative lights.
As the fourth season of the year spreads quickly over the city, other popular local places gain a new outfit and join in the winter excitement. One of those places is Dunavski park that transforms into a large ice-skating rink. The rink is circular, going around the central lake and following the most prominent walking paths of the summer. Decorations, lights, and laughter of the people in their 30s, who are failing at ice-skating, and just feel brought back to their childhood, makes the park a popular winter attraction, and a perfect place to enjoy the winter charms in Novi Sad.
While navigating through this icy fairy tale in Novi Sad, you can only get distracted by the smell of winter - trenchant cold air with just a bit of chocolate donuts, and cinnamon from mulled wine, somewhere indefinitely close.
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