Fancy a fun family day out to lighten up the dark and cold winter days? Spice up your winter with a day trip to one of Europe’s best theme parks. Many amusement parks close their doors when the days get shorter and the weather colder, but some of the best parks remain open for the winter season – and are open right now.
To make your thrill-filled day even more fun, these theme parks put on special shows, events and rides for the winter season.
So, here is my list of the 5 best theme parks in Europe that are open in winter:
Kaatsheuvell, the Netherlands
The Efteling has been the most popular theme park in the Netherlands for years and is also one of the few parks that remains open in winter. Starting each November, the amusement park transforms into the Winter Efteling, which runs all the way through the first week of March.
During these winter months, the theme park features special shows and decorations and even an ice skating ring. All of the regular rides are also open, unless the weather doesn’t allow it.
Luckily, Dutch winters are pretty mild so you can ride the rollercoasters most days.
Opening hours Winter Efteling: 14 November 2022 – 5 March 2023.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (7 p.m. on some weekends)
Ticket prices 38 euros to 48 euros
Tarragona, Spain, near Barcelona
Planning to visit Barcelona this winter? Add a day trip to PortAventura World to your itinerary. This theme park is located just an hour southwest of the city and is open many weekends during the winter.
PortAventura consists of three different parks: the main park, the new Ferrari Land and Caribe Aquatic Park. The water park is closed in winter and spring, but the other parks offer more than 50 exciting rides.
Red Force is the most spectacular of all. This rollercoaster takes you 112 meters up into the air, making it the highest rollercoaster in Europa.
Opening hours PortAventura in winter: every weekend from 17 February 2023
Open times: from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Ticket prices: starting at 40 euros
Brühl, Germany, outside Cologne
Can’t get enough of Christmas? Keep the holiday spirit alive with a day trip to Phantasialand in Germany. This theme park’s seasonal event is called Wintertraum, which runs from November until the end of January. Spend one of those dark winter days exploring the theme areas, rides and shows in this German amusement park.
The food stalls at the Christmas market in the park offer many seasonal specialties from around the world. Of course, there is plenty of glühwein to keep you warm on a cold winter day.
Opening hours Phantasialand in winter: 19 November 2022 – 29 January 2023, open daily from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Ticket prices: 57 euros (adults), 47 euros (children 4-11)
Coupvray, France, outside Paris
You can’t talk about theme parks in Europe without mentioning Disneyland Paris. The world-famous amusement park celebrated its 30th birthday in 2022 and remains a crowd favorite.
One way Disneyland Paris stands out from other parks are its opening hours. The Disney parks in Paris are open year-around. While Christmas time in Disneyland Paris is magical, it can be just as much fun to spend a weekend at Eurodisney in January or February.
Opening hours Disneyland Paris in winter: open daily from 9.30 a.m.
Ticket prices: Disneyland Paris offers a lot of different tickets and packages. A day ticket for 1 park starts at 56 euros (adults)
Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, France outside Poitiers
Futuroscope isn’t as famous as Disneyland Paris, but it is a fun theme park to check out this winter. This amusement park in France has about 40 attractions and all are fun for all ages. It’s one of the few theme parks in Europe that’s open all year around.
Futuroscope only closes in January, but reopens for the new season in February. There is also a space-themed hotel within walking distance of the park if you’d like to stay the night.
Opening hours Futuroscope: Open daily from 4 February 2023. Open from 10 a.m. until 9.30 p.m.
Ticket prices: starting at 38 euros
See all of Dispatches’ posts covering Europe’s amusement parks here in our archives.
Willeke van Doorn
Willeke van Doorn is a Dutch journalist and graduate of Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg, Netherlands. Her experience includes an internship at National Geographic Traveler in Amsterdam.
Willeke has lived in the U.S. and Australia and loves to travel the world. She was an early Dispatches contributor as a student.