Best Christmas Markets in Europe
The Dresden Striezelmarkt was named after the famous "Striezel" or "Stollen", a local and typical fruitcake. It is considered one of the oldest and most traditional Christmas market in Germany. What makes it unique is that the town erects a 48-foot (14.6m) high wooden “Christmas Pyramid” in the centre of the market.
The market has hundreds of stalls selling food from vendors throughout Europe, local arts and crafts such as blown glass products from Lauscha or the typical Dresden blue and white ceramics. This market attracts thousands of people annually and every night you have people singing and having fun. Maybe this is from all the mulled wine people consume every night.
Munich has loads of Christmas markets, but the main one is at the famous Marienplatz, which is in the heart of the old centre. This market has been going since the 17th century and there are hundreds of stalls dotted around the square. The 100ft tall Christmas tree and the lights that surround the square are the focal points and they are lighten up on the Friday before the first Advent. Every night there are people singing and dancing and a kids area called ‘Heavenly Workshop’ where kids have fun painting and dressing up as angels.
Winter is the best time to visit Vienna and the Christmas markets in this city date back to 1294, this makes it one of the oldest in Europe. Nowadays Vienna features about 20 markets, but the biggest one is Christkindlmarkt located in front of the City Hall and is one of the most visited and famous in Europe. The air is full with the scent of roasted chestnuts, spiced punch (Weihnachtspunsch), and cured meat and of course mulled wine. This is definitely one of the most social of the Christmas markets in Europe and a must if you are visiting Austria in December.
Berlin is becoming one of the fastest growing destinations in Europe and the fact it has become a year-round destination has helped with these numbers. There are more than 60 Christmas markets in the city that have everything from Christmas tree ornaments, mulled wine, clothing, food and crafts for sale. If you want a truly different Christmas experience then head to the Christmas market at Potsdamer Platz where you’ll find Europe’s largest toboggan run.
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt dates back to 1628 and is considered one of the most famous Christmas Markets in Europe. This market opens every year the Friday before the Advent with a breathtaking ceremony. Every two years a “Christ Child” marches across the streets of the city with a golden crown and spreading Christmas joy while officially opening the market. The smells of mulled wine, bratwursts, glühwein and gingerbread at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt make it worth visiting every year.
The Christkindlmarkt of Salzburg dates back to 15th century and is held in front of the beautiful cathedral and the Hohensalzburg fortress, which give it that special fairy tale feeling. There are about 100 stalls selling different traditional products, food and of course mulled wine.
Being the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg musical tradition is well known throughout the world. Every year there are Christmas carolers singing songs like the famous Christmas carol “Silent Night”, which was born in Salzburg. This market is truly magical and worth a visit.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a beautiful city to visit any time of the year, but especially around Christmas when the markets are set up in both Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square. Both markets are only a 5-minute walk from one another, but the Old Town Square is truly spectacular with its huge Christmas tree located in the centre of the square. To top of this experience every night you have carol singers dressed in traditional costumes signing Christmas songs.
Both markets have decorated wooden huts that are selling glassware, wooden toys, Christmas decorations, scarves, gloves and traditional Czech food like Roasted ham, barbequed sausages and Trdelnìk (cooked dough with cinnamon and sugar) and carp. Also, be sure to try the traditional Czech drink of grog and honey liquor that is sure to put a smile on your face
Edinburgh is a magical city any time of the year, but at Christmas this city is a must for any visitor. The Christmas market is located on the Mound near Princes Street and with Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop makes this market one of the best in Europe. This market is not as busy as some of the others in Europe, but with an outdoor skating rink, rides, games, food, mulled wine gives a great variety of options for all those attending. Also, what makes the market in Edinburgh a bit different is that it’s open until January 5th
The Christmas market in Copenhagen is held at the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, which is one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks. There are over 120,000 sparkling lights that illuminate the lake and the flower gardens. More than 50 stalls sell their products in traditional Danish and Scandinavian stands. The smells will pull you in as there is mulled wine, hot caramel apples, steaming glogg (traditional Danish Christmas drink) and fantastic Danish food. This market also has a firework festival, theme park rides, an ice rink, a roller-coaster and plenty of other rides.
The Christmas market in the medieval city of Bruges is considered one of the most romantic in Europe. The wooden Christmas stands, ice rink and illuminated cobbled stone streets make this a spectacle you have to see. There is also traditional food, mulled wine and every year there is a Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival. If you are planning a trip to Belgium, then be sure to check out Bruges in December because you won’t be disappointed.
London has several Christmas markets scattered on both sides of the Thames, but the biggest one is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. There are over 200 wooden chalets that sell Christmas decorations, hand made gifts, food and of course alcohol. There is also several attractions, a circus, shows and the largest ice rink and carnival rides in the UK. Visiting London in December is a magical time of the year, but the Christmas markets are definitely worth the visit alone.
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