Christmas is one of those universal holidays that is enjoyed all over the world. This holiday is well represented by Christmas markets in Europe, a time of cheer, goodwill and festivity set in at the start of winter for the Northern Hemisphere. These markets are simply magical and offer a beacon of bright lights that help to brighten the shortest days of the year. Discover where you should go for your first European experience at the Christmas markets abroad. With so many markets to choose from, you may find that you want to visit more than one!
Copenhagen Christmas market
Experience the joys of the season with a holiday visit to Denmark. Indulge in the Christmas enchantments by exploring Tivoli Gardens, which goes above and beyond with decor for the holidays. At the world’s second oldest amusement park, Tiffany & Co. goes bling-tastic with more than four miles of Christmas lights strung around the park. The Copenhagen Christmas market is the shining star of this brilliant display of sparkles. Gratify your Christmas cravings with cups of gløgg, a traditional Denmark drink, mulled wine and apple pancakes as you shop for handmade crafts, which can include hand-honed elves to bring back home. While on this Denmark excursion, you should also enjoy a fabulous meal at one of the top ranked restaurants in the entire world, Noma. Don’t forget to make time to admire Kronborg Castle, the National Museum, and cities including Aalborg, Odense and Aarhus. As you explore this southernmost Nordic country during the Christmas season, you will be creating holiday memories to last a lifetime.
Paris, the City of Lights, is commonly the most sought-after travel destination in France. However, during the holiday season, that declaration goes to another incredible French city, Strasbourg, which established one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe back in 1570. Today, the Christkindelsmärik continues to thrive in the Alsatian tradition, while expanding to more than 12 locations throughout Strasbourg’s city center. It is also one of the most famous European Christmas markets, drawing more than 2 million visitors annually. Experience the delights this place offers, including a live nativity scene at the Strasbourg Cathedral, four live Advent concerts and more than 300 vendors. For the 2016 Christkindelsmärik, Portugal will be featured with vendors selling crafts made from Portuguese villages. As you stroll through the market over cobblestone streets, look for Alsace holiday traditions. For instance, you’ll find plenty of handmade ornaments for sale that are unlike anything you’ll find in Parisian markets. This market is open daily from the last weekend in November and comes to an end on Christmas. A tip for visitors: go during the week to avoid the weekend crowds.
The Magic of Christmas in Colmar
Another fabulous French city to visit during the Christmas season is Colmar. For the last seventeen years, this city has taken the magic of Christmas and spread it out over six sensational weeks. If you are one of those people who wish they could celebrate Christmas all year long,this is the Christmas market for you! Venturing from market to market, you will get to stroll past 100-year-old traditional architecture on small winding streets. The markets are distinct to the point that each is treated like its own miniature village. Craftsmen and women work their souls into each of the handcrafts, giving you the opportunity to purchase meaningful and excellently-made holiday gifts for your loved ones. The Christmas markets in Colmar also feature wine tastings, guided tours, and live concerts—all the makings of a fabulous holiday trip to France.
Travel to Belgium to experience one of Europe’s most internationally inspired cities. While a trip to Brussels during any time of the year is amazing all on its own, thanks to the world-famous foods like Belgian brewed beers, Belgium fries and Belgium chocolates, the real thrills take place over the holidays. This is when Brussels and its majestic square comes to life with an enchanting Christmas magic. For five sparkling weeks, Brussels is transformed into Winter Wonders. This capital city transforms into a winter lovers’ paradise with a Christmas parade, Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds, ice skating rink and a magnificent light show. Check out the colorful stalls as you search for all things Belgium, from handmade chocolates in elaborate designs to Belgium brewery items, including beer steins. As you meander across cobblestone streets and take in the holiday sights and smells, make sure to do plenty of window shopping. The finest chocolateers and luxury jewelry designers showcase their wares along shops, lining the square of La Grand Place where the Winter Wonders is held. You’ll probably need an extra duffel bag (that you can pack inside your suitcase on the way over) just to bring back all of your Belgium goodies for holiday gift giving.
Speaking of beer steins, the German Christmas markets are one of the most famous in all of Europe, not to mention all of the world. Let’s take a look at Leipzig, where you will find one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets. The Leipzig Christmas market, or Wiehnachts Markt, started back in 1458, making it the second oldest Christmas market in Germany. Today it features six markets in the historical city center. Shop among more than 250 vendor stalls as you search for culinary delights, as well as crafts made from the style of a traditional medieval market. You’ll find all varieties of German fair from handmade Christmas toys to bratwursts and mulled wine, also known as Glühwein. During the market, the city centre transforms into a carnival of sorts, full of lights, music, parades and the smells of all things Christmasy. There’s an old fashioned carousel for the kids, as well as a gigantic Advent calendar and a Ferris wheel. The atmosphere is simply magical, especially when snow is falling all around you.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Also in Germany, we have the winter wonderland that is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This medieval town in Germany’s northern Bavaria, sparkles and shines with illuminations of fairy lights throughout the town. In fact, this Christmas market is set in the tradition that the original market started way back in the 15th century. It takes place throughout Advent, featuring the same holiday traditions that have taken place for more than 500 years. Step back in time with “white” mulled wine, a traditional Christmas beverage here, as you venture through this fairytale experience. There’s also a special treat called a Rothenburg Snowball that you must sample, along with freshly roasted chestnuts. Look for Santa Claus, who sets out at the Reiterlesmarkt every night during the festival, to hand out treats to the children. The market itself is open every Friday and Saturday until 8 pm, allowing you plenty of time to enjoy the festivities and do some Christmas shopping.
Marche de Noel
Returning back to the French countryside, we have to talk about Lille, France. Here, you have a Christmas market with an international flair, which is something that sets this market apart from other European cities. Located on Place Rihour, where you will find the metro station, Lille creates a magnificent winter spectacle with more than 80 chalets, selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. You can find handmade Christmas ornaments, nativity sets and crafts that come from as far and wide as Quebec, Russia and Native American cultures. If you want to experience a nontraditional Christmas market in Europe, this is the place to start. You’ll also find traditional treats, including mulled wine and homemade gingerbread, which go fittingly together. The celebration runs from mid-November until December 30, which is great for tourists interested in making the holiday season last through New Year’s. The market is open daily from 11 am until 8 pm and closed on Christmas Day.
Viennese Christmas Market
Ah, Austria, a place that creates one of the prettiest Christmas markets you will ever see in Vienna. On this fabulous excursion to Vienna, you can indulge your Christmas dreams with the Vienna Magic of Advent, which is one of the world’s most famous Christmas markets. It can also lay claim to the title of the oldest organized Christmas market, as it was established during the Middle Ages. That’s right, the Christmas markets in Vienna first took place in 1298 via a December market. While the market is as old as they come, it certainly has kept up its appearances and popularity.
Explore the shiny City Hall Square that comes alive in the dark winter days. Tall Christmas trees sparkle and alight the walking paths as you stroll from craft vendors to food stalls. Look for crafts to do with your little ones at the Christmas workshops for kids, the perfect DIY idea for making handmade gifts with children. Specifically, search for the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace that showcases a baroque style backdrop of this fantastic market place. The Viennese Christmas Market also has international choirs performing Christmas carols each weekend of the market, which is a nice bonus. The market is open from mid-November to Christmas Eve, daily from 10 am to 10 pm.
Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland
If you are interested in crossing the Chunnel, you can take advantage of the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. For six wondrous weeks, visitors can explore more than 100 amusement rides and attractions. Best of all, it is completely free for admission! However, this is only one of many fabulous Christmas markets taking place in London. In addition to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, there is Winterville at Victoria Park. Here, festivities abound from craft vendors featuring independent artists to a circus, crazy golf and an ice skating rink. As one of the newest Christmas markets, Winterville is a place where you can expect more modern holiday spectacles, having only been around since 2015.
Now travel along to Scotland to the capital of this beautiful country. Edinburgh’s Christmas market features a Children’s Market at Santa Land, along with Christmas markets at the Mound Precinct. There’s even a Christmas tree maze where visitors can meander their way through arbors to find the elves’ workshop. Amusement rides and Christmas crafts abound, which are perfect for the younger children in your group.
Liseberg Christmas Market
Taking place at the Liseberg Amusement park in Gothenburg, the Liseberg Christmas market is the largest of its kind in Sweden. This Scandinavian tradition is a showstopper with more than 1 million sparkling lights strung around the market place. Make sure to catch at least one live Christmas concert while you are in Gothenburg. While there will be plenty of handmade Christmas gifts for purchase at the Liseberg Christmas market, you will also want to make your way over to the Christmas market in Haga Old Quarter. Being the oldest neighborhood in Gothenburg, the arts and crafts for sale here are filled with old world charm and character.
Christmas Market at Tjoloholm Castle
There is also the Christmas market at Tjoloholm, which takes place in a castle for a one-of-a-kind experience like no other. Note that each of these Swedish markets are typically open for about a week at a time, so plan accordingly in order to visit when the marketplace is open.
Celebrate the holiday season with the best Christmas markets in Europe. You will do more than shop for gifts. You will create lasting memories by experiencing some of the greatest holiday cheer on the planet. From Christmas markets dating back to the Middle Ages to markets featuring modern-day flair, there truly is a Christmas market for every person in Europe. It’s time to find the Christmas market that most interests you. Connect with go-today today to find out which European travel package best suits your Christmas market expectations. We look forward to assisting you as your go-to travel provider. Book your holiday vacation with go-today.com.