Whether you want to sip on a glass of mulled wine, indulge in some gingerbread, or simply ensure that your loved one's stockings are stuffed with local goodies, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most enchanting Christmas markets for you to visit this festive season.
Vienna hosts over 20 Christmas markets during the festive season. The concept first originated back around 1761-1764 – some say even earlier – and until now you can always expect Viennese markets to be less eccentric and more on the traditional side. During cold winter evenings, these Christkindlmärkte (‘Advent Markets’) are more about social gatherings and enjoying the pre-Christmas festivities with those closest than anything else. Take a stroll and enjoy a mug of hot spiced wine, mouthwatering chestnuts, and cookies, all while admiring a blaze of Christmas lights and music. Interested in exploring the winter hotspots of Vienna with a local? Get Uliana to take you out and see them all!
The Finnish are not only badass at welcoming visitors, but they are also badass at Christmas markets too! From the beginning of December until Christmas, the St. Thomas Christmas market located in Senate Square turns into a charming winter fairy-tale land, with numerous rows of stalls offering handmade crafts and traditional desserts, which include star-shaped pastries and seasonal drinks such as glögi – made from spiced wine, and sometimes with almonds and raisins added. During the weekends and after-work hours, the market gets very crowded, but this only helps to create a more festive buzz, where you then have the chance to socialise with locals like Alfred or Lydia.
Every year, throngs of people from all over the world flock to London to make the most out of the Christmas season. Being a large city, it has numerous markets to choose from, including the Southbank Centre, Leicester Square’s Christmas market, and the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, just to mention a few – there’s no escaping the festive atmosphere, with twinkly fairy-lights, wooden stalls, and delicious culinary delights everywhere you go. Don’t want to explore London’s Christmas markets by yourself? Then invite Neish or Chris to join you for a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.
Scotland’s Christmas hub is undoubtedly Edinburgh, with most of the activity happening in New Town, across on the Mound, and around the Scott Monument, as well as throughout the eastern side of the Princess Street Gardens. The events also take place under the stunning backdrop of the city’s landmark, Edinburgh Castle – which is another great reason to visit Scotland’s capital. As everything is located in close proximity, it makes it easier when choosing from a variety of activities, like getting lost in the Christmas Tree Maze, skating on the outdoor ice-rink, or enjoying the fairground rides – and it’s no surprise that the Angels Christmas Market has become a treasured holiday tradition for both visitors and locals alike.
There is a symbol of the Christmas season that often attracts many visitors to a city – yes, it’s the Christmas tree! Some have called Vilnius’ Christmas tree this year the most gorgeous and exquisite in Europe. It’s located in Cathedral Square and stands 27-metres tall, with over 50 thousand light bulbs used to decorate it. This lush green beauty is also surrounded by 50 market stalls in the style of small wooden houses, which feature all kinds of goodies for sale – and with the help of Showarounder Fausta, you can easily visit all the winter attractions on offer in the capital of Lithuania.
Are you planning a visit to Brussels’ Christmas market this winter? In our opinion, it has to be one of the most unspoilt markets – hands down! Winter Wonders stretches from the Grand Palace to Place St. Catherine, where you can find a ferris wheel, covered ice-skating rink, a massive Christmas tree and, of course, the market. Every year there’s a guest of honour, which is usually a country or a region, and helps to entice friendships with other nations and promote other cultures among Belgians – and this season it’s Japan, with an Origami Lights show at St. Catherine’s church to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship.
While on your way to the Tivoli Christmas market located in the heart of Copenhagen, you can smell the aroma of cinnamon, pan-fried cakes and gløgg (‘mulled wine’) from afar – the smell lures you in towards the market set inside the renowned amusement park Tivoli Gardens, where you will find a plethora of games, pirate ships, rollercoaster rides and stalls. As you wander around checking out all 60 stalls, make sure to sample some of the delicious local food on offer – and if you’re not so keen on being outdoors for so long, you can always enjoy a meal at one of the many local restaurants nearby. The food can be quite expensive, but it’s a great opportunity to experience Denmark’s tasty food scene – sugar-browned potatoes, meatballs, rice desserts, and many other speciality dishes. Just don’t forget there’s an admission fee to the market of 99 DKK (around 13 EUR).
When it comes to diversity, the capital of Germany is truly hard to beat – and the same goes for the variety of Christmas markets the city has to offer! We’re not talking 2 or 3 here – more like 50 Christmas markets spread out across all of Berlin. Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche is without a doubt the most popular, with over 2 million visitors every year – so what can you expect to find? Obviously glühwein (‘mulled wine’) goes without saying, but there are also lots of tasty German sausages, various meats and cheeses, gingerbread cookies and apple chips (yum!) – and for those interested in something less traditional, Berlin has loads of quirky Christmas markets too. To find out which market would suit your interests best, why not ask Ricky or Kasia for advice.
One of the two main Christmas markets in Prague is located in the very heart of the city in the Old Town Square. Not only is it surrounded by amazing architecture, which makes it a worthwhile experience in itself, but there’s also Czech Christmas carols, the winter-themed decorations, and an authentic manger scene with a beautiful Christmas tree that all create a truly festive atmosphere. If you would like to hear more about a Czech Christmas, as well as their rich history and culture, Barbora is the perfect person to ask!
If you haven’t added this destination to your itinerary yet, it’s about time you did! Here are just a few reasons to visit Budapest this festive season – at the rustic market in Vörösmarty Square, you’ll find a 1200 square-metre gastro terrace filled with Hungarian delights, such as goulash served in a hollowed out bread roll, grilled sausages, and cabbage stuffed with rice or pork. The market also offers craft stalls with all kinds of goods from ceramics to leather, plus there’s various entertainment, like soul and jazz concerts, art workshops, folklore performances, Santa Claus programmes and loads more. To be honest, though, one evening is not enough to fully enjoy all this fair has to offer.
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