What better way to bring out your festive spirit than to visit a Christmas market, warm yourself up with some mulled wine and pick up a few gifts or ornaments? There are so many magical Christmas markets in Europe, but here are our top seven picks:
When it comes to Christmas, Strasbourg really knows what it’s doing. The Strasbourg Christmas market, or the Christkindelsmarik, has been an annual highlight for the town since 1570! Set up around Strasbourg Cathedral, this market has a wonderfully magical atmosphere that will really bring out your Christmas spirit. This is also one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. With 300 stalls disguised as little wooden chalets, the Strasbourg Christmas market is more like a Christmas village than a market. Don’t miss the spectacular Christmas tree on Place Kléber and the ice rink on Place du Château!
There are so many amazing Christmas markets all across Germany, but the Stuttgart market is particularly charming. With five castles and palaces around the town, Stuttgart’s fairy tale atmosphere is the perfect setting for a magical Christmas market. Along with beautiful handmade presents and decorations, you will find lots of festive food and drinks to fill up on, like gingerbread, mulled wine and hot apple cider! There is also a lovely little Christmas train for children to ride on and of course an ice rink to help you feel all the more wintery and festive!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague has four Christmas markets, but the oldest and largest is located in the Old Town Square. The stalls selling gifts, art, food and drinks surround a beautiful brightly lit Christmas tree in the centre of the square. This market is the perfect place to celebrate the run up to Christmas with children, as there are animals such as donkeys and sheep to pet in the ‘Bethlehem Stable’, as well as pony rides! Join in with the carol singers and enjoy the festive concerts, which are performed on a large stage in the square, giving the market a very cheerful ambience.
The Brussels Christmas market has grown larger and larger over the years and is now one of the most spectacular in Europe. Located in Place Sainte Catherine, the market is full of the traditional wooden hut stalls, as well as a toboggan slope, a giant Ferris wheel and a 200-foot long ice rink! For foodies, this market is an absolute must! As expected in Belgium, the chocolate sold at the Christmas market is second to none, and there is also plenty of homemade gingerbread to indulge in, as well as savoury Belgian delicacies such as snails and oysters.
(source: charley1965, Flickr)
Vienna has several traditional Christmas markets that have been running for over seven hundred years! The Rathausplatz market is one of the most popular among tourists and holds a live advent calendar display at the Town Hall. The Schönbrunn Palace market is also popular for its beautiful location in front of the palace. The Altwiener Market at the Freyung is smaller but just as festive and beautiful! Breathe in the sweet scent of candied fruits, roasted chestnuts and Glühwein (the Austrian version of mulled wine) as you peruse the fairy-light covered stalls selling handmade gifts and festive foods!
In the lead up to Christmas, Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland. The traditional Christmas chalet stalls are nestled in the centre of the park, surrounded by the rides and rollercoasters that are open year round but still add to the festive feel of the market. The whole of Tivoli is decorated for the Christmas period, with an abundance of fairy lights as well as the beautiful illuminations on Tivoli Lake. Copenhagen in general is full of Christmas markets in addition to the one in Tivoli. You won’t have to search far to find some delicious Glogg (Danish mulled wine) and lots of festive foods to warm up in Copenhagen’s chilly winter weather!
(Source: Declan McAleese, Flickr)
Like many other capital cities, Stockholm holds several Christmas markets throughout November and December, but the oldest and the most traditional is the Skansen Christmas market, which has been running since 1903. Here you’ll find hand crafted Swedish gifts and decorations and traditional Swedish Christmas food and drinks such as eel, smoked sausage, gingersnaps and grögg (mulled wine). The Skansen market is only open on weekends, so if you find yourself in Stockholm during the week, head to the Christmas market in Old Town which, at one hundred and two years old, is equally traditional!