There’s no better way to get in the festive spirit than with a trip to one of Europe’s many Christmas markets. For those planning an indulgent weekend break, we’ve put together this guide on the biggest and best.
Dating back to the 13th century, the city boasts 10 markets with more than 150 stalls. Those in front of the impressive City Hall are amongst the most popular, selling anything from puppets to leather clothing and gingerbread hearts. Alternatively, head to Spittelberg market and you may find the perfect gift with a selection of silverware, ceramics and hand-blown glass. For a romantic end to the evening, stop at Rathauspark and marvel at the tree decorations before hopping on a vintage carousel.
Dates: 12th November – 24th December
The 19th century amusement park and tourist hot spot, Tivoli Gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland from mid-November. Expect an authentic Christmas atmosphere, complete with sub-zero temperatures. There’s plenty of opportunities to warm up though with mulled wine and hot Yuletide snacks available. Aside from the hand crafted markets and grotto, visitors can enjoy an ice rink or one of the many roller coasters.
Dates: 19th November – 31st December
This cottage-esque market is located in the centre of the Pest district and regularly hosts up to 150 vendors. All products sold are traditionally handmade, this is guaranteed by a professional body of judges. Aside from the impressive gifts, visitors can enjoy live music, folk dances and traditional food. Be sure to visit the 19th century, Gerbeaud Café which is famed for its advent calendar display.
Dates: 11h November – 6th January
An annual staple since 1903, Skansen’s Christmas Market is a Swedish kaleidoscope of great food, beautifully designed ornaments and hand-crafted gifts. Be sure to try the famed saffron buns which are best washed down with a glass of glögg – the Scandinavian take on mulled wine.
Dates: 26th November – 17th December
The Fira de Santa Llucia boasts a rich heritage which dates back over 200 years. With over 300 stalls, visitors can easily spend a day lost in the labyrinth of markets. Catalan inspired cuisine is best enjoyed at one of the many tapas vendors and expect a great choice of authentic decorations from poinsettias to mistletoe. On the street of Plaça Sant Jaume, you’ll also find a life-sized navity scene and musical parades often feature throughout the city
Dates: 27th November – 23rd December
Situated an hour from Zurich, this medieval city is home to Switzerland’s largest Christmas tree, with thousands of lights turned on for the start of advent. Aside from the Barque architecture and half-timbered houses, this setting is made even more impressive with the jaw dropping views of snow-covered mountains. Visitors are encouraged to try the local specialities including feuerzangenbowle, a wine and rum punch and raclette, melted cheese fondue.
Dates: 24th November – 24th December
The old world charm of Strasbourg in France makes for a magical experience. The winding cobbles streets are lined with twinkling lights whilst the timbered houses are decorated with stars, angels and snowflakes. It’s no surprise the event has been awarded the title of ‘Best Christmas Market in Europe’ for the last two year’s. Be sure to try the local sweet treat, known as bredele – an indulgent biscuit flavoured with anything from orange to coconut and praline.
Dates: 25th November – 31st December
Nestled in the city’s historic Old Town Square, this medieval setting is perfectly suited for a festive celebration. The food and drink is the highlight where visitors can indulge in the local craft beer and the traditional Czech Christmas dish – carp fish and potato salad. As you amble through the many stalls sampling the delicacies, you can enjoy Czech carols and stop to admire the impressive architecture including the 600 year old astronomical clock.
Dates: 26th November – 1st January
Covering an expanse of 2 kilometres, this is likely to be the largest Christmas market you’ve ever visited. Beginning at Grand Place, the sprawling selection of 240 wooden-roofed huts sells everything from arts to clothing and refreshments. As you reach the last few stalls in Ste-Catherine, you’ll be greeted by a 35m toboggan slope, an illuminated ferris wheel and a 200 foot long skating rink.
Dates: 25th November – 1st January