It’s that time of year again, where we all start placing bets on how long it’s going to take before Debenhams starts playing Christmas music – we all know they’re the first to go- and displaying big plastic Christmas trees and selling faux fur Santa Claus underwear. I say dread, everybody secretly loves it, though nobody would ever admit it to anybody else.
Christmas for me, associates with certain things. You’ve got the traditional side of the big family roast dinner, arguments over who gets the last of the batteries (because you’ve never got enough) and enjoying watching the grandparents have one sherry too many. Leading up to this spectacularly stressful, yet strangely enjoyable, time of year I tend to try and get away to different places to buy quirky presents that nobody else can duplicate, try some new food and enjoy Christmas in places that really know how to celebrate the build-up properly. I go to the Christmas Markets.
Christmas Markets are famous across the world, practically every country has them whether it’s the ones in London or the ones in Quebec people flock to them as the festive season begins. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the choice; what’s the difference between the ones in Lille and the ones in Prague?
Is the one in Chicago better for trying food than the one in Nuremberg? So I’m going to give you my favourite 10 Christmas Markets, tell you why they’re my favourite and then you can decide which one you want to go to. I’ll also be putting various other cities in a hat and I’ll pick one out of a hat and write about that one (I know my opinion isn’t the only one that counts).
I will also be adding different Christmas Market deals to my blog as and when I find them for you, so keep an eye out on the “specials” section of my blog!
Christmas Markets date way back to the Late Middle Ages, with the first mention of them being the Vienna “December Market” in 1294! That’s what I love about the Christmas Markets, so full of tradition and history, it’s hard not to enjoy them!
Holidayguru’s Favourite Christmas Markets
10) Dublin Christmas Market
Dublin is a city known for its brilliant nightlife and good-humoured nature. Now it’s got Christmas Markets as well! It’s the perfect Christmas idea for those of you who are looking to get away but want to experience a bit more of Ireland as opposed to other European countries.
These are in Dublin, so they will be selling Irish handcrafted items. Things like woodcrafts, jams and seasonal food & drink. The food will be, of course, stands selling things such as crepes and Gluhwein and other delicious goodies. This is a relatively new Christmas Market and hasn’t quite established itself as having a speciality, doesn’t make it any less enjoyable!
9) London Christmas Market
These Christmas Markets are magical. There’s no two ways about it, they are absolutely, mesmerizingly beautiful. These markets are designed to look like a Bavarian village, and completely succeed. Tucked away in Hyde Park, they’re some of the bigger markets in the UK. They have rides to go on, a circus you can buy tickets for, an ice kingdom and even an observation wheel so you can survey the beauty around you properly.
There is nothing you could want for whilst you’re there. Combine all of the events with some delicious churros and some mulled wine, and there is no day out that could be better!
8) Dresden Christmas Market
The main markets in Dresden are based in the Striezelmarkt, although these are most definitely not the only markets in Dresden. There are countless stalls lining the Prager Strasse all the way down to the Elbe River. These are some of my favourite markets because I love the central piece of them. There is an eight meter tall, climbable pyramid which is designed to look like like a Christmas tree. It’s covered in wooden figurines, I’ve not seen anything like is anywhere else and it really is very cool to see.
These markets are really good for any more delicate items, like pottery and glassware- rare for Christmas markets. These are some of the most individual markets I have seen, and would really recommend them!
7) Brussels Christmas Market
The time of the Brussels Christmas Markets is, I think, the best time of year to see Brussels. It creates a certain charm that engulfs the whole city and I think it becomes that much more beautiful. These markets have actually been voted as the most original markets in Europe. There are so many stalls at this one, I literally spent days walking around all of them to make sure I had everything I wanted.
You definitely have to try the local delicacies that they sell at the food stalls, the food at these markets is amazing, if you were trying to gain a stone in a weekend this is the place to go.
6) Barcelona Christmas Market
The markets here scream one thing: shopping. Everything about Barcelona begs you to spend money, the smells of the food cooking, the beautiful “figuritas de Belen” and the decorative stalls so bright that you can’t help but be drawn to them. I love these markets, but if I were to go again I might have to take out a loan!
They are, however, the perfect place to buy Christmas presents for your loved ones. The individuality of the goods here is second-to-none, definitely present worthy!
5) Copenhagen Christmas Market
The markets in Copenhagen are significantly smaller than the other that I have spoken about. There are only about 50 stalls in total, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty. That’s what I would recommend these markets for, a truly beautiful Christmas scene. They have live reindeer, should you want to meet any.
This as well as traditional Danish and Scandinavian goods being sold from the stalls, it’s a really interesting and different take on the Christmas markets- probably really good for those of you who have been to several before and are looking for a slightly different experience.
4) Prague Christmas Market
Prague is one of my favourite European cities irrespective of the time of year, so it was always a given that I was going to love its Christmas Markets. There are two main ones in Prague, which is nice if you’ve got the time to explore them both because they’re both really different. My favourite is actually the busiest of the two and is in the Old Town square.
I think it’s really pretty because it’s completely focused around a huge Christmas tree, reminding you that you’re there because it’s nearly Christmas. There are also concerts performed at this one, so it’s a lot more fun for people in groups or if you fancied a drink in the evening.
3) Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg holds some of the oldest Christmas Markets, so it’s no wonder that they’re so good at it by now. They’re held in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral, which just adds to the magnificence of them. These markets are perfect for those of you interested in gingerbread. They sell the absolute best gingerbread I have ever had in my life. You have to try it if you go here, it is a travesty not to.
The food in general is what I would recommend these for. They have been cooking for so long, they have to know what they’re doing. It does not get any better than a three-meat baeckeoffe stew followed with gingerbread and chased down with some Gluhwein. This trip made for one very happy guru.
2) Nuremberg Christmas Market
I don’t really know where to begin with Nuremberg, before I had been there I hadn’t really thought I would ever want to go. How wrong could I be?! This was the second Christmas market I had ever been to and I have been so many times since then. The town just entrances you into wanting to keep going back again and again. The one at the Hauptmarkt in the older part of the town is simply stunning. It smells of spicy Gluhwein, bratwurst and gingerbread.
Three of my favourite things. The stalls are all wooden and all are festooned with the same red and white cloth. I love that they all match, it adds a definite charm to the situation. My recommendation is that, if you’re looking to be enchanted by a genuinely beautiful German city then this is where you want to go.
1) Vienna Christmas Market
Vienna’s Christmas markets are the oldest of them all. This is where the entire tradition began in the first place. It is no surprise to anybody that they seem to have perfected this art significantly better than anyone else has. The city has over 20 Advent Markets, with a particular few being what tipped the balance for me. The Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz is the epitome of Christmas spirit. I went to Vienna nearer Christmas time, so 15th December-ish and this market could not have done more for my inner child. I looked around completely wide-eyed and loving every minute of it. Gorging myself on everything I could find, I just had to walk around and marvel at the beauty.
The other part of these markets that I absolutely adore are the Market at Schoenbrunn Palace. I love in more intimate setting and the variety of handcrafted goods they have to sell. This is where the entirety of my Christmas presents came from. You also have to trip Vanillekipferl; so good. These are absolute deserving winners of markets in my opinion, I can’t say enough about them.
*WILD CARD* Salzburg
Salzburg is an absolutely stunning city, it has set the scene for so many films I’ve lost count. It is famous for a reason. These Christmas markets are equally as beautiful as the rest of the city. These markets are best for Christmas Tree Decorations. I know that may sound really strange, but you cannot beat a beautiful Austrian hand-carved Christmas Tree Decoration.
They’re simply adorable, and really addictive; I started buying them when I was tiny and still buy at least three every year. I really like the opening ceremony of these as well, they are opened by the Archbishop on the first Saturday in Advent. It’s a really beautiful ceremony, so that would be my recommended stay for these!
So there you have it folks, my favourite Christmas Markets in Europe. Each and every one absolutely breathtaking in individual ways. I don’t profess to be a connoisseur, but I hope you’ll agree that they are brilliant. Don’t take my word for it though, go and see them for yourselves. Don’t hesitate to contact me about this post and if you want to get to these markets, don’t forget to keep watching my blog, I’m on the hunt for Christmas Market deals every day. You won’t be disappointed. :)
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