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European Christmas markets

Nothing captures the truly magical spirit of Christmas like a traditional outdoor Christmas market. It is a tradition that dates back centuries and the hussle and bussle along with the music, mulled wine, pastries and lights can really get people into the festive spirit. There is something in the air at a Christmas market that gets even the most hardened scrooge into the Christmas spirit. The idea of a Christmas market actually originated in Germany which still hosts an annual “Christkindmarkt” and attracts huge numbers of locals and tourists from all over the world who wish to soak up the atmosphere each year. The increasing popularity of these markets throughout Europe has seen several countries adopt their own versions of these Christmas markets. They are a fantastic way for couples and families to experience a very traditional and festive experience during the Christmas months and here is a list of some of the more popular Christmas markets in Europe for those who fancy a Christmas get away that will get you in the mood for December’s festivities.

This very traditional Christmas fair is located in the city centre and runs from the middle of November. There is something for everyone at the Christmas fair in Budapest from traditional local food and drink, folk dancing and live music shows which run daily in the cottage style stalls located throughout the market square. There are plenty of locally hand crafted souvenirs as well as jams, cakes and locally crafted beer and wine. All of the hand crafted goods on offer are guaranteed as traditionally hand crafted by a professional jury from a collection of different organisations. One of the main features of the market to keep an eye out for is the advent calendar window displays which are located at the 19th Century Gerbeaud Cafe.

Where: Vorosmarty Square, Budapest, Hungary.
Runs from November 18th – December 30th
Copenhagen>Tivoli Gardens Market
Everyone loves to see the Christmas lights being put up in their city. The thought and design that goes into the lighting fixtures can be an impressive sight to behold. It is safe to say though, that most cities look very commercial and unauthentic when the lights go up. This observation does not apply to Copenhagen. From the middle of November Tivoli transforms into a magical Christmas grotto that is truly an impressive sight. You haven’t fully experienced the magic and wonder of Christmas lights and decorations until you have rambled through the impressive four miles of them in the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. There is so much to see and do as well as to drink and taste at this fantastic Christmas market. There are stalls for as far as the eye can see stocked with handmade crafts, iced pastries, hot mulled wine and everything else you can think of that stirs the festive senses. It is a well organised event that pulls in huge crowds each year. It is well worth a visit.

Where: Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Christmas Markets

The Christmas market in Prague centres mainly on food and drink rather than souvenirs or decorations but nonetheless is one well worth visiting. The market itself takes place in the old town square called Wenceslas and during the market the streets are filled with hot tubs which are filled with carp, which is a traditional Christmas dish in the Czech Republic. The market is located in the Old Town Square and is formed around a giant Christmas tree, manger scene, and small petting zoo. The markets brightly decorated stalls sell wooden toys, Bohemian crystal, handmade jewellery, and classic Czech marionettes. Another thing to try here is the grog and honey liquor which is a traditional Czech beverage. It takes a little getting used to but does taste quite nice. Christmas carols can be heard all day around this beautifully laid out Christmas market. The breath taking architecture of the surrounding buildings really add to the appeal of this quaint Christmas market.GB”>(Plaisirs d’hiver “Winter Wonders”)

The Christmas market in Brussels is one of the largest in Europe as it covers almost 2 kilometres along the streets from Grand’Place to place Ste Catherine. The market hosts 240 stalls which are decorated as little wooden roofed huts which sell arts and crafts as well as locally made food and drink. The market also hosts a huge 35 metre toboggan slope as well as a 220 foot-long ice rink and a huge big wheel that is light up in the night sky by 18,000 festive lights.Grand’Place to Place Ste-Catherine, Brussels, Belgium.

Runs from November 30th–January 6th

Christkindmarkt is one of Europe’s oldest markets dating back to the 15th< century when markets were held in front of the Salzburg cathedral during Christmas. It is one of the smaller Christmas markets held in Europe which offers visitors a more intimate experience. It is located under a medieval castle which looks down over the market from a cliff and offers a stunning postcard image in which to browse the stalls and sample the local crafts and decorations. It is also home to one of the world’s largest Advent calendars which are located south of the town at the Schloss Hellrunn which is a palace that was built in the 17th century for Salzburg’s archbishop princess which nowadays hosts a craft market and a living Nativity.

November 20th-December 26th

Stuttgart’s annual Christmas market is one of the most famous in Europe and has been running for an impressive 318 years. It is held across several of the city’s historic town squares that are situated between a medieval castle and the city’s historic Gothic cathedral.The architecture of the buildings in Stuttgart when lit up with festive lights really adds to the atmosphere of this wonderful market. There is plenty to see and do here for everyone. There are over 270 stalls in the market that sell everything from sheepskin clothing to Hutzelbrot(German fruitcake). In the castle’s Renaissance courtyard you can see daily Christmas concerts which are held at 6pm on weekdays and at 5pm on weekends. There are plenty of activities to keep children amused also such as the Kinderland on Schlossplatz which is an amusement park. The park has everything from carousels, Ferris wheels, a mini steam railway track as well as some workshops including candle making. It is one of the more popular Christmas markets in Europe and has something for everybody.


Where: Stuttgart, Germany
Runs From November 21st-December 23rd
Munich(Christkindl Markt)

Munich’s Christkindl Markt takes place each year at Marienplatz which is located in the heart of the old town in Munich and is the high point of Munich’s Christmas festivities. The market began as far back as 1642 and was renowned throughout Germany for its gingerbread treated and hand crafted manger figurines. Those hand crafted figurines are still a major drawing point for people to the market which has more than 160 stalls.  The market hosts a Christmas concert each day from the town hall balcony at 5.30pm and inside there is a workshop for children where arts and crafts along with baking. A short walk from the town hall you will find the historical “Kripperl Market” which also has plenty to offer including handmade wooden cribs and spectacular nativity scenes.

Where:Marienplatz, Munich, Germany.

Runs fromNovember 30th – December 24th


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