Each year the festive period brings out a rich offering of vibrant culture around the world. No matter their size, Christmas markets lend a timeless charm to even the most unassuming location, while showcasing all kinds of authentic handmade goods, food and drink, luxury items and cultural specialities.
This Christmas, why not include the best Christmas markets in Europe on your list of city breaks, and sample the vivid charms and delights for yourself.
Running from mid-November until January 6, Innsbruck is one of the most magnificent places on this list for the festive period. Nestled in its mountainous Alpine arena, the small city’s medieval architecture lends itself beautifully as the backdrop to the numerous market stalls.
There are exquisite extra touches, as carolling trumpeters and fairy-tale characters adorn the surrounding streets, and the finely crafted ornaments on sale combine for an atmosphere that’s as romantic as it is festive. The warm smells of gingerbread linger, and the stalls delight with such unique luxury items as toys made of hand-blown glass.
Though there are many impressive German markets throughout Europe at Christmas, you have to go to the source for the very best. Berlin boasts over fifty markets held city wide, with luxurious jewellery and artwork alongside more typical festive fare. For the full experience, the Christmas market at Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche is the largest event, with over two million visitors each year.
The square of Vörösmarty tér in Budapest ought to feature on any itinerary as easily one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. With traditional dancing, sumptuous food and the sounds of music entwining the festive atmosphere, the 150-odd cottage-style market stalls present authentic handmade pieces pre-selected by a jury for adhering to strictly authentic traditional methods. The market runs from November 18 to December 30.
Another stellar location that offers an equally impressive city destination by itself, Copenhagen’s Tivoli puts on quite a show at Christmas. Almost a million visitors come during the festive period to visit the Christmas grotto and peruse the market, spot the Danish pixies and sample the Christmas treats. Nordic flourishes collude with Russian themes, and the city itself bursts into illumination.
Having been held since 1903, Stockholm’s Christmas market is one of the most well-established and continuously running features on this list, making it a must-see. Authentic traditional crafts, mulled wine (glögg), gingersnaps and more adventurous fare turn Skansen into a magical destination full of effervescent festivity and Christmas spirit.