Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year and it’s the perfect season to wrap up warm and over indulge with luxurious hot drinks – and yes that does include mulled wine and cider!
What’s better than absorbing all the festive cheer in some of the most beautiful Christmas markets around the world? Christmas markets provide the perfect place for shopping and offer tons of stalls with an array of food pop-ups to help restore your energy levels. It’s not just the food and shopping that brings in the crowds, but some markets even offer rides, Ferris wheels and ice skating rinks; ensuring families are entertained throughout too.
Advent in Zagreb, Croatia
2nd December – 7th January
The capital of Croatia is one of the best destinations to celebrate Christmas and it has even been voted ‘European Best Christmas Market’ two times in a row. Themed programmes take place throughout the streets and squares around the city providing a special atmosphere. So, let your hair down and take part in some singing, dancing and other entertainment with your family and friends. Traditional delicacies are also on offer throughout the town. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see a white Christmas in Zagreb; there is always a chance it might snow due to it being relatively far north.
24th November – 24th December
Strasbourg Christmas market first took place in 1570 and is one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. Spending time here is relatively easy as you can indulge in 300 stalls offering decorations, presents, local Alsatian wine, ornaments and toys. There is even The Great Christmas Tree at Place Kleber and the town is transformed into a winter wonderland decorated with twinkling lights and festive garlands.
Prague Christmas Markets, Czech Republic
2nd December – 6th January
Prague hosts some of the quaintest markets around with the largest ones being found in Old Town Square and King Wenceslas Square. The markets offer the perfect place to take in the festive surroundings, enjoy Christmas carols, local drinks and hearty foods. You can browse the stalls offering locally made glass, wooden toys and scented candles. The Old Town Square market also features an animal stable where children can pet sheep, goats and even a donkey. There is also a large Bethlehem scene along with an impressive Christmas tree transported from the forests of Central Bohemia.
Altmarkt, Dresden, Germany
29th November – 24th December
The famous Dresden Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest markets offering spectacular festive features and it includes a gigantic stollen, prepared by local bakers. The stollen parades through the streets before it’s ceremoniously served to its visitors. This year marks the 583rd anniversary of the market which boasts an endless choice of festive culinary delicacies and intricate traditional crafts. There’s more than enough to enjoy and if you have children then there are even some fun rides; a two-storey carousel and a Ferris wheel. By night the market gives a romantic atmosphere where you can admire the incredible decorative stalls, including a vineyard scene, a nativity scene and even Santa having a bath!
18th November – 30th December
Vienna hosts more than 20 Christmas markets which date back to 1298. Stunningly, the market which is held in front of the beautiful City hall is the highlight of the Christmas experience. There is plenty to do and see. International choirs entertain crowds, children can enjoy the play area and finally the Christmas village enjoys 40 stalls selling traditional handcrafted trinkets and decorations.
Marche De Noel, Lille
17th November – 27th December
This unmissable event has been now running for 27 years and welcomes more than one million visitors. You can discover craftsmanship of local, regional and international products which tie in with the tradition of Christmas. There is plenty to see including Russian crafts, costume jewellery, artwork and crafted wooden stalls; making it a great opportunity to find the perfect gift. The town is covered in a huge crown of garlands and enjoys a giant Ferris wheel which is the centrepiece to the dazzling market.
Fancy staying a little closer to home?
Winter Wonderland, London
17th November – 1st January
Hyde Park spreads Christmas spirit throughout London and has become a huge landmark event for tourists and Londoners. Winter Wonderland provides an extravaganza with ice skating, roller coasters, live music and food stalls. It’s free to enter the festive atmosphere with thousands of visitors returning each year. Some of the attractions do require ticket entry and to avoid disappointment you should pre-book tickets for the Ice Rink, The Magical Ice Kingdom, Cinderella on Ice, Zippos Christmas Circus, Cirque Berserk, The Sooty Christmas Show, Giant Wheel and Bar Ice.