Christmas Markets in Europe are street markets associated with the Christmas season. They generally open in early November and last until the first week of January; and are usually located in the town’s main square.
Christmas Markets, also known as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, Christkindlmarket, Christkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt orginated in Germany, but are now held many European countries. Its history dates back to the late Middle Ages in the German speaking areas of Europe and many parts of the Holy Roman Empire including the eastern regions of France. The Christmas markets of Bautzen were first held in 1384. While Austria, Vienna’s “December market” can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.
So what exactly are Christmas Markets? In my opinion they’re a delightful way to get some Christmas shopping done while having a great time! These open air markets are more like lively festivals where the squares are decorated for the holidays, nativity displays are set up, musicians play lively holiday tunes, and stalls are brimming with handmade handicrafts, all sorts of food and drinks; some for gift giving of course, but mostly to enjoy while you’re shopping!
If you’re lucky enough to live in Europe or are planning on a European winter getaway don’t miss the chance to visit a Christmas Market or two! Most of the larger towns have them, but some of the best ones are in Germany, Austria, France, and Belgium.
Here are 5 of the Best Christmas Markets in Europe! Maybe you’ll be close enough to visit one, believe me it’s a great way to spend the day.
Since Italy is one of my favorite countries I’ll start there. There are many Christmas Markets around Italy, including the Nuremburg Christmas Market in Verona’s central square. There are markets in Milan, Bolsano, and other cities. But Rome is where many tourists go when they visit Italy.
There are several Christmas Markets in the Eternal City, but the most popular one is at Piazza Navona. Already a popular piazza year round it transforms into a Christmas Market during Advent. You’ll find stalls selling nativity scenes, decorations, and sweets. There are street artists and arcobats to entertain kids of all ages.
Don’t forget to visit the wonderful toy store Al Sogno at one end of the square! It’s one of our favorite shops in Rome, the kids go in every time we’re in town! For more things to do with kids in Rome Click Here!
The walled old town of Tallinn, Estonia in my opinion is literally a fairy tale town. It’s quaint town square surrounded by colorful houses and steepled churches evoke images of princesses and their prince charmings.
Well during the Christmas season the square truly lives up to its fairy tale image. Little wooden stalls circled with twinkling lights sell everything from handicrafts to sweets; don’t forget to sample the mulled wine!
There are merry-go-rounds and Santa Claus to keep the kids entertained. And on the main stage singers and dancers performing.
It really is a Winter Wonderland!
Denmark is filled with Christmas Markets from Mid-November til late December. They are all wonderful!
But my favorite one is held in Tivoli Gardens where four miles of lights are hung in patterns designed by Tiffany’s head designer and the more are draped on the lakeside willow trees.
Tivoli Gardens is a year round amusement park in the middle of Copenhagen. It’s a great place to visit any time of year. During the holidays it’s transformed into a light filled extravaganza! Enjoy seasonal treats such as æbleskiver (iced doughnuts with black currant jam) and glogg, a steaming hot mulled red wine with schnapps steeped raisins, almonds, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.
Handicraft stalls join the regular rides and attractions during the holiday season. There will be something for everyone at Tivoli Gardens!
Every year for 5 weeks the Grand-Place in Brussels hosts the Winter Wonders. It’s now a legendary event in Belgium’s capital city filled with lights, sounds, rides, and other attractions.
Enjoy a day of browsing the handicraft stalls and sampling some seasonal specialties such as mulled wine and ‘Kerststronk’ or ‘la bûche de Noël’a chocolate Christmas Log made of sponge roll layered with cream. Delicious!
I can’t write this article without including a Christmas Market in Germany, after all that’s where it all started.
I think every city in Germany hosts a Christmas Market. You won’t have trouble locating one.
Here’s the market in Munich which sets up for the season on the on the Marienplatz. Craft stalls surround the 85 ft. tall Christmas tree.
Wander around and munch on sausages, potato pancakes, and Lebkuchen (gingerbread); then wash it all down with a steaming cup of mulled wine called glühwein. By the way mulled wine wards off the cold, so feel free to indulge on a cold winter’s day!
Ready to plan your winter getaway? Call Savvy Nana Travel for all your travel needs! We specialize in custom itineraries for families, couples, and groups.