What better way to get into the end of the year holiday mood than visiting a Christmas market? You get to taste some delicious holiday treats, catch up on your presents buying and generally enjoy the magical atmosphere with decorations and carols. Christmas markets are also a great pretext to visit a foreign country and learn more about interesting and fun Christmas traditions in other cultures.
We picked 10 of the most spectacular Christmas markets around the world for you to choose from this year. Happy Holidays!
1. Christkindlmarket in Chicago, USA
The Christkindlmarket in Chicago, Illinois, USA is opened this year from November 18th until December 24th. As you might have guessed from its name, this Christmas market has German origins and it was actually inspired by the annual Christkindlesmarkt held in Nuremberg, Germany.
Americans willing to have a taste of the Bavarian Christmas holidays will not be disappointed by this Christmas market. It is held in Daley Plaza in Chicago, Illinois, United States and features a large Christmas tree, a nativity scene and over 60 booths with goodies. While there, you must try out the Bavarian curry wurst and the potato pancake.
Lately, the Christkindlmarket in Chicago has become the largest Christmas market in the United States, with over 1 million visitors annually. Besides the German booths, vendors from Ukraine, Austria, Unites States and other countries sell beverages, baked goods, toys and Christmas decorations.
2. Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany
One of the oldest and best known Christmas markets worldwide is the Christkindlesmarkt held annually in Nuremberg, Germany. In 2016, it will take place between November 25th and December 24th.
Its name translates as Christ Child Market and the Christkind or the Christ Child is actually an important part of the market. Every year, a young woman with blond curls, dressed in a golden dress and wearing angel wings and a crown opens the market with a speech from the balcony of the Frauenkirche church. The Christ Child is chosen in an online competition by a dedicated jury. Besides the opening speech, the Christkind also takes pictures with the crowd and appears in schools, hospitals etc. visiting children.
The Christkindlesmarkt is held in the central square in Nuremberg’s old town and has over two million visitors every year. If you find yourself there this year, you can enjoy a stagecouch tour, shop for the perfect Christmas gifts for your loved ones and browse through Christmas tree decorations. Some of the treats to try out include the Nuremberg bratwurst, a mug of hot mulled wine and the traditional Lebkuchen – a sweet gingerbread baked for more than 600 years in Nuremberg.
3. Christmas Markets in Vienna, Austria
In Vienna you can visit not one, but over 10 different Christmas markets! From mid-November to Christmas Eve the city becomes the perfect holiday season destination with its decorations, Christmas trees and special culinary delights.
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Viennese Christmas markets take place in large squares and pedestrian areas and are mainly renowned for their elaborate handmade Christmas tree decorations. The market with one of the most beautiful settings is the one held in front of the Schönbrunn castle, open this year between November 19th and December 26th. The Wintermarkt at Riesenradplatz (Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel) is a serious contestant, especially because you can visit it until January 8th.
Special treats you can try out at a Viennese Christmas market include Maroni (sweet chestnuts), gebrannte Mandeln (toasted almonds), Bratkartoffel (baked potatoes) and different types of Punsch (glogg).
4. Christmas Market in Zagreb, Croatia
Recent winner of Best Christmas Market Award (from a poll of 100,000 travelers), the Christmas market in Zagreb, Croatia is definitely not a traditional entry on a list like this, but it’s quickly picking up as a fresh alternative to Austrian or German winter markets. In the past 6 years, Zagreb surprised its holiday tourists with an ice sculpture festival, a huge skating ring, brass band fanfares, themed tours and many concerts.
The sausages and the cinnamon donuts are the most popular delights you must taste when visiting the many illuminated and decorated market stalls. The Christmas market in Zagreb is open between 26th November 26th, 2016 and January 8th, 2017.
5. Christmas Markets in Prague, Czech Republic
The festive atmosphere of Christmas markets in Prague, Czech Republic is guaranteed by the school choirs performing Christmas carols and the many original ornaments made of natural materials such as pine needles and cones, wood and mistletoe. Prague hosts both big size markets (at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square) and smaller ones (at the Republic Square, Havel’s Market, on Kampa Island, and on the square in front of St. George’s Basilica at Prague Castle). Most of them are open to receive visitors from November 26th, 2016 to January 6th, 2017.
Delicious foods are being prepared right on the spot. Traditional Prague ham is roasted on spits and Trdelník (a hot sugar coated pastry) is made in front of you. You can accompany your meal with a famous Czech beer a hot beverage, such as svařené víno or svařák (a hot cup of mulled wine).
6. Christmas Market in Copenhagen, Denmark
Even though Denmark doesn’t have a long tradition in hosting big Christmas events compared to other European countries, the coziness of Copenhagen markets will definitely get you in a holiday mood.
Copenhagen Christmas market stalls feature Christmas decorations handmade by local artists, lamb wool and fur items brought from Greenland, a great variety of candy and many other fun attractions, like a Ferris wheel and an abundance of sparkly Christmas trees .
The wooden houses await their visitors starting November 19th until December 31st, 2016. While enjoying the fairy tale atmosphere, don’t forget to try out this traditional Danish Christmas dish – æbleskiver, consisting of ball-shaped pancakes. Danish people also make a special variety of glogg (or gluhwine) by adding different spices, raisins, almonds, and even rum.
7. Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg, France
The oldest Christmas market in France (organized since 1570) and one of the largest in Europe, the Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg takes place in Place Broglie from November 25th until December 24th, 2016. It hosts over 100 chalets with handmade toys and decorative items, glass jewelry, Christmas tablecloths and napkins, cakes, traditional pastry (Kougelhof, strudel etc.), beer and mulled wine.
In fact, Christmas markets in Strasbourg spread across 11 squares and other places, with a total of over 300 stalls. One of them, the Market of Christmas Delights of Alsace is dedicated to the culinary traditions of Alsace Christmas: the bredle, the foie gras, the famous wine of Alsace and many more. Another Christmas market in Strasbourg, The Children’s Village, is entirely designed to accommodate children and their families with dedicated workshops and entertainment areas.
8. Christmas Markets in Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden is another country that hosts many Christmas markets during the holiday season. The oldest market in Stockholm is the Skansen Christmas Market (Skansens julmarknad), which has been held since 1903. With Christmas carols from the nearby church of Seglora in the background, you can visit wooden stalls displaying traditional Swedish food and candy, as well as handmade Christmas ornaments.
The Rosendal Palace Christmas Market, held near Skansen, hosts a spectacular nativity scene, wreaths of flower and gingerbread.
Swedish specialties awaiting visitors at the Christmas market booths include pepparkakor (thin ginger biscuits), saffransbullar (saffron buns) and reindeer meat sausages.
9. Christmas Market in Toronto, Canada
If it’s more convenient for you to visit a Christmas market on the American continent, make sure to keep in mind the Christmas market in Toronto, Canada. Between November 18th and December 22nd, 2016, Toronto’s Distillery District will be transformed in a Christmas fairyland.
Interesting attractions that set the Canadian Christmas market apart from others include a forest of pink Christmas trees and a huge heart with a mistletoe hanging above it. Add some gospel, jazz music and children choirs singing Christmas carols and you will get a better feel of what this original Christmas market is all about.
Regarding food, you should expect the traditional Canadian dish poutine (French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy), grilled cheese, giant turkey legs, bratwurst.
10. Christmas Market in Basel, Switzerland
Around 900,000 people travel each year to Basel to participate in the Christmas market held here. The near-200 market stalls take up two separate areas or squares: Barfüsserplatz (the central hub of the Old Town) and Münsterplatz (a vast rectangular square outside Basel’s twin-towered cathedral).
Basel opens its Christmas market for visitors on November 24th and closes on December 23rd, 2016. After getting tired from browsing through handmade gifts, toys, clothing items and jewelry, you can pick up some local edible specialties such as the Läckerli biscuits, jagertee (tea), glühwein (mulled wine), roasted chestnuts, orange or pomegranate hot juice among others.
The part of the Christmas market situated in Münsterplatz includes a Christmas fairy tale forest where children learn how to decorate candles, make torches, forge metal objects, bake cookies, decorate gingerbread and make Christmas floral ornaments. They can also eat campfire bread and drink hot chocolate, take a train ride, have a go on the wheel of fortune and much more.
Hopefully, our recommendations will open your appetite for Christmas markets and will make it easier to choose the best holiday destination for this end of the year!