Christmas around the world is an enchanting time of special foods, drinks, parties, parades and festivities. One of the most popular winter activities and the biggest way of celebration, especially in Europe, are visiting outdoor Christmas markets.
There are lots of fabulous undiscovered markets around the world, which gives you great alternative options for buying Christmas gifts other than shopping physically or online.
Here are the best Christmas markets to visit and buy some great unique gifts!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s Christmas markets are one of the most Quirkiest Christmas markets around. You will find the biggest ones in Old Town Square and King Wenceslas Square, but there is also a smaller one in Republic Square. Visitors travel to the markets mainly to soak up the Christmas atmosphere, browse through the stalls, and enjoy a few Christmas Carols.
Traders sell all types of items including hand-made glass, wooden toys, embroidery and scented candles. There are also an abundance of conventional food available such as roasted hams, trdelník (sugar coated pastries), barbecued pork, Czech muffins, and beer, Any of this can be consumed with a glass of svařenévíno (mulled wine). Gift ideas can consist of wood-carved toys, glass-work ware and other traditional crafts.
Quebec City’s Christmas market is only a few years old, and is quickly becoming a permanent fixture on Quebec’s festive calendar. Celebrating Germany’s long-standing tradition, this Christmas market awakens with typical wooden kiosks and twinkling lights. This market wonderland comes with an unusual and friendly ambience, beautiful decorations, a great variety of delectable German treats (such as bratwurst, mulled wine, gingerbread, and much more) delicious homemade foods, lovely Christmas gifts, choral singing, shows, indoor and outdoor performances, and a Lufthansa Group Winter Bar.
The market stalls also offer traditional delicacies including raisin-studded gingerbread, pretzels, roast chestnuts and delicious Santa-shaped chocolates.There is also something to cater to the little ones, such as a visit from the real Santa Claus, special zones, the Kindermarkt (Christmas market for kids), lots of performances and activities, and the enchanting Ravensburger chalet.
Copenhagen’s most popular Christmas Market is at the famous Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens is a beautiful sight any time of year but if you count in the wooden huts of the Christmas market and glistening snow, it suddenly develops into something from an enchanting fairytale. Copenhagen’s most popular Christmas market at Tivoli Gardens starts from Mid-November. There are over 50 Christmas stalls and each evening the Tivoli lights up at Tivoli Lake. Everyplace in this location, is filled with many flashing lights and Christmas decorations, and lovely aroma scent of caramel and roasted almonds. There are plenty of local food and drink available to buy including glögg and æbleskiver (mulled wine and traditional pancakes.
The park is turned into a Scandinavian style winter wonderland, featuring wooden huts selling everything from custom made Scandinavian gifts to local goodies like æbleskiver (dough balls with cream and jam) and gløgg (mulled wine). Copenhagen also has a traditional German Christmas Market spread over two of the city’s charming squares, several stalls along the city’s colorful Nyhavn waterfront, and even a Hans Christian Andersen-themed market. With this sort of variety you are bound to pick the perfect travel gift to take back to family and friends.
Christkindlmarket, Chicago, US
Chicago's Christmas market was influenced by the one in Nuremberg, Germany, which first started in the 16th century. Many of the stall holders from the German market travel to Chicago where they sell many traditional German goods including wooden toys, beautiful glass steins, cuckoo clocks, wooden huts with candy stripes, twinkling lights and festive tunes provided by the roaming Alpine Brass band. The Advent Calendar, is a promotion not to be missed where everyday a visitor opens the calendar and wins a gift from one of the market stalls!
There are up to seven Christmas markets in Cologne, and they are all opened on the last Monday before Advent. Cologne's markets are renowned for their gingerbread house style huts, piled up high with baumschmuck (tree decorations), nativity figures and nutcrackers. Although, the biggest market can be spotted in the shadow of the Cologne cathedral, the one in Stadtgarten, which is Cologne's oldest park, is likewise worth a visit. Visitors travel here to view glassblowers, blacksmiths and wreath-makers work their magic.
Nuremberg Christkindlmark, Germany
This Christmas market in German is the world's oldest market, and goes back to the 16th century. It is the perfect place to shop for unique gifts and Christmas decorations you wouldn’t get anywhere else in the world. The opening ceremony starts from late November, where the market's Christkind appears on a balcony of a church called the Church of our Lady and announces that the market is opened. Overall, there are nearly 200 stalls packed into the city's main market square.
Charming and quite picturesque, it is difficult to compete against this type of the wonderful ambience, at one of Germany’s most original Christmas markets. Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is a vision filled with red and-white striped huts, delicious spicy aromas, and pleasant craftworks. There is also a smaller children's Christmas market just a walk away from Christkindlesmarkt.
Valkenburg, Limburg, Holland
If you are looking for a different type of Christmas market, you can always go to the small town of Valkenburg, where you will find a Christmas market in a cave. Visitors can sign up for walking tours of the cave, which is situated below the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands.
These 60 stalls trade everything from decorated Christmas bouquets and nativity statues to godly ornaments and artwork paintings created by local artists. The market is opened from mid-November to late December. With so many items to choose from visitors will find it easy to pick gifts just in time for the Christmas season.
Salzburg's two main Christmas markets opens mid-November and can be found in Cathedral Square and Residence Square. The small wooden huts are strung with beautiful white fairy lights, with a huge range of products to spend your money on. These Christmas markets sell anything from appetizing custom made chocolates to jewelry and Christmas tree decorations. The markets are usually opened by the Archbishop who blesses the market's Advent wreaths. With a range of products to choose from buying gifts have never been easier.
Plaisirs D'Hiver (Winter Wonders), Brussels, Belgium
Brussels Christmas Market is famously known for a number of things including the great ambience, the lights, the chalets full of Christmas presents, and of course, the huge Saturday Christmas Parade. It is one of Europe’s biggest, with over 200 stallholders. There is an enormous chalet, where visitors can enjoy raclette and fondue, and a huge Ferris wheel and ice rink.
The market, which is situated in the city's Grand Place and the surrounding streets, starts late November. There are over 240 stalls, and light shows. There’s a chart topping burst of color and music at the Christmas parade and lots to keep kids entertained. Remember to keep a lookout for the giant homegrown Christmas tree at the La Grand-Place.
The Christmas Market in Krakow is situated in the old town Centre. Winter in Poland is normally extremely cold. You get a chance to drink the famous sweet and full flavored local mulled wine, which is sure to heat you up even on the chilliest day or night.
At the Christmas Market in Krakow, you can try other specialties of Polish food, such as pierogi, bigos, or kielbasa. The market is filled with all sorts of items including unique handicrafts, clothes, and souvenirs. Which gives you plenty of choices to pick ideal gifts for Christmas.
The oldest Christmas market in France, Strasbourg Christmas Markets started in 1577, and attracts over 2 million tourists visiting every Christmas period. Each year the market is lit up with fantastic sparkling Christmas lights, themed events, a giant ice rink in Place du Châtea, and the famous Enormous Christmas tree in Place Kléber. It is no wonder Strasbourg has once won the title of “Best Christmas Market in Europe”.
Visitors have the opportunity to taste some of the regions local cuisine including bredle Christmas cookies, sausages and choucroute (pickled cabbages) and the famous three-meat baeckeoffe stew and Strasbourg’s traditional spicy hot orange juice.
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