The Christmas holiday season is a magical time that brings wonder and good memories to young and old alike. All around the world there are wonderful festivals celebrating the sacred season of light, charity, and rebirth.
Touring the exciting and decorative Christmas Markets of Europe is a tradition since Medieval times. Christmas Markets began in Germany and spread across Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and England. Germans brought the tradition to America. The markets offer traditional holiday items such as wooden nutcrackers, mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages, pastries, beer, candies, cheeses, and roasted nuts. Restaurants, farmers, merchants, and artisans offer art, crafts, food, drinks, toys, dolls, decorations, pottery, metal work, wood carvings, glassware, furnishings, clothing, textile arts, jewelry, and many other items. The markets host Santa Claus and his elves, Nativity scenes, carolers, city lights and decorations, entertainment, puppet shows, music, carousels, ferris wheels, ice skating, horse drawn carriage, miniature train rides, petting zoos, and other activities for both adults and children.
Stortorget Julmarknad Christmas Market, Stockholm, Sweden
The city of Stockholm in Sweden is famous for its Stortorget Julmarknad Christmas Market. Located at the center of Stockholm’s Old Town in the heart of the city’s main square. A truly amazing trip back in time. It has been around since 1837, it is Sweden’s oldest Christmas market. There are forty little red shops full of Christmas decorations, treats, and warm drinks for customers and local people to enjoy. The historical village is the perfect location to spend the holidays with someone dear to your heart
Enjoy warm mulled red wine that has a slight taste of holiday spices called glogg. Shop around to see the handmade crafts and knitted clothing made by local artists. Be sure to try all the special homemade Christmas treats made locally by bakers and pastry chefs. A traditional favorite Swedish treat is pepparkakor that tastes like gingersnaps or a specialty saffransbullar that are like saffron buns. There are many local dried meats, sausages, and cheese that can be purchased during your visit to Sweden.
Helsinki Christmas Market, Finland
Tour of the world famous Christmas Market in Helsinki in Finland. There is an old legend that Santa Clause and his reindeer are from Finland. Every year someone dresses up like the original Santa Clause for the Christmas Market. Be sure to bring the children to meet him. Go to the 133 shops available full of Christmas ornaments, local handcrafts, top Finnish restaurants, and traditional dishes and desserts. You can enjoy some mulled red wine called glogi. Brass bands in the center of the city play holiday music among sparkling lights. A favorite attraction is the antique Dutch carousel. After a long day of adventure this makes the perfect end to your evening.
Piata Mare Christmas Market, Sibiu, Romania
The Piata Mare Christmas Market in the Old Town of Sibiu, Romania has that historical and romantic feeling. Walk through 70 shops with pottery, furs, and wooden children’s toys handmade by local artists. A large skating rink is in the center of the market. It brings in children and families from all over the world to experience the Christmas magic. One place you must visit while exploring the market is the light show and a Christmas concert. It will make for a perfect night, end it off with some mulled wine, gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts. Try the holiday Romanian dishes, like cozonac that is a type of sweet bread. Also, my favorite holiday favorite kurtoskalacs is like a cone shaped split cake. Experience the local cuisine to complete your adventure.
Strasbourg Christkindelsmarik, France
One of Europe’s oldest and most grand Christmas markets draws people from all over the world to experience this popular holiday spectacular. This tradition started in the year 1570. Over 300 wooden chalets fill 11 villages across Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmarik, also called the Marche de L’Enfant Jesus. In the center of all the villages is the Place de la Cathedral that offers a range of handcrafts, decorations, and holidays treats. Relax with the many restaurants serving many local delicacies and mulled wine called in France vin chaud. Christmas specialties include bredele biscuits which come in hazelnut, orange, cinnamon, or praline. For a culinary experience try the baeckeoffe stew or choucroute the French version of pickled sour cabbage.
Toronto Christmas Market, Canada
In the city of Toronto step into the cobblestone streets at the Distillery District for some traditional Canadian Christmas celebrations. The giant gingerbread house and the festive lights make the trip extra special. Experience a Canadian culinary experience. Try some German bratwursts, Belgium waffles, or a local dish called poutine French fries with gravy and soft cheese. While visiting Canada you must try the maple syrup treats and desserts, they are a local specialty. After your feast of holidays treats, go to the world-famous carousel and ferris wheel. Guaranteed lasting holiday memories for everyone. When shopping at the market be sure to look at all the handmade holiday decorations, toys, and unique gifts. Enjoy free samples of wine, spirits, and Canadian beer.
Dresdner Striezelmakt, Dresden, Germany
One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe has been celebrating the holidays for over 600 years in the city Dresden at the Dresdner Stiezelmarkt. Go shopping in 250 shops available by local artists, crafters, and restaurants. You can find anything there, from wooden toys and nutcrackers, handmade ornaments and decorations, and one of the biggest selections of holiday gifts and treats in Europe. People from all over the world have visited this market not only for the unique gifts but for the famous attractions. Wonderful for children and families, they offer a puppet theatre, a merry-go-round, and a world-famous children’s Christmas train. After your day of activities enjoy the mulled wine called Gluhwein and experience the many special holiday dishes available from the local restaurants. From bratwurst to strudel, you can find many culinary treats. Pulsnitzer Pfeffer kuchen a gingerbread dessert with jam in the center and covered in chocolate, or Dresden Rahmklecks a soft bread filled with cheese. For a snack you can pick up some baked pretzels a German favorite.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen’s Christmas Market in the Tivoli Gardens is the second oldest amusement park in Europe. Surrounded by Christmas trees and sparkling lights. The holiday spirit is alive with the sweet scent of holiday treats. A lake nearby is turned into a skating rink to add to the excitement setting the perfect holiday. Visit the many shops available selling mulled wine called glogg and a wide variety of handmade crafts and holiday treats. Don’t forget the local aebleskiver, a pancake puff with jam and sugar, a holiday tradition. At the market there are many local restaurants that provide a culinary experience, pulled pork and cabbage is a local favorite. After dinner and some wine, end the night with the amusement rides that give you an amazing view of Copenhagen. Truly breathtaking and an experience you will not forget.
Red Square Christmas Market, Moscow, Russia
A very old and traditional Christmas market is located in the famous Red Square in the city of Moscow, Russia. From the market you can see the Kremlin and the beautiful St. Basilica. The Holiday decorations and lights bring you back in time to an old-world traditional Christmas. In the center of the market, they have one of the largest skating rinks in the world. People from all over the world come to visit this amazing market. There are shops with handmade toys and culinary favorites, like Khokhloma painted toys and matryoshka dolls. Try the local cuisine, my local favorite is the traditional mulled wine, baked potatoes, and gingerbread. Other local dishes include caviar, pancakes, pickles, and mushrooms.
Christkendelmarkt, Nuremburg, Germany
The city of Nuremburg’s Christmas Market in Germany is very old dating back to 1610. Over 2 million visitors come every year. There are 180 shops to visit in the center of the city’s Old Town. Enjoy the blueberry mulled wine, a local specialty called Heidel beer Gluhwein. Also try the holiday delicacies, the Nuremburger Lebkuchen which tastes like chocolate covered gingerbread. A culinary legend is the Nuremburg grilled sausage, a local recipe from 1497.
Manchester Christmas Market, UK
The city of Manchester, England, holds a Christmas Market with over 300 shops and a beautiful ice rink in the middle of Albert Square in the Cathedral Gardens. Surrounded by old world shops and a variety of culinary experiences you are to be sure to enjoy your visit to this amazing market. An international variety of holiday treats are available from Bavarian Strudels a pastry filled with fruit, French crepes to German Flammkuchen a pizza that is made with white cheese and meat. A Christmas experience that will be remembered.
Other Notable Christmas Markets
Germany – Berlin, Munich, Frankfort
Austria – Vienna, Salzburg
Hungary – Budapest
Czech Republic – Prague
Poland – Wroclaw
Latvia – Riga
Estonia – Tallinn
Switzerland – Zurich
France – Colmar, Lyon
Belgium – Brussels
Italy – Balzano
England – Birmingham, Winchester
Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow
Spain – Barcelona
U.S. – Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Cincinnati