Mulled wine, gingerbread houses, Christmas decorations, snow covered streets and illuminated Christmas trees, set the scene for the winter wonderland of Christmas Markets. What better way to get into the festive spirit and buy unique presents for your Christmas list, than a trip to one of Europe’s Christmas Markets? Discover the best in local handicrafts, tasty regional cuisines and festive treats. From Germany to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic and Spain, when it comes to destinations around Europe, the choice is immense. Here are our Top 6 choices…
Nuremburg - One of the most famous and largest Christmas Markets in Europe is the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany. The Christmas Angel traditionally opens the market, from the gallery of the Fraukirche (Church of Our Lady), on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. The 180 traditional wooden stalls that fill the Main Market Square concentrate solely on Christmas food, decorations and gifts.
What better way to get in the Christmas spirit, than with the aromas of spicy mulled gluhwein, hot gingerbread, freshly baked plum people and hot bratwurst sausages whetting your appetite as you shop? The special Kinderweihnact Children’s Market is a treat for the little ones, with a fun-filled fiesta of old-style carousels, a steam train and ferris wheel to delight. The 2013 Christmas Market opens on 29 November and runs until 24 December.
Prague - Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are home to Prague’s main Christmas Markets, with two smaller markets in Republic Square and Harvel’s Market. Stall holders, in their brightly coloured wooden huts, lay out a host of hand-crafted Christmas wares. There’s everything from puppets, dolls and wooden toys, to festive decorations, glassware, ceramic plates and scented candles.
An intricate nativity scene in Old Town Square, with Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings and animals, brings the Christmas story to life. The stable nearby has live animals to get up close to, and there is also a puppet theatre to explore. As the city goes dark, the Christmas trees light up with an array of twinkling lights and festive decorations. The 2013 Christmas Market opens from 30 November and runs to 12 January 2014.
Vienna - The Christkindlmarkt in Vienna dates back to 1294 and is housed each year in the Rathausplatz outside City Hall. The 150 stalls are awash with traditional Christmas decorations and gift ideas, with aromas of freshly baked lebkuchen gingerbread and toasted almonds filling the air.
After an afternoon of shopping, head over to the old-style Viennese Market on Freyung and enjoy the festive advent music that rings out across the square from 4.30pm each day. There are also markets on Maria Theresian-Platz and on Old Akh to explore. The 2013 Christmas Market is open from 16 November to 24 December 2013.
Copenhagen - The Christmas trees in Tivoli Gardens, at the heart of the Denmark, capital of Copenhagen, come alive with over half a million lights over the festive season. The lake at the centre of the gardens becomes a huge outdoor winter ice skating rink and, for the children, there are pony rides, colourful light shows and Father Christmas and his red-coated elves in his grotto.
Gifts not to miss are candles, silver ornaments and traditional Danish knitwear, with a glass of Glogg (Danish mulled wine) and local apple dumpling to refuel. The Nyhavn and Christiana canals are also lined with festive stalls, filled to the brim with local treats and present ideas. The 2013 Christmas Fair takes place from 9 November to 28 December 2013.
Brussels - The popular Brussels Christmas Market stretches along a two-kilometre illuminated route through the city. The Winter Wonders Market in Place St Catherine brings traditional wooden chalet style stalls, offering a plethora of festive treats and gift ideas.
The Grand Place is the sparkling centre piece, with its innovative Sound and Light show. Combining the outdoor ice rink, a 35m toboggan slope, the Big Wheel, roundabouts and musical events, this winter extravaganza is a favourite choice to get yourself in the festive mood. This all goes to show that Belgium has a lot more to offer besides yummy chocolates and tasty waffles. The Christmas Market runs from 29 November 2013 to 5 January 2014.
Located in the Gothic Quarter near Barcelona Cathedral, this Christmas Market boasts over 300 festive stalls, selling Christmas decorations, trees and mistletoe. Why not add a traditional Caga Tio to your Christmas treats? These festive logs are adorned with a funny face and packed to the brim with gifts and novelties.
There is also an artesian section, offering a wide selection of jewellery, ornaments, leather goods and toys. You can also pick up festive treats and unique presents at the Fira de Nadal, in the shadow of Sagrada Familia, and the Fira de Brocanters Antique Market, close to the Placa Catalunya. The 2013 Christmas Markets take place from 3 December to 23 December.
If you fancy treating yourself to a trip to the Christmas Markets, Hays Travel have lots of ideas, both at home and abroad this year – just click the link here and make your choice! Our dedicated team of Travel Consultants are waiting for your call on 0800 408 4130!