As Cliff Richard didn’t quite sing, Christmas time: misteltoe and glühwein. Save the misteltoe for awkward moments at the office Christmas party and get on the glühwein in one of these ten best European cities for Christmas markets – sure to even make the grumpiest grinch put a smile on their face!
1. Vienna, Austria
One of Vienna’s best-known Christmas markets – the place for mulled wine and souvenirs – is the Kultur- und Weihnachtsmarkt, in front of the monumental Schönbrunn Palace. A feature of many Austrian markets, post-Christmas it turns into a New Year’s Eve market, selling the lucky charms that Austrians traditionally exchange on New Year’s Eve. More cosy is the Christmas market at the Spittelberg, a beautiful part of the city close to the centre. The market stretches over several romantic alleys which are connected by various passages. As well as the city’s countless Christmas markets, huts offering Punsch and roasted chestnuts line Vienna’s main shopping streets.
Dates: The main Christmas market in Vienna, opposite the City Hall runs from 8th Nov to 30th Dec 2017 while some of the smaller ones run from November 24th until December 26th 2017.
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2. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich’s Christkindlimarkt is one of the biggest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. Each year the city’s train station turns into a Christmas wonderland, complete with a giant Christmas tree. There is also a must-do market, Zurich’s oldest, in the old town, while this year a Christmas market with 50 stalls pops up right next to the train station on the Europaallee. The cheesiest attraction is definitely the Piz Europa fondue hut.
Zurich is another city that plays host to many different Christmas Markets. The main ones take place from November 23rd to December 23rd with the one on the old town ending on December 24th.
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3. Stockholm, Sweden
Swedish Christmas markets are usually a bit smaller than the German cousins, and have their own Christmas traditions. At the Christmas market in the old town the typically red huts offer specialties such as Spekulatius (almond biscuits) and Glögg, a Scandinavian variety of Punsch. The Skansen, the first open-air museum in the world, also holds a market on the four advent weekends leading up to Christmas. Stockholm also has a few smaller Christmas markets that are only open for a day or a weekend, so keep an eye out as you explore the city.
The Christmas market in Stockholm’s old town starts a little earlier than other cities, on November 18th and ends on December 23rd.
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4. Paris, France
The Parisian Christmas market tradition is still quite young, but one Christmas market can’t be missed: the one along the Champs-Elyseés. There’s also the Christmas market in Montmatre, with 60 huts offering products ranging from Christmas decoration to art pieces, stretching over several of the quarter’s streets. Seeing the most famous street in Paris all lit up with fairy lights is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
Dates: Champs Elysées Christmas market runs from November 17th until December 27th 2017.
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5. Hamburg, Germany
The majority of the tourists that come to Hamburg for the christmas markets are actual from Germany, but slowly but surely the rest of the world is catching on that when you are in Germany, you should do as the Germans do! This is most definitely the Christmas Market that you dream of when you think of German Christmas markets…Gluhwein flowing, food vendors cooking up the kinds of things you read about in Hansel and Gretel, and great lights illuminating every kind of sweet you can imagine.
Dates: There are a total of 5 Christmas markets in Hamburg, running from November 23rd to December 23rd 2017.
6. Amsterdam, Netherlands
While some cities in Europe might have one or two markets, Amsterdam rules them all with a grand total of 26 Christmas markets! All regular markets around the city get festive in November and December and there is simply to escaping the beer and the cheer! Some of the best markets to check out are the markets on Leidesplein and Museumplein, where villages of wooden chalets await, with hearty festive food and hand-warming drinks. Be sure to taste some delicious Dutch doughnuts, known locally as olibollen – they’re a Christmas tradition in the Netherlands! As if the Christmas markets aren’t enough, Amsterdam also puts on a nightly show for the month of December and January, lighting up the sky above the cities many canals.
Dates: The Light Festival runs from December 1st to January 21st while the markets run from the end of November until early January.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Beautiful Prague feels like a fairytale town throughout the year but December is a truly magical time to visit the Czech capital. Immerse yourself in Prague’s delightful Christmas markets, made of wooden huts and endless fairy lights, as you wander through the city centre from Old Town Square to Wenceslas Square. Stop off to sip on delicious mulled wine or buy some hand crafted gifts for loved ones back from, such as wooden toys, embroidered lace or some traditional Christmas decorations. Don’t miss the nativity scene at Old Town Square, where the children can pet sheep, goats and of course the Christmas donkey!
Dates: Prague Christmas market runs from December 2nd until January 6th 2017.
8. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels Christmas Market is the largest in Belgium and by far one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe. It’s over 2km long and there are up to 250 different stalls with a massive array of food and Christmas crafts on after to purchase. There’s also a brightly lit fairground for the kids and a constellation of Christmas lights to make the adults smile! This is Belgium, famous for its chocolatey delights, so expect to swap wine for hot chocolate and try out as many locals chocolatey treats as possible – i’m sire bringing some back to Ireland will put a smile on your friends and family’s faces too.
Dates:The Brussels Christmas market runs from November 24th until 31st December 2017.
9. Edinburgh, Scotland
Normally known for its whiskey rather than its mulled wine, Edinburgh is fast becoming a popular destination for Irish people at winter. The Scottish capital has a magical vibe year long, thanks to its towering castle looking over the city, cobbled streets and beautifully lit shop fronts. The city is famous around the world for its New Year’s Eve celebrations (if you have not been to Hogmanay, GO!). Edinburgh Christmas market stretches out from the Mound, along East Princes Street Gardens and around the Scott Monument. The main market is packed with arts and crafts, while the Children’s Market at Santa Land has face painting, Christmas crafts and treats for little oness. stop by St. Andrew Square for a ride on the double carousel or take a spin on the Big Wheel in the city centre…fun for all the family! If you’re in Edinburgh at this time then there os one thing you simply have to try…and that’s a delicious, chocolatey deep fried Mars Bar!
Dates: Edinburgh Christmas markets run from 18th November until 7th January.
10. Berlin, Germany
The list of Christmas markets in Berlin is long. Visit the chic WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt for a feast, with everything from French specialties to Austrian cuisine can be found – or see a show in the extensive cultural event programme. More traditional is the Lucia Christmas market in the Kulturbrauerei. It is focused on Scandinavian countries and offers Swedish and Danish specialties among others.
Dates: There are smaller markets every weekend starting the end of November while the larger Christmas markets in Berlin run from 27th Nov – 31st Dec
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