THE TOP 10 CHRISTMAS MARKETS
Whether it’s the sweet smell of mince pies, hanging up your stocking or decorating the tree that fills you with warmth this winter, we’ve got a few treats worth adding to your list this festive season! Christmas is right around the corner, so what better place to do your seasonal shopping than at one of these sparkling Christmas market city breaks?
We’ve rounded up the best of the bunch so you can start filling up your stocking...
For a great-value city break serving up plenty of Christmas spirit, Prague is just the ticket. The cosy yet compact city centre is ideal for exploring the annual Christmas markets, which turn the city into a winter wonderland every December. Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square are where the main festivities happen, although there are smaller markets sprinkled around Republic Square and Havel’s Market. Shop for seasonal crafts, jewellery and stocking fillers with a soundtrack of local school choirs singing carols, and don’t forget to sample some traditional Czech food and drink - their hearty pastries and sausages are just a few seasonal delights you can savour!
If you can't get away for a weekend, why not visit this vibrant city in a day instead? Check out our top European day trip destinations for holidays in a hurry!
When is Christmas market in Prague? 2nd December 2017 - 6th January 2018
This spectacular city has enough shopping, sights and entertainment to keep you busy for weeks, and the holiday season is no exception. But there’s much more to New York than glitzy department stores and giant twinkly trees. Columbus Circle Holiday Market in the southwest corner of Central Park, is a fantastic location to mingle with the locals as you browse seasonal stalls offering food and festive treats. Union Square Holiday Market (known for its trademark red and white candy cane stripe booths) is the main Christmas market, where you can pick up decorations, gifts and indulge in some tasty NYC street food.
When is Christmas market in New York? 28th November - 24th December 2017
A wintery Krakow city break is the perfect prep for a hearty festive season. Nestled in the heart of Rynek Glowny Square, in the city’s stunning old town, is Poland’s biggest and best Christmas market. All the usual festive crafts and edible treats are on offer from the decorated wooden stalls, but if you want a particularly Polish souvenir to remind you of your trip, make sure you take one or two traditional glass baubles home to hang on your tree! It’s almost impossible to browse the twinkling stalls without stopping to snack on delicious spiced nuts and frosted gingerbread, washed down with a mug of mulled wine of course!
When is Christmas market in Krakow? 24th November - 26th December
If you’ve enjoyed your fair share of gingerbread and bratwurst at a German-style market in the UK, it’s time to experience the real deal with a Berlin city break. Crowned as the home of the Christmas market, Berlin boasts a staggering 80 festive markets across the city, each with their own unique charm. Don’t miss the old town’s 44th Traditional Spandau Christmas Market for the ultimate winter wonderland experience - on weekends the spectacular Christmas tree towers over 400 festive stalls. If you’re searching for an upmarket experience this season, head to the WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt Square for unique crafts and Michelin-starred food in the shadow of the city’s famous concert hall. Wherever you go, you’ll never be far from a warm mug of mulled wine – guaranteed!
Or if you fancy swapping your winter escape for a blissful beach break, head to one of Berlin's best cocktail bars and sink your toes into this rooftop's sands!
When is Christmas market in Berlin? 27th November - 23rd December
When it comes to celebrating the festive season, Vienna whizzes ahead of the game with records of the first Christmas market being held way back in 1289! Today, this spectacular city lights up with over 20 official Advent Markets to explore. The City Hall is the backdrop to the popular Viennese Christmas Market, a family favourite where kids can learn to make cookies and candles while parents listen to carols. Combine shopping with sightseeing at the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace, which is a haven for foodies and lovers of handcrafted decorations – so you’ll leave with a satisfied stomach and a little something for your stocking, too!
When is Christmas market in Vienna? 18th November - 30th December 2017
You’re sure to find some Christmas sparkle in this spectacular city of light. No matter where you stay in Paris, you’ll never be too far from the twinkling lights of a Christmas market – or marché de noel as the locals call it! Browse the delicate stalls and you’ll find tasty culinary delights among a fine array of arts, crafts, jewellery and festive decorations to compliment your tree. Spend an evening strolling through the huge Christmas Village on the square at La Defense and don’t miss the market lining the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, where Paris’s most stunning Christmas lights can be found.
If you're looking for a romantic stay while in the city of love, take a look at our amazing valentines breaks in France.
When is Christmas market in Paris? 23rd November - December 28th
The Winter Wonders festival in Brussels is well worth making the trip for this Christmas. As well as all the sights, sounds and flavours you’d expect from a traditional European Christmas market, the Belgian capital is also host to seasonal family favourites including a ferris wheel, ice rink, carousel and no other than the iconic ice monster – a scary dinosaur intent on gobbling up unsuspecting families! As well as sampling the flavours of a traditional Belgian Christmas (chocolatey, of course) you can also experience the Swiss Chalet with its gooey fondues and the Canadian-themed Quebec City Square, where maple syrup is the order of the day - sounds like our kind of market!
When is Christmas market in Brussels? 24th November - 31st December 2017
This historic spa city boasts a small but beautiful Christmas market by the idyllic Basilica, but the main market is located in heart of the city in Vorosmarty Square. It’s hard to resist the food on offer as the sweet smell of mulled wine and cinnamon-laced treats fill the air. Foodies must indulge in a tasty cabbage and roasted goose thigh while browsing the twinkling wooden huts for souvenirs and keepsakes, followed by a crumbling honey cookie for dessert, of course. If you consider yourself a craft connoisseur, there are 122 festive stalls offering high-quality products that are approved by a local panel of folk art experts – so you can be sure your seasonal gifts meet the standards!
When is Christmas market in Budapest? 10th November - 31st December 2017
You can find a Christmas market almost anywhere, even in Spain's capital Madrid. When you’re not browsing the stylish boutiques that line its enchanting backstreets, make sure you visit one of this city’s stunning Christmas markets. Parque Del Retiro and the Explanada Del Puente del Rey are put on especially for kids, so the littluns will stay entertained from morning until night on family holidays. The main attraction though is held in the spectacular city square, Plaza Mayor. Tourists and locals alike mingle under the glistening Christmas lights as they shop for presents, marvel over the beautifully designed nativity scenes and sample tasty turron - seasonal nougat that is every bit as delicious as it sounds!
When is Christmas market in Madrid? Late November - late December 2017
If you’re looking to step off the beaten track this festive season, Latvia may have everything you’re looking for. The Christmas market in Riga may only be in its 14th year, but this friendly city boasts the honour of being the very first place a Christmas tree was decorated - as far back as 1510! A treat for fans of all things traditional, this market focuses on handicrafts such as cosy knitted mittens, wooden toys, candlesticks, rag bears, jewellery and delicious Latvian honey. If you’re interested, you can even learn about Latvian Christmas traditions including cooking, log dragging and its music. Don’t forget to sample the gorgeous local gingerbread before you leave – we’ll certainly be bringing some back to pop in our Christmas stockings!
When is Christmas market in Latvia? 1st December 2017 - 7th January 2018
Browse our list of Christmas and New Year holidays for an extra dose of festive fun, for less...