For people across the Western world, Christmas marks that beautiful time of the year when everyone comes home to spend some quality time with their families. While Christmas is summery for the tropical countries below the equator, for most of the Christendom across the world gets to enjoy a white Christmas with hot chocolate, snow cookies and marshmallows, or sipping eggnog in warm, furry socks and mittens.
In temperate countries, the essence of Christmas extends to indulgent communal traditions like shopping at Christmas markets. This winter, become your own Santa and give yourself and your family the gift of a trip across the worlds’ top Christmas markets. You can also go for Christmas tour packages at this time to indulge in shopping for the holiday season!
Christmas Markets: Blend of traditional values and seasonal cheer
The Christmas market or “Christkindlmarkt” originated in Germany during the medieval era, selling woollens, cookies, cakes and hot mulled wine known as “Gluhwein” or “glow wine” as essentials to survive the cold winters. Today, this Christmas tradition has spread far and wide across the whole of Europe and into North America. Recognizing and appreciating the meaning of Christmas in the present day, even Asian countries like China and Japan now celebrate Christmas by setting up Christmas fairs and markets. Today, Europe, where you get to see the whitest Christmases, is home to the most gorgeous Christmas markets where you can make merry as you shop!
Christmas Markets that you shouldn’t miss…
Christmas Markets are quite prominent – they are like iconic wooden chalets in a town square or a park or a historic street, having a rundown history with years and years of hosting Christmas markets. Even if you visit these cities towards late November, you’ll be able to almost taste the Christmas cheer on the tip of your tongue as the wholesome fragrance of warm spices will be emanating in the air! So, let’s get to it, and talk about the best Christmas markets in the world: –
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is the stunning capital city of Czech Republic. If you’ve never visited this historic city, you probably don’t know this but an aerial view of Prague shows up as blocks of red roofs and white houses! How interesting, isn’t it?!
The Christmas Market in Old Town and Wenceslas Square at Prague opens as December starts and closes by the first week of January. Both avenues are a small 5-minute walk apart. Try their special mulled wine from the stalls and a unique Czech grilled dessert known as “Trdlnik”. Even though you will get plenty of mulled wine, be there in winter wear as the weather at the time of the Christmas night market can get quite chilly.
2. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg has one of the oldest and top Christmas markets in Europe that has been running since 1570. Now that’s a feat to take pride in! Apart from the extensive Christmas market that is spread across 10 locations across the city, you will be able to see the magnificent Christmas tree they put together in Place Kleber; it humbles the iconic Christmas tree at New York’s grand Rockefeller Center. No wonder it is often referred to as one of the best night Christmas markets in the world.
3. Vienna, Austria
Vienna, Austria’s enchanting capital colours itself deep with Christmas cheer, and almost the whole population of the city throng the traditional Viennese Christmas Market that has been running since as far back as 1298. Today, this market boasts of around 150 stalls selling food and beverages including the huge Austrian sausages, doughnuts, Gluhwein, “Kinderpunsch” or Christmas Punch. There are plenty of recreational activities like reindeer rides for kids, a skating rink made of ice while featuring a nativity scene (scene of Christ’s Birth) in the middle.
4. Florence, Italy
Piazza Santa Croce at Florence, Italy hosts the year-end Christmas Festival as the spirit of Christmas peaks around the world. Food items to try out here are the German delicacies, like strudel and gingerbread. When you are around the town square, you will be able to see the spires of the Franciscan Basilica, and if you’re on one of the Christmas market trips, you will be lead to the Piazza del Duomo for the grand Christmas decorations of the nativity scene as well as catching a glimpse of the magnificent tree!
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark sees one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Located in the famous Tivoli Gardens in this Danish capital, this market enlivens the entire city. There are many attractive events happening here every Christmas, starting from music concerts, light and fireworks shows, and extraordinary Christmas decorations that are spread across the park. The Christmas Market at Tivoli Garden opens through mid-November to December end.
6. Montreal, Canada
Inspired from the best Christmas markets in Europe, Montreal in Canada started its own Grand Christmas Market. Throughout the month of December, particularly from the 1st through 24th, the city sways with lights and cheerful Christmas décor. This market is an absolute delight for all kinds of visitors, young and old. Kids love it as well since they have Santa’s sleigh, an igloo, and an “elves’ workshop” too! The food items may vary from the traditional German recipes as Montreal has essentially French roots.
7. Berlin, Germany
Since it all started out in Germany, we’ve reached the heart of all the best Christmas markets in the world. If you are visiting Germany on a Christmas tour package (great timing, we must say!), you can actually visit a different Christmas market in a different city or town every day and find each one just as refreshing. However, the best of the lot is Gendarmenmarkt in Germany’s capital, Berlin. Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom’s imposing silhouettes appear above the classic wooden cottages where you can prepare yourself with some comfortable and delicious German sausages and cups of warm mulled wine before going ahead with the shopping.
8. Birmingham, United Kingdom
This is one of the best Christmas markets in the United Kingdom that comes to life in Birmingham. Known as the Frankfurt Christmas Market, it boasts to be the most authentic German Christmas market outside of Germany. It is held in the city’s Victoria Square from mid-November and ends just a day before Christmas day. If you happen to visit this beautiful Christmas market, do not fail to check out the list of happening events for the year.
9. Stockholm, Sweden
Visit this open-air museum on Djurgaarden Island in the middle of Stockholm if you want to see a truly traditional side to the tradition known as “Christmas market”. Here, you will get to see all of the historic homes and farmsteads being decorated appropriately for the festive occasion. This Christmas market opens throughout every weekend from late November up to New Year’s Eve. At the active stalls selling Swedish handicrafts, traditional sausages, spices, smoked turkey and candles, you will get to experience something truly unique.
10. New York City, United States of America
This open-air German-style market in Bryant Park is one of New York’s most popular Christmas markets. With over 120 custom-designed stalls from around the world selling jewellery and handicrafts, there is plenty to keep you busy. Besides, Bryant Park is itself an attraction, with events happening in and around. Visit the beautiful Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain, the Le Carrousel, and the only ice skating rink in New York City that is still free.
Christmas holidays usually start from about a week ahead of the New Year which takes your mind off of work, leaving a lot of room for spending time with your loved ones. If you haven’t warmed up to the idea of taking a Christmas tour package to visit the best Christmas markets in the world, you are missing out on some of the most fabulous travel experiences that you can have.