Christmas Markets of Europe

Christmas Markets of Europe

The smell of freshly cooked sweet treats and baked goods fills the air around you as you clutch a warm mug of gluhwein in your gloved hands. In the distance you can hear carol singing and see children ice skating or enjoying themselves on a Ferris Wheel. This is a proper European Christmas market, and there’s no more enjoyable way to do some Christmas shopping this festive season.

There are fantastic Christmas markets all over Europe, as the beautiful town squares and plazas of cities across the continent get packed out with stalls or chalets selling everything from local produce, arts and crafts, international goods and lots, lots more.

Western Europe in particular has a fantastic heritage of traditional Christmas markets, so let’s look at some of our favourites from each country…

Germany

When you imagine a classic Christmas market, the chances are you’ll be imagining the ones that you’ll find all over Germany each winter.

Cologne, in particular, takes its markets seriously and is completely transformed each year into a winter wonderland. The main market is the Fairytale Christmas Market (or Märchenweihnachtsmarkt as it’s known locally!) which is held each year in the appropriately-named Rudolfplatz. The market is also known for its entertainment, including jugglers, magicians and glassblowers!

Cologne also has markets by the harbour and chocolate factory, as well as the famous Market of Angels, with its chalet-style stalls, which takes place in Neumarkt.

As a contrast, nearby in Dusseldorf you can find a wholly international Christmas market with lovingly decorated stalls and a huge range of gifts, souvenirs, food and more from all over the globe!

Bremen’s market is huge, with 170 stalls all lined along the city’s river and an impressive walk-through advent calendar. Meanwhile in Koblenz, one of Germany’s oldest cities, you can find one of the continent’s most attractive Christmas markets.

France

French Christmas markets are quaint and pretty, and serve up fabulous French food and drink for visitors to enjoy, including wine, champagne, food and much more.

Lille is northern France’s largest city, with a wonderful and beautiful old town, Vieux Lille. In Lille, each year the Place Rihour is lovingly decorated and packed with over 80 stalls, selling everything from food, arts and crafts, plus other traditional items. The huge, 50 foot Ferris Wheel lies in the middle of the market and gives visitors an amazing panoramic view of the entire market, and the city.

Elsewhere in northern France, Dunkirk’s Christmas market has an incredible laser light show, sure to add to the already-magical Christmas atmosphere, plus a Ferris wheel and ice rink. Reims’ town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which adds to the beauty and splendour of its market. With over 100 stalls setting up in the capital of the Champagne region, you’re sure to find a stall or two selling wonderful bubbly for you to take home.

Arras is home to one of the best markets in the country, with red carpets laid down all over the city and a Santa’s Grotto attraction which is perfect for families with young children. Amiens is another large market in France, and is known for selling the local delicacy Amiens Macaroons.

Holland

Holland’s winter traditions are rooted around the story of Sinterklaas, which is slightly different to the traditional Christmas story in the UK. As such sometimes there are references to Sinterklaas in some Christmas markets around the country.

While Amsterdam doesn’t necessarily have a traditional Christmas market, it does have a huge celebration for the return of Sinterklaas each year which is perfect for tourists. Each winter, the city is covered in amazing lights and artwork for the Festival of Light which can make for some stunning holiday photos.

Amsterdam’s Flower Market is a great place to pick up gifts for any green-fingered friends or family members, there are also markets on Bellamystraat as well as Pure Winter Market and the Winter Market, held in Beuersplein each year. These aren’t Christmas markets in the traditional sense, but are sure to have a range of wonderful gifts for you to pick up this year.

Valkenburg is just a few hours’ drive from Amsterdam, and is home to a must-see Christmas market. Located in a cave which is painted and decorated to resemble Santa’s grotto. It costs €5 to enter, but it’s more than worth it when you consider the amazing location and the range of items available on the stalls.

Alternatively, the Magical Maastricht market is a more traditional Christmas market experience, with a number of stalls and an ice rink too. There are also installations from local artists to enjoy too.

Belgium

Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, if not the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for Christmas market tourists. Each year hundreds of vendors descend on the city, selling everything from wooden toys for children, other gifts and confectionery, jewellery and more. There is also an ice rink, the chance to ride a horse and cart and fairground rides for children.

The Winter Wonders market takes over Brussels every year and is regarded as one of the most original markets across the continent. Brussels is a truly international city, the capital of European politics, so it’s no surprise that the market includes stalls from all over the continent, as well as more traditional market fare such as toys, gifts, local and international food and more.

Aside from these fantastic markets, Belgium is known for its amazing food and drink, including amazing desserts and sweet treats which you can indulge yourself in as you wander the market.

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1 comment on “Christmas Markets of Europe”

Marc Noel

December 01, 2016 16:49

My wife and I will be sampling out first traditional, European Christmas market this December on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Really looking forward to a plate of warming Cassoulet and glass of Bourdeaux before heading off for some Christmas shopping, Finding myself counting down one by one the days to December 15 like a little schoolboy.

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