European Christmas Markets

December 2, 2019

Here in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have our very own European-style Christmas markets that come to major cities during the festive season, but if you’re looking for the true experience, then you should take a short trip to the continent. With regular ferries to Europe, it’s easy to get to many European markets and with unlimited baggage, you can bring back as much Christmas shopping as you like. There are plenty of options, no matter how far you want to travel, or what kind of atmosphere you’re looking for, and we’ve brought together some of our favourites right here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch capital’s festive celebrations take place all across the city, and whereas many cities will have one main market in the town square, Amsterdam has many. This makes it the perfect destination for those looking for something a little different. You will of course find the traditional open-air markets with their little wooden huts and lights, but in typical Amsterdam style, you can also enjoy trendier, more modern events including one that takes place inside an industrial warehouse. If you’re looking to try something new this year, then consider hopping over on the ferry from Newcastle.

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Brussels, Belgium

Another location not too far from ports in either France or the Netherlands is Brussels. The Winter Wonders market and celebrations is a 2km stretch of festive delights, including market stalls, fairground rides, restaurants, entertainment and more. The event offers something for everyone, with days of activities if you choose to take a short break here. Being the European centre of culture, Brussels also has markets themed around different European countries. This year you’ll find Finnish and Swedish Christmas markets, with traditional foods and gifts available straight from the Nordic countries.

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Nuremberg, Germany

If you’re looking for something truly traditional, the Nuremberg Christmas market in northern Bavaria is unbeatable. This is one of the German markets by which all others are judged and is notable because the main market has a blanket ban on anything mass produced. This means that you’ll find nothing but hand-crafted toys, trinkets and other gifts, as well as sweet and savoury delights. Nuremberg itself makes a fabulously festive setting, owing to its quaint and traditional German architecture.

Strasbourg, France

There’s been a Christmas market in Strasbourg since the 16th century, which is why the organisers of the city’s festivities have branded it the Capitale de Noël, or ‘capital of Christmas’. Hundreds of metres of fairy lights are strung up across the city, turning this beautiful French-German city into a veritable winter wonderland. There are of course countless stalls to choose from too, with the centrepiece of a giant fir tree adorned with lights in one of the squares.

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Valkenburg, Netherlands

For a truly unique Christmas market experience, Kerstmarkt Gemeentegrot in Valkenburg is home to the largest and most popular underground Christmas market in Europe. Explore the underground caves which resemble Santa’s grotto and immerse yourself in festive cheer, sipping glühwein as you browse the seasonal stalls and admire the sparkling lights illuminating your path.

Leipzig, Germany

In Leipzig’s Old Town Christmas market, over 300 exhibitors set up stalls in market square, selling their wares beneath evergreen garlands and twinkling lights. Here you can find handmade German ornaments and toys, as well as festive food. Head to Augustusplatz for a multi-cultural Christmas with Finnish products, Swiss cheese and South Tyrolian decorations. There’s regular live entertainment, a fairytale forest and a chance to meet Santa himself too.

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Reims, France

Immerse yourself in the magical festive spirit of Reims Christmas market, located beneath the magnificent cathedral. Browse the handmade goods on offer at the 145 chalets, smell the gingerbread and vin chaud wafting from the food stalls and marvel at the colourful Christmas lights across the city. Complete your trip to the Christmas market with a pop, enjoying a glass of champagne on the ferris wheel, seeing the city illuminated from above, as you sip something special.

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