This December, hundreds of cities around the world come to life with stalls and markets, each celebrating the Christmas season with their own unique and traditional characteristics. We have rounded up our favourite Christmas markets renowned for their ability to amaze, intrigue and leave an everlasting impression of Christmas in your mind.
Here are our top 12 to visit this year….
1. Dresden – Germany
27th November – 24th December 2019
The Striezelmarkt, or Dresden Christmas Markets, is the oldest Christmas market on this list and can be traced back to 1434. Since this time, it has grown year upon year to become a sprawling metropolis of eleven vastly different Christmas market areas.
For added charm, Dresden hosts several authentic festivals during the market season. The most famous of which sees a giant ‘Stollen’ cake carried around the market stalls and is sliced and distributed ceremoniously through the streets.
You can find more information on Dresden markets here.
2. Strasbourg – France
22nd November – 30th of December 2019
Referred to by many as the capital of Christmas, the Strasbourg markets host over three hundred chalets and attract two million visitors each year. With the backdrop of Strasbourg’s towering cathedral, half-timber houses line the streets and multi-coloured hearts, stars, and snowflakes frame the stalls..
On top of this, the ‘sharing village’ offers the opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled experience as concerts, ice rinks and towering Christmas trees permit you to delve deeper into the history of a market 400 years in the making.
You can find more information on Strasbourg markets here.
3. Birmingham – England
7th November – 23rd December 2019
At a mere 14 years of age, Birmingham’s Christmas market is the most modern on this list. However, this means little to nothing when comparing the figures. With up to five million visitors recorded, and almost two hundred stalls, the ‘Frankfurt Christmas market and craft fair’ is worth the visit. As the largest German Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria, it hosts food, drinks and other classic traditions. This market is a favourite for those who want to visit the Christmas markets without the expense of travelling through Europe.
You can find more information on Birmingham markets here.
4. Innsbruck – Austria
15th November 2019 – 6th January 2020
Set in the heart of the Alps, Innsbruck offers a romanticised version of the traditional Christmas market. As a town draped in history, Innsbruck works hard to maintain its medieval features and beautiful green surroundings. Combining this with a Christmas market results in a spectacular mix of tradition and modernity.
180 stalls can be found amongst the six separate market grounds around the city. This market is fully family friendly and each one of the areas all have a distinctive spin on traditional foods, ales and crafts. Plus, there are over 400 exhibitions and concerts that take place including puppet shows, petting zoos, fine cuisine and live music.
You can find more information on Innsbruck markets here.
5. Krakow – Poland
29th November – 26th December 2019
One of only a few Christmas bazaars in Poland, Krakow offers the spectacular architecture and cold weather associated with the Christmas season on top of its enchanting markets. The market is situated in the city’s huge central square and prioritises space for traditional artisans, local bakers and chefs to come forward and present their goods.
Although the Krakow Christmas market isn’t as large and high tech as other Christmas markets, it does have one thing none of the others do…. Krakow has a high possibility of snowfall! Combine this with the backdrop of Polish architecture and the Krakow markets become a magical place filled with a historical aura and a festive ambience.
You can find more information on Krakow markets here.
6. Budapest – Hungary
9th November 2019 – 1st January 2020
Vörösmarty Square in Budapest plays host to more than 100 wooden kiosks during its Christmas market period. Budapest places its focus on high quality local craft and artwork. Handmade tree decorations, small presents and stocking fillers are sold alongside larger woollen and iron products made by local artists.
This Christmas market is also deeply influenced by Hungarian folklore and traditions, with dances and orchestral routines regularly being performed. What’s more, the centre of Vörösmarty Square is transformed into a large ice rink which is available for any keen skaters.
You can find more information on the Budapest markets here.
7. Madrid – Spain
23rd November – 31st December 2019
Large towering lights and dazzling decorations frame Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. This huge square located in Madrid has been home to 104 log cabin stalls for the past 100 years and never fails to draw crowds of both tourists and locals alike.
The combination of handmade goods and seasonal ornaments are scattered throughout the market, amongst numerous delicately designed nativity scenes and venders offering both locally and seasonally inspired food and beverages. For those attracted to the traditional arts, there are over two hundred workshops included in the festival ranging from potters and weavers to carvers and glass blowers.
You can find more information on the Madrid markets here.
8. Copenhagen – Denmark
15th November 2019 – 4th January 2020
Following the works of popular Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson, Copenhagen’s Christmas markets follow a fairy tale theme and are set in the era of the famous writer’s life. Several of the city’s gardens are converted into ice rinks and market areas, while the canal is transformed into a traditionally Danish experience serving authentic drinks and treats.
Following Copenhagen’s Christmas celebrations, the festive joy continues. In mid-January, Danish Vikings gather to toast the gods. This is combined with feasts and parties which are steeped in tradition and open to all visitors.
You can find more information on the Copenhagen markets here.
9. Gothenburg – Sweden
15th November – 30th December 2019
Home to Sweden’s largest Christmas market, Gothenburg is host to Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas Market. Adorned with 5 million sparkling lights and 700 Christmas trees, this market is paradise for those who countdown all year to the festive season. Filled with more than 70 market stalls, Liseberg’s offering ranges from art and crafts to homemade sweets and traditional Swedish marinated herring, helping you get into the local spirit.
This market is crammed full of activities and sights you could spend hours exploring. Including live performances of ‘A Christmas Carol’ on their ice-rink, their famous Rabbit Land for children, medieval villages and a boat-filled harbour where the choir’s Christmas carols fill the air.
You can find more information on Liseberg’s market here.
10. Prague – Czech Republic
30th November 2019 – 6th January 2020
Made up of brightly decorated wooden stalls overflowing with local handcrafts and traditional Czech food, the Prague Christmas markets create a picture-perfect setting. The main markets in Prague are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Both markets are within a 5-minute walk of each other and are great for unique Christmas present shopping. You can find hand crafted jewellery, scented candles and Christmas tree ornaments amongst other festive delights.
Each year, a theme is assigned to the Christmas markets which the decorations follow. . Last year the theme was ‘Fairy Tales’ and although this year’s theme is still to be announced, you can bet it will be full of extravagance.
You can find more information on the Prague markets here.
11. Bath – England
28th November – 15th December 2019
For somewhere a little closer to home, Bath’s award-winning Christmas market is filled with over 150 chalet stalls – giving you a packed day or relaxed weekend’s worth of Christmas shopping! Plus, the shopping here will make you leave feeling humble with many stalls made up of local makers and designers showcasing their best work.
If the stalls and delicious food on offer aren’t enough to bring you to this historic Georgian town, then why not try the Bath Christmas Experience? For its debut year, you can indulge in a two-course lunch at the Ivy and a Christmas wreath workshop (with a wreath to take home), topped off with a two-hour experience at the Thermae Bath Spa. What more could you ask for?
You can find more information on the Bath market here.
12. Berlin – Germany
25th November – 22nd December 2019
With over 70 different markets to choose from in this vast city, there is sure to be one that is of your festive flavour. As the largest (and arguably also the most beautiful) traditional market in Berlin, Spandau is a popular choice for visitors. Spandau is great hit with families due to its festive Christmas tree and fairground attractions. You can even get the kids on stage for a sing-alongwith Santa Claus himself!
Although located in the western outskirts of Berlin, this market is easily reachable with a 25-minute train journey from the city centre.
You can find more information on the Berlin markets here.