Christmas markets around the world start opening up by the end of November, albeit anything earlier than mid-December is too early to get into the Christmas spirit for some. Regardless of whether you’ll show up for a cup of mulled wine the first day the market opens or you wait until the first snow to bring that wintery smell in the air, it’s good to know what Christmas markets are worth travelling for, so here is a list of some of the best Christmas markets around the world.
During Christmas time, nearly every corner of the Austrian capital is covered with glittering lights and sparkling decorations. The city is famous worldwide for its Christmas markets and the amazing Christmas tree set up in the Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). When exploring the markets, you will for sure be tempted to buy some sweet treats, a cup of mulled wine, or artisan handmade Christmas ornaments.
Firstly organized in 1570, Strasbourg’s Christmas market is considered one of the oldest ones in Europe. Strasbourg Christmas market, also called Christkindelsmärik, is also one of the biggest in Europe, as it extends from the cathedral to 12 other sites all around the city. The little chalets, city architecture and huge Christmas tree create a fairytale atmosphere not to be missed.
Brussels frequently features on lists about the best Christmas markets in Europe and the world. The city’s Winter Wonders is more than just a Christmas market however, it is an entire festival, filled with light and sound shows, ice skating rinks, thematic villages, a Ferris Wheel and more than 200 chalets enticing visitors with everything from raclette, oysters, smoked salmon, mulled wine and, of course, beer, to all sorts of trinkets and handicrafts.
Named the best Christmas market in Europe for three years in a row by European Best Destinations, Zagreb’s Advent adorns the city’s streets with thousands of lights. Streets, squares, promenades, passages and parks become places of gathering with loved ones and with a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate, while the scents and flavours of cinnamon, cloves and local delicacies that fill the air.
The city on the Rhine gets a very special charm during the Christmas season. The quaint Christmas market can be found on two squares right in the centre of the city and at the heart of the festively decorated Old Town. A magnificent Christmas tree stands on Münsterplatz, adorned with ornaments by well-known decorator Johann Wanner.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s Christmas market extends over no less than 4 different squares around the city centre. Typical wood chalets sell artisanal objects, traditional food and mulled wine (Svarene Vino) or the more traditional mead (Medovina), which is considered one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world and is made by fermenting honey with water and sometimes adding various fruits and spices.
Although Dresden is considered to have organised the world’s first true Christmas market in 1434, Nuremberg’s market or Christkindleinmarkt has been organised for more than 4 centuries, and it tries to stay as authentic as possible by offering traditional Christmas items that are most of the time created in Nuremberg. The local specialty is the Bratwurst, a grilled sausage, usually served with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), but can also come with potatoes or hot dog style in a bun.
When thinking about Christmas in the US, the big tree in front of New York’s Rockefeller Center might be the first thing that comes to mind, but Chicago is starting to catch up on holiday cheer. Taking inspiration, and the name, from Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarket, Chicago brings the Bratwurst to the States, along with a sense of traditional German Christmas market, complemented by live entertainment along the chalets.
Although the first Christmas market was organised in Germany, the most important Christmas tree in Estonia has been set up in Town Hall Square since 1441, making it the first Christmas tree ever to be put on display in Europe. The Christmas land is decorated with trees, Christmas decorations and Christmas lights, while local merchants offer Estonian Christmas cuisine, from black pudding and sour cabbage to gingerbread and hot Christmas drinks, as well as various handicrafts.