The first of Europe’s Christmas markets date back to the late Middle Ages, originating in Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and many regions in France. With some form of Christmas market now a common feature in the towns and cities across Europe, it is rather difficult for anyone to escape the winter holiday cheer.
Some of them, though, really do exude that authentic old-time Christmas feel and are an exquisite Yuletide treat.
Here are a five of the best markets that are sure to put the Christmas spirit into even the most bah-humbug of Santa’s elves.
Vienna: The Old Viennese Christmas Market
Right in the centre of a ring of city palaces, the “Austrain fountain” and the Schottenkirche (a church dating back to the 12th Century) lies the Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung.
A Christmas market has been held in this spot since 1772, and the market is less populated than Rathausplatz and less filled with trinkets than the Karlsplatz and Schönbrunn Christmas markets.
Dedicated to tradition, this market hosts around 50 stands displaying traditional food (gingerbread, handmade chocolates, roasted almonds and tree cakes), drink, arts and crafts (including glass decorations, wooden toys, advent wreaths, traditional cribs, ceramics, and paintings on glass). Other highlights include the “Punch and Judy” shows, daily demonstrations by craftsmen on how they make their craft products and a variety of musical ensembles.
For more details, see here on Austria.info
Berlin: Spandau Christmas Market
This market in the old town of Spandau has been dubbed the biggest Weihnachtsmarkt in Berlin. And, with up to 400 stalls, I’m not about to argue.
The market promises to offer everything that is associated with a traditional Christmas. It is kitted with a nativity scene with real animals and every Wednesday there is a medieveal plague procession. The stage is animated by other performances during the week and on Fridays there are “Christmas meets rock and roll” concerts.
Plenty of German products are on sale, historical arts and crafts, and St Nicholas even appears to take requests and sing with the kids.
For more info, see here on VisitBerlin.de
This market is opened by the Nurember Christkind (Christmas angel) from the balcony of the Church of Our Lady. It visits the picturesque market filled with red and white wooden stands daily to listen to Christmas wishes.
Guests can hop aboard a stagecoach and experience the festive city while listening to the Christmas songs played by the coachman on his trumpet. Kids can busy themselves at the Children’s Christmas Market by baking, enjoying rides or visiting Santa’s house.
For more info, see here on Christkindlesmarkt.de
Stockholm: Skansen Christmas Market
Rumoured to have held its first Christmas market in 1903, this market overflows with Swedish handcrafts and delicacies such as savoury pancakes, festive preserves and grilled herrings. The Skansen (the first open-air museum in the world) is surrounded by historic houses and farmsteads which too have a Christmassy atmosphere.
On 13 and 14 December, visitors will witness a Lucia procession straight out of the 1920s. The Lucia procession celebrates the idea of Lucia night as the darkest, longest night of the year. And if that’s not your scene, you can always watch some live home brewing.
For more info, see here on VisitStockholm.com
Strasbourg: The Christkindelsmärik
The Christkindelsmärik has been running since the 16th century, making it the oldest Christmas market in France. It won “Best Christmas Market in Europe” in 2013.
The star of the market? The giant Christmas tree (no, seriously – it is over 30 metres high!).
Special biscuits known as “bredele” can be found in every possible flavour from orange and cinnamon to coconut and praline, and can be eaten or hung on Christmas trees back home.
Visitors can discover the heritage and history of Strasbourg and Alsace’s Christmas tradition by following the night watchman on his rounds. Or they can climb the 332 steps to the top of the cathedral and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
For more info, see here on Noel.Tourisme-Alsace.com
> Old Viennese Christmas Market by: www.Wien.info
> Spandau Christmas Market by: www.Partner-Fuer-Spandau.de
> Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt by: Shutterstock
> Skansen Christmas Market: VisitStockholm.com
> The Christkindelsmärik by: Wikimedia.org
> TOP IMAGE: Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt: Pixabay