2016 Best European Christmas Markets
With Christmas just around the corner, European cities are pulling out all the stops to make sure this year’s Christmas even bigger and better than before – expect beautiful displays, intricately crafted gifts, delicious hot foods, warming drinks and special events all prepared to get you feeling extra festive! Therefore we have hand-picked our top European Christmas Markets, to help you decide which city will make your December, a special one!
Denmark’s winter is known to be long and dark, so it is no wonder that the Danes fight the darkness with candles, fairy lights and all things cosy and warm, especially during Christmas.
Copenhagen’s Christmas markets showcases the Dane’s passion and dedication to the celebrations, with Christmas in Tivoli Gardens being a great tradition amongst Copenhageners, where many visit to experience the Nordic Christmas atmosphere. The gardens will be filled with decorated wooden homes, snow-covered trees and lights, there will also be snacks, cookies and hot drinks for purchase.
The exciting Freetown Christiania Christmas market is the place to be for unique gifts, with an abundance of stalls selling hand-made jewellery, iron candle holders and paper Christmas decorations.
Nyhavn Harbour hosts one of the cosiest Christmas markets in the city, where gifts are sold in the small wooden huts which are dotted along the harbor. Foodies will be amazed by the variety of hot delicious food and drink in the Nyhavn area, with the restaurants being expected to open for long hours!
In November (yes Berlin is extra early), Postdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin is transformed into a colossal winter wonderland. The city takes a more energetic approach to their festive celebrations with a toboggan run, ice rink and curling.
Visitors take turns to ride down Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run for a whopping 70 metres, with the unique Postdamer Platz skyline as the backdrop. The big ice rink is adjacent to the Stage Theater am Postdamer Platz, with skates available for rent and free skating lessons for children (4-7 years old).
Top tip: The toboggan run is open during normal opening hours but because of popularity, it is advised to make a reservation!
Besides the Postdamer Platz, locals feel the festive season starting once the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church area starts to smell like Christmas – a familiar fragrant of roasted almonds, hot chocolate and mulled wine! There are multiple stands selling hearty bratwursts, cinnamon waffles, candied fruits and homemade eggnog (yum!). You will also find handmade crafts, decorations, knitted accessories and children’s toys – perfect stocking fillers to take back home!
Visit Tromsø this Christmas, where you will see the spectacular Polar Night sweeping over the city’s Christmas decorations and lights. This city offers the most magical Christmas gift of all – the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), a natural phenomenon where the night sky is filled with green rays of light.
Top tip: Norway has many prime locations for witnessing the Northern Lights, an excursion to see them will surely make your Christmas a magical and breath-taking one.
The lively Christmas markets begin in November, where traditional hand-crafted gifts are sold. Christmas lights are turned on in the main square, and in early December, Santa Claus appears in the hamlet of Berg (south of the city). The second weekend of December sees many locals come together for carol singing, traditional lefse (Norwegian flatbread) and coffee brewed outdoors over an open fire.
Step into the hustle and bustle of one of Tromsø’s cafés after all that Christmas shopping to grab yourself a smooth, hot chocolate or visit a local bar where you can try Tromsø’s specially brewed Christmas beer.
Quaint little huts stand in the beautiful Place de la Comedie, and a wide walk-way runs across the length of the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, with blue and silver lights embellishing the trees that line the boulevard – making Montpellier, an unexpected but very pretty Christmas destination. And for the children, Montpellier has a carousel at the Place de la Comedie, a Children’s Musicland Playpark, an ice-rink and pony rides!
The festive markets sell a range of gifts such as hand-made wooden toys, Christmas scented candles, warm knitted jumpers, jewellery and leather goods. And of course they also sell gourmet food and wines, foie gras and special honey. Local cheeses such as Roquefort and Cartagne are also sold in the stalls. Traditional festive treats are also everywhere such as mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and French crepes – which are sure to satisfy the taste buds!
For three days in December, there will be the third annual sound and light show, ‘Cœur de Ville en Lumières’ where creative visions of light are projected onto symbolic buildings in Montpellier.
The Christmas market on Vorosmarty Square is not the only market in Budapest, but it is the oldest, richest and most spectacular of all the Christmas markets in the city. The Square transforms into a scene of an old folk tale with busy wooden stalls selling handmade gifts and sweet cinnamon pastries (Kurtoskalacs – Chimney Cake), sausages, mulled wine, grilled veg and street snacks like dodolle (potato dumplings). The Square also has a concert stage with local artists playing traditional folk music.
Budapest is well known for their thermal baths, so it’s no wonder that the Szechenyi Baths are still open even on Christmas Day, imagine the bliss of sitting in the hot pools in the winter evening, after a day of exploring. For the fun loving, Budapest also offers a unique pool party in Lukacs thermal bath.
The ice rink in Budapest City Park is a romantic venue, rent a pair of skates and glide to your heart’s content, with the Vajdahunyad Castle as the backdrop.
To find out more about of our Christmas Market Breaks or to make a booking call our City Break Specialists on 0131 243 8098 or request a tailor-made quote online.