Originating in Germany, Christmas markets have spread throughout Europe and now form a staple of the festive period. Not only can you go shopping for Christmas gifts at the various stalls, but there’s also ample opportunity to feast on delicacies such as bratwurst and mulled cider.
We’re rounded up the best of Europe’s Christmas markets so you can take your pick this winter!
When: Late November – 31 December
Berlin is one of the best cities for getting into the Christmas spirit, as it turns into a wonderful blaze of fairy lights and roasted chestnuts around the Christmas period. One of the best markets to visit has to be the WeihnachtsZauber at Gendarmenmarkt, which is located in the centre of the city, surrounded by three of Berlin’s most impressive buildings: the Deutsche Dom, the Konzerthaus and the Franzozische Friedrichstadtkirche.
The market has a cosy atmosphere with hundreds of stalls and a giant Christmas tree, with daily live performances taking place for visitors. An array of amazing products are on sale, but what really stands out is the food! A real mix, you can find anything from French specialties to German and Austrian cuisine, amongst many others.
Where to stay: Accommodation in Berlin
When: Late November – January
Every year the Champs-Élysées holds the largest thematic Christmas market in Paris with over 100 wooden chalets. A warm and magical atmosphere runs all the way from the Champs-Elysees to La Concorde, and the stalls sell Christmas crafts, decorations, and wondrous French cuisine. The market has a unique setting during the evenings as it is surrounded by illuminated Parisian buildings, not to mention an incredible 2.5km of lit Christmas trees made up of 400 individual alpines!
Where to stay: Accommodation near Champs-Élysées
When: 24th November – 24th December
Zurich hosts one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe. Visitors are immersed in the smell of mulled wine and spices as soon as they get off from the train, and are greeted by the beauty of a 50ft tall Christmas tree decorated with thousands of twinkling Swarovski crystals. The market takes place at the Main Train Station, which is turned into a Christmas wonderland, offering over 150 stalls for you to explore and purchase your Christmas goodies from.
Where to stay: Accommodation in Zurich
When: Mid-November – 3rd January 2015 (except Christmas day)
Perfect for families with young children and adults alike, London’s Winter Wonderland draws thousand of overseas visitors, but is also an event that all Londoners look forward to every winter! Hyde Park is transformed into a huge theme park, packed full of fairground rides, including carousels, fun houses, roller coasters, plus the Magic Ice Kingdom – the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink. If you’re not a fan of rides then worry not, simply head over to the Bavarian Village for hundreds of worldwide Christmas delicacies, including mulled wine and bratwurst, before hitting the many wooden stalls, where you’ll find plenty of Christmas gift ideas, jewellery, handmade crafts and tasty treats.
Where to stay: Accommodation near London
When: Mid-November – End of December
Why visit: This Christmas market is an incredible sight, surrounded by medieval houses fully decorated with fairy lights and rows of rustic Christmas stalls piled with gingerbread, wooden toys and delicate Christmas glass ornaments. Local trumpeters play carols from the the rooftops, and doughnuts are served hot with cranberry sauce. The market takes place against spectacular snow covered mountains and the old town is transformed into a fairy tale land, where famous Christmas characters are brought to life by actors.
Where to stay: Accommodation near Innsburck, Tyrol