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The time of advent is coming fast and many travelers already plan where to go this year to explore the most interesting Christmas markets around Europe. While Germany and France offer the oldest fairs, other countries are home to various remarkable attractions as well. Explore the best European Christmas markets presented by Tourism-Review.com.
The capital of Alsace offers magical atmosphere of the Strasbourg Christmas Market which dates back to 1570 making it the oldest fair in Europe. The local half-timbered houses decorated with giant red-and-white hearts, stars, angels and snowflakes above the cobbled streets offer unique chance to imbibe the authentic traditions. About 300 decorated stalls are spread out over 12 locations making Strasbourg one of the largest Christmas markets in the Old Continent. This year, the city will welcome Portugal as the guest country, whose charms and produce can be admired at the Portuguese village.
Photo: © P. Bastien / Cus
The Festive Fair
Every year, Ljubljana’s city center turns into the main attraction for the visitors as well as locals who refer to the venue as ´The Marry December in Ljubljana Old Town´. Decorated green stalls offering traditional products and gifts also delight those who can’t wait to taste the local varieties of mulled wine, honey, sausages, and grilled specialties. A number of festive events are held close by creating lively and cheerful atmosphere. Street performers, Christmas concerts, or even Grandpa Frost procession, and the Lights Switch-on are the popular events that together create one-of-a-kind atmosphere of the festive season.
A Christmas market in a city with hundreds of years of history is nothing but spectacular. The traditional Nuremberg market attracts visitors from near and far with its stalls offering gingerbread baked according to a 600-year old recipe, tasty Nuremberg sausages, and the hot mulled wine in a beautiful mug. The stagecoach tours are also very popular as well as the daily visits of the Christkind, and the market of the sister cities.
Photo: © Steffen Oliver Riese
Innsbruck’s Christmas Markets
Every advent, Innsbruck offers several markets ranging from the traditional one to the more modern version. Visitors can enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the market surrounded by medieval buildings in the Old Town. The market on the Maria-Theresien street on the other hand offers a sea of modern Christmas lights and an illuminated mountain crystal. The Marktplatz market is perfect for families with children as there are numerous events designed for the little ones including pony rides and a petting zoo. Innsbruck has something to offer to anyone.
The Dresden Striezelmarkt
The Dresden Striezelmarkt is Germany’s oldest Christmas market, and offers a blaze of lights, Christmas music, and traditional Saxon treats of the holiday season. The baroque city organizes eleven different markets including those with merry medieval atmosphere to the charm of Hüttenzauber. The traditional markets present many of the customs stemming from local industries like mining, woodworking and pottery.
Lille Christmas Market
During the advent, the whole town is covered by a huge crown of garlands. Lille’s Christmas market is, according to experienced travelers, a gourmet’s delight. Vin chaud (mulled wine), nougat, gingerbread, and pommes d’amour (toffee apples) are the most popular specialties offered at the 80 wooden chalets dotted around Place Rihour. Visitors seeking more chic gifts should explore the numerous boutiques in and around the area.
Moscow Christmas Festival
Moscow opens 34 Christmas fairs each year so there is plenty to choose from for the visitors. One of the highlights of the Moscow’s Christmas market is a huge glowing ball decorated with 9.5 km of LED lights – the biggest Christmas bauble in Russia. It is set on Manezh square, where the 17-meter high Christmas tree can be found as well. Another attraction is an extensive maze with exhibitions dedicated to different periods of Russian history. Moreover, both children and adults will enjoy a 100-meter high ice slide — the biggest slide in Russia. The Red Square Christmas market is set around one of the city’s largest ice rinks and also has an amusement park for children. The market is a perfect place to buy typical Russian souvenirs, like the babushka – the wooden dolls with many others inside.
Original Christmas Market
Founded in the 14th century as the so-called “Nicholaus Markets” the current Christmas fair in Munich provides a wide range of activities for the young and old. Baking cookies workshop for children, Bavarian signing lesson for adults, and the Krampus run for the daredevils. One of the biggest attractions of Munich is the manger market in Neuhauser Strasse. Anyone interested in creating their own authentic manger should visit the market with a history going back to the 16th century. The historical manger in the Town Hall’s Court of Ceremonies from 1953 is a great inspiration for any craftsman.
Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival
Right in the heart of the city, the Vörösmarty Square and St Stephen’s Square are the places where the visitors find perfect festive atmosphere. Sweet Hungarian pastries, crocheted items, traditional fur hats and gloves, pressed-flower jewellery, handmade chocolates and honey cakes – the market offers a wide range of local specialties. Besides the traditional mulled wine the visitors can taste cinnamon-pastry chimney cakes (kurtoskalacs) and toki pompos, a Hungarian-style pizza topped with bacon, onion and cream.
Bruges Christmas Market
Medieval Bruges, is a host to one of the most famous Christmas Markets in Belgium, offering the best of winter products, Christmas gifts and warm gluhwein and snacks. The Market Square, overlooked by the 13th-century Belfort (belfry), is the place where most of the decorated stalls are found during the advent. Handmade jewellery, wooden toys, hats and scarves, leather goods and, of course, chocolates are of great popularity among the fair’s visitors.