It’s almost that wonderful time of year! Although some may dislike the Christmas adverts commencing so early, we think it’s about time to start getting our festivities on starting with selecting the best Christmas markets in Europe to help you get in the spirit!
How did we decide on the list? We considered the number of festive activities, the amount of market stalls, and overall Christmas cheer of each major market in Europe.
Valkenburg Christmas market dates: 18th November to 23rd December 2016.
If you’re looking to embrace the Christmas spirit, Valkenburg is the Christmas destination for you! The Dutch city is home to not just one, but many of the best Christmas markets in Europe! Christmas City Valkenburg, is the ultimate homage to Kris Kringle, with numerous markets, including one in castle ruins and the oldest underground market in Europe.
Don’t miss the twice weekly Christmas parade through the city, or the Route d’Amuse—a culinary walking route focusing on local foods throughout the tour. From shopping in a cave, a visit to Santa’s home, and Europe’s largest singing Christmas trees in Santa’s Village, Valkenburg is a top contender for Christmas market enthusiasts.
What’s the best way to get to Valkenburg? Traveling to Valkenburg isn’t as tricky as it may seem. Catch a flight to Eindhoven before catching the train to Valkenburg, located just an hour away. Simple.
Antwerp Christmas Market
Antwerp Christmas market dates: 10th December to 8th January 2017.
Looking for a European Christmas market with a twist? Head to Antwerp.
Christmas is celebrated very differently in Belgium. Antwerp’s Christmas has the seasonal warm and fuzzy features, from illuminated market stalls to scenes of the Nativity. But among the 90+ stalls, you’ll find foods from as far as Southeast Asia, as well as Spanish tapas, Italian delicacies and, of course, french fries!
Don’t miss out on the delicious Antwerpse handjes’ hand-shaped cookies or chocolates. And, of course, don’t miss the pomme frites.
“The Christmas market of Antwerp may not be the biggest one in Europe, but it’s surely one of the most exciting! At the many food and drink stalls, you can indulge in local specialties such as Belgian chocolates and sweets, beignets, beers, and genever.
Next to “Het Steen”, the medieval castle at the Schelde river, you can experience the good old Christmas magic at the ice skating rink, enjoy sliding down the tubing track or play a game of Winter mini-golf.
The more romantic can go kissing under the mistletoe at the Grand Place or take a ride on the Ferris wheel. Every year the city organizes something special such as a light show and a winter wellness spa, so come and discover what Antwerp has in (the Christmas) stall for you this year!” – Joëlle, www.worldwanderista.com
Brussels Christmas Market
Brussels Christmas market dates: 25th November – 1st January 2017.
“The Christmas markets in Brussels are known as Winter Wonders and are a magical affair. Starting at the Grand Palace, over 240 wooden chalets and market stalls extend throughout the streets, covering the one and a half miles to place Ste-Catherine.
It features 35m of toboggan slopes, a 200-foot long outdoor skating rink, and a glittering Ferris wheel with over 18,000 fair lights.
Be sure to visit some of the quaint wooden-roofed huts which sell handmade arts and crafts – they make for fabulous souvenirs.” – Megan, www.mappingmegan.com.
The best way to get to Brussels? Direct flights from the UK to Brussels are plentiful, start planning your Belgian Christmas break.
Strasbourg Christmas market dates: 24th November–24th December 2016.
“Considered a gem on the Christmas Market circuit, the festivities in Strasbourg, France, offer Christmas lovers an experience unlike any other.
Dating back to 1570 and affectionately dubbed the Capital of Christmas, visitors can enjoy perusing 300+ chalets (stalls) spread across 12 sites in the city while sipping tasty vin chaud (mulled wine).
The essence of the holiday scene is marked by a unique twinkling ambiance of holiday décor that adorns the façade of Strasbourg’s historic buildings. Be sure not to miss the bredle market at Place d’Austerlitz, dedicated entirely to Alsatian holiday cookies and food.
“For an unparalleled trip to Europe’s North Pole, head to Strasbourg between November 25 through December 31!” -Margo, www.theoverseasescape.com.
What’s the best way to get to Strasbourg? The most convenient way to get to Strasbourg is by flight. Check out your choices and start planning your Christmassy trip!
Colmar Christmas market dates: 25th November to 30th December 2016
Colmar exudes Christmas cheer. Enjoy not just one, but five wondrous Christmas markets. Hot chocolate in hand, take in the illuminated streets alongside the city’s canals. For those traveling with kids, a trip to the town’s square is a must.
This is the center of Christmas celebrations where your little ones are invited to send their list off to St. Nicholas himself in one of the biggest Santa post boxes in the world!
For the grown-ups, don’t miss out on the Christmas cellar lying underneath the city and get merry with some of the best wine in the region.
We believe the combination of spectacular lights and activities for all ages makes Colmar one of the best European Christmas markets out there!
Frankfurt Christmas market dates: 23rd November to 22nd December 2016.
Frankfurt is the embodiment of the perfect German Christmas market: a stroll through the iconic Römerberg square can cause the Grinch in all of us to get into the Christmas spirit. Is it the charm of the ancient buildings? Or the consequence of sampling too much glühwein?
The answer is not that simple. As one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, the market hosts a grand variety of activities, market stalls, and medieval architecture which make the Frankfurt Christmas market one of the best in Europe!
“One of Germany’s oldest and largest Weihnachtsmärkte in terms of visitor numbers. Over 200 stalls fill the charming Römerberg alone. Get the gossip and inside stories about Frankfurt and its famous people on a guided walk around the Christmas market with Frankfurt Tourism experts. Climb to the balcony of Nikolaikirche for a panoramic view of the action. Listen for the simultaneous chiming of Frankfurt’s church bells on 26.11.2016 and 24.12.2016: 50 bells, 10 churches! Try out the Bethmännchen, Brenten (both marzipan pastries), and Quetschemännsche (small figures of nuts, prunes, and raisins), typical Frankfurt sweet treats.” Tony and Helen, www.travelsignposts.com
The best way to get to Frankfurt? There are daily direct flights to Frankfurt international airport.
As the industrial capital of Germany, Berlin may not be your number one Christmas market destination. But hear us out, the city plays host to numerous Christmas markets throughout the season which offer visitors a diverse choice of Christmassy cheer. Head to the Gendarmenmarkt for the full traditional German Christmas market experience.
If you’re looking for something a little more uber-urban check out Berlin’s alternative Christmas market at Holy Heimat. At Holy Heimat you can enjoy scrumptious meat-free Christmas dishes and pick up bohemian designed products for your loved ones back home.
Berlin Christmas market dates: 21st November to 31st December 2016.
Bolzano Christmas market dates: 24th November 2016 to 6th January 2017.
Want to get cultured? Check out the Bolzano Christmas market and delve into the Christmas traditions of South Tyrol: a region of Austria which shares borders and traditions with northern Italy. This year the market will celebrate their 26th anniversary and in doing so means the celebrations will be huge!
Each weekend there are concerts and festivities. Don’t miss out on the city’s parade on December 8th – devoted to Saint Nicolas and the Krampus! We love the mixture of folklore and community atmosphere which makes Bolzano one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Weihnachtsmarkt am Spittelberg – Vienna
When it comes to Vienna you are spoilt for choice. Under Vienna’s lights, you can enjoy Christmas cheer at several locations. It is Vienna’s most famous and largest Christmas market on Rathausplatz (City Hall square) which makes our list as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Ice skate under one of Europe’s most impressive Baroque structures or pick up handcrafted goods and decorative snow globes. Vienna is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway this Christmas.
The best way to get to Vienna? You can find direct flights to Vienna from any major European airport and indirect flights from major USA airports.
Belfast Christmas Market Dates: 19th November to 22nd December.
Unwrap all Belfast has to offer this Christmas starting with the traditional stalls outside Belfast City Hall. “With even more variety, Christmas Market lovers will find an exciting selection of hand-painted pottery, continental food, decorations, and a wide range of festive arts and crafts from across Europe and beyond.
The city’s award-winning St George’s Market is also a source of great local gifts and fabulous food (open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) – Belfast’s much-loved market gets festive in December where visitors can shop for the perfect gifts and enjoy family activities & live music.” Fiona, – www.visitbelfast.com
Birmingham Christmas market dates: 17th November to 29th December.
Birmingham Christmas market brings the traditional features of the famous Frankfurt Christmas market home to the UK. Although this is the 15th anniversary of Frankfurt market coming to Birmingham, the two cities have had a partnership since 1966!
Credit: Flickr.com Tony Hisgett https://www.flickr.com/photos/hisgett/
As the largest Christmas market outside Germany and Austria, take joy in the German cuisine including pretzels, schnitzels, bratwursts with traditional glüwein and/or weissbier. You can check out the festival program on the city’s Christmas market website.
Don’t forget to check out the gingerbread creations—with German terms of endearment, such as “Schatzi” written across them—while listening to the sounds of traditional music. Oh, and don’t miss the carousel!
How to get to Birmingham? Birmingham has great connections within the UK, find your ideal journey and travel to Birmingham!