With the festive season well and truly upon us, let us take you on a quick tour through some of the biggest and best Christmas markets across Europe.
Every year, thousands of locals and tourists alike flock to these markets to soak up the festive atmosphere and pick up all kinds of hand-crafted wares. From knitted hats and jumpers to hand-carved wooden toys and decorations, the markets offer one-of-a-kind gifts that are ideal for giving as presents or to keep personally.
On top of those beautiful market stalls and exquisite decorations, there’s always some locally produced street food and winter warming beverages around every corner. And of course, not forgetting those cheeky little treats provided by chocolatiers and confectioners.
The German capital boasts over 50 different pop-up markets, capturing the atmosphere of a city bathed in history and tradition. Sights and sounds are wonder to behold, as the long nights are brought to life by dazzling lights and bustling crowds.
From vast, open squares to small side streets, handmade gifts and traditional food are in abundance. And, of course, not forgetting the flowing seasonal staple Glühwein – a warm, spiced wine – providing the essential feeling of Germany in winter.
Every November and December sees the beautiful Tivoli Gardens transformed into a Winter Wonderland, right in the heart of Copenhagen. Tivoli’s Christmas lights are notorious for astounding locals and visitors from all around, but the magic doesn’t stop there.
Following decorated pathways and snow-topped trees, market stalls are brimming with intricate ornaments and traditional sweets that are as gorgeous to look at as they are to taste. Father Christmas also makes an appearance in his festive grotto as well as out and about the magnificent snowy village.
Known locally as “the merry December in Ljubljana Old Town”, a cheerful atmosphere flows through the city’s festive market. Due to its popularity around the country, many natives look forward to the Festive Fair as an opportunity to bump into old friends.
Stalls often showcase the wares of young, talented Slovenian designers. As new and innovative clothing styles, ornaments and toys often fuse Eastern European traditions with contemporary Christmas celebrations, the market is an extremely exciting one to check out every year.
There are various Christmas markets throughout Paris, the largest of which lines the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Accompanied by beautiful illuminations, the tourist hotspot features wooden chalets overflowing with handmade wares: ornaments, toys, decorations and clothing.
Parisian Christmas markets originate from those first showcased in Germany and feature crafts and tastes from all over Europe. French merchants, however, have also managed to bring and element of home to visitors with locally produced wines, cheeses and pâtés on offer.
Sweden’s capital offers festive markets in the main square of Old Town and at the open air museum of Skansen across the bay. The beautiful surroundings are decorated with lights, ornaments and (fingers crossed) the typical Nordic weather produces picturesque, snow-capped roofs.
Local delicacies like elkmeat and grilled herring are plentiful, alongside more familiar favourites. Smoked sausage, fresh gingerbread and mulled wine are readily available, as carol singers and live reindeer add to the sense of a Scandinavian winter wonderland.
Boasting more than 100 stalls, the Christmas market at Plaza Mayor is the oldest and largest in Spain. The main square in the heart of Madrid plays host to colourful displays of festive lights and nativity scenes year after year.
Alongside the typical Christmas market stalls, the city’s oldest nougat shop offers tastes of almond nougat and sweet liquors to all. It’s also common to see vendors selling unique and quirky costumes, wigs and other accessories in time for the Spanish equivalent of “April” Fools’ Day on 28 December.
Slightly breaking with tradition, Amsterdam doesn’t hold one particular Christmas market, but the city still comes alive with the magic of the festive season. Neighbourhood markets run at various times throughout the winter months, offering scaled down versions of typical European markets.
Floating along the canal, the Bloemenmarkt flower market is the one stop to pick up a pine tree along with other decorative flowers the city is famed for. Meanwhile, an emerging tradition of Sunday markets during the run up to Christmas are often filled with quirky and innovative gifts otherwise not seen