Best Christmas Market In Europe: Thinking of going on a holiday this Christmas season, then nothing could be a better place than the mystic world of Christmas markets in Europe. With its historical churches, mouth-watering dessert and mulled wine, these Christmas markets in Europe creates a picturesque view.
This amazing continent is home to hundreds of beautiful and amazing cities, but I have created a list of 5 best Christmas markets in Europe which are soothing to the eyes.
You can also check out my previous list of best historic and ancient places to visit in Europe.
1. The Delights of Belgium At Christmas
At any time of year Brussels is renowned for its cuisine, but the festive season means even more lovely things to try. The Grand-Place surrounded by its beautiful guildhouses is turned into a Christmas market, and is festooned with strings of lights.
As well as the usual Christmas decorations and steaming mulled wine, the market has some very good food stalls, selling gorgeous French olives, the utterly delicious Belgian chocolates, cooked mussels, and even steamed snails in garlic! You can buy jars of preserved fruit, and gingerbread men.
At this time of year an ice rink is set up at the Fish Market, and there are carol singers, jugglers and street musicians all making for a lively spectacle.
If you are in Belgium at this time of year, then you may also want to take a look at beatiful small Flemish town of Bruges, or Brugge, as the Flemish call it, where the shops do some beautiful lace goods that make marvellous Christmas presents.
Bruges has some lovely Belgian pubs too, where you can sip Stella Artois and eat snacks while you contemplate the Christmas shopping list.
If you want to see more Christmas markets, then Liege has a great market of 155 wooden chalet stalls at this time of year, where you can buy jewellery, crafts, toys and Christmas decorations.
The market, which runs right up until 30th December also serves some real gastronomic treats, such as forest mushrooms on toast, oysters, foie gras, chocolate and special Christmas beers.
With its fairytale architecture, fine goods and conviviality, Belgium is an exciting destination in the run-up to Christmas.
2. Dresden Christmas Market stollen traditions and fun
Dresden has the oldest Christmas market in Europe, dating back to 1434. The market specialises in traditional crafts, with beautiful items of woodcarving, indigo-printed cloth, pottery, and filigree lace available.
As in many German Christmas markets, hot spicy mulled wine and gingerbread are also highly popular with the market goers. You can also get some pretty neat decorations for your Christmas tree, with delightful advent stars and pretty blown-glass decorations for sale. The Dresden Christmas Market runs from 27th November to 24th December.
The market is one of the older ones, dating back at least to 1434 when it was first mentioned, and it may well have been on the go for some time before that, making it probably the oldest Christmas market in Germany.
Going back such a long way, the market is really steeped in tradition, and the highlight is the Stollen Festival, which is held on the second Sunday in December. Stollen is a delicious German fruitcake, which is very popular at Christmas time.
In the 16th century, the local Stollen bakers would ceremonially carry their cakes through the town to the castle, where they would present them to the local prince, the lucky man. The prince, being of generous heart, and aware of his own good fortune, would cut them with a very long knife and philanthropically hand out pieces to the poor.
The way this is done nowadays is that one giant 3,000 kg Stollen is paraded around Dresden as part of the festival, being looked after by a beautiful “Stollenmädchen”.
So if you love a bit of history and tradition, Dresden probably provides the ideal Christmas market for you – especially if you love stollen too.
The Christmas Market in Nuremberg is one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe. The setting of the market is beautiful, with almost two hundred stalls crammed into the traditionally cobbled square on the slope beneath the Frauenkirche.
Of course there is the ubiquitous Christmas market mulled wine, which goes brilliantly with the gorgeous, tasty Nürnburger Bratwurst, a type of thin and spicy sausage, that is on offer. Other delights are the honey-gingerbread which is produced in the region.
The market opens on 28th November, and ends on Christmas Eve, allowing plenty of time for Christmas shopping.
This market itself has a long history, dating back to 1628, and was known as a regional centre for the trading of handmade wood figurines. The market certainly has some interesting traditions that go back into the mists of time.
For example, every two years a young man or woman is appointed as a “Christ child”, who opens the market at an official ceremony, and then goes around the town spreading Christmas cheer in all manner of ways, dressed in an elaborate gold and white costume, with a large golden crown on their head.
The market looks especially spectacular in the evening, when it is lit with hundreds of tiny lights. The evening is made especially pleasant by the bands, ranging from brass bands to jazz bands, that arrive to entertain the market goers.
With a glass of hot spicy wine, a couple of Bratwurst, and some good music to listen to, the Nuremberg market is pretty heavenly.
4. Bath & Cotswold Villages at Christmas
What could be more enjoyable in terms of Christmas shopping than to combine one of England’s most elegant cities, with some of its most picturesque villages?
Every Christmas, the beautiful area between the magnificent Bath Abbey and the ancient Roman Baths, is turned into that Christmas shopper’s delight known as Bath Christmas Market, with over a hundred traditional wooden chalet-type stalls, offering some great handmade and unusual gifts, Christmas decorations and tasty Christmas delicacies.
The colourful Christmas Market is guaranteed to get you in the Yuletide mood, especially as it all takes place with the sound of choirs singing out the traditional Christmas carols in Bath Abbey – in fact it’s worth breaking up the Christmas shoppping by nipping into the Abbey, which is well worth a visit in its own right, to soak in the ambience and listen to the singers first hand.
That sweet sound drifting through the market, along with the bright lights, and the warming mulled wine spiced with cinnamon, creates a magical atmosphere that will get even the most cynical Bah-humbug-type into a cheerful and festive spirit. There are even street performers playing music and entertaining the visitors, which livens up the proceedings no end.
And if you have a few days to spare, why not follow up Bath Christmas Market with visits to some of England’s most lovely traditional villages, in the charming Cotswolds, which are reminiscent of bygone times?
Stow-on-the-Wold is well known for its tea-shops, inns and top quality antique shops. Burford is regarded as the gateway to the Cotswolds and is a village of golden English limestone, tucked neatly beneath the rolling Cotswold hills.
Bath and the Cotswolds at Christmas make a great break, will give you plenty of gift ideas, and will surely get you into the holiday mood.
5. Cave Shopping in Valkenburg At Christmas
Visit Valkenburg in the Netherlands for your Christmas shopping, and you will feel like you are in Santa’s Grotto. This is because underneath the city centre is a network of caves where a candlelit market is held at Christmas.
Every year the market has a theme, and for this year it is the Dutch legend of Reynout the Knight and the Book of Wisdom. The market runs for a full calendar month from 21st November to 21st December.
Valkenburg is in the south of the Netherlands, and is a delight for the tourists all year round – it can be visited as a daytrip from Maastricht. There is a steep hill in the centre of the town, with a ruined castle on top. In the town centre there are loads of small pubs, bars and restaurants, and plenty of good meals and drinks to be had.
If you are a lover of beer, then be sure to try a glass of Valkenburg Wit, which is a rather nice wheat beer, that has even made its way to the Cambridge Beer Festival.
There is even the authentic German bierkeller “Frankfurter Scheune” in the middle of it all. And if all this is not enough, there is also a Christmas funfair, with a festive carousel, dodgems and a variety of small children’s rides.
And to complete your Christmas shopping, Millenium Square is just around the corner from the fabulous indoor shopping centre known as The Light, which has The Body Shop, Joy, and a host of other big name shops.
So here was the list of some of the best Christmas markets in Europe which should be in your bucket list during Christmas season. If you liked this list then please do not forget to share it with your friends too.