Get into the Festive spirit with a visit to one of the many enchanting Christmas markets, which have become a key part of the holiday season. Pick-up hand-crafted gifts and Christmas decorations as you wander through the stalls sipping on hot drinks and enjoying local food.
We’ve selected our Top 10 Christmas Markets for that unbeatable festive feeling.
Bath 22nd November – 9th December 2018
With over 180 twinkling chalets surrounding Bath Abbey and the town’s picturesque Georgian streets, it’s the perfect setting for a magical Christmas Market for the whole family to enjoy.
The focus is on local makers and designers showcasing their artisan gifts, so you can shop whilst knowing you’ll be supporting local businesses. You’ll find tasty food and drink to satisfy any appetite; from a delicious hog roast, to chocolate waffles and warming mulled wine to keep you warm while you browse.
Prague 1st December 2018 - 6th January 2019
What could be more festive than visiting the hometown of Good King Wenceslas? The city comes into its own in December with its elegant old houses, palaces and towers, cobblestoned streets and squares providing a fitting backdrop for Christmas
The beautiful city has a number of markets with the most popular in Old Town Square, with stalls selling traditional Czech crafts, a fabulous nativity scene and a not to be missed Bethlehem Inn-like stable of livestock, pony rides for the little ones. A short distance away, Wenceslas Square hosts its own market, specialising in handmade goods crafted from wood, glass, iron and steel, and is typically adorned with sweeping decorations across the building. Make sure to check out the times for the choice of market, as each one in the city has different opening dates/times.
Copenhagen 19th November– 31st December 2018
Start off the festivities with a hygge Christmas experience in the beautiful city of Copenhagen. The number one Christmas Market in the city is without a doubt at Tivoli Gardens and a visit is a must for Copenhageners in December. The historic garden will be filled with glittering Christmas lights, the cutest wooden houses decorated with pine branches, and snow-covered trees to create that perfect Nordic Christmas atmosphere.
Father Christmas and his reindeer will also be there to welcome everyone, and the amusements park’s 27 fun rides will keep the whole family entertained. The best time of day to visit is after dark when more than half a million lights create a magical Christmas atmosphere and light up the winter darkness.
NB: To visit Tivoli's Christmas market, you're required to pay entrance fee to the garden.
Birmingham 15 November - 23 December 2018
Started in 1997, the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmiingham’s Victoria Square is the largest German market outside Germany and Austria, and is centrepiece of the city’s festive calendar. Enjoy the live bustling atmosphere of the small village in the heart of the city as you shop for traditional gifts, jewellery, decorations and handmade toys at the 120 alpine-style cabins. You’ll find delicious German fare like pretzels, schnitzels, roasted almonds and bratwursts, washed down with a warming glass of glühwein or a delicious hot chocolate.
Cologne 26 November - 23 December 2018
Image by: Chris Macheras
Cologne’s Christmas markets attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year to soak up the festive season. There are 7 different Cologne Christmas Markets, each one with a different theme and feel to it, and it’s worth making a plan to try and visit as many of them as you can.
One of the most attractive markets is the one on the Alter Markt in front of Cologne´s town hall. The Heinzelmännchen (house gnomes) open their traditional Christmas market in the heart of Cologne’s old town late November. From treats, toys, through to handicrafts and Christmas products, there is something for all and Children will love the roundabout, puppet theatre, Santa Claus’ quarter and many toy stands,
Frankfurt 26 November - 22 December 2018
©Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board, Photo: Holger-Ullmann
Frankfurt’s Christmas Market is one of the world’s oldest festive markets and it’s history traces back to 1393, when the market was accompanied by religious plays. Today it is one of the largest Christmas markets in all of Germany.
A giant Christmas tree decorates the market square with its beautiful half-timbered houses and festive lights. Enjoy local specialities, such as the Bethmännchen Christmas cookies with marzipan and almonds and hot apple wine, whilst you browse the local handicrafts on beautifully decorated stalls.
For a departure from the Germanic Christmas markets, head to Italy to discover the festive city of Bologna it’s Fiera di Santa Lucia. Given the city’s gastronomic reputation, fabulous food is a given including torrone – a Christmassy, Italian nougat as well as chocolate dipped citrus peel.
The beautiful decorated market stalls offer beautiful handcrafted gifts, decorations and wooden crib figurines.
Strasbourg 23 November - 30 December 2018
As the self-proclaimed ‘Capital of Christmas’, Strasbourg’s ‘Christkindelsmärik’ Christmas markets are hugely popular. Dotted around the picturesque Alsatian town, the markets each have an individual feel with a guest country invited every year to display their Christmas wares in one area, this year a Finnish village will settle on Place Gutenberg.
The market spreads out across the centre of the town, focused around Cathedral square where hundreds of stalls sell crafts, typical Alsatian Christmas decorations, toys, local delicacies and mulled wine to keep you warm as you browse.
Madrid 23 November – 23 December 2018
Madrid puts on a great show at Christmas, with thousands of sparkly lights hung across every street, beautiful Christmas trees and festive markets for the whole family.
Madrid’s main traditional Christmas market is held on the city’s Plaza Mayor, and has been going strong since the 19th century. Over 100 wooden stalls sell everything from nativity scenes to beautiful handicrafts as wigs and jokes for the Day of the Holy Innocents, Spain’s version of April Fool’s Day, which takes place on December 28.
Chicago 6 November– 24 December 2018
Image by: Timmy Samuel https://www.starbellystudios.com/
Looking for a Christmas Market a little further afield? Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop has been inspired by the beautiful markers in Nuremberg, but with an American twist.
The market has become a Chicago institution with typical German food and drinks, entertainment from brass bands, choirs and dance troops as well as a large Christmas tree and a Santa house.
- Bring small denomination change/small notes
- In some markets stalls that sell food do not sell alcohol, so you’ll be going to different stalls. Get the drink first as you can keep warm while in the queue for the food
- Keep warm and wear lots of layers
- If you are looking for a quieter experience avoid weekends and late evenings
- Don’t forget to bring plenty of bags for your purchases and make sure you leave enough room in your Antler case for bringing your gifts home