Every year as winter creeps in, millions of people fly off to seek festive cheer in the form of the Christmas Markets. There’s mulled wine, wooden handicrafts, and an unmistakable buzz of excitement for the holidays. We’ve put together a guide to the best options for a Christmas city getaway so you can get wrapped up from the cold and join in on the fun.
The markets originated in Germany, and are a centuries-old tradition of a place for joyful gatherings of villagers on cold winter nights. Today, Germany’s markets, Christkindlmarkts, are some of the best.
Munich’s markets are said to date back to as early as the 1600’s and still have an enchantingly traditional feel to them today. Overall Munich hosts more than a dozen markets including Tollwood, for ethnic crafts, and the Kripperlmarkt, devoted to Nativity figures. The most popular is The Christkindlmarkt, held in front of the town hall on the Marienplatz (St. Mary’s Square) with a ginormous Christmas tree illuminating light over the wooden stalls. On sale are gingerbread men (Lebkuchen), wood carvings, glassware from the Bavarian Forest and other quirky crafts. For some merry entertainment, there’s Advent music performed from the balcony of the Town Hall at 5.30pm every night.
Berlin, Germany’s capital, is vast and hosts a wide variety of locations for its magical Christmas markets. One of the most special is the Charlottenburg Castle Christmas Market as the castle and its lights provide a stunning setting for the vendors selling arts, ancient handicrafts and much more.
The liveliest in the city is the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market as not only are there handicrafts on sale but also ice skating and the largest mobile toboggan run in Europe. The run is 12 metres high and 70 metres long so if you’re brave enough you’ll be in for a thrill of a ride.
Another option, the Weihnachtszauber, is the held in one the most beautiful squares in the city as it holds three striking buildings: the Knonzerthaus, the Deutsche Dom and the Franzozische Friedrichstadtkirche. If you’re planning to stay over the New Year season, there’s celebrations on the 31st December, in this market with an entrance fee of 12€.
The delicious smells rising from the Old Town Square is enough to draw you there to explore the Christmas Markets. There’s grog (mulled wine) and honey liquor, a traditional Czech beverage, and plenty of delicious food cooked right in front of you. What’s more, the sweet sound of carol singing can be heard as you’re exploring the sales of Christmas potpourri (purpura), handmade soap, wooden toys and so much more.
In Stockholm the festivities are really remarkable and the Christmas spirit is something else. There’s beautiful Swedish craft products filling every markets as well as, of course, delicious food. Smoke sausage, eel, salmon, gingersnaps (pepparkakor) and mulled wine (glögg). The Christmas Market at Beckmans College of Design offers a unique experience as crafts, art, jewellery and other accessories are produced and sold by students.
The Viennese love the social aspect of the markets, crowded round enjoying Punsch or Gluhwein, mulled wine, and spicy Christmas cookies. The Viennese market in front of the City Hall is charming and inside the hall is a children’s area where they are able to make cookies and candles. Another good spot is the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace filled with traditional handicrafts and the setting is enchanting, the palace is one of Vienna’s most gorgeous sights.
For something closer to home, London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is perfect to get your fix of Christmas spirit. There’s markets, bavarian-style bars, a fair ground, ice skating and magical decorations. This year it’s Winter Wonderland’s 10th birthday which means it’s sure to be even more special than ever. There’s something for every age including the Nutcracker on Ice production as well as the Munich Looping- the world’s biggest transportable rollercoaster.
Which markets catching your eye for a winter getaway? Let us know in the comments below.
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