Christmas holidays may still seem weeks away but for holidaymakers hoping for a getaway, it’s important to start thinking ahead. Christmas markets are a very popular attraction over the festive season. They offer the perfect setting to get into the Christmas spirit as well an opportunity to get started on present shopping. So where are the best Christmas markets in Europe for 2019? These are the top 10.
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Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Dates: 30 November 2019 to 6 January 2020
With brightly decorated wooden huts stocking everything from local handicrafts to chocolate treats, the fittingly named Wenceslas Square celebrations are the epitome of Christmas. Expect school choirs singing carols and an interactive animal stable.
Top tip: Be sure to tuck into the hot sugar pastry known locally as trdelnik. The rolled dough is wrapped around a large stick and grilled in front of your eyes before being doused in a sugar and walnut mix.
Viennese Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
Dates: 16 November to 24 December
Known locally as the “Viennese Dream” markets, the unique backdrop of the City Hall offers a burst of seasonal joy at this Austrian market. Indulge in some of the many sweet treats on offer and listen to a range of international choirs singing well-known carols.
Top tip: If the cold gets a little too much, head inside the City Hall where children can enjoy cookie and candle making classes.
Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
Dates: 29 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Each year Brussels is transformed into a true winter wonderland filled to the brim with sparkling lights, unique decorations and even a weekly parade. There are 200 chalet-style stalls offering a range of local delicacies and take-away gifts and even a sound and light show.
Krakow Christmas Market, Krakow, Poland
Dates: 29 November 2019 to 7 January 2020
The annual Krakow Christmas fair, located on the main square is a sight to behold. You’ll find stalls filled with folk art and ornaments, candied foods and even pear trees for sale.
Top tip: Spend a little time planning your trip and book tickets in advance for the Christmas Music Concert.
Zagreb Christmas Market, Zagreb, Croatia
Dates: 29 November 2019 – January 1 2020
With everything from festive markets to live music and even an ice rink, Christmas is serious business in this Eastern-European destination. Alongside all of the typical offerings you’d expect from a Christmas market, there’s a huge Christmas tree on Ban Josip Jelačić Square and illuminated fountains, avenues of trees and lanterns as far as the eyes can see.
Top tip: Sample a baked štrukli from one of the many stalls; this local delicacy is like a delicious warm cheese pastry.
Cologne Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany
Dates: 25 November – 23 December 2019
Attracting millions of visitors from all over the world each year, the Cologne Christmas markets are located beneath the beautiful Cologne Cathedral, with hundreds of stalls creating the aroma of baked apples and mulled wine and a huge selection of individually crafted artisan gifts on offer.
Top tip: After you’re all marketed out, head onto one of the Yuletide river cruises and see the enchanting Rhine lit up in all its glory.
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Piazza Walther, Bolzano, Italy
Dates: 29 November 2019 – 6 January 2020
Bolzano is well known for its family traditions and celebration of Christianity and the markets definitely reflect this. With over 80 exhibitors, a mini market dedicated to the children and a feast including the likes of festive roasted pork and sweet fritters, there’s something for everyone.
Top tip: Don’t miss the rustic recreation of the nativity underneath the main Christmas tree, complete with the Holy Family, cow and donkey.
Lille Christmas Market, Lille, France
Dates: 22 November to 30 December 2019
Centre stage in the picturesque Place Rhiour town square you’ll find a giant Ferris Wheel adorned with fairy lights, signifying that Christmas has arrived. With row after row of stalls adorned with handmade gifts and homemade treats, the atmosphere is certainly something to behold. Be sure to indulge in a glass or two of world-famous French wine to really get you in the spirit!
Dates: 8 November to 21 December
The central hub of Manchester Christmas market is centred in Albert Square, complete with the usual stalls offering hot chocolates and waffles galore. The wintry wonderland is once again returning to Cathedral Gardens, offering a mythical beast themed ice village complete with ice bar, rink and grotto.
Top tip: Top tip: Make a full weekend out of your trip by setting up base in the beautiful and nearby Lake District. Within easy travelable distance to the markets, there’s a great selection of holiday cottages in the Lake District that offer open log fires and breath-taking winter views.
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Dates: 15 November 2019 to 7 January 2020
This year’s theme is “the symbol of love” and this transcends throughout the many decorations within the Town Hall Square in Estonia. The already erected Christmas tree will be adorned with heart-shaped decorations, as a symbol not only of the most heartfelt celebration of the year, but also the heart-shaped view that can be witnessed when viewing the Christmas Marketplace from above.
Top tip: Don’t miss one of the 3,000 performers that grace the centre stage each weekend leading up to the big day. With everything from singers to dancers, there’s a huge range of talent on display.
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