European Christmas markets are becoming very popular, with more and more shoppers from the UK travelling abroad to pick up unusual gifts while soaking in the culture and atmosphere. There are lots of Christmas markets to choose from, and choosing the best one to visit can be difficult, so here are some of the top contenders to help make the selection easier.
Germany’s Christmas markets are legendary, and are some of the best in Europe. Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of the very oldest, having recently celebrated its 580th anniversary. Originally held as a one day market, it has now evolved into a huge event that attracts over three million visitors every year from all over the world. Held throughout the Advent period, it sprawls across a huge section of Dresden’s city centre, and involves more than 250 stalls and stands.
All kinds of unusual gifts and trinkets can be purchased at this market, as well as delicious local food and drink specialities. Choose from traditional German seasonal ornaments such as candle pyramids, Räuchermann figures and carved decorations as well as tasty treats such as Stollen, pflaumentoffel, gluhwein and pfefferkuchen.
As well as offering an enormous choice of stalls, there are children’s activities including rides, arts and crafts and a puppet theatre, as well as special events for all the family and regular visits from Father Christmas.
Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
Berlin’s Alexanderplatz Christmas market is incredibly busy, and is full of joyful seasonal cheer. Characterised by its enormous Christmas pyramid which is decorated with 5000 lights, there are plenty of attractions here for all the family, including an outdoor ice rink, daily shows and entertainment and fairground rides.
Running throughout the Advent period, this enormous market is the perfect place to buy all kinds of exciting gifts such as pottery, tchotchkes and traditional Christmas pyramids. It is also the ideal location to try German food and drink specialities such as mulled wine, bratwursts and gingerbread Lebkuchen.
Vienna Christmas Market at the Rathausplatz
Germany is not alone in offering atmospheric and exciting Christmas markets, Austria too has its fair share and some of the best are found in Vienna. The city hall, or Rathausplatz market has a tradition that goes back to the 13th century and today offers shoppers 150 stalls packed with beautiful and authentic gifts such as leather clothing, knitted hats, puppets and miniature carved wooden houses. There is also the opportunity to sample seasonal delicacies such as roasted chestnuts, gingerbread hearts and candied fruits.
Strasbourg Christmas Market
France also has a long tradition of Christmas markets, and the city of Strasbourg with its atmospheric and beautiful setting holds one of the finest. Held in front of the beautiful Gothic cathedral, this market offers more than 300 chalets which sell all kinds of seasonal gifts. Attracting more than 2 million visitors from all over the world to sample the gorgeous local food products such as choucroute, baeckeoffe stew, freshly baked gingerbread and sausages, this market also offers a skating rink to entertain visitors once they have had their fill of shopping.
Stockholm Christmas Market
Sweden is exceptionally beautiful at Christmastime and what better way to celebrate the festive season than at Stockholm’s Old Town Christmas market. Held at Stortorget square for 100 years, this annual event is the best place to find authentic Swedish glass ornaments, beautiful jewellery and other fine crafts as well as getting the flavour of Sweden by tasting saffransbullar, reindeer sausages, glögg and pepparkakor.
Vanessa Tutzke is an editor at couporando.co.uk and specialized in saving and travel tips. She likes to travel around Europe. Her favourite Cities are Berlin and Dresden.