14 November 2019
Nothing quite kickstarts that magical festive feeling like a trip to the Christmas markets. The scents of hog roast and sweet treats filling the air, the sight of nutcrackers standing in formation on wooden stalls and the sound of carols ringing through the streets. The Christmas markets we have here in Ireland are great fun, but for the full authentic experience, we need to pay a visit to our friends in Europe have been doing it for centuries.
Here are our top six Christmas markets to visit in the run-up to Christmas 2019.
The Hungarian capital is home to two sets of Christmas markets. The older and more traditional option is found in Vorosmarty Square and runs from early November right up to New Year’s Day, delighting visitors with traditional Hungarian dishes such as Goulash, dumplings, strudel and chimney cake. Throughout the season, there is a series of festive concerts held in the square, which are great to get involved with (even if you may not know the words in Hungarian).
The other Christmas market stalls are found by the Basilica and are well-known for the tall Christmas tree that sits beside them, encircled by an ice-rink for skating, and the Christmas laser shows that illuminate the Basilica at night.
Known locally as “Christkindlmarkt”, Vienna’s Christmas markets date back to the Middle Ages. Since their inception, a lot has changed and there are now officially more than 20 Christmas markets across the city running from the middle of November until Boxing Day.
The Christmas Village Belvedere Palace sits beside the beautiful baroque palace, which provides a magical backdrop to the festive fun. Wander myriad stalls, admiring the traditional handicrafts on sale as the smell of mulled wine fills the air and enchants you.
Between 30th November and 6th January, Prague’s Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are transformed into a veritable winter wonderland. Surrounded by the postcard-perfect buildings, it’s impossible not to become swept up by the Christmas atmosphere all around you during an advent visit to the Prague markets.
The stalls proudly showcase seasonal Czech cuisine in all forms so expect to be tempted by sumptuous barbecued kielbasa sausages, spit-roasted hams, traditional gingerbreads, and savoury and sweet pancakes. Drinks are also a big part of the celebrations and Prague puts its own spin on a couple of Christmas classics, serving up their citrus twist on mulled wine known as Svarak, and a warm rum-based drink called grog, which is sure to blow away the winter chill.
"Prague is the picture postcard of Christmas markets. With the old town square, Charles Bridge and its famous castle all magically lit up, it is a stunning sight to see"
Sarah, Travel Counsellor
The markets in Tallinn were voted as the best in the world for 2019 and it’s easy to see why. In the lead up to Christmas, the city seems more like the setting for a Brothers Grimm fairy tale than a European Capital. Often lined with a blanket of snow, the markets sit within a medieval square at the foot of a huge Christmas tree, the erecting of which dates back to 1441.
Young visitors to the markets can enjoy the wonder of meeting the big man himself in his very own house as they tell him what they want for Christmas and who knows, if they’ve been good, he may even reward them with some sweets.
Strasbourg's Christmas market is one of the oldest in Europe. Sat within a UNESCO world heritage site, over 300 wooden chalet stalls fill the city square and adjoining streets every year, exuding a classical charm. Thousands of fairy lights, a towering twinkling tree, public concerts and an open-air ice rink all add to the festive experience
A highlight of the celebrations is the recreation of the Nativity scene in Strasbourg Cathedral, which features live actors and animals and is performed each weekend in the run-up to Christmas Day.
As well as the traditional markets, Strasbourg is also home to a more modern take on the classic. The ‘OFF Market’ is a platform for local producers to display their goods with an emphasis on mindful consumption where recycling, exchanging and fair trade are all central to proceedings.
Between 27th November and 24th December, Marienplatz in the centre of Munich hosts the city’s traditional Christmas markets. Expect advent music, glowing wooden stalls, fresh Bavarian cuisine and plenty of local brews and glühwein (mulled wine). Just a short stroll from the main square at Rindermarkt is the cosy collection of stalls known as Sternenplatzl where the smell of incense fills the air and handcrafted Christmas baubles decorate the storefronts.
Sitting alongside these conventional markets is the more energetic Wintertollwood, where live concerts and shows take place, surrounded by quirky craft stalls and vendors serving food from around the world.
To book your magical Christmas markets trip, speak to your local Travel Counsellor today!