‘Tis the Season for Christmas Markets: Our Favourite European Yuletide Markets
Come December, and thoughts turn to the upcoming Christmas and New Year season. City streets are decorated with garlands of lights and festive decorations, while department stores fill with holiday shoppers and public squares are taken over by Christmas markets.
The tradition of Christmas markets originated in Germany and the Alsace region of France, but today almost every European city hosts a Christmas market. Brightly decorated wooden stalls entice passers-by with their offerings: the smell of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts, glimmering glass ornaments, scented candles, traditional handicrafts, wooden toys, and a hot glass of mulled wine to warm cold hands.
A Christmas market is a delight for the senses! What better way to get into the holiday spirit than to visit a Christmas market and experience its festive magic?
Here we share a few of our favourite Christmas markets in Europe…
Noel in the city of lights
In December most famous thoroughfare in Paris is transformed into a winter wonderland. The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is lit up with 4000 colourful garlands of lights, while the white-painted wooden stalls making up the Christmas market display unique Christmas handicrafts, gifts and ornaments. The highlight is a giant 3500 m2 skating rink, twice as big as last year’s. With over 16 million visitors, the Christmas Market on the Champs-Elysées is one of the city’s most popular events of the year.
Dates: 15 November 2013 – 5 January 2014
For more details: Paris info [http://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/major-events/christmas-in-paris/file-christmas-markets/christmas-markets]
The city of Innsbruck, nestled in the snowy Austrian Alps, is the perfect setting for one of Europe’s most atmospheric Christmas markets. There are six different markets taking place across this charming Alpine town, each with its own special ambiance. The most scenic is the one centred in the historic old town, while kids will love the carousel and petting zoo at Marktplatz. In the evenings, locals come for a stroll on Maria-Theresien-Straße, the main shopping street, which is lit up with festive lights.
Dates: 15 November 2013 – 6 January 2014
For more details: Innsbruck Tourism [http://www.innsbruck.info/en/experience/events/detail/article/christkindlmaerkte.html]
Where to stay: Chalet Zillertal [http://www.passepartout-homes.com/holiday/Austria/Chalet-Zillertal/88], a luxury chalet nestled in the Alps.
Yuletide cheer along the Thames
London’s Queen’s Walk along the South Bank of the Thames is a favourite promenade with Londoners and tourists alike. This is also the site of the South Bank’s Christmas market and festival. The wooden chalets set up along the glittering waterfront tempt passers-by with festive food and drinks and unique gift-giving ideas. Warm up inside at the Southbank Centre where over 50 artists and designers present their creations, including jewellery, houseware, ceramics and textiles as part of the Designers/Makers Christmas Market.
Dates: 15 November – 24 December 2013
More details: South Bank Centre [http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/southbank-centre-christmas-market-1000456]
Located in the unique German-speaking region of South Tirol, Bolzano’s Christmas market has a long tradition. At the medieval centre of this Alpine town, neat rows of wooden market stalls showcase locally-made products like carved wooden statuettes, handmade decorations, and of course, traditional Christmas treats. Craftsmen can be seen at work creating the traditional crafts of this region. The live nativity scene under the Christmas tree is a highlight on the last Sunday of the market. Children will love the carousel, miniature train, puppet theatre, and the horse-drawn carriage ride through the city’s medieval squares and charming arcaded streets.
Dates: 28 November 2013 – 6 January 2014
For more details: Bolzano Tourist Board [http://www.bolzano-bozen.it/en/tradition/christmas-market.html]
Where to stay: San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge [http://www.passepartout-homes.com/holiday/italy/san-lorenzo-mountain-lodge/132], a luxurious private chalet in the Dolomite mountains.