Christmas Markets in Europe

By Kaitlin Hurtado on December 12, 2019

Let’s say you find yourself traveling in Europe during the holiday season and are completely lost on how to best celebrate the most wonderful time of the year? Christmas markets in Europe are a sight to behold – there is nothing more festive than spending hours in various Christmas markets in Europe. These Christmas markets are common throughout Europe during the holiday season and all offer their own perks depending on the location. From gingerbread and mulled wine to shopping for trinkets from various stalls, these Christmas markets are the perfect solution to having extra time during your holiday travels.

Luckily for you, we have made your holiday-themed endeavors abroad all the more easier. Check out this list of Christmas markets in Europe that are worth checking out.

1. Marche de Noel: Lille, France 

Lille’s annual Christmas market, Marche de Noel, is the perfect combination of French tradition and Flemish influence. At Place Rihour, 80 chalet-style stalls host holiday-themed gifts, foods, religious figurines, and items from foreign places such as Russia, Quebec, and Poland. The Christmas market is no stranger to heavy foot traffic — over 900,000 people visit the market for its festivities over the course of the winter holidays.

The journey is worth it, some even commuting two hours from London. The Christmas market also hosts a ferris wheel on Place du General de Gaulle (Grande Palace), the city’s main square. View the exquisite Christmas market from up above for a view like no other.

2. Christkindlmarkt: Salzburg, Austria 

Christkinlmarkt in Salzburg is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. Documents dating back to the 15th century describe the early days of Christkindlmarkt, describing elaborate crafts sold by elderly women in front of the Salzburg cathedral during Advent.

As historical as it is, it is on the smaller side when it comes to Christmas markets in Europe. There are only 96 stalls in downtown Salzburg, all selling a range of crafts, comfy slippers, and other clothing items and food to snack on, including gingerbread, nuts, and sausages.

Photo: Pexels

3. Marienplatz markets: Munich, Germany 

A 100-foot Christmas tree is surrounded by craft stalls in this Christmas market. Market-goers can feats on sausages, potato pancakes, and gingerbread and wine. The “Heavenly Workshop” in the Town Hall’s pub lets kids dress up as angels while they learn arts and crafts and baking cookies. Be sure to a show of a brass band and Alphin choir showcasing different carols.

4. Prague 

From now until January 6, you can visit Old Town or Wenceslas Square for Prague’s Christmas markets. You also don’t need to stop at just one – they are just a five-minute walk away from each other. It’s mulled wine stalls galore between all the Gothic architecture. Keep your appetite satisfied with barbecue pork or warm and fresh pastries.

5. Striezelmarkt: Dresden, Germany 

In this local Christmas market, a four-ton fruitcake takes center stage. The city’s townfolk take the esteemed fruitcake through the city at the beginning of December, accompanied by the “fruitcake maiden.” It becomes the center of the Striezelmarkt during the holiday season, which is Germany’s oldest continuously running Christmas market, dating back to 1434.

The rest of the Christmas market includes 230 crafts stalls and a 46-feet tall “Christmas pyramid.” The fruitcake is eventually cut down into servings for those visiting the markets.

6. Fira de Santa Llucia: Barcelona, Spain

Originating from 1786, Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llucia has been celebrating the holiday season for over 200 years. In its early days, they sold nativity sets and children’s dolls made out of clay and paper. Now, over 300 stalls inhabit the city’s ancient center, on the Avenida de la Catedral in Pla de la Seu Square.

The Christmas market is bursting with Spanish tradition, from the Gothic architecture to the traditional crafts sold throughout the market.

7. Cologne Christmas Market: Germany 

Open now until December 23, the Christmas market offers a glimpse of classic German tradition at the Cologne Cathedral. They have wine, crafts, holiday lights, and plenty of live entertainment. What’s not to love?

Through the entire duration of the festival, there are more than 100 stage performances – from swing music to gospel. Take in the live music as you munch on snacks and shop from stall to stall.

8. Jul: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen hosts their own festivities by celebrating Jule — “yuletide.” Their Christmas crafts market and decorated Christmas trees can be found in the city’s historic amusement park, Tivoli Gardens.

Over 4 miles of lights cover the expanse of the market, and countless others find their temporary home on lakeside windows. If you want to get the most out of your visit to the Christmas market, try to make your trip between 5 and 6pm on weekdays to catch the town crier.

This list is just a sampling of the Christmas markets in Europe, so if you see one not so close to your travel plans. Try seeing if there are ones closer to where you are or make plans to travel to one — the tradition is sure worth the travel!

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a fourth year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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