Experiencing a snow-dusted Christmas market as you stroll through a cobblestone square is a treasured memory for many a European traveller.
Soaking in the enchanting atmosphere of historic town centres that have hosted a Christmas celebration often for five centuries or more, is something very special.
Every year, individuals and tour groups leave the Australian summer behind to join the festivities in some of the great cities of Europe. Here’s some of the best Christmas markets you’ll find.
The Vienna Magic of Advent is one of the most popular Christmas markets in western Europe. Located just outside the city’s ornate Neo-Gothic city hall, the Rathausplatz is transformed into a winter wonderland bursting with Christmas lights and decorations. The smell of roasting nuts and gingerbread hearts fill the crisp air while inside the beautiful town hall, children bake cookies and create their own Christmas artworks. Vienna’s Christmas markets tradition began in the 13th century.
Dates: 17 November to 26 December 2017
Strasbourg’s Christmas Market, spread across the Old Town in 11 themes, is the oldest in France starting in 1570. From live music and events, to a living nativity scene, more than 300 food and craft stalls and local artisans demonstrating traditional skills, this Christmas market is as much a celebration of Alsatian culture as it is a festive event. And of course, being France, local gastronomy in the form of regional wine, foie gras, beer and traditional Christmas biscuits (Bredele) are also featured.
Dates: 25 November to 31 December 2017
Christkindlesmarkt Nuremberg, Germany
With her elaborate gown and golden crown, the fairy-princess known as Nuremberg Christkind emerges from the Church of our Lady to officially open the Nuremberg Christmas Market every year. Christmas markets in Germany are known for their mulled wine, rum punch, hand-crafted gifts and gingerbread bickies and Nuremberg is as good as it gets. The Hauptmarkt, the central square, is the centre of all activity. Don’t miss the famous Bratwurst and lookout for the stagecoach tours.
Dates: 1 December to 24 December 2017
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A visit to Tallinn should be on every Christmas lover’s travel list for its historic link to the symbolism of the tree. It’s said that the first Christmas Tree was erected here in 1441. Today, Christmas celebrations revolve around a giant tree in the city square along with an ice skating rink, classical music events, traditional Estonian food and hot spiced drinks. This year the centrepiece Town Hall will be illuminated by 40,000 lights.
Dates: 18 November to 7 January 2018
Voted Europe’s best Christmas market two years running, Zagreb’s Christmas Markets and celebrations take place in several of the city’s gilded squares. Filled with music, dancing and events, there’s plenty to see and do. Don’t miss the large advent wreath in the main square and live nativity scene outside Zagreb’s beautiful cathedral. A feature of these markets is the traditional Croatian arts and crafts on display and on sale.
Dates: 2 December 2017 to 7 January 2018