Top 9 Christmas Markets around the world
From NY to Vienna and Budapest to Sapporo, here’s our guide to the best Christmas markets around the world.
Strasbourg is home to one of the most popular and well-known Christmas markets in the world and has been dubbed the ‘Best Christmas Market in Europe’ two years running. As a location it oozes traditional charm, but at Christmas they really go all out with beautiful traditional decorations. There are 11 ‘villages’ with over 300 stall selling everything from local crafts to gingerbread and it all takes place in front of Strasbourg Cathedral. There’s also a giant Christmas tree and an ice-skating rink.
Vienna is home to a plethora of markets, each catering for a certain theme. Some are for clothing, others wooden horses and puppets and in the Spittelberg market you’ll find hand-blown glass, silverware and ceramics. There are over 150 stalls so it’s well worth taking a day to stroll through a selection of them, stopping off to sample some of Vienna’s traditional Christmas treats. You can also find plenty of activities to keep you and any youngsters entertained.
In the shadow of Cologne Cathedral, one of Germany’s most popular Christmas markets lights up the streets. Here you’ll find the largest Christmas tree in the Rhine, as well as over 150 stalls selling all sorts of Christmas goods. There’s traditional music, food and plenty of local crafts including puppets and other toys. There’s also a Santa’s grotto for any little ones in tow. For outstanding views, head up the south tower of the cathedral.
Bruges is an ideal Christmas market destination, not only for the plethora of stalls you’ll find filling Market Square, which is overlooked by the 13th-century Belfort, but because of the addition of vast amounts of chocolate. From boozy hot chocolate, to Belgian chocolate Santas, there’s plenty to choose from. Aside from chocolate there’s plenty of jewellery, toys and winter clothing to buy too. There’s also an ice rink and plenty of local taverns for a cosy pick-me-up.
For a slightly different take on the Christmas market, head to Budapest, where visitors can enjoy over 100 stalls selling all sorts of Hungarian specialities, a change from the more common German themes. Vorosmarty and St Stephen’s Square are the major market areas, where you’ll find Hungarian pastries, traditional clothing, locally crafter jewellery and handmade chocolates. There’s also an ice rink which is overlooked by a café, the perfect spot for a coffee or mulled wine.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is one of the best known Christmas market events in the UK, with an ice rink, ice kingdom, ice bar as well as circus shows and fairground rides. There are also over 200 Bavarian style stalls offering all manner of food and drink as well as a great mix of traditional, modern and unique gifts. You’ll also find plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants, so whether you fancy eating as you wander through wonderland, or having a sit down in a cosy chalet, the choice is yours.
New York, USA
The Bank of American Winter Village in Bryant Park is technically open until March, but the festive stalls close up early January. That said, throughout its entire tenure you’ll find The Rink, where not only can you watch skating shows, but also have a go yourself. The stalls sell everything from kids’ toys to jewellery, and there’s also plenty of food and drink. It is European inspired, but still feels very American, with choruses of ‘Happy Holidays’ heard throughout the park.
The Toronto Christmas Market is also European inspired, but also adds some very Canadian touches with local produce and crafts all finding a place. There are heated hospitality lounges for relaxing with a glass of mulled wine or a hot toddy, as well as a main stage which features choirs, carollers and dance groups. Back out in the stalls you will find all kinds of Christmas gifts including traditional toys, wood carvings, handmade ornaments and candles. There’s also plenty of food to be found.