Inspirational new travel experiences website www.worldreviewer.com has teamed up with their experts to create its own list of Top Ten Christmas Markets.
Christmas shopping is very few people’s idea of fun. However, one way to make the whole experience a little less stressful – and to have a hugely enjoyable short break at the same time – is to visit one of Europe’s many Christmas markets for an exciting slice of local life and colour.
Log on to www.worldreviewer.com and check out the best of the best (and some worthy runners up – 40 Christmas markets in all) together with nearby experiences and places to stay, local tours, weather charts, images and maps.
1. Cologne Christmas Markets
The city’s six markets attract an incredible one million visitors. The main event is the Cathedral Market, location of the largest Christmas tree in Germany. Newmark is the country’s oldest Christmas market and lies in the city center, while the most child friendly is the Alter Market, complete with puppet theatre, roundabout and a multitude of toy shops. 23 November – 23 December
2. Graz Christmas Markets
Again there are six different Christmas markets in Graz, Austria. Hauptplatz, Easterner, Tummel Platz, Franciscan Quarter, Glockenspiel Platz and Färberplatz are nestled throughout this striking town, each paying tribute to Christmas in its own festive way. All of the markets feature a great variety of pottery, metalwork, and other artistic Christmas creations. 4th week November – 24 December
3. Salzburg Christmas Markets
Birthplace of Mozart and deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salzburg offers several famous Christmas markets to choose from. Visitors will find Advent celebrations, concerts, sleigh rides and nativity scenes in many of the city’s historic streets, woven into the maze of market stalls. The best known of these markets takes over Cathedral and Resident squares, filling the whole city center with stalls and bustling holiday crowds. 22 November – 24 December
4. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Londoners go all out to transform their famous Hyde Park into a charming Winter Wonderland. The largest outdoor ice rink in Europe awaits those who take the time to meander down the Serpentine River. Chalets selling tasty drinks, delicious Christmas food and a huge variety of handmade arts and craft are surrounded by a number of entertaining activities. 1 December – 6 January
5. Strasbourg Christmas Market
This is the largest Christmas market in France and its setting, in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, is breathtaking. Boasting hundreds of stalls selling a plethora of goods and products, the market also provides visitors with an ice rink and mulled wine with which to wind down after a long day of shopping. 24 November – 24 December
6. Bremen Christmas Market
The Bremen Christmas Market sits on the Weser River and is renowned as one of Germany’s most picturesque. Stroll through the narrow alleys and historic streets and breathe in the scent of freshly roasted almonds, cinnamon and mulled wine. 29 November – 23 December
7. Munster Christmas Market
No fewer than six Christmas markets grace the center of historic Munster. Over 250 ornately decorated stands offer toys, arts-and-crafts and many other great present ideas. All markets are within five minutes walk of the largest, which takes place on the Square of the Peace of Westphalia. 26 November – 23 December
8. Skansen Christmas Market
The Skansen Christmas market in Stockholm sells everything from sausages and spices to children’s toys and fine ornaments. One of the highlights of the festive season is the Saint Lucia Procession on December 13, when Lucia and her maidens make their way through Stockholm to Scansion. (December 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16)
9. Denmark Christmas Markets
Denmark is a country that’s justifiably proud of its Christmas Markets. Tivoli, the capital’s gorgeous garden, hosts a market with more than 70 stalls, dazzling decorations and amusement rides. There are also many other yuletide markets in the cities outside Copenhagen, including Skælskør, Rabe, Aalborg and Odense, where the Hans Christian Anderson Christmas Fair features magicians, storytellers and vendors wearing traditional 19th century costumes. (Tivoli Christmas Market 15 November – 30 December)
10. Turku Christmas City
For over a century, the Turku Cathedral has been the center of Finnish Christmas culture. Every year a huge tree is lit up during the opening day of the Christmas City ceremonies right outside the Cathedral doors. Nearby, in Old Great Square, the stalls are lit with lanterns and are literally brimming over with Finnish Christmas confections.