Christmas Markets Around The World
Few things say Christmas quite like a Christmas Market. Think festive music, twinkly lights, quaint stalls brimming with goodies and the scent of mulled wine wafting through the air. There are hundreds of towns and cities hosting Christmas themed markets this winter, and we’ve done some investigating to track down our pick of the bunch…
Nowhere does Christmas Markets quite like Germany and for the ultimate festive experience make your way to Munich’s Tollwood Winterfest. Here you can soak up the atmosphere as you wander the stalls picking up Christmas gifts (for others…or yourself). As well as arts and crafts there are plenty of stalls selling tasty German treats to keep you fuelled and merry – who can’t resist a glass of mulled wine come Christmas time?!
For those who like their Glühwein the world’s biggest ‘fire pliers punch’ is definitely also worth checking out. Held in Isartor, this event sees a large sugar cone (which has previously been soaked in alcohol) set on fire then placed on a metal grill over some punch. As the sugar burns bits drop into the punch below, flaming as they do so. Pretty impressive – just wait before it cools before you get stuck in!
There are many places you can go to experience the German Christmas market magic outside Deutschland and none promise to be more captivating than that of Vancouver. Making its debut this winter, Vancouver Christmas Market aims to offer a slice of Christmas cheer from across the Atlantic bringing European traditions to its German Christmas Market.
Another first for 2010 is the Whistler Festival of Lights, due to be held at the Millennium Place in December. With over 100 lanterns and light sculptures adults and children alike will love the twinkling displays of colour in Whistler village – just perfect for getting you into the Christmas spirit.
At just an hour’s drive away from Chamonix you’ll find the picturesque town of Annecy. As well as hoping to host the 2018 Winter Olympics it also boasts a good Christmas Market with quaint alpine chalets, sparkling lights and events like carol singing to keep you feeling festive. The town hosts a range of other themed events and little ones will love the Christmas train which takes you from one attraction to the other. Children are also encouraged to write their Christmas wish on a piece of paper to hang on the ‘tree of wishes’…
There’s something about Prague at Christmas that melts the hearts of even the coldest of scrooges. With the Old Town truly turning into a winter wonderland of lights, sounds and smells the already quaint streets and squares light up with a joy that’s as infectious as it is captivating. Prague’s Christmas Market is bursting with stalls laden with treats from crystal, toys and crafts to Prague specialities and of course mulled wine. The Christmas tree in the main square is also pretty impressive and well worth getting your camera out for.
For the classic Christmas experience the Christmas Market at the Piazza Navona in Rome is pretty hard to beat. It offers a wealth of stalls selling gifts, decorations, toys, sweets and other treats including the local Christmas cake, Panettone. There’s also a huge nativity scene set up in the square as well as the chance for little ones to meet Babbo Natale (Father Christmas). Of course, there is a serious side to Christmas and those looking to celebrate the meaning behind the sparkling exterior should head to the Vatican for midnight mass.
The Nativity Scenes Exhibition in Sala del Bramante at Piazza del Popolo houses an array of biblical scenes while many churches and squares around the city also have their take on this popular spectacle. Head to St Peter’s Square outside St Peter’s Basilica for one of the most iconic.
Ljublijana may not be your first thought when considering destinations to take in a Christmas Market but herein lies is appeal. Known locally as the ‘Festive Fair’ Ljublijana’s Christmas Market is a popular event where friends meet to enjoy an array of local specialities and that all-important mulled wine. The pretty green stalls are abundant with gifts and it’s a good place for fashionistas to hunt down unique items not on sale in shops. If you are here on the 31st December you’ll also get to see the open-air New Year’s Eve celebrations held in these beautifully decorated central squares.
If you love Christmas Markets but hate the snow and fancy getting your slice of festive cheer while hanging out in shorts and a T Shirt by the sea, the Dee Why Christmas Market By The Beach in Sydney has your name written all over it. As well as browsing the stalls for Christmas gifts you can also join in with singing carols by the sea, a nice alternative to shivering in the snow…
Other Christmas Markets worth checking out include the Eveleigh Christmas Market, Mosman Christmas Evening Twilight Market and the Eco Design Christmas Markets. The latter, held at Tailor Square, Oxford Street, is great if you want to hunt down eco-friendly gifts made from recycled items and locally sourced products – Christmas presents with a conscience!
Cape Town is another good option for a Christmas Market with a twist. The popular Neighbourgoods Market is known for its quality fresh produce from organic food and gifts to baked goods and drinks. Normally held on a Saturday morning at the Old Biscuit Mill it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Head down on Wednesday 15th December in the evening and you’ll be able to wander their special Christmas Market where you can pick up crafted gifts from 5:30pm right up until midnight.
The Garden Route
Last but by no means least you could get your Christmas Market fix at The Wild Oats Community Farmers Market near Sedgefield’s Lake District on the Garden Route. As it’s summer time in South Africa right now they’ll be no need for woollies when browsing the stalls (a sun hat might be more useful…) offering a totally different Christmas experience.
There are over 65 producers displaying their wares at this popular market, now in its eleventh year, and the market’s success is heavily down to the contact between supplier and buyer. Indeed, it’s good to know you are supporting the local farmers while at the same time getting some quality produce and perhaps even making some new acquaintances in the process…
So if you still need to finish that Christmas shopping or are just looking for something to get you into the festive spirit you can’t go wrong with a few hours spent wandering a Christmas Market. The only question is whether you fancy doing it in your shorts or your ski jacket…
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