Christmas festivities are just round the corner, and we are already in a jolly mood. Trees decorated with fairy lights, delicious cakes, mulled wine and a warm aura in the air — Christmas encompasses all these and beyond. However, if you are planning to spend the remaining part of 2022 travelling, we have a special treat for you. Known for its festive spirit every holiday season, Europe is famed for some of the best Christmas markets in the world.
Colourful rows of decorations adorning the cobblestone streets, lip-smacking food to engage your palate, kitschy stores that sell figurines, ornaments, wine and much more, these magical Christmas markets in the continent offer various activities for all age groups.
‘Tis the time to put on those puffy coats and mittens to experience the best traditional Christmas markets in the world. Read on for our list, which features several European destinations alongside a few Southeast Asian ones — including one just across the border in Singapore.
This story first appeared on PrestigeOnline Singapore
Here are 10 of the best and most magical Christmas markets in the world to visit
(Main image: Daniels Joffe/ Unsplash; Featured image: Cmophoto.net/ Unsplash)
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- Prague Christmas Markets, Czech Republic
- Tivoli Christmas Market, Denmark
- Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
- Edinburgh Christmas Market, Scotland
- Mulhouse Christmas Market, France
- Dresden Striezelmarkt, Germany
- Plaisirs d’Hiver, Belgium
- Skansen Christmas Market, Sweden
- Plaza Mayor Christmas Market, Spain
- Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, UK
- Christmas Wonderland, Singapore
- Christmas Markets, Manchester, UK
- The Christmas Market, Brussels
- Winterfest, Hong Kong
- The Christland Market, Chicago
During this time of the year, Prague is one of the best places to be if you want to witness the festive spirit amid mediaeval architectural marvels, such as domes, castles and towers. Here, the Christmas markets start late November until the Three Kings’ Day that is 6 January.
Apart from enjoying the traditional nativity scenes and open-air concerts, one can enjoy the markets in Staromestské Námestie (the Old Town Square) and Wenceslas Square. These gorgeous markets host melodious choirs, massive Christmas trees and stalls selling locally made ceramics, embroidered laces, hand-blown glass baubles, hats, gloves and scented candles.
Food lovers should definitely try the delicacies available in these markets. Visitors must try trdelník or barbecued pork — a pastry rolled in a mixture of cinnamon-sugar and grilled — sausages, garlic and cheese, flatbread, pancakes, hot chocolate, mulled wine, honey wine and grog, which is a drink made of rum, water, lemon and sugar.
Tivoli Gardens is known for its vibrant stalls, glogg or mulled wine and adventurous rides. This Christmas wonderland was turned into a market by John Loring in 1997 and is visited by over a million people every year.
Ongoing till 31 December this year, over 500,000 fairy lights and decorated fir trees will illuminate the dark gardens, adding a touch of magic to the surroundings.
For the ones with a sweet tooth, the Æbleskiver — spherical Danish snacks similar to pancakes, but light and fluffy like Yorkshire pudding — is a must-try Danish delicacy. This is consumed with jam and icing sugar. Christmas cakes from the famous patisserie Cakenhagen are something you must look out for too.
The popular Christmas market was started in 2001 and this year, visitors can enjoy the festivities from 25 November 2022 to 8 January 2023. Located in Town Hall Square, there are 60 chic and cosy wooden huts, popular for selling handcrafted wreaths, lamps, sheepskin rugs, gingerbread, local honey and mulled wine.
While in summers, people enjoy visiting various cafes at the Town Hall Square, in winters, the place transforms into a haven for festivities with open-air concerts, fairs and much more exciting activities.
During the festive season, musicians and dancers enthral the crowd with their performances. Although the decorated snow sculptures look stunning, the showstopper is the giant Christmas tree, which has been standing tall since 1441.
This towering spruce tree in front of the town hall is the first Christmas tree to be showcased in Europe. As per the Visit Estonia website, “The tradition of celebrating Christmas festivities here dates back to 1441 when the Brotherhood of the Blackheads are thought to have erected the world’s very first Christmas tree.”
Christmas markets and Hogmanay celebrations come together to paint Edinburgh in the hues of joy and festivity. From mini-train rides and bumper cars for kids to a Christmas tree maze and a 108-feet-tall Ferris wheel — the Edinburgh Eye — this ‘Santa Land’ has everything to entertain visitors.
The popular Christmas market is welcoming people from 25 November 2022 to 3 January 2023 in Edinburgh’s sprawling East Princes St. Gardens.
Apart from the amazing rides, there are special projections, performances and artworks that bring out the local talent. People can also enjoy ice skating on Edinburgh’s famous George Street. Kids love Santa’s Grotto, where they get to meet Santa and also receive a gift. One shouldn’t miss the scrumptious cinnamon-sugar chimney cakes and cotton candy.
Also, the hand-carved wooden candle holders, Harry Potter-themed gifts, wooden toys and Tartan Christmas ornaments available here can be a beautiful addition to any house.
One of the most exuberant Christmas markets in the world can be found in Mulhouse’s Place de la Réunion. The market is quite popular for its textile heritage, with Christmas fabric created each year to decorate the facades of 100 festive huts.
Apart from fabrics, one can also choose from an array of original gifts at Boutique aux Étoffes or experience a ‘Christmas of yesteryear’ at Écomusée — take part in the various activities at Alsace Ecomuseum, Arrival of the Three Kings, where a procession of children walk around the village to gather offerings for new year and meet Saint Nicholas.
The market opens from 24 November 2022 to 23 December 2022.
Located at the Altmarkt Square in Dresden, the market commences on 23 November and will be on till 24 December 2022. It was founded in 1434 as a one-day market and is the oldest one in Germany. Twinkling lights and delicious food welcome you for a memorable experience.
Shoppers shouldn’t miss a chance to feast on buttery fruitcakes, which are wrapped and feature a special seal depicting the city’s former king, August the Strong. Try out glazed apples and mulled wine as you shop at the various fares, displaying wood carvings, pottery and glassware. The market has over 240 stalls that offer local products. But the highlight is the 45-foot-tall stunning Christmas pyramid.
Visitors also love exploring the famous wooden houses, elf cottages, puppet theatre and Santa Claus’s House.
When in Belgium, celebrate Christmas like never before. Starting from 25 November 2022 and lasting till 1 January 2023, the market is known for its sweet treats. Shoppers can enjoy browsing stocking fillers, hand-blown glass decorations and much more at the stalls.
Spend your time at the ice-skating rink and Ferris wheel before you head over to appreciate the brass band while gorging on fluffy Belgian waffles, caramelised apples and seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts).
The market also offers a host of fun and creative activities, including concerts, board games, dances, choirs and the projection of cartoons.
Located at the Skansen Open-air Museum on the island of Djurgarden, the market remains open from 26 November 2022 to 19 December 2023. Witness the beauty of Skansen as you walk around the historic homes and farmsteads, all decorated to complement the Christmas spirit.
Those who want to add a dash of creativity to their festivities can either participate in the traditional dances that take place around the festive tree at Bollnäs Square or create Christmas decorations at the workshop.
Take a break to relish some smoked turkey, waffles and roasted almonds, among other delicious foods at the market.
The historic Christmas market dating back to 1903, has hosted everything from handicrafts and sweets to homemade candles and secret Christmas presents.
Just as Christmas approaches, Madrid’s Plaza Mayor — which dates back to the time when King Philip II moved his royal court to Madrid — transforms into a sprawling market featuring 104 stalls.
These stalls, which were renovated in the 1980s and look like small huts, display nativity scene figures, Christmas decorations, musical instruments and toys.
Organised by the Plaza Mayor Christmas Market Association, the market typically starts on 25 November and lasts till 31 December. This is certainly one of the many Christmas markets in Europe that one should visit.
Kickstart your Christmas festivities at the Winter Wonderland that started on 18 November 2022 and will be on till 2 January 2023. Other than gorging on the many Christmas delicacies at the Bavarian Village, you can also shop for knick-knacks like candle votives, ornaments and crafts.
Hop on various rides, including the giant wheel and Christmas tree ride, and have a blast while ice skating.
With its fun rides and festive eateries, Santa Land is a haven for kids. Not to forget that one gets to meet Santa himself. Zippos Christmas circus and Cirque berserk are other activities to enjoy.
One of the most-awaited attractions in Singapore, Christmas Wonderland located at the Marina Gardens Drive is the best indulgence you can give yourself and your loved ones this festive season.
Starting on 2 December 2022 and on until 1 January 2023, this market has everything from lip-smacking delicacies which would impress even a picky eater to awe-inspiring sound and light show to enthral you this Christmas.
Snowland and the beautifully decorated Walk Of Lights section are a few of the main attractions here.
These world-famous markets here open early in November and are on till 22 December. Manchester has a rich tradition of hosting visitors during Christmas and it has been 24 years since these markets have been operational across nine city centres.
This year, around 220 stalls including the legendary ski chalet market stalls will adorn the winter gardens at Market Street, Cathedral Gardens, Exchange Street, New Cathedral Street, St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, The Corn Exchange and King Street.
Beautiful and majestic light decorations adorn the city centre every year and other attractions include an ice-skating rink at the Cathedral Gardens amongst the twinkling lights.
A strikingly beautiful presentation of lights in traditional wooden chalets is showcased in this equally picturesque tourist destination. This year, the market opens on 25 November until 1 January. The market is spread across 250 wooden chalets and has everything from delectable local food options like mussels to waffles and chocolate.
This year’s main attraction is the ski village of Place de la Monnaie. Artificial rinks have been installed here for the visitors to give a ski experience they will remember for life. Local beer at the Stella Pavilion is not to be missed too.
The Christmas Town at West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong has one of the most magnificent displays of lights illuminating the skies in a different formation every night. The show ‘The Symphony Of Lights’ should not be missed here.
The Christland Market of Chicago is open to visitors from 22 November to 24 December 2022. German American Events hosts this annual fiesta to preserve German and European history and heritage in America. Admission is free and this market provides a cosy, homely, traditional Christmas vibe to the visitors.
Sampling the food and drinks are one of the most treasured experiences here. The hosts pride themselves on serving the imported mulled wine from Germany, known as the Glühwein here.