It is that time of the year when there is a palpable sense of cheer as well as a nip in the air and if you hear hard, a tinkle from Santa – yes its Christmas season and here is a roundup of the best Christmas markets across the world.
The Christmas markets in Vienna will happen from November 15 to December 31 and interestingly date back to 1298 when Albrecht I allowed Vienna’s citizens to have a December Market or Krippenmarkt as it is called locally. There are over 20 official Advent Markets today that retail a large variety of seasonal gifts and decadent treats. Check out Viennese Dream Christmas Market in front of the City Hall, at the Christmas Village Belvedere Palace, Christmas Village Maria-Theresien Platz, New Year’s Eve Village, Christmas Village in the Former General Hospital, Christmas and New Year’s Market at Schönbrunn Palace and Christmas Market at Spittelberg. Set against stunning historical buildings this is where you can discover stunning local treats as well as lots of souvenirs to make your shopping experience good fun.
The Polish Christmas markets have a great emphasis on food so if you love eating, this is for you. Krakow’s Christmas market is one of the best in Poland that is filled with delicious food and interesting trinkets and usually happens at the central square, Rynek Glowny, alongside the famous Cloth Hall. Try the Smoked cheese, Pierogi stalls, Grilled meat stations and Mulled wine. This is where you can buy Matryoshka (Russian) dolls, wooden toys and kitchen gadgets too. Wroclaw is another wonderful location that also has many international stalls that sell Hungarian langos, Dutch pancakes, paella, hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Apart from traditional Polish food you can find lots of local handicrafts too. The smaller and prettier cities like Gdansk, Poznan and Lublin also host Christmas markets that are worth a visit. Most markets are on from 29th November to the end of December and some continue into January for the Epiphany festival. The best part is that cost wise, these markets are more affordable than the ones in Germany and Austria so you know you can net some good bargains.
The German Christmas markets typically start at the end of November and run into the first week of January. The Weihnachtsmarkt Am Kölner Dom at Cologne is the place to stock up on handmade gifts, wood carvings, tree decorations, soaps and regional organic foods. Dresden’s Christmas Market, the oldest Christmas market in Germany is where you can pick traditional handcrafted nutcrackers and the the Dresden Pflaumentoffel a small chimney sweep made with dates. Berlin’s Charlottenburg Palace has a market filled with wintertime treats, roasted chestnuts, carousels and toy train rides is all thigs fun. With 300 ornately decorated stalls the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt is set against the New Castle, Old Castle and Collegiate Church and has an ice rink and several entertainment options too. Also check out the Christmas markets at Leipzig, Aachen, Nuremberg, Munich, Hamburg and Guteneck.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park complete with a free ice skating rink is a European-style open-air market in New York with 170 plus kiosks that sell handicrafts from across the world. This is the best way to usher in the holiday spirit as you navigate through the artisanal markets, rink side food hall and outdoor beer garden. Spread over a whopping 170000 square feet, the market is a scene of bustling activity and is on from late October to early March. There will be a host of discounted or free games, several holiday events like tree lighting, performances and lots of shopping to indulge your retail cravings.
The Basel Christmas Market has two different sections at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz and starts on November 28 and lasts till December 23 this year. The markets have over 180 stalls and you can indulge in fun activities like gingerbread decorating and Christmas decoration making. The Basel Christmas Market will also tickle your taste buds with delectable waffles, glühwein, Swiss raclette, Basel Läckerli and grilled sausages. The stores will have local handicrafts, toys, jewellery, Christmas related crafts and artists who showcase their craft. A white Christmas with the best of retail and dining experiences add a distinctive charm to this Christmas market.
This story first appeared in VFS November 2019 issue here: