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The holiday season is upon us, and Santa isn’t the only person making a list and checking it twice.
Searching for the perfect gift during the holidays can be a beautiful, exciting thing, especially when you’re doing your shopping at say, a spectacular European Christmas market.
What better excuse for a Euro-trip than the selfless reason of journeying across the world to find that special something for
yourself someone else?
‘Tis the season for gorgeous, sparkly, enticing Christmas markets, and no one does them quite like Europe.
No matter your motivations — and, let’s face it, there’s never a reason not to go to Europe — we have compiled a list of the top six European Christmas Markets that are sure to ignite the holiday spirit in even the Scroogiest of folks.
Old Town and Wenceslas Christmas Markets – Prague
Christmas markets — or Vánoční trhy — are a significant element of the festive magic in the Czech Republic with the most impressive markets in the country found in Prague.
Attracting locals and tourists alike, the Christmas markets of Prague light up the entire city and join everyone together in a cozy winter wonderland.
Come for the trdelník — a hot, rolled pastry dipped in sugar and cinnamon and cooked over a grill — and stay for the stunning Gothic architecture.
Location: Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square (a five-minute walk from one another)
Dates: November 30 to January 6
Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square and Budapest Basilica Christmas Fair – Hungary
Two for the price of one!
A popular winter activity in Budapest, the Christmas Fair in Vörösmarty Square is home to a multitude of traditional and reimagined artisan crafts and products, amazing food, and diverse cultural programs.
Those with a sweet tooth will in love with the tempting, beckoning smell of kürtőskalács (chimney cake). Additionally, visitors can indulge in free live concerts.
A key highlight of the fair at St Stephen’s Basilica is the Christmas Laser Projection on the Basilica. Guests can also witness traditional folk dance on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Location: Vorosmarty Square, Budapest, District V and St Stephen’s Square, Budapest, District V
Dates: November 8 to January 1 and November 22 to January 1
Tallinn Christmas Market – Estonia
This market will have you feeling like you just stepped right into a Christmas fairy tale.
Even though it is the darkest time of the year, the Tallinn Christmas Market emits a beacon of holiday light and cheer.
The market is completely enveloped in Christmas wonderment with decorated trees, as well as Christmas decorations and lights. However, the focal feature of the market is the Christmas tree.
It is the most important Christmas tree in Estonia and has been set up in Town Hall Square since 1441, making it a significant piece of history as the very first Christmas tree ever to be put on display in Europe.
For children, entertainment is provided by none other than Santa Claus, who gives away candy in his little house to children who are the best at reciting rhymes.
Location: Tallinn Town Hall Square
Dates: November 15 to January 7
Bath Christmas Market – UK
With over 150 twinkling chalets dispersed across its charming Georgian streets, the Bath Christmas Market is the perfect location to shop for Christmas gifts.
From personalized presents to unique decorations, handcrafted jewelry, and homewares, there’s no limit to finding the perfect gift for all of the special people in your life.
You can also feed the additional warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that you are supporting the local businesses of Bath.
As well, for the first time this year, the market has gotten even more special with a Bath Christmas Market Experience where visitors are invited to try their hand at Christmas crafts before indulging in a delectable two-course Champagne lunch.
Location: Chalets are located on the streets of Milsom, Union, Bath, York, Abbey and Abbeygate, as well as Abbey Churchyard and Abbey Green. The Christmas Market is found around the city centre at Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, and along the cobbled streets of the World Heritage City.
Dates: November 28 to December 15
Cologne Christmas Market – Germany
There are many Christmas markets in Cologne during the holiday season.
However, the breathtaking backdrop of Cologne’s landmark should be enough to motivate travellers to visit the cathedral market with its 150 beautifully decorated wooden pavilions.
Underneath the massive Christmas tree in the Rhineland — the Nordmann fir towering at about 25m high lit up with 50,000 LED lights — you can choose from a selection of sweet delicacies, watch artisans at work, and indulge in the “Original Christmas mulled wine” served in holiday-themed Christmas mugs.
A particular factor of note — besides the food and the crafts and the tantalizing twinkling lights — is the entertainment. There are over 100 stage performances throughout the festival, including Christmas gospel and swing music.
Location: Rudolfplatz, 50674 Köln, Germany. Between the Roman-Germanic Museum, the Cologne Philharmonic Concert Hall, and the famous Dom Hotel.
Dates: November 25 to December 23
Poznań Christmas Market – Poland
Poznań Bethlehem, aka Poznań Christmas Market, will enchant you with its many Christmas attractions, including an amusement park for kids with one of the most appealing features of the entire market — a Ferris wheel that provides an amazing panoramic view of Poznań.
A can’t-miss feature of this market is the ice sculpture festival. Participants from across the world transform massive blocks of ice into stunning works of art right before your very eyes.
Location: Wolności Square and the Old Market Square
Dates: November 16 to December 22