‘Tis the season to visit the European Christmas markets, Cheapos!
The Christmas Market Tradition
Europe’s holiday market tradition began in Germany and Austria. Today, many well-known markets, like those in Nuremberg and Munich, draw record crowds. Heck, there’s even a company that specializes in European Christmas market tours around the holidays.
The most popular markets can still be found in Germany and Austria, but cities in our other countries, like Copenhagen, Denmark and Prague, Czech Republic, throw their own festive fairs. Markets typically open during the last week of November and remain open until the day after Christmas.
Here’s a very merry round-up of the most notable Christmas markets In Europe. If you happen to be nearby, we recommend a browse-through.
The annual “adventmarkt,” filled with stalls, good eats, and more, takes place in Julius-Raab Platz. Check out the fantastical “Christkindlmarkt” web site for more info, or simply visit the Salzburg Tourism Info site here.
Mozart’s main stomping ground is the veritable creme de la creme for Christmas market gurus. Fairs are open in multiple locations and feature live DJ music, petting zoos, gospel choirs, and authentic handicrafts. Visit the Vienna Tourism Board for info, dates, and directions to the markets.
Another mother lode when it comes to Christmas markets in Europe, the Munich Advent “markt” is expansive, boasting concerts, traditional food, and free historical tours of the market. The tourism board has more info, including how to get there, and where to park if you’re arriving by car. (Anyone who wants to offer their own caption for the photo that appears on this page, please pass it on. “Nordic vikings attack unsuspecting child at Munich Christmas market“?)
Whether you like your markets authentic or chock full of special effects, Berlin’s the place to be if only for the number and sheer size of some of its markets. Most notably, the market in Potsdamer Platz, titled ”WinterMagic,” features a 4,000 square-foot outdoor space with a Ferris wheel, Legoland structure for kids to play in, and more. A comprehensive list of all markets can be found here.
Bonus: Download a FREE PDF history of the markets here, or watch this YouTube video for more info on the tradition of the German Christmas market. You can also visit the ‘markt’ section of the Berlin Tourism site for more info (in German only).
The largest market can be found in Tivoli Gardens and has become an infamous go-to spot for getting into the spirit. Here, elves in full costume bounce among revelers and the light displays -orchestrated by the lead designer for Tiffany & Co – hang overhead. Games, ornaments, and much more are available. Check out the “Visit Copenhagen” site for info on this and many more Copenhagen markets.
This year, the Christmas market kicks off in Place St. Catherine. Ice skating is available. Be sure to buy some chocolates, and don’t forget to stop to see Manneken Pis in full Santa regalia. The “Visit Belgium” site has more info.
The Czech city really does it up with major fests in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Smaller fairs occur elsewhere throughout the holidays. Check out the “Prague Experience” site for info, dates, and more.
Stay tuned this week as we take you through the European Christmas market circuit in daily photo montages.
Tell us: And, if you’ve been to a holiday market in Europe, tell us about it! What was it like? What did you buy or sample?
Happy Holidays, Cheapos!