We have put together a list of the ultimate Christmas markets to visit in Europe. Here’s the best bit, you can cruise to them by river or sea.
Gendarmenmarkt Square, Berlin, Germany.
The Berlin Christmas market runs from 23rd November 2015 to 31st December 2015. Admission €1 per person and free for children under the age of 12.
This is one of the most popular Christmas Markets in Berlin, attracting over 60,000 visitors from around the world each year. They are drawn by the city of tents nestled in the centrally-located Gendarmenmarkt square. You find Black Forest foodie treats galore here, as well as a variety of craft-makers, including – glassblowers, candle makers, wood carvers, jewellers, origami master, embroider, milliners and renowned artists. There is also plenty of entertainment on offer, from – Jugglers, acrobats, fire artists, dance groups and choirs. Another appetizing feature of the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market, is a whole tent dedicated to Michelin-starred chefs cooking up their haute cuisine. De-lish!
Old Town Stockholm, Sweden.
23rd November to 23rd December 2015.
The Old Town Christmas Market is the most traditional in Stockholm, which gives it an extra festive atmosphere. You can treat yourself to a cup of warming Glögg (spiced mulled wine), some scrumptious pepparkakor (gingerbread), and maybe a smoked reindeer sausage if your feeling adventitious. Pick up some a traditional Christmas decorations like a Gävle goat (Yule goat) to put on your Christmas tree back home.
To make your trip extra special, visit the week before December 13th, when the 400-year old tradition of the St. Lucia’s Day takes place. You will see thousands of Swedish girls emerge from the darkness of a winter’s day, and gently silence the crowds with a procession of light.
Cologne Cathedral, Germany.
23rd November to 23rd December 2015.
Cologne holds one of the largest Christmas markets in the world, with over 2 million people visiting every year. The main Christmas market takes place in downtown Cologne next to the river Rhine, with over 160 stalls that surround an enormous Christmas tree. Sample some of the world-famous German the festive delights like Glühwein (Mulled wine), Stollen (Christmas fruit cake with a marzipan filling) and Lebkuchen (ginger bread). Pick up some handmade, Bavarian Christmas decorations like a wooden nutcracker or blown-glass ornaments, to remember your trip by.
Catedral de Barcelona, Barcelona Cathedral, Spain.
Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market runs from 28th November 23rd December 2015.
It dates back from 1786 and is the oldest, biggest and most traditional Christmas market in Barcelona. It is held in front of Barcelona Cathedral in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, which dates back to 13th century.
Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market specialises in handicraft made local artisans. The market is split up into four sections – Navity Scenes and Figures, Greenery and Plants, Crafts, Traditional instruments like Simbombes.
On the top of your ‘to buy list’ should be the ‘Figuritas de ’Belén’ or Nativity figurines. You can buy everything from – palm trees, shepherds, the three kings, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, and of course the cheeky Caganer figure. Politely translated as ‘the defecator’. You will usually find him tuck away in a corner, trousers round his ankles doing his business. This has long been a symbol of fertility and good fortune in Catalonian culture, and is always included in a traditional Nativity scene.
Another unusual Catalonian, Christmas tradition is the Caga Tió, which translates as ‘poop log’ – Can you see a theme here? The tradition goes that the Caga Tió, is fed and kept warm by the children in Catalonian families throughout December. On Christmas Eve the Caga Tió will defecate presents after been sang a special song and gently whipped with sticks by the children.
The biggest Caga Tió, with it’s red cap and happy painted face, can be found at Fira de Santa Llúcia Christmas Market. It will ‘poop’ sweets from 1st to 23rd December for children to enjoy. If you choose pick one up as a souvenir, it will provide a good talking point to say the least.
Town Hall Square, Tallinn, Estonia.
21st November 2015 to 8th January 2016.
Tallinn is oldest town in Northern Europe, and one of the best preserved medieval town in the world. It provides a proper winter’s scene with real snow on the ground, which is perfect for any Christmas market. Things to look out for at Tallinn’s Christmas market, are traditional Estonian foods, like blood sausage, sauerkraut, hot mulled wine straight from the barrel. Well worth a try is Vana Tallinn liqueur, a dark brown, rum-based liqueur, which will help warm you up no problem in the cold weather.
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark.
14th November till 3rd January 2016.
Tivoli Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland at Christmas, with its famous illuminations and fairground rides, adding to the fairy tale atmosphere. Over 50 stalls make up the Christmas market where you can feast on a wealth of Danish delicacies like – Christmas apple punch with aniseed, orange and cloves and cinnamon buns.
The Danish take celebrating Christmas seriously. They really get into the spirit of things with the Danish concept of Hygge, pronounced ‘hoo-ga’. It roughly translates as coziness, but it much more than that, it’s that nice, warm feeling you get from enjoying the good things in life, and sharing it with your loved-ones. – Where else better to experience Hygge than at a Danish Christmas market.
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