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Christmas is almost here. It’s the time of the year when everything is at its festive best. The entire world around us is bright, sparkly, shimmering and full of happiness. It is also synonymous with the chill, snow, holidays, quality time with friends & family, receiving and gifting presents, sipping hot chocolate & mulled wine, and everything that belongs to fairy tales and dreams. Travelling during winter holidays is nowadays a given thing! More and more people are stepping out and travelling around the world for celebrating Christmas. As already suggested in one of our previous blogs, Europe is a spectacular destination to visit during winters, especially Christmas. Yes, there will be chills and snow all over, but there is also the Christmas! A time to showcase and celebrate time-honored traditions, fabulous choirs in the churches and charming city squares buzzing with colourful festival stalls. All European towns will be dressed up in their festive fineries, decorated and glittering with Christmas tree, wreaths, lights and balls. You can choose any European city at this time to travel to, celebrate and create memories of a lifetime. Check out The Vanca’s selection for the best Christmas markets in Europe, a perfect winter holiday destination.
1. Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi
We couldn’t think of another better-suited place to start our list with than Rovaniemi, the official hometown of everyone’s beloved Santa Claus. This city is the capital of Lapland in Finland, and is nothing less than a dream world with its ethereal, frosty panorama, bright and illuminated Christmas trees, and magnificent ice sculptures, Rovaniemi, undoubtedly is the most Christmassy place on this planet. Visit here to experience the picture perfect pink-hued mornings, city’s biggest attraction – the Santa Claus Village, an extensive range of museums and many choices for fun winter activities like reindeer and husky rides, snowmobile safaris, etc. And do not even think of missing the spectacular Northern Lights tours. Believe us when we say it will be once in a lifetime kind of an experience.
Another popular destination for the Christmas holidays in Europe is Helsinki.
2. Prague, The Czech Republic
Traditional Christmas Market at Prague’s Old Town Market
Prague is the Capital of The Czech Republic, is well known for its Gothic churches, the medieval astronomical clock, the baroque buildings and the core of its history, the Old Town Square. Prague celebrates Christmas with lots of glamour and grandeur. Its impressive architecture provides a dramatic setting for leisurely walks, relishing scented mulled wine or losing yourself in the frenzy of Christmas shopping. Prague’s oldest and most magnificent Christmas market is set at the foot of the famous Church of Our Lady before Týn in the Old Town Square. Other significant Christmas Markets are in Wenceslas Square and Namesti Miru which are equally charming and engaging. These markets are covered with fascinating and lively wooden huts which are full of all varieties of festive goodies, from gift items, craft and beautiful Christmas tree ornaments to Czech treats like spit-roasted hams or Trdelník, a traditional hot sugar coated pastry. The entire landscape looks animated by live music, festive lights, animal stables, and nativity scenes.
3. Nuremberg, Germany
Christmas market of Nuremberg
Visit Nuremberg to experience its fabled Christkindlesmarkt tradition. The Chirstkind opens this world famous traditional Christmas market of Nuremberg on the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. This one is the home to one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Germany, which takes place in the city’s main market square. Visitors can experience the extravaganza of Christmas goods, traditions and activities in this market full of beautifully decorated stalls offering everything from toys; handmade art and crafts items, local spiced gingerbreads called Lebkuchen, mulled wines, roast sausages, etc. One can also visit the Toy Museum as this city has a tradition of toy making.
Along with Nuremberg, one can visit some other equally grand Christmas markets in Germany like Leipzig, Aachen, Dresden, Cologne and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, all famous for their traditional yet glamorous festivities.
4. Zagreb, Croatia
Christmas market in Zagreb, Croatia
The Croatian capital has been voted twice in a row as the “Best European Christmas Market”. We feel that’s reason enough to plan your next winter holidays to Zagreb. During Christmas, this city turns into a magic land. Zagreb has emerged as one of the most popular tourist destination during Advent, and the number of visitors is steadily increasing each year. Enjoy the tranquillity of this city and take part in many themed entertainment programmes like singing, dancing, and other activities with family and friends on the streets and town squares. Don’t miss to try out the traditional Croatian delicacies in the open air of these markets.
5. Strasbourg, France
Street decoration in Strasbourg during Christmas
Commenced in the year 1570 and known as Christkindelsmärik (market of infant Jesus), Strasbourg Christmas market is not only the oldest in France but also in whole Europe. It has won the “Best European Christmas Market award twice in 2014 & 2015 and popularly known as Christmas capital of France. Strasbourg, located near the Germany border in the historical region of Alsace is also known as the official seat of the European Parliament. Its city centre, Grande Île, has been accredited as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strasbourg is undoubtedly an old-world, quaint city which has kept its Alsatian tradition of Capital of Christmas maintained till date and is a perfect destination for your Christmas break. In this Christmas market almost 300 wooden stalls offer various Christmas goodies like tree decoration ornaments, eye-catchy native figurines, etc. One can also enjoy the seasonal delicacies like bredele cookies, roasted chestnuts or the mulled wine known as Vin Chaud.
Plan your winter holidays here during Christmas and enjoy a cultural trip to the history. The Advent traditions are well maintained here, and one can enjoy fantastic concerts, traditional live music, carol singing, nativity plays during the celebrations. There is also the hugely popular ice skating rinks for some fun activities.
France has not only Strasbourg but a host of other destinations to enjoy the festive season. The Christmas markets in Colmar, Metz, Lille are equally popular among tourists.
6. Tallinn, Estonia
Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square, Tallinn
This Christmas market is truly enchanting. The market at the Town Hall Square looks just like out of a fairy-tale book adorned with a huge Christmas Tree and little house shaped stalls decorated and illuminated beautifully offering folk art & craft products and local festive delicacies like sauerkraut, blood sausages, fish and duck, gingerbreads and mulled wine. There will be an array of performances featuring many singers and dancers in the main stage area, many games and Santa Claus for kids’ entertainment too.
7. Vienna, Austria
Vienna Christmas Market
Vienna Christmas celebrations are synonymous with elegance and grace! There is no other Christmas holiday as classy as this one for sure. This city’s imperial architecture decorated with twinkling lights provide the perfect backdrop for an excellent festival break where you can enjoy the old-world charm of its streets, its café culture and the glittering and beautiful Christmas markets. Indulge without any guilt in the local specialities of sausages, glühwein, and freshly baked pastries at Vienna’s Christmas markets. One can also enjoy ice skating on Rathausplatz; visit the Snow Globe Museum or attend the legendary Christmas concerts held in the city’s magnificent churches and create unforgettable memories of the holiday season.
Along with Vienna, Salzberg and Graz are equally famous for their Christkindlmarkts.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
Christmas Decoration at Tivoli Garden, Copenhagen
Visit Copenhagen during the festive season for the unique experience of the festive spirit and the harmonious blend of innovative design and legendary Danish cosiness at the “Hyggelige” cafes. The city hosts its annual Christmas market at the Tivoli Gardens, world’s second oldest amusement park. During the festive period, the Park gets transformed into a wonderland with beautiful lighting, tasteful decorations, exciting rides and stalls selling all varieties of gifts and traditional stuff. For a small fee, Tivoli creates the perfect and unique mix of the classic market experience along with amusement park activities and live entertainment.
One can go for a walk alongside the decorated waterfront district of Nyhavn, pay a visit to the quirky Christiana Christmas market or partake in 50-year old traditional Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas table event featuring six designer tables each presenting its story and significance.
9. Manchester, The United Kingdom
Manchester Christmas Market outside the Town Hall
The original, largest and considerably the best Christmas market in the United Kingdom, Manchester Christmas Markets is the ultimate destination for a pleasant holiday break. Started in 1999, the very first Christmas market in the UK has grown bigger with each passing year and now attracts more than nine million visitors each year. Around 300 beautifully crafted and decorates stalls offer delicious international food, drinks and finely crafted festive gifts at the buzzing city centre. Spread across ten different sites – each with its unique character – Manchester Christmas Markets has something to offer to all its festive visitors.
10. Madeira Island, Portugal
Christmas Traditions in Madeira
Madeira is an island in Portugal that celebrates the festive season with a traditional market, organised in central walkways of Avenida Arriaga, in its capital city Funchal. One can enjoy the variety of products on display at the Christmas markets, exotic flowers, traditional keepsakes and gifts while savouring the traditional delicacies and drinks of the holiday season, listening and appreciating the Christmas Carols, performances by local folklore groups and enjoying all the cheerfulness of the festival. Do not forget to visit the Blandy’s Wine Lodges to discover the story and taste the legendary and award-winning Madeira Wine.
So, which place will you choose to celebrate your Christmas? Don’t forget to stay warm and fashionable in best of the winter clothes where ever you decide to go and eat drink and make merry this holiday season. You can always choose from the wide variety of winter wear and other styles inspired by European fashion available exclusively on The Vanca
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy shopping, always!