The festive season is upon us, a time of candlelight, romantic night, gingerbread and mulled wine, all of which can be found at the wonderful Christmas markets in Europe this December. Old towns and alleyways are filled with decorations, stalls and delicious eateries, making some of our favourite cities even more wonderful places at Christmas time. Keep reading to find out about five winter wonderlands you could visit this month…
Basel is home to one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets, stretching down a long street and occupying all of Barfüsserplatz just around the corner. Perched on the banks of the River Rhine, this historic city provides a wonderfully festive atmosphere, and the market welcomes visitors up until 23 December. A special kind of gingerbread, Basel Läckerli, and Swiss raclette are the food of choice for Christmas shoppers.
The focus of Budapest’s Christmas market is on unique goods from independent traders. Every year a special jury meets to ensure that mass-produced goods don’t stand a chance, meaning you can be certain you will find some truly different gifts. The market takes place in Vörösmarty Square until 31 December so there’s chance to do some post-Christmas shopping too, with the smell of mulled wine, cinnamon and delicious goulash stew filling the air.
Prague’s largest Christmas market takes over the town’s old square, and is also home to the Czech Republic’s largest Christmas tree, which is brought down from the mountains to signal the start of the festive period. A special sight to see if the lamplighter, who at twilight during the advent period ignites the famous illuminations on Charles Bridge. Visitors to Prague are spoiled for choice when it comes to festive revelry, with an equally delightful market taking place in Wenceslas Square until 6 January.
London is calling this Christmas with its Winter Wonderland Christmas market. Pop your skates on and do some laps of England’s largest skating rink in Hyde Park, take a ride on the giant wheel or even enjoy one of the many circus shows. More than 200 wooden, Bavarian-style chalets offer unique gifts, including jewelry, clothing and Christmas decorations, as well as mulled wines and chocolate delights, ending on the 1 January.
Last but not least is Krakow, where the Christmas market extends around the Cloth Hall on the medieval marketplace of Rynek Glowny. 60 market stalls offer regional specialities and hand-crafted gifts, everything from Polish glass balls to wood carvings and artful embroidery. There is a famous competition for the most beautiful nativity scene, or Szopki, and visitors can soak up the special atmosphere until Boxing Day.