Christmas is just around the corner, and what better way to get into the mood than diving into the magical atmosphere of a traditional Christmas market? Here’s our handpicked selection of the most enchanting Christmas markets around the globe. Grab your scarf and mitts and get ready to get into the festive spirit!
1. Budapest: The authentic experience
If you like it rustic and authentic, this one’s for you. Budapest is not only known for its many spas and thermal springs, but also for its especially enchanting Christmas market. Located in the old town in the magnificent Vörösmarty Square, it strives to preserve authentic Hungarian folk art, featuring traditional high-quality crafts from glass blowing and knitting to wood carving, and pottery. Here, you can get your hands on folk music instruments, decorative baskets, ceramics, and more. And the food experience is an authentic one too: try freshly prepared punch straight from the cauldron, nibble on Hungarian pastries like the chimney-shaped “Kurtos kalacs”, or taste regional delicacies such as goulash with prunes and mutton sandwiches with roasted paprika cream. Plus, there are concerts and a playground for the kids.
2. Moscow: Deluxe ice skating
Love that magical Christmas atmosphere? Then Moscow is just the destination for you. Each winter it transforms into a snowy, Christmas landscape, with festively decorated fir trees and light installations by international artists. In the Kremlin you can admire the 30 meter high real Christmas tree, for example. Moscow just bursts with Christmassy activities: the Russian capital features no less than 45 ice rinks, spread throughout 30 parks. That's a total of 107,000 square meters of ice to skate on!
You can even skate on the iconic Red Square! The biggest rink, which is 18,000 square meters large, can be found in Gorky Park, and it will take you about 15 minutes to make the full tour. Another highlight are the illuminated ski tracks and ice slides.The Christmas market experience in Moscow is a rather international one: here, you can find stands dedicated to different regions of the world, giving visitors the chance to taste a selection of traditional festive foods from all over the globe, ranging from Belgian waffles to German Bratwurst.
3. Dresden: Germany’s oldest Christmas market
Dresden, also known as the “Florence on the Elbe”, boasts the oldest Christmas market in all of Germany, the so-called Striezelmarket, dating back all the way to 1434. It’s located in the heart of the city’s beautiful old town district, on the Altmarkt Square, and is surrounded by various themed Christmas Markets, stretching up to the main railway station and the Albertplatz. A highlight is the world's tallest Christmas pyramid, and the world's biggest nut cracker. While in town, don’t forget to taste the local Christmas Stollen, a traditional fruit cake made with chopped candied and dried fruit, nuts and spices and covered with powdered sugar. Plus, you can already get some Christmas shopping done: discover traditional handicrafts like Plauen lace and Freiberg pewter-ware. If you are into authentic, hand-made crafts, this is a real treasure trove.
Psst! Thinking about hopping over to Germany this festive season? Check out the finest Christmas markets in Germany for more inspiration!
4. Vienna: A fairytale for families
Vienna just loves Christmas: during winter time all its prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets, and the aroma of Christmas baking and hot punch sets the mood everywhere. The wonderful baroque architecture completes this fairytale atmosphere. A tall candle-lit archway welcomes visitors at the entrance to Town Hall Square, which hosts no less than 150 booths offering gifts, Christmas tree decorations, handicrafts, and culinary treats with a strong regional touch, from potato pancakes and gingerbread to roasted chestnuts. This year even the legendary Ringstraße boulevard will sparkle with Christmas lights, and there will also be an ice rink and a curling rink. If you come with your little ones, head over to the Volkshalle at City Hall, where kids can decorate gingerbread cookies, do crafts and write wish lists. Children will also love the “Enchanted Rathauspark”, which features pony rides, a carousel, and much more!
5. Paris: Christmas glamour and shopping galore
Magical and fairy tale like, the largest avenue in the world gets bejewelled with lights for the holiday season. This year’s light display on the Champs de Mars, under the Eiffel Tower will be kicked off on November 19th. For more Christmas magic in Paris, check out the windows of the Parisian department stores, a rather highly anticipated event for all Parisians. The perfect way to add an enchanted touch to your Parisian shopping spree!