It is never too early to begin your travel to visit the top winter markets. Each year cities across Europe compete for the best crafts, gifts, and food offerings at their Christmas markets. These aren’t simply shopping destinations, they are winter festivals with entertainment, food, artisans, beverages, and much more. As retail stores open their Christmas shops to begin the holiday shopping season, now is the time to begin planning your trip to Europe’s great Christmas markets.
London truly takes festive holiday markets to a whole new level. In addition to an amazing selection of venues, London markets become breath-taking winter wonderlands. Light displays, rides, themes, music, and food make these Christmas and holiday markets ideal for both adults and children, even if you aren’t a big fan of shopping.
Expect an outstanding selection of food, London’s largest outdoor skating rink, carollers, and a traditional German market. If that isn’t enough, check out the light displays, Ferris wheel, toboggan slide, and other special entertainment. Accommodations in London book up quickly and, to best visit the multitude of Christmas market locations in London, pick a central London holiday apartment. While you’re in London, don’t miss Notting Hill’s famous street shopping.
Christmas markets in Vienna started in 1294, helping to establish the city as one of Europe’s leading places for winter markets. There are markets across Austria but in Vienna you’ll find around 25 markets to choose from, providing a wide selection of shopping. Even if you aren’t an avid shopper, it is difficult to anyone to not be impressed by the market set in front of the Neo-classical Schönbrunn Palace, which is illuminated and surrounded by 60 stalls. These offer food and traditional arts and crafts.
Spain might not be the first place most people consider when planning to visit Christmas markets. In fact, the Christmas market tradition in Barcelona dates back to 1786 and it is combined with a holiday festival. Expect to experience the unique Christmas traditions of Catalan. There are parades, Christmas displays, and over 300 stalls selling gifts and handcrafts gifts and decorations.
One of the newer Christmas markets, Brussels makes up for its start in 2002 with an impressive nightly light and music show. Over 200 wooden chalets attract artists and artisans from around the world. In addition to gifts, decorations, and souvenirs, this Christmas market also provides an excellent selection of local cuisine. Belgian waffles are a given but there are a range of other traditional foods as well as chocolates and beer. A large Ferris wheel and skating rink provide additional diversions for visitors.
Munich features a variety of small markets scattered around the city, each with its own theme. Expect plenty of local foods like gingerbread and potato pancakes and, of course, local beers and spiced wine.