October 25, 2021
We’re inching closer and closer to the holiday season, which means it’s time to start shopping for presents for the ones you love most. And there’s no better place to do just that than at Europe’s famed Christmas markets.
All across Europe, the start of the holiday season is signaled by the arrival of Christmas markets. Cities transform into winter wonderlands with string lights illuminating every cobblestone street and finely decorated trees standing on every corner. Spiced, savory notes waft through the air, while cozy wooden chalets filled to the brims with festive finds and mouthwatering delights populate snow-dusted town squares. It’s a sight straight from the pages of a storybook, and a tradition that dates back as far as the late Middle Ages.
While many beloved markets chose not to open in 2020, numerous historic European markets are back this holiday season with safety measures in place to ensure guests can enjoy them while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to check out each markets’ website to learn about its safety protocols before attending. Some festivals even have online marketplaces which allow you to support the local artisans and craftsmen without having to be at the festival in person.
Whether it’s the zesty mulled wine in Prague, the hand-carved musical instruments in Madrid, or a visit from Santa in Tallinn, Estonia, these markets offer one-of-a-kind experiences that are sure to put you in a festive spirit. Read on to discover more magic from the 24 most charming Christmas markets in Europe.
Guests can explore stalls for hand-blown glass ornaments and carved wooden toys and enjoy spicy gingerbread cookies and crisp Alsatian wine. The market also hosts a Sharing Village that allows people to donate to local nonprofits and charities.
Plaza Mayor Christmas Market; Madrid, Spain
At the heart of Madrid, the Plaza Mayor stands as a reminder of Spain’s royal past and is the site of one of the country’s most celebrated traditions: its acclaimed Christmas market. Unique collections of hand-painted and decorated nativity figurines and musical instruments flood the nearly 100 stalls across the square.
Candles and lanterns cast a glow onto neighboring streets lined with well-dressed trees and lead to an ice rink, ice sculptures, pop-up bars, street-food stands, and music stages. The Advent even holds a gastronomic event devoted to “fooling around,” where people can enjoy various mulled wines and gooey štrukle all while dancing in the street.
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