Christmas in Europe is a wonderful blend of festive decorations, sumptuous sweets, holiday jingles, and a warm sense of nostalgia.
If you’re visiting Europe this holiday season, be sure to delight in the festive atmosphere of a European Christmas market. The fragrance of holiday baked goods wafts through the air while twinkling fairy lights awaken the winter days and brighten your holiday spirit.
How to enjoy European Christmas markets
Hot drinks flow liberally through every Christmas market, always served in a porcelain/glass mug. As you visit the various Christmas markets around Europe, you’ll quickly discover that every market has its own unique mug design.
Whether you’re a teetotaler or you prefer adult beverages to stay warm, this should be your first purchase. It will come filled with a drink of your choice and include a deposit for the mug. You can return your mug and claim your deposit, or keep it as a market souvenir.
The iconic Christmas market drink is Glühwein, a hot wine that has been sweetened and flavored with spices like cinnamon, clove and allspice. If you don’t want to overindulge, order a non-alcoholic hot drink called kinderpunsch. These are quite tasty as well.
With hot drink in hand, browse through the many large craft tents. They offer an opportunity for woodcarvers, belt makers, glass blowers and other craftspeople to show off their talents. Watch them in action, then buy one of their products for a memorable souvenir.
From quaint towns with classic holiday traditions to modern cities decked out in festive attire, here are the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Best Christmas markets in Germany
Let’s start with Germany, which is arguably the best known country for European Christmas markets.
If you’re into Christmas knick-knacks, check out the lebkuchen, one of the most traditional German Christmas foods. These large heart-shaped cookies taste somewhat like gingerbread and are found all over Germany. They’re usually decorated with frosted words spelling out sentiments and wrapped in plastic. Lebkuchen are perfectly edible, but they’re usually purchased more for show than for taste.
The Christmas market in Rothenburg, Germany has been a staple feature since the 15th century. The town is specifically known for its well-preserved medieval core, and this theme runs throughout the market at Christmas time.
Rothenburg has a small-town ambiance, a traditional German aesthetic, and an obvious love of Christmas. Even better, in winter, this beautiful Bavarian town glistens with a dusting of snow that turns the city into a Christmas card.
The market stalls are spread throughout the town square and along a few quiet side streets. Many Christmas decorations are authentic and handmade in the traditional German style. The smell of roasting chestnuts and glühwein (mulled wine) permeates the air, and the bright lights chase away the dark winter days.
- Location: Grüner Markt, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Opening hours: Mon – Thu: 11:00 am – 7:00 pm, Fri – Sun: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Market dates: November 26 to December 23
ⓘ TIP: While you’re here, make sure to indulge in a local dessert called a schneeball (snowball). This is made from sliced shortcrust pastry dough rolled into a ball and deep-fried. It’s then dusted with powdered sugar or dipped in chocolate.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Rothenburg
Cologne has several Christmas markets spread throughout the city.
Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market. The largest and most popular among these is the Cologne Cathedral Market. With a backdrop of the gothic Cologne Cathedral and a glistening Christmas tree, a warm and joyful atmosphere surrounds you.
You’ll find a slew of red-roofed vendors selling traditional handmade crafts and every German staple food you can think of. We especially recommend trying Reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes) with applesauce. This savory and sweet dish is a local staple of the market.
- Location: Roncalliplatz 1, 50667 Köln, Germany
- Opening hours: Sun – Wed: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Thu – Fri: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Sat: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: Late November – 23rd December
Angel’s Market. Angel’s Market is Cologne’s oldest Christmas market. It’s held at the Neumarkt Square, the city’s shopping district. Angels are the theme of the market here. You’ll find all sorts of handmade angel and star ornaments.
Angels also wander the stalls, dressed in costume and spreading Christmas cheer. Once a week, Santa Claus also makes an appearance. This is especially magical for little ones.
- Location: Neumarkt Shopping District
- Opening hours: Sun – Thu: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Fri – Sat: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: We are waiting for more information.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Cologne
The selection of Christmas markets in Berlin is large, but the Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt is the best in terms of quality and selection.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Berlin
Escape the cold and enjoy gastronomical culinary delicacies and drinks in the heated tents. There are countless food-stands with delicacies from around the world, including cheeses, chocolates, baked goods, and more.
The market offers live entertainment every day, from gospel singers to brass bands. Warm your cold hands around a glass of glühwein as the market takes you on a true sensory journey.
- Location: Gendarmenmarkt, 10117 Berlin, Germany
- Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Christmas Eve: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Market dates: October 30, 2020 (Potsdam) to January 3, 2021
The main Christmas market in Munich is Christkindlmarkt, located in the city’s main square. The Christmas spirit sparkles as the scent of fresh gingerbread and Christmas carols fill the air.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Munich
The theme is very Bavarian, with a large number of stalls selling hand-crafted goods. From Christmas trinkets to practical winter accessories. Indulge in German baking, from fresh doughy pretzel to warm Nutella crepes to giant Christmas cookie.
There are also traditional Christmas concerts held every evening from the balcony of Munich’s Town Hall.
- Location: Marienplatz, 80331 München, Germany
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat: 10:00 am 10:45 pm, Sun: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Market dates: November 23, 2020 – Christmas Eve
Each year, the Aachen Christmas Market is set in the city’s historic old town, concentrated around the Cathedral and Aachen Town Hall.
The area is transformed into a show of lights, festive sounds, and alluring smells. Approximately 120 stalls sell festive food and Christmas-related keepsakes.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Aachen, Germany
As with most European markets, the emphasis is on quality, not quantity. Therefore, most items are handmade, and not mass-produced plastic items. You might end up paying a little more, but these keepsakes will last you a lifetime.
The seductive smell of mulled wine and oven-fresh baked goods perfumes the air. A wide variety of printen, (similar to gingerbread) spekulatius, (spiced shortcrust biscuit) marzipan bread, potato fritters, and other Christmas goodies are sold in high abundance.
- Location: Aachen Cathedral and Town Hall
- Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Market dates: November 20, 2020 – December 23, 2020
Set among the grand cathedral and other historic buildings, Trier’s market creates an enchanting Christmas atmosphere.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Trier, Germany
Here, 95 festively decorated Christmas huts offer a wide variety of holiday items, ranging from wooden toys to candles to hand-blown glassware and ceramics.
A popular attraction in the Trier Christmas Market pavilion is the puppet theater. If you’re traveling with little ones, make sure to stop by for an amusing performance. Or, simply wander around and listen to the Christmas carols that fill the air.
- Location: Hauptmarkt Square
- Opening hours: Mon – Thu: 10.30 am – 8.30 pm, Fri – Sat: 10.30 am-9.30 pm, Sun: 11:00 am – 8.30 pm
- Market dates: November 20, 2020 – December 22, 2020
German Christmas market foods
On the food front, there are so many things to eat at a German Christmas Market besides the ever-present wurst or sausage. There is also no end to the potato pancakes, gingerbread, roasted chestnuts, and every size and flavor cookie you can think of. Or how about roasted mushrooms with garlic sauce, raclette cheese on bread, or kasespatzle (think fancy mac and cheese). Sounds yummy, right?
One thing we always seem to end up buying at these markets is gebrannte mandeln (roasted almonds). Let me tell you, the fragrant aroma of those warm candied almonds are hard to resist!
These culinary delicacies are accompanied by exquisite regional wines. We already mentioned Glühwein, which is another of our favorites and will warm up even the coldest nights. You can also try Feuerzangenbowle, another German Christmas drink that’s similar to mulled wine. The only difference is that it includes a rum-soaked sugarloaf that is set on fire and dripped into your glass.
Best Christmas market in France
Known as Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg’s Christmas market has been held annually since the 16th century. It’s one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.
Christmas lights sparkle and mix with the romantic allure that only France can produce, making for a truly magical atmosphere. The market stalls themselves are set up in the heart of the GrandeIle (the city’s historic center and a UNESCO world heritage site).
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Strasbourg, France
Over 300 wooden chalets are spread out, with a large majestic Christmas tree at the center. The stalls offer all kinds of gifts and holiday decorations, from handmade toys to pottery and glass jewelry.
And of course, you’ll also find an endless flow of mulled wine and plenty of delicious local food and sweets.
- Location: Grande Île
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sat – Sun: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Market dates: November 21, 2020 – December 30, 2020
Alsatian Christmas market foods to try
If you’re in Strasbourg, be sure to try flammkuchen, an Alsatian specialty. Picture an oval, thin-and-crispy pizza and you’ll get the basic idea. It’s often topped with a creme fraiche, thinly sliced onions, and lardons, but you can often find a vegetarian version. (Trust us: It’s just as good without the pig!)
Try bredele, which are bite-sized biscuits traditionally baked in this region of France during the Christmas period. These buttery biscuits also come in many different shapes and flavors, including almond, lemon, and honey.
Best Christmas market in Belgium
The largest of the 5 Brussels Christmas markets runs a little more than 1¼ mile through the town center.
Called Winter Wonders, it is one of the biggest and brightest Christmas markets in Europe. Every night, a large light show accompanied by Christmas music is put on in the main square. It lasts for 10-15 minutes and projects changing lights onto the facades of the historical buildings.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Belgium
You’ll find the best attractions in the biggest section of the Winter Wonders Christmas market, located at Marché aux Poissons. There are more than 200 wooden huts selling Christmas ornaments, winter accessories, and stocking stuffers.
Other popular features throughout the market include a covered ice-skating rink, an illuminated Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and ice sculptures.
- Location: The center of Brussels
- Opening hours: Daily from 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: End of November 2020 – early January 2021
Belgian Christmas market foods
Food lovers will delight in the flavors and aromas of the local food stalls. Indulge in fries with mayo, baked salmon and forest mushrooms if you’re in the mood for something savory. Treat your sweet tooth to a variety of indulgences, including crepes, Belgian waffles, nougat, yule log cake, and an endless supply of Belgian chocolate.
There are also plenty of pop-up bar stalls, many with a wide variety of delicious Belgium beers. Jenever is a popular adult beverage also found in the market. It’s the national spirit in Belgium and is a type of grain-based spirit, similar to gin.
Best Christmas market in Slovenia
There are a number of Christmas markets in Ljubljana, but the market in Preseren Square is the most spectacular. This is the heart of the city’s old town, bordering the Ljubljanica River.
The Ljubljana Festive Fair, as it’s called, turns into a magical winter scene when the square is completely illuminated. Strings of lights wrap around bridges, buildings and Christmas trees. Even the spaces between buildings are showered with Christmas lights!
Ljubljana’s way of decorating is a bit more creative, and some of the festival’s lights are one-of-a-kind. They celebrate the world around us. Look up and you’ll see everything from DNA strands to galaxies, planets, comets, and geometric shapes.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Ljubljana
As creative as it is, Ljubljana still has its Christmas market traditions, too. The wooden stalls in the market sell a nice assortment of Christmas items, from cozy hand-knitted gloves and hats to thick wool coats and holiday trinkets.
- Location: Preseren Square
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, Sat – Sun: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Market dates: Late November – early January
Slovenian Christmas market foods
Wander the stalls and warm-up with a glass of mulled wine, flavored tea, honey schnapps, or a bag of chestnuts that have been roasted on an open fire. The sweet-toothed will love a thick slice of potica, a cake made of very thinly rolled dough spread with a nut paste.
Best Christmas market in Croatia
The capital of Croatia goes all out for Christmas. The Zagreb Christmas Market, also known as Advent in Zagreb, has been voted the best Christmas market in Europe three years in a row. This open-air market is spread out over Zagreb’s city center.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Zagreb
Cozy up around the large Christmas tree at Ban Josip Jelacic Square and enjoying some food, drinks, and live music. Or, check out the ice rink in Tomislav Square and enjoy a fun winter activity.
There seemed to be something magical around the corner and each location had a different feel and experience to it. The market welcomes everyone with delightful gift items, Christmas decorations, and delicious delicacies. The variety of homemade cheese and smoked meat products are large and tempting.
- Location: Zagreb city center
- Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Croatian Christmas market foods
If you’re wondering what to eat, classic Croatian Christmas sweets include ginger cakes, medenjaci, (honey spiced cookies) and fritule, (fritters dusted with powdered sugar).
And if you’re cold, grab a tipple of rakija – the most popular spirit in Croatia. This type of brandy is typically flavored with fruit, herbs, or honey. It’s served in a small shot glass, but it’s not meant to be downed in one go. Rakija is meant to be sipped and savored.
Best Christmas markets in Austria
Christmas in Vienna is simply enchanting. The whole city transforms into a fairytale winter wonderland. There are several Christmas markets throughout the city, but the Viennese Christmas Dream Market in front of the City Hall is the most popular.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Vienna
There are more than 150 market stalls offering a treasure trove of authentically made gifts. From candles to fashion accessories to pottery items and schnapps (lots of schnapps).
A beautiful ice rink, a dazzling Ferris wheel, and old fashioned carousel add life to the market. The colorful illuminations and sounds of children’s laughter add joy to the holiday season.
Food stalls are packed with an abundance of sweets. The aroma of roasted chestnut, sweet tang of sugar apples, and the seasonal scent of Christmas punch wafts through the stalls.
Make sure to pick up some weihnachtskekse, which are traditional Christmas biscuits.
- Location: Vienna City Hall
- Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11:00 am – 9:00 pm Fri – Sat 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: November 14, 2020 – December 26, 2020
The Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace is another one of the city’s magical markets. The beautiful backdrop of the palace adds an extra layer of charm. 40 market stalls offer traditional Christmas decorations and delectable Christmas treats.
Enjoy a dark bread sandwich, dumplings, warm apple strudel, and much more. If you want a more local experience, make sure to check out this smaller-sized market.
- Location: Belvedere Palace
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat- Sun: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Market dates: Late November – 26 December
Salzburg’s famed Christmas market is located in the Residenzplatz, the city’s historic center. Each year, 100 wooden houses are set up selling all sorts of festive objects and traditional food.
Kids will love the selection of handmade presents, including music boxes, nutcrackers, dolls, and wooden toys. You’ll also find jewelry, glass-blown figures, incense, candles, and much more.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Salzburg
One aspect that makes Salzburg’s Christmas market unique is its exciting daily events program. From fun sing-alongs to readings of Christmas stories to Krampus parades. Each day offers an exciting festive event.
The balconies around the Residenzplatz also host holiday instrumental performances. Musicians step above the crowds of onlookers to play classic holiday songs.
- Location: Residenzplatz
- Opening hours: Sun – Thu: 10:00 am – 8.30 pm, Fri – Sat: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
- Market dates: November 19, 2020 – December 26, 2020
Austrian Christmas market foods
Make sure you come hungry, the smells of Austrian cooking will excite you. Warm-up with a hot bowl of hearty goulash soup. Indulge in a giant stuffed baked potato or salty smoked salmon.
On the sweets front, you’ll find candied fruit, donuts, gingerbread, cookies, and much more. Try out some festive specialty, like lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) or bauernkrapfen (fried pastries). Or, warm up with a glass of mulled wine or jagatee (an alcoholic punch).
Best Christmas markets in England
Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park is one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe. The event transforms the area into a shimmering fairytale land.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in London
From bright Christmas lights to thrilling roller coaster rides to a full line up of fun events and concerts, this Christmas market is very high-energy. There are enough fun things to do to fill an entire day. Even better, there are attractions for all ages to enjoy.
Kids can meet Santa in his grotto and go skating at the ice rink. Adults can enjoy festive drinks at the Bar Ice or sing karaoke at the Bar Hutte. The German-style Bavarian village is especially fun, and full of German craft beer and live music.
The food options seemed to be endless. From creperies to street food and plenty of sitdown restaurants. There’s even a food stand for vegans and vegetarians.
If you get cold, there are plenty of heated tents that provide a cozy reprieve from the chilly temperatures. Warm-up around a crackling fire as you take in the sights and sounds that surround you.
- Location: Hyde Park
- Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: November 23, 2020 – January 6, 2021
The Bath Christmas Market creates a highly evocative seasonal atmosphere. Around 170 wooden chalets are set in the picturesque streets surrounding Bath Abbey.
The theme of the Christmas market is distinctively British. The majority of the stallholders are local residents from Bath and the surrounding region. Most of the goods made at the market are handmade in the UK.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Bath, England
You’ll find a wide variety of high-quality artisan products, including handcrafted decorations, personalized presents, homemade soaps, and candles, as well as local designer jewelry.
For gourmands, stands sell many delicious kinds of cheese and local chocolates. Other Christmas staples like mince pies, caramelized nuts, mulled wine, hot chocolate with marshmallows, and warm spiced cider will keep you warm while you wander.
Every Saturday during Christmas market season, there is a Christmas carol service in front of Bath Abbey. Make sure to have your camera ready, because the massive Christmas tree in front of Bath’s large historic church makes for a great holiday photo.
The market also promotes ethically-sourced and environmentally friendly products, including plastic-free kitchen products, and vegetarian and vegan food stalls.
Last year, the decorations found on Abbeygate Street and Abbey Street were all made using recycled plastic bags and bottles. old plastic bottles were turned into snowflakes and plastic shopping bags were turned into Christmas pompoms.
- Location: Bath Abbey (city center)
- Opening hours: Mon – Wed: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, Thu – Sat: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, Sun: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Market dates: Cancelled for this year; Vitrual market only.
Best Christmas markets in Switzerland
There are two main Christmas markets in Basel. Both of these markets are located in the heart of Old Town and within easy walking distance to one another.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Basel, Switzerland
Barfüsserplatz. The Christmas market at Barfüsserplatz is the more popular one. Over 160 traders and artisans sell Christmas themed crafts and items, from handmade toys and ornaments to jewelry and regional specialties.
- Location: Barfüsserplatz
- Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
- Market dates: End of November – 23 December
Weihnachtsmarkt Münsterplatz. Here, around 40 stalls surround a magnificent Christmas tree. The culinary delights that can be found at the markets include waffles, Basel Läckerli (a hard spiced biscuit), Swiss raclette (melted cheese) and flammkuchen (thin crust pizza). Of course, the glühwein flows like water and comes in many different varieties.
- Location: Münsterplatz
- Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
- Market dates: November 26, 2020 – December 23, 2020
ⓘ TIP: A smaller Christmas market is located on the opposite side of the Rhine River on Claraplatz in Kleinbasel. The market here has longer opening hours – daily from 11 am to 9 pm.
The main Lucerne Christmas market is located in Franziskanerplatz, the heart of Lucerne’s Old Town. Numerous festively decorated stalls offer a host of wares and holiday gift items. A Christmas carousel swirls in the center creating a soft glow and a joyful sense of holiday cheer.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Lucerne, Switzerland
Here, you’ll find traditional Christmas sweets like und nidelzältli toffees, (caramel sweets) gingerbread, Christmas punch, mulled wine, and much more. Shop for homemade items like candles, sheepskin hats, and decorative ornaments.
- Location: Franziskanerplatz (old town)
- Opening hours: Daily from 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Market dates: November 21, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Best Christmas markets in Czech Republic
The charm of Prague sets the scene for the most magical European Christmas markets. Add a dash of holiday spirit to a city already known for its fairytale setting, and this Czech city shines bright.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Prague
Bright wooden huts are stocked with local handicrafts and traditional Christmas treats. If you’re on the lookout for a memento, you’ll have a wide selection. Favorites include wooden toys, embroidered lace, puppets, dolls, and hand-blown and hand-painted glass ornaments.
ⓘ TIP: Ask the vendor to wrap them in lots of padding if you’re putting them in your suitcase.
Old Town Square Christmas Market is the biggest and brightest market in Prague.
- Location: Old Town Square
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm (the food stalls are open until midnight)
- Market dates: November 28 – January 6, 2021
Prague’s second-largest Christmas market is in Wenceslas Square.
- Location: Wenceslas Square
- Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm (food stalls are open until midnight)
- Market dates: November 28 – January 6, 2021
ⓘ TIP: There are also a few smaller markets spread around the city as well, including a Christmas market at Prague Castle.
Czech Christmas market foods
When it comes to traditional Czech Christmas market foods, spicy gingerbread, palatschinken (crepes) and trdelnik (rolled dough grilled and topped with sugar) are staple sweets found at the markets.
By now, you’ve probably figured out that we like to browse Christmas market stalls with a hot drink in hand. Kids may not be able to warm up the way we like, but they can always enjoy a delectable hot chocolate. Adults can try tasty medovina (honey wine) or opt for a classic Svarak (also called svarene vino), which is the Czech take on Germany’s gluhwein. And of course, there’s always grog (a mixture of rum, hot water, lemon, and sugar).
The Czech are very proud of their beer culture and you’ll find it everywhere. Even on the coldest Christmas day. So if you want to get into the local spirit, you have our permission to enjoy a cold glass of Czech beer.
Best Christmas market in Slovakia
The festive feeling of Christmas fills the air in Bratislava during the festive season. This Slovakian capital turns into one big Christmas village with markets scattered around the main sections of the city.
Best places to stay for Christmas markets in Bratislava, Slovakia
There are two main Christmas markets in Bratislava.
Main Square market. This is the larger of the two. Here you’ll find close to 100 red and white stalls selling handmade products. From hand-blown glass to wood carvings to leather products to beeswax candles, and much more.
- Location: Main Square
- Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: Mid/late November 2020 – December 23, 2020
Hviezdoslav Square market. Hviezdoslav Square is just a short walk from the Main Square. There are fewer vendors, but the square is larger and has an ice rink.
- Location: Hviezdoslav Square
- Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Market dates: Mid/late November 2020 – December 23, 2020
ⓘ TIP: These Christmas markets also provide free entertainment every night, from jazz music to traditional Christmas carols to instrumentals.
Traditional Slovakian Christmas market foods
Warm-up with a bowl of hearty cabbage soup and a thick slice of bread. Savor a loksa, which is a dense pancake that can be served with savory or sweet toppings. For cheese lovers, grab a slab of slovenska parenica, which is a traditional melted Slovak cheese with a slightly smoky flavor.
For something sugary, try a rozky, which is a crescent-shaped pastry. Or a trdelnik, (also called a chimney cake). This is made of raised dough wrapped around a cut cone and coated with cinnamon, poppyseed, coconut or chocolate.
And when it comes to staying warm in cold weather, warm drinks include Caj’s rumom (tea with rum), mulled wine, or the very sweet medovina (honey wine).
European Christmas market FAQs
If you’re visiting a European Christmas markets this holiday season, here’s some information you might find useful, from market schedules to holiday traditions.
When do Christmas markets start in Europe?
Each individual European Christmas market will have a different start and end date. Most markets run from mid/late-November to the end of December, with some continuing to early January.
The markets are typically open all day, from late morning until around 10:00 pm. Weekends are considerably more busy, as well as the days leading up to Christmas. Almost all of the markets close mid-day on Christmas Eve and are closed on Christmas day.
What traditions are found at Europe Christmas markets?
Interestingly, many long-standing Christmas traditions began as pagan traditions in western/northern Europe. However, over the years the church has created Christian explanations for the most popular European Christmas traditions.
You’ll find these at every Christmas market:
Christmas colors – The colors of Christmas are mostly red and green. The color red has Biblical roots. The apples on the paradise tree that Adam ate from were red. It’s also the colors of holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus Christ.
Green comes from evergreen plants, like mistletoe, holly, and ivy. These have been used as festive decorations during winter since pagan times. They’d brighten up buildings during long winter days and signified that spring was coming.
Candy Canes – Candy cane colors have their own special meaning. White represents Jesus Christ’s purity, and the red represents the blood he shed when he died on the cross. The cane shape represents the shepherd that visited the infant Jesus.
Angels atop Christmas trees – Angels are placed at the top of Christmas trees to symbolize the angels that appeared over Bethlehem to announce the birth of Jesus on the very first Christmas.
Europe boasts the most quintessential Christmas markets found anywhere in the world. Each is uniquely different and shows off the individual Christmas customs of the country. Cities are lit up with festive colors and a palpable sense of holiday cheer fills the air.
Christmas markets invite you to savor the magical atmosphere of this special time of year. Take in the mouth-watering fragrances of Christmas baking and mulled wines. Marvel at the traditional decorations and culinary treats.
If you’re spending a weekend in Europe between mid-November and Christmas, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than visiting a European Christmas market.