Charming shop stalls, the scent of mulled wine wafting through the air, traditional carols playing in the background...
Christmas markets combine everything we love most about the holiday season! And what better way to celebrate this special time of year than to experience it under the cheerful influence of another culture. Looking to plan a little holiday getaway this year? Why not visit one of these top 5 Christmas markets around the world.
1. VIENNA, AUSTRIA
CHRISTMAS MARKET SCHÖNBRUNN
During the festive season there is no more beautiful city to be in than Vienna. The city hosts a wide variety of Christmas markets known as “Christkindlmärkte”, turning the Austrian capital into a magical fairyland. For those of you who have always dreamed of being a prince or a princess when they were little, the imperial ambience of the Schönbrunn Palace is the ideal spot to make this childhood dream come true. The market is famous for its Austrian crafts, original gift ideas and handmade Christmas decorations. In the middle of the castle’s courtyard there is a magnificent Christmas tree. Endless walks around the historic gardens in the footsteps of empress Elisabeth will make your visit a unique experience.
INSIDER TIP: Try the delicious orange punch to keep warm!
LEARN MORE: weihnachtsmarkt.co.at
2. STRABOURG, FRANCE
It’s no wonder this city in Alsace is called the “Capital of Christmas”: The Christkindelsmärik has taken place since 1570 and is the oldest Christmas market in France. Its 300 stalls are spread out over 12 locations within the city centre, making it one of the largest in Europe. Enjoy traditional Alsatian Holiday treats around the huge Christmas Tree on place Kléber and the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg.
INSIDER TIP: Every year, the market features a guest-country village. Check out Portugal’s traditions and charms in 2016!
LEARN MORE: noel.strasbourg.eu
3. HAMBURG, GERMANY
CHRISTMAS MARKET JUNGFERNSTIEG
Lined with white pagoda tents instead of the usual wooden stalls, experience a historic ferris wheel and a panoramic view of the glittering Alster. With colourful boats and a big Christmas tree called “Alstertanne” glistening in the water, this market offers more than roasted almonds and mulled wine. Besides a special light show and German classics, such as the Bratwurst, there is a wide range of winter fashion accessories, jewellery, toys and more to explore.
INSIDER TIP: Ride that ferris wheel. An impressive view over the Christmas bustle around the Binnenalster is awaiting you!
LEARN MORE: weihnachtsmarkt-hamburg.net
4. TORONTO, CANADA
THE CHRISTMAS MARKET IN THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT
Discover local vendors in little wooden stalls, the scent of spiced wine and gingerbread wafting through the crisp air, twinkling light canopies, traditional carols and dance performances - a beautiful and traditional melange making the Toronto Christmas Market an extra sweet adventure. In its 7th year, the market has been ranked one of the world’s best. Different from most of its European counterparts, the modern brick walls of the industrial buildings in the Distillery District give this classic market a modern flair.
INSIDER TIP: Don’t forget to visit Santa’s House for something very special!
LEARN MORE: torontochristmasmarket.com
5. NEW YORK CITY, USA
BRYANT PARK'S WINTER VILLAGE
The famous ice skating rink in the heart of the Winter Village transforms the park into a winter wonderland. Free admission ice skating and high quality rental skates allow visitors to exercise after work, come with their loved ones on weekends or enjoy a romantic spin under the stars. Hot drinks and tasty treats line the Public Fare, perfect for a cozy break with friends. The 125 mini holiday shops (they look oh so Manhattan) offer exquisite gift items for everyone on your list.
BONUS DESTINATION: VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
THE CHRISTMAS MARKET IN THE OLD TOWN
One of Europe’s most overlooked Christmas markets, festive Vilnius is certainly worth a visit. You will find endless stalls selling traditional Lithuanian goods and pastries, such as ragoulis or poppy-seed cake, as well as an impressive Christmas tree in the middle of the Cathedral Square, decorating the city’s old town. The Bernardinai Gardens right next to the market cover nine hectares and are set aglow with soft, sparkling lights and carousels. The weather forecast: A white Christmas.
INSIDER TIP: Find home-made sweets and souvenirs at the International Christmas Charity Fair.
LEARN MORE: xmas-markets.org/vilnius