European Christmas Markets

Most people travel to Europe in the summer months, for the warmth and sunshine. Some study in Europe and return home before the holidays. Others travel specifically to experience the Christmas Markets, located all over Europe in late November and early December. I like to visit a city at different times of year because the experience can vary dramatically. During the holidays Europe takes on an enchanted feel that is not to be missed. People are out socializing in the main squares at these markets and it is one of the best ways I know to get in the holiday spirit.

Christmas Market in Manchester, England - Taken by Diann Corbett, 11/2013.
Christmas Market in Manchester, England – Taken by Diann Corbett, 11/2013.

 

Christmas outside the Strasbourg Cathedral in France, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.
Christmas outside the Strasbourg Cathedral in France, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.

Established in the middle ages, Christmas Markets were originally located outside of churches in the main square of the city. Today they are frequently located in the old town, with large cities often hosting several Christmas Markets in different locations. Each country has a different flavor of Christmas market, with different specialties offered, although most are modeled on Germany’s Christkindlmarket with some form of mulled, spiced wine and sausage.

Gluwein in Rüdesheim, Germany. Taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2012.
Gluwein in Rüdesheim, Germany. Taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2012.
Gluwein, Stuttgart, Germany Christmas Market, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.
Gluwein, Stuttgart, Germany Christmas Market, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.
Food stand offering “Beignet Bretzels” (Pretzel Donuts) and Vin Chaud (Gluwein) in Strasbourg, the Alsace region of France which borders Germany, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.
Food stand offering “Beignet Bretzels” (Pretzel Donuts) and Vin Chaud (Gluwein) in Strasbourg, the Alsace region of France which borders Germany, taken by Diann Corbett, 12/2014.
Parade at a medieval themed Christmas Market in Esslingen, Germany, 12/2014, taken by Diann Corbett.
Parade at a medieval themed Christmas Market in Esslingen, Germany, 12/2014, taken by Diann Corbett.

Christmas Markets usually start after the beginning of Advent and finish up a week before Christmas. If you are planning a quick trip during Thanksgiving weekend, check to make sure your favorite market will be open. Advent calendars vary by year, and some markets open early and close later than others.

Holiday village house sets for sale in Strasbourg, France, taken 12/2014 by Diann Corbett.
Holiday village houses for sale at a market in Strasbourg, France, taken 12/2014 by Diann Corbett.
Mince Pies at the Chester Christmas Market in the UK, 12/2013, taken by Diann Corbett.
Mince pies at the Chester Christmas Market in the UK, 12/2013, taken by Diann Corbett.
Holiday figurines in Rudesheim, Germany, taken in 11/2012 by Diann Corbett.
Holiday figurines in Rudesheim, Germany, taken in 11/2012 by Diann Corbett.
Holiday decorations in Malaga, Spain, taken 11/2007 by Diann Corbett.
Holiday decorations in Malaga, Spain, taken 11/2007 by Diann Corbett.
Holiday Window Decorations in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany - Taken by Diann Corbett, 11/2012.
Holiday Window Decorations in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany – Taken by Diann Corbett, 11/2012.

When choosing between urban and rural Christmas markets it’s a toss up, with larger cities offering huge markets spread across multiple main squares but smaller villages offering quaint atmospheres and a family feel. It is worth exploring both. Some of the oldest and most beloved markets are in Vienna, Austria; Nuremberg, Germany and Strasbourg France.

If you are going to Austria, an excellent holiday side trip is the Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf. It is where the carol was first performed and is just 20 kilometers north of Salzburg – another wonderful Christmas Market town. Salzburg is a beautiful city along a river with a castle high on a hill – it is the birthplace of Mozart and home of the Von Trapp family in the Sound of Music.

Christmas Market in Prague:

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