Fairytale Christmas markets in European cities such as France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia offer traditional winter wonderland shopping.
With only a few shopping weeks left until Christmas, now is an ideal time to think about booking a last-minute trip to a beautiful Christmas market. You can get all your presents sorted whilst sipping mulled wine in a picture-postcard location.
If that sounds tempting, then here are the top 10 European cultural destinations you should visit to find the most perfect Christmas markets.
Situated in the Champagne region of France, Reims offers approximately 125 wooden chalets in the Christmas village at Place d’Erion, which sells local crafts and delicacies from the region. You can also expect plenty of street entertainment, including jazz bands and magicians. Open until 25th December.
This northern French town is easily accessible by the Eurostar and attracts approximately 900,000 visitors to its 90 stalls each Christmas. As well as selling wonderful festive arts and crafts, the city also has a huge Ferris Wheel turning on the main square. Open until 30th December.
Germany’s oldest Christmas market dating back to 1434 is an incredibly romantic winter destination to visit, complete with sparkling lights and the world’s tallest Nutcracker. The market is traditionally known as ‘Striezelmarkt’, which is named after the local Christmas Stollen cake. Open until 24th December.
This spectacular German city hosts several Christmas markets, including the ‘Alter Markt’ which will enchant children with its puppet theatre, Santa’s grotto and massive displays of traditional wooden toys. For the grownups, the best Gluhwein is available at the ‘Am Dom’ market with the spectacularly gothic Cologne Cathedral as a backdrop. Open until 23rd December.
The Alsace region hosts one of the most charming Christmas markets that Europe has to offer and also provides an open-air ice rink on Place Du Chateau. Two million visitors flock to the ‘Capital of Christmas’ during the festive period to visit ‘La Petite France’ and sample culinary delights such as gingerbread, choucroute and the three-meat baeckeoffe stew. The Christmas market is home to over 300 stalls and each year a different host country is invited to come and present their own Christmas traditions to the market. Open until 31st December.
The capital of Bavaria hosts several Christmas markets with various themes including a medieval market and the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market where produce is sold from pink and purple pagodas. You can even take an ‘advent tram’ through the city whilst sipping on gluhwein and nibbling on gingerbread. Open until 24th December.
Proving that it’s not just France and Germany that can throw a Christmas market, Estonia’s capital has a fairytale atmosphere during the festive period. A mini-zoo entertains the children whilst the adults can enjoy a beautiful selection of handicrafts sold from little huts in the Town Hall Square. Open until 8th January.
This picturesque town in Belgium is the perfect place to shop for handmade chocolate gifts and a selection of Belgian beers. An open-air ice rink graces the main Market Square. Open until 2nd January.
The town’s light and sound show which is projected onto the gothic cathedral every night is the main attraction at this beautiful Christmas market. Fragrant local produce in the form of soaps and perfume is sold here, alongside culinary treats such as macaroons. Open until 31st December.
The best Christmas market in Denmark’s capital takes place at Tivoli Gardens, where after visiting the 50 traditional stalls on offer, you can have fun on one of 27 fairground rides. Open until 3rd January.
Whichever Christmas market you’re interested in, be sure to book your winter wonderland trip soon to avoid disappointment and take an empty suitcase with you to stock up on goodies for all the family.
Roxanne Seabourne is the Marketing Executive for Avanti Travelcare, who specialise in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and are one of very few that have no upper age limit on their policies.